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Old 09-28-2011, 05:16 PM   #1
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Towing 4-down with automatics

Hi all,

It seems as though the main reason why a lot of automatics and some manual cars are not allowed to tow 4-down is because the transmission will overheat. now, this may be a dumb question, but what if you leave the ignition on and in neutral. Will the transmission overheat as well?

Sounds crazy, but has anyone tried this?


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Old 09-28-2011, 05:44 PM   #2
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I have heard of some towing with the engine running and and the transmission in neutral. If you do this, you need to check with the manufacturer to see if this will provide lubrication for the transmission. Also be a good idea to have some sort of light or alarm that would indicate if the car engine shuts down.

Generally, idling for prolonged periods will tend to soot the engine and possibly wash the cylinder walls with excess fuel (not so bad on the newer engines).

Best thing to do is use a dolly.


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Old 09-28-2011, 05:46 PM   #3
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Certainly ok for an emergency.
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Old 09-28-2011, 05:54 PM   #4
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The reason you can't tow 4 down some automatic tranmssion equipped vehicles is since the engine is not running the transmission receives no lubrication, thus burning up. The pump is normally driven by the torque converter which is attached to the flywheel and thus not turning without the engine turning. Some transmissions get lubricated from the driveshaft turning, thus allowing the vehcile to be towed 4 down.

Your theory of starting the engine, leaving it on and putting the transmission would probably work. However, so would the odometer... and the engine. The cost of mileage added to the vehcile, the wear and tear on the motor, and the cost of fuel would probably be more than it would cost to add a external pump to the transmission!
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Old 09-29-2011, 09:56 AM   #5
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The answer is "It depends on the car" however this I do know, from experience:

REMCO TOWING (google them) sells some very nice hardware,, 3 items

RWD cars can use a Drive Shaft Disconnect.. this is a cable operated "Clutch" type device (Spline clutch I suspect) which when activated is the same as dropping the drive shaft. You tow with the transmission in PARK.

Axle Lock: I know the technology here, it's older than I am (I'm 60) and the mean time between failure is grater than my age as well.. This is a slightly different type of clutch which goes on one of the axles on a Front Wheel Drive car. You reach behind the wheel and "Twist" the drum on the thing with an oil filter wrench and it effectively "Breaks" the half axle (unlocks it) so the wheel turns free, the other wheel turns the gears in the differential and the result is you again tow in PARK.

Finally (And this fits all automatic transmission cars) they sell a lubrication pump, this pumps trans fluid through the trans just like the pump on the main shaft so the trans thinks it's coasting along with the engine running in neutral, you tow in Neutral with this one. My reason for not liking it as much as the clutch devices is that like all active devices the mean time between failure is much shorter. and if for some reason you don't catch the failure in time.. new tranny time.

With the clutch devices.. Well.. I have heard about Drive Shaft Disconnect issues, but I very strongly suspect these were due to failure of the installer in most cases.

However, check out these devices. Chat with some folks who have them (I had the axle lock and was very impressed with it) Around 500 bucks no matter which way you go plus installation at least six years ago that was the price.
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Old 09-29-2011, 02:57 PM   #6
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Thanks guys for your input. I know its crazy and would not do it, but I have 2 BMWs(X5 and 5 series). I don't want another car just to tow. X5 is a No-no(AWD) and 5 is rear wheel drive. I checked remco and they do not make DSC for BMW. Cannot dolly since its a rear wheel drive.

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Old 09-30-2011, 07:49 AM   #7
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I had same problem. As stated some cars can be pulled 4 down. Went out and got a 01 Honda Accord (not much money) and we tow it 4 down with no problems.
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Old 09-30-2011, 08:50 AM   #8
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You could get a flat bed trailer rather than a tow dolly. That would solve your problems but be a bit of a pain to deal with in the campsite.
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Old 09-30-2011, 09:07 AM   #9
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Don't waste your vehicle with an experiment.

Some vehicles are safe to tow with all four down, some are iffy and some are a definite no.

We tow a Honda CR-V which is safe to tow. The owner's manual promotes towing it with instructions on How-To...

Each year there is a list in the Motohome Magazine for Dinghy Towing

Look up the year reference for the dinghy year you have.

Dinghy Towing, Flat Towable Vehicles, Dinghy Towing Guides - MotorHome

Fleetwood Providence 2008 40e
Ford F-350 4x4 Diesel 6.0L 2006
Honda CR-V 2006
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