It’s a sad sight to behold. Whether you’ve been in an accident, the car has broken down or it just won’t start; watching your vehicle be towed away is tough. But aside from the separation anxiety, should you be worried about what happens to your vehicle in the hands of professionals?
The good news? Most likely not. Nearly every licensed towing company knows how to properly transport any kind of vehicle without causing damage. They should clearly explain the process to you step-by-step so you know exactly what to expect. And they should cover the cost of repairs in the unlikely event the vehicle is damaged during transit.
That being said, it’s still good to know how to spot a dodgy service when you see one. After all, towing a vehicle requires specialist knowledge and the use of complex machinery. So, you want to be sure the company you choose knows what they’re doing, and treats you and your vehicle with respect.
Here’s what to expect from the towing process, and the measures that companies take to protect your vehicle.
Understanding the Towing Process
Upon arrival, the tow truck driver will ensure the area is safe and suitable to begin the towing process. This is crucial if your vehicle is stuck on a busy road during peak hour, or the freeway where high volumes of traffic are moving at speeds of 100kph or more.
Once the area is deemed safe, the driver should ask you to disengage the handbrake and put the vehicle into neutral gear. Do this anyway, even if the driver fails to mention this crucial step. Otherwise, the tyres will be unable to turn and the vehicle will be dragged along the road – causing major damage to the tyres and transmission system.
There are one of two ways the driver will transport your vehicle:
A flatbed truck is the safest and most common way to tow a stationary vehicle. By having the vehicle on the flat surface of a tow truck, you don’t have to worry about tyres rolling along the road.
Before transporting the vehicle, the driver will disengage the handbrake and put the car into neutral. Then the driver will use what’s known as a ‘winch’ to move the vehicle. A winch is a hauling or lifting device that consists of a rope or chain, wound up in a rotating drum and turned with a crank or motor.
By connecting the rope or chain to the vehicle with the end hook, the tow truck driver operates the winch to gradually pull the vehicle up onto the flatbed truck. Before driving off, the driver will secure the vehicle and engage the handbrake again.
These days the towing dolly has become less common. They are most often used when a flatbed truck is not available. Overall, they are still a safe and acceptable way to transport a vehicle.
In essence, the towing dolly is a pickup truck with a two-wheel ramp installed onto the back. Your vehicle is gently hoisted up onto the ramp, so that the two front wheels rest on the truck while the two rear wheels roll on the road. Finally, the vehicle is connected to the tow truck to ensure it is secure.
Risks of Two-Wheel Towing
There are some risks to be aware of with the two-wheel approach.
For the most part, this method is safe for manual transmission cars. But there is a risk for automatic transmission cars. Simply put, having the car in neutral – while the handbrake is disengaged – does not mean the vehicle is safe from harm.
How so? While the neutral position does disengage the engine, it does not disengage the tyres from the transmission system. This means the engine is unable to help the tyres turn during transit. So the longer the tyres turn on their own, the higher chance of overheating the transmission.
To avoid the risk of damage, refer to your owner’s manual for towing instructions. And if possible, keep the travel distance to a minimum.
Preparation is Key
If you’re lucky, you won’t have any problems when dealing with a towing company. And the reality is, most towing companies are highly trained and well-equipped to handle any situation. So you can relax knowing your vehicle is in the hands of reliable experts.
Of course, preparation is still key. By knowing what to expect from the process, you can be well-informed and speak up if notice something sketchy. And you can always refer to your owner’s manual for clarification as well. This way, both you and the tow truck driver will have an overall positive experience.
Article provided by Sheen Group