Towing an automatic transmission car

I have a nissan altima automatic and plan to tow behind my rv. I know that to tow with all wheels on the ground you can install a lube pump for the transmission. I have also heard that the same thing can be accomplished by letting the engine idle while towing in neutral which should lube the tranny. Any thoughts?


Installing a “lube pump” is worthless. The transmission’s “pump” is internal to itself and is fed from the “pan” or “sump” and lubes the converter, clutch pack, and valve body, etc. Idling a car while towing would be extremely dangerous.

I’d suggest a simple tow dolly that you can rent or buy for under $300.00. Or, there are custom CV axles that do allow “free wheel” very expensive and likely void warranty.

A dolly is a safer, less hassle, and better solution.


Yeah, I too was going to suggest a dolly. It’s the only way to go. Gets the drive wheels off the ground.

Thanks, just checking to see what anyone thought. The transmission shop tech mentioned that he knew a guy who towed one from the northeast to florida with the motor idleing and he had no problems. Putting in a lube pump seems like a pain and is not cheap. The other option I have is just to tow my 99 frontier pickup 2wd with a stick, put it in neutral and just haul a vehicle that way. Have heard that since it is not a 4wd that it should tow just fine with no consequences.

Have you looked in the owners manual. They sometimes have suggestions or warnings against what you are attempting.

Check for dinghy towing guide. For 2007, your Nissan Altima must have a manual trans to tow on all four wheels.

Well in addition that letting the engine idle will not take car of the problem, all that idling while being towed is going to be hard on the engine, not to mention expensive on the fuel.

From your answer I don’t understand why an auxiliary pump can not supply lubrication to the transmission. From what I understand, I am guessing that normally the transmission fluid pressure is generated by the torque converter. If the engine is not operating this does not happen so a auxiliary pump could do it. I am not saying that this is better than a dolly, mind you. I just want to understand why a pump would not work.

Check out these guys, they probably have what you want:

Pintos make good dinghy’s…VW Bugs, pre 1972…

At $4 / gallon, RVing is not a growth industry…

It won’t harm engine.

Why would a pump be worthless? You mean at idle there is nothing lubing the trans?

I own a near mint 1959 T-Bird Squarebird which has the older dual pump ( front & rear ) transmission and my owners manual ( yep I got one ) says you can only tow the car a maximum of 50 miles at no faster than 35 mph.

The rear pump was used to enable push starting with an automatic which supplied hydralic pressure to the tranny as long as the vehicle was moving at 20mph or more with the engine off.

Now if my T-bird can only be towed as stated above being that the rear pump lubicates the tranny does that
tell you something ?

I would get a tow dolly and be done with it as it would be ok with the engine idleing but just wasting fuel and ading miles to the odometer as gas prices are starting to go crazy again with the price per barrel of crude nearing 100.00