How to safely and securely tow a vehicle

January 29, 2015

Towing a car can be risky business for the vehicle if you aren't familiar with the process. Before improvising a tow, discovering which option is the best method for you.

How to safely and securely tow a vehicle

Basic safety rules

Hiring a professional towing company is the safest way to transport a vehicle. If that’s not an option, you can still get by with the proper towing equipment anda few helpful tips.

Before you attempt a tow, always check the following:

  1. The weight of the vehicle being towed.
  2. The capacity of the towing vehicle.
  3. The towing capacity of the equipment.

This will help you figure out which towing method to use.

Tow straps

If you don’t own a trailer or a hitch, you're travelling a short distance, or you need to pull a car that’s stuck, tow straps provide an inexpensive but reliable quick-fix.

If you own a truck or SUV, it’s a good idea to have tow straps on hand anyway. You never know when you might be asked to give someone a pull.

Tow straps are designed with heavy-duty attachment hooks and provide exceptional towing capacity.

That being said, you still need to exercise caution when towing with tow straps. You’ll have to drive very slowly and one driver must remain in the towed vehicle in order to steer it and control its speed.

Tow dolly

A tow dolly is an affordable way to tow a two-wheel drive car (i.e., front wheel, or rear wheel drive). In this case, two wheels are placed on the dolly while the other two remain on the ground. When towing a rear-wheel drive car, you need to tow the car in reverse, with the back wheels lifted and the front wheels rolling on the ground. This method is only suitable for towing short distances. Towing dollies are simple to use and can be rented.

Rent a flatbed trailer

If the vehicle you need to tow exceeds the towing capacity of a tow dolly, you’ll need a flatbed trailer, which can also be rented. They are more expensive than renting a tow dolly, but you can travel longer distances with them. Keep in mind that some 4x4 vehicles cannot be towed on two or four wheels without seriously damaging the transmission. In this case, if you don’t want to call on a professional towing company, a flatbed trailer is your only option.

Towing a car behind an RV

If you’re going on a camping vacation, it’s possible to rig your vehicle to the back of your RV. There are tow bars and towing systems designed specifically for towing a vehicle behind a camper or motor home, but you can also use a dolly. If you choose to tow your vehicle on all four wheels, you’ll need to know what kind of transmission the towed vehicle has (i.e., part-time 4WD). If the vehicle’s transmission permits, follow the towing instructions according to your owner’s manual.

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