You may be wondering if that car in your garage will ever make it out anytime soon. After you had it parked for months and just about the time you thought it could be useful for a vacation you realised that the key is nowhere to be found.

You have searched the closet, the fridge, the shoe boxes, virtually everywhere but it looks like only the towing company would be trusted here. Yet you never stop asking yourself “can a car be towed without the keys”?

Towing a car without keys is like a “mission impossible” to many people. But do you know that most cars that are illegally parked are being towed even without getting in touch with the owner to ask for keys? That’s because a car doesn’t have to have its engine turned on before it can be towed.

Although you may need the keys to get one or two things done with your car but when it comes to towing, no keys! Leave the rest to the professionals.

Truthfully, towing a car without the keys is a lot of hassle. And because the procedure is complex and requires caution, most people conclude that it is almost impossible to tow a car unless you get inside the car and put it in neutral. Why get worked up over what is not?

This kind of job is mostly for professionals since they are conversant with the mechanism of cars and how they are built. Tow companies and roadside assistance services deal with issues of this type daily, they have the necessary tools, the technical know-how and the procedure to get it done without any damage to the car.

Basically, towing a car without the keys is safely done by lifting its drive wheels off the road so for the most part,  they will have to determine if your car is front-wheel or rear-wheel drive.

Once this is known, self-loading dollies could be installed on the back tires if the car is rear-wheel drive and on the front tires if the car is front-wheel drive. This is also as simple as loading it onto a flatbed tow truck.

The equipment and tools needed to tow a car without keys vary with the condition in which the car is in. For instance, you can still have your car towed with the right set of self-loading tow dollies or a flatbed trailer if it is in park and with the handbrake engaged.

Towing A Car Without Keys Using Dollies

Dollies are heavy-duty frames that are designed to support one wheel of a car such that it will be locked in place and raised off the ground. While the self-loading dolly comes with small wheels, high-speed self-loading dollies usually come with larger wheels equipped with tires to withstand a wider range of road conditions. A dolly may have up to four wheels or even more.

To tow vehicles out on the road, you will need a self-loading dolly with larger wheels. And to tow a car without keys you will have to consider at least two self-loading dollies to be able to raise the drive wheels off the road.

Sometimes, you may have to tow the car with all four wheels off the ground. In this case, you will need two self-loading dollies with a tow dolly.

While two of the car wheels are loaded onto the tow dolly, the other two wheels are then lifted off the road by the other two self-loading dollies. Then the tow dolly is connected to the tow vehicle through a trailer hitch.

First thing first, read through the owner’s manual to know whether the car is a front-wheel drive or a rear wheel drive, knowing this will help with the dolly setup. If the car is front wheel drive it means that the engine transmits its power to the front wheel only while the rear wheels just have to spin as they are pulled along.

Towing requires that you lift the two front wheels off the road to prevent damage in transmission. If the rear wheel is the drive wheel then you have to tow by raising the rear wheels off the ground.

But for vehicles with four wheel drive, all four wheels have to be up, off the ground and locked in place when towed. However, the most common setup for modern cars is front wheel drive.

Loading The Car On The Dollies

Now that you have figured out the dolly setup, place the self-loading dollies under the front wheels or the rear wheels of the car. If you are towing a car with four wheel drive, you may have to place the tow dolly under all the four wheels of the car.

Once the right set of wheels are up, attach the tow strap to the tow vehicle or truck. The tow straps might come with hooks or loops but to be on the safer side, the ones with loops are practically safer to work with.

If you are using a tow dolly that can hold two wheels at a time, attach the tow dolly to the hitch of the tow vehicle and place the ball of the hitch just beneath the dolly tongue. You will see the handle that lowers the tongue of the tow dolly, turn it to connect the tongue to the hitch.

Basically, tow dollies are connected to tow vehicles with the help of a ball mount. When compared to tow straps, tow dollies can tow heavier vehicles and they tend to be more reliable.

To tow a vehicle with four wheels drive, you will be needing self-loading dollies and a tow dolly. Place the self-loading dollies under the wheels that have been readily disabled by the parking brake and thereafter, load up the other two wheels to the tow dolly.

Have your vehicle properly secured on the dollies and carefully drive along. Using the wheel straps, strap the vehicle to the dolly. Let the wheel straps from the tow dolly go over both front wheels, pull them over the top of the tires and tighten them with a ratchet mechanism.

While driving, remember that there is no driver in the towed car and for this reason, you may have to drive very slowly especially if you are using a tow strap. Do not follow other vehicles closely and start braking far sooner than you normally would take a turn or stop.  By doing this, you will be able to keep a reasonable distance from the vehicle being towed.

Towing A Car Without Keys Using A Flatbed Trailer

Flatbed trailers are also a great choice for towing a car without keys, especially if you want to tow heavier vehicles that may exceed the capacity of self-loading dollies and tow dollies.

Loading The Car On A Flatbed Trailer

Back the tow car up to the trailer hitch and connect the trailer to the tow vehicle. Rotate the handle of the trailer’s tongue and lower it down onto the ball once the ball of the hitch is below the tongue of the trailer. Cross the safety chains, hang their hooks immediately on either side of the hitch and connect the electrical plug from the trailer to the tow vehicle.

Allow the tow vehicle and the trailer to be directly in front of the towed vehicle. Make sure that the trailer, the tow vehicle and the towed vehicle are on a flat surface.

Pull the towed car up onto the trailer, ensuring that all four wheels are on the trailer. To do this, extend the ramps down on the trailer and push the towed vehicle until all the wheels are onto the trailer and the ramps slide back without hitting the vehicle.

Carefully secure the tire straps and safety chains; take the ratchet straps and slide them over each wheel and hook them on the trailer, repeatedly open and close them until they are very tight. Then locate the recovery points and attach the two safety chains to them on the vehicle’s frame.

Once you have secured the towed car, you can drive off. However, be ready to drive as slow as you can. Plan for turns and stops and note that when towing a vehicle, it takes an average of twice as far to slow down or accelerate. Do not follow another vehicle as close as you normally would when towing.

Towing a car without keys is possible if you will do it the right way, not endangering yourself nor the car itself. Flatbed trailers and the use of dollies are the perfect ways to go about a “no key towing situation”.