How to Tow – Tips on Towing for First-Timers

how to tow a car

Nothing is more embarrassing than a sudden stall on a freeway. When vehicles stopped due to flat tires, empty fuel tank, or engine problem, towing comes along to save the day. Take note that vehicles are not towed for stalling issues alone. Sometimes, it’s illegal parking as well. Or sometimes for transferring another vehicle from one place to another or maybe taking a vehicle along to a trip.

Some vehicles are towed to avoid an obstruction on the road which can be a source of huge traffic. So when your vehicle stops in the middle, it should be taken to the nearest gas station or repair shop immediately and there is no way you can do that without a tow. There’s a towing fee that you have to pay though. While in some states, the government towing company may also issue a Traffic Violation Receipt (TVR) which requires you to pay a standard fine in addition to the towing fee. Free towing is only provided to vehicles that are involved in a road accident.

It’s actually reasonable to pay the price because the whole towing process is not as easy as you think. Driving a vehicle with heavy, bulky loads that are hitched up on it’s back is more difficult than driving with a vehicle alone. Imagine the bumpy roads that may damage not only the towing vehicle but also the vehicle that is towed. Sometimes, it can also result in more serious situations like flipping or jackknifing. And for that, several important things should be considered when towing a vehicle.

Step 1. Check your towing capacity.

Before you start towing, it’s best if you know the towing capacity of your vehicle. Needless to say but the load should not be heavier than the tow truck itself. Towing too much weight can eventually cause major problems regardless of how strong your engine is.

To calculate the vehicle’s towing capacity, follow this formula:

Gross Combined Weight Rating or GCWR – (Cargo Weight + Base Curb Weight) =?

Learn what these variables mean.

Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) is the allowable payload or the maximum amount of weight that a vehicle can carry.

Cargo weight, from the name itself, is the weight of passengers, vehicles, or any type of load including additional equipment such as car accessories.

Base Curb Weight is the actual weight of your vehicle including the oil, tank of gas, coolant, and transmission fluid.

When you get the answer, make sure that the combined weight of your truck plus trailer and cargo should never exceed the maximum tow capacity. Follow this step to avoid ending up with flat tires and other serious damages.

Step 2. Inspect the entire vehicle.  

Safety usually comes to those who leave prepared. So before you rescue the others, you have to save yourself first. Inspect the entire parts of the towing vehicle to make sure everything works fine. Brakes are so important, so make sure to synchronize your braking system. When brakes fail when towing a vehicle, the load would add up to a collision which makes it more dangerous. Avoid heavy braking to reduce risks of wear and tear.

Step 3. Secure the load.

There are two ways to tow a vehicle, first is by using a dolly and second is through a flatbed or the truck’s flat surface. A flatbed is used to secure the towed vehicle, especially if it’s severely damaged. You can use a dolly when towing lighter loads such as motorbikes. But for heavy vehicles, tow operators usually use a truck with a flatbed.

Follow these procedures to secure the vehicle properly:

  • Use a hydraulic system to build up a ramp where you let the vehicle roll up.
  • Hook up the vehicle to the winch tow. Regular vehicle models have two hook slots, specially designed for towing.
  • Put the vehicle in neutral to move freely through the ramp.
  • Once the vehicle is in place, turn the transmission into park. Also, set the automatic brakes in case of an emergency.
  • Secure the vehicle’s position. Tie each wheel down for extra safety measure.

Step 4. Drive smoothly.

Once you secured the load, prepare yourself for a smooth driving. Always check mirrors, both side-view and extended. Extended mirrors enable the operator to see the side and rear views. Checking mirrors is important, especially when you’re protecting your load from interchangeable lanes and vehicles that try to take over. The key is to slow down, never ever drive too fast.  

Sambit Barua

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