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View Full Version : could you sue towing company for improperly towing your car


T2urtle
02-12-2011, 01:47 PM
I've always wondered this and with all these "FAIL" posters up with AWD cars being towed on simple hook up tow trucks and not flat beds, im curious.

I drive a G35 AWD. Its not dead obvious my car is AWD compared to say a subaru or a big pickup/SUV with 4x4 in huge writing on the side.

Can you sue for damage to the drivetrain? I guess you would need to prove it instantly. But say they did tow you and 3 months down the road something goes sour are you SOL?

I've also seen cars towed the wrong way as well. RWD cars been hooked up in the front. FWD being hooked up in the rear. I understand hooking it up to get it out of the spot but then lower it back down to properly tow it the distance.

Also what about damages, my car is lowered but extreme but putting a 2x4 or so will save my bumper. If they dont do that and scuff it. can i get them for that?

Closed due to necro-posting below.

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SithSolo1
02-12-2011, 02:00 PM
So, what'd they tow you for?


I dunno the answer to your question but it would seem logical to me that they would have liability coverage for any damages they caused. Also around here its a non-issue as every company in town uses flatbed trucks. I can't remember the last time I saw an old school tow truck.

T2urtle
02-12-2011, 02:06 PM
I've only had one breakdown that needed a tow and it came with a flatbed.

I've just seen tow trucks around chicago that do this. I've saw couple AWD astrovans get towed in the front and etc. no idea why they are being towed.

We recently had a blizzard and the shutdown the entire road next to the lake, forced people to leave their cars. City towed all cars off to local community college parking lots, heard over 500 cars. On the news i could see least 5-6 AWD cars being on 2 wheel hook up trucks being towed 25+ miles. Friend's AWD IS250 got towed as well.

Its somewhat hard to claim this because there is no simple DIRECT proof. Least without paying for teardown and etc.

Zap
02-12-2011, 03:20 PM
I had to get my brand new Contour SVT towed when it was brand new (as in a week old off dealer lot) and the tow truck put a blemish on it. I pointed it out and the tow truck driver called the owner of the company, who examined it and offered compensation for touchup. Didn't seem that big of a deal.

You could also request a flatbed if you ever need towing.

So, what could happen with an AWD vehicle when towed with two wheels on the ground?

T2urtle
02-12-2011, 04:06 PM
I had to get my brand new Contour SVT towed when it was brand new (as in a week old off dealer lot) and the tow truck put a blemish on it. I pointed it out and the tow truck driver called the owner of the company, who examined it and offered compensation for touchup. Didn't seem that big of a deal.

You could also request a flatbed if you ever need towing.

So, what could happen with an AWD vehicle when towed with two wheels on the ground?

If i needed it yes i will ask for a flatbed. I was speaking in terms of say the city tows my car on the street for random reason. Car in parked and i'm not there.

I dont know what exactly happens, Ive just been told it does damage to the drivetrain. My car might not do too much damage because its RWD biased.

https://www.subaru.com/my-subaru/faq.html read #3.

Marlin1975
02-12-2011, 04:07 PM
They will not admit to it but yes they can.

I drove a tow truck for a little while and was told not to f__k a car up. BUT if your car is in a place that can cause harm or risk life then we could do as we please to get it out of the way. I never had a case like that but we towed for the police sometimes and was told if its a matter of life or death do it.

T2urtle
02-12-2011, 04:21 PM
i understand to hook it up in any possible way to move the car to a SAFER place so you can properly hook it up. At low speeds and short distance NOTHING should be damaged. But i saw these trucks going 45+ down the road like nothing. Cars weren't crashed or anything.

Say i parked in a "NO PARK, TOW ZONE" And they towed me and my t-case blows out 2 months from that day. Can i tell the city of chicago to send me the paperwork of the truck who towed me so i can make a claim. In the ends it seems like their word VS mines, my T-case could of been damaged due to wear and tear, i cant exactly put the finger on them 100% because i would never know.

angry hampster
02-12-2011, 04:45 PM
https://www.subaru.com/my-subaru/faq.html read #3.


This is hilarious.

