Towing a car is not an easy task. You have to adapt quickly to the heavy cargo and be careful about the speed, the turning and the braking, while towing. This becomes more difficult when you use a car to tow another car, instead of a tow truck. There cannot be a standard way to tow a car, since the towing techniques will vary depending on whether the car being towed is a two-wheel drive or a four-wheel drive, whether your transmission is manual or automatic and the techniques will change on whether your two-wheel drive is a front-wheel drive or a rear-wheel drive.
Towing a Car With Another Car
The fundamental rule in towing a car with another car is, the tow car should be bigger than the car being towed. Another rule that is mandatory is that, the towed car should be unoccupied while towing it. Towing an occupied car is illegal in the US as, this can also be termed as kidnapping. Now that you know the basic rules, I will tell you how to tow a car using another car.
Controlling the movement of the tires of the car being towed is essential. If the car to be towed is a front-wheel drive then, using a tow dolly would be a nice idea, this would keep the front wheels above the ground level. If the car is a rear-wheel drive, then it is better that you disengage the drive shaft. If you have a drive shaft coupler, then you can disconnect the drive shaft automatically by pressing a button, else you will have to do it manually. Once you have disengaged the drive shaft, you can use a rigid tow bar or an A-frame tow bar to tow the car and all four wheels of the car being towed will be on the ground.
If the transmission of the car being towed is manual, then put it in neutral gear and free the parking brakes to tow the car, if it is automatic, then the car being towed should have a lube pump to provide the necessary cooling to its transmission. If you want to keep all the wheels of an automatic front-wheel drive car on the ground, while it is being towed, then check whether the car to be towed has a mechanism called axle lock. If it has one, a simple twist can unlock the axle, else you will have to unlock the axle manually, in order to tow the car.
A four-wheel drive with manual transmission, manual lockout hubs and manual transfer case can be towed safely with all its wheels on the ground, without any transmission damage, but in order to do this, you have to disengage the transmission, the lockout hubs and the transfer case appropriately. If car drive is automatic then, use a drive shaft coupler to disengage the rear drive shaft. You can use an A-frame or a tow bar to tow the four-wheel drive.
Care to be Taken While Towing
When you are towing, you are not able to maneuver your car as you normally do. The extra load on your car tends to obstruct your normal flow of driving. This section will tell you a few measures that you should take while towing a car.
- Maintain a slow and constant speed.
- Do not break suddenly.
- Use your mirrors effectively.
- Be careful while changing lanes.
- Sharp turns result in jackknifing, so do not take sharp turns.
- While towing in the night, switch on the lights of the towed car too.
Personally, I do not recommend the use of tow ropes. If you are using a tow rope to tow, and you hit the brakes, there is a high probability that your car might get rammed from behind. Before you decide to tow any vehicle, read the owner's manual of your car and of the car to be towed. Check how much load can your car actually bear, and also see the instructions to operate on the transfer case, transmission, etc., of the car to be towed. Pay attention to the minute details as they can be very useful in saving your car and the towed car from damage.