xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' Towing a disabled vehicle. ~ The Prepared Guy

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Towing a disabled vehicle.

I'm sure that many of you have had to do this.  Your daughters car breaks down and you don't want to call a tow truck because of the expense.  Especially that it's after hours on a weekend.  No worries!  You can do this.  It's not that bad as long as you know a few things, have the right stuff and do it right.  Allow me to describe the correct way to tow a disabled vehicle. 



Have a strap like you see in the picture, not a chain.  Straps come in different sizes with different strength ratings.  They are easy to store in your vehicle and absorb the shock of being jerked around.  Although this mostly depends upon your ability to drive while towing.  This strap should be at least 20' long.   Anything shorter just isn't safe to use.

Attach the strap to the manufacturers tow hooks or loops built into the car.  Most vehicles will have this provision, but some do not.  If not, then you must attach the strap to the vehicle frame, not a bumper.  You'll pull the bumper right off unless it is a bumper made for that purpose such as an off road specific bumper with a winch mount or tow hook specific mount.

You may need a hook, link or shackle to attach the strap to the vehicle.  Be sure that the ones you buy are rated for the weight your vehicle and then some.  The jerking motion you will most likely experience when towing can far exceed the actual weight of your vehicle.

It is best for the tow vehicle to be a truck or SUV equipped with a trailer towing hitch.  Use the hitch pin to secure the other end of the strap.  Don't just loop it around the ball on a receiver hitch.  Both connections on both vehicles must not be able to fall off.  This can present additional dangers.  If your vehicle does not have a hitch for towing many vehicles may also be quipped with a tow point on the rear of the vehicle as well.  If not, you must attach the tow strap to the vehicle frame.  If you own a Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee or other uni-body vehicle (where the body and frame are integrated), and there is no manufactures tow point, then you'll just have to use your best judgment or leave it to the pros.

Put the vehicle in tow in Neutral.  Start off slowing and without jerking.  If the engine will run, turn it on.  This way you can enjoy the power steering and headlights which will make it safer to drive.  Turn on the the hazard lights on both vehicles.

The key to having a safe and uneventful tow is to always keep the tow strap taut.  This is done by keeping your speed under the limit and the vehicle being towed doing the majority, if not all of the breaking.  The driver of the vehicle in tow must anticipate stop signs, lights, turns and other obstacles.  Both drivers must work in concert.  The driver of the vehicle in tow can indicate to the other driver of upcoming stops and slow downs by gently using the brake to create slack then the tow vehicle driver has the challenge of then always keeping that strap tight.  Speed must be slow to achieve this.  When I mean slow it is relative.  I recommend no more than 20 mph in a 25 mph zone and the breaking is anticipated and started far in advance.  If you only feel comfortable towing at 10 mph that's fine.  You will just make other drivers annoyed.

Stick to the back roads, residential streets 35 mph and under, and limit the distance to as short as possible; only to get that vehicle to the nearest shop or place where it can be made drive-able.  NEVER attempt to tow a vehicle on the freeway as there are generally too many other vehicles that would be put at risk if something goes wrong.  If the vehicle is stranded on the freeway then it may be acceptable to tow the vehicle along the shoulder at 25 to 35 mph just until you are able to take the next exit ramp.

When driving everyday the rule of thumb for the minimum safe distance traveling behind another vehicle is one car length for every ten miles per hour.  If you exceed 20 mph with a 20' strap you may not have enough breaking distance before you rear-end the tow vehicle.  Thus, take it slow.  

If you don't want to hire a tow truck and have to transport the disabled vehicle more than a few miles, consider renting a car dolly. Of course you'll need to have the appropriate tow vehicle to do this but it will save you a lot of money.  Renting a car dolly for a half day may only cost you $50 whereas a tow truck with charge you that much just to show up.          

10 comments:

As easy as it may sound to some people, towing your own vehicle is usually not the best idea. I recommend calling a local tow truck service. If you find the right one, you will be surprised that the cost is not all that high. I'm all for saving a few bucks but some services are worth paying for. I am a business owner at www.towingcantoncars.com, so I realize that towing can be a little difficult at times if not properly equipped to do it.

Thanks for your comment Tom. You are right. If you can afford it a professional towing service is you're best option.

The article you have shared here very awesome. I really like and appreciated your work. I read deeply your article, the points you have mentioned in this article are useful

Thanks Prepared Guy to share this insightful article! Read first to last, came to know something about towing a vehicle. I personally tow a trailer with my Motorcycle.

You're welcome. Thanks for visiting my site!

Very useful detail info but obviously not recommended for the less handy or mechanical people. Going to share this on my facebook page

This article is meant as some additional advice for those who have done this before or would attempt it. If you're not comfortable with trying this yourself then please don't. Feel free to share. Thanks!

I'm glad that you mentioned that the rope for towing should be at least 20 feet long. I didn't realize it needed to be that long. I've heard that using a chain instead of a rope could cause harm to your tires somehow. I had to tow a friend of mine one time and all we had to use was a chain. Next time we'll make sure to have a rope instead! http://www.omahaslings.com/tow-ropes.html

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The purpose of this site is to provide you with information about what I have learned, my experience, and what my motivations are as a Prepared Guy. I have always felt driven to be ready for any situation by something powerful deep inside me. Being prepared has always served me well. I feel compelled to help others do the same.
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