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How to tow a car

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How to tow a car

When your car has broken down, it’s good to know how to tow a car safely and legally. Knowing how to tow a car is essential for all motorists whether helping yourself or other people. Find out the tips and rules below.

Rules for towing

Whether you’re being towed or towing a broken down car, both parties must remember these important rules:

  • A qualified driver must be in the vehicle that has broken down.
  • You must place an ‘On Tow’ sign at the back of the towed vehicle.
  • If it’s night-time, the broken down vehicle’s lights must be turned on, just as they would under regular conditions.
  • If the two vehicles are connected only by a rope or chain, the maximum distance allowed between the vehicles is 4.5 metres.
  • If the distance between the two vehicles is more than 1.5 metres, the rope or chain must be clearly visible within a reasonable distance from either side to other road users by attaching a colourful flatting fabric in the centre.

Tips for towing driver

For the towing driver, you must never exceed 15 mph. To avoid tugging on the tow line abruptly, which can cause it to break, use the clutch to slowly draw away and avoid any sudden braking. The towed driver may not respond quickly enough to stop so tap gently to alert the driver.

Indicate in plenty of time and prevent any sudden change of direction or excessive movements because the driver being pulled will find it difficult to steer and brake with you.

While towing, check your mirrors frequently to ensure everything appears to be okay. Keep a watch on your vehicle’s gauges, especially the temperature and oil pressure. If these abruptly change, there might be an issue so pull over as quickly as possible.

Tips for driver being towed

Before setting off, release the steering lock by making sure the ignition switch is ‘on’ to make it easier to steer the broken down vehicle.

Actively match the steering and braking with the towing vehicles at all times and keep some tension in the towrope or towing pole by applying light braking pressure to avoid jolting.

Maintain the same level of alertness as if you were driving, paying special attention to the towing car’s brake lights and indicators to get as much warning of what’s coming up.

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