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Does Towing an AWD Car Damage It? | Tow AWD Properly

One thing about cars is there is a huge possibility that they will break down and if there is anything that experience has taught, it is the fact that most breakdowns occur when you are far away from a garage. 

This means that you would probably have to tow your car to a garage where you will get some service.  This might be a bit of a problem if your car is an all-wheel-drive vehicle. This is because towing an all-wheel-drive vehicle causes significant damage to the vehicle and here is how.


How AWD Works?

All-wheel drive vehicles are not the most common on the vehicle market but they do own a significant share of the vehicle market. To most people, AWD vehicles are an engineering marvel and we affirm their assertion. 

AWD vehicles use a three-differential system. This means that there are gear systems on the car that are responsible for torque control. One at the front, a center differential, and a  rear differential.

This means that all four wheels can receive power from the engine. This is due to the presence of a center differential rather than a transfer case. 

The power distribution is controlled by a special computer system. This is what sets the AWD system apart from a normal four-wheel-drive system where differentials lock axles rather than automate the distribution of the power from the engine.  

The system relies on automatic control. At the center of this control feature is a computer that is connected to the engine, the throttle, and the axle hubs. The computer oversees how torque is distributed to both axles and wheels.  

This means that when the need arises, the computer will allow the locking of both axles. When there is no need, the AWD mostly operates on a front-wheel-drive basis. This is what is termed a part-time AWD system. 

The reason for this is because in some instances like turning as an example, the wheels do not travel the same distance. Having the axle locked in situations like this will result in your CV joints and several mechanical components of your vehicle being damaged.  

There is a system where power is distributed to all four wheels at all times. This is the full-time AWD system. It is no longer popular these days though.

Problems with Towing An AWD Vehicle

All Wheel Drive vehicles are not only difficult to tow but forcing the towing process on them often results in many problems. 

This is one of the main reasons why mechanical don car experts recommend that no matter the challenge do not tow your AWD vehicle without the proper regulated tools. 

The reason why there are so many problems with AWD towing is that all four-wheels are responsible for the car’s forward momentum. This means that both the rear and the front wheel are responsible for the vehicle’s movement.  

With FWD drives, you can tow the vehicle using the rear wheels and with RWD vehicles you can use the front wheels for towing. The same technique can not be used with AWD vehicles. 

You cannot pick a pair of wheels that will be on the ground and you also can’t tow the vehicle with all wheels on the ground. If you decide to however go against this advice, these are some of the predicaments that you are going to deal with;

Faulty Drive Train

In AWD cars all wheels are connected to the driveshaft. This means that as you are towing your vehicle, they force the driveshaft to rotate. This is not how it is supposed to be. The drive train is supposed to drive motion. If you decided to tow your vehicle using the wheels,  the opposite happens

One thing that you would not want on a vehicle is a faulty drive train. The drive train is essentially the backbone of an AWD vehicle. Having it be at fault means that you are going to push your pockets dry.  

This is one of the main reasons why towing your AWD vehicle is a bad idea. In most cases, once the drivetrain is damaged there rarely is any retribution. 

This means that you might have to abandon your car and opt for a new one as repair costs are pretty much near the prices of a new car. 

Damaging the Centre Differential 

The center differential is an essential component in the AWD system as we have already highlighted. Towing your AWD car with all wheels down can launch the center differential and the prospects of this happening are very high. 

One thing that we must make clear is the fact that a launched center differential is not a pretty sight and in most instances, you will need thousands upon thousands of dollars to get it fixed which can in some instances be outright impossible. 

The reason for this is the fact that once the center differential is launched, you must replace the entire transmission system if you hope to get your car back to perfection. 

This is a huge problem because a damaged differential means you essentially cannot drive the car until it is fixed on that part. There is also the possibility that the launch center differential can end up causing harm to the CV joints as well. 

If this happens, then you will certainly have a bouquet of problems that are quite hard to swallow. We also have to add that not many mechanics can get this done. Replacing the entire transmission system requires a high level of expertise and it does not come cheap. 

Damaging to couplings and CV Joints 

The All-Wheel-Drive system is festive of “coupling.” Several couplings ensure that the vehicle can make turns and can be steered with relative ease. 

This is why all four wheels can be getting power from the drivetrain but the vehicle will also be able to make turns. Forcing turns without the control of the computer system now can result in these couplings ending up getting damaged due to tension and unwarranted friction. 

This is something that you must anticipate if you decide to tow your AWD vehicle. This damage will also extend tour CV joints, which will be forced into turns. 

Remember, wheels must rotate at different speeds to allow vehicles to make turns. Well this is quite difficult to have in an AWD vehicle that is being towed and the main victim ends up being the CV joints.

Damaging to Computer Components.

The All-Wheel-Drive system heavily relies on automation and the car computer oversees this. 

In most cases of towing-related faults, the computer is often the main problem. This is another problem that you need to anticipate. Solenoid faults and faulty transfer actuator motors are part of the whole computer problem that comes with towing an AWD vehicle. 

How to Move A Broken Down AWD Car

Well, the good news in all the gloom is that there are some harmless means of towing that will help you avoid all the above-listed problems if your AWD car won’t be able to drive. 

Flatbed Towing 

The flatbed towing truck was in a way made towing easy for AWD vehicles. What the Flatbed towing truck does is that it has a mechanical system that allows it to pull AWD vehicles onto the flatbed without turning the wheels of the vehicle.

 We have already highlighted that problemist towing arises when our AWD vehicle has its wheels turned without the computer system getting involved. Using this method ensures that you won’t have to worry about the above-listed problems. 

The best part is that flatbed tow trucks are quite common these days and you won’t have to worry about waiting for one for an extended period.

The price of a flatbed towing truck might be a bit high but it is nowhere close to the price of replacing your entire transmission system

That is something that you must put into consideration before you decide to go with the normal means of towing.


This is essentially cheaper than the flatbed method and is essentially more accessible. 

What you do with this method is that you get a normal tow truck and you get one end of your AWD vehicle attached to the wrecker. Whichever side you decide to attach to the wrecker, will do. You won’t have to worry about specifics with this method. 

Once done the next step is to lift the end that is not attached to the wrecker and place dollies underneath the wheels. Dollies are essentially a platform with a pair of wheels on both sides. This means that once an AWD vehicle is on the dollies, you can tow it without the wheels turning. 

There is a set of dollies that is fit and perfect for every vehicle. You don’t have to worry even if your AWD vehicle is some of those high-power SUVs. 


 Towing your AWD vehicle without a flatbed or dollies will certainly damage it. There is no actual measure when it comes to the distance that ends up resulting in your car getting damaged. 

One thing we can assure you though is that as long as you force your wheels to turn on your AWD vehicles there’s damage happening. It might not immediately manifest if you are only doing it for a short distance but eventually, it will catch up with you.  

Regardless of the situation, avoid towing your AWD vehicle without the necessary equipment. Be safe and enjoy the power that comes with All Wheel Driving. 


Can you tow an AWD vehicle in neutral?

Yes, practically you can tow your AWD vehicle in neutral but you should not do it

What happens if you tow an AWD car?

If you tow an AWD car, you risk damaging your transmission and also some cosmetic damage

Can you push an AWD car in neutral?

You can push an AWD car in neutral, but you should not do it.

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