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Last updated on December 19th, 2023

Vehicle recovery cost guide

Vehicle recovery cost is normally included within a vehicle breakdown cover policy. However, if you don't have breakdown cover, you can still access vehicle recovery services through a breakdown provider, an emergency recovery service, or a local garage. But how much will it cost?

Breaking down by the side of the road is one thing. Accepting the vehicle recovery cost and the bill for fixing your vehicle is another. These sudden, unexpected costs can mount up, so it’s best to be prepared.

In this guide, we’ll outline the typical cost of vehicle recovery, including information on electric vehicle breakdown cost, and electric vehicle recovery cost.

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Vehicle recovery cost as part of your breakdown cover

Breakdown cover offers roadside assistance (a mechanic attempting to fix your vehicle on the spot) as the most basic form of cover.

Unlike insurance, it’s not a legal requirement to have breakdown cover. However, it offers peace of mind should you be stranded in a broken-down car.

The cost of breakdown cover varies depending on the level of service you choose: local, national, or home start.

Local cover£24/yr£74/yr£49/yr
National cover£25/yr£165/yr£95/yr
Home start cover£28/yr£129/yr£78.5/yr

Our costs are ballpark averages – get a local tradesperson to quote now

Many vehicle owners will add car recovery cost to their breakdown cover policy, meaning that if their vehicle breaks down and the roadside mechanic cannot fix the issue, it will be towed to a local garage for further investigation.

However, if you choose not to include this service in your breakdown cover policy, you can still contact a vehicle recovery firm, but you’re likely to pay more. Let’s take a look at the average price tag of vehicle recovery costs as a standalone offering.

vehicle recovery - car being towed

How much does vehicle recovery cost on its own?

Vehicle recovery – essentially having your car towed due to a breakdown – is sometimes unavoidable. But how much does car recovery cost in the UK if you don’t have this service as part of your breakdown cover?

Emergency vehicle recovery cost

If you break down on the motorway, or in a dangerous spot, you’ll need to contact an emergency recovery service. The police removal fee from a motorway is £150.

There is often a storage cost too, at around £20/day.

Call-out fee for a local mechanic

If you break down on a quieter road and your vehicle is not causing a danger to other road users, you could contact a local garage for help.

If a mechanic is available, they might offer roadside assistance to try to fix the problem, costing around £80 for a call-out fee.

Hiring a tow truck

Alternatively, the mechanic might arrange for a tow truck to take you to their garage.

Hiring a recovery vehicle can cost around £75 on average. Expect to pay more (typically £85 after 6 pm and on weekends) and up to £90 - £110 on bank holidays.

In addition, you will pay a mileage to be towed, often around £1.50 per mile.

Key points to consider…

  • It’s important to remember, that these car recovery costs are simply to recover your vehicle – you’ll then need to factor in the cost of repair too
  • Van recovery cost is usually more expensive due to the weight of the vehicle and the fact that many vans contain expensive equipment or goods

How much does vehicle recovery cost

Does electric vehicle breakdown cost more than petrol or diesel cars?

Most providers offer the same breakdown cover cost regardless of whether your vehicle is electric, hybrid, petrol, or diesel.

Electric vehicles break down very infrequently as they have fewer moving parts and no complex fuel mixing and exhaust systems. However, if you do break down, it’s most likely because you’ve run out of battery.

With breakdown cover, your provider will send someone out to either charge your car so you can reach the nearest charging point, or they’ll take you there.

For any other faults, as with standard breakdown cover, your provider will attempt to fix the issue at the roadside.

electric vehicle recovery on a tow truck

Does electric vehicle recovery cost more?

If your electric vehicle needs to be recovered, your provider will either use a freewheeling hub, which allows your EV to be towed without its wheels touching the ground, or a flatbed towing truck.

Towing an electric vehicle in the standard way could damage the electric motors and invalidate the car’s warranty. Your provider should know how to safely ‘tow’ your electric vehicle.

While the cost of recovering an electric vehicle that has broken down is similar to a petrol or diesel vehicle, the cost of repairs can be up to three times higher.

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What if my car breaks down and I don’t have breakdown cover?

If your vehicle breaks down and you don’t have breakdown cover, you can contact a provider (such as the AA or RAC) to get instant cover. Alternatively, contact a nearby garage to see if they can offer assistance or a recovery service. If you have broken down on the motorway, contact the emergency services by calling 999.

How much is car recovery UK?

If you don’t have vehicle recovery as part of your breakdown cover, you could pay between £75-£150 for a tow truck, depending on where you break down. In addition, you’ll pay mileage of around £1.50/mile and possible daily storage costs of around £20/day too.

What is UK national vehicle recovery?

National vehicle recovery means that – should your vehicle breakdown – you can be towed anywhere in the UK, no matter how far you are from your destination.

How much does car recovery cost if I’m driving overseas?

Vehicle recovery can work differently if you’re driving in other countries. It’s always best to check with your provider to see if they can offer any breakdown cover for Europe or worldwide. Otherwise, you’ll need to take out a policy or use vehicle recovery services in the country itself.

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Working with professional estimators, we collate cost estimates for the common home improvement and repair jobs in the UK.

All the costs are estimates only. For accurate costs for your particular requirements, you are encouraged to reach out to professional tradespeople to receive a quote for your job.

Our estimators are Chartered Members (MRICS) of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and Members of the Chartered Institute of Building (MCIOB). See full disclaimer.

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