Can You Tow a Car Without Keys?

Can You Tow a Car Without Keys

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to tow a car without keys, this blog is for you! 

To answer that burning question right away: yes, a car can be towed without keys. 

In this blog, we will discuss a variety of methods for towing a car without keys, as well as the legal and safety considerations to keep in mind. 

There are many scenarios in which you may need to get your own car towed without keys, including the following:

  • You have misplaced your car keys
  • You have locked your car keys inside your car
  • Your car has broken down and will not start.

There are also scenarios in which you may need to get someone else’s car towed without keys, including the following:

  • A car is parked illegally or in a way that obstructs access 
  • A car has been abandoned 
  • A car is parked within your property or designated parking area.

Let’s get started!

Methods for Towing a Car Without Keys

Methods for Towing a Car Without Keys

There are many different methods for towing a car without keys! 

Knowing which options are available to you can help you create a logical and effective plan of action:

Professional towing services 

The safest and most reliable method of towing a car (with or without keys) is most likely to get in touch with a professional towing company! 

Towing companies are professionals; they are trained to handle a variety of towing situations safely and efficiently.

When seeking out a towing service, it’s important to choose a reliable company. 

A quick Google search can help you find two companies in your area, and you may wish to read client testimonials or reviews to verify quality and credibility. 

Be sure to use a company that is properly licensed, meaning that the company and drivers are trained and permitted to operate a tow truck. 

You should also opt for a company that is insured so that costs will be covered in the case of any accident (i.e. injury or property damage). 

You’ll be happy to know that TowingLess has thousands of positive reviews, and is both licensed and insured!

Before you reach out to a towing company, ensure you are aware of your rights and obligations (especially if the car is not your own). 

Depending on the context and situation, read over any relevant parking permit agreements, property lease agreements, and local laws and regulations. 

If the car is not your own, reach out to a local transport agency or police station to track down the registered owner using the license plate number.

Provide the towing company with as much information as possible, including:

  • The reason for towing
  • The registration plate, and make and model of the vehicle
  • The ownership of the vehicle (if known)
  • The condition of the car, and details of any damage
  • The exact location of the vehicle.

Ensure the towing company has access to the vehicle. If the vehicle is on private property (such as within an apartment complex), obtain permission for the company to have access.

Towing companies use specialized equipment to lift and transport the car without causing damage to the vehicle. 

They may use a dolly to elevate the car’s two front wheels onto the back of a trailer. 

With a dolly, the car’s two front wheels will be secured onto a tow trailer, while the back wheels stay in contact with the road. 

This method tends to be easier than putting the entire vehicle onto a trailer and minimizes the risk of damage to the vehicle! 

Keep in mind that there are costs involved with towing a car using a professional towing service. On average, it costs around $100 to have a car towed in the US. 

This cost may vary depending on your location, the time of day, the towing company used, how far the vehicle needs to be towed, and whether or not there is any damage to the vehicle prior to towing. Your insurance may cover some of this cost. 

If the vehicle does not belong to you, it can be a trickier situation to figure out who is going to cover the cost of towing, and how. 

When a car is parked on private property, the property owner may be responsible for paying some of the cost to have the car towed!

However, in the case of an abandoned car or parking violation, it’s worth reaching out to a local transport agency or police station as they may be able to identify the registered owner of the vehicle. 

DIY towing with another vehicle

Another method of towing a car without keys is good old DIY! 

Please note: this method carries much higher risks, and the potential for damage is greater. 

This option may be viable for individuals with towing experience, and only if they have access to the proper equipment for towing vehicles. 

To safely and efficiently tow a car without keys, you will need dolly or tow straps, as well as tow hooks or tow bars that these can be attached to. You may also need a suitable trailer, depending on the towing method you use. 

If you are towing a car due to a parking violation, ensure you have the relevant permits and documents on hand.

If you want to tow a car yourself, follow this step-by-step guide:

  1. Assess the situation
  • Ensure the car is in a safe place, away from moving traffic, obstacles, or property that could be damaged during the towing process
  • Assess the condition of the vehicle, and look for any damage. 
  1. Prepare the vehicle
  • If possible, unlock the steering wheel so that it can be used while towing. 
  • Ensure the car is in neutral to avoid damaging gears.
  1. Choose the right towing method
  • Flatbed towing: This is perhaps the safest method for towing a car. With this method, the car is placed on a flat surface (i.e. a trailer), and all wheels are off the road. This is an ideal method for towing damaged cars, and it also prevents additional damage
  • Dolly Towing: This is a suitable method for towing front-wheel drive vehicles. In this method, the car’s front wheels are lifted off the ground while the back wheels remain in contact with the road
  • Four-Wheel Towing: In this method, tow straps are attached to tow bars, while all wheels remain in contact with the road. 
  1. Lifting and securing the car 
  • Once you have chosen the appropriate method, you need to secure the car
  • For flatbed and dolly towing, you will need to use the lever to move the trailer down to an angle, so that the car can be rolled onto the trailer or dolly easily. Once the vehicle is in place, you will need to use chains and wheel straps to tightly secure the vehicle to the trailer or dolly 
  • For four-wheel towing, you will need to properly secure the car to the tow vehicle using a tow strap, ensuring the car is in neutral. 
  1. Transporting the vehicle safely
  • When driving, double your anticipated braking and acceleration distances
  • Do not follow other vehicles too closely, as it will take you longer to stop than usual, which may result in a collision
  • Start braking sooner than you normally would. Ideally, avoid roads with heavy traffic. 

Alternative solutions (depending on the situation)

In some situations, it may not be necessary to have the car towed. For instance:

  • If your car is not starting, the battery may be dead. You should first try using jumper leads to jumpstart the car
  • If you have left your keys inside the car or misplaced them, you should first call roadside assistance for lockout services. They may be able to open your locked car. 

Legal and Safety Considerations 

Legal and Safety Considerations 

It is important to research, understand, and comply with local towing regulations!

Legalities relating to towing and moving vehicles vary by state. In some locations, towing a car that is not your own (without owner permission), can result in hefty fines or legal complications. 

Always attempt to obtain permission from the owner before towing a vehicle. 

Further, if you are towing a car from a property that is not your own, obtain permission from the property owner (this may be a landlord). 

Safety should always be at the forefront when towing a car to avoid accidents on the road, damage to the vehicle, damage to other vehicles, or damage to public or private property. 

To ensure you’re prioritizing safety, keep in mind the following precautions:

  • Use adequate equipment: Ensure you use the proper equipment to tow a car, and don’t take shortcuts
  • Secure the vehicle properly: ALWAYS ensure the car is properly secured to the tow truck, dolly, or trailer, to avoid movement or loss of contact while traveling
  • Check visibility: Use hazard lights and reflective markers to make your towing setup visible to other road users. This is particularly important before dawn and after dusk, and will reduce the risk of accidents
  • Check insurance: Read back on your insurance coverage and policies, and verify whether or not it covers towing situations, in case of accidents 
  • Check vehicle brakes: Ensure the towed vehicle’s braking system is not engaged during the towing process. This could lead to damage or accidents. 

Final Word

There are many situations in which you may need to tow a car without keys, and this can be a challenging or panic-inducing prospect. However, there are many options available to resolve this situation efficiently!

With the right knowledge, experience, and equipment, it is possible to safely tow a car yourself. 

However, if you feel unqualified or unsure, the safest option is to contact a professional towing company like TowingLess for assistance.

The most important thing to remember is that you must always prioritize safety and legality when towing a car without keys!