How to Tow a Car With a Pickup Truck

by Natalie Lyda

When you need to transport a car and have no extra driver, towing the car behind a pickup truck is an option. To safely tow a car you must have the proper equipment, including a capable pickup truck and the right towing equipment for the type of car that will be towed. Whether you're moving across the country or simply transporting a car across town, following the correct procedure is imperative.

Determine the maximum towing capacity of the pickup that will be used by referring to the owner's manual or the specification sticker located on the driver's door jamb. Check the weight of the car that will be towed by looking at its specification sticker. In order to safely tow the car, its weight must be less than the maximum towing capacity of the tow vehicle.

Inspect the rear of the pickup to see if it is equipped with a towing hitch. If so, read the specification sticker of the tow hitch to ensure that it is rated to tow the weight of the car. If not, purchase and install a bolt-on hitch rated to the appropriate weight. Slip the drawbar, which attaches the tow ball to the hitch, into the hitch receiver and secure it using a hitch pin.

Rent or buy a tow dolly to transport front wheel drive cars. Attach the tow dolly to the pickup using the correct size tow ball for the trailer. Park the pickup and dolly on a level surface with the parking brake engaged. Have a partner guide you as the front wheels of the car are driven onto the dolly until they are up against the dolly's wheel stops. Once the front wheels are on the dolly, use the straps on the wheel stops to secure the car to the trailer. Before towing, release the car's parking brake and place the transmission in neutral.

Rent or purchase a car trailer to safely transport all-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive cars. Hook the trailer to the pickup by attaching the tongue of the trailer to the appropriate size tow ball. With the pickup and trailer parked on a flat surface, slowly drive the car onto the trailer using the ramps included with the trailer. Place the car in park, engage the emergency brake, and use tie-down straps to secure the car to the trailer. Drape tie-downs over each tire of the car and secure them to the tie-down holds of the trailer.

Hook up the electrical wiring of the trailer to the electrical outlet of the pickup's tow hitch. Check to make sure the trailer's brake lights and turn signals are properly working before slowly accelerating to begin your journey. Remember to leave at least double the standard following distance while towing and always adhere to the posted speed limits for vehicle's towing a trailer.

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About the Author

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Photo Credits

  • photo_camera pickup truck image by Tonda from Fotolia.com