How To Get A Car Out Of Impound

Dustin Hawley | Apr 29, 2021

There may be numerous reasons why your car gets impounded. But regardless of the circumstances surrounding the impound action, you will have to proceed through several steps to get your car out of the impound lot. 

how to get your car out of impound

In this guide, we will walk you through the process of retrieving your vehicle from the impound lot and answer the most critical questions associated with the process.

An Overview: Releasing A Car From Impound

Picture this: you get back to the parking space where you have left your car, only to find the parking spot empty. Naturally, your first thought is to think it has been stolen. However, the far more likely option is that your vehicle was towed and impounded. 

Police usually impound vehicles for the following reasons:

  • Parking violations
  • Driving without insurance
  • Arrest
  • Vehicle as evidence for a crime
  • Traffic violations (like DUI)
  • Evading the police
  • Careless driving
  • Driving without registration
  • Driving without a license (or with a suspended license)

Locate Your Vehicle

If your vehicle was impounded in your absence, you might find yourself in a bit of a pickle. Locating your car can be a bit time-consuming. You should begin your search immediately by calling the police station and asking a clerk if your vehicle was listed as impounded. If they don’t have the information you need, you can contact your local parking authority. Bear in mind that the parking authority office needs at least the VIN and license plate number of your car to locate your vehicle.

With some luck, you may get your answer then and there. However, if you do not get the information, consider waiting for a few hours and calling back. There may be a delay with information submission during transport. Sooner or later, you should be able to get information on where your vehicle is located.

If your car is impounded during a traffic stop, a police officer will most likely provide you a form with the tow company information. Contact them to find out where your vehicle is located.

Contact The Impound Lot Where The Vehicle Was Taken

As noted, once you have the contact information, you have to get in touch with the impound lot to confirm that they have your car. It’s at this point of the process that all the paperwork begins.

After you find out where your car is located, the next step is to gather all the necessary documents to release the vehicle. This can include car registration, title, etc. If some of the paperwork is in the car, you may need to go to the impound lot and explain the issue. They will likely grant you access to your vehicle to retrieve your documents.

Find All Relevant Documentation And Paperwork To Retrieve The Car

To get a car out of impound, you’ll need the following documentation:

  • Proof of insurance
  • Drivers license
  • Proof of ownership
  • Vehicle registration or title

Bear in mind; documentation requirements vary from state to state and from company to company.

Pay All Necessary Fees

Depending on numerous factors, getting your car out of impound can be a costly endeavor. Depending on the jurisdiction, the release fee (which often includes tow company reimbursement and impound fee) can be hundreds of dollars. Most impound lots charge per day or 12-hour cycle, so you should try and recover your vehicle as soon as possible.

Can I Leave My Car Impounded?

In most places, your vehicle can remain impounded for up to 30 days. After that time has elapsed, the tow company/impound lot will put a lien on the car and auction it off to cover its expenses. If the acquired money does not cover the costs, then the impound lot company could potentially try and take you to court for the remaining balance. 

In some cases, the car owner doesn’t intend to retrieve their vehicle from the impound lot for several reasons. In this situation, it may be worth trying to make a deal with the impound lot managers and sign the title of a car. This may stop them from continuing to charge storage fees for your car. Regardless, the best option in most cases is still to get the car out of impound as soon as possible.


Regardless of the reason why your vehicle was impounded, you want to act fast. Start by finding out where your vehicle was towed, contact the impound yard to confirm, then ask for detailed instructions on how to get your car released. Once you have collected all the necessary documentation and paid any applicable fees, you will be able to get your car out of impound.

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