Flatbed tow is dragging FWD vehicle by the cable up onto the flatbed, and then bringing the car off the Flatbed to the police ground.

First Case :

  • The transmission in Neutral
  • Parking Brake is Released

While it's being dragged to/out of the flatbed.

100% no damage according to car manufacturer manuals (Flatbed is the best method of Towing) and it will cause no damage if it done like that.

But what if

  • The transmission in Neutral

  • Parking Brake is on

Does it stress the transmission the same way as the first case while the car is being dragged forcibly to and out of the flatbed ?

Does it cause any damage to the transmission ?

The police may wan to take my vehicle by flatbed while I am not there. I really need your help.

I have two options :

  • Transmission on Neutral and Parking Brake is on


  • Transmission on Parking and Parking Brake is Released

Obviously I can't make the them both (Parking Brake Released and the Transmission on) because I am risking my car. It may fall from the flatbed and be damaged.

Any comments and advice is much appreciated.

3 Answers 3


The last option is easily solved - straps and / or chains are used to secure the vehicle to the flat bed.

In fact these are usually used in all cases as the load has to be properly secured, this is usually a legal requirement and an insurance requirement as well as common sense.

As for moving vehicles with “locked” wheels, the industry uses dollies or dished plates with wheels where the vehicles wheels are lifted and the dolly placed under allowing the vehicle to be moved with no damage.

So, yes damage could occur, but equipment is used to avoid that damage.

  • Round here they put straps under the car and lift it clean onto the truck. It happened to mine once (for emergency road repairs)
    – Chris H
    Commented Nov 30, 2018 at 15:24
  • Can you Elaborate ? Damage may occur to "Parking Brake system" or the Transmission ?
    – J.R
    Commented Dec 1, 2018 at 1:43
  • Damage will normally be specific to each type of transmission, but parking pawl breaking and same for brakes it drpends on type. As you made the question general ie no make model year then the answer is also general.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Dec 1, 2018 at 5:48
  • I suspect that the extend of the damage would be to flat-spot the tyres as the speed that winches draw vehicles onto flatbeds probably won't actually be enough to break to parking pawl. I think I'd personally put the vehicle somewhere the police wouldn't want to tow it, e.g. private land, a garage/driveway, paid parking / storage, etc... Commented Mar 26, 2019 at 11:36
  • @SteveMatthews I think the Op is talking about vehicles parked causing obstructions or illegally - not on private land etc...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Mar 26, 2019 at 11:56

The transmission will not be damaged in either case: it's in neutral.

If your parking brake is on, then you may have some odd tire wear on the rear wheels, depending on how far it has to be dragged. Many tow companies have equipment to lift up the rear wheels to avoid this dragging.

Once on the flatbed, the car will be strapped down, so it's not going anywhere regardless of the parking brake.

  • I think the OP means his transmission is in P(ark), not N(eutral) Commented Mar 26, 2019 at 11:26
  • If that's the case, then the lock pin could be damaged and your Park becomes another Neutral.
    – Spivonious
    Commented Mar 26, 2019 at 15:22

Yes, any unwanted heat can cause transmission or engine failure as the heat transfers via cooling lines, etc. Cars have different rules for towing, see the owners manual for each car

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