Commissioner's blog: Don’t get taken for a ride by tow trucks

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It’s hard to keep your wits about you following a car accident – you’re often in shock, the traffic behind you starts piling up and all you want is to get the car off the road and away from the scene. 

Sighting an approaching tow-truck can therefore be a great relief, but there are things you should know before a breakdown or bingle occurs to avoid being stung financially.

The first tow truck on the scene does not have an automatic right to your car – you have the right to decide who tows your vehicle and where it is taken.

Tow truck drivers are legally obliged to give you a completed standard Authority to Tow Form before towing, so always make sure to read the fine print and never sign it if parts have been left blank, such as the total cost of towing and storing your vehicle.

Some consumers have been caught-out by signing forms that lock them into having the car repaired by a particular repairer or giving a lawyer permission to act on their behalf.

It pays to be prepared – check your insurance policy to see what it covers and for instructions on what to do if you are in an accident. Better yet, keep the number of your insurer on your phone and in your vehicle so you can easily contact them for advice immediately following an accident.

In the past 12 months, we have received 14 complaints about tow trucks, mostly relating to ‘excessive’ fees and charges. Our advice is to make sure you know the total cost of the service before you agree to have your car towed.

If you have a complaint related to the tow truck driver’s behaviour, you may have rights under the ACL, so please contact us on 1300 30 40 54, or

For more information on tow trucks, visit:

Consumer Protection
Media release
02 Jul 2020

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