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Towing and Transmission Damage: What You Need to Know

Tow Truck Towing Broken Down Car
Emergency towing services can be a lifesaver when your vehicle suddenly breaks down. But you may still have concerns about whether towing will damage your vehicle. Most towing companies have the knowledge and tools to move your vehicle carefully, but some situations can increase the risk of damage, especially to the vehicle's transmission.
Read on to learn more about the effects that towing can have on your vehicle.

Towing Methods

Towing companies use several techniques to move a car that has broken down. The most common methods are flat bar, two-wheel, and flatbed towing. Some towing methods are safer.
Flat Bar Towing
In this method, the tow truck driver links your vehicle to the truck using a lightweight bar. The truck will drag your vehicle with all four wheels touching and rolling on the ground.
Two-Wheel Towing
In a two-wheel tow, the driver uses a tow truck with two wheels and a ramp to lift the wheels of your car off the ground. This leaves the rear wheels of the car rolling on the ground.
Flatbed Towing
Flatbed towing is the safest method of towing a vehicle. The tow truck features a flatbed and a retractable ramp. You just need to drive your car along the ramp and onto the flatbed. This method gets your vehicle off the ground for transportation to the repair shop.

Parking, Neutral, and Emergency Gear

Your vehicle's gear position determines whether your vehicle will sustain damages during towing. The three gear positions are park, neutral, and emergency.
Towing your vehicle in the park position using the flat bar or two-wheel method will most likely cause damage. The park position prevents the wheels from turning as the vehicle drags along the street. This can damage the tires and exert too much tension on the device that connects the wheels to the transmission, eventually damaging the transmission.
Additionally, if your vehicle's emergency brakes are on, towing using the traditional flat bar or twowheel towing method may not be possible.
Neutral gear is the safest position in which to tow your vehicle. The neutral position disengages the engine, which can minimize the risk of damage in short-distance towing. However, the neutral position does not disengage the transmission, and if the tow truck drags your vehicle over a long distance, the transmission can overheat and lead to costly damage.

Two-Wheel Vs Four-Wheel Drive

The wheel drive and the transmission also have implications for the safety of your car during towing. Generally, two-wheel drive vehicles with a manual transmission are less prone to damage regardless of the towing method and the distance.
If yours is an automatic two-wheel drive vehicle, you should be able to tow the vehicle over a relatively short distance without the risk of damage, as long as the vehicle is in neutral. To prevent damage to a fourwheel drive vehicle, the tow truck driver would need to remove the rear drive shaft and drag the vehicle on its back wheels.
If you are unsure about the towing requirements for your make and model, refer to your owner's manual to prevent damage to your car during towing. If yours is a high-end vehicle with an automatic transmission, flatbed towing might be worth the cost, as this is the most secure towing method.
Towing damage is not common, but it does happen, especially if you do not take the necessary precautions. Before towing, be sure to place your vehicle in the neutral position, and work with a reputable towing company to prevent damage to your vehicle.
In addition to our free professional towing services, American & Foreign Transmission Service is also a leading provider of transmission services in Reno, Nevada. Get in touch with us or visit our shop today.