Towing Automatic Vehicles in an emergency,

Submitted: Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 16:39
ThreadID: 77687 Views:5750 Replies:9 FollowUps:10
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I was checking another forum where some one made mention re: towing Autos when broken down in an emergency, most of them were discussing the subject on 2 wheel drive vehicles, and the damage that can happen to the transmission, I was just wondering if you could tow an auto 4wd with the transfer case in neutral or do you still have to disconnect the tail shafts?.

Cheers
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Reply By: Wherehegon - Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 17:00

Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 17:00
Great question Daza, I have heard that many different answers to that, I have been told not to tow mine unless I remove the front shaft as its all wheel drive ?? Been told to tow it backwards in neutral, WTF, been told to remove both shafts, don't know why if you were towing with the front up and remove rear shaft nothing going to turn except the wheels, diff centre and the flange where the shaft was connected to, bit hard to get a flat tilt tray in the back of nowhere. Not sure about the transfer case in neutral, could be the answer ??Regards Steve M
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Reply By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 17:26

Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 17:26
Toyotas generously put a bit in the Owners manual about what to do

Amongst other things it says NEVER TOW AN AUTO BACKWARDS

and on FULLTIME 4 WD PUT TRANSFER INTO NEUTRAL .


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Reply By: Member - Alex K (NSW) - Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 17:38

Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 17:38
I've always been of the understanding you can tow a constant 4wd auto on all 4 wheels in neutral but for no more then 50kms as there is no lubrication going around the transmission and bad things will happen. If the engine can run (but can't drive) then I guess you can flat tow indefinitely, but that's just my thought.

You defiantly can't lift either the front or rear wheels. But that applies to manual and auto.

Best option is flatbed for long distance.
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Follow Up By: pickle - Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 17:56

Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 17:56
Probably find that you can tow up to 50klms @ no more than 50kph. I know on the Mitsubishi range it is the case.
Dave
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Reply By: Nutta - Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 18:22

Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 18:22
I thought with the transfer in neutral that effectively disconnected the auto or manual gearbox. It certainly wont drive thats for sure.
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Follow Up By: Member - Alex K (NSW) - Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 19:27

Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 19:27
Auto and Manual are very different when in neutral. I'm no mechanic (calling any mechanic to respond), but my understanding is a Manual neutral is completely disengaged where as the complexity of the auto and fluids etc the neutral isn't completely neutral and therefore you still need lubrication of the gearbox if being towed long distances in an auto neutral.
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Follow Up By: Member - Roachie (SA) - Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 20:24

Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 20:24
Alex, I think you may be missing the point of the question....(with all due respect)..... There are 2 Neutrals on most 4x4s. I think the one you're talking about is the transmission (ie: gearbox) Neutral.

The one the others are referring to is the TRANSFER CASE neutral position.

FWIW, I am of the opinion that by placing the Transfer case lever into the neutral position it would be quite safe to tow a auto 4x4 for any distance you need to as the drive from the drive-shafts will go no further than the transfer case. As such the gearbox components will not be rotating and getting hot & bothered.
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Follow Up By: Member - Alex K (NSW) - Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 22:38

Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 22:38
Of course, I want straight to AWD not 4WD thinking. I remember reading stuff in the Audi book.
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Follow Up By: Welldone WA - Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010 at 02:26

Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010 at 02:26
Nutta & Roachie
Are completely correct, if the transfer-case lever is in neutral the gearbox [auto or manual] wont have its gears spun by the road wheels.
I have an automatic HJ61 Landcruiser that has 2 warning lights in front of the transmission gear selection lever , one is "A.T. oil Temp" which comes on when the transmission oil gets too hot, the other is "A.T.P" which comes on when the transfer lever is in neutral and the automatic transmission lever is in "park" indicating that the "park" function wont work at keeping the vehicle in a stationary as there is no connexion between the locked transmission and the wheels.
Also about a year ago I had to replace some worn parts in the 22 year old transfer-case and while it was off the vehicle I could get a good look inside it and have a bit of a play with the gears and high and low range shift which slides on a shaft that has areas of splines and an area of plain smooth. When the high/low range cog is over the spline area the transfer is engaged, when that same cog is slid over the smooth area the transfer is in neutral and the shaft can spin [if being towed] freely inside the cog without any damage as that part on the transfer assembly is immersed in oil.
If your vehicle has a "proper" transfer-case, you can pop the lever in neutral and get towed around Australia safe in the knowledge that no damage is being done to the automatic and someone else is paying for the fuel ;)
Hope this helps
Welldone
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Reply By: Richard W (NSW) - Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 18:30

Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 18:30
Not sure if it was correct or not but when I did my radiator on Cape York I was towed from the Jardine River to Bamaga which is about 50km on a 20m winch extension strap. Gearbox and Transfer case were in neutral and didn't seem to cause any problems. Towing speed was no higher than 30kph and it was very hard steering and braking.
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Follow Up By: Tonyfish#58 - Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 18:31

Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 18:31
Auto gearbox?
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Follow Up By: Richard W (NSW) - Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 18:34

Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 18:34
Yep.
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Follow Up By: Member - Roachie (SA) - Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 20:26

Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 20:26
Richard, so long as the transfer case was in neutral, it wouldn't have made a stick of difference what position the auto transmission lever was in...could have been PARK for all it's worth..... no drive would have been transmitted to the gearbox as long as the transfer case was in Neutral.
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Follow Up By: Richard W (NSW) - Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 21:19

Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 21:19
Roachie,
Thanks for that as you can see I'm no mechanic.
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Reply By: GerryP - Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 19:57

Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 19:57
There is also a difference between the transfer case in neutral and the auto gearbox in neutral. The transfer box (if it in fact has a neutral position - my manual constant 4wd doesn't) will completely disconnect all drive to the gearbox and will be OK for towing.

However, an auto box in neutral will still have the output shaft turning when being towed and can cause eventual overheating. In this case, disconnecting both drive shafts is the safest option for long distances - unless of course, you can unlock your front hubs, in which case all you need to disconnect is the rear shaft.

Cheers
Gerry
AnswerID: 412804

Reply By: mechpete - Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 21:02

Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 21:02
garry p is on the money .
the problem is with the lack of lubrication to the transmission when being towed with the rear T/Shaft connected , the T/shaft turns a lot of internal parts in the trans which would normally be lubricated by the front pump .
its not like a manual where you have gears spinning at speed to splash oil around and lubricate them
cheers mechpete
AnswerID: 412819

Follow Up By: Member - Roachie (SA) - Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 21:09

Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 21:09
Yes, but, you're missing the point I think. If the vehicle has the tail shaft/s going directly to the gearbox, then you are quite correct.

However, the point of this whole thread pertains to vehicles which have a TRANSFER CASE between the shafts and the gearbox AND where that TRANSFER CASE has a NEUTRAL position available.

In these cases, placing the TRANSFER CASE into neutral will mean that nothing rotates inside the GEARBOX.
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Reply By: Andrew-rodeo - Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 22:44

Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 22:44
I guess it depends on why you need to be towing your vehicle. If you towing because the transmission has decided to not work, then tow till the cows come home. However if your towing for most other problems personally I would be disconnecting the rear tail shaft if you don't have a neutral position in the transfer case.
Cheers Andrew
AnswerID: 412835

Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010 at 20:19

Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010 at 20:19
Bottom line is that you need to read the handbook - too many differences between vehicles. I agree with Roachie that if you have a transfer case with a neutral position, it should be OK.

My wife's auto Xtrail is part time 4wd. But there is no way you can tow it with all 4 wheels on the ground. In 2wd mode, the front wheels are driving and you can't isolate them from the transmission. The handbook says you can tow with the rear wheels on the ground in this mode, but the fronts have to be lifted. Manual Xtrails are fine in neutral. If you remove the rear tailshaft on an auto Xtrail, you gain nothing.
AnswerID: 412939

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