Tow truck driver sees increase in abandoned vehicles linked to COVID-19 pandemic

WEBXTRA: Tow truck driver sees increase in abandoned vehicles linked to COVID-19 pandemic

GLADEWATER, Texas (KLTV) - Wrecker companies are always busy; vehicles break down and accidents happen. But vehicles are also abandoned, and at least one wrecker company says that is happening more often since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Although as it turned out it was not the case in this instance, vehicles break down, are pushed somewhere, and just left there since some owners can’t afford to fix them. Ryan Hill with 271 Wreckers in Gladewater says in his four years of pickups he’s seen an increase in abandoned vehicles.

“A lot of these are coming from gas stations and even side of the road. It’s almost like people are walking away not wanting to deal with the financial liability of having it towed, getting it repaired,” Hill said.

And some, Ryan said, like the one he had just picked up, became abandoned because the owner had pandemic related financial issues.

“She couldn’t afford to pay the note on the car that she has. The lienholder didn’t want to pick the vehicle up; they didn’t want to pay to pick the vehicle up. It has some mechanical issues with it, but her landlord wanted the vehicle removed so we’re helping the landlord, we’re helping the tenant,” Hill said.

So it’s not always as simple as a broken-down car that costs too much to fix, but that is also the case.

“Many of these vehicles, the amount of repair it would take; it would be a totaled vehicle, honestly, you know. Needs a new motor, needs a new tranny, a whole new suspension. The list can go on and on. These vehicles have to be dealt with somehow,” Hill said.

Ryan says sometimes the lien holder will eventually pick up the vehicle but:

“It doesn’t always happen. We’ve had vehicles stay in our impound that never get picked up by lean holders, never get picked up by owners,” Hill said.

He says, with the proper title work a few of them can be fixed and sold:

“But a big majority of them just never make it back on the road,” Hill said.

He says that if they’re not picked up by someone abandoned vehicles would end up littering the sides of our roadways.

Abandoned vehicles stay in impound lots for a while, but if they start filling up the property they are sold to salvage yards for parts vehicles, or for scrap.

Abandoned Vehicles

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