Towing 90' Stick Shift - Need Quick Advice

Discussion in '2.3L (N/A & Turbo) Tech' started by meltmanbob, Aug 13, 2012.


  1. meltmanbob

    meltmanbob Member

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    Hey guys it's been a long time since I've been on here! Anyway, I'm about to move from SoCal back out to Oklahoma and I need to tow my 90' stang with my 83' Dodge 250 extended van. Now I've done a little research and I realize there are "better" or safer methods than a tow bar but I want you guys to understand, I am FLAT BROKE! Literally...

    What that means is every penny I require to move is borrowed money and borrowed from friends and family who are damn close to broke themselves, hence the cheap route. Ideally I would love to have a flat bed and drive the stang onto it but the cost to pick up here, drop off there is going to be too much along with the other expenses.

    Here's what I'm thinking; adjustable tow bar, remove the front bumper cover and fiberglass bumper, attach the tow bar to the posts that the fiberglass bumper went to, safety chains, magnetic brake/turn lights. I have to buy a receiver hitch assembly which is at a minimum about $200 from what I can find, plus about $500 in gas and a few other odds and ends that need to be paid before I leave.

    Ideally I would like to not have to drop the drive shaft and that is my main question. With it being a stick shift, if it's in neutral and the key turned enough to keep the steering wheel from locking, will that be fine?

    I keep reading that the drive shaft needs to be disconnected on most vehicles but I can't get a straight answer for my particular car through Google searches.

    My second question is what inexpensive options do I have for attaching the tow bar WITHOUT having to remove the bumper cover and bumper? It would be really nice to have this thing tow-able and drive-able all at the same time. The tow bar is nice because it takes up little space when it's not being used. I want to avoid purchasing a tow dolly because I would rather spend the extra money and get a hauler instead that could double to carry work materials when not towing the car but that is down the road after I start working again.

    Thanks ahead of time guys! I'm really in between a rock and a hard spot right now :/
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  2. meltmanbob

    meltmanbob Member

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    I should add that I have swapped out the rear axle for one off of an 87/88 Turbo coupe Tbird. Don't remember what year or gearing if that matters. In that process I have dropped the drive shaft before so if that ultimately is what needs to happen, I can do that and stick it inside the stang but as I said, I'd really prefer to leave the thing drive-able if at all possible. Plus most of my good tools were stolen a few months back and I do remember busting a lot of cheap sockets and socket wrenches doing the axle swap; all I have is a cheap $25 socket kit from WalMart for now. Granted a lot of those bolts had never been "broken" loose since it was new so they may not be so damned tough this time but that's just some food for thought.
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  3. tca7291

    tca7291 I can see your wieners.

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    Honestly I would go ahead and hit up u-haul and get a 2 wheel dolly. I'm not sure, but I think if you leave the drive shaft in it can cause transmission damage because it wont get lubrication properly when driven from the output shaft.
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  4. BlownFiveLiter

    BlownFiveLiter have car, will race....wait, it doesn't run

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    You'll need to pull the driveshaft if you plan on towing it with the rear wheels on the ground. A tow dolly is probably the best idea. Just mark the driveshaft orientation to the pinion flange, unbolt it, and safety wire it up, so you don't dump all your transmission fluid out the tail housing. It's not much work and will save your transmission.
    #4
  5. tealtiger93

    tealtiger93 Member

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    You can also return U-Haul stuff to a dealer near your destination.
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  6. meltmanbob

    meltmanbob Member

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    Completely forgot I had posted here with my computer crapping out recently! Anyway just to let you guys know I do NOT have the money for a tow dolly. Just barely have enough to buy a receiver hitch and a tow bar. I will most likely be pulling the front bumper cover off and the fiberglass reinforcement and mount the tow bar directly to the frame posts. I'll also drop the drive shaft and throw that along with the bumper stuff in the car. Figured I could just duct tape the openings on the tranny and rear end and then duct tape a trash bag or two around them. I only mention the duct tape first so it provides a somewhat rigid wall so the fluid can't just fill up the trash bag but the bags will still be on just to catch what ever gets past.

    Do you guys think that will work? I don't plan on towing the car like this very much, if anything maybe short distances or the next move but hopefully by then I will have a full flatbed that I can drive the car onto.
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  7. Gearbanger 101

    Gearbanger 101 Straight Outta Locash Super Mod

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    I can't say I would remove the front clip and bolt the towbar to the front impact beams. Those were designed for absorbing low speed impacts, not sustaining a pull in the opposite direction. They may very well come apart on you at the most inoppertune moment, while your doing 50 down the highway.

    I've towed these cars short distances hooked to the front K-member, or lower control arms and even the front swaybar at times. But the bottom line is that these vehicles were never intended to be towed, but loaded.
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  8. meltmanbob

    meltmanbob Member

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    Can you elaborate? I don't have other options other than to get rid of the car which I won't do. I literally do not have enough money for a car dolly or car carrier, I just don't.
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  9. meltmanbob

    meltmanbob Member

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  10. KhanTyranitar

    KhanTyranitar Member

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    Not to sound like I don't care. If you really don't have the money to tow it properly, that leaves you with just one choice. Sell the car. If you can't afford to rent a tow dolly one way, and tow it properly, you can't afford any viable alternative. You can't haul it with tow straps or chains, and you must disconnect the drive shaft. If you can't afford to do it, then the simple reality is you can't afford to own the car, and you should sell it.
    #10
  11. meltmanbob

    meltmanbob Member

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    I never said I would be towing it with just chains or straps but rather a tow bar, the chains are just the fail safe. The conclusion thus far was asking about the mounting location for the tow bar, I provided a link to an installation manual for a base plate to show that it specifically says to attach to the bumper mounts and was asking for clarification as to why that would not be a good location to mount the tow bar directly.
    #11
  12. Gearbanger 101

    Gearbanger 101 Straight Outta Locash Super Mod

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    I thought I outlined it pretty well in my previous post? Those impact beams are designed to absorb low speed impacts. Yanking on them with a tow bar over several hundred miles will likely result in damage to them making the ineffective for their intended purpose, or worse yet, causing them to separate allowing your Mustang to break away from the tow vehicle.

