How to Tow a Car

Step by step
How to Tow a Car

We’ve all been there, whether we needed a tow or had to tow a friend. Although it seems complicated to someone who’s never done it before, towing a car is really easy once you get the hang of it. As with most things, there’s a technique behind it but it’s not really difficult to master. If you’re familiar with what’s going on, we guarantee you’ll get it within mere minutes. To ensure you do it the right way and maintain traffic safety at all times, we’re going to teach you how to tow a car using this helpful guide.

Before Towing

tow car old repair

You’re going to need a towing rope and adequate signage depending on your state/country. In some places you’re required to have an ‘On Tow’ sign, whereas in others you’re not. Inspect the towing rope as well as the towing poles for damage, defects or abrasion before you start towing. Never use a damaged tow rope or a towing pole as it could snap and cause serious damage to the cars or even the people inside.

After connecting the towing rope, put the car being towed in neutral and switch the ignition to ‘on’ to disengage the steering lock. Note: if the engine isn’t running, the steering wheel as well as the brakes will feel heavier and require more force to use due to the lack of power-assisted pumps.

Towing a Car

car towing accident

As the driver of the leading car, you’re supposed to dictate the pace and drive cautiously at all times. Drive with care, never exceeding 15 mph. In addition to minimizing strain on the rope, you’re also giving the driver in the car being towed more time to react. If the leading car is a manual, use the clutch to your advantage and pull off smoothly, but making sure not to burn the clutch out.

Try to avoid sudden braking or at least press the brakes slightly before braking, to give the other driver plenty of time to respond. Make sure to indicate before turning and avoid sudden changes of direction. If possible, make a plan of the route beforehand and stick with it. If you’re both familiar with where you’re going, you’re already twice as prepared.

If You're Being Towed

towing car carrying truck

As the driver of the car being towed, you’re just as responsible if not more as the driver in the leading car. It’s your job to watch the car in front at all times and be prepared to brake/turn at a moment’s notice. Brake and steer accordingly with the car in front, so as to avoid jolting and abrupt movements.

If you notice the towing rope starts slacking, apply minimal force on the brake pedal just to keep the rope tight. Don’t brake too hard though, or you’ll both grind to an abrupt halt.

Although we’d recommend calling a proper towing service with a truck, the reality is that that’s not always possible. Adhere to the guidelines above and you shouldn’t have any issues with towing a car.

Related articles