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How to tow a car

If your car is stuck or has broken down and you don't have breakdown cover, the below guide could help you to tow your vehicle safely.

Car towing

Think safety first — if you believe that it might be dangerous to attempt a tow, perhaps due to poor weather, difficult terrain, or nearby traffic, you should call a garage to come and tow you.

However, if you believe you can attempt towing safely, you will need either a tow rope or tow pole. The next step is to consider the strength of the car to be used to tow your vehicle. A small car might not be powerful enough for the job and if slippery conditions are a problem it would be unlikely to get enough traction.

Check the tow rope or tow pole for any weaknesses or damage, as a breakage during the tow could be dangerous. Chains can also be used, but links could stretch, and break under strain.

The tow rope should be attached to the strong steel hooks of both the car towing and the car being towed. Do not try connecting the hooks to the bumpers, as you will likely just pull them off. Displaying an 'On Tow' sign on the rear vehicle will inform other drivers to be cautious.

Safety while towing a car

Ensuring that the vehicle being towed is in neutral and the handbrake is off, switch on the ignition so that the steering lock is not engaged. Communication between the drivers of both cars is important for safe towing, so decide on a ready signal that you can both use before you start. Plan the route you will take beforehand, avoiding busy areas and any routes that will require a lot of stopping and starting if possible.

The rope should be taut as much as possible during towing, so the driver of the rear car must pay close attention to the car in front, steering and breaking when necessary to avoid movements being sudden and jerking.

If the tow requires more than simply freeing a car from a ditch or difficult ground, the driver of the car being towed should be alert and copy any indicator signals made by the front car. The driver who is towing should keep the speed down to give the rear driver as much time as possible to react.

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