Safety Tips for Towing a Car

Breaking down is sure to ruin any car journey, so it's a good idea to know how to tow a car safely. Here are some top tips and helpful advice to get you started.

Before towing a car

  • An 'On Tow' sign must be displayed at the rear of the vehicle being towed.
  • Inspect the tow rope for any damage, defects or abrasions before you use it. If your tow rope is damaged, it’s important to replace it.
  • On the towed car, leave the ignition switch in the 'on' position to disengage the steering lock. Vehicles with power steering and/or power-assisted brakes (most modern vehicles) will require much more strength and effort to operate when being towed if the engine isn't running.
  • The individual in the car being towed must be a qualified driver, even if that car isn’t functioning properly.

How to tow a car safely

The driver towing must do the following:

  • Drive with extreme care, keeping your speed to a maximum of 15 mph. This minimises the forces generated and gives the driver being towed more time to react to what is happening around them.
  • Carefully use the clutch to pull away gently. This helps to prevent any 'snatching' of the rope, which can result in the towed car suddenly being jerked forwards. This is not only uncomfortable for the driver, but is the main reason that tow ropes break.
  • Try to avoid any sudden braking. If possible, press very lightly on the brake pedal in advance of actually braking. This illuminates your brake lights and gives plenty of warning to the driver being towed.
  • Indicate well in advance of any manoeuvre, to forewarn the driver being towed and all other traffic.
  • Avoid any sudden changes of direction or excessive manoeuvres, as the driver being towed will find it hard to steer and brake when the engine in their vehicle isn't running.

The driver being towed must do the following:

  • Carefully watch the brake lights and indicators of the vehicle that’s towing yours, so you’ve got advanced warning of any upcoming moves.
  • Steer and brake in coordination with the towing vehicle.
  • Apply light braking pressure to keep some tension in the towrope at all times and minimise jolting. This will also help to extend the rope's life by keeping it out of contact with the road surface

Car towing kit from Halfords

Here at Halfords, we offer tow ropes that can support weights ranging from 2 tonnes to 4 tonnes. We’d recommend keeping one in the boot of your car along with other breakdown essentials such as jump leads and a petrol can, so that you have everything handy for when you need it.

Shop tow ropes
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