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WHEN IS IT OK TO TOW ANOTHER AUTOMOBILE, AND WHAT DO I NEED TO UNDERSTAND PRIOR TO TOWING?
Do not get in a knot with a towrope– follow these guidelines
TOWING another automobile behind yours might seem like an easy operation, however it isn’t– if you’ve never pulled another car, you’ll find that it’s really quite difficult. Here, The Sunday Times Driving addresses a few of the more challenging aspects of towing.
When is it OK to tow another cars and truck?
The most proper time to tow another vehicle is when it has broken down and is either triggering an obstruction or remains in a dangerous area and needs to be towed to a more secure area. Towing another car has fundamental risks and you actually should keep that journey to an absolute minimum distance.
I’ve bought an ancient vintage car that’s on a SORN (Statutory Off Roadway Notice). Can I tow it to my garage where I plan to restore it?
In a word, no. The law is quite clear here– if the cars and truck being rope-towed has its four wheels on the ground, it’s dealt with the like any other roadworthy automobile, suggesting that it must be insured and taxed with a legitimate MOT. So in this instance, you’re going to require a trailer. Or a bigger budget for a road-legal classic.
What kind of tow rope should I have?
It might be tempting to root around in the back of your garage for any old bit of rope, however do not do it. The consequences of having a rope snap while towing another automobile range from the funny to the tragic, so do the ideal thing and purchase yourself a purpose-built rope.
It’ll be a helpful thing to have in your boot anyhow, and automotive aftermarket outlets carry a large range of tow ropes– a sturdy example ranked for 3.5 tonnes and conference British Standards should cover almost any towing scenario.
How long should my tow rope be?
Lawfully, there’s no minimum length, however good sense dictates that you leave enough distance between the two cars and trucks so that the one behind has plenty of time to react to turns and brakes.
There is, though, a maximum allowed length of 4.5 metres, and if you’re using a rope that’s longer than 1.5 metres the law states you need to attach a flapping little coloured cloth to the middle so other motorists identify the rope. Since while you may believe that a couple of metres doesn’t represent an exploitable space in traffic, experience teaches that lots of vehicle drivers do. Especially in London. And especially on the North Circular.
Do I need an indication of any kind?
Yes you do. When you purchase a purpose-built tow rope they normally include an ‘On Tow’ sign, which you hold on the back of the car being hauled (clearly). The cops will not be very delighted if you don’t have among those.
Does the ignition of the cars and truck being towed need to be on?
Definitely. If the ignition isn’t on, the steering lock will still be engaged, which could have the tow cars and truck entering one direction and the cars and truck being hauled entering another at the first corner. And that’s not going to end well.
Do the lights on the vehicle being hauled have to work?
Driving asked the police about this and the response was an unquestionable yes, especially if it’s dark. And even if it’s broad daytime, forget using hand signals instead of signs– does anybody even remember what the hand signal for a left turn is? According to the Highway Code, it’s a counter-clockwise rotation of your right arm, which could cause all sorts of misconceptions …
Can I tow a car with an automatic transmission?
If the driven wheels of an automatic transmission automobile touch with the road when the automobile is under tow– and the engine isn’t running– there is a possibility of damage to the transmission. It is essential that you consult your owners’ handbook as it will include a section that attends to towing, with some manufacturers imposing a distance and speed limitation for automatic transmission cars. And just as with manual transmission automobiles, make certain that the transmission is in neutral.
How should the automobile doing the towing be driven?
Carefully. Really thoroughly. Keep your speed as low as safely possible, and pull away as carefully as you can, regulating the clutch to prevent “taking” the rope. That’ll prevent an actually unpleasant jerking action in the automobile being hauled, and if your tow rope is going to snap, it’ll be on that occasion.
Brake lightly in advance to trigger brake lights so the towed vehicle has plenty of notice that braking is imminent. And likewise, suggest well ahead of time so your partner behind has great deals of notification.
Watch on your temperature level gauge as your engine will be under a greater load than typical, so overheating is a prospective problem. And since there’s lot more going on than during your usual journeys, it’s a good idea to have someone else in the tow automobile to keep a closer eye on what’s taking place behind.
Avoid any dramatic manoeuvres, abrupt braking or acceleration– remember, if the towed vehicle doesn’t have a running engine, it also won’t have power assisted steering or brakes. Which could result in two dead cars instead of one.
When you purchase a purpose-built tow rope they usually come with an ‘On Tow’ sign, which you hang on the back of the automobile being towed (clearly). If the ignition isn’t on, the guiding lock will still be engaged, which could have the tow car going in one instructions and the vehicle being pulled going in another at the first corner. According to the Highway Code, it’s a counter-clockwise rotation of your right arm, which could lead to all sorts of misconceptions …
Can I tow a car with an automatic automobile?
If the driven wheels of an automated transmission car are in contact with the road when the cars and truck is under tow– and the engine isn’t running– there is a possibility of damage to the transmission. That’ll avoid a really unpleasant jerking action in the cars and truck being towed, and if your tow rope is going to snap, it’ll be on that occasion.
How should the car being pulled be driven?
Much more carefully than the tow vehicle– this is arguably the tougher end of the operation. Off, the towed vehicle might not have engine power, which implies power assisted brakes and guiding will need much greater physical effort to run. Remember to guarantee the cars and truck remains in neutral, too.
Keep an eagle eye out for brake lights and indications on the tow cars and truck, and be ready to coordinate your steering and braking actions. It’s likewise a great concept to keep stress in the towrope as much as possible by braking extremely gently while being hauled. This will avoid “nabbing” and will keep the rope from dragging along the roadway, which will shorten its life considerably.
Lastly, if your Clarkson-obsessed 11-year-old kid enthusiastically volunteers to guide the towed vehicle, that’s a no– the law states that driver requires to be fully certified and licenced, too.
What if the towed driver has an issue?
It’s a great idea to agree a few simple hand signals so that the towed driver can rapidly interact messages like “decrease”, “stop” or “you’re driving like a total ****”. It needs to be stated, that last one’s a relatively obvious hand signal.
Towing is coupling two or more objects together so that they may be pulled by a designated power source or sources. The towing source may be a motorized land vehicle, vessel, animal, or human, and the load being anything that can be pulled. These may be joined by a chain, rope, bar, hitch, three-point, fifth wheel, coupling, drawbar, integrated platform, or other means of keeping the objects together while in motion.
Towing may be as simple as a tractor pulling a tree stump. The most familiar form is the transport of disabled or otherwise indisposed vehicles by a tow truck or “wrecker.” Other familiar forms are the tractor-trailer combination, and cargo or leisure vehicles coupled via ball or pintle and gudgeon trailer hitches to smaller trucks and cars. In the opposite extreme are extremely heavy duty tank recovery vehicles, and enormous ballast tractors involved in heavy hauling towing loads stretching into the millions of pounds.
Necessarily, government and industry standards have been developed for carriers, lighting, and coupling to ensure safety and interoperability of towing equipment.
Historically, barges were hauled along rivers or canals using tow ropes drawn by men or draught animals walking along towpaths on the banks. Later came chain boats. Today, tug boats are used to maneuver larger vessels and barges. Over thousands of years the maritime industry has refined towing to a science.
Aircraft can tow other aircraft as well. Troop and cargo-carrying gliders are towed behind powered aircraft, which remains a popular means of getting modern leisure gliders aloft.