What to do when your car gets towed

Not a pleasant experience but I guess you live and learn. This is a simple story about what not to do. Like many people in Nordend, I don’t have a private garage to park my car. There is roadside parking in my street and the best spots are of course right in front of by building and like most of the local residents I play a game of chance in the evenings trying to predict the best time to park my car in one of the spots most convenient. It normally involves driving in circles for 5 minutes looking for a free spot and then pouncing.

So when the spots in front of my building had a warning that on a certain day the parking spaces were needed from 7am for construction work, I had a bit of a dilemma. These signs regularly go up but the spaces are rarely used for construction for the whole time, and even if they are, then normally there is still time after 7am on the first day to move your car in the morning. And that is what I was counting on as usual the night before. Just imagine how tempting those empty spaces were in the evening, right in front of my building.

You can guess what happened.

Next morning, I go downstairs to move the car and of course its already gone and replaced by a large construction crane. For once the warning sign meant what it said. At 7am, along came a tow truck and removed my car. Google actually came to my aid since I had never experienced this before and I found out the following:

What to do: 

  1. Phone either your local police station (not the emergency number) or the Traffic Safety office/Straßenverkehrsamt (see link below) and check that your car was actually towed. They will tell you where it is (it isn’t always the same tow company) and how to get it.
  2. Go collect your car as soon as possible as there may be additional charges for each extra day you leave it. You may have to pay a towing fee to collect your car depending on which company was used.
  3. Within 2 weeks you will receive a fine from the city with the amount depending on the reason for the car being towed. The fine is not connected to the towing cost so you may have to pay twice.

My car was at a distant unattended parking lot just south of Sachsenhausen in the forest (see main picture). There was no fee to collect the vehicle but I received a fine through the post. I just turned up the same day with my key and drove off. An expensive lesson but I am guessing the fine would have been higher if I had actually parked illegally (more illegally) somewhere rather than just blocking a crane.

Official info and telephone numbers can be found here.

Is this common?

Interestingly, this is not such a common problem. You probably see people parked badly/illegally all over the city. However the number of towed cars has dropped significantly in Frankfurt down from 8500 cars in 2016 to only 3800 in 2018. According to a recent HR article, this was mainly because of a severe staff shortage in the Traffic Office but also because contracts with several tow companies expired and haven’t been replaced. According to the head of traffic police, due to the shortage of parking and the crowded nature of Frankfurt, he would need a small army to effectively address the issue. For now though, Frankfurt is one of the least aggressive cities when it comes to parking enforcement.

4 thoughts on “What to do when your car gets towed

  1. I get a lot of fines when I drive car2go, because sometimes I don’t understand where I can park in the city. Normally the fines are between 10 and 20 euros…

    1. It’s a pain to be honest. The parking fine is currently €15 in the city and luckily being towed isn’t common since that is when the second invoice for about €270 comes

  2. Hi, I am in your same position right now and I am struggling to find the parking in the south of . Do you remember if it was easy for you to find it? Do you still have the address? I am doubting the police gave me the wrong one.

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