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Need Help: Tow Truck Company Destroyed My Car

Discussion in 'Gen II Prius Main Forum' started by Tamim, May 31, 2010.

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  1. Tamim

    Tamim Slayer of Nug

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    Hello everyone, unfortunately my car was towed today in the morning but that is far from the worst of it.

    When I went to the tow yard to pick up my 2005 Toyota Prius I payed them the fee but as soon as I started my car it was entirely messed up. The Orange exclamation point, SRS sign, and sign by that I cant remember the three letter aberviation but I think it started with an A, all three of these lights turned on which were not prveviously present on my dashboard before being towed.

    Also when I disengage the hand brake, the red hand brake light remains on in the dashboard, this is another thing that is broken I am not sure if I am even capable of actually disengaging the hand brake.

    As soon as I confronted the tow yard of the damage they caused, the 500 pound lady (no joke) made herself like a wall and forcefully pushed me off of their property and closed the gate on me. This is after I had paid for my car to be released.

    Anyways I called the police and while the police man was there the owner of the tow yard agreed to tow my car infront of the tow yard for free, while he was doing this he was not using a flat bed tow truck which I later found out are REQUIRED for towing the Toyota Prius otherwise problems will occur. (According to AAA and the dealership)

    Anyways I didn't even attempt to drive the car I had it towed to the local Toyota dealership and they are going to look at it first thign tomorrow after laborday.

    Does anyone know what is wrong with my car or how I can fix it? It is because they used the wrong type of tow truck right? They had slings over the two front wheels.

    How am I going to prove in small claims court that a flat bed is required for towing a Toyota Prius?

    Any help is much appreciated, thanks and have a good memorial day weekend :(
  2. macmaster05

    macmaster05 Senor Member

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    I dont know what the towing company couldve done to bring up all those warning lights, other than offsetting the controls while towing. I'm sure that is all reversible. Don't worry, it sounds like you're in good hands with the Toyota dealership anyway.
  3. sktn77a

    sktn77a Member

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    So, I take it they used a sling, trolley or scissors on two wheels and rolled the car on the other 2 wheels? I would find out what kind of towing equipment they used, how they towed your car (from the front or the rear), and let the dealer know this. And then ask the dealer to inspect the car carefully for any possible damage caused by the towing. I'm not sure why towing would have caused these problems, but the Prius is a very unique car and only your dealer can really determine this.

    Towing companies will deny any liability but they have no legal basis or backing for this.
  4. SW03ES

    SW03ES Senior Member

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    I think you're always better off using a flatbed for any car but I assume this is a parking enforcement tow or something like that? Towing the Prius by the front SHOULDN'T hurt anything...provided its in neutral. I bet thats what happened. Ever watched them tow a car? They break into it with a slim jim and manually put the car in neutral. Well...you can't do that to the Prius because it doesn't have a normal shift lever. Normal shift levers have a little door they access and use a screwdriver to activate the release inside, then they can put the car into neutral even with the car shut off. I don't think thats possible with the Prius.

    Even so...if its not in neutral as long as its being towed by the front wheels it still should be fine...because the Prius is FWD.

    I'll be very interested to see what the dealer says the issue is...
  5. JimN

    JimN Let the games begin!

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    IMO this isn't a case for Small Claims Court. I would file a comprehensive claim with your insurance company & file a complaint with the police.
  6. vertex

    vertex Active Member

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    Was the car towed because something was wrong, or you were in the wrong place?
    The Prius can be towed with a sling or a wheel lift, if the rear wheels are on the ground, and the emergency brake is off.
    Get the details from the dealer, then, depending on the damage and your insurance, you will need to decide how to proceed.
  7. TonyPSchaefer

    TonyPSchaefer Your Friendly Moderator Staff Member

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    If you ask the tow people how they towed the vehicle, they will tell you that they used a flatbed. Of course they will. From this point on, you can assume that anything they tell you is a lie to protect themselves.
  8. Tamim

    Tamim Slayer of Nug

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    Thankfully a police officer was at the site and I have his eye witness of them NOT USING A FLATBED, I called the police officer and he confirmed that he saw them not us a flat bed on my car, and he told me I could subopena him to court to testify this.
    JMD likes this.
  9. Tamim

    Tamim Slayer of Nug

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    Thanks for the help everyone.

    I called the police when the behemoth lady forcefully removed me from the property, he told me that it was a civil and not criminal matter because they did not damage my car on purpose. He told me that this was a matter for small claims.

    My insurance does not cover my car, only if I crash into some one else so I don't think they will be help.

    I should know what is wrong with the car in a couple hours Toyota dealership is examining it as I type.

    I would also like to take actions against the tow truck company for their practices, as soon as I informed them that they damaged my car to the point where I can't move it they forcefully move me off the property after I had paid to have my car released, this has to be illegal in California right? Criminal scum.
  10. stevemcelroy

    stevemcelroy Active Member

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    Tamim - Sorry to hear about your trouble. No one has asked and you did not state in your original post - why were you towed in the first place?

    Typically the tow company is responsible for damage (dents etc) but you may have a much tougher time proving damages based solely on the argument that your car should have been towed on a flat-bed.

    As for your run in with the tow company after your car would not start, you need to remember that it is private property and that the folks working there are typically pretty rough around the edges and are also in a business where there can be a fair bit of anger thrown their way. You are always better biting your tongue and doing everything to stay calm. The fact that the tow company did not use a flat-bed is probably immaterial. The car was inoperable before this and you were standing there while it was being done.

    I'd recommend that you go back to where you had parked when you were towed. Take pictures of the signs and make sure that they are up to code. Also find out about the legal requirements of two companies - both in your state, but also look at the city and county as they may have additional rules. Your best bet is to find something - some law or regulation - that they messed up on.

    Good luck.
  11. Tamim

    Tamim Slayer of Nug

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    They towed me from my own neighborhood. The hoa must of thought I did not live here? None the less it seems the people at the Toyota dealership are saying it triggered some sort of a code that they are charging 110 to reset, ill find out more when i go to pick it up.

    I'm going to take these people to small claims and try to get reimbursed for everything including the fee at the dealership.

    I did a Google search on their name and it bring up predatory towing and a lawyer published on his website a case he won against them for a fellow in my area two years ago who was towed in similar circumstances.
  12. DetPrius

    DetPrius Active Member

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    I used to drive a tow truck in Burbank CA. If it was towed from HOA property, that should have been a private property impound, no police involved, and someone from the HOA would have had to sign for the private property impound. Make sure signage and all laws were followed. The law is very specific about signage as far as size of signs, location of signs, etc. I don't believe the police would have towed it from private property, unless there was a crime involved.

    It's been 15 years since I've towed and laws may have changed but I bet the basics are still there. If the HOA towed it illegally, they can pay for the tow and impound charges, at a minimum.

    Based on personal experience and the Prius manual, I see no reason why the Prius can't be towed with a wheel lift as well as a flatbed. It could never be towed with a sling but those are to find these days due to car designs of the last couple decades.

    I worked for a company that was legit and we occasionally paid for damage done to vehicles, but yes, there are a LOT of shady towing companies out there.
  13. northwichita

    northwichita .

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    he was not using a flat bed tow truck which I later found out are REQUIRED for towing the Toyota Prius otherwise problems will occur. (According to AAA and the dealership)

    For my understanding, how does one tow a prius that is in park, on a flat bed tow truck. The one -so far- time I had my 'dead' prius towed was with the wheel lift on the locked front wheels. With locked front wheels from the park mechanism, how does the car get onto the back of the flat bed?
  14. sktn77a

    sktn77a Member

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    Many tow companies work on a contract basis - the HOA contracts with them to monitor and tow any illegally parked cars. There is no need for any further intervention on their part in such cases. This obviously promotes "predatory towing". The tow companies are acting as the agent of the HOA - the at-fault party would be the HOA and they would be the ones you would need to take to small claims court.
  15. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    The car gets dragged onto the flatbed, with tires screeching since they are locked in place.
  16. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    Your own neighborhood? "must of thought" ????

    Don't assume. Make everyone involved -- tow company, HOA, any third parties that called the tow truck or signed the tow order -- document exactly why your car was towed. Those who refuse to answer to you can answer to the small claims court judge.

    If the tow company towed without authorization, be darn sure to report it to your state attorney general's office. And note that predatory towing here has made for some very interesting local news footage that reverberates through the halls of the state legislature.

    How did you pay the bill? Hopefully by credit card or other non-cash means that can be stopped if the tow was illegal.
  17. SW03ES

    SW03ES Senior Member

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    We don't have all the facts here but it does sound like a private towing company from what the OP was describing. I also would like to know why you were towed. In my HOA we have a lot of people who get "lax" about parking laws and park in no-parking zones figuring they are private roads and they won't get towed. Is that what happened here? It will be much easier to fight if you should never have been towed in the first place.

    I got a ticket one time years ago when I was in high school. We all parked on the main road down from the school where it was legal to park. One day they came out during the day...after everybody had parked for the day...and changed all the signs to "Permit Parking Only" and gave us all tickets. The school had to get involved and get the tickets thrown out. So even county and city municipalities do dirty stuff.
  18. Tamim

    Tamim Slayer of Nug

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    Hey guys I forgot about this thread and wanted to update you all, I won the lawsuit. According to Tripple A they towed my car improperly, they towed it by the front instead of using a different towing method, I think he called it a flat bed and this set off some sort of security code feature.
    ElectronFlux, JMD and uart like this.
  19. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    congrats! thanks for the update.
  20. PriusGuy32

    PriusGuy32 Prius Driver Extraordinaire

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    Congrats on your win!!

    How much were the repairs and what exactly was damaged?
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