Can You Flat Tow a Toyota Tacoma?

A quick look at the Toyota Tacoma's owner's manual reveals that the Tacoma should not be flat towed as it results in severe transmission damage.

Hauling a car behind a recreational vehicle (RV) using a tow bar is called flat towing, four-down, or dinghy towing, so it's a handy way to get your car from A to B when driving an RV. But, unfortunately, it isn't possible with this particular model. Here's why.

There Are Several Reasons Why The Toyota Tacoma Cannot Be Flat Towed

The Toyota Tacoma's center differential and transaxle spin differently and will lead to the vehicle overheating if it is flat towed.

The owner's manual specifically states that the vehicle cannot be towed, and it includes most model years. The manual transmissions on Tacomas are the main reason why its manufacturers forbid the towing of these types of cars.

Toyota states that the car's engine has to be running for the fluid to move about, which could result in the engine overheating if it's towed without the engine running.

The vehicle's speedometer may also be damaged while being flat towed, and it could give an incorrect reading. Even though Toyota strictly forbids the flat towing of Tacomas, there are ways around it...

How to flat tow a Toyota Tacoma in an emergency

The owner’s manual of the Toyota Tacoma only provides motorists with general information for towing during emergencies, and those guidelines are aimed at commercial tow trucks.

  • You can purchase a new driveshaft disconnect device. It decouples from the rear axle so it can spin freely. It reduces transmission damage substantially.
    The device allows the owner to disconnect the driveshaft from the driver’s seat using a long cable.
  • Another reason why a Toyota Tacoma cannot be flat towed is due to the fluid in the transmission.
    This is because the pump does not work when the engine is not on. Manufacturers state that if the transmission isn't properly oiled while the drivetrain is working, it can lead to burnout.
  • Remember that an external lubrication pump sends transmission fluid via the system at the exact pressure as the engine pump.
  • You can also install a supplemental braking system, also known as dinghy brakes, which works with pressure sensors that indicate to the driver when the towing vehicle slows down.

Flat Towing a Tacoma Will Cost You...

Going against the manufacturer's advice could end up costing you a pretty penny in the long run...

  • Flat towing your Toyota Tacoma can be pricey and risky. The money that you will spend investing in a new driveshaft disconnect device, lubrication pump, and supplemental braking system could be plowed into purchasing the correct equipment to properly tow your car. You will also find yourself in hot water if any of the towing equipment malfunctions. It could lead to devastating transmission damage and leave you out of pocket.
  • If your car is damaged while flat towing, it could result in the insurance company voiding your cover or the manufacturer voiding the warranty. As the car owner, you will have to take on personal liability if anything happens. It is advisable to seek out the advice of a professional should you decide to tow a Toyota Tacoma.
  • If you are involved in an accident that claims a life, you will be held liable for the death. You can contact local insurance agents who will be able to give you sound advice. Be as honest and upfront with them as possible.

How To Properly Tow a Toyota Tacoma

The surefire and safest way to tow a Toyota Tacoma is by using a flatbed trailer with all four tires off the ground. The vehicle should be secured by investing in tie-down acessories such as straps and chains.

Here is a list of the various straps available for towing vehicles:

Nylon strap:

  • These are made of reinforced nylon and are used to securely fasten loads.

Basket strap:

  • This strap fits around the wheels of the trailers and can be secured to trailer eyelets.


  • These straps have steel hooks at each end that can be used to fasten onto the bottom of the car's undercarriage.


  • This is a steel ratcheting part used in conjunction with nylon straps to secure and fasten the load.

Setting Up The Flatbed Trailer

The first step is to place the car evenly on the flatbed truck and over the axle. You now have to adjust the car as forward as possible without making contact with the trailer's front. Now, set the parking brake and place the car in gear. Position the wooden chock blocks in front of and behind at least one of the wheels. Remember, the more, the merrier.

Now, it is time to place basket straps over each of your tires. You need the ratchet straps for the front tires and behind the rear tires.

Head under the vehicle but don't forget to use the V-strap; if your vehicle has tow hooks, you can make use of those - you'll find them somewhere near the vehicle's bumpers.

Make sure that you don't fasten V-straps to your suspension as you don't want to damage anything. Now place the straps in opposite directions to securely fasten your load.

Now, use the ratchet straps to keep everything in place. Before you complete the process, double-check your lights, hitch, and safety chains. You are now ready to hit the road with your Toyota Tacoma in tow.

Safety Tips for Vehicle Towing

Whether you are carrying a heavy load or heading out onto the open road to an exotic destination, adhering to safety precautions is key. Here are a few handy tips to keep you and your family safe on the road.

  • Tire pressure: It is important that you thoroughly inspect all your tires, especially your trailer tires. You need to make sure that your tires are not dry or cracking due to exposure to the elements. It is also recommended that your tow vehicle's tires have a higher pressure than that of your motorhome or RV.
  • Maintenance: Towing a vehicle puts a lot of stress on the vehicle's mechanics. It's important to check that your car has had an oil and filter change and that the brake pads are in mint condition. You also need to make certain that your engine coolant is topped up and that your transmission fluid is at the right level.
    Don't forget to ensure that your trailer's brakes are in working order and that the vehicle's wheel bearings are properly oiled.
  • Hitch ball: Hitch balls come in varying sizes: 1⅞ inches, 2 inches, and 2 5⁄16 inches. The ball on your tow hitch must be the same size as the coupler on your trailer. If it is not, it can lead to an accident.
  • Roadside: Preparation is key. Ensure that you have a spare tire with you before hitting the road. You will also require a lug nut wrench that works with your trailer and a jack in case you have to change your tire at the side of the road.
  • Safety chains: Your safety chain must fasten to your hitch. Never run the chain straight across but rather cross them, so it looks like the straps are cradling your load. This method will ensure that you don't lose your load should you be involved in a collision.
  • Lights: Make sure that your trailer’s electrical wiring system is successfully connected to your tow vehicle. Enlist the help of a friend or partner to help you inspect the trailer’s running lights, brake lights, turn signals, and hazard lights. They all need to work in unison.
  • Tow mirrors: It would be a good idea to invest in tow mirrors, especially if your flatbed trailer is bigger than your tow vehicle. This will help you to maintain clear visibility on the road and navigate tricky blind spots.
  • Fueled up: Some SUVs come with a bigger-than-normal fuel tank. It is a good option to consider as towing a vehicle guzzles a lot of fuel, and it can become annoying to stop for fuel so often.
  • Wheel chocks: Remember to always place wheel chocks (which are sturdy wedge-shaped blocks of wood) in front of and behind the trailer's tires during the unhooking process. This is an important step to remember, as it will prevent your trailer from rolling.


What pickups can be flat towed?

Some pickups suitable for flat towing include the Ram 1500, Ford F-150, Ford Ranger, Jeep Gladiator, Jeep Wrangler, Chevrolet Silverado, Chevrolet Colorado, and the GMC Sierra HD.

What vehicles are easiest to flat tow?

Not all vehicles are as easy to flat tow as others. Some of the easiest vehicles for flat towing include the Jeep Wrangler JL, Ford F-150, Jeep Wrangler JK, Chevrolet Equinox, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Cherokee, Chevrolet Colorado, and the Honda CR-V.

Final Thoughts

Towing your Toyota Tacoma needs to be done with care so as not to damage any components by using the wrong method. It's best to avoid flat towing one where possible and instead use a flat bed truck to safely transport it to its destination.


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