Towing a car

Can You Tow a Car with Emergency Brake On

Are you in a sticky situation where you need to move a car with the emergency brake on? Maybe you’re in a hurry, or perhaps the brake got stuck and won’t release. Either way, the question on your mind is likely: can you tow a car with the emergency brake on?

Yes, you can. But this depends on the type of drivetrain in the car. If the car is rear-wheel-drive, it is possible to tow it on its front wheels. Because the parking brake only engages the rear wheels, it leaves the front wheels free to roll. 

I discovered information on how to tow a car with the emergency brake engaged through research. In this article, I will explain how I tow my car and the best methods and safety tips that I have found. So that you too can navigate the world of towing with ease. Let’s dive in!

What is an Emergency Brake?

Emergency brake of a car

The emergency brake is a component of your vehicle’s braking system. But this works separately from the primary brake system to prevent rolling away. This is often referred to as a parking brake, hand brake, or e-brake.

The emergency brake was initially intended to be used if the vehicle’s primary stopping system failed. However, this doesn’t have sufficient stopping strength in today’s automobiles to stop the vehicle. The parking brake is now mostly utilized to maintain the position of the car when parked.

What Are the Different Towing Methods?

Mainly, there are 4 towing methods.

Towing MethodDescription
Tow dollyA compact trailer is hitched to the rear of a vehicle that is towing. The towing vehicle’s front wheels are mounted on the tow dolly and rear wheels are on the ground. Straps or chains are used for attaching the car to the tow dolly.
Two-wheel towThe two front wheels of the car being towed are lifted off the ground and secured to a tow bar. The tow bar is attached to the back of the towing vehicle. The vehicle’s rear wheels are still on the ground.
Four-wheel towThe car is towed with all four wheels on the ground. This method is commonly used for towing small cars behind RVs or other large vehicles.
Flatbed tow truckA flatbed tow vehicle that can be lowered to the ground. Driving the vehicle onto the flatbed secures it with straps or chains. The complete car is then moved as the flatbed is elevated.

Can You Tow a Car with Emergency Brake On?

If the car is rear-wheel-drive, it is possible to tow it on its front wheels. This is because the parking brake only engages the rear wheels, leaving the front wheels free to roll.

On the other hand, if the car is front-wheel-drive, it is not possible to tow it by normal towing methods with the parking brake on. The reason is that the parking brake engages the rear wheels, and the front wheels are locked by the transmission when it is in park mode or gear. So, we have to hire a flatbed tow truck.

What Happens If You Tow a Car with Front-Wheel Drive?

Attempting to tow a front-wheel-drive car with the parking brake on can cause serious damage to the car’s transmission, wheels, and other components. So, you have to use the flatbed towing method.

How did I Tow My Car?

car tow truck, dolly, car

My car has rear-wheel drive. I carried my car on a dolly.

First, I raised the backside of the car using car jacks.

Next, I placed a dolly under the rear wheels and lowered the jack.

Then I secured the car using chains.

After I connected my car to the truck using a belt and safely moved it to the garage. 

Tips For Tow Your Car Safely

  1. Check the tire pressure on the trailer.
  2. Make sure the safety chains are attached and crisscrossed correctly.
  3. Check all lights, especially danger lights and brake lights.
  4. Ensure that the brakes of the tow vehicle and the trailer are working perfectly.
  5. Make sure everything is securely tied.
  6. Verify any bridges and tunnels for routes and limitations.
  7. Make sure you have jack stands and wheel chocks on hand.
  8. Confirm that the wheel lug nuts and bolts on the trailer and the tow vehicle are tightened.
  9. Verify that all of the hardware connecting the trailer and the tow vehicle, including the hitch, coupler, and drawbar.


What is the risk of towing a car?

When you tow, your car’s engine and brakes are under extra strain. Therefore, no matter what your vehicle or trailer is, it will gradually wear on your engine over time.

What is the fastest towing method?

Using a bracket-system tow truck. The owner of the vehicle being towed can be confident that their vehicle won’t be damaged by the use of hooks or chains. This towing method is considered to be the fastest and most efficient.

Which towing ratio is ideal?

The 3:55 rear-end ratio somewhat balances towing capacity and fuel efficiency. This is the most prevalent rear-end ratio for trucks today. For the occasional towing or hauling person, 3:55 is a good ratio. The 3:73 or 4:10 may be more suitable for someone who tows more frequently and bigger loads.

Can a car tow more than its weight?

No, it cannot. The maximum gross vehicle weight (GVW), or the weight of a fully loaded automobile or trailer with passengers and baggage, is used to determine a vehicle’s towing capacity. Exceeding it puts your life and the lives of others in danger, in addition to causing damage to your car.


In conclusion, towing a car with the parking brake engaged is not recommended. It can cause serious damage to the car’s transmission and other components. It’s always best to consult the car’s owner’s manual or a qualified mechanic to determine the correct towing procedure for your car.

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