showing how to tow a truck
Tips & Tricks

A Step by Step Guide on How to Tow a Truck

Like all vehicles, your truck can stop working in the middle of the road. However, getting stranded with a broken-down truck is a hassle we would all rather avoid and things can get complicated in the absence of a tow dolly or tow truck.

A broken-down truck is usually taken away with a tow truck or a tow dolly. However, you can also tow it with another truck the same way you can tow a car. We will discuss the different towing options below.

How to Tow a Truck With Another Truck

a tow truck towing a dump truck

Towing a full-sized truck with another truck is not ideal but it can help when you need to tow a short distance and have no other option. So, if you find yourself on a highway with a broken-down truck in a dangerous curve, this method may come in handy to prevent hold-ups or accidents. 

For this, you need a chain or a tow strap to join the trucks.

Step 1

Hook the tow strap or chain to the end of the working vehicle and attach it to the front of the broken-down truck. It’s best to hook it to a receiver hitch on the front truck and hook the other end to the latter truck’s frame mount. Ensure you hook securely on both ends. 

Step 2

Turn your flashers on for both vehicles, but especially the rear truck. 

Step 3

The two drivers must be in sync. The rear truck driver must keep a reasonable amount of tension on the chains. Where the chain or toe step is too slack, the towing truck may go too fast to make up for the space, derailing the rear truck. 

Step 4

The front truck driver should also maintain a steady pace to keep both trucks safe. For truck-to-truck towing, you can travel only a short distance. Anything beyond a couple of miles can be dangerous and it will be best to call in a tow truck or trailer. 

Towing a Truck on a Tow Dolly 

towing a truck on a tow dolly

A tow dolly will serve you better if you are looking for a cost-efficient way to move a truck a short distance without exerting too much effort to offload. 

Most dollies are used to transport only front-wheel-drive cars, so towing a truck on a tow dolly will be effective depending on your truck’s weight and model. You can look at your truck’s owner’s manual to confirm if the tow dolly is compatible with your truck. 

Mid-sized trucks are usually more compatible with tow dollies. They do not suffer any damage from the tow bar. U-Haul recommends a 750 pounds difference between a tow dolly and a tow truck. So, it may be unsafe to attempt a lesser weight difference. You can confirm the towing capacity when placing the call to a towing service. 

Here’s how to tow a truck on a tow dolly

  • Offload the cargo in your truck to prevent swaying or whipping during towing. 
  • Ensure the tow dolly is well attached to the tow vehicle during loading and unloading. 
  • Drive cautiously. Expect curves, sharp corners, sudden stops, and always break early. 
  • Ensure you install tire straps and vehicles in tow security chains.
  • Don’t let passengers ride in the truck in tow. 

The tow truck operator should avoid driving beyond 55 miles per hour when towing with a tow dolly. 

Towing With a Flatbed Truck

towing a truck on a flatbed truck

Flatbed trucks are the safest bet for towing a 4WD or AWD. This method can go long distances, maintain proportional weight distribution, and your vehicle won’t be racking up mileage from the rear wheels. 

Here’s how to tow a truck on a flatbed:

  • Check if you can throw the transfer case and the transmission into neutral.
  • After this, winch your truck onto the flatbed. 
  • Secure the truck on the flatbed. 

However, there may be circumstances where your truck breaks down on the trail and you need to get it to the pavement first before putting it on the flatbed truck. In this case, it’s best to use another truck to pull your truck first. Attach the chains, shift your transmission and transfer to neutral, disengage your manual hubs, and unlock your diffs. 

Then stay behind the wheel to apply the brake appropriately and maintain proper tension until your truck is pulled to the pavement safely. 

Should I Choose a Flatbed Truck or a Tow Dolly? 

Both a flatbed and a tow dolly have their uniqueness and can be used to tow a truck. You should consider these two crucial factors when choosing the more suitable towing method: 

Weight Capacity

A flatbed is usually better for larger trucks because it can hold more weight and the vehicle will be more secure in transit. However, a tow dolly is often best for small, mid-sized trucks, especially if you tow multiple trucks at once. In addition, it ensures a quicker load and unload time compared to dollies. 

Moving Method

If you are towing a new truck or transporting an old truck for sale, one of your priorities is ensuring that the truck does not record mileage. A tow dolly usually lifts only half of the car while the rear wheels will be on the road, which records mileage. 

In this case, a flatbed will serve you better. Your truck’s mileage will not be affected since the entire vehicle’s wheels will be off the ground when towing with a flatbed. 

However, when towing with a tow dolly, the truck’s rear tires will still be on the ground and this can accumulate mileage. Besides, trucks on a flatbed won’t experience wear and tear during movement, no matter how long the journey is. 

Final Thoughts

The question of how to tow a truck is a simple one. The best method to tow your truck depends on the distance, cost, and truck size. Once you have chosen the method that suits your needs, ensure you and the towing company take all the necessary precautions during towing.