A Guide to Basic Car Care for MotoristsA Guide to Basic Car Care for Motorists


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A Guide to Basic Car Care for Motorists

When I started out driving across country, the thought that my car might not make the journey never occurred to me. In fact, my car had been inspected by a local mechanic and he had assured me I was ready to go. Halfway through my trip, I found out that this was not true. After talking to a more experienced mechanic, I discovered that the problem with my car stemmed from something simple that even I should have recognized. I created this blog to help inexperienced car owners to better understand their cars. By knowing what to look for, you can better care for your car.

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How NOT To Keep Your Car From Getting Towed

Having your car break down is bad enough. Having to leave your car in a tow-away zone while you track down parts, find someone to fix it, or come up with the cash for the repair that will get it moving again is even worse. You can find all kinds of tips and advice on how to prevent your car from getting towed, but a lot of that advice is at best ineffective – and at worst it can be damaging to your car. Find out which popular pieces of towing avoidance wisdom you should definitely steer clear of.

Make Your Car Inaccessible

One common suggestion is to park with the wheels of your car touching the curb. Even if you can maneuver a broken down car into this position, it may not be the best idea. It's definitely more difficult for a tow truck to access your vehicle when the wheels are touching the curb, but as long as either the front or back of your car is accessible to the tow truck, your car can be towed.

Another common suggestion is to park in between two other cars. While this may sound like an easy fix, it's more difficult than you might think. For one thing, you would have to be sandwiched pretty closely between two other cars, which, like parking close to the curb, might be tough to do in a disabled car. And even if you could convince two other drivers to park in front of and behind you, remember that if confronted with a line of illegally parked cars, the tow truck will most likely just tow all of them, starting from the back. It may be technically possible to park illegally between two legally parked cars to block access to your car and prevent it from getting towed, but this is not a method that you should count on.

Disable Your Car

Another common suggestion for towing avoidance is to make your car untowable by disabling it in some way. Less extreme suggestions involve setting your parking brake, turning all four wheels in one direction, or using a steering wheel lock to secure the steering wheel and your tires in place. What you need to know is that none of these things will make your car untowable. They may make it more difficult for the tow truck driver to hook up your car to the truck, but they won't keep your car in place.

More extreme suggestions involve putting a parking boot on your one of your car's wheels car or removing one or more tires from the car before leaving it. This is a lot of work to go through to avoid a tow, and neither method ensures that you won't still return to find your car gone. These methods may buy you time, as the tow truck driver will most likely have to either return with a flatbed truck or find a way to remove the boot in order to tow your car safely. However, some drivers may choose to simply tow your car as-is, which could result in serious damage to your vehicle.

Leave a Note

This is certainly the simplest method of trying to prevent your car from being towed, and in some ways it's the one most likely to work. Depending on where your car is parked, a simple note on the windshield may convince a building manager or business owner not to immediately have your car towed from the parking lot, though the longer your car remains, the less effective the note will be. It may, in rare cases, even convince a police officer to give you a little extra time before calling towing companies. But once a towing company has been called, you're out of luck.

A walk through a salvage yard will reveal plenty of cars with notes from the owners still attached. Pleading for more time does no good if the tow truck driver has been asked by a legal authority or the owner or manager of a property to take the car away. There's nothing they can do.

If your car breaks down on private property, you best bet is to ask the owner or manager in person if you can leave the car temporarily until it can be repaired. If they say no, or if your car is in a tow away zone on public property, you'll have to get it out of there. If possible, recruit a friend or two to help you push the car to a legal parking area. If that's not possible, it may be better to pay for a tow truck yourself and have it towed home or to your mechanic than to leave it and hope for the best – if it does get towed, salvage yard fees can mount up fast. In any case, don't make the mistake of thinking that you've made your car untowable.