If you want to hitch-up a Toyota Camry to your RV to tow along for the next excursion, you probably wonder if you can flat tow a Camry. We’ve done the research on this topic to get the answer for you.
The ability to flat tow a Toyota Camry depends on the following factors:
- If your Toyota Camry has a manual transmission, you can flat tow it.
- If your Toyota Camry has an automatic transmission, you cannot flat tow it.
- All newer Toyota Camry models (2012 and up) have an automatic transmission, so you cannot flat tow newer models.
Keep reading because we've got all the information you need to know to flat tow a manual transmission Toyota Camry. We'll also provide options for towing an automatic transmission Toyota Camry, and discuss other factors you need to consider before towing any vehicle.
What Is Flat Towing?
Flat towing is towing your vehicle with all four wheels on the ground. It is also called dinghy towing because the car looks like a small dinghy behind a larger ship when it is towed this way behind a larger vehicle.
Flat towing is often used when towing a smaller car behind an RV. It is a popular practice for RV drivers to tow a smaller car along when traveling on long, cross-country trips. Having a second vehicle allows the convenience of not packing up the entire RV every time you need to run an errand or want to take a short day trip.
Can You Flat Tow Any Vehicle?
You cannot flat tow every vehicle. Many cars with automatic transmissions, including all Toyota models, cannot be flat towed. Certain manufacturers’ cars with automatic transmissions can be flat towed, but this varies based on both model and year. So, always check your owner’s manual first.
If your car has a manual transmission you can probably flat tow it, but there may be some exceptions. Even if your car can be flat towed, the procedure and equipment required vary based on model, so you’ll want to consult your owner’s manual for instructions to ensure you don’t damage your vehicle.
If you are in the market for a new car and want the ability to flat tow it, always verify with the manufacturer before you buy. Since the ability to flat tow a specific model can vary from year to year, don’t assume you can flat tow a particular car without asking first.
Which Toyota Camry Models Can You Flat Tow?
You can flat tow a Toyota Camry if it has a manual transmission. If it has an automatic transmission, it cannot be flat towed.
All newer Camry models manufactured from 2012 and up have automatic transmissions. But if you have an older model Camry manufactured in 2011 or before, it could have either a manual or an automatic transmission.
How Do You Flat Tow a Toyota Camry with a Manual Transmission?
To flat tow a Toyota Camry behind an RV, you will need some special equipment, such as a tow bar.
The type of tow bar and additional accessories you’ll need could vary based on the model of your RV, so you’ll want to consult the owner’s manual or manufacturer of your RV for their specific recommendations.
Before Flat Towing Your Camry, Follow These Steps:
- Shift the car to neutral.
- Turn the ignition switch to ACC (make sure the audio system and other, powered devices are off).
- Release the parking brake.
Your Camry should always be facing forward, never backward, when flat towing it behind your RV. When you are finished towing, let the engine run for at least three minutes before driving your car.
Pictured below is an example of a vehicle being rigged for flat towing behind an RV, by using a tow bar as you would for your Camry.
Does Towing Damage An Automatic Transmission?
Towing can damage an automatic transmission when performed incorrectly. Some cars require the engine to be running to keep the transmission lubricated. That is why these cars, like the Toyota Camry, cannot be flat towed. If the transmission is not adequately lubricated, significant and costly damage can occur.
Even cars with automatic transmissions that can be flat towed may require certain steps, such as starting the engine every few hours and letting it run for a few minutes, to keep the transmission lubricated. Make sure to consult your owner’s manual or the manufacturer for model-specific instructions to avoid damaging the transmission while towing.
What Are Other Options For Towing A Car With An Automatic Transmission?
Two-wheel towing is another option for towing a car that cannot be flat towed. While most cars that cannot be flat towed can be towed with two wheels down, but the process will vary based on your car. It’s important to follow the proper procedure for your specific model to ensure your car is not damaged. Whether your car is front, rear, or all-wheel drive will determine the method you should use.
Most front-wheel-drive vehicles can be easily towed with a tow dolly. In this case, the front wheels will be lifted on the tow dolly and the rear wheels stay on the ground.
To tow a rear-wheel-drive vehicle, the process is slightly more complicated. You’ll need to remove the drive shaft and the car needs to be towed backward with the rear wheels lifted and the front wheels on the ground. Your car may require additional steps before towing, so you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the details first.
You can also tow any car using a flatbed trailer without fear of damaging the transmission. This may be the best option for an all-wheel-drive vehicle that cannot be flat towed.
Is It OK To Tow An Automatic Car In Neutral?
Whether you can tow your automatic car in neutral depends on your car model, year, and the towing method you are using. Damage can occur if you do not follow the proper method for towing your car, so always determine the recommended procedure for your model before towing.
When two-wheel towing a car with front-wheel drive using a tow dolly, you should usually place the car in 'park,' not 'neutral.'
For automatic cars that are capable of flat towing, whether to put the car in 'neutral' depends on the specific model. Always check your manufacturer’s instructions before towing.
You can only flat tow your Toyota Camry if it has a manual transmission. If your Toyota Camry has an automatic transmission, you cannot flat tow it, but it can be towed on two wheels using a tow dolly. Certain other cars with automatic transmissions can be flat towed, but this varies based on both model and year, so always check with the manufacturer first.
If this article has sparked your interest to learn more about flat towing, check out our other, informative blogs before you hitch-up and hit the road with your RV and dinghy: