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How to Tow a Car with a Pickup… It Can Be Done

Stranded with a broken-down car? A pickup truck might just be your knight in shining armor. At Royal Recovery, we're here to guide you on how to successfully tow a car with a pickup — indeed, it can be done.

You can haul a car with a truck, provided you have the right equipment and follow proper safety procedures. This involves a tow dolly, tow straps, chains, and an understanding of your truck's towing capacity.

Are you intrigued? Continue reading as we dive into the nitty-gritty of this process, ensuring you can confidently tow your vehicle the next time you're in a bind. Safety, efficiency, and practicality are just a few scrolls away.

Understanding A Truck's Towing Capacity

Towing a car with your truck isn't as simple as hooking it up and hitting the road. The first essential factor you must consider is your truck's towing capacity. Let's dive in!

Your truck's towing capacity is essentially the maximum weight it can pull without risking damage or creating unsafe driving conditions. This data can be found in the owner's manual or the manufacturer's website. The towing capacity is typically calculated based on factors such as the truck's engine size, transmission, and frame strength.

For example, if you own a Ford F-150, which has a towing capacity of up to 13,200 pounds, you should be able to tow most passenger cars, which usually weigh between 2,800 and 4,000 pounds.

Understanding your truck's towing capacity isn't just about preventing damage to your truck. It's also about safety. Exceeding this limit can lead to a range of problems such as brake failure, transmission overheating, and losing control of the vehicle, which can lead to dangerous situations on the road.

Staying within your towing capacity ensures optimal fuel efficiency and vehicle performance. Overloading your truck can increase fuel consumption and wear and tear on your vehicle.

While weight is an essential factor, it's not the only consideration. The distribution of the weight, both on the towed vehicle and the towing vehicle, affects stability and handling. You'll need to ensure the weight is balanced properly.

Knowing your truck's towing capacity allows you to tow safely, prevent damage to your vehicle, and maintain fuel efficiency. However, you might find that your truck's capacity is lower than you need, limiting what you can tow. In such cases, professional towing services, like Royal Recovery, can be your best bet.

Necessary Equipment for Safe Towing

Before towing any vehicle, you need to equip yourself with the necessary tools. Not only will this ensure safety, but it will also make the process smoother and more efficient. Let's delve into what you'll need.

When it comes to equipment, here's a checklist of essentials:

  • Tow Dolly

This two-wheel trailer securely holds the front wheels of the vehicle you're towing.

  • Tow Straps or Chains

These connect the towed car to the towing vehicle. Select a strap or chain that can

handle the weight of the car being towed.

  • Brake Light Wiring Kit

This kit allows the towed car's brake lights to work in conjunction with the towing

vehicle, providing essential safety signaling to other drivers. It is also illegal to tow a car

without working brake lights.

Each piece of equipment has a unique role in ensuring safety. A tow dolly elevates the towed vehicle's front wheels, reducing strain on its drivetrain and improving stability. Tow straps or chains create a secure connection, and a brake light wiring kit enables better communication with other drivers on the road, enhancing overall safety.

Choosing the right equipment isn't as straightforward as it might seem. For example, tow straps come in different weight ratings. It's essential to pick one that can safely handle the weight of your car. Similarly, not all tow dollies are the same. Some are designed for compact cars, while others are suitable for larger vehicles.

Setting Up Your Tow Dolly: A Step-by-Step Guide

The tow dolly is an indispensable tool when towing a car with a pickup truck. It secures the car and ensures smooth transport. Let's walk through how to set one up properly. The Data Aspect: A Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Inspect the Dolly: Before you begin, inspect the tow dolly or straps/chains for any visible damage or signs of wear. Make sure the tires are properly inflated and that the straps and chains are in good condition.

  2. Connect the Dolly to Your Truck: Attach the coupler of the tow dolly to the hitch ball on your truck. Secure the connection with a hitch pin or lock.

  3. Position the Car: Drive or push the car onto the tow dolly until the front wheels are resting in the wheel cradles.

  4. Secure the Car: Use the wheel straps provided with the tow dolly to secure the car's front wheels. Some models also have chains to secure the car's chassis to the dolly for added safety.

  5. Check Lights and Signals: Attach the light wiring from the dolly to your truck. Test the signal and brake lights to ensure they are synchronized.

Each step in this guide is designed with safety and efficiency in mind. Skipping a step could lead to unstable towing conditions, potential damage to either vehicle, or even accidents.

