Getting bogged in the sand dunes

Should You Call for Towing Services for Your Car?

by Andrea Muñoz

Car owners typically don't like the idea of needing to have a car towed, as they may not want to face the expense or hassle of dealing with a towing service. However, keep in mind that a tow truck is often a much safer choice than driving your car in many cases; using their services can keep you and other drivers safer than if you drove a car with serious mechanical issues. Having a car towed when it needs repairs also means not risking making those repairs even worse, so that a small bill turns into a major expense. Note when you should call for towing services versus driving your car, for your own protection and the protection of your car itself.

If the car is smoking

Note where the smoke is coming from and, if possible, if there are any odors with the smoke. If the car smells like it's burning, it's best to have it towed as this often means the engine is overheating or there is a leak in the transmission system, and transmission fluid is dripping onto the engine or exhaust. This fluid can drip out and your transmission gets stuck in neutral, so have the car towed in these cases.

If the smoke is white and coming from the front of the car, this is probably steam and not smoke; if it smells sweet, this is a radiator leak and this too is very dangerous. The radiator could easily burst at any time. However, if there is smoke coming from the tailpipe, this can mean a bad mix of fuel and oxygen or holes in the catalytic converter. You may not necessarily need to have the car towed, but should have the exhaust system checked as soon as possible.


It's never good to risk driving a car when there are problems with the brakes, but if you're simply hearing loud grinding or squealing while the brakes still seem to work, you can get the brake pads or rotors changed as soon as possible. The car will usually still be fine to drive just a short distance in the meantime.

If the brakes are not grabbing as they should, this is when it's time to have the car towed. If your car is leaking brake fluid, this usually just gets worse as you drive and it may get worse very quickly. Once the fluid is gone, the brakes will fail. Don't assume you can drive even a short distance if you need to virtually stand on the brakes but have the car towed.