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How Car Towing Safety Works

        Auto | Car Towing

Securing a Car for Towing
Securing a car while towing, whether it's on a trailer or connected by a tow bar, is an extremely important safety measure.
Securing a car while towing, whether it's on a trailer or connected by a tow bar, is an extremely important safety measure.
Tony Page/­Getty Images

Before you head out onto the road with your car behind you, you need to think about several things. First, you need to be aware of how much your tow vehic­le can actually tow. Every car, truck and SUV manufacturer gives a towing limit for their vehicles, which can range from just a few hundred pounds for small cars and SUVs to several thousands of pounds for some trucks and bigger SUVs. It's important to know how much you'll be towing and how much you're allowed to tow. Always check with the tow vehicle's manufacturer for specific weight ratings.

There are several different ways to tow a car. The simplest solution, using a flatbed trailer, involves hooking the trailer to the tow vehicle, driving your car onto it and tying it down by the chassis or suspension with axle straps and ratchet straps. The car's wheels won't touch the ground while it's being towed, so it will be much easier to manage. You'll want to make sure the trailer's in good shape; check the trailer's tires before driving a car onto it, since trailers often sit unused for long periods of time and the tires can lose air pressure.

If you don't have access to a trailer, you can use a tow dolly or tow bar to connect the car to the tow vehicle, but you'll have to keep in mind whether the car you're towing is four-wheel drive or two-wheel drive (and you can read about both instances here and here).

Your trailer also needs the appropriate brake system, turn signals and lighting kits in order to synch up with your tow vehicle. Because the back of the tow vehicle will be mostly obscured by the car and trailer behind it, people need to be able to know when the two vehicles are going to slow down. Drivers who tow can use a variety of braking systems, including electric brakes and surge brakes. For legal and safety purposes, trailers need brake lights, turn signals and parking lights. Drivers can also consider adding reflectors for extra safety.


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