How Much are Impound Fees in California?
Local government authorities and city police commissions are primarily responsible for setting the impound fees of their jurisdictions in California. However, the state government may also impose impound fees on motorists if the California Highway Patrol gets involved in removing vehicles from public roads or highways.
The impound fee amounts are calculated based on the costs for government agencies to impound vehicles. There is no fixed impound fee for every vehicle because each price is calculated based on the type of vehicle, payment method used, and mileage rate. The towing professionals will know how to calculate these fees as soon as they talk with the car owner and learn the make and model car they are driving.
Each jurisdiction also charges storage fees to house the impounded car until the car is retrieved by the owner or sold at auction. The storage fees are calculated based on a daily storage rate set by the tow yard or official police garage. California jurisdictions like to use official police garages because they are official storage facilities that have partnerships with local government agencies. The authorized police garages don’t set the impound fees, but they do set the storage fees.
You must fully pay the impound and storage fees before retrieving your vehicle. California state law will give you a discount on the impound and storage fees if you pay with cash or check rather than a credit card. It is not a significant discount on the total price, but you can enjoy a 1% to 2% reduction if you don’t pay with a credit card. Otherwise, a slightly higher rate will get imposed.
In most cases, the impound fee will be a minimum of $136.50 for a standard-size car or sedan. But if it’s a heavy-duty vehicle with more size and weight, the impound fee will increase to around $262.00 on average. Then you have to consider any specialized equipment, attachments, or other features causing the vehicle to have an irregular shape. That could increase the impound fee cost to $395.50.
Therefore, you can expect your impound fee to be between $136.50 and $400. It would only be higher than $400 if you have hazardous cargo loaded onto a heavy-duty truck. Since dangerous cargo cannot get towed with the vehicle, the tow truck operators would be forced to remove the cargo first. This increases the impound fee all the way to $592.
The official police garages impose a daily storage rate to house your impounded vehicle. It is better not to wait 30 days to retrieve your car because you’ll be forced to pay higher storage fees the longer you wait. Instead, make every effort to recover your vehicle from the official police garage as soon as possible. Then you won’t have to pay higher storage fees.
The average daily storage rate for each official police garage is $42.50. So, for instance, if your impounded vehicle gets stored at your local official police garage for two days, you will have to pay $85 in storage fees to retrieve it. However, a larger vehicle weighing more than a ton will have a higher daily storage rate of between $47.00 and $74.50. The higher end of this rate range is reserved for taller trucks.
In addition, the local city government imposes a 10% city parking occupancy tax on all storage fees. This fee applies regardless of the daily storage rate of your local official police garage.
Unfortunately, impound and storage fees are not the only imposed fees on impounded vehicles. Sometimes the tow truck operator will add a $7.50 mileage rate to the other fees if they have to travel a great distance to retrieve your car and bring it back to an official police garage.
Does your vehicle have stolen parts in it? If so, the police will impose an additional $77.00 on the impound fees to retrieve the stolen parts from your impounded vehicle. Most residents won’t have to worry about this fee if they are law-abiding citizens, but it is worth mentioning to those who may have stolen parts in their vehicles.
There is one more fee on top of all the rest! The local city government will require you to pay a release fee of $115.00 before they release your impounded vehicle back to you. That means you must pay the impound, storage, release, and any other miscellaneous fees relevant to your incident.
If you fail to pay all the required fees, the city will put a lien on your vehicle and sell it at a public auction after 30 days.