How To Tow A Car With Locked Brakes

How To Tow A Car With Locked Brakes

Whenever the question of how to tow a car with locked brakes is raised, someone has, one way or another, lost their keys or got them damaged.

In this situation, if you were able to get the keys, you can just release the locked brake before dolly towing the car. Also, you can tow it on the bed of a tow trailer, whichever one pleases you.

Curiously, however, sometimes, you might not have lost the keys, but your brakes can get stuck due to either rust or corrosion or both. When this happens, you can firstly, disturb the brakes manually before applying and releasing it a couple of times.

Secondly, you can also shift the gear into drive and reverse the vehicle. Afterward, you should back the car between Drive and Reverse again to slightly move it back and forth. This action is capable of dislodging any rust in the stuck or locked brakes if that is the primary cause of the complaint.

The moment the brake is unlocked, you are now free to tow the vehicle in any of the ways it can be done either with a tow trailer or a tow dolly.

If you are lucky enough and the emergency brakes are not activated and the vehicle is in Park, then, you can tow it since the brake which controls only one or more of the wheels may not be used during towing. 

Conversely, if the car is towed with two non-driving wheels on the road and the parking brake is released, it is not likely to affect your car in any way at all.

Commonly, brakes lock up, and to release these brakes, someone should sit in the car and go through all the various functions to ascertain whether everything is working just fine.

However, if any of these functions show a constant 12 Volts, and the matching pin on the trailer side itself moves to the brakes, it could be the reason why your brakes got locked up in the first place.

Since a parking brake operates on mostly 2 wheels (usually the rear ones), it means that you can raise that part of the vehicle and get it easily towed. On the contrary, if it is an FWD( Front Wheel Drive), then, the front wheels are locked.

In this case, you can utilize a tow dolly which will lift the front wheels off the ground to enable you to tow the car safely. Finally, whatever the case may be, the best way to tow a vehicle with its brake locked is by the use of a tow trailer, which is a lot better than the use of a tow dolly.

Although both of them are applicable here with satisfactory results. To this effect,  if the car is a front-wheel-drive (FWD) version, the front wheels can rest on a  tow dolly while you move it on the rear wheels. 

All in all, these are your options in towing a car with locked brakes; use a tow trailer, a tow dolly, or get the brakes released before towing the car in whatever way you choose.  Also, you can tow such a car from the end which has the parking brake engaged.

Is it safe towing a car with locked brakes?

Yes, it is safe to tow a car with locked brakes, but you should be very mindful of how you do it. For instance, make sure that if the car has the parking brakes that act on the rear wheels engaged, then, it is best if you either release the locked brakes to allow you to tow it as you may want, or get the vehicle towed on the bed of a tow trailer.

For a Front Wheel Drive (FWD) car, you can tow it on a tow dolly if the brakes are acting on the front wheels which are therefore locked. In summary, it is both safe and easy to tow a car with locked brakes, if you adhere strictly to the recommendations of the manufacturers.

What is the safest way to tow a car with locked brakes?

About the best and safest way to tow a car with locked brakes is towing it on the flatbed of a compatible tow truck so that all its wheels will be off the ground. S

econdly, it is also good if you tow a vehicle whose brakes are locked and they act on the front wheels with the aid of a tow dolly since this will lift the affected front wheels off the ground while towing. A procedure that will prevent any undue damage to the vehicle or its components.

What can I use to tow a car with locked brakes?

There are several things you may require to enable you to tow a car with locked brakes. The first of these is the flatbed of a suitable tow truck which will prevent damage to vital parts of the car.

Secondly, you may also require the services of a tow dolly for cars whose parking brakes act on the front wheels.  In this case, a tow dolly that operates by raising the front tires off the road will protect these wheels from any damage during towing.

Also, you may need to release or disengage any locked brakes which will also enable you to tow the car safely as well in either of the two ways you prefer.

Also, since towing necessitate having properly positioned mirrors and very functional vehicle lighting, you will require them in good working conditions during towing. These are some of the things you will need to tow a car with locked brakes safely.

Will towing a car with locked brakes affect my car?

As long as you have taken care as required before towing with the use of any of the most suitable towing processes, it won’t cause any damage whatsoever.

To this effect, make sure that you tow a car whose parking brakes act on the front wheels with a tow dolly that will effectively raise them off the ground.

Secondly, you can use the services of the flatbed of a tow truck that will raise all the wheels off the ground. At certain times, you can release the brakes before towing too. If you do these, towing the car will not affect it in any way.

Can all cars with locked brakes be towed?

Yes, all cars with locked brakes can be towed safely. However, you just need to do it right by either releasing the locked brakes before towing on a tow dolly or the by using a tow truck to accomplish the job.

Therefore, whether the locked brakes are acting on the front or rear wheels does not matter as long as you go about the process exactly how the manufacturers say you should in the user manual. Hence, you should be sure to refer to this manual before you start anything, lest you regret attempting it in the first place.


(1). How do you unlock a car brake?

To unlock the brakes of a car, you may need to get access to it and release the locked brakes. Thereafter, you will have to maintain a hold on the button-down of the parking brake. After doing this, if you lift the parking brake, it will automatically release it.

In addition, if your parking brake is locked or stuck due to rust or corrosion, you can effectively release or unlock it by disturbing the brakes manually. Next, you should apply and release the brakes a couple of times. This will effectively dislodge any rust or corrosion that is locking the brakes.

Alternatively, you can unlock your brakes by shifting the car into Drive and reversing it quickly back between Drive and reversing it once again to move the car a little back and forth. This will also dislodge some of the offending corrosion locking the brakes up.

(2). Can you tow a car with a steering wheel lock?

No, you cannot tow a car with a steering wheel lock. Therefore, if you wish to tow any vehicle, do not lock up its steering wheel for whatever reason.

Should you do that, it would most likely cause damage to its wheels which can make it drag sideways or scrub whenever you take a turn to any side of the road; left or right.

Conclusion – How To Tow A Car With Locked Brakes

The commonest problem associated with locked brakes during towing is possible damage to vital car parts. Therefore, before you tow any vehicle with locked brakes, you should find out reliably whether it is a front-wheel or a 4-wheel version from the user manual.

This will enable you to tow it in the best and safest way possible either with the use of a tow truck or a tow dolly. In the case of a car with locked steering, you should never undertake to attempt towing it until the locked steering wheel is unlocked. This means that you don’t tow a car with its steering wheel locked.

How To Tow A Car With Locked Brakes
How To Tow A Car With Locked Brakes

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