Can Towing Car Damage The Power Steering?

Can towing a car damage the power steering

Yes, improper towing can damage a power steering, especially if you are towing with a tow rope when the power steering is not working.

The wheels of a vehicle are mechanically aligned to the power steering, and as a result, if one wheel moves, so does the other as well. Both the wheels and the power steering turn each other while towing.

As a result of this arrangement, should the power steering be locked when flat towing, it can cause the wheels to scrub or drag sideways while taking a turn around a corner or bend. Consequently, if you want to avoid possible damage to the vehicle, the steering wheel must be unlocked.

If you do this, the wheels will turn normally and also straighten back whenever it is necessary. In summary, the most common cause of damage to a car when flat towing is locking the steering wheel. 

Fortunately, the power steering is designed such that whenever it is locked, the vehicle may not even start in the first place since the ignition switch may not turn, or a warning light about the locked power steering may show. However, luckily, it is very easy to unlock the power steering, which will prevent any damage to the vehicle.

Sometimes, there may be reasons for locking the power steering while towing. For example, the steering wheel can get locked if the wrong key is used or if you make too many regular sharp turns.

As a measure against damage in this way, you can alternatively remove the power steering altogether before towing the car or disable it completely.

Even though you can either disable or remove the steering wheel lock to prevent damage to the vehicle, you are still advised against doing that for obvious reasons.

This is because the steering wheel lock is a measure against car theft. Consequently, its removal portends a serious risk to the security of the vehicle. 

Read Also: Can A Tow Truck Get A Car Out Of A Garage?

How does it damage the power steering?

It is strongly recommended that whenever you are towing a car, its power steering should remain unlocked. Therefore, should you tow the vehicle with the power steering locked, it is only natural to expect damage to the steering lock mechanism or the power steering itself.

To counter this development, some people are wont to either disable or remove the steering lock entirely during towing. Although doing this is not recommended because it makes it easier for the car to be stolen.

In addition, when towing a car with the steering wheel unlocked,  it is easier to steer the vehicle so that it can simulate the movement of the vehicle towing it whenever necessary. Otherwise, there may be some difficulty when taking a turn either to the left or right at sharp or slight bends.

How can I prevent a car from damaging the power steering?

The best way to prevent any damage to the power steering while towing is by using its key to unlock it for the period of the tow. Although sometimes, rather than using the key to unlock it, some people may choose to either disable or remove it entirely, despite the attendant security risks of doing so.

The movements of the towed vehicle are easy and safe if you tow with the steering wheel unlocked.

As a result, instead of towing with the steering wheel locked if you have lost the key, it is suggested that you engage the services of a locksmith to either get it fixed before towing or change the steering wheel lock entirely before you endeavor to tow the vehicle.

Do all car towing damage the power steering?

Yes, towing most modern cars with their steering wheels locked may damage the power steering. Specifically, if your steering wheel is locked, it may not be possible to start the car since its ignition may not even turn at all, or if it has a start-stop button, a warning light may show on the dashboard to alert you.

As a result of all these, you should make sure that you unlock it with the keys or get a locksmith to fix it since towing it like that will certainly damage the power steering mechanism.

Can you lose power steering while driving?

Yes, it is very possible to lose power steering while driving. Since this is a serious development, whenever it happens, you should promptly move to the safe side of the road. Then, you should turn on your hazard light and apply the brakes to stop the car slowly while maintaining control of it.

In this instance, you may have to turn the steering wheel very hard before the tires will respond. When you lose power steering while driving, there are several reasons for that.

One of the commonest reasons is the loss of fluid in the vehicle, which could be as a result of a leak or failure to replace the fluid altogether. 

Read Also: Can A Class C Motorhome Tow A Jeep?

Alternatively, your power steering may fail while driving when the power steering pump itself fails. Although failing power steering while driving is not a very common occurrence in most modern vehicles.

All the same, when your power steering suddenly fails while driving, you may still be able to skillfully maneuver the vehicle, but with the use of a lot more strength and effort.

Should both the power steering and brakes fail at the same time, it may be necessary for you to push down hard on the brake pedal before you can stop the vehicle.


(1). Do you lock your steering while driving?

No, you should not for any reason lock the steering while driving. Although you can still manage to control the vehicle even after the failure of the power steering, it will require a lot more stress and effort to do so. Steering wheel lock while driving, also known as steering wheel linkage failure, is very rare, but it can sometimes happen.

Usually, it happens due to a sudden breakage in the steering mechanics such as its column or the steering arms, any of which can cause the steering of the vehicle to suddenly lock up.

Specifically, you are required to lock up your steering wheel to prevent theft of the vehicle after parking, but certainly not while driving. Usually, your steering wheel may lock up while driving as a result of a failure in either the suspension or steering rack and column.

Should this happen, you must persist in turning the wheel while at the same time braking the vehicle slowly. Furthermore, you must also turn on your hazard lights and carefully move away from other road users and pedestrians.

(2). Can you tow a BMW on a tow dolly?

Yes, you can conveniently tow a BMW on a tow dolly. Although a tow dolly may not be able to support the weights of larger vehicles, it can still cope effectively with a BMW car.

Tow dollies can be easily bought or rented from several places such as U-Haul or any truck rental agencies. They are small trailers with two wheels and a surface on which the front wheels of a vehicle may rest while towing.

Generally speaking, the tow dolly is most useful when it comes to towing FWD vehicles. In this situation, using the tow dolly, you will be able to raise the front wheels of the vehicle off the ground while towing to protect its transmission system from any damage in the process.

Therefore, the use of the tow dolly in towing is certainly not suitable for rear-wheel drive (RWD) and all-wheel drive AWD) vehicles, except maybe after you have disconnected their drive shafts.

(3). Can you tow a BMW ×5 behind a motorhome?

Yes, it is possible to tow a BMW ×5 behind a motorhome. However, the user manual of the car is very clear on this venture.

One, it categorically recommends that although flat towing the vehicle is, for all intents and purposes, safe, you must not tow it at speeds and for distances exceeding those recommended.

Again, specifically, BMW recommends that towing the vehicle on either a tow trailer or with its axle raised off the ground are some of the best ways to flat tow it safely. In addition, you should not lift the vehicle using a tow fitting, or its body and chassis may suffer significant damage in the process.

Again, the towing vehicle must not weigh less than the towed vehicle. Otherwise, it may not be easy or possible to maintain control while towing.

Conclusion – Can Towing Car Damage The Power Steering?

Towing a car with the steering wheel locked is certain to cause damage to your power steering. Consequently, it is recommended that you should only flat tow after unlocking the steering wheel using its key.

Sometimes, people are tempted to either disable or even remove the steering wheel lock entirely so that they can tow the vehicle easily.

However, doing this is not advisable since it puts you at the risk of getting the vehicle stolen by thieves, particularly since the steering lock is an anti-theft device. Therefore, should you disable or remove it, you are risking the security of the vehicle.

Can Towing Car Damage The Power Steering?
Can Towing Car Damage The Power Steering?

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