TOYOTA AND SCION “DINGHY TOWING” GUIDE

Written by gary on January 18th, 2009
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People often want to know if Toyota cars and trucks can be towed. The answer is both ”Yes” and “No”….

Owners who often travel by motor home or recreational vehicle like to pull a smaller vehicle behind their rig for agile economical transportation once they reach a destination. The smaller vehicle is called a “dinghy“, like a small boat carried on a yacht. 

RV and motor home travelers will have an ideal “dinghy” towing a Yaris, Corolla, Scion or Matrix because of their size and weight. The easiest Toyotas to dinghy tow are front-wheel drive vehicles with manual transmission because they can be towed with all four wheels on the ground. The next easiest are front-wheel-drive Toyotas with automatic transmission. To avoid transmission damage only “dinghy tow” these vehicles with the front wheels riding on a dolly (a small, light two-wheel trailer).

Rear-wheel-drive Toyotas and four-wheel-drive Toyotas cannot be “dinghy towed”. This means Toyota trucks, SUV’s, Matrix AWD, and RAV4 4WD are not recommended dinghy vehicles….

Here is a Dinghy Towing Reference Guide:

VEHICLE                        TOW/MANUAL TRANS.           TOW/AUTO.

Avalon                                   N/A                               w/dolly only

Camry(incl. Solara,Hybrid)       Yes                               w/dolly only   

Celica                                    Yes                                w/dolly only

Corolla                                  Yes                                w/dolly only

Yaris/Echo                             Yes                                w/dolly only

Matrix                                   Yes                                 w/dolly only

Prius                                     N/A                                 w/dolly only

Rav4                                     Yes                                 w/dolly only

Highlander(incl. Hybrid)            N/A                                w/dolly only   

Sienna (2WD)                          N/A                          w/dolly only(2WD Only)

Scion(Xd, Xb, &Tc)                   Yes                                w/dolly only

Precautions for Dinghy Towing:

  • Manual Transmission gear lever must be in Neural for dinghy towing
  • Ignition switch turned to ACC position to unlock steering wheel, 4 wheels down
  • All accessories off
  • Parking brake released
  • After towing, start vehicle and let idle for 3 minutes before driving

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28 Comments so far ↓

  1. May
    18
    8:03
    PM
    Ryan

    Can a 2008 2wd sequoia be rear wheel up on tow dolly, towed as a dingy vehicle without damage to drive train?

  2. May
    21
    8:27
    PM
    gary

    To Ryan

    With Rear Wheels Up On Tow Dolly, You Will Be Fine
    Gary @Toyota-Alabama

  3. Jun
    13
    5:54
    PM
    JaneRadriges

    Great post! I’ll subscribe right now wth my feedreader software!

  4. Jul
    4
    8:41
    AM
    Linda Michael

    Hi,
    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.
    Just bookmarked this url to my digg Account, will visit again.

    Thanks,
    Linda Michael

  5. Oct
    24
    6:12
    AM
    Larry

    can a 2009 toytota tacoma 4×4 with automatic trans. be towed 4 down?

  6. Oct
    24
    2:21
    PM
    gary

    Towing 4 down is not recommended by Toyota.

  7. Nov
    23
    8:00
    PM
    Pam

    Hi, Looking at a 2010 Highlander. Can it be towed 4 down? it is not 4wd.

  8. Nov
    30
    6:32
    PM
    gary

    The 2010 Highlander is not recommended by Toyota for 4 down towing.

  9. Jan
    23
    6:14
    PM
    Hammond

    Really useful post, thanks man

  10. Jan
    31
    2:24
    PM
    Jack

    I have an AWD Sienna. Can it be towed on a dolly? Should the rear drive shaft be disconnected? Do you know if anyone makes a kit? Thanks for the help.

    Jack,
    There are modifications that would have to be made. For starters the driveline, front and rear would have to be disconnected or another option is installing a auxiliary transmission pump to lubricate the transmission. There are manufactures that make disconnecting axles and driveshafts just for these purposes although I don’t think Toyota recommends. The process requires removing the OEM components and installing new parts. All these options void factory warranties if it hasn’t expired. I wouldn’t recommend any of the above. The easiest option is a car trailer, no messing with the vehicle or future vehicle.

