Max towing fees: private property impounds
The City of Seattle limits the amount that towing companies can charge to tow a vehicle from private property in Seattle. The City also has authority to ensure that you are not overcharged for private impound services.
To find out if a company is licensed to tow vehicles from private property in Seattle, see licensed tow companies.
The City of Seattle also regulates max towing fees: police-authorized impounds.
Maximum charges for private impounds
It is against the law for towing companies to charge above the maximum allowable fee listed below or to charge a fee for any service besides those listed:
|Service||Maximum allowable fee|
|First hour of towing||$186.84|
|Second and subsequent hours of towing||$133.34|
|Storage fee||$30.37 per 12-hour increment|
|After-hours release fee||$100|
|City of Seattle impound fee||$15|
|Uncompleted tow fee||$46.71 per 15-minute period|
Towing companies can only charge or collect fees for the time spent providing towing services. Additional labor and service fees are not allowed. These include winch service, dolly service, drive line removal, chain installation, portable light installation, vehicle hookup, tire replacement and standby time.
The hourly fee must be applied to the resulting net time and, after the first hour, must be rounded to the nearest 15 minutes. A tow company may charge the hourly fee for the first hour or any portion thereof. After the first hour, no more than one-quarter of the hourly fee may be charged for each 15 minutes of towing service work performed.
The City of Seattle impound fee must be itemized as a separate charge on the receipt of each redeemed vehicle. This fee is not taxed. It pays for the costs of administering and enforcing the rules regarding maximum fees that towing companies can charge.
Uncompleted tow fee
You are charged in 15-minute increments for time spent on an uncompleted tow. Each increment costs one-quarter of the maximum allowable fee. An uncompleted tow occurs when your vehicle is in the process of being hooked up or towed but has not been driven away. Time is computed from the time of dispatch of the tow vehicle to the time of release.
During an uncompleted tow, you must pay the applicable fee to retrieve your vehicle. Towing companies must release a vehicle to someone who provides reasonable proof of ownership or authorization to operate the vehicle.
Read the code and rules
You can read the Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) for legal details about maximum towing fees for private impounds.
SMC Chapter 6.214.220 covers maximum private impound fees.
CPU-04-2015 Maximum Private Impound Fees
CPU-05-2015 Private Property Impound Administrative Fees