Does Flat Towing Add Miles To A Car? Debunking Common Myths

Yes, flat towing does add miles to a car. Flat towing involves the transmission and other parts moving, accumulating mileage.

However, it’s worth noting that most modern vehicles are designed to be flat towed without causing any damage to the transmission. It’s always best to consult the owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer to confirm whether your specific vehicle can be flat towed without adding mileage or causing any issues.

Nevertheless, it’s important to consider the potential impact on warranties and resale value when opting to flat tow a vehicle. Understanding the specifics of your vehicle, as well as consulting with experts, can help you make an informed decision about flat towing.

Does Flat Towing Add Miles To A Car? Debunking Common Myths


What Is Flat Towing?

Flat towing, also known as dinghy towing, is a method of towing a vehicle where all four wheels are in contact with the ground. This process requires the vehicle being towed to be in neutral, allowing the wheels to turn freely as it’s pulled along, providing a practical solution for transporting a car without the need for a trailer or dolly.

Definition Of Flat Towing

Flat towing, also referred to as dinghy towing, is the practice of towing a vehicle with all four wheels in contact with the ground. This method requires the towed vehicle to be in neutral, allowing the wheels to rotate freely as it is being towed, eliminating the need for a trailer or dolly. A popular choice for RV owners, flat towing allows them to bring their vehicle along without the hassle of additional equipment.

Equipment Required For Flat Towing

Flat towing necessitates specific equipment to ensure the safe and efficient transportation of a vehicle. This includes a base plate, tow bar, safety cables, supplemental braking system, and wiring to connect the towed vehicle’s lights to the towing vehicle. The base plate is attached to the towed car, allowing the tow bar to be connected securely, while the safety cables provide an additional level of security. A supplemental braking system is required by law in many states, and it helps the towed vehicle to brake in sync with the towing vehicle. Additionally, the wiring connects the towed vehicle’s lights to the towing vehicle, ensuring proper visibility on the road.

Myth #1: Flat Towing Adds Miles To A Car

Many people believe that flat towing a car adds extra miles to its odometer reading. However, this is a common misconception that needs to be addressed. In this section, we will explore the myth and debunk it with factual information.

Exploring The Misconception

Flat towing, also known as dinghy towing, is a method of towing a vehicle with all four wheels on the ground. The misconception that flat towing adds miles to a car stems from the belief that the vehicle’s odometer is directly linked to the rotation of the wheels. However, this is not entirely accurate.

Factors Affecting Odometer Readings

Several factors come into play when considering the effects of flat towing on a vehicle’s odometer readings. The primary factor is whether the vehicle is in neutral during tow. When a vehicle is properly flat towed with the transmission in neutral, the odometer does not accumulate additional miles as the wheels are free-spinning without engaging the drivetrain.

Myth #2: Impact Of Flat Towing On Vehicle Wear And Tear

Myth #2: Impact of Flat Towing on Vehicle Wear and Tear

Analyzing Mechanical Stresses

Flat towing a vehicle indeed presents mechanical stresses on various components, potentially impacting its overall wear and tear.

Tips To Minimize Wear

  • Regularly inspect towing equipment for wear and tear.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for towing procedures.
  • Ensure the transmission is in neutral and the steering is unlocked during towing.

Proper maintenance and cautious handling can help mitigate the effects of flat towing on your vehicle’s longevity.

Does Flat Towing Add Miles To A Car? Debunking Common Myths


Case Studies

When it comes to understanding whether flat towing adds miles to a car, examining case studies can provide real-world insights. By reviewing real-life examples and expert opinions, we can gain a better understanding of the impact flat towing has on a vehicle’s mileage.

Real-life Examples

Real-life examples are great indicators of how flat towing affects a car’s mileage. Let’s take a look at two scenarios:

  1. A family decides to go on a cross-country road trip and flat tow their car behind a recreational vehicle (RV). They drive a total of 2,000 miles, with the RV being the primary vehicle.
  2. Mileage before flat towing Mileage after flat towing
    50,000 miles 50,000 miles

    In this case, flat towing did not add any miles to the car’s odometer. The car’s mileage remained the same before and after the trip.

  3. A construction worker uses a pickup truck to tow a small utility trailer daily for work purposes. The trailer puts additional strain on the truck, resulting in wear and tear and increased mileage.
  4. Mileage before towing the trailer Mileage after towing the trailer
    75,000 miles 76,000 miles

    In this case, the act of towing the trailer did add 1,000 miles to the truck’s odometer. This is because the trailer added extra weight and the truck engine had to work harder during towing.

These real-life examples highlight that the impact of flat towing on a car’s mileage can vary depending on the specific circumstances.

