Towing Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions related to the towing program.

Who can I Contact Regarding My Towing Questions?

Portland Police Auto Records: 503.823.0044

  • Was my car towed?
  • Why was it towed
  • Where was my car towed to? 
  • How do I get my vehicle back? 

City of Portland Hearings Office

Towing Appeals at the Portland Code Hearings Office

  • Appeal a Tow requested by a City of Portland Agency (ex: Portland Police, Parking Enforcement, Abandoned Autos).  

Multnomah County Courthouse

Multnomah County Circuit Court

  • Contest a parking citation
  • Pay the citation, 
  • Obtain pictures taken by the Parking Officer at time of citation

City of Portland Towing Program

City of Portland Towing Program

  • To file a complaint regarding a Portland tower working at the request of an Agency or Private Property Owner: Online Towing Complaint form
  • Information regarding the City of Portland Towing Contracts 
  • Towing Rates
  • City of Portland Private Property Impound Regulations

Where is my car?

If your car is not where you left it, your first call should be to Police Auto Records at (503) 823-0044.

They can tell you if your car was:  

  • Moved (courtesy tow) for utility work or a special event or film/video work; or
  • Impounded
    • because it was parked on private property without permission; or,
    • because it was blocking access to a driveway, or special parking zone, or a utility meter; or,
    • because it might contain evidence needed for an investigation; or,
    • due to a traffic violation; or,
    • Tag Warrant; or,
    • it was reposessed; or,
    • possibly stolen. 

Was my car stolen or towed?

Police Auto Records: (503) 823-0044 will be able to tell you if your car was towed. See "where is my car?"

Why did you tow my car?

Many local agencies have authority to tow vehicles for matters of public interest.  Private property owners also have a legal right to hire a tow company to remove unauthorized vehicles from their property. Call Police Auto Records Police Auto Records for information: (503) 823-0044.

What is the difference between a municipal tow (city agency tow) and a private property impound (PPI)?

A municipal tow is towed from public property and requested by a public agency, such as: Portland Police, Multnomah County Sheriff, Fairview City Police, Parking Enforcement, Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), Tri-Met or Port of Portland Police.  A PPI tow is requested by a property owner or tenant who did not give permission for the vehicle to be parked on their private property. 

How do I get my car back?

If your car was towed at the request of an agency, you must first be sure that you don’t need the agency’s permission to pick up the car.  Once you have received the okay from the agency who ordered the tow, you can go to the tow company office to pay any towing and storage charges and pick up the car. Call Police Auto Records for information: (503) 823-0044.

If the car was towed because of its importance in a police investigation, you will be notified by the agency when you can pay the towing fee and pick up the car. Call Police Auto Records for information: (503) 823-0044.

If your car was towed from private property, Police Auto Records will tell you which company made the tow. You can call the tow company to make arrangements to pay the towing and storage fees and have the vehicle released to you. Call Police Auto Records for information: (503) 823-0044.

How do I get my stuff out of the car?

On a municipal tow, without police orders against it – within the first 15 days after the tow, the vehicle owner has the right to collect personal belongings and anything that is not in any way connected to the vehicle.  There is no charge for this access during regular business hours.  After hours, the tower may charge a gate fee.

On a municipal tow, with police orders – no one is allowed access to a vehicle without police permission.

On a PPI tow, the registered owner can remove all personal property of an emergency nature from their towed vehicle.  Citizens can retrieve such property during regular business hours at no charge. Between the hours of 6 p.m. and 8 a.m., Monday through Friday, or on a Saturday, a Sunday or a legal holiday, the tower is allowed to charge a gate fee for access or removal of personal property.  “Personal property of an emergency nature” means prescription medication, eyeglasses, clothing, identification, a wallet, a purse, a credit card, a checkbook, cash and child safety car and booster seats.

See what is the difference between a municipal and PPI tow

How long do I have to get my stuff?

On municipal tows – 15 days from the date of the tow.

On PPI tows - until the tower can auction the car, at least 30 days.

What is a courtesy tow / tow by the hour?

Sometimes it is necessary to clear a street of legally parked cars; for example, street repair, temporary no parking for an event like a parade or a run, film/video work, etc.  If the cars were parked before the barriers or “no parking” signs were posted, the cars are moved to another legal parking spot at no charge to the owner.  The new location of the car is reported to Police Auto Records: (503) 823-0044.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find another space.  When there isn’t a place to move a car, it is taken to the tower’s lot for safe-keeping.  If this is necessary, the folks who caused the move pay for the tow and up to two days of storage. Call Police Auto Records for information: (503) 823-0044.

What happens when the police are involved in my tow?

If your vehicle is towed as a result of a traffic stop or is part of a police investigation, call Police Auto Records for information: (503) 823-0044. They can tell you if you need to come to them for permission to pick up your car.

What do I need to do to get me car back if it was towed due to unpaid parking tickets (Tag Warrant)?

If your car is towed because of a Tag Warrant, you must contact the Circuit Court Parking Office at (503) 988-3235 for information about how to get a release. 

What information is provided to me when I get my car?

Anytime you pick up a towed vehicle – whether it was ordered by police or towed from private property – the tower must give you an invoice, in addition to any credit or debit slip, complete with:

  • information about your car,
  • time and date of the tow,
  • time and date of the release of the car to you,
  • reason for the tow,
  • an officer’s identification number or name of the company that authorized the tow,
  • identification number or initials of the tow driver,
  • location towed from,
  • a “tow number” assigned as a reference if there are any inquiries about the tow,
  • an inventory of personal items visible from the outside of the car,
  • notes about any pre-existing damage on the car,
  • an itemized listing of all fees, identifying the reason for each.

If a parking ticket was written on your car, the tower is responsible for delivering the ticket to you with your invoice.

Why is there a lien on my vehicle?

The way for a tower (or, for that matter, a mechanic) to ensure that someone pays the bill is to assert a “possessory lien.”  According to state law, when a tower tows a vehicle, a lien immediately “attaches” to the vehicle.  In order to be able to sell the vehicle to cover towing and storage fees, the tower must send written notice to the registered owner and any security interest holder listed on the DMV record of the car. 

After notice is sent, the tower must then hold the vehicle and its contents for a number of days, depending on the value of the car.  If the car is worth $1,000 or less, but more than $500 the tower must hold the vehicle at least 30 days from the date of the tow, before the lien is “foreclosed” by auctioning it.  If the car is worth more than $1,000, the tower must hold it a minimum of 60 days before auctioning.  Anytime before the lien is foreclosed, the registered owner or security interest holder can pay the accrued towing and storage fees and claim the vehicle.

Who do I complain to?

If your car was towed from public property and you believe it was towed in error, please contact the Code Hearings Officer at (503) 823-7307 to request a hearing.

If you believe that the tower has acted improperly (overcharge, rudeness, vehicle damage, etc.) please submit your complaint our our office:

Who's going to pay for the damage to my car?

Damage claims should be addressed with the tower directly. You may also consider a claim with your insurance carrier, the State of Oregon, or in civil court:

State of Oregon Consumer Protection Division 
Phone: 1-877-877-9392 

Multnomah County Circuit Court 

What are the tow rates?

If your vehicle was towed at the City’s request (Municipal Tow): Municipal Tow Rates

If your vehicle was towed from a private parking facility (PPI): Approved Private Property Tow Rates

If you are unsure who towed your vehicle, go to "What is the difference between a municipal tow and a private property impound (PPI)?"

Who's responsible for the tow rates?

Fees for tows requested by an agency under this contract are approved by City Council.