When towing a car do you put it in neutral?

In today’s blog post, we will answer the following question: When towing a car do you put it in neutral? We will discuss several cautions and precautions when towing a vehicle. We will also discuss whether a car with an automatic gearbox can be towed and how to do it safely.  

​​When towing a car do you put it in neutral?

Yes, when towing a car, if you have an automatic gearbox, you must remove the parking (P), and go to the neutral position (N).

Here are a few essential measures to take when pulling and/or towing a vehicle:

  1. One of the first things to do when trying to tow or haul a vehicle is to see what kind of traction it has. If it is 4 × 4, with a transfer case, put the lever or electric selector in “neutral”. If the transfer case does not have neutral, set the lever or selector to 2H.
  1. See what type of gearbox you have, whether it is mechanical or automatic. If it is mechanical, the lever must be placed in neutral.
  1. If the vehicle has an automatic gearbox and a transfer case, it is necessary to place the automatic gearbox in neutral and the transfer case in neutral, and in this condition the vehicle can be pulled without inconvenience.
  1.  If you have an automatic gearbox and a 4 × 4 electrical command system without neutral position and it must be towed, the gearbox must be put in neutral and the command in 4 × 4 in 2H. In addition, the rear gimbal must be removed and in this condition, pull the vehicle.
  1. If the vehicle has permanent four-wheel drive, it should only be transported on platform cranes.
  1. If the car has simple traction (front or rear), type 4 × 2, and it is towed, the wheels must be placed without traction on the ground to tow it.
  1. In general, when vehicles have sophisticated traction systems or when it is not possible to access the operations described above, the most appropriate thing is to use platform cranes and raise the car to the crane.

Can towing mess up transmission?

Yes, towing can mess up your car’s transmission.  Without the use of special equipment, you can cause catastrophic damage to the automatic transmission by towing. Because the torque converter (a vital and expensive component within the transmission) is constantly in the “pilot” position, no matter where the selector gear is, it can be damaged even with the shortest, slowest trailer. 

Thanks to their benefits for the driver, such as greater driving comfort, cars with automatic transmission have recently become popular. Its mechanism is different from a manual one, so some doubts may arise as to how to proceed in certain situations. One of them is when, unfortunately, you are stopped on the road, without the vehicle responding. 

Can an automatic car be towed? Knowing the answer and the keys to doing it is essential to avoid causing irreparable damage to the mechanics of your car.

How to protect the transmission of your car when it is towed?

To protect the transmission of your car when it is towed, take it easy. Generally, the torque converter – a fundamental element for the operation of the transmission – is in the “P” or “parking” position, a locking mechanism that prevents your car from moving. 

Therefore, forcing the wheels to go through a trailer in this state can cause significant gear failure. So how do you tow an automatic car and protect its transmission? 

Ideally, you should raise the drive wheels – front axle for front wheels or rear axle for rear wheels – using platform cranes to prevent it from rolling. If you are not sure what the axle of your vehicle is, consult the manufacturer’s manual. Now, there are some exceptions to this rule. 

In some cases, only in some cases, the manufacturers determine in the manual that a short trailer and at a suitable speed (no more than 50 mph) does not constitute a serious risk to the vehicle. What you must not forget is that it is in the “neutral” or N position. 

It is a detail, but important when wondering if an automatic vehicle can be towed: when you do it with the engine off there is no energy flow for the brakes or steering wheel, for example, so you will have to take greater care when driving.

How to tow a 4×4 automatic car?

When considering whether an automatic car can be towed, you should take into account whether your vehicle has an all-wheel-drive or 4×4 system. If so, follow the following instructions that will give you the key to know how to tow a 4×4 automatic car:

If you have a vehicle with an automatic gearbox and a 4 × 4 electric command system without the N position tool, you must place the gearbox in neutral, while the command that belongs to traction in 2H. On the other hand, you must remove the rear gimbal, to finally tow your car.

When the vehicle has permanent four-wheel drive, you only have to transport it by means of lifting platforms that integrate the cranes.

As you may already know, car care involves several aspects in terms of its maintenance and a safe driving mode. Therefore, do not forget to take the pertinent precautions when towing an automatic car, either without traction or 4×4.

Conclusions

Towing a vehicle is no small task and it is always best to call a professional first. Depending on the situation, sometimes there is even no alternative. Otherwise, using a tow bar can do the trick, as long as the drivers are well aware of the various rules to follow. 

By respecting the distances, by indicating your presence on the road as necessary and by making sure that the total weight does not exceed that authorized, you will be able to cover the distance which separates you from the next garage with all the necessary precautions.

Please do not hesitate to get in contact should you have any questions or comments on the content. 

FAQ on When towing a car do you put it in neutral?

Can towing mess up transmission?

Yes, towing can mess up your car’s transmission.  Without the use of special equipment, you can cause catastrophic damage to the automatic transmission by towing. Because the torque converter (a vital and expensive component within the transmission) is constantly in the “pilot” position, no matter where the selector gear is, it can be damaged even with the shortest, slowest trailer. 

How do you tow a car?

Here are a few rules to follow when towing a car:

  • Favour secondary axes.
  • The vehicle towing the towed car must be more massive.
  • Reduce the trip to the bare minimum.
  • Adapt your speed, limiting it to 50 km / h if possible.
  • In the event of a manoeuvre, switch on the hazard warning lights.

How to tow a car with power steering?

To tow a car with power steering, get in your car and switch on the ignition so that the steering does not lock up. You should also put the gear in neutral and remove the handbrake. Remember, the speed should not exceed 25 km / h and the tug should adopt a smooth ride to prevent any danger.

Can an automatic car tow a caravan?

An automatic car can perfectly tow a caravan, especially dual-clutch automatic transmissions since they always allow enough torque to move the car-trailer set in the most suitable gear. 

What is better, manual or automatic?

When asking which is better, manual or automatic, it is difficult to choose. The manual car responds better to emergency braking – engine braking – and gas mileage is more efficient. On the other hand, an automatic driving car will ensure more comfort and it’s easier to drive.

What is the difference between a manual and an automatic box?

The difference between a manual and an automatic box is in acceleration and ease of use. For example, the manual transmission may not require the use of the brakes on a steep descent while the automatic transmission always needs one foot on the brake pedal to keep the speed down.

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