FAQs

The SFMTA is responsible for removing illegally parked and abandoned vehicles from City streets and all vehicles towed by the San Francisco Police Department.  Towing helps maximize on-street parking, manage traffic congestion, and maintain clean, safe and functional streets for the public’s use.

For more information, please visit the SFMTA website:

SFMTA Towed


Resources & Links

Tow Fee Schedules – Effective 7/1/2019


Towing Fees

You must pay all towing and storage fees owed for your towed vehicle before your vehicle can be released.

Towing and storage fees vary for light, medium and heavy duty vehicles.  Please search for your vehicle online or call the Impound customer service center at 415.865.8200 to receive an estimate of fees owed.

Citations

Citations must be paid separately from the towing and storage.  Ask our staff for more information on the citations owed.  If your vehicle has five or more delinquent citations, you must pay the delinquent citations before your vehicle can be released.  Your citation and boot fees payment can be processed at the Impound facility.

For more information, please visit the SFMTA website: 

Citations

Pay Citation Online

Contest Citation

 


 

  1. What is AutoReturn?
    X

    AutoReturn is a management company contracted by the City and County of San Francisco to accept payments and to facilitate the vehicle release process on behalf of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and San Francisco Police Department (SFPD).  AutoReturn does not order tows or issue tickets. Our job is to manage the safe transportation, storage, and return of a towed vehicle.

  2. Where is my car?
    X

    Your vehicle may be stored at one of the two City and County of San Francisco Impound facilities.  Call 415.865.8200 to determine the exact location of your vehicle.

  3. Where is the Customer Service Center?
    X

    You may pay your fees at the City and County of San Francisco Impound Facility located at 450 7th Street, San Francisco. You may also reach us by phone at 415.865.8200. Offices are open 24 hours a day, every day of the year, including holidays.

  4. What do I need to retrieve my towed vehicle?
    X

    If your vehicle was towed by SFMTA or SFPD, you will need at minimum:

    • Valid driver’s license
    • Payment for all fees
    • Proof of vehicle ownership or keys for the vehicle

    Acceptable forms of vehicle ownership include:

    • Valid  registration certificate
    • Title to vehicle
    • Rental Agreement
    • Company identification for commercial vehicles
    • Police release form – for vehicles towed by the SFPD
  5. What if my vehicle was towed by SFPD?
    X

    If your vehicle was towed by SFPD, you will be required to present a release from the SFPD

    • If your vehicle was towed for a crime; towed for expired registration; towed for suspended, revoked, or expired driver’s license, go to:

    STOP Department

    Hall of Justice

    850 Bryant Street, Room 154

    San Francisco, CA

    Hours of operation are Monday thru Friday 9am-3pm

    • If your vehicle was not towed for any of the reasons above, you may obtain a police release from any police station. Call the Customer Service Center at 415.865.8200 for more information.

    For more information, please visit the SFPD website: 

    SFPD Towed Vehicle Information

  6. Who authorizes vehicle tows?
    X

    The SFMTA is the city’s branch of government responsible for removing illegally parked and abandoned vehicles from City streets as ordered by Enforcement and the San Francisco Police Department.  

    For more information, visit the SFMTA website:

    SFMTA Towed

  7. What forms of payment are acceptable?
    X

    Payments can be made in cash, debit cards, and most major credit cards (Discover, Mastercard, American Express and Visa).

  8. How do I receive low-income waivers?
    X

    Effective April 2016, the SFMTA has made available certain waivers and reductions to qualifying individual owners. 

    For more information, visit the SFMTA website:

    Low Income

  9. How do I receive a waiver for people experiencing homelessness?
    X

    Effective July 2020, the SFMTA has made available certain waivers to qualifying individual owners who are experiencing homelessness. 

    For more information, visit the SFMTA website:

    Low Income

  10. How do I receive a first-tow reduction?
    X

    Individuals whose vehicle was never previously  towed by the SFMTA or SFPD, will receive a reduction in the administrative fee.

    For more information, visit the SFMTA website:

    First Tow

  11. What if my vehicle registration is expired?
    X

    For more information, visit the DMV website:

    CA DMV

    If your vehicle registration has expired for more than six months, you must obtain a valid registration or a one-day moving permit from the Department of Motor Vehicles.  Proof of registration or one-day moving permit must be present at the time of release.

  12. How do I contest a citation?
    X

    Visit SFMTA’s citation website: 

    Contest Citation

  13. How do I contest a tow ordered by SFMTA?
    X

    Visit the SFMTA website to contest your tow or call 415.701.5400

    Contest Tow

  14. How do I contest a tow ordered by SFPD?
    X

    For vehicles towed by the San Francisco Police Department, visit the website below or go to:

    STOP Department

    Hall of Justice

    850 Bryant Street, Room 154

    San Francisco, CA

    Hours of operation are Monday thru Friday 9am-3pm

    For more information, visit the SFPD website:

    SFPD Towed Vehicle Information

  15. What if I have a complaint?
    X

    If you have any comments or suggestions about our service please complete a customer feedback form. Printed forms are also available at all of our locations.

  16. How do I file a claim?
    X

    As agents of the City and County of San Francisco, AutoReturn has in place multiple safeguards to minimize the possibility of vehicle damage and personal property loss. We recognize damage and loss can occur in a small number of cases. AutoReturn has a zero-tolerance for missing property and take seriously all claims.

    Please carefully inspect your vehicle and file a claim for any alleged damage while still on our lot. Please ask a customer service or storage specialist staff member to assist you.

    You can complete a claim form here.

    We are committed to a fast and fair resolution of all claims, and respond to all claims within two business days. We determine the validity of all claims based on the type of damage, the vehicle condition report at the time of tow and footage from our high-resolution video lot surveillance cameras. We do not tolerate fraudulent claims and will pursue them aggressively up to and including criminal prosecution.

  17. What happens to unclaimed vehicles?
    X

    Per state law, permission is requested from the DMV to sell each unclaimed vehicle. Proceeds go toward administrative, towing, storage, and any other tow-related fees in accordance with applicable laws. Proceeds are also applied to delinquent citations and SFPD fees.

    A vehicle is deemed unclaimed when the fees have not been paid. Or, if the vehicle has been left for 15 days (if valued at less than $500), 30 days (if valued between $500 and $4000), and longer for vehicles valued at more than $4000.

    If the sale price of a vehicle is less than the total amount due for the towing and storage fees of the vehicle, citations, and SFPD fees, the owner remains responsible to the SFMTA and/or SFPD for the balance.

    If the sale price of a vehicle exceeds the fees, the excess is sent to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

    Low-value vehicles are sold to vehicle dismantling operators.

    Higher-value vehicles are sold at our public auctions. Owners are not allowed to purchase their vehicle from the auction. Please see our vehicles sales page for more details.