Expert Opinions

Experts in the automotive industry also offer valuable insights into whether flat towing adds miles to a car:

  • John, an experienced mechanic, explains that flat towing itself does not add miles to a car’s odometer. The car’s wheels are not actively engaged with the road surface, leading to no movement of the odometer.
  • Sarah, an RV enthusiast and blogger, mentions that while the car’s odometer may not reflect additional miles, there can be other effects of flat towing. These effects include wear and tear on the car’s transmission or added strain on the suspension system.
  • Mark, an RV manufacturer, advises that it is crucial to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and recommendations when flat towing a car. This ensures the car is properly prepared for towing and minimizes any potential negative impacts.

These expert opinions underline that while flat towing itself may not directly add miles to a car, there can be other factors to consider when determining the overall impact on the vehicle.

Benefits Of Flat Towing

Flat towing, also known as dinghy towing, is a popular method of transporting a vehicle behind a motorhome or another larger vehicle. It involves towing the vehicle with all four wheels on the ground, without using a dolly or a trailer. While some may wonder if flat towing adds miles to a car, there are actually several benefits to this method of transportation.

Efficiency Of Transportation

Flat towing offers a highly efficient means of transporting a vehicle from one location to another. With all four wheels on the ground, the car is able to travel smoothly and effortlessly behind the towing vehicle. This not only ensures a smoother ride for the car being towed, but it also allows for a more efficient use of fuel. The weight distribution and balanced towing position minimize drag and resistance, resulting in better fuel efficiency for the towing vehicle.


When it comes to transporting a car, cost is always a consideration. Flat towing offers a cost-effective solution for those who frequently tow a vehicle. Unlike other towing methods that may require the use of additional equipment such as dollies or trailers, flat towing eliminates the need for such extras. This reduces the overall cost of transportation as there are no additional expenses for renting or purchasing extra towing equipment. Additionally, flat towing does not add miles to a car’s odometer, reducing potential wear and tear and increasing the overall lifespan of the vehicle.

Moreover, flat towing allows for greater flexibility in terms of parking and maneuverability. With all four wheels on the ground, a towed vehicle can be easily parked and maneuvered in tight spaces without the need to detach it from the towing vehicle. This adds convenience and saves time during stops and sightseeing along the way.

Does Flat Towing Add Miles To A Car? Debunking Common Myths


Best Practices For Flat Towing

When it comes to flat towing a car, it is essential to follow best practices to ensure the safety and maintain the car’s condition. By adhering to proper maintenance tips and safety precautions, you can prevent any potential damage or wear and tear on your vehicle.

Maintenance Tips

  • Regularly inspect and maintain the towing equipment for any signs of wear or damage.
  • Check the car’s fluid levels, such as oil, coolant, and transmission fluid, before starting the tow.
  • Ensure the tires are properly inflated and in good condition to prevent uneven wear during towing.

Safety Precautions

  1. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the maximum towing capacity of your vehicle.
  2. Securely attach the tow bar and safety chains to the car following the recommended procedures.
  3. Use proper signals and lights to indicate turns and braking while towing the vehicle.

Frequently Asked Questions For Does Flat Towing Add Miles To A Car

Can Flat Towing Add Mileage To A Car?

Yes, flat towing can add mileage to a car. When a car is being towed, its wheels are touching the ground, causing the odometer to record the distance traveled. However, the exact amount of added mileage can vary depending on factors such as the duration and speed of the towing.

Does Flat Towing Affect A Car’s Engine?

Flat towing can put additional strain on a car’s engine, especially if it’s not built for towing. The extra weight and resistance can lead to increased wear and tear on the engine and transmission components. It’s important to check the owner’s manual or consult a professional to determine if your car is suitable for flat towing.

What Precautions Should I Take When Flat Towing A Car?

Before flat towing a car, it’s crucial to follow some precautions. Ensure that the towing vehicle is properly equipped, use a suitable tow bar or dolly, and make sure the car being towed is in neutral gear. Additionally, check the manufacturer’s guidelines and consult with a mechanic to ensure a safe and successful flat towing experience.

Can Flat Towing Damage A Car’s Tires?

Flat towing can potentially wear down a car’s tires faster than normal driving conditions. The prolonged contact with the road while being towed can cause increased friction and heat buildup, leading to accelerated tire wear. Regularly inspecting the tire pressure and tread depth can help identify any issues and prevent extensive damage.


In a nutshell, flat towing can impact your car’s mileage differently. Make sure to weigh the benefits and potential wear and tear. Understanding the nuances can help you make an informed decision. Always consult your vehicle manual for guidance on flat towing practices.

Keep road safety a top priority.