What are my car towing options?

Flatbed Car Towing

Flatbed towing
Towing with a flatbed trailer. Does it get any better?
Courtesy Featherlite Trailers

Flatbed towing is but one way to go when you're trying to get your car from point A to point B. This type of towing often involves a specialized truck that has -- you guessed it -- a flat bed in the rear. You've likely seen a flatbed tow truck if you've ever been stranded on the side of the road and called a tow service.

Flatbed towing is one of the safest ways to transport a car. There are plenty of services that offer long-haul towing of your vehicle. Some services pick up several cars in one region that are all headed to a similar destination. Adding your car to a large haul can save you money, but hiring a hauling company can be extremely expensive; it's usually used for one-time transportation of a high-end car.


Flatbed trailers usually have four wheels -- most often placed together at the center of the trailer to balance the weight of the car above and prevent swaying during towing. Loading is usually easy. You simply drive your car up the rear ramps to the trailer, park it, secure it to the trailer and go.

Unlike towing with dollies or tow bars (we'll get to those soon), flatbed trailers don't require any special adjustments to the car's power train -- the part of the car that transfers energy from the engine to the wheels. Aside from the hitch required on tow vehicles, you also don't need to buy any extra parts to tow the car. With a flatbed trailer, the car in tow doesn't take any wear or tear during the trip as it would if you drove it yourself, since all four wheels are off the ground, the engine parts aren't moving and the keys are safely out of the ignition.

There are some drawbacks to towing with four wheels off the ground rather than with dollies or tow bars. Flatbed trailers are usually heavier, which decreases gas mileage for the coach vehicle. Some high-end models come with their own brakes, but a mid or lower-class of flatbed trailer that utilizes the coach vehicle's brakes can wear them down due to the addition of the trailer's weight to the gross total weight (the weight of the coach, the towed vehicle, the trailer, passengers, fuel and anything else on board -- all of which must be halted by the coach vehicle's brakes).

Price is also a consideration; a good flatbed trailer can easily set you back thousands of dollars. For ease of use and babying your car, however, a flatbed trailer is definitely the way to go. If you've got a car you wouldn't choose over your spouse if forced, then perhaps you should look into a less expensive means of transporting it.

Read the next page to find out about two-wheel car towing.