Most motorists will find themselves in a bit of a pickle at some point, and the chances are you will find yourself either on a the receiving end of a breakdown or called to the aid of somebody else. A tow rope is one of the many necessities for any driver, whether you are taking your vehicle on road or off road.
First and foremost, if you have breakdown cover, then this should always be your first port of call - most breakdown services will fix your car on the road and get you back up and running without hassle.
Before you start
There are a few rules that you must follow before you can start a towing mission. These are:
- An 'On Tow' sign must be placed at the back of the vehicle which is being towed.
- The person in the broken down vehicle must be a qualified driver.
- If the distance between the two vehicles exceeds 1.5 metres, then the tow rope must be clearly visible for road users and pedestrians on both sides of the road. This is usually achieved by having a brightly coloured cloth in the middle of the rope.
- The maximum allowed distance between two vehicles on a UK road is 4.5 metres. A standard tow rope will not exceed this distance.
- If it is dark, or the weather is rainy/foggy, the lights on the car being towed must be switched, as they usually would in that situation.
The Towing Driver - things to know
First and foremost: take things slow and steady. Towing is not a race, and if you go too fast you could damage not only the towing vehicle but also your own. Never exceed 15mph as a general rule.
Use your clutch and pull away gently, maintaining an average speed as much as possible. Avoid any sudden direction changes or accelerations to stop the rope from yanking, and try not to brake too heavily if it can be avoided. Make sure you give plenty of time for the towed vehicle to see your turn signals and brake lights, and allow it enough space to react.
Whilst towing, check your mirrors regularly to ensure everything is ok behind you, as well as keeping an eye on your vehicles gauges - particularly the temperature and oil pressure metres. If you notice any sudden changes in these gauges, pull over and stop your own car as soon as it is safe to do so, as there may be a problem.
The Towed Driver - things to know
Before you get going, make sure the ignition is on and disengage the steering lock to make it easier to keep control and maintain position with the towing vehicle. When you are in motion, actively steer and brake your vehicle in sync with the towing vehicle, keeping some tension in the tow rope by applying light braking pressure to minimise any jolting.
Always stay alert and actively checking the towing car. Keep an eye out for turn signals and brake lights so you have enough time to react and adjust your vehicle accordingly.
If in doubt, do not commit
Most importantly for both the towing driver and the driver being towed - if you are not comfortable at any point during the towing mission, stop. The last thing you want is to hit another vehicle, or hit the vehicle you are towing/being towed by, causing more damage.