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Old 09-11-2015, 05:50 PM   #1
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Basic TOAD question

We had a tow dolly for our FWD car, and that served us fine, but...

We're in the process of getting a MH that has a 4-down hitch, and I'm looking at a car with a 5-speed Manual tranny.

Is this going to be simple? Can I just place the shifter into N and head down the road? It's a RWD BMW 3-series, if that makes a difference.
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Old 09-11-2015, 06:00 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bamaboy473 View Post
We're in the process of getting a MH that has a 4-down hitch, and I'm looking at a car with a 5-speed Manual tranny.

Is this going to be simple? Can I just place the shifter into N and head down the road? It's a RWD BMW 3-series, if that makes a difference.
I'm not sure what a "4-down hitch" is but nonetheless; the answer is no. Nothing is simple. Sorry...

There are a few toads that are pretty simple to tow four down but you must be a bit careful about model, tranny type, etc... The Jeep Wrangler is the one with which I have experience. The manual transmission version and a year without the steering wheel lock is incredibly simple to tow four down. Transfer case in neutral, tranny in gear, emergency brake off, and away you go. Some years have a steering wheel lock which requires you to either disable it or tow with the key turned to unlock (which may or may not power some items/accessories).

Most vehicles do not tow four down very well. Many require an aftermarket pump to lubricate things while towing or a drive shaft disconnect "thing" or ??? Edit: I probably shouldn't say that. They tow ok but need some aftermarket parts to make it work. Those parts may void a warranty.

Last I heard, the Remco site had some good information about what is required for each year/make/model of vehicle.
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Old 09-11-2015, 06:05 PM   #3
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The exact make, model and year of the car (aka "toad") matters. I recommend you provide those details so that someone with that auto (or who considered it) may know.

If it is compatible, your exact steps will be different than someone else's with a different car. For example in my jeep, with auto transmission, I put the transfer into N (this is the lever that switches between 2wd and 4wd), I put the transmission in Park (yup--that's right, otherwise gears will spin without lubricant and burn up), leave key out (my steering wheel has no lock), and it's ready to role. Of course, I have to hook up the lights and the tow are and the braking system too, but you asked about car prep I think.

I highly recommend that you get a brake system installed in your toad too. It's required in most states, and it's safer in all of them! Towing several thousand pounds will increase your stopping distance...
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Old 09-11-2015, 06:08 PM   #4
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Motorhomemagazine.com has a downloadable dinghy guide that is an excellent resource: Downloadable Dinghy Guides | MotorHome Magazine
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Old 09-11-2015, 06:27 PM   #5
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As a service manager I have drug more tow cars to shows than I can count. I am a big fan of towing four wheels down. I have used tow dollies and did not like them. I have never had a problem with towing four down. I did a heck of a lot in fifteen years. You do have to call Remco at 1 800 228 2481. Listen to them and only them. They are the acknowledged experts. There are quite a few cars that can be towed and work well.
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Old 09-11-2015, 06:50 PM   #6
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If it helps, this would be a 1991 BMW 318 with a 5-speed manual.

I'll call remco on Monday.
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Old 09-12-2015, 04:41 AM   #7
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We are towing our 2013 Honda(automatic) CRV 4 down. We just follow the procedure in the book, essentially run through the gears, idle it for a few minutes, put it in neutral, turn on accessory, and off we go. Each car has a different procedure to follow in their book.
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Old 09-12-2015, 05:37 AM   #8
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Most RWD cars are not towable 4 wheels down without some kind of modification. Being it's a 91 it's probably going to be hard to get some answers here. You might call REMCO and see if they can give you the information you will need. Good Luck and hope all works out.
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Old 09-12-2015, 06:55 AM   #9
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Most RWD cars are not towable 4 wheels down without some kind of modification. Being it's a 91 it's probably going to be hard to get some answers here. You might call REMCO and see if they can give you the information you will need. Good Luck and hope all works out.
Well, rats. I figured that older cars with simple gear-boxes could be done without question. Remco it is, come Monday morning. It's still a neat little car, though!
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Old 09-12-2015, 08:35 AM   #10
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I have this same question on a BMW forum and am waiting for responses. In the meantime, what could possibly be hurt by a drive shaft spinning inside a manual tranny that's in N?

There are no cooling or circulating hoses on this manual. Zip. It's a gearbox with the only cooling being ambient air temp. What am I missing?
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Old 09-12-2015, 08:40 AM   #11
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I would call BMW and see what they say. I agree with you that I would also expect a RWD manual transmission vehicle to be 4 down towable by simply putting the shifter in the neutral position, emergency brake off and key left in ignition if it has a steering wheel lock.
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Old 09-12-2015, 08:58 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bamaboy473 View Post
I have this same question on a BMW forum and am waiting for responses. In the meantime, what could possibly be hurt by a drive shaft spinning inside a manual tranny that's in N?

There are no cooling or circulating hoses on this manual. Zip. It's a gearbox with the only cooling being ambient air temp. What am I missing?
A lot of car manual transmissions are lubed with ATF (yes, even in the 90s), instead of gear oil.

AFT will require a pump to lube the transmission, that pump (if mechanical) is added in 1 of 2 possible locations.

1: the input shaft, this will require the engine to run for lubrication.

2: the output shaft, this will lube when ever the drive shaft spins. This will give it the ability to be flat towed.
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Old 09-12-2015, 09:06 AM   #13
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After all of those responses, no one has mentioned the one key component that all cars being towed 4 down need - a base plate. Once you get past all the issues on transmission lube vs. drive shaft disconnect, you are still going to have a base plate custom built for your car.

A car trailer will end up being the best solution for towing your vintage BMW.
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Old 09-12-2015, 09:19 AM   #14
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A lot of car manual transmissions are lubed with ATF (yes, even in the 90s), instead of gear oil.

AFT will require a pump to lube the transmission, that pump (if mechanical) is added in 1 of 2 possible locations.

1: the input shaft, this will require the engine to run for lubrication.

2: the output shaft, this will lube when ever the drive shaft spins. This will give it the ability to be flat towed.

The little ol' lady that the car came from didn't mess with the books in the glove box, so a nice Owner's Manual came with. It says Gearbox Oil 80w, so good to go, yes?
P.S. The car has a blown head gasket and is 12 miles away from home. I'd like to place it on the tow dolly and get it home.
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