How to Tow an AWD Car

All-wheel-drive (AWD) vehicles are great on wet and icy roads. The traction they provide cannot be compared to front-wheel or rear-wheel drives. However, they pose a great challenge when you need to tow them.

As a rule of thumb, you cannot pull them out of a tricky situation with any of the two pairs of wheels touching down. The driveshaft must be disengaged first to avoid ruining the transmission and causing mechanical problems.

How to Tow an AWD Car the Right Way

The correct way to tow an AWD car is by lifting it completely off the ground. This is the reason why it’s necessary to use a flatbed tow truck. Here, the vehicle is placed onto the truck’s flatbed and carried away. The wheels are secured tightly to prevent the vehicle from rolling off while on the road.

All-wheel drive vehicles are usually at a disadvantage when it comes to towing. For front-wheel-drive cars, they can be towed with the rear wheels touching the ground after the driveshaft has been removed.

On the other hand, rear-wheel-drive vehicles can be towed with the front wheels touching the ground. The steering wheel needs to be locked here for safety purposes. It’s possible to tow an AWD car on its wheels, but the driveshaft must be disconnected.

What Are The Best Brakes Type For Towing?

Unfortunately, this can be an expensive and complex process that must be performed by an experienced mechanic. Without it, the wheels would spin and have a damaging impact on the driveshaft and drivetrain.

Flatbed tow trucks are usually in high demand. As such, it can take a while to get a hold of one while stuck on the highway. The next best alternative is to use tow dollies. These are two sets of heavy duty wheels on both sides connected to a platform that are used to support one side of the car, mostly the front.

The front wheels rest on the heavy duty wheels and are pulled along. The other side of the vehicle, usually the back, is lifted by the truck’s wrecker to prevent them from touching the ground. This allows the car to be pulled safely to a repair shop.

Another option is use a tow bar. This is rigid bar shaped like a triangle that connects the tow truck to the towed vehicle. The wide ends of the bar attach to the front bumper of the towed vehicle while one point of the triangle attaches to the tow vehicle. All four wheels will remain on the ground so it’s important to make other arrangements to keep the driveline safe.

In a manual transmission with a manual transfer case and lockout hubs, it’s possible to tow the car with all wheels on the ground without causing any damage. This also requires extra care so it’s important to refer to your owner’s manual.

If your AWD vehicle does not have manual lockout hubs and a manual transfer case, a drive shaft coupling device will be necessary. This is a device that allows you to engage and disengage the driveshaft from the driver’s seat without having to manually remove it from your car.

What Are The Best Trucks For Towing?


If you drive an AWD car, it’s important to ensure that it’s always towed correctly. The manufacturer will typically provide instructions on how to tow your car. The guidelines are specifically tailored for the specific make, model and year.

If you’re stuck on the road and you see a tow truck approaching you, confirm that it’s a flatbed or it has dollies to help protect your drivetrain from damage. Most importantly, use the services of an experienced tow operator.

How do you tow a car with all the wheels on the ground?

An AWD car should never be towed with all the wheels on the ground. It would require someone to sit inside the vehicle and control the steering wheel. This can be impossible, especially where the engine is completely dead.

As a rule of thumb, two-wheel drive vehicles can only be towed with the driven wheels not touching the ground. This prevents power from being transmitted to the transmission while the engine-drive pump that cools and lubricates is off. The movement of components would cause exponential wear and tear and cause the transmission fluid to overheat.

How do you tow a AWD car stuck in park?

According to AMR Auto Repair and Towing, towing an AWD car stuck in park requires taking some precautions. In an automatic transmission, the wheels shouldn’t touch the ground. This can cause the mechanical lock to break.

The best thing to do is to put the vehicle in neutral and call a flatbed truck. For most four-wheel or all-wheel drive cars, it’s advisable to shift the vehicle into two-wheel drive to allow for safe towing on the highway. Another way would be to remove the rear-drive shaft and pull the car with the rear wheels spinning on the ground.

What speed should you tow at?

According to Carry-on Trailer, the recommended towing speed is 55 miles per hour or less. Towing a car at higher speeds can cause the trailer to sway or cause combination disturbance. This can be dangerous for both the tow truck operator, other drivers, and passengers on the road.

Only overtake when it’s safe to do so. Avoid passing other vehicles while exceeding the recommended speed limit. Other safety tips that you should keep in mind include planning for stops to rest on long journeys and keeping an eye on the towed vehicle to ensure the connections are firmly secured.

Can I tow a AWD car in neutral?

You can tow an AWD car by placing the transfer case in its neutral position. You’ll also need to engage the four-wheel down feature if your vehicle has one. It’s possible to tow the car with all four wheels spinning on the ground, in the case of a car-hauling trailer.

The transmission fluid is usually pumped using the centrifugal force that arises from the movement of the transmission. Towing the vehicle in neutral should not cause any lubrication issues. Most automatic transmissions provide a setting that overrides the park lock feature that prevents the driver from putting the car into neural or drive when the key is removed.

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