While this guide provides a general overview, it's important to remember that your setup might vary depending on your vehicles and your tow dolly model. Always refer to the manuals provided with your tow dolly and vehicles for specific instructions.

In summary, setting up your tow dolly correctly is crucial when towing a car with a pickup truck. Following these steps will help ensure a successful and safe tow.

Important Safety Tips When Towing a Car

Towing a car with a pickup truck requires a careful approach to ensure safety on the road. Here are vital safety measures to keep in mind during your towing journey:

  • Equipment Check: Prior to starting, inspect all your towing equipment. Everything must be in excellent condition and securely fastened.

  • Adhere to Load Limit: Never surpass your truck's towing capacity as it can lead to mechanical breakdowns and unsafe driving conditions.

  • Maintain a Safe Speed: High-speed towing can cause your vehicle to behave erratically. As such, it's recommended not to exceed 55 miles per hour (89 km/h) while towing.

  • Use Safety Chains: Always use safety chains when towing. Without them, the towed vehicle could detach, causing severe damage.

  • Turns and Mirrors: Take wider turns to prevent the towed car from hitting curbs and constantly monitor the towed vehicle using your rearview mirrors.

  • Periodic Inspections: Conduct regular checks during rest stops to ensure all connections and equipment remain secure.

These safety measures are crucial for protecting you, your vehicles, and others on the road. Neglecting them can result in hazardous situations, including accidents and vehicle damage.

Your specific towing situation might require adjustments to these measures. For example, weather conditions like rain or snow may necessitate slower driving and increased braking distance.

Never tow a vehicle heavier than your vehicle's manufacturer-specified maximum towing capacity, especially if using a pintle-hook. This can be extremely dangerous, potentially damage your vehicle, and it is most likely illegal.

In the United States, towing vehicles over 10,000 pounds, resulting in the truck (or car) and trailer exceeding a combined 26,000 pounds, requires a CDL Class A. If you don't hold this license, exceeding that limit is illegal!

Resolving Common Issues While Towing with a Pickup

Despite careful planning and adherence to safety measures, towing with a pickup truck can sometimes present challenges. Here are some common issues you might face and how to resolve them.

Data Aspect: Common Issues and Solutions

  • Swaying Trailer: This can be due to improper loading, insufficient tire pressure, or exceeding safe towing speed. Ensure the load is evenly distributed, check tire pressures, and adhere to the recommended towing speed.

  • Overheating Engine: This is often a result of towing a heavy load. Regularly monitor your engine's temperature and if it starts overheating, consider stopping to let it cool.

  • Braking Difficulties: Towing a heavy load can strain your brakes. If you're experiencing difficulties, consider upgrading your brake system or employing engine braking techniques.

  • Struggling Uphill: Towing a heavy load uphill can strain your engine. If you're struggling, try reducing your speed or shifting down to a lower gear.

  • Electrical Issues: If your towed vehicle's lights aren't synchronizing with your truck, check the wiring connection and the fuse.

Understanding and addressing these common issues can ensure a safer and smoother towing experience. Ignoring these issues can lead to accidents, damage to your vehicles, and potential legal issues.

While these solutions address the most common issues, remember that every towing situation is unique. Environmental factors, the condition of your vehicles, and the specific towing setup can all influence the challenges you might face.

While it's frustrating to face these issues when towing, resolving them improves your skill as a tower and ensures your safety. The only downside is the additional time and potential cost involved in managing these problems. However, considering the risks associated with ignoring these issues, it's a worthy investment.


Towing a car with a pickup truck is indeed possible, but it requires careful consideration of several factors. Starting with understanding your truck's towing capacity to ensuring the necessary equipment is available and properly set up, each step is crucial in the towing process. Safety is of utmost importance when towing, so adhering to specific safety measures such as not exceeding 55 miles per hour and always using safety chains can prevent unfortunate incidents. Additionally, recognizing and resolving common issues that may arise while towing, such as a swaying trailer or overheating engine, can make the experience smoother and safer. By considering these factors, adhering to safety protocols, and being ready to troubleshoot common problems, you can confidently and securely tow a car with your pickup truck.

Do you need roadside assistance in Artesia? At Royal Recovery, we are dedicated to providing the best possible service to our customers. Our skilled team is always ready to assist you with a range of roadside services, including car towing, flat tire changes, battery jumps, and much more. Visit our website to find out more about our comprehensive services, or give us a call to discuss your roadside assistance needs and get a free quote today. With Royal Recovery, you're never alone on the road!

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