Vehicle towed during flooding? How to find it, what you will pay

By Amy Davis - Reporter/Consumer Expert
Headline Goes Here Getty Images

Cars sit along the street in an apartment complex after it was inundated with water following Hurricane Harvey on August 30, 2017 in Houston, Texas.

HOUSTON - If you are one of the thousands of people whose car was flooded or stalled out during Hurricane Harvey, you are probably now facing some hefty towing and storage fees.

The costs are regulated by the city of Houston and the state of Texas so that drivers don't get gouged.

Here's what you can expect to pay and how you can track down where your vehicle is located.

Finding Your Towed Vehicle

Start by searching the Find My Towed Car website.

Here is a list of towed car lines for various counties:

  • Houston Tow Line: 713-308-8580
  • Harris County Tow Line: 713-755-6042
  • Galveston County Sheriff (Galveston, Bolivar, La Marque, Texas City, Hitchcock, Santa Fe): 409-766-2322
  • Galveston County Sheriff (League City, Dickinson, Bacliff, San Leon, Kemah, Friendswood, Algoa): 281-534-3515
  • Montgomery County Tow Line: 936-760-5871
  • Waller County Sheriff: 979-826-8282
  • Brazoria County Sheriff: 979-864-2338
  • Liberty County Sheriff: 912-876-2131
  • Fort Bend County Sheriff: 281-341-4665

How much you can expect to pay

If your car was blocking a public roadway, it may have been towed without your consent to help get traffic moving again. If that is the case, the city of Houston sets the rates that you will be charged.

Non-consent Tow: $159

Daily Storage Fee: $20.21

Notification Fee: $50

The notification fee will be charged if the storage lot has to track you down to notify you that they have your vehicle after it has been there 24 hours. You can avoid this fee by finding the lot where your vehicle was towed at the city of Houston towed cars site.

Impound Fee: $20

If you call a tow truck to have your vehicle towed, the charges will vary depending on the size of your vehicle, but the state of Texas sets maximum allowable charges.

The maximum charge for a private property tow is:

  • $250 for a car weighing up to 10,000 lbs
  • $350 for a car weighing more than 10,000 but less than 25,000 lbs
  • $450 per unit for unit for cars weighing more than 25,000 lbs., with a $900 total maximum

These are the maximum rates statewide. Lower rates may be set by local municipal or county rule.

A daily storage charge between $5 and $20 per day, or part of a day for a car that is 25 feet long or less. A VSF must charge $35 per day, or part of a day, for a car that is longer than 25 feet.

Here are some more facts about the daily storage charge:

A daily storage fee may be charged for any part of the day, except that a daily storage fee may not be charged for more than one day if the car remains at the VSF less than 12 hours. A day is considered to begin and end at midnight.

A VSF that accepts a car that is registered in Texas may not charge for more than five days of storage fees unless a notice (prescribed in §85.703 of the rules) is mailed or published. The notice is to inform the owner of the location of the car.

A notification fee: VSF may charge up to $50 for notifying you that your car is at their VSF. If a notification must be published, and the actual cost of publication exceeds 50 percent of the notification fee, the VSF may recover the additional amount of the cost of publication. The publication fee is in addition to the notification fee. The VSF may not charge a notification fee if a car is reclaimed by the owner within 24 hours or before notification is sent.

An impoundment fee: A VSF may charge a car owner an impoundment fee if impoundment is performed.

Impoundment means:

If doors, windows, convertible tops, hatchbacks, sun roofs, trunks, or hoods are broken or inoperative, materials such as plastic or canvas tarpaulins must be used to ensure the protection of the stored car.

Were you ripped off or overcharged?

If you feel your vehicle was wrongfully towed or that you were overcharged, you should file for a tow hearing. You have to do that within 14 days of when your vehicle was towed. Click here for detailed instructions on how to file for a tow hearing.

If you do this, you will have to pay the fees you're charged to get your vehicle back. At your tow hearing, if the justice of the peace determines you were unfairly charged, they will order the tow company to reimburse you all or part of the money you paid.

You can also file a complaint with the Houston Police Department Auto Dealers Detail by calling 832- 394-4800. You can also email your complaint.

You can also file a complaint with Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation.

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