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Towing a car - Transmission in gear or neutral? #4542851
10/14/17 04:25 AM
10/14/17 04:25 AM
Joined: Jan 2014
Posts: 460
Australia
Spetz Offline OP
Spetz  Offline OP
Joined: Jan 2014
Posts: 460
Australia
Hi guys,

I tow a manual FWD car on a trailer when I go to the track.

I've been leaving it in 1st gear + handbrake on just so all 4 wheels are "braked".

I've heard leaving it in gear though might be harmful for the transmission, is that true?
Am I better off leaving in in neutral over in gear?


2003 Mitsubishi Diamante 6G74 3.5L. 5 Speed auto. 155,000 miles. Shell Helix Ultra 5W40 at 6k OCI
Re: Towing a car - Transmission in gear or neutral? [Re: Spetz] #4542877
10/14/17 05:52 AM
10/14/17 05:52 AM
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 1,132
Texas
wag123 Offline
wag123  Offline
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 1,132
Texas
Originally Posted By: Spetz
Hi guys,

I tow a manual FWD car on a trailer when I go to the track.

I've been leaving it in 1st gear + handbrake on just so all 4 wheels are "braked".

I've heard leaving it in gear though might be harmful for the transmission, is that true?
Am I better off leaving in in neutral over in gear?

You heard right. Put it in neutral.

Re: Towing a car - Transmission in gear or neutral? [Re: Spetz] #4542878
10/14/17 05:53 AM
10/14/17 05:53 AM
Joined: Apr 2016
Posts: 1,198
Campbellsville, KY
Alex_V Offline
Alex_V  Offline
Joined: Apr 2016
Posts: 1,198
Campbellsville, KY
That is true. If it's strapped down as well as it should be I'd put it in neutral. With automatics and older stuff with beefier transmissions I put it in gear.


To quote a friend, "Synthetics, man."

'85 GMC C3500, 454, 132K
'82 Mercedes 300CD, OM617 turbo, 173K (totaled 2018, in rehab)
'85 Mercedes 300TD, OM617 turbo, 217K (wife's)
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Re: Towing a car - Transmission in gear or neutral? [Re: Spetz] #4542882
10/14/17 06:02 AM
10/14/17 06:02 AM
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 237
Indonesia
nyumski Offline
nyumski  Offline
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 237
Indonesia
sometimes when you tow and cruising in little bumpy road, the car will slightly be shaken, so better using handbrake and strapped your towed car tight.

if the case in steep road or normal road, leaving it 1st gear is ok.

the problem is your towed car will be shaken coz of bumpy road or any obstacle and someday will harm the gear.


14 Toyota 2.5 D4D - PTT 10w30 CL4 --> oil from Thailand
Re: Towing a car - Transmission in gear or neutral? [Re: Spetz] #4542883
10/14/17 06:02 AM
10/14/17 06:02 AM
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 6,526
New England
gathermewool Offline
gathermewool  Offline
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 6,526
New England
For those who are saying it will damage the transmission: how so?

I originally agreed when I read the above comments saying to leave it in neutral, but after some thought I'm not so sure I agree. There's no relative motion between wheels, and the oscillating motion shouldn't roll the axle or produce any shock, right? I'm asking to further the conversation - I don't know and haven't really ever thought about it.

With that said, I don't see any reason to have the vehicle in gear, so I'd leave the transmission in neutral and the hand-brake released.


'14 Forester XT FA20DIT (Cobb Stage 1)
Edge 0W-40 + FU filter (64,774 miles)
'15 Legacy FB25 (OEM Stage, uh, neg. 7?)
Edge 0W-20 + FU filter (40,803 miles)
Re: Towing a car - Transmission in gear or neutral? [Re: Spetz] #4542895
10/14/17 06:27 AM
10/14/17 06:27 AM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 33,594
ME
eljefino Offline
eljefino  Offline
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 33,594
ME
I guess in theory the gears and bearings could be hammering back and forth. But what happens if you're just driving and kinda peel out? Not a solid peel but just a few chirps? That's gotta be hard too.

And if you're RACING the car, that's going to be hard on it too!

Re: Towing a car - Transmission in gear or neutral? [Re: Spetz] #4542932
10/14/17 07:19 AM
10/14/17 07:19 AM
Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 5,045
The Midwest
skyactiv Offline
skyactiv  Offline
Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 5,045
The Midwest
This is silly. Set the brake, put it in gear and quit worrying. Don't let the "hammer effect" worry you. The "shock" from letting out the clutch from a standing stop to accelerate is applying a lot more "stress" to the gears
than the leaving the car in gear on a trailer. If your transmission is that fragile, it's a piece of junk. Please do not confuse the car bobbing up and down to be stressful to the powertrain either.


Wife: 15' Audi A4 quattro 6 speed manual
Me: 13' VW GTI 3 door 6 speed manual
Wanted: 2019 Ford Ranger
Re: Towing a car - Transmission in gear or neutral? [Re: Spetz] #4542940
10/14/17 07:22 AM
10/14/17 07:22 AM
Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 3,362
Somewhere
itguy08 Offline
itguy08  Offline
Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 3,362
Somewhere
Put it in gear and set the e-brake and strap it down. Do you think that when they ship the cars they leave them in Neutral or do any other "special precautions"? Heck no.

