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Can You Tow an Automatic Car in Neutral?


You may need to tow your automatic for a variety of reasons. Maybe you are traveling with your vehicle, or moving to a new location, or your car just broke down on the roadside. There could be any reason but following the proper instructions for towing an automatic vehicle is absolutely essential. People frequently choose to tow their vehicles but may be unaware of how to do so safely. So, can you tow an automatic vehicle in neutral?

Well, no, it is not recommended. Cars with an automatic transmission receive no lubrication whatsoever in neutral gear, which can lead to serious damage to the moving parts and engine. If towing is necessary, it should be done without the drive wheels on the ground.

Improper towing can cause various issues, including serious damage to your car, so whether you hire a specialized towing company or do it yourself, you must take precautions to tow your car. Let’s jump into the details of towing an automatic car in neutral:

Is towing a car with an automatic transmission safe?

The answer might surprise you! Even if in neutral and with the drive wheels on the ground, vehicles with automatic transmissions should not be towed or pushed. In automatics, lubrication is provided by an engine-powered pump. Towing or pushing an automatic with the engine off ended up causing the gears to dry up, which can harm the engine.

When is there a need to use neutral in an automatic transmission?

It harms your vehicle when you use the neutral in an AT. In some scenarios, using it can be dangerous; for example, some drivers place the shifter in the N (neutral) position in a parking lot, which is completely incorrect.

Automatic car gear stick on neutral

Remember that when you use it, the wheels are not in a blocked state, so if you forget to apply the parking brake, the car will simply roll, which can cause accidents on the road. That is why it is preferable to use the parking mode (P) rather than neutral in most cases.

Another example is that you should never use the neutral gear in an automatic car when coasting or driving down an inclined road. Suppose the car owner switches the selector to neutral mode while driving. In that case, the unit will not receive the required amount of oil, causing a pressure change and forcing it to rotate dry.

Why can you not tow an automatic car in neutral?

You cannot tow an automatic vehicle in neutral. Automatic transmissions depend on an engine-driven pump to produce lubrication to the transmission, which protect clutch packs, seals, and other components. Resultantly, you can hardly push or tow them with the drive wheels on the ground — even though the transmission is in neutral.

Manual transmissions are lubricated by spinning their gears through an oil bath at the bottom of the transmission: some of the oil coats the gears and passes it along to the gears with which they mesh, while some are basically lobbed around inside the transmission and then seeps down to coat other gears and components. This occurs despite whether the input or output shaft is turning the gears.

However, automatics do not work in this manner. The output shaft and other transmission components will rotate if the drive wheels turn, and none will be lubricated.

There may be some residual fluid coating things from the last time the vehicle was in use, but it’s hard enough to keep things lubricated. Once the components start rotating and generating heat, that light coating will be worn or burned off, and they themselves will begin to wear. Harm can occur almost promptly.

What is the proper way to tow a car?

When there is a need to tow an automatic car, you should follow some guidelines. These are some guidelines to follow when towing a vehicle:

  • Towing the car tends to happen at a heavily restricted speed by the vehicle’s instructions. If you don’t know what’s written in the instructions and can’t find out, you can stick to the most common restrictions: A vehicle with three transmissions can tow roughly to 35kmat at the speed of 30km/hour. Towing speed for TS equipped with boxes with four or more gears is 50 km/h over 50 km.
  • Before towing a car, you should inspect the level of lubricant in the automatic transmission. Towing is responsible for monitoring the CAT’s operating temperature and taking timely cooling measures if necessary.
  • The speed and mode switching selector must be neutral (N). This can be problematic with an unnecessary engine because the automatic transmission can become clogged. To remove the lock, open a special plug that covers up the lock switch and press down on it with a basic screwdriver while instantaneously changing the lever into neutral. Towing a car with an automatic transmission requires only a hard-type coupling, eliminating jerks and sudden stops during the movement.

The best way to tow a vehicle equipped with an automatic transmission

The unhazardous method of towing a car that has an automatic transmission is to tow on on a flatbed tow truck. However, if the tow operator tows the vehicle with the drive wheels on the ground, damage can occur.

Can towing cause damage to an automatic transmission?

Yes, towing can damage your vehicle’s transmission. Towing without the proper equipment can cause devastating damage to the automatic transmission torque converter. It may be impacted even with the relatively short, slightly slower trailer as it is always in the “pilot” position, despite where the selector gear is present.

How would the trucks assist in the towing of an automatic vehicle?

Flatbed trailers come fitted with a toolset for loading a locked car onto a truck with the transmission in the park, and the parking brake applied. They can open the car door and release the gear shift, they can raise the drive wheels and place a dolly under the wheels, and they can do a variety of other tricks to tow your car without damaging the driveline.


It is possible to push or pull in neutral, but only at slow speeds over short-range. With the engine not working, automatic transmissions have no lubrication. Towing an automatic vehicle in ‘neutral’ is detrimental to the transmission. Ideally, it should be towed by a tow truck and transported.

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