I just observed the City (Milwaukee) tow several vehicles from in front of my building. None were towed facing backward. . . and I don’t think they took proper precautions with a few of them. (1) Is that still done for some vehicles? When? Which? Can an automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive car be towed facing forward, with the rear wheels on the ground? Does it have to be in Neutral? (2) Do tow truck operators ever open the car in the owner’s absence (e.g., to shift into neutral)? (3) One guy didn’t wait until one car was moved from in front of the one he wanted; instead, he connected a chain to the front, and, with the front wheels immobile and flat on the ground, dragged the front of the car to the left and into the street. I’m not an expert, but I’m 99% sure this wasn’t good for that car.
Most RWD vehicles can be towed while in Neutral without any problem.
After watching Operation Repo on Tru-TV from what they say on the show…if they tow the vehicle there’s a chance it may be damaged and the owner of the car is responsible if any damage occurs because of towing. If they get the keys from the owner then they are responsible for the car.
There are ways to tow a RWD car without towing it backward, even if it’s in park. They have a little dolly that they stick under the rear wheels. The dolly does the rolling rather than the car’s wheels.
That said, if you park illegally, any damage to your car caused by them having to move it, is going to be on your head. The tow companies know this. . .
Most automatics can be damaged by towing in neutral, as they don’t receive proper lubrication (The drive shaft is spinning the gears, but the torque converter - which circulates the fluid - is stationary). But the damage isn’t immediate, it occurs when the parts begin running too hot. The owner’s manual will typically set a speed/distance limit for such towing. Probably no harm for a short tow at city speeds.
(2) not if the doors are locked. They want to get in and out quickly to avoid confrontations.
(3) I’ve never seen this done. I’d guess that the owner of the car being repossessed would be responsible for all damages, but various states may have lows on this.
We had to tow a guy at work once. Think it was a nice new Vette convert. Parked right in the no parking loading zone so nothing could move. Tried paging but no response. The towing company did use a flat bed but it had to be dragged all the way up on the wrecker with the wheels skidding all the way. Never heard from the guy so he must have been satisfied with the work. Thought he could get by putting it in park and locking it up. Too bad how sad.
Yes, cars can be damaged by improper towing. I suppose it depends on whether the tow driver is attentive and skilled, or an indifferent bottom-feeder just trying to make a buck and too bad for anyone but himself.
Naturally people like this are in the same class as car stereo thieves, aggressive collection agents, people that distribute ‘scareware’ computer viruses, etc., and the world would be better off without them.