It will be fine.

Re: Towing a car - Transmission in gear or neutral? [Re: Spetz] #4542947
10/14/17 07:29 AM
10/14/17 07:29 AM
Joined: Jan 2017
Posts: 336
Texas,USA
ATex7239 Offline
ATex7239  Offline
Joined: Jan 2017
Posts: 336
Texas,USA
I've towed plenty of vehicles in gear and never had a problem. You're going to put more stress on the tranny at the track than you ever will in tow on a trailer. But, if you're worried, put it in neutral.


'12 Buick Enclave 150,xxx
Valvoline ML SynBlend 5w30
ACDelco PF63E

'17 Ford Fusion (Company Lease) 54,xxx
Oil � Don't know
Filter � Don't care
Re: Towing a car - Transmission in gear or neutral? [Re: gathermewool] #4542953
10/14/17 07:33 AM
10/14/17 07:33 AM
Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 7,094
Colorado
Kuato Offline
Kuato  Offline
Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 7,094
Colorado
Originally Posted By: gathermewool
For those who are saying it will damage the transmission: how so?

I originally agreed when I read the above comments saying to leave it in neutral, but after some thought I'm not so sure I agree. There's no relative motion between wheels, and the oscillating motion shouldn't roll the axle or produce any shock, right? I'm asking to further the conversation - I don't know and haven't really ever thought about it.

With that said, I don't see any reason to have the vehicle in gear, so I'd leave the transmission in neutral and the hand-brake released.


Agreed - if it's strapped down correctly the wheels aren't trying to turn.


Thick vs Thin test: 15k / 43k miles complete
Re: Towing a car - Transmission in gear or neutral? [Re: Spetz] #4542975
10/14/17 07:53 AM
10/14/17 07:53 AM
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 19,213
Sunny Florida
SteveSRT8 Offline
SteveSRT8  Offline
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 19,213
Sunny Florida
Completely true. The transmission is subject to huge loads from driving, no way is a little bump while trailering or even a big one going to be any worse than driving it on the street.

One day when that parking brake cable snaps you may like the fact that you left it in gear!

Last edited by SteveSRT8; 10/14/17 07:54 AM.

"In a democracy, dissent is an act of faith."
J. William Fulbright
Best ET-12.79 @ 111 mph
4340 pounds, Street tires
Just like we go to Publix
Re: Towing a car - Transmission in gear or neutral? [Re: Spetz] #4542990
10/14/17 08:13 AM
10/14/17 08:13 AM
Joined: May 2010
Posts: 9,490
out there
spasm3 Offline
spasm3  Offline
Joined: May 2010
Posts: 9,490
out there
I would leave it in gear, just in case. Accelerating and deacelerating while driving would have more load on the gears that this. The shock of clutch release under power would be more than rocking on a trailer.


13 elantra 72k 5w30 QSUD
03 chevy avalanche 80k synpwr 5w30
17 mazda cx-5 7300 miles m1 0w30
Re: Towing a car - Transmission in gear or neutral? [Re: Spetz] #4543035
10/14/17 09:13 AM
10/14/17 09:13 AM
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 68
SouthernCaliforniaDesert,USA
PalmSpringsSCal Offline
PalmSpringsSCal  Offline
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 68
SouthernCaliforniaDesert,USA
.Id leave the brake on and trans in neutral.
I'd prefer to not risk my trans with sudden unexpected higher g forces, from any number of varying directions you may encounter while towing somewhere.
You should also ratchet or bind the car down on all four corners to avoid side, fwd and rwd movement if you find you need to slam on your brakes while towing

Re: Towing a car - Transmission in gear or neutral? [Re: Spetz] #4543053
10/14/17 09:44 AM
10/14/17 09:44 AM
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 7,485
S California
OneEyeJack Offline
OneEyeJack  Offline
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 7,485
S California
You should either put it in gear or in neutral. No other choice is acceptable.

Same with the parking brake. Either set it or don't set it. Anything else would be bad.

Instead of all this worry about getting it strapped down. Also, make sure the trailer wheels don't fall off.

Re: Towing a car - Transmission in gear or neutral? [Re: Spetz] #4543082
10/14/17 10:03 AM
10/14/17 10:03 AM
Joined: Feb 2013
Posts: 11,100
Phoenix, AZ
Nick1994 Offline
Nick1994  Offline
Joined: Feb 2013
Posts: 11,100
Phoenix, AZ
You're strapping it down, right?

You can't just leave it in gear with the brake on on a trailer. If the towing vehicle got into an accident or had to abruptly maneuver the car on the trailer would be a projectile regardless of whether the parking brake is on or not.


2015 Hyundai Sonata 2.4L 89k Motorcraft Synthetic Blend 5w30 & OEM
2000 Toyota Camry 2.2L 231k Valvoline 5w30 & Fram Ultra
1996 Jeep Cherokee 4.0L 147k Mobil 1 HM 10w40 & Fram Ultra
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