If a car has been impounded it can be difficult for a low income family to pay the costs involved to retrieve it. In addition to that challenge, there is also a general lack of financial assistance available to pay for any release or impound fees, but struggling families, including those with no money to spare, do have a few options that they can look into.
One of the first things to do is to determine why the car was impounded to begin with. It may be the result of unpaid car insurance, excessive tickets, or even criminal activity. If the issue was something related to a crime, then it will almost be impossible to get any type of financial assistance to get it released. When a charity or non-profit has funding is available (which is not common), it will usually only cover legal reasons, such as unpaid insurance, bringing registration current or rarely money can help pay parking tickets.
The focus of any assistance programs listed below is on non-criminal activity. Even most of the free legal aid services that are available will not help people that were involved in a crime, even if the client has no cash or income available to them.
Assistance for employment reasons – If the person that had their car impounded is at risk of losing their current job due to lack of transportation, then a non-profit may assist. But, as noted, this form of help is rare. Some community action agencies will provide a grant to help the family get the car of of the lot in which it was impounded at. Or a charity or church may assist. But even if they do provide this service, the dollar amount will be small.
It may be a little more likely to get a loan from a community action agency, especially if the applicant has no money but they are employed. This form of assistance for paying impound fees is more likely as it minimizes the risk to the agency. Even if the client has no upfront money to pay for the impound retrieval costs, by lending money it opens up the door to payment plans.
The use of the funds from a loan can be diverse, and some non-profit community action agencies may allow the money to go to a towing company, the government to pay speeding or parking tickets, or even DMV registration costs. The applicant should have proof of employment, have a plan in place to repay any money loaned by the community action agency, and have proof of income. Anyone that may want to explore this option can contact a local community action agency.
Some regional or national programs also may offer more affordable loans for buying cars or trucks. One service is available in certain parts of the country and it is usually referred to as Ways to Work. Money will only be issued to applicants with a job and that need their car for getting back and forth to work. While there are no guarantees, maybe the program will issue money to pay the impound costs to a lot or the towing company that took the car. Locate low income car loans which may help pay for an impound release fee.
Personal or payday loans to pay impound costs – This will always be a very high risk option. The only reason it is noted here is it may be an option if the individual has a job but just no money to pay the upfront fees to the parking lot or garage. If it is used, the borrower needs to be able to (and follow through with) paying off the loan with their next paycheck.
Another time in which using a payday lender may be an option is some states now strongly regulate the origination fees as well as interest rates these lenders can charge. So if an automobile was impounded due to unpaid tickets or maybe auto insurance, and if the applicant lives in one of the more regulated states, then a payday loan may be a little better option as maybe the interest rate is more reasonable. But even in this case it is high risk and is the very last thing to consider. Be sure to read the find print or locate possible low interest rate payday loans.
As noted, any type of financial help to get a car out of impound is rare. The best solution is always to be pro-active. This means some or all of the following.
For those families that are struggling and lack the money to be pro-active on paying these expenses, then ask for help from friends or family. Or talk to your boss at work, as in general, a company wants someone to have a car so they can make it to work as it does not do any good for the business if the employee has a car impounded and needs to be let go.
If the towing company or garage that took the car is being unfair, or maybe trying to scam the family, then this is when legal aid may help. As noted, if an automobile is impounded due to criminal activity, free legal services will not touch these types of cases. Instead they will only help very low income families with no money or assets available to them that are having trouble in getting their car released. Read other examples of what legal aid can help with.
The bottom line is that when a car that a low income family drives has been impounded, the options available to get it released are limited. But it is not hopeless. The resources above may be able to assist to pay the impound and/or vehicle release fee that the towing company or lot needs.
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