How to tow a car with a rope

Updated April 17, 2017

If you own a car, you should know the proper ways to tow a car with a rope. Accidents can happen with no way to contact a tow truck driver to pull your car out. You can also avoid the hefty fees tow truck drivers charge if your car is not in an accident, but is stuck in the mud or a ditch. A rope is also handy if your car breaks down and needs to be pulled to your home or a repair shop. Learn how to tow a car with a rope and get your car to safety.

Make sure the car is turned off completely and in Neutral, with the hand brake set. Look under the edge of the front or rear bumper and find the frame of the car. Some cars have large metal pieces with a hole in the centre, which is called a tow strap. This is the best place to tie a rope. If there is no tow strap, tie the rope directly to the frame. Tie a knot so that it won't come loose while pulling the car.

Back the second vehicle up to the car that is being towed. Stop the second car and set the hand brake. Look under the rear of the vehicle and find either a tow strap or a section of the frame to tie the rope to. The length of rope between the two vehicles should be no longer than 2 metres (6 feet). Making the rope too long may allow other cars on the road enough space to get between the two vehicles, causing an accident.

Start the car that is going to be towed. Check to make sure the brake lights work. If they are not working, make sure the hazard lights are working. If no lights work, place a sign or use shoe polish to write on the back window "In Tow."

Start the vehicle that is towing the car and pull the car onto the road. Don't drive over 15 miles per hour while using a rope to tow a car. Turns should be made very slowly and extra wide to allow room for the towed vehicle to turn.

Have the driver of the car being towed pay attention to the signals of the towing vehicle. The driver of the towed car needs to apply the brakes as soon as the other driver does to avoid a collision.


Old tires without rims can be placed on the rear bumper of the towing vehicle or front bumper of the car being towed to take the impact if a collision occurs. This will only help if the vehicles are moving 15 miles per hour or less.


Never tie a rope to the bumper of a vehicle. The bumper is not strong enough to hold the weight of another vehicle. Tie to the frame only.

Things You'll Need

  • Strong rope
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About the Author

Since 1997 Jenny Carver has served as editor and freelance writer for many offline and online publications including,, "Hoof Beat News," "Import Tuner" and others. Carver owns a custom automotive shop where she has been doing paint and body work, custom interior work and engine building for over 11 years.