How to Tow a Broken Down Car

Updated April 17, 2017

Towing a broken down car can be a challenge. The need to get the car from one place to another for repair, storage or to remove it from the place that it broke down is usually what prompts this dilemma. Using a car trailer, flat bed trailer or dolly is the safest way. Using a chain or tow strap is very dangerous because the towed car is put in neutral with no driver, no steering and no braking.

Make sure that the vehicle you are towing the trailer or dolly with is up for the job. Check the tow rating of the towing vehicle and the estimated weight of the car to be towed. Installing camper mirrors on the towing vehicle may be necessary if the trailer obstructs the regular side mirrors for the driver.

Load the broken down car onto the dolly, flatbed or car trailer. When using a dolly, the car needs to be pushed up ramps; the front tires are then strapped to the dolly. The car is then put in neutral and can be towed safely. If using a car or flatbed trailer, the car can either be pushed or winched onto the trailer, if the trailer has a winch on it. The car should then be strapped or chained in place. The trailer or dolly needs to be hooked up or hitched to the towing vehicle before the broken down car is loaded. If using a car dolly the broken down car needs to have tail lights on it. This is not necessary when using a trailer because the trailer will have lights.

Use caution when towing. Allowing ample time to stop, turn and pull into traffic is important with the extra length of the towing vehicle and the towed car and the extra weight of the towed car, trailer or dolly.

Unload the broken down car at the destination of a repair shop or storage. Using the winch can help if the trailer is on an incline, otherwise the car may need to be pushed off. When using a dolly the car will need to be pushed off.

Things You'll Need

  • Broken down car
  • Trailer or dolly
  • Towing vehicle
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About the Author

Michelle Epperly is a freelance writer based in Southern Oregon. She has been writing on a diverse range of topics since 2005. She has written articles and SEO content specializing in nutrition, real estate, parenting and life coaching.