Towing a car isn’t something that you do every day. Yet, it pays to know how to drag an automobile when a rare and unexpected event like this happens.
There are several ways to tow a car. Sometimes, you can even do it without calling a towing company, but you’d need another person and another vehicle.
Your towing choices will dictate your experience. Some options are riskier than others and yet more cost-effective.
How to Tow a Car Safely
For speedy towing help, it’s best to phone a towing company. However, there are situations when even a friend can help.
Here are some standard ways to tow a car:
Towing a Car with a Flatbed Tow Truck
A flatbed tow truck is best for a long-distance tow. It’s also the correct choice for towing a rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive car. Many car owners choose this option as it involves lifting all four wheels off the ground.
This method is perfect for avoiding damage and having peace of mind. A towing professional will load your vehicle safely on a flatbed. Then, the automobile is secured to ensure it doesn’t move around until offloaded.
You might be curious about how a car climbs on top of a flatbed tow truck. Here’s the entire process in brief:
- The tow truck pulls near the vehicle.
- It uses a hydraulic lever to angle the bed.
- The chains then secure the car’s frame to pull it onto the flatbed.
- After the automobile positions, the flatbed moves back to its starting position.
- The vehicle is further secured using tire straps to avoid damage.
While flatbed tow trucks are great for long-distance tow, you must know how to choose the best towing truck. This is because trucks vary greatly in terms of their towing capabilities.
Towing a Car with Another Car
You can get your car towed with another vehicle. But before you get your hopes high, check the owner’s manual of the other vehicle. Look for the following:
- What’s the tow rating of this vehicle?
- Does it have a tow hitch?
- Is it a two-wheel drive or a four-wheel drive?
- Whether it has a manual or automatic transmission?
- Is it heavier than the towed vehicle?
Opting for an SUV or a truck is always a better option. These vehicles are larger and have a higher tow rating. Passenger cars like hatchbacks and sedans are unsuitable for towing another vehicle.
In any case, it’s crucial to question the driver whether he has towed this way before. Driving fast and sudden breaks can cause a wreck. You don’t want an amateur doing this job.
Ideally, you should use this method only for a short-distance tow. Here are some ways to tow a car with another car:
Using a Dolly
You can also use a dolly for towing your car behind a vehicle. But remember to check the owner’s manual of both vehicles to ensure there isn’t a mismatch.
This method is generally better for front-wheel drive cars. You can also use a dolly for a rear-wheel drive car, but you should disconnect the drive shaft or use a doll with a U-joint.
In this towing method, a loading ramp and tire straps attach the front wheels of the automobile to the dolly.
Once the car is loaded, the dolly is attached to the towing vehicle using a hitch and safety chain. It’s essential to check that the weight of the towed car is within the towing capacity of the dolly.
Before you start towing, the towed vehicle should be neutral, and the parking brake should be off. The towing vehicle should drive slowly and carefully to avoid a mishap.
Upon arriving at the destination, the car can offload using the unloading ramps.
Using a Tow Bar
Another way to tow a car is with the help of a towbar. In this method, all four wheels of the vehicle touch the ground. Thus, it is also called the flat tow method.
Tow bars are great for towing. They are inexpensive, lightweight, and easier to connect and disconnect.
The towing vehicle is put in neutral while using a tow bar. Although this is rough on automatic cars, manual transmission vehicles do just fine.
In this setup, the towbar’s two arms attach to the baseplate of the towed automobile. The coupler, on the other end, hooks to the towing vehicle.
Later, you attach the safety chains and plug in the electrical pigtail cable. You also unlock the steering wheel of the towed vehicle and check your braking system before pulling away.
The tow bar towing technique appears quite simple. But it requires practice before you hit the open road. It’s also wise to contact your insurance provider to know about your coverage in this setup.
Can I Use a Rope for Towing My Car?
Even though you can use a rope or chain to tow your car, it should be your last resort. You must also avoid using a thin string or rusted chain as they break easily and may cause an accident. The rope or chain should be taut to prevent jolting and causing damage.
Although a rope is okay for a short-distance tow, it requires extra care. Since it is dangerous for you and others, many states have banned this towing method on freeways.
If you still want to use a string for towing your vehicle, you can certainly do so. But be sure to check your state’s laws about the length and strength of the rope. Be aware that you may also be required to put up a sign or tie a specific color cloth to meet the state’s regulations.
Ropes and chains are not strong enough for towing a vehicle. They break easily and are well-known to cause a nuisance. Thus, a dolly, tow bar, or full-blown flatbed tow truck seems to be a better option for towing a car.