Towing a car – tips and rules for towing


This guide on towing a car is required reading for all drivers.
Whether you need a tow yourself or are assisting someone whose car has broken down, knowing how to tow a car safely and legally is a good practice just in case the worst happens.

Whether you’re a member or not, you can phone the Twing Dublin for help at 085 100 4834.

Towing regulations

The following is something that both parties involved in the towing task must keep in mind:

  • The back of the towed vehicle must be marked with a ‘On Tow’ sign.
  • The maximum distance allowed between the vehicles when they are only connected by a rope or chain is 4.5 vehicles.
  • If the distance between the two vehicles is greater than 1.5 metres, the rope or chain must be plainly visible from both sides to other road users, for example, by attaching a coloured flapping cloth in the middle.
  • A qualified driver must be in the vehicle that has broken down.
  • If it’s dark, the broken down vehicle’s lights must be turned on, just as they would under regular circumstances.

Towing driver’s tips

Everything should be done slowly and steadily, never exceeding 15 mph.

To avoid dragging on the tow line abruptly, which can cause it to break, use the clutch to gently draw away, and avoid any rapid braking because the towed driver may not be able to respond quickly enough to stop – instead, tap lightly to alert them.

Similarly, signal ahead of time and prevent any abrupt changes of direction or manoeuvres, as the towed driver will find it difficult to steer and brake with you.

Check your mirrors frequently while towing to ensure that everything appears to be in order. Keep a watch on your vehicle’s gauges, especially the temperature and oil pressure; if they abruptly change, there may be an issue, so pull over as quickly as possible.

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Tips for the towed vehicle’s driver

To remove the steering lock and make it easier for you to steer the broken down car, make sure the ignition switch is in the “on” position before you leave.

Maintain synchronized steering and braking with the towing vehicle at all times, and preserve some tension in the towrope or towing pole at all times by applying modest braking pressure to avoid any jolting.

Maintain the same level of alertness as if you were driving, paying special attention to the towing car’s brake lights and indicators to get the most advance warning of what’s coming up.

Categorized as towing