If your car breaks down and leaves you stranded, it can be a stressful experience. Depending on your location, it could also be terrifying. Add in the cost of getting roadside assistance to haul your vehicle, and it turns into a terrible day.

Hiring a towing service can cost over a hundred dollars! There is a hook-up or loading fee, a mileage fee, and a fuel surcharge included in the cost. Sometimes labor or time is included, and if it is stored there is a storage fee. A simple one-mile tow could easily be $80-$100. Yet, there are ways to move your vehicle without having to pay an outrageous tow bill. This article will tell you how to tow a car without a tow truck.

Load it on a Car Trailer

One of the best options to haul a vehicle is putting it on a car trailer. It does require having access to a trailer, and a working truck to pull it. If you have these or a friend willing to help, you could save hundreds of dollars. Trailers have ramps and are low to the ground, making it easy to load a car. Since all four wheels would be off the road, it's a great option for both front- and rear-wheel drive cars.

If your car runs, you can drive the car onto the trailer using the ramps. It is important to be careful and make sure everything is lined up. If the car or truck is unable to drive, you could use a mechanical winch to pull it onto the trailer. However, not everyone has a fancy winch, and a come-along will be your next best option.

After you load the car, it is important to strap the vehicle to the trailer. You can use ratchet straps or safety chains to secure the car to the trailer. The most effective way to secure your vehicle is to have at least four tie-down points. Attach your chains to sturdy areas on the car. You can also use tire straps that wrap around each tire and secure it on the trailer.

Use a Tow Dolly

A car dolly is another way of towing cars without a tow truck. You can purchase or rent a tow dolly, and use another vehicle to pull it. Places like U-Haul and other truck rental locations offer them for cheap.

A dolly is a very small trailer with two wheels. These wheels are not large, and there is only enough room on the car dolly to put the front tires of your vehicle on it. It is not intended for large vehicles or all-wheel drive.

Tow dollies are a cheaper option than trailers, but using one to tow your car comes with some disadvantages.

To use a tow dolly, you put the front wheels of a front-wheel-drive vehicle on the dolly. There are ramps that will allow you to push or drive the vehicle onto the tow dolly. The rear wheels will roll as you use a truck to pull the dolly. It is very important to secure the front wheels using tire straps so that the car doesn’t bounce off when you hit a pothole. It is a popular way for people to move long distances and haul their car with their belongings in a box truck.

If you want to tow a rear-wheel drive using a tow dolly, there are extra steps involved, such as disconnecting the driveshaft.

Attach a Tow Rope

The last way to tow a vehicle without a tow truck is to attach a tow rope. You need a friend and another vehicle powerful enough to pull yours. This method is also known as flat towing, because your car or truck needs all four wheels on the ground.

Attach the tow rope to a sturdy place on the front of your vehicle. Tow hooks are specifically designed to pull a vehicle, so it is safe to attach either end of the rope to this hook if it is available on your car. Attach the other end of the rope to a place on the rear of the towing vehicle pulling your car. You will need a friend to drive either the running vehicle or your towed vehicle.

The vehicle getting pulled must follow all of the regular traffic laws. You will need to ride in the towed car and place it in neutral. As the front vehicle begins to pull yours, you will have to turn the steering wheel and brake when necessary. Keep in mind some vehicles may lose power steering if it is not running, so turning can be tricky when you are hauling your car with a tow rope. Given that, this method is best for short distance towing only. Follow these tips when towing a car with a tow rope.

Be Cautious and Pay Attention

If you aren’t using a tow truck to your car, it is important to be careful, especially while on the road with other motorists. You must pay attention to all local laws and warnings when it comes to loading, securing, and transporting your vehicle safely. You must also be aware of the towing capacity, and how much your car weighs. It probably would be a bad idea to try to tow your big diesel Chevy 3500 with your friend’s Honda Civic. Lastly, consult your owner's manual for specific towing instructions — manual transmission and automatic transmission cars require different handling.

There are some instances where a tow truck may be required. If your vehicle is badly wrecked and the tires won’t roll, you may have to succumb to the prices of a towing company. In these instances, you can often rely on insurance to help with the towing costs. If you are involved in an accident you always want to include the towing when making your insurance claim. You can also add towing insurance to your policy in order to prepare for that future possibility.