AWD Subaru vehicles with automatic transmission can only be towed with all four wheels OFF of the ground. Therefore, if you are interested in towing a Subaru behind your motorhome, we would suggest purchasing a manual transmission Subaru.

amdhunter
02-12-2011, 05:32 PM
If you live in NYC, nope. You are liable for all damages if you are towed by the city. NYC will make you go through your insurance - don't have that kind of coverage? Too bad.

thescreensavers
02-12-2011, 07:23 PM
only way they are towing my G is with a flat bed.

Throckmorton
02-12-2011, 07:51 PM
i understand to hook it up in any possible way to move the car to a SAFER place so you can properly hook it up. At low speeds and short distance NOTHING should be damaged. But i saw these trucks going 45+ down the road like nothing. Cars weren't crashed or anything.

Say i parked in a "NO PARK, TOW ZONE" And they towed me and my t-case blows out 2 months from that day. Can i tell the city of chicago to send me the paperwork of the truck who towed me so i can make a claim. In the ends it seems like their word VS mines, my T-case could of been damaged due to wear and tear, i cant exactly put the finger on them 100% because i would never know.

Well regardless of speed, if it's an automatic trans in P, the parking pawl will get destroyed by towing on the drive wheels.

T2urtle
02-12-2011, 11:09 PM
only way they are towing my G is with a flat bed.

this is speaking in terms of, if your not there. obviously i have the sense to tell them to come back with a flatbed i dont mind the wait. But say you accident parked in a no parking zone and they towed you.

coxmaster
02-12-2011, 11:15 PM
So, since I drive a front wheel drive car and park with the e-brake on theres basically no safe proper way to tow my car without a flatbet?

thescreensavers
02-12-2011, 11:43 PM
this is speaking in terms of, if your not there. obviously i have the sense to tell them to come back with a flatbed i dont mind the wait. But say you accident parked in a no parking zone and they towed you.


Yea in that situation pretty much I belive they are not liable for damages.

I never second guess a parking spot, I need to know its 100% legit so hopefully I will never be towed.

T2urtle
02-12-2011, 11:58 PM
Yea in that situation pretty much I belive they are not liable for damages.

I never second guess a parking spot, I need to know its 100% legit so hopefully I will never be towed.

sometimes you are in the right but they will tow you anyways.

i've gotten wrong parking tickets COUNTLESS times. But still had to pay it. $50 isn't worth the hassle. So i do believe they can tow at anytime. The typical "parking is for customers only" say you finish buying what you need and have to run 3 stores down really quick and come back, in a sense you can get towed for that because your business is done with the store. I'm just trying to come up as many BS reason as to how MIGHT a car get towed.

thescreensavers
02-13-2011, 12:02 AM
^ I understand.

Thats a good question.

alevasseur14
02-13-2011, 07:12 AM
I've been in the towing industry for almost 5 years now. I've been at work for 12 hours now but I'll try and come back after I get some sleep today and put in my 2 cents.

Mike Gayner
02-13-2011, 12:41 PM
If you had your car towed and had something in your drivetrain fail 3 months later, you'd have a hard time proving a causal relationship.

T2urtle
02-13-2011, 12:49 PM
If you had your car towed and had something in your drivetrain fail 3 months later, you'd have a hard time proving a causal relationship.

it is. only thing i can think of in my defense right now is, i get the truck driver's name and the company he works for. hopefully he drives the same truck everyday and he doesn't drive a flat bed. Pull up his work log and there it goes. He put down he towed me car at XX time XX day to this lot. But still proving that he cause direct damage to my car is VERY hard. Maybe i'll get like 50% of the total repair in attempts to just shut me up so then can keep on working.

God Mode
02-13-2011, 03:19 PM
If you live in NYC, nope. You are liable for all damages if you are towed by the city. NYC will make you go through your insurance - don't have that kind of coverage? Too bad.

Yep. I got towed once after buying a used car because the previous owner had some tickets on it. Most of the rear suspension needed to be replaced and it caused a creaking sound in the car that I was never able to diagnose. I have no idea how they towed it whether tow or flatbed but it messed up the car pretty good.

PhoKingGuy
02-13-2011, 03:32 PM
Neighbors STI was towed with by a conventional truck back in college, destroyed the differential, etc and other things. Truck company told him it was his fault because he was parked without a permit, they didn't know his dad is one of the highest profile attorneys in socal.

