Does a Car Gain Miles While Being Towed?

The answer can be yes or no, depending on the age of your vehicle. If your car was manufactured before 2000, you have a mechanical odometer that counts miles when the wheels of the car being towed are on the ground and rolling. Vehicles made after 2000 have an electronic odometer, and when flat towed, as long as it is in neutral and the electronics are not powered up, mileage will not be added. Usually, this is done by disconnecting the battery terminals to prevent power from coming on.

Just keep in mind that some newer makes and models require the battery to be connected, and the ACC mode needs to be on in order to be flat towed. If you’re unsure, call the vehicle’s manufacturer’s customer support number and ask them to confirm if your car will gain odometer miles if you have it towed.

Can Towing Affect Odometer Mileage?

If you want to avoid additional mileage on your odometer when your vehicle is towed, the wheels can not touch the ground. If you transport a car by flat towing it, you may add miles to your vehicle because the wheels are touching the ground and turning. Wheel lift tow trucks can also add odometer miles if the vehicle being towed is a rear-wheel drive.

RV towing is an excellent example of how a vehicle can end up with phantom mileage added to its odometer. When a car, truck or SUV is pulled behind a recreational vehicle, and the tires are touching the road, it could accumulate odometer miles.

By adding miles to the odometer by towing it, the vehicle loses value with each additional mile. Think about it. There is no way for a car owner to prove to a potential car buyer, whether private sale or to a dealership, that the high miles on their car were from towing and not actual driving. This is why it is best to have your vehicle on a flatbed or rollback tow trailer as it lifts the wheels entirely off the ground, and the car is transported without gaining any miles.

Flat Towing vs. Flatbed or Rollback Tow

If you are trying to prevent adding miles during a tow to your odometer, then flat or lift towing should be avoided. A flatbed or rollback tow truck is the best option for towing. It is safer to tow a vehicle on top of a tow truck and keeps the miles from showing up on your odometer.

How To Tow a Vehicle Without Putting Miles On It

Lift the vehicle off the ground if you do not want it to add miles to the odometer while transported. Whether you are driving long distances or own a luxury supercar and want to keep the mileage down, you’ll need to put the vehicle on a flatbed or rollback tow truck. Both of these tow vehicles are capable of taking your car from one location to another without putting miles on it. If you are planning to travel long distances with your car towed behind another vehicle like a truck or RV, you’ll want to invest in a vehicle trailer on which you can load your car.