  11. Mar
    25
    4:23
    PM
    Donna

    If I get either an axle lock or a transmission pump, can I then tow a 2008 automatic Yaris with 4 wheels down? I really don’t want to hassle with a tow dolly.

  12. Mar
    26
    6:58
    PM
    gary

    Toyota’s official position is that only maual transmission be towed 4 wheels down, otherwise, use a tow dolly.

  13. Apr
    12
    11:10
    PM
    John

    I currently own a 2001 Suzuki Grand Vitara 4X4 5-spd manual which we have towed with our RV for the past five years on a tow-dolly. My oldest son is learning how to drive and 2 of 3 vehicles that we own have manual transmissions. We are looking to replace the Suzuki with a 2008 Toyota RAV4 4X4. Can we tow the RAV4 with two wheels down and NOT have to make any modifications?

  14. Apr
    17
    1:24
    PM
    ichmond Harman

    Does Toyota allow the Yaris (manual transmission) to be towed 4 wheels down?

  15. Apr
    18
    2:14
    PM
    gary

    Yes, according to the guide manual yaris can be towed 4 down.

  16. May
    19
    12:36
    PM
    John R Presho

    I own a 2008 Toyota Yaris it has a standard transmission (stick shift) and I tow it behind my Winnebago with all 4 wheels down. I’ll I do is put the transmission in neutral, parking brake is in off position, and the ignition is on accessary (this unlocks the power steering). I start my car up every time I stop are unhook for 3 minutes to keep the car battery charged. I have a Roadmaster Tow Bar and the front Roadmaster brackets for my Toyota Yaris are hidden, which I like when the tow bar is not hooked up. The Brackets cost me $238.00 from Roadmaster. I’ve had no problems towing my Toyota. John R. Presho

  17. May
    19
    8:23
    PM
    gary

    Thank You John

  18. Jun
    15
    5:25
    PM
    Bud Bailey

    Gary I have a 2008 Highlander with front wheel drive and I believe it has four wheel drive when I push the “snow” button near the shift changer. My question is can i tow it on a tow dolly with the front wheels up and the back down. What other procedure is needed to tow it safely. Great website! Thanks

  19. Jun
    15
    9:36
    PM
    gary

    Hello Bud,

    If your Highlander has a 4WD emblem on the tailgate in the lower right corner, it is indeed a 4 wheel drive model. If the emblem is not there, it is most likely a 2 wheel drive.Toyota says you can tow the 2 wheel model with a dolly front wheels up. For the 4 wheel drive, you’re probably not going to like the answer. The only approved way Toyota recognizes for your all wheel drive is to put the vehicle on a car trailer and pull it behind a motor home, etc.,no wheels down.

    Visit Toyota-Alabama often, we put interesting news and Tutorials all Toyota daily. Thanks

    Gary

  20. Jun
    17
    9:30
    AM
    gary

    Toyota does not recommend it.

  21. Jul
    20
    10:41
    PM
    Bryan

    Any comments on using a tow bar to pull a manual scion tc?

  22. Jul
    22
    8:46
    AM
    gary

    According to towing guide, should be fine

  23. Sep
    7
    2:54
    PM
    herb

    I want to use my 2009 Camry Hybrid with a tow dolly in back of my motorhome. Can I do this..and if so what procedures would I have to do to the Camry Hybrid so I do not damage the vehicle.

    Thank you

  24. Sep
    8
    11:09
    AM
    gary

    Toyota says you can dolly tow a Camry Hybrid included. Never on 4 wheels though. release brake and secure front wheels on dolly.

  25. Sep
    17
    12:11
    PM
    Paul

    Gary,
    I have a 2004 Tundra SR5 with a tow package, and want to haul a 2004 Solara over 1800 miles. Looks like we can use a dolly. Will I need a transmission cooler on the truck? Will I be able to travel at 65-70mph safely?
    Paul

  26. Sep
    17
    12:15
    PM
    Paul

    Also, what wear or damage if any can be caused to the Solara on a dolly tow for long distances at high speeds?

  27. Sep
    17
    3:14
    PM
    gary

    Your tow package should include a transmission cooler, all you should have to do is hook up and go.

  28. Sep
    17
    3:16
    PM
    gary

    Solara on dolly, should be ok