Needless to say, he got a brand new STI with the settlement money.

T2urtle
02-13-2011, 03:55 PM
Yep. I got towed once after buying a used car because the previous owner had some tickets on it. Most of the rear suspension needed to be replaced and it caused a creaking sound in the car that I was never able to diagnose. I have no idea how they towed it whether tow or flatbed but it messed up the car pretty good.

rear suspension creaks isn't related to the tow truck. Only damage is drivetrain/transmission related.

alevasseur14
02-13-2011, 11:40 PM
Ok, back at work for another awesome 12 hour overnight shift...

There are a lot of variables in this situation, of course. Many companies are switching to flatbeds only. But what if your car is AWD and won't start in a parking garage? Conventional wreckers are still needed in some cases. The driver just needs a set of dolly wheels to pick the drive wheels off the ground. The biggest fear in any towers mind, second to dying on the road, of course, is damaging a customers car. Much of the time the more experienced drivers just keep a list in their heads about which cars are AWD, even the less common ones. Even if the driver doesn't think the car is AWD and they pick it up from the front, when starting out, the rear wheels will either roll or they won't. Any driver worth his salt looks for this and stops the second the wheels start hopping. If you take an AWD vehicle to a shop because it won't start and once they get the engine started and realize the transfer case is shot, it's not too much of a leap to figure out what happened. Three months down the road - you're going to have a really hard time getting anything from a towing company.

In another example, if a vehicle has a manual differential (ie: you have an actual lever that you have to move to put the car in AWD), you can generally put the selector in 2WD and be fine, you'd simply have to pick it up from the rear. The older Chev Silverados and most 90s era Jeeps could do this. Even if you can't manually put the vehicle into 2WD mode, if you need to quick tow it out of an intersection or off the freeway, starting the car and leaving it in neutral is safe as long as you don't go very far.

Finally, if a car has been in a wreck and is totaled, we'll tow them on the drive wheels all day long. The car is just going to be crushed anyways so who cares if the transfer case blows out

@coxmaster: that's a pretty common occurrence. If the vehicle owner isn't there to take the parking break off, we will simply unlock the door using our ninja skills and take the parking break off.

With today's cars, towing a vehicle is rarely a 'hook-and-go' affair. I hope my post helps answer some questions.

Rifter
02-14-2011, 12:45 AM
Yes you can sue them. Yes if you can prove it you will win. Happens all the time, i Dispatch for a tow truck company. Your car though does not need a flatdeck putting it on dollies would be fine. You just need to make sure all wheels are off the ground.

Rifter
02-14-2011, 12:53 AM
So, since I drive a front wheel drive car and park with the e-brake on theres basically no safe proper way to tow my car without a flatbet?

dude think about that for a second, lockouts are easaly 30% of a tow truck comapanies business. They could pop the lock in 30 seconds if the driver knows what he is doing, 5 min if he doesnt. Or just put it on dollies. Its not going to do anything to slow them down.

alevasseur14
02-14-2011, 12:55 AM
... x 2

Did you read my last post?

Rifter
02-14-2011, 04:56 AM
x 2

Did you read my last post?

negative, till you posted this. I was in a hurry and at work, i see you covered pretty much everything :)

Its amazing how many people are like ill just put my ebrake on and they cant tow me, yeah sure buddy keep telling yourself that lol.

alevasseur14
02-14-2011, 05:10 AM
negative, till you posted this. I was in a hurry and at work, i see you covered pretty much everything :)

Its amazing how many people are like ill just put my ebrake on and they cant tow me, yeah sure buddy keep telling yourself that lol.

Well, a lot of the things I hear (and I'm sure you do as well) are pretty shocking. But, that's the business and sometimes a wacky comment or request will just make my day.

What area do you work in?

Rifter
02-14-2011, 07:02 AM
I work in Langley BC, Canada. We have all the auto club and the city/police contact so we get alot of interesting work/MVA's from the police.

alevasseur14
02-14-2011, 07:37 AM
I work in Langley BC, Canada. We have all the auto club and the city/police contact so we get alot of interesting work/MVA's from the police.

