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Safety Tips for Towing a Car

Towing a car for the first time can seem a little daunting. Read this Halfords guide on how to tow a car safely, following a breakdown while out on the road.

It's really important to keep your speed well down when towing a car (or any other broken down vehicle). You should try to pull away and brake gently, and avoid any sudden manoeuvres, to reduce the risk of jerking forwards and snapping the rope.

For further safety advice on towing a broken down vehicle, take a look at the guidance below.

Before Towing a Car

You must display an 'On Tow' sign at the rear of the vehicle being towed. All Halfords tow ropes and towing poles are supplied with an 'On Tow' sign that you can use.

Make sure you inspect the tow rope or towing pole for any damage, defects or abrasion before use. Do not use a damaged tow rope or towing pole.

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.

How to Tow a Car Safely

The driver towing must

Drive with extreme care, keeping speed right down 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.

Carefully use the clutch to pull away gently, to prevent any 'snatching' of the rope, which can result in the towed car being jerked forwards suddenly. This is not only uncomfortable for the driver, but is the main reason for tow ropes breaking.

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. Remember, towing poles are not designed to act as a brake for the towed vehicle.

When towing a car, indicate in plenty of time 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 is not running.

The driver being towed must:

Carefully watch the brake lights and indicators of the vehicle that is towing, for maximum notice of any upcoming moves.

Actively steer and brake your vehicle in coordination with the vehicle that is towing.

Try to keep some tension in the towrope or towing pole at all times, which will minimise any jolting. This can be achieved by applying light braking pressure whilst being towed. When using a towrope, this will take up any slack and help to extend the rope's life by keeping it out of contact with the road surface.