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How Much Does a Tow Truck Service Cost?

on 08/25/2023 | Reading time: 13 minutes

tow truck service

Tow truck services play a crucial role in road safety and vehicle transportation. Whether you've experienced a breakdown or accident or need a vehicle moved, a tow truck is often the solution. However, several factors can cause the price to fluctuate considerably. This article breaks down these factors to give you a clearer understanding of what to expect regarding pricing.

Types of Tow Trucks and Their Costs

1. Flatbed Tow Truck

  • Description and use: This truck has a long flatbed at the rear. Vehicles are loaded onto this bed, making it a preferred choice for transporting luxury vehicles or those that have experienced significant damage.
  • Typical cost range: $75 - $125 for a basic tow, plus $2 - $4 per mile.

2. Hook and Chain Tow Truck

  • Description and use: Commonly used in the past, these trucks use chains to lift vehicles. They are less common now as they can cause damage to the car.
  • Typical cost range: $50 - $100 for a basic tow, plus $1 - $3 per mile.

3. Wheel-Lift Tow Truck

  • Description and use: This truck uses a metal yoke to cradle the front or back wheels, leaving the other wheels on the ground for towing.
  • Typical cost range: $70 - $120 for a basic tow, plus $2 - $4 per mile.

4. Integrated Tow Truck

  • Description and use: Integrated trucks, designed for heavy-duty tasks, have more axles for excellent stability and strength.
  • Typical cost range: $175 - $250 for a basic tow, plus $5 - $7 per mile.

Factors Affecting Tow Truck Service Cost

  1. Distance: Most services have a base rate and then charge per mile. For example, a flatbed might charge $90 upfront and $3.50 for each mile towed.
  2. Time of Day: Nighttime, weekend, or holiday services may incur additional fees, sometimes up to 50% more than standard rates.
  3. Vehicle Type and Size: Larger vehicles like SUVs and trucks often cost more to tow than sedans, typically by $10 - $50.
  4. Location and Terrain: If your site is off a main road, in a rural area, or a rugged terrain, expect additional fees. Inclement weather may also increase costs by 20-25%.
  5. Service Complexity: A simple tow will cost less than a winch-out service or accident recovery, which can add $50 - $100 to your bill.
  6. Company Reputation and Location: Established companies in urban settings may charge 10-20% more due to overhead costs and brand reputation.

Additional Costs to Consider

  • Storage fees: If your vehicle remains in the tow yard, you pay $20 - $60 daily.
  • Administrative fees: Some companies charge for paperwork, which can be around $10 - $50.
  • After-hours fees: Expect to pay 20-30% more for services outside standard business hours.
  • Dolly or flatbed use: If your vehicle can't roll on its wheels, you might pay an additional $40 - $100.

Ways to Possibly Reduce Tow Truck Service Costs

  • Membership Programs: Consider memberships like AAA. For an annual fee, you often get some free or discounted tows.
  • Insurance Coverage: Many car insurance policies offer towing coverage. Check your policy details.
  • Negotiating Rates: In non-emergency situations, you can negotiate a discount or a bundled rate.

 Tips for Choosing a Reliable Tow Truck Service

  • Read Reviews: Platforms like Yelp and Google Reviews provide insights into customer experiences.
  • Verify Licensing and Insurance: Ensure the company operates legally and can cover damages if they occur.
  • Ask About Transparent Pricing: Get a detailed breakdown of costs upfront to avoid hidden fees.

Calculating Tow Truck Service Cost

When determining how much you'll pay for a tow truck service, there are multiple components to consider. Here's a breakdown of the formula:

1. Base Service Fee

This is the fixed cost the tow truck company charges for their service, regardless of distance. This cost will differ based on the type of tow truck used.


Base Service Fee = Specified fee based on tow truck type

2. Distance Charge

You'll pay per mile or kilometer for the distance they tow your vehicle, often based on a set rate for each mile or kilometer.


Distance Charge = Distance to be towed (in miles or kilometers) x Rate per mile/kilometer

3. Additional Service Charges

These charges are related to specific circumstances, like winching or accident recovery.


Additional Service Charges = Sum of all specific service fees

4. Time-Based Surcharge

If you use the service during nighttime, weekends, or holidays, there may be an additional fee.


Time-Based Surcharge = Base Service Fee x Specified percentage surcharge

5. Vehicle Type Surcharge

Larger vehicles might incur additional charges.


Vehicle Type Surcharge = Specified fee based on vehicle size and type

6. Location and Terrain Surcharge

Difficult terrains or remote locations might have an extra charge.


Location and Terrain Surcharge = Specified fee based on location and terrain type

7. Storage and Other Additional Fees

You may incur extra fees if your vehicle stays in storage overnight or if the company performs administrative tasks.


Storage and Other Additional Fees = Daily storage fee x Number of days + Administrative fees

8. Total Tow Truck Service Cost

Combining the above will give you the total cost.


Total Cost = Base Service Fee + Distance Charge + Additional Service Charges + Time-Based Surcharge + Vehicle Type Surcharge + Location and Terrain Surcharge + Storage and Other Additional Fees

Using this breakdown, you can plug in the specifics of your situation to get a rough estimate of the tow truck service cost. Always ask the service provider for a detailed quote to ensure no hidden fees.

