Towing a Rear Wheel Drive Car

Earlier this spring, my father bought a 1936 Buick. This was the first in a string of poor decisions, which ultimately lead to my question.

The car is not currently running, and he will soon need to move it into his storage space, maybe 25 miles out of town, for the winter. The car has a three-speed manual transmission and rear wheel drive.

Against my advice, he purchased a tow dolly to use to move the car. I am concerned that, unless he disconnects the drive shaft (which he won’t), he is going to do severe damage to what is already probably a sick, tired transmission. He brushes this off, saying he can put it in neutral and tow it for that distance, twice a year, without any real harm resulting.

I know a little about cars, but I’m no expert on transmissions. He knows a fair bit about cars, but he is also somewhat intellectually lazy lately once he has set hs mind to something.

How significant is the risk of harm here? Am I being overly cautious about this? What, exactly, are the mechanical dynamics at work here?

Towing this way is normally not a problem. The tranny output shaft will spin in its bearings and gears, where oil is pretty well trapped by the design. For a long tow – hundreds of miles – I’d disconnect the driveshaft to eliminate any risk of the oil draining from the bearings, but for 25 miles it shouldn’t be a concern.

It’s a different story with some automatic transmissions.

Glad to be wrong on this one. Thanks for the reply.