Towing With An Automatic Car..

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ToraToraTora | 13:45 Tue 30th Jul 2013 | Motoring
28 Answers
When I was growing up this was always considered a no no, not really sure why but does anyone know if there is (or was) any reason why it's not a good idea?


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Maybe it was because people didnt know how to use the gearbox properly, using Drive instead on the low gears on the hills thus burning out the clutch and putting too much pressure on the gearbox.
Has cazzz says, those that left the car in drive for steep hills instead of low gear tended to wreck the torque converter or boil the gearbox fluid and destroy the gearbox.
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Is that still the case with a modern car?
How do the Yanks get their caravans on holiday then?
if the gearbox has a torque converter it will be exactly the same, Im not sure how the newer electronic boxes fair under pressure, a lot of semi automatics can be quite jerky and temperamental.

A bigger car has a meatier gearbox so it can take a lot more pressure, Ie a range rover can pull over 3.5 tonne but a 1ltr car cannot pull more than its own weight

How do the Yanks get their caravans on holiday then?

With their high torque big cubic capacity V8 engined cars, Hopkirk.
As well as transmission coolers, Tony. Almost all travel trailers (your 'caravans') are pulled with pickup trucks and, as you say, have larger V-8 engines, but always equipped with transmission coolers... an extra radiator attached to the transmission for... wait for it... cooling...

Some of the trailers are quite large... maybe 35 to 40 feet in length but the trucks ( wheels on axles) are built to minimize the actual towing weight...
Most automatic cars have transmission-oil coolers as standard nowadays, so towing isn't a problem. On top of that, modern auto boxes are more intelligent than the earlier ones and have more gears which, again, reduces the likelihood of problems whilst towing.
In the last dozen years I have towed my caravan around 90,000 miles behind an automatic car.
I towed for years with a 2.5 Omega Automatic with no bother at all, even when towing a heavy caravan around Wales and Scotland.
Where the idea that you need to "lock down" the box when going UP hills comes from I don't know. The gearbox takes care of itself and changes down as necessary.
Certainly "locking down" when going DOWN hill so that you get some engine braking is a good idea.
In the old days gearbox oil cooling was a problem and often extra oil coolers were fitted. All the modern autos I've towed with (Volvo 245, Omega 2.5V6 and Ford Mondeo 2.0) have built in oil coolers, often built into the normal radiator matrix and therefore present no problem.
are you sure that you're not getting mixed up with the fact that you can't push-start an automatic? I've never heard of not being able to tow with an automatic and i've been driving automatics since passing my test in one in 1974
I always knew it as you can't tow an automatic not tow something with an automatic.
Graham, I think the op is going back to the days before they put trans oil coolers on auto's.
The Volvo 245 was 1984 model and towed a dream if a little thirsty.
Built in transmission oil cooler on that one IIRC.
oh you can tow an automatic! lol I've been there several times, you just can't push start one
You should only tow automatics for short distances and at low speed or you can wreck the gearbox.
Getting the driven wheels off the ground with a suspended tow is the only safe way.
telling me that 40 years too late lol
Did you not know that, dot.
nope, never ever come across that and bearing in mind when i married in 1978 my husband drove my car too and was an RAF Technician working on Vulcan bombers I'm assuming he would have mentioned that at some point, especially when he had to replace he Torque convertor on the ford corsair 2l with the V8 engine, he didn;t blame me for that either

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