A car on a towing truck

How To Tow A Car With An Automatic Transmission

Arguments relating to the different methods used when towing manual and automatic cars have been boiling over the years. With most car manufacturers shifting their focus to automatic cars, the question is; how should the cars be towed when needed?

Cars with an automatic transmission should be towed with care to avoid damage to the transmission system.  If it is a must, the drive wheels should be on the ground. At the same time, the car should not be towed for more than 25 Kilometres and the speed should not exceed 40Km/hr.

The key is to tow the car when all the internal systems are not working. Here are important steps to consider before towing an automatic car.

Step 1

A car being prepared to be towed

The first step is to determine if you will be towing a  front-wheel rear-wheel or an all-wheel automatic car. The users manual should explain how each car should be towed. 

For a rear-wheel car with a  tow a bar and hitch, Drop the drive shaft by removing the universal joint at the differential or rear end. Then lower this end of the drive shaft gently to the ground and replace the bolts.

Step 2

A car hastened on a tow truck

Place the safety bar in front of the car. At the same time, ensure that all the necessary devices are functioning. Gently raise the tongue of the tow bar and ensure that it is attached to the ball on the tow vehicle.

After that is done, tighten the tow bar to the ball.  Also, ensure that any other safety chains from the tow bar are fastened to the towing vehicle.

For front-drive cars, a car dolly should be used.  Attach the car dolly to the tow vehicle just like a tow bar. It sits on the hitch and gets tightened to the ball then fasten all safety chains. 

Step 3

Make sure all of the lights are functioning correctly before beginning to tow the car. You also have the option of using a flat bed instead of a tow bar or car dolly to tow any type of car without worrying about the transmission. This is as long as the drive wheels are not running.

Step 4

A car on a tow truck at a stop

After 1-2KM, you should stop to ensure that all the hookups and lights are okay. Check safety chains and the hitch for a secure fit. If all is well, continue with the towing. For long trips, check everything each time that you stop for any reason.


Following the above steps will ensure that your car’s transmission remains intact when being towed. It is also important to have another person to help you during the towing process. Make sure the tow vehicle and hitch are rated to handle the weight of the car or trailer being towed.

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