Can You Tow an Automatic Car? Your Comprehensive Guide

can you tow an automatic car

Have you ever wondered if it’s possible to tow an automatic car? The answer is yes, it is possible, but there are some important considerations to keep in mind. Towing automatic vehicles can be a bit more complicated than towing a car with manual transmission, as automatic transmissions require special care and attention to prevent damage.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore everything you need to know about towing an automatic car. We will discuss the different methods of towing, safety precautions to take, and potential risks and considerations that come with towing an automatic vehicle. By the end of this guide, you will be well equipped to safely tow your automatic car, and avoid any potential issues that could arise.

  • It is possible to tow an automatic car, but it requires special attention and care.
  • Towing an automatic car can be more complicated than towing a car with manual transmission.
  • There are different methods of towing an automatic car, such as towing with a tow bar or towing with a dolly.
  • Always follow safety guidelines and take necessary precautions when towing an automatic car to prevent damage or accidents.
  • Potential risks and considerations, such as transmission overheating, should be taken into account when towing an automatic car.

Understanding Automatic Transmissions and Towing

When it comes to towing, automatic cars require special consideration due to the unique dynamics of their transmissions. Many people wonder, “Can automatic cars be towed?” The answer is yes, but it must be done safely and correctly to avoid damage to the vehicle.

Unlike manual transmissions, automatic transmissions use a complex system of gears, fluids, and torque converters to transfer power from the engine to the wheels. When the engine is turned off, the fluid in the torque converter stops circulating, causing the transmission to lose lubrication. This can lead to overheating and damage to the transmission.

To prevent this, it’s important to follow specific guidelines and precautions when towing an automatic car. For example, it’s generally recommended to tow the vehicle with the drive wheels off the ground to avoid damage to the transmission.

Additionally, the weight of the towed vehicle and the type of tow bar or dolly being used must be carefully considered to ensure safe towing. A properly installed and functioning braking system is also essential when towing an automatic car.

Overall, it is possible to tow automatic cars safely, but it requires an understanding of their unique transmission systems and careful adherence to guidelines and precautions.

towing automatic cars safely

When it comes to towing an automatic car, there are two primary methods: towing with a tow bar and towing with a dolly. It’s important to note that not all automatic cars are suitable for towing, so be sure to check with the manufacturer or your owner’s manual before attempting to tow.

Towing an Automatic Car with a Tow Bar

Towing an automatic car with a tow bar involves attaching the bar to the front of the car and then hitching it to the tow vehicle. This method is generally more straightforward and easier to maneuver than towing with a dolly, and the car’s wheels will remain on the ground, which is generally better for the transmission.

However, there are some limitations and considerations to keep in mind when using a tow bar. First, the car must be able to be put in neutral gear, as the transmission may be damaged if dragged. Secondly, the weight of the car cannot exceed the tow bar’s capacity, which is usually around 3,500 pounds. Additionally, you’ll need to ensure that the tow bar is properly installed and that all safety precautions are taken, such as attaching safety chains and ensuring proper lighting and brake signaling from the tow vehicle.

Towing an Automatic Car with a Dolly

Towing with a dolly involves lifting the front wheels of the car off the ground and securing them in place on the dolly. This method is typically used when towing a front-wheel-drive vehicle. Towing with a dolly can be more complicated than using a tow bar, but it can also be more versatile, as the car can be towed even if it can’t be put in neutral or if it exceeds the tow bar’s weight limit.

However, there are some potential downsides to using a dolly. The dolly can add extra weight to the towed vehicle, which can negatively impact gas mileage. Additionally, the dolly can be more difficult to maneuver and require more space on the road. Make sure to properly attach the dolly and follow all safety guidelines, including ensuring that the car’s wheels are properly secured and that adequate lighting and signaling is in place.

Towing an Automatic Car in Neutral

If you need to tow your automatic car, towing it in neutral is one of the safest ways to do it. This method works by disengaging the transmission from the wheels, allowing them to roll freely. However, it is important to note that not all automatic cars can be towed in neutral, so check your owner’s manual first.

Here are the steps to tow an automatic car in neutral:

  1. Ensure that the car is parked on level ground and the parking brake is engaged.
  2. Start the car and shift the transmission into neutral.
  3. Turn off the engine, but leave the key in the ignition to keep the steering wheel from locking up.
  4. Attach the tow bar to the car’s towing hitch.
  5. Attach the other end of the tow bar to the tow vehicle.
  6. Release the parking brake and make sure the car is securely attached to the tow vehicle.
  7. Drive the tow vehicle slowly and smoothly, avoiding sudden stops or accelerations.
  8. When you reach your destination, turn off the tow vehicle and remove the tow bar.
  9. Start the car and let it run for a few minutes to circulate the fluids before driving it.

It is important to remember that towing a car in neutral for an extended period can damage the transmission. Additionally, always follow the weight limits and instructions provided by the manufacturer. If you are unsure about towing your automatic car in neutral, consult a professional mechanic for advice.