Same here. We have the county sheriff and West St Paul. It's kind of hard to define a "normal" day.

coxmaster
02-14-2011, 08:53 AM
dude think about that for a second, lockouts are easaly 30% of a tow truck comapanies business. They could pop the lock in 30 seconds if the driver knows what he is doing, 5 min if he doesnt. Or just put it on dollies. Its not going to do anything to slow them down.
Yeah, I realize that now. Completely hadn't thought of that :oops:



Its amazing how many people are like ill just put my ebrake on and they cant tow me, yeah sure buddy keep telling yourself that lol.
I'm not looking to find a way to avoid being towed. Ive never had a problem with it, just making conversation.


Just for the record, i have seen a FWD car being towed with the back wheels locked. They were just sliding across the pavement for about 3 miles before they eventually broke loose and started moving. Apparently not every tow company cares as much as others..

Marlin1975
02-14-2011, 09:13 AM
Yeah, I realize that now. Completely hadn't thought of that :oops:


I'm not looking to find a way to avoid being towed. Ive never had a problem with it, just making conversation.


Just for the record, i have seen a FWD car being towed with the back wheels locked. They were just sliding across the pavement for about 3 miles before they eventually broke loose and started moving. Apparently not every tow company cares as much as others..


Correct. Like all business there are good and bad.
The bad are usually the ones that have contracts in HOAs or apartments so they get paid by towing by any means.
Ones that have contracts with the city or a large/good business will usually do a good job. I worked at one so that is what I was basing my "don't f__k up a car or you will pay for it..." experiance on.

Zenmervolt
02-14-2011, 01:01 PM
Yea in that situation pretty much I belive they are not liable for damages.

Nope, they're still required to operate with due care under the circumstances. While the city would probably not have any liability, the towing company absolutely would. It's not at all out of line to expect a towing company to know how to safely tow cars without damaging them and they'd be held to that standard in tort claims. I suppose they could make an argument of contributory negligence on the part of the person parking in the no-parking zone, but I don't see that getting very far because while the car being towed is reasonably foreseeable, a court would likely consider that improper towing would not be reasonably foreseeable.

Now, you'd need to have the car checked out within a reasonable amount of time; three months would be stretching things, but 2-3 weeks probably wouldn't be. The reasonableness of how long it took to discover the damage is really a judgment call by the court.

ZV

Zenmervolt
02-14-2011, 01:06 PM
dude think about that for a second, lockouts are easaly 30% of a tow truck comapanies business. They could pop the lock in 30 seconds if the driver knows what he is doing, 5 min if he doesnt. Or just put it on dollies. Its not going to do anything to slow them down.

Dollies yes. However, any attempt to enter the vehicle would be a criminal act. If they popped the lock to release the parking brake, they'd be leaving themselves open to a criminal charge. (Whether such a charge is actually pursued in practice is another matter altogether, and I'd guess that most people don't press the issue, but the act is, at minimum, a trespass tort and in many places would technically fall under statutory codes for criminal trespass.)

ZV

alphatarget1
02-14-2011, 10:02 PM
Neighbors STI was towed with by a conventional truck back in college, destroyed the differential, etc and other things. Truck company told him it was his fault because he was parked without a permit, they didn't know his dad is one of the highest profile attorneys in socal.

Needless to say, he got a brand new STI with the settlement money.

That's awesome. Pwnage at its best.

simonizor
02-15-2011, 04:04 PM
If you live in NYC, nope. You are liable for all damages if you are towed by the city. NYC will make you go through your insurance - don't have that kind of coverage? Too bad.

I don't see how that's in any way legal.

drinkmorejava
02-15-2011, 10:19 PM
alevasseur14, how do you pop the lock on something like bmw. Don't you have to royally screw up the window to get in?

alevasseur14
02-15-2011, 10:21 PM
alevasseur14, how do you pop the lock on something like bmw. Don't you have to royally screw up the window to get in?

Not if you're good. :) A tower's lockout kit has just about every imaginable tool you need to get into any vehicle.

T2urtle
02-19-2011, 05:16 PM
most cars you just need 2 plastic wedges, that inflatble pad and a long enough rod to hit the unlock button.

Ive done some in the past. I feared the frameless window ones but everyone said they were cake to do. Which they are in theory... just dont know how it is in the field.

jteef
02-20-2011, 11:33 AM
my bmw was flatbedded once; tow company used my suspension to strap the car down and bent the rear lower wishbones significantly. They paid to get them replaced, but it was definitely a hassle.

