Home Business Insights & Advice How much does car recovery cost in the UK?

How much does car recovery cost in the UK?

by Sarah Dunsby
8th Jun 24 12:15 pm

If your car breaks down and you need it towed to a garage, you may be wondering: how much does vehicle recovery cost in the UK? Car recovery typically costs between £75 to £150 for the call-out fee, and around £1.50 per mile after that. However, the total cost can vary quite a bit depending on which area of the UK you are in. To give you a ballpark idea, here is what you can expect to pay for car recovery based on common towing distances:

Mileage typical cost range

1-5 miles £75 – £150 (base call-out fee)

10 miles £90 – £165

25 miles £125 – £225

50 miles £200 – £300

100 miles £350 – £450

Let’s break down the main components that make up the total cost of vehicle recovery:

Call-out/base fee: £75-£150

Most recovery services charge a base fee just to come out to your location, even before factoring in the distance they need to tow you. This call-out fee typically ranges from £75 up to £150. It covers the cost of the recovery vehicle and driver’s time to reach you.

The call-out fee may be on the higher end, around £85-£110, if you need service after 6pm, on weekends, or on bank holidays due to overtime pay rates. So if possible, it’s usually cheaper to get recovered during standard business hours on weekdays.

Per-mile fee: £1.50/mile on average

On top of the call-out fee, recovery companies charge a per-mile rate to tow your vehicle. This mileage fee is usually around £1.50 per mile, but can range from £1-£3/mile.

The total mileage cost includes:

– The distance for the tow truck to drive from their location to reach you

– The distance to tow your car from your breakdown location to the destination garage

So for longer towing distances, the per-mile fee can really add up and becomes the biggest component of the total recovery bill. Choosing a recovery service located closer to you can help minimize this cost.

Other cost factors

A few other things can increase the cost of recovery above the standard rates:

  • -If recovering a large vehicle like a van, minibus, or SUV (as opposed to a standard car)
  •  If the vehicle is in a difficult to access spot, requiring special equipment or extra labor to retrieve it
  •  If transporting an accident-damaged vehicle, which requires extra care to avoid causing further damage

To get an insider perspective, we reached out to Tom Riley, owner of My Car Recovery London, who provided this quote:

“The main factors that determine car recovery cost are the call-out fee and the mileage fee. Most companies charge a call-out of £75 to £150 just to attend, then £1.50 per mile on top of that. So the farther away you break down from their depot, the higher the bill. If you drive an oversized vehicle, get stuck in a tricky spot, or need service at odd hours, expect to pay extra. Your best bet is to call around to a few recovery companies to compare pricing and go with the most reasonable one.”

Tips to get the best deal

The key to getting the most affordable recovery is to call around to a few different local companies to compare prices. Don’t feel pressured to go with the first one you call – take the time to get several quotes to find the best rate. Choosing a recovery depot in close proximity to your breakdown location will also help reduce the mileage costs.

It’s also smart to look into getting a comprehensive roadside assistance plan. For a reasonable annual fee, these plans from companies like the AA and RAC include recovery services if you break down. It can be much more economical than paying out of pocket for one-off recovery jobs.

What’s the average cost to recover a car in the UK?

The typical cost is a £75-£150 call-out fee, plus around £1.50 per mile of towing distance. So in total it usually comes to around £90-£165 for a 10 mile tow, or £200-£300 for a 50 mile tow. However recovery costs in London can be up to 20% higher.

Do I have to use the recovery company my car insurance recommends?

No, you are free to use any reputable recovery service you choose. Your insurance may have a preferred provider, but you are not obligated to use them. It pays to shop around.

Will my car insurance cover the cost of vehicle recovery?

It depends on your specific policy. Some comprehensive policies include recovery, but many base policies do not. Check the details of your coverage or ask your insurance agent to be sure.

How can I avoid needing an expensive recovery service?

Properly maintaining your vehicle and addressing any needed repairs quickly can help avoid breakdowns. It’s also wise to have a roadside assistance plan that includes recovery, as this is usually much cheaper than paying out of pocket for a one-time recovery.

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