When it comes to towing automatic vehicles, safety should always be your top priority. In order to avoid any accidents or damage to your car, it’s essential to follow these tips:

  • Check weight limits: Make sure that your towing vehicle and equipment are rated for the weight of the automatic car you plan to tow. Exceeding weight limits can cause serious problems, such as damaged brakes, overheated transmissions, and even accidents on the road.
  • Use proper equipment: Towing automatic cars requires specific equipment, such as a tow bar or a dolly. Choose carefully and make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use.
  • Use a braking system: When towing an automatic car, it’s important to use a braking system to help control the vehicle and prevent accidents. A supplemental braking system can be installed in the tow vehicle or in the car being towed.
  • Keep an emergency kit handy: In case of an emergency on the road, it’s important to have a safety kit in your tow vehicle. It should include essentials such as a first aid kit, flares, and a fire extinguisher.
  • Inspect your vehicle: Before towing an automatic car, make sure to inspect it thoroughly for any signs of damage or wear and tear. Check the wheels, tires, brakes, steering, and suspension to ensure that everything is in good working order.

By following these safety tips, you can help ensure a smooth towing experience and avoid any potential risks or damage to your automatic car. Remember to always be cautious and stay alert while towing on the road.

towing automatic vehicles

While towing any type of vehicle requires careful consideration, towing an automatic car presents some unique risks and considerations. Here are some essential things to keep in mind:


Automatic transmissions generate heat, and towing can increase that heat to dangerous levels. This can lead to transmission failure and potentially damage other systems in the vehicle as well. To avoid this, it’s crucial to take measures to keep the transmission cool, such as:

  • Using an auxiliary transmission oil cooler. This will provide additional cooling capacity and help dissipate heat.
  • Ensuring the transmission is in neutral. This minimizes the amount of work the transmission has to do and reduces heat generation.
  • Avoiding steep grades and constant stop-and-go driving. These conditions can put additional strain on the transmission and increase heat buildup.

Damage to the Vehicle’s Systems

The towing process can also cause damage to other systems in the vehicle, such as the suspension and brakes. To minimize the risk of damage:

  • Ensure that the vehicle is properly secured and balanced during towing.
  • Use a braking system to help control the vehicle’s speed and minimize stress on the brakes.
  • Avoid sudden stops or movements, which can damage the vehicle’s suspension.

Weight Limits

Be sure to follow the weight limits recommended by the vehicle’s manufacturer and the towing equipment manufacturer. Exceeding these limits can cause serious damage and compromise safety.

By considering these potential risks and taking the necessary precautions, you can minimize the chances of damage to your vehicle while towing an automatic car. Always prioritize safety, and follow the guidelines outlined in this comprehensive guide to ensure a smooth and successful towing experience.


In conclusion, towing an automatic car is possible, but it requires careful consideration and adherence to specific guidelines. As we have discussed, automatic transmissions operate differently from manual transmissions, which means that you can’t just hook up any tow bar and drive off.

First and foremost, it’s important to understand the weight limits and towing capacity of your vehicle. Overloading can damage the transmission or other systems of your car. It’s also essential to choose the right towing method and ensure you have the necessary equipment for the job.

Before you hit the road, make sure your vehicle is properly secured and that your braking system is in place. Keep in mind that towing an automatic car can be more challenging than a manual car, especially if you’re traveling on steep hills or rough terrain.

Safety First

When towing an automatic car, safety should always be your top priority. Never exceed the weight limits of your vehicle or your towing equipment, and always use the proper towing method.

It’s also essential to follow the guidelines provided by the manufacturer of your car and the towing equipment. This means understanding the specific instructions for your vehicle, and using the recommended materials and attachments for your tow bar or dolly.

Lastly, it’s crucial to have a plan in place for emergencies. Make sure you have the necessary tools and equipment to address any potential issues on the road, such as a flat tire or a dead battery.

By following these guidelines and taking the necessary precautions, you can safely tow an automatic car and avoid any potential damage or accidents. Whether you’re moving to a new home, delivering a vehicle, or participating in a motorsport event, towing an automatic car can be a straightforward and secure process when done correctly.


Can you tow an automatic car?

Yes, it is possible to tow an automatic car. However, there are specific considerations and guidelines that need to be followed to ensure a safe towing experience.

What are the safety tips for towing automatic cars?

When towing automatic cars, it is essential to adhere to safety precautions such as observing weight limits, using proper braking systems, and knowing emergency procedures. These measures help to minimize the risk of accidents and damage.

Can an automatic car be towed in neutral?

Yes, an automatic car can be towed in neutral. However, it is important to follow step-by-step instructions to tow the vehicle properly and avoid any potential damage.

What are the different towing methods for automatic cars?

There are two common towing methods for automatic cars – towing with a tow bar and towing with a dolly. Each method has its advantages, disadvantages, and specific considerations for automatic vehicles.

Are there any potential risks and considerations when towing automatic cars?

Yes, towing automatic cars may present some unique risks, such as overheating of the transmission or damage to the vehicle’s systems. It is important to be aware of these risks and take necessary measures to mitigate them.

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