Why Do Tow Trucks Take So Long? 8 Contributing Factors

Have you ever found yourself stranded on the side of the road, waiting anxiously for a tow truck to arrive? 

It’s a situation many of us have experienced, and it often raises the question: Why do tow trucks take so long to get to your location?

That’s what I’ll get to in this post – and I’ll even add on a few things you can do to make the time you wait more productive and bearable.

Why Do Tow Trucks Take So Long

Car troubles happen to the best of us, and that’s where towing services come in handy. But, you know what can be a real drag? 

Waiting for that tow truck to roll up so you can finally get that help you need. 

Here are all the reasons why tow trucks take so long to arrive:

Reason 1: High Demand and Limited Resources

When you’re stuck on the side of the road, waiting for a tow truck, it can feel like time is standing still. 

That’s because there are often more people in the same boat, all hoping for a quick rescue. 

But here’s the thing: There are only so many tow trucks to go around, and when everyone needs a hand, it can create a backlog.

Reason 2: Geographic Location

If you’re in the middle of a bustling city with honking horns and endless traffic, your towing might come slow. 

It’s like a maze out there, and tow trucks have to navigate through it all to reach you. 

On the flip side, if you’re stranded in a quiet, far-flung corner of a rural area, it can take time for help to arrive since it’s pretty much like searching for a needle in a haystack.

Reason 3: Priority of Calls

When you call for help, the tow truck drivers are like first responders. 

They rush to the most critical cases first, just like paramedics at a busy hospital. 

Emergencies, such as accidents or vehicles obstructing traffic, get immediate attention.

So, if your situation isn’t an emergency, you’ll have to wait for them to address higher-priority cases first.

Reason 4: Weather and Road Conditions

Mother Nature can throw a wrench in the works. 

Think about it – when the skies open up and there’s a cloudburst, it’s not the best time for anyone to be out on the road. 

Bad weather can slow down tow trucks, and they might be swamped with calls when things get really nasty.

Reason 5: Tow Truck Availability

Different types of problems require specific tow trucks. 

If your car needs a specialized tow, like a heavy-duty one, and there aren’t many available, it can take more time to find the right match.

Reason 6: Administrative and Dispatch Procedures

Behind the scenes, dispatchers gather information about your location and the issue with your car before sending a tow truck. 

During busy periods, this process may take longer due to a higher volume of calls.

Reason 7: Time of Day

Just like some restaurants have different hours, tow truck companies may have reduced staff at night. 

So, if your car breaks down after hours, it’s a bit like trying to grab a bite at a 24/7 diner – it might take a little extra time.

Reason 8: Complex Situations And Safety Considerations

The distance and complexity of the job can influence the cost. 

This can affect how quickly a tow truck responds, especially if it’s a long-distance tow.

Not to mention, safety is paramount for tow truck drivers, especially in challenging conditions or low visibility. 

They want to make sure they get to you safely, and that means taking a short while for a few extra precautions.

What You Should Do In The Mean Time

While you’re waiting for the tow truck to show up, here are some things you can do to pass the time and stay safe:

  • Stay Safe: First things first, keep yourself safe. Turn on your hazard lights to let other drivers know there’s an issue. If you can, step out of your car and stay away from traffic.
  • Share Your Location: It’s a good idea to share your location with a trusted friend or family member, just in case. They’ll know where you are if anything unexpected happens.
  • Grab Your Stuff: While you wait, grab your important stuff from your car – things like your documents, valuables, or anything you might need.
  • Stay in the Loop: Keep your phone handy and stay in the know about when the tow truck is expected. Your roadside assistance folks will usually keep you updated.
  • Explore Other Options: Depending on what’s wrong with your car, you might have some other options. For instance, if it’s just a flat tire and you’ve got the tools and know-how, you could give changing it a shot. But always play it safe and call for help if you’re not sure.
  • Remain Relaxed: Waiting can be a drag but try to stay calm and patient. You can use this time to chill out, listen to some tunes, or dive into a good book. Stressing out won’t make the tow truck magically appear faster.
  • Get Info Ready: When the tow truck comes up, be ready to give them the lowdown on what’s up with your car. Having this info handy will help speed things up once they arrive.

Waiting for a tow truck isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time, but these tips should help make it a bit easier and keep you safe while you wait.


How long do tow trucks take at night?

At night, tow truck response times can take a bit longer, typically averaging around 45 minutes to an hour. This happens because fewer folks are working during those nighttime hours. But remember, it can vary based on where you are and how busy they are.

How far do tow trucks go?

Tow trucks usually cover different distances, with an average range of 20 to 50 miles for local tows. For longer distances, they can go anywhere from 100 to 200 miles or more, depending on the towing company’s capabilities and the specific job.

Why is it so hard to get a tow truck?

Getting a tow truck quickly can be tough due to high demand and limited availability. 

Final Thoughts

To sum it up, waiting for a tow truck isn’t always speedy, but it’s a necessary service when you’re in a jam. 

Be patient, stay safe, and hopefully, your next roadside rescue will be swift.

Ricardo Vaughn
Ricardo Vaughn

Vaughn is a seasoned off-roading expert and professional winch specialist. When he's not out on the trails, he shares his knowledge and experiences through his writing as a blog author in the off-roading and outdoor lifestyle space.

Articles: 98