how long does it take to tow a car

How Long Does It Take to Tow a Car?

When your car gets involved in an accident or breaks down on the road, towing becomes necessary to transport it to a repair shop or a safe location. One common question that arises in such situations is, “How long does it take to tow a car?” In this article, we will explore the factors that can influence the towing duration, provide an overview of the towing process, and offer some insights into what you can expect during a car tow.

Understanding the Towing Process

Towing a car involves several steps to ensure the safety of the vehicle and everyone involved. Here is a brief overview of the typical towing process:

Dispatch and Arrival of the Tow Truck

When you contact a towing service, they will dispatch a tow truck to your location. 

The time it takes for the tow truck to arrive will depend on factors such as traffic conditions and the availability of nearby tow trucks.

Assessing the Vehicle and Safety Precautions

Once the tow truck arrives, the towing operator will assess the condition of your vehicle and determine the best approach for towing. 

They will take into account factors like the type of vehicle, its drivetrain (front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, or all-wheel drive), and any specific towing requirements.

Hooking and Securing the Car for Towing

After assessing the vehicle, the tow truck operator will hook your car to the tow truck using a tow bar, wheel lift, or flatbed. 

They will ensure that the car is securely fastened to prevent any damage during transportation.

Factors Affecting Towing Duration

Several factors can influence how long it takes to tow a car. It’s essential to consider these factors to have a realistic expectation of the towing duration. Here are some key factors:

Distance to the Destination

The distance from the accident or breakdown location to the desired destination can significantly impact the towing duration. Longer distances will naturally take more time to cover.

Traffic Conditions and Road Accessibility

Heavy traffic or road congestion can slow down the towing process. Additionally, the accessibility of the location, such as narrow roads or difficult terrain, may require extra time and effort to complete the tow.

Vehicle Size and Weight

Larger and heavier vehicles may require specialized tow trucks or equipment, which can affect the overall towing time. 

The towing company needs to ensure they have the appropriate resources to handle the specific vehicle.

Additional Services Required

In some cases, additional services such as winching or recovery may be needed, especially if the vehicle is stuck in a difficult position. 

These extra steps can add time to the overall towing process.

Average Time for Different Types of Tows

The duration of a tow can vary depending on the type of tow required. Here’s an overview of the average timeframes for different types of tows:

Local Towing

For short-distance tows within a city or town, the average time can range from 15 minutes to an hour, depending on factors like traffic conditions and the proximity of the destination.

Long-Distance Towing

Long-distance tows, which involve transporting a vehicle over a significant distance, can take several hours or even a full day. 

Factors like the distance, traffic, and rest breaks for the tow truck operator need to be considered.

Specialty Towing

Specialty tows, such as towing large trucks, buses, or heavy equipment, may require specialized equipment and expertise. 

These tows can take longer due to the complexity involved, and the duration will vary based on the specific circumstances.

Tips to Expedite the Towing Process

While the towing duration depends on various factors beyond your control, there are a few things you can do to help expedite the process. Consider the following tips:

Be Prepared and Provide Clear Information

When contacting a towing service, provide clear and accurate information about your location, the condition of your vehicle, and any specific towing requirements. This will help the tow truck operator come prepared and minimize any delays.

Choose a Reputable Towing Service

Selecting a reputable and reliable towing service is crucial. Read reviews, check their response time, and ensure they have the necessary licenses and certifications. 

A professional towing company will work efficiently and prioritize customer satisfaction.

Coordinate with Insurance and Repair Facilities

If you have insurance coverage for towing services, inform your insurance provider as soon as possible. 

Additionally, if you already have a preferred repair facility, coordinate with the towing service to transport your vehicle directly to that location, if feasible. This can save time and streamline the process.


The duration of a car tow can vary depending on several factors, including distance, traffic, vehicle size, and additional services required. 

While local tows can typically be completed within an hour, long-distance or specialty tows may take several hours or even a day. 

By understanding the towing process and considering the factors that influence towing duration, you can set realistic expectations and make necessary arrangements accordingly.


The cost of towing a car can vary depending on factors such as distance, location, and the towing company. It is best to check with the towing service for an accurate quote.

In most cases, you can choose where your car gets towed after an accident. It is recommended to inform the tow truck driver of your preferred destination or consult with the police for suggestions.

Car insurance policies can vary, but some do offer coverage for towing fees. It is important to review your insurance policy or contact your insurance provider to understand your coverage.

If your car is towed without your permission, you should contact the local authorities to report the incident and inquire about the reason for the tow. They can guide you on the appropriate steps to take.

It is generally recommended to remove any valuable or important belongings from your car before it is towed. While towing companies strive to ensure the security of the vehicle, it is best to take precautions and retrieve your belongings beforehand.

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