If your car breaks down and you have to tow it, it's important to know how to do so properly, particularly if it has an automatic transmission. Automatic transmissions can suffer serious damage under an improper tow, even if they're put into neutral. To protect that transmission, you need to be sure that the car is secured so that it's not engaging the transmission. While you can call a tow company and transport it on a standard tow truck, you can do it yourself using a tow bar or dolly. If you have a truck as a second vehicle or you can borrow a truck from a friend, it's easy to tow the car on your own. Here are some tips to help you do just that.
Rear-Wheel Drive Cars
For rear-wheel drive cars, the best way to tow them is using a tow bar with a hitch. You will need to drop the rear drive shaft before you do that. Use a wrench to disconnect the bolts on the universal joint that's holding the drive shaft to the axle. There are usually two bolts. Remove those and gently lower the drive shaft. Put the bolts back in place on the shaft so that you don't lose them.
Pull the drive shaft out of its mounting point by pulling straight toward the rear of the car. Make sure you have a hand on the other end of the drive shaft so you don't bang it on the ground. Set the drive shaft somewhere safe. Attach the tongue of the tow bar to the ball of the tow hitch. Use a wrench to tighten the tow bar in place. Then, tighten the safety chains so that the tires are secure.
All-Wheel and Front-Wheel Drive Cars
When you're towing a car that's all-wheel or front-wheel, you need a tow dolly. Connect the tow dolly to whatever you're towing with first. It connects directly to the tow hitch. Then, make sure the safety chains are locked in place to hold it on the tow vehicle even if the tow hitch should fail.
Drive or push the front of the broken-down car onto that tow dolly, then secure the wheels using the safety chains. The rear tires will remain in contact with the ground. If your car is all-wheel drive, you'll want to remove the rear drive shaft the same way you would for a rear-wheel drive car. Otherwise, for front-wheel drive cars, the drive wheels are on the dolly, so the transmission won't engage.
Other Basic Safety Concerns
It's easy to overlook some of the finer details if you're not experienced with driving a tow truck. Make sure that the brake lights and turn signals on your tow vehicle are visible. When you tow with a tow dolly, you can connect the wiring harness to your car's tow harness near the hitch to provide power to the lights on the dolly. Test them to be sure they work. If you're using a tow bar, you might need to invest in a few accessory lights that you can mount to the car you're towing.
For more information, visit http://www.dattagetowingandautorepair.com or a similar website.