FAQ: Tow Truck Service Cost

1. What is the average cost of a basic tow truck service?

The average cost for a basic tow typically ranges from $50 to $125, but this can vary based on the type of tow truck used, the company, and the region.

2. Are there additional charges for towing services during nights or weekends?

Yes, many tow truck companies charge a surcharge for services rendered during nighttime, weekends, or holidays. It can be up to 50% more than the standard rate.

3. Does the type of my vehicle affect the towing cost?

Yes, larger vehicles like trucks or SUVs often cost more to tow than smaller vehicles like sedans. Ensure you provide the vehicle's details when requesting a quote.

4. How is the cost calculated for storing my car in the tow yard?

Companies typically charge storage costs on a per-day basis. Rates can range from $20 to $60 daily, depending on the facility and location.

5. Can my car insurance cover towing service costs?

Many car insurance policies offer towing coverage as an optional add-on or included in comprehensive plans. It's best to check with your insurance provider for specifics.

6. Are there any membership programs that can help reduce towing costs?

Yes, programs like AAA offer roadside assistance memberships that include various free or discounted towing services annually.

7. Can the pricing differ from one tow truck company to another in the same city?

Absolutely. Factors such as company reputation, overhead costs, and specific services can vary in price. It's always a good idea to get quotes from multiple providers.

8. What should I do if a company overcharges me?

First, always ask for a detailed breakdown of the costs. If you believe the charges are unjust, you can negotiate with the service provider, consult consumer protection agencies, or seek legal advice.

9. Do tow truck services charge for the distance to my vehicle's location or just the towing distance?

Most companies charge primarily for the towing distance. However, if your location is remote or far from the company's base, some may charge an additional fee for the distance they travel to reach you.

10. Are there any hidden fees I should be aware of?

While reputable companies should provide transparent pricing, always ask for a complete breakdown. Some potential fees to watch out for include administrative fees, after-hours charges, and specialized equipment use.

These FAQs clarify the most common queries related to tow truck service costs. Always consult directly with service providers for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

Questions to Ask When Evaluating Towing Service Companies

1. Licensing and Certification

  • Are you licensed to operate in this state?
  • Do you have any industry-specific certifications?

2. Experience and Reputation

  • How many years have you been in the towing business?
  • Do you have any recommendations or feedback from previous clients?

3. Pricing and Payment

  • Can you give me a detailed explanation of how you set your prices?
  • Do you have any hidden fees or charges?
  • What payment methods do you accept?

4. Equipment and Vehicles

  • What types of tow trucks do you operate?
  • How often are your trucks and equipment serviced or inspected?

5. Safety and Training

  • What safety protocols do you follow when towing a vehicle?
  • Is your staff trained in the latest safety procedures?
  • How do you handle cars that have been in an accident?

6. Insurance and Liability

  • Do you carry liability insurance?
  • What is the coverage amount for any damages that might occur during towing?
  • How do you handle claims or disputes related to injuries?

7. Services Offered

  • Apart from basic towing, what other services do you offer (e.g., roadside assistance, flat tire changes, lockout services)?
  • Do you handle special vehicles like motorcycles, RVs, or heavy machinery?

8. Availability and Response Time

  • Are you available 24/7?
  • What is your typical response time for emergency calls?

9. Distance and Territory

  • How far are you willing to tow a vehicle?
  • Are there any locations or terrains you don't service?

10. Storage Facilities

  • Do you offer storage facilities for towed vehicles?
  • What are your storage fees, and how are they calculated?
  • How secure is your storage facility?

11. Membership and Discount Programs

  • Do you offer any membership or loyalty programs that provide discounts or benefits?
  • Are there any ongoing promotions or discounts available for new customers?

12. Contract and Paperwork

  • Do you provide a written contract or agreement for the towing service?
  • Can I review the terms and conditions before finalizing the service?

13. Communication and Customer Service

  • What channels can I use to reach you (phone, email, chat)?
  • How do you handle complaints or feedback from customers?

When assessing towing service companies, it's essential to ask pertinent questions to select a dependable, skilled, and affordable service. A reputable company should be willing and able to answer all of these questions to your satisfaction.


Understanding the factors that influence tow truck, service costs can prevent unexpected bills and ensure you get fair value. Safety and dependability should always take precedence over price. This guide will help you make a well-informed decision in any situation.

The opinions articulated in this piece are the guest author's and may not necessarily align with those of Crackerjack. Find more about staff authors of Crackerjack

About the author
Fancy House LLC
Fancy House LLC is a seasoned contractor and a prolific writer in the field of home improvement. With their extensive experience and expertise, they have earned a reputation for delivering exceptional results in construction projects of all scales. As a writer, they share their knowledge through well-researched articles that offer practical tips, advice, and inspiration to homeowners and DIY enthusiasts. With a friendly demeanor and a commitment to quality, Fancy House LLC is a trusted contractor who consistently delivers outstanding home improvement services and informative content.

Our Pricing Methodology

At Crackerjack, we assist many people each year with their projects. Our process involves collecting estimates from local professionals and conducting our own research, which we use to provide you with valuable price information. Please note that the prices provided in the current article are for informational purposes only and may change at any time. To receive a personalized cost estimate for your specific project, we recommend contacting a professional in your area.

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