    They were designed to work in one direction. Just because a company looking to sell you a tow bar says their bar will bolt up, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right thing to do.

    You seemed determined to do things your way regardless of the advice given, so by all means take the chance if you wish my friend and let us know how it works out. I’m just warning you of the possibilities.
    #12
  13. Noobz347

    Noobz347 Stangnet Facilities Maint Tech... Er... Janitor Admin Dude

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    Store the car and move it when you have the means.

    I have towed Fox Mustangs hundreds of miles with the driveshaft intact with no ill effects. At gas stops, I would crank the motor and let it run for a minute or so with the tranny in neutral so spread some fluid around. I don't know how much of an effect it had but the tranny is OEM and still installed in the car with no hints of giving up the ghost.

    YOU NEED A DOLLY... Minimum... End of story. Anything less than that is Russian Roulette that may or may not bite you in the rear end.
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  14. meltmanbob

    meltmanbob Member

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    This isn't me being bent on doing it my way just because I provided some documentation to a manufacturers instructions to use those mounting points. I was simply bringing that up for more clarification on your position. I don't find it wrong to assume that what the manufacturer is indicating is correct when they potentially have to face a lawsuit for negligence where as you have no liability and I think that is pretty reasonable to ask you to comment on why the manufacturer would suggest using those mounting points. No where did I say, screw you guys, what do you know?, I just pointed out contradicting information and asked for clarification, excuse me for not taking it as gospel.

    By clarification I was hoping you would have explained your position as to why a manufacturer who HAS potential liability for unsafe practices, would suggest such a thing since you are clearly saying that the bumper mounts are not safe for this application. I'm not saying your logic doesn't make sense, it does, but as I stated, I am inclined to give credit to a company or individual who could actually be held liable for unsafe advice which is what you're accusing them of. I don't understand why questioning the advice is not logical given the information provided from both sides of the argument, again at no point did I disregard what you have said.

    As for the other member, I was clarifying that the potential arrangement was never intended to use just chains and/or straps but to use a tow bar specifically designed for this purpose.

    Noobz - Your experience is comforting regarding the drive shaft although I would probably still disconnect it. Although that leaving it on would give me a reason to stop more frequently to run the mustang and that would help with my tendency to not tolerate long drives well before nodding off. I don't make it much more than a couple of hours before I am bored to death, when I was much younger it wasn't a problem but these days it's a chore.
    #14
  15. 91TwighlightGT

    91TwighlightGT Active Member

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    I don't see why people are saying remove the driveshaft? I understand this on an Automatic, but a stick shift car should be just fine in neutral.
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    Gearbanger 101 likes this.
  16. meltmanbob

    meltmanbob Member

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    91 - The reason as I've understood it is that even in neutral in a manual transmission, there are still some of the gears spinning and not getting lubricated properly as they do when the car is on. It makes sense but then again I don't know the internal workings of these particular transmissions enough to know if it would be ok to leave it in, so I just follow what others have suggested and figure it's better to play it safe on that.
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  17. 91TwighlightGT

    91TwighlightGT Active Member

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    The reason we don't tow automatic transmission cars on the drive wheels is because without the engine running the transmission pump is not circulating the fluid and will cause damage. Manual transmissions do not have a pump, they lubricate by running through the oil as they spin. You will not damage the transmission by towing it in neutral. You will rack up miles on the odometer, though.
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  18. meltmanbob

    meltmanbob Member

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    This site gave some explanation; "We went through this when looking to tow a Cadillac CTS. The way it was explained to us at the time was; a manual transmission traditionally has two primary shafts. If they use the lower shaft for the output it's towable, if they use the upper shaft it is not. The CTS used the upper shaft and was not considered towable. At the time they also mentioned the Mustang specfically as an example of another RWD car that used the upper shaft."
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  19. 91TwighlightGT

    91TwighlightGT Active Member

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    I don't mean to be argumentative, but I see no explanation there. How is the lubrication method any different between the car rolling in neutral with the engine off and rolling in neutral with the engine running? In an Automatic car, this is simple because the transmission pump runs with the engine on. Technically, if you ran the engine you could tow an automatic car in neutral. On a manual transmission, how it is lubricated is irrelevant as to whether the engine is running, so therefore it should make no difference.

    I could be wrong, but I need a solid explanation to admit it :)
    #19
  20. Gearbanger 101

    Gearbanger 101 Straight Outta Locash Super Mod

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    Then let me provide one for you. Towing short distances with a manual...no problem. Gotta remember though, although there is no front pump needing to be turned in a T5 like an automatic, then engine needs to be running and transmission engagued in order to it to be properly lubricated. Only and 5 gear sits below the oil line and would therefore get constant lubrication. The 1-4 gears, synchro's, bearings, shift slides, input shaft, etc gets nothing unless the counter gear is turning....which they're not doing if the engine is off and the main shaft is freewheeling in neutral.

    The ONLY way to tow an automatic, is with the driveshaft off, or with the rear wheels off the ground. PERIOD!
    #20

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