Flat towing is the quickest and simplest way to move a vehicle that can’t be driven.
All four wheels are on the ground, so connecting and disconnecting them from the towing vehicle is easy.
Breakdowns are the usual reason someone would need to tow their Honda Civic, but they aren’t the only reason. Maybe you’re vacationing in an RV and want a smaller vehicle at your destination.
Unfortunately, Honda does not recommend flat towing a Honda Civic, but it is possible in models released prior to 2014. You should not flat tow a Civic made after 2014, as this was the year Honda changed the transmission, and you will severely damage your vehicle by flat towing it.
Why Can’t I Flat Tow a Honda Civic?
If you check the owner’s manual for your Civic, you’ll find that Honda discourages owners from towing their own vehicles – except in an emergency.
While some manufacturers design their vehicles to be towed in neutral, Honda Civics are not made this way. The drive chain and other mechanical parts must be constantly lubricated to function properly.
Flat towing a Honda is a major problem, regardless if it’s front-wheel-drive, rear-wheel-drive, or all-wheel-drive. You can lift the drive wheels off the ground to haul it safely over short distances, but flat towing is a no-no.
The car can’t just be put in neutral and be good to go for a tow. You need to run it through multiple stages to prepare for a flat tow, lubricating the internal parts as if they were being driven.
More importantly, even if you do run the stages, towing your Civic over long distances will likely damage your car. You may not have a choice in an emergency, but in that scenario, you’ll probably only be towing the vehicle a short distance to a repair shop.
In most cases, the only recommendation is to tow your Honda Civic less than 50 miles (80 km) and at speeds less than 35 mph (56 kph). It may also suggest that any Civic with an automatic transmission should not be self-towed at all, while towing one with a manual transmission is possible in an emergency.
You should not tow your Honda Civic behind an RV or other vehicle over long distances.
If I Can’t Flat Tow My Honda, How Can I Tow It Myself?
The safest way to tow a Honda Civic is to use a tow dolly. A tow dolly raises the drive wheels off the ground, keeping them from contacting the road and rotating as the car moves.
Front-wheel-drive vehicles are the safest vehicles to tow with this kind of dolly.
Before using a tow dolly on any vehicle, ensure the towing vehicle has good enough brakes to safely stop both cars.
Also, be sure your mirrors and lights are working correctly, and you can clearly see how the Civic responds.
Using a tow dolly with an all-wheel-drive or rear-wheel-drive is not possible.
To raise the back end of a Civic high enough to tow it, you’ll probably be scraping the front end on the road.
With an all-wheel-drive vehicle, you can’t raise all the drive wheels with a tow dolly. To safely tow an all-wheel-drive, you must have all four wheels off the road.
Even if you can use a tow dolly, you should always put your transmission in neutral to disconnect the drive train from the wheels. In most vehicles, this allows the wheels to rotate freely without rotating the gears inside the transmission.
Usually, this protects the transmission from damage because it keeps the gears from rotating without lubrication.
Keep in mind that no matter how you tow a Honda Civic, towing it may void the warranty if the owner’s manual expressly says not to.
If you don’t have access to a tow dolly and must tow your Civic on your own, you can take a few steps to help prevent damage to the vehicle.
How to Flat Tow a Honda Civic
It’s important to remember that Honda Civics are not made to be flat towed. But if you’re in a situation with no other options, you can use the following steps to lubricate the transmission and help you minimize damage.
These steps do not guarantee that your Civic won’t be damaged and should only be used in an emergency.
- Start the vehicle’s engine and put it into your lowest drive setting. Allow the car to sit in this setting for at least thirty seconds.
- Shift to the next lowest drive setting and allow it to sit for another thirty seconds, running in this setting while sitting still.
- You’ll repeat this process for each drive setting the vehicle has.
- Once you’ve gone through all drive settings, shift the car into Neutral (N).
- Turn the key in the ignition to the Roman Numeral “I.”
- Hook up the vehicles. You can run the tow cable through the front of the frame, but ensure you only attach it to the frame.
- You can now tow your Honda Civic if you have another driver in the Civic for braking. While towing, never exceed 35 mph (56 kph), keep the car in Neutral, and never haul it more than 50 miles (80 km).
Again, these steps are only for information and in no way guarantee that you will not damage the vehicle.
Also, only use a cable designed to tow vehicles.
A tow hitch and shaft work best, as you can use the towing vehicle to brake without needing another person in the driver’s seat of the Civic. The solid connection is safer than a limp cable one.
Remember, you may void your warranty by towing the car on your own. You can ask your Honda dealer for the details regarding your warranty and vehicle towing or hire a professional to avoid issues.
You should never flat tow your Honda Civic and avoid towing yourself at all – if possible. The cars are not designed to be towed, but a tow dolly can make it much safer for your vehicle if the need arises.
Only tow the car yourself if you have no other options, and check with your dealer whether towing the vehicle yourself will void your warranty.