Can You Tow an All-Wheel Vehicle in Neutral? Know The Truth

All wheels drive vehicles are the go-to for many drivers nowadays, and for a good reason. They offer additional safety as all four wheels deliver equal acceleration when driving. However, what many do not know is that when it comes to towing an AWD, that is where its disadvantage arises. 

It is possible to tow an all-wheel drive in neutral, but that does not matter much. The main precaution that you need to take is to ensure that all its wheels are off the ground. Generally, when it comes to all-wheel drive vehicles, all the wheels are connected to the drivetrain. This means that towing these vehicles on their wheels negatively affects the drivetrain and driveshaft. Therefore, for an all-wheel drive, your best shot at towing it is using a flatbed trailer. 

This article digs deeper into towing options for all-wheel drive vehicles and the proper way to go about it. Read on. 

Can You Tow an All-Wheel Vehicle in Neutral?

can you tow an all-wheel vehicle in neutral

One of the most important considerations any time you are in the market for a car is the wheel configuration. Arguably, the reason why many drivers go for AWDs is the additional traction they offer when driving in snowy or wet weather.

These vehicles offer better safety since all the wheels are engaged and can equally accelerate when driving. However, a major drawback when it comes to all-wheel drives comes in when you need to tow the vehicle.  

Typically, it is easier to tow two-wheel vehicles since you can either lift the front or rear off the ground. But for the AWD, all wheels are drive wheels, eliminating towing options that involve lifting two wheels. But do not give up just yet—this does not mean that you can never tow your AWD, only that the process will be more complicated. 

Neutral or not, the best way to tow your AWD is by ensuring that all the wheels are off the ground. Even if the car is in neutral, it is not advisable to tow it on its drive wheels since this damages the transmission. 

How Do You Tow an All-Wheel Drive Vehicle?

As earlier mentioned, the best way to tow an AWD is to ensure that all its wheels are off the ground. This can be achieved by employing a tow truck with a flatbed. When all the wheels are lifted, you prevent any spinning and thus protecting your drivetrain from damage. Also, using a flatbed is not only a safe option but also an easier way to tow an AWD.

Therefore, you should contact a towing company that has flatbed trailers. However, these do not come by easily and are not always readily available. Alternatively, you can use tow trucks with dollies.

These work by lifting your car and placing the dollies underneath a set of wheels. The other set is attached to a wrecker. This has all the wheels off the ground. At the end of the day, you will have spared your drivetrain, transmission, and driveshaft from damage. 

What Happens if You Tow a Car With AWD in Neutral?

Generally, when towing a two-wheel drive, the drive wheels should be lifted. It does not matter whether the car is set in neutral—the transmission is likely to get damaged if the drive wheels are on the ground. 

The same goes for an all-wheel vehicle. This means that it cannot be towed with any wheel on the ground. If the AWD vehicle is towed with any of its wheels on the ground, even in the neutral position, not only will the transmission be damaged, but also the couplings and other important components. 

Is a Car Tow Dolly Safe for My Car?

A car tow dolly is not recommended for towing an AWD. It is advisable to use a trailer or a flatbed to ensure that all four wheels are off the ground. However, there is an option of using a tow truck with dollies.

These work by lifting two of the vehicle’s wheels, and the other two are lifted by a wrecker on the truck. This way, all four wheels are off the ground and you do not risk any damage.

These dollies often have a compact design and are hence fitted in most tow trucks. They offer a great alternative to flatbeds for towing AWDs. 


Technically speaking, it is possible to tow the AWD on its wheels. However, this involves a complex process of disengaging the entire driveshaft. This complex procedure should only be undertaken by a skilled mechanic, making it an expensive option as well.

You can easily tow an automatic car. You need to ensure that the driven axle(s) are off the ground. For a front-wheel drive, you are required to lift the front wheels during towing. Conversely, for rear-wheel drive, lift the rear wheels. 

When towing automatic vehicles, you might have to install a towing package. It is also advisable to install a transmission fluid temperature warning. This informs you if the transmission or coolant temperature exceeds optimum. You should also refer to the owner’s manual for other instructions on how you can protect your transmission while towing. 

Final Thoughts

At some point as a driver, you may require towing services. It is important to know the right way to go about it, otherwise, you are likely to make an expensive mistake. But this article got you covered if you are looking to tow an all-wheel vehicle.