How to tow a car with an automatic transmission without damaging the gearbox

Even the most tough and reliable car is not insured against breakage. Every driver should be ready to have his/her car towed one day. It should be done properly, especially if the car is on automatic. Otherwise, you can seriously damage the box. What is the problem of towing a car with an automatic transmission and what you need to do – let’s understand.

What is the peculiarity of a car with an “automatic”

Many people have heard that it is better not to tow an automatic car. But why this should not be done, it is not clear to everyone. And it’s all about the peculiarities of the automatic transmission device.

For a car with a “manual” there are no limits in distance. It can be pulled as much as required. During the movement, only one gear works.

With an automatic, the case is different: the whole mechanism moves. The essential difference from the automatic transmission is that the transmission fluid is pumped by the pump under high pressure. The pump in the automatic transmission is connected to the input shaft. When the engine is not running, the shaft and torque converter are also stationary.

Consequently, no liquid flows to the friction packs, gears and bushings. Those drops that remain inside the system are not able to provide normal cooling of shafts and gears. As a result, the parts get very hot from friction, which threatens their breakage. Especially often the automatic transmission breaks down, if the car has to be pulled with a rope for a long distance.

In addition to long towing, high speed is harmful for automatics. The reason is the same – the lack of lubrication. The cars with rear drive, which haven’t been exploited for a long time, have such a hard time. All transmission fluid will go down from box, therefore towing will go dry.

The situation is a little easier with front-wheel drive cars, since the working gear, which moves with the wheels, is quite low in the automatic transmission and therefore captures the fluid. Of course, it will not provide full-fledged lubrication, but it will reduce the risk of box breakdown.

Peculiarities of towing

Manufacturers equip cars with different types of transmissions, which may have significant differences. Therefore, it is necessary to clarify what type of box is installed in the car, and the peculiarities of towing, because the data may differ from one company to another.

Some manufacturers allow towing, others prohibit it. All information can be found in the manual of the vehicle. There is also an indication of the distance allowed for towing and the speed to be observed while driving.

If it is impossible to find out the recommendation, then it is better to adhere to the general rules of towing a car on automatic:

  1. If possible, unload the car: unload the passengers and remove unnecessary items.
  2. Before driving, fill up the ATF fluid to the maximum level. When you arrive at the service station or destination, drain it to the normal level.
  3. 3. Remove the car from the handbrake (if it was on) and unlock the steering wheel. To do this, turn the key in the ignition.
  4. Put the selector lever in neutral. If the unit does not let you do this, then remove the locking cap. There is a technological hole underneath it. Press it with something sharp (fingernail or screwdriver) and at the same time move the lever to the desired position.
  5. While driving, watch the temperature of the box. If it becomes too hot, stop and wait for the automatic transmission to cool.
  6. Stick to the rule: every 40 km, stop for 40 min. to allow the box to cool. However, many experts advise to stick to 30 km/h and stop for half an hour. And especially cautious not to exceed 15-20 km/h. The essence of such limitations is to keep the box from severe overheating.

The owners of four-wheel drive cars should be especially attentive, because the manufacturers often prohibit towing and insist on having a car towed. If it is impossible to call it, then it is necessary to tow the car with lifted axle. Besides, it is extremely undesirable to tow with a coupling: neither rigid, nor flexible.

Tip: If you have to tow your car in winter, warm up the automatic transmission before you start.

Towing a car with an “automatic” is a complicated and often unsafe for the box. Therefore, it is better to use a tow truck. But if there is no such possibility, then it is necessary to tow the car with automatic transmission with maximum caution and care.

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