How to tow a car? We explain and advise what mistakes to avoid

During the operation of the car, sometimes an unpleasant situation occurs, when you need to tow the broken car home or to the service point. How to do it right? Then Check over here.

How to tow a car? Anyone who has ever had a car breakdown on the road knows how unpleasant this situation can be. If the vehicle does not want to move on its own, it is necessary to transport it to a home or service center, or at least remove it from the road to a safe place. This can be done with a tow truck, which is quite expensive though, or with a towline and someone from family or friends.

As the tow rope has become a common accessory for many cars today, coping with this situation should not be a big problem. However, you still need to remember the basic rules.

  1. The right towing vehicle is essential

The basic premise is a suitable towing vehicle. The criterion is not only sufficient power, but also weight. 

The second most important point is the ability to tow. Before carrying out any operation, check the vehicle’s operating manual to see if it can be towed at all. Some cars have design restrictions that prevent towing. These are usually vehicles with an automatic transmission. The car may also have indirect technical limitations, such as the maximum speed or the distance the car can be towed. In the case of conventional vehicles with a manual gearbox, there is usually nothing to prevent it from being towed. 

  1. Screw on the towing eye

Every car should normally have a front and rear towing eye. Older cars have it visible, in newer cars you need to screw them on – the ear can be found among the mandatory equipment in the trunk. Then you need to remove the appropriate cover and screw the ear on. After towing the car, do not forget to unscrew it so that it does not attract thieves unnecessarily.

  1. Thread the rope


Take the tow rope, pass it through the towing eye and lock it with a pin, do the same with the other car. Some ropes are equipped with a carabiner, there is nothing easier than hooking it on. Adjust the cable so that the distance between vehicles is within the recommended 2.5 to 6 meters.

Commonly available ropes should be of this length. The rope must also be marked with a red flag measuring at least 300 x 300 mm. Never attach a rope or a carabiner in places not intended for this, especially behind axle parts. The towing device is also not designed for towing the car with a rope.

  1. Mark the vehicle

The compulsory standard lighting applies to the towing vehicle (front). The towed vehicle (rear) must be clearly marked with a warning triangle, preferably by sliding it behind the rear window or attached to the rear of the bodywork. Under no circumstances should you turn on the warning signal, as this will prevent the signaling by the turn signals. So other road users won’t know which direction you are turning.

In the event of poor visibility in a towed car, the position lamps or the dipped beam headlamps must also be switched on; in the event of failure, the vehicle must be marked with a white light to the front and a red light to the rear, at least on the side closer to the center of the road (i.e. on the left-hand side of the vehicle). 

  1. Slow down the vehicle

Release the towed vehicle, i.e. release the parking brake and put the vehicle into neutral. For automatic transmissions, turn on the ignition to disengage the selector lever lock and engage neutral. If the situation does not permit this, each gearbox should have a release mechanism hidden around the center console that must be unlocked with a finger or a screwdriver.

On the Internet, people often ask if it is possible to tow a car with an automatic transmission. Generally yes, you only need to perform the above-described action. However, it is recommended to tow a vehicle with an automatic gearbox (this also applies to dual-clutch transmissions) only for very short distances – max. tens of kilometers, because the oil pump in the gearbox is not driven when the engine is not running. So there is a risk of damaging it.

If the situation allows, it is better to tow the car with the engine running. For 4 × 4 drive systems with automatic control, always set the home position on the control, usually only one axle drive. However, as mentioned above, some vehicles with automatic transmission or all-wheel drive must not be towed at all. Always check the information in your vehicle’s owner’s manual first to be sure.