Do It Yourself TowingPosted by: Cst. Tim Schewe (Ret) onAugust 1st, 2007
Tow trucks are too expensive! I’ve got a chain and a buddy to do the steering and brakes, so we’ll just drag that broken down vehicle home and fix it ourselves. Think of the money we’ll save doing it this way.
As long as you don’t get caught or cause a crash, it might be the cheap way to do things all right. But if you do get caught, count on receiving a ticket and then paying the towing bill on top of that. The chain is a good for pulling a vehicle out of the ditch, or pulling a disabled vehicle to the side of the road, but its use ends there. A tow truck, tow bar or trailer is the only answer from then on unless you can do the repair and then drive it away.
The biggest problem with using a chain, cable or rope to tow a vehicle is the chance of having to make a quick stop causing the two vehicles to crash together. A proper tow bar will hold the vehicles apart and provide control over the combination.
It is almost impossible to maintain a constant tension in the connection between the two vehicles. The sudden forces involved in taking up slack may snap the connection causing more unintended consequences.
Let’s consider brakes on the towed vehicle as well. Since the law considers the vehicle to be a trailer in these circumstances, if it weighs more than 50% of the net weight of the towing vehicle or more than 1400 kg., brakes are required. These brakes must be self applying or operated by the driver of the towing vehicle.
Hmmm, maybe a tow truck is not so expensive after all.
Cst. Tim Schewe (Ret) is the author of the Behind The Wheel column. He has been writing the column for most of the 20 years of his traffic enforcement service in the RCMP. In January 2006, Schewe retired from the force and resides in Vancouver Island. You can visit his website at http://www.drivesmartbc.ca/