Drivers Education

Is it Illegal to Tow a Car with Another Car?

Is it illegal to tow a car with another car? Before you tow a car using another vehicle to a new location, you want to be sure you’re not going against state laws.

Though it may be legal to tow a car with another car in your state, it’s imperative to follow the safety guidelines. If you are traveling interstate, it is equally important to find out about the laws of the state before towing. Besides, whether ignorance or not, it is not an excuse when a cop issues you a ticket. Nevertheless, you may ask a judge to reduce it.

It is preferable to tow your car with a tow truck. However, a tow truck may not be at your disposal, forcing you to use a small car that can tow. You may sign up on AAA, but if you can’t, towing with another car is OK.

Is it Illegal to Tow a Car with Another Car?

In most states, it is not illegal to tow a car with another car, provided you use state-recommended equipment and follow recommended measures. Before you tow a car with another car, you would have to meet basic requirements.

First, the vehicle must have a capable tow rating that can tow the car in question. Secondly, both cars must have tow hitches. You would also consider whether the vehicle you are towing is 2WD or 4WD manual or automatic transmission.

Moreover, assuming your car is a two-wheel drive, you want to know whether it is a rear or front-wheel drive. You may refer to the car owner’s manual for appropriate information.

After confirming that the towing car meets requirements or is capable of towing the car to be towed, assess the equipment. Make sure the equipment meets the safety guidelines recommended in your state. Otherwise, you’d have the police pull you over along the way. Typically, you would require either the tow strap, towing bar, or chain. Meanwhile, you may refer to our guide regarding how to tow a car with a chain.

Determine the distance and route to follow. The towing route also determines whether, for instance, towing with a rope is legal. In most states, towing with a rope or unapproved methods, which may include rusty chains, is illegal. If you tow a car with another car using a rope, you do not; you do not want to drive on highways.

Make sure to get a chain or rope with a closed or open hook and hook it on both ends of the vehicles. You need someone to control the towed car. Radio might also be included for communication.

How to Tow a Car with Another Car

  • Tow your car with a chain or rope

It is not entirely advisable to tow your car with a chain or rope. However, you may consider them as an alternative when there are no other options. When towing another car with your car, do not also use the highway.

When selecting a chain or rope to use for towing another car, focus on the quality. Frayed or thin ropes are not excellent choices to prevent a crash. You do not also need a rusty chain to tow a car with another car.

You do not also need too long or too short rope or chain. Also, when towing a car with rope or chain, avoid matching the brakes suddenly because the car is in neutral and the brakes are inactive. Make sure the other other vehicle is capable of towing your vehicle’s weight.

  • Use a tow bar

You can also use a tow bar to tow a car with another car. Tow bars are considered safer than a chain or rope for towing vehicles, and you can rent one if you do not have it.

A tow bar is an A-frame structure you can mount at the rear of the towing car and attach it to the hitch of towed car.

You would also require safety chains when using a tow bar for added power. When making turns and braking, be careful because a tow bar can push the car.

Legally, when one vehicle is towing another vehicle, the drawbar or other connection must have sufficient power to pull all the weight towed.

  • Tow another car with a dolly

A tow dolly is one of the best ways to tow a car using another car, and is a small trailer. When you use a tow dolly, you keep the front tires of the towed car off the ground to reduce driveline wear on the towed car. Unlike towing with a chain, rope or tow bar, a tow dolly prevents the towed car from pushing towards the towing car. You can always rent a tow dolly to have your car towed.

  • Use a car hauling trailer

A hauling trailer is another method of towing a car with another car. It can be open or enclosed, but both get the job done.

Most hauling trailers are trucks capable of towing virtually all passenger vehicles, including most SUVs.

When using a vehicle hauler, the entire car safely sits on the trailer. It can further be secured with chains or straps for absolute safety.

What if you own a tow truck: can you legally tow someone’s car a short distance?

Unless the owner of the car permits it, you cannot tow or move someone else’s car with your car. The repo man, for instance, despite having the right to repossess a vehicle, requires paperwork and permission from the local authorities.

Of course, you also need permission from the owner to move the car if it obstructs the car you want to tow. The legal way to tow the car with another car is to inform your local authorities. They are in the position to move the vehicle, and you avoid false claims and prosecution.

Is it legal to occupy a car towed by another car?

Most states prohibit occupying a car that is being towed by another car except for operational safety. In this regard, if you equip a car with a fixed tow bar or dolly, it must not be occupied unless someone is needed to control it. When towing a car with a tow bar fixed in one point or a chain, the car must be steered. In most states, only a driver can occupy the towed vehicle.

The reason you must not occupy a towed car that does not require someone to steer is to eliminate mistaken interference with the controls. While the towing car is in motion, meandering with the car controls might result in a crash, leading to injury.

Can you legally tow another car on your property with your car?

You can’t tow a car on your property without the owner’s consent. Instead, you may inform a tow company to tow it away if it is on your property. Of course, the owner will pay to recover the vehicle. The towing service is known as private property impound, and a towing company will tow the car legally. However, there must be visible signs informing people not to park before the owner is charged a fee.

A tow company will report the towed car to the local police department so that they inform the owner when they get in touch. The vehicle owner will be charged daily for storage.

However, if the car is on public property, but obstructs you, contact your local authorities instead of towing it with your car. If the police can’t contact the owner to remove the car, they will tow it for impound.

Do not tow the car regardless of your car’s towing capability and equipment; the owner can file a lawsuit against you, citing false reasons.

Before you contact the tow company or police, make attempts to find the vehicle owner. If the owner refuses to remove the car, inform the relevant authorities. And if you can’t find the owner after a while and the car is on your private property, notify a tow company. Informing the police is a decent option when the car is on private property.

Final Thoughts

Although it is legal to tow a car with another car, knowing the state laws saves you from annoying tickets. You must also follow the recommended guidelines to tow a car safely, especially with a small car using a chain or rope.

Ultimately, make sure not to use substandard towing equipment and do not tow with a rope on a freeway. When towing a car using another car, make sure the distance is not long. If you are towing for a longer distance, hire a tow truck.

Latest posts by Bernard Juchli (see all)

Bernard Juchli

Bernard Juchli is an experienced racer, mechanic and team owner who trusts Avon Tyres.Bernard is the lead driver and force behind his Big Dog Garage Race Team. He is the General Manager and Chief Mechanic of Jay Leno’s Garage. Bernard and his crew of seven are responsible for all repairs, restoration and fabrication of Jay’s incredible automobile and motorcycle collection.

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