Another time i paid to get my car towed and the clown who came out wanted to strap it down the same way. The dude wanted to fight me over my insistence he use the wheels. Ultimately he did and everything was fine.

Rifter
02-20-2011, 09:57 PM
my bmw was flatbedded once; tow company used my suspension to strap the car down and bent the rear lower wishbones significantly. They paid to get them replaced, but it was definitely a hassle.

Another time i paid to get my car towed and the clown who came out wanted to strap it down the same way. The dude wanted to fight me over my insistence he use the wheels. Ultimately he did and everything was fine.

Anyone who uses any kinds of aluminum control arms to strap to is an idiot. Wheel straps are the way to go, so much less chance of damage.

Rifter
02-20-2011, 10:01 PM
Dollies yes. However, any attempt to enter the vehicle would be a criminal act. If they popped the lock to release the parking brake, they'd be leaving themselves open to a criminal charge. (Whether such a charge is actually pursued in practice is another matter altogether, and I'd guess that most people don't press the issue, but the act is, at minimum, a trespass tort and in many places would technically fall under statutory codes for criminal trespass.)

ZV

This wopuld depend on why the vehicle is being removed, if the police/city are having it removed they will usually give you authorization to enter the vehicle if needed, most of the time they are having it removed they will have to enter and search it themselves just to follow there own procedure. Abandoned vehicles for example they must check the trunk for bodies before allowing it to be towed. For Private impounds though you are not allowed to enter, you woould have to dolly it, or if it was to close to the curb to dolly then skate it up a deck.

Zenmervolt
02-21-2011, 12:16 AM
This wopuld depend on why the vehicle is being removed, if the police/city are having it removed they will usually give you authorization to enter the vehicle if needed, most of the time they are having it removed they will have to enter and search it themselves just to follow there own procedure. Abandoned vehicles for example they must check the trunk for bodies before allowing it to be towed. For Private impounds though you are not allowed to enter, you woould have to dolly it, or if it was to close to the curb to dolly then skate it up a deck.

That would make sense, especially for abandoned vehicles. I think there may be an unreasonable search argument available for non-abandoned vehicles even when the city is having it towed, but like I said before I rather doubt that anyone would really explore that avenue in practice (high cost, no real benefit).

Damnit, now I want to scour law review articles to see if I can find any theories on this. :P

ZV

imagoon
02-21-2011, 09:09 AM
@coxmaster: that's a pretty common occurrence. If the vehicle owner isn't there to take the parking break off, we will simply unlock the door using our ninja skills and take the parking break off.

How does that work out with the cars that have electric parking brakes? Not joking either. It was all the rage at the Chicago auto show this year. The parking brake was a button... you clicked it and you heard a whir and a click and the brake was set. It couldn't be disengaged without the key in the 'on' position.

alevasseur14
02-22-2011, 01:57 AM
How does that work out with the cars that have electric parking brakes? Not joking either. It was all the rage at the Chicago auto show this year. The parking brake was a button... you clicked it and you heard a whir and a click and the brake was set. It couldn't be disengaged without the key in the 'on' position.

Haven't come across that yet. Interesting. In that case, however, you'd simply dolly the car or pull it up on the bed. People don't like that option too much, though. Snow works wonders to get a car up, as does dish soap in the spring/summer/fall.

LiveWire305
08-30-2012, 09:55 PM
I'm the owner of Alpha Omega Towing LLC. in Miami and I've been in incident with customers before but its nothing insurance cant handle. Just contact consumer services or DMV, im sure they'll shape up.link removed

Your first post on this forum and it's to bump an 18-month old thread with an improperly formatted link to your business? Not a good way to make a positive first impression. Link removed.

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Doppel
08-30-2012, 10:10 PM
I'm the owner of Alpha Omega Towing LLC. in Miami and I've been in incident with customers before but its nothing insurance cant handle. Just contact consumer services or DMV, im sure they'll shape up.link removedlol

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exar333
08-31-2012, 08:27 AM
I'm the owner of Alpha Omega Towing LLC. in Miami and I've been in incident with customers before but its nothing insurance cant handle. Just contact consumer services or DMV, im sure they'll shape up.link removed

Love the name. :)

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