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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 3rd Gen 4WD CRV was towed by only lifting the front axle. Emergency brake was also engaged. Tow-truck company was flat-out negligent!

I can't find any documentation to explain why a CRV 4WD must be towed lifting all four wheels off the ground and prove what specific damage would be caused as a result.

I'm spinning my wheels trying to determine what exact damage was done to the car as a result.
Car was towed for up to 30-40 mins at 80km/h. Rear Diff / Transfer Case, Transmission or both?
Rear-brake system is shot. Need to replace rear pads, rotors & calipers.

What diagnostics (aside from a mechanic test-drive) would you recommend?

Everything in Moderation
2006 CR-V EX, 5MT
12,154 Posts
This is from the Owner's Manual (may not be your exact year). Pertains to RVs but it is applicable in all cases.

Towing Your Vehicle Behind a Motorhome

Your CR-V can be towed behind a motor home at legal highway speeds up to 65 mph (100 km/h). Do not exceed 65 mph (100 km/h). Otherwise, severe transmission damage will occur. To avoid damage to the 4WD system, it must be towed with all four wheels on the ground (flat towing).

Automatic Transmission:

When preparing to tow your CR-V, check the transmission fluid level(see page 207 ). Maintaining the correct level is very important. Do not overfill. Do the following everyday immediately before you begin towing. Follow the procedure exactly. Otherwise, severe automatic transmission damage will occur.

  • Start the engine.

  • Press on the brake pedal.

  • Shift the lever through all the positions (P,R, N, D, 2,1) Shift to D, then to N. Let the engine run for three minutes, then turn off the engine.

  • Release the parking brake.

  • Leave the ignition switch in ACCESSORY (I) so the steering wheel does not lock. Make sure the radio and any items plugged into the accessory power sockets are turned off so you do not rundown the battery.

Extended Towing;

If you tow more than 300 miles (500km) in one day, you should repeat the above procedure at least every 300 miles (500 km), (when you stop for fuel, etc.)

When the front wheels are stationary but the rear wheels turn, wear occurs in the passive clutches in the rear differential. They don't usually turn at greatly different speeds, normal is a few seconds, not 40 minutes!o_O

I'd be insisting that the tow operator own up to their error and allow you to bring the car to a DEALER for evaluation and repair. At the very least, I'd insist on replacing the rear differential and transmission fluids (with genuine Honda stuff). If the rear wheels don't drive, they would be liable for a replacement differential.

Back in the day of rolling-road emissions tests, AWD vehicles like the CR-V were exempt from two-wheel tests because of these issues. And you KNOW that emissions tests only last 2 - 3 minutes.

I'm sorry this happened to you! :cry:

2,572 Posts
You can flat tow CRVs up to year 2014, but not on two wheels You will find this information in your owner's manual. However no parking brake and it is placed in neutral. Any damage done by the tow company is their responsibility. If you don't have an owner's manual you can download it from Honda at this link.


Premium Member
2,694 Posts
If you're lucky and it was not towed far, there might not be any damage to the AWD system. But this is the manual page showing how to properly tow it:


The rear differential most likely would be damaged. This uses a dual pump system, so the rear wheels driving only one of the pumps might have caused some sort of pressure imbalance. I'm just guessing, based on how it works--normally, the front and rear axles are each driving a pump in the differential. When the system detects large enough of an imbalance, where the front axle (via the driveshaft) is rotating faster than the rear, the difference in pressure between the two pumps engages the AWD system, applying power to the rear axle. Since there is never a situation during normal driving where the rear axle would ever spin faster than the front, there is no telling what it might do if the rear pump is driven alone.

And yes, towing it with the parking brake was negligent. The parking brake is actually a small drum brake setup within the rear rotor. At worst, I would think the rotors and parking brake shoes would need to be replaced, both from overheating. The calipers and pads should be fine, as they weren't in use. (If you want to see how this parking brake system works, Eric The Car Guy on YouTube posted video a couple of days ago, replacing the rear parking brake shoes on an Element.)

Be prepared for a fight from the towing company; I had one flat out lie to me about the damage he caused. And he knew it, since he tore out of the dealer's service area with the service manager yelling after him to stop. (It wasn't a Honda, but he had hooked his safety chain around the axle shaft boot and tore it.) It wasn't that expensive to get fixed, but I never could get through to the driver after the first call, who said "See you in court" and hung up.
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