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Can the Toyota HiLux be flat-towed?

Asked by Mija

I am struggling to get answers from dealerships as, for every one that says yes, another says no. In the past - back in the early 2000's and onward - the HiLux cab-chassis manual 4×2 Workmate was able to be flat-towed. We have spoken with the hitch companies who are able to make and fit the hitches and have done so for Workmates up to about 2013. But there’s not a lot of demand.

The dealerships that say we can flat tow them, won't back that up with a warranty, which begs the question; why not. Apparently, the oil flicks around to lubricate the gearbox as the vehicle is being flat-towed, so there should be no reason why not. The dealerships that say no, cannot come up with any reason other than the book says no.

Who do we believe? Can we flat tow a HiLux Workmate? Which is the most recent year that was suitable? We want a ute for a small tinny, no real weight. We know the Holden Colorado can be flat-towed too, but again, dealerships can’t agree. We want something newish. Can you help with advice?

Answered by CarsGuide

11 Jan 2020 David Morley

Flat-towing – where the towed vehicle has all four wheels on the ground – is common in North America where it’s quite normal to see a motorhome flat-towing a Chevy Suburban or Ford SUV. The idea is that the motorhome is the mother-ship and the SUV becomes the grocery-getter once you’ve settled in somewhere with a nice view. They take their fun seriously, those Americans.

The practice is much less common here, but I’ve seen a few Suzuki Sierras and Vitaras and other small four-wheel-drives being flat-towed, so clearly it’s possible. As you’ve identified, a two-wheel-drive vehicle with a conventional manual gearbox shouldn’t suffer any dramas from being flat-towed. That said, I’d be careful with a four-wheel-drive, particularly a permanent all-wheel-drive example - because these are more complex drivelines and sometimes don’t appreciate being back-loaded.  It’s also worth remembering that a vehicle with a conventional automatic is a no-no for flat-towing as, unless the engine is running, the pump that lubricates the transmission isn’t working and the gearbox will be destroyed.

Unless the dealer can show you precisely why a particular year-model HiLux shouldn’t be flat-towed, I’d be a bit suspicious (especially when other dealers say yes) but the fact that nobody wants to offer you a warranty on a HiLux that’s being flat-towed also suggests to me that you could run into problems if there’s ever a claim.

It would also be worth checking what your insurance company says about flat-towing and don’t forget that different States and Territories have different rules and regulations. In Queensland, for instance, the law says that unless the unladen mass of the towing vehicle is at least three-and-a-half times the laden mass of the vehicle being flat-towed, you need to somehow make the towed vehicle’s brakes part of the package. On that basis, unless you’re towing your 1500kg HiLux with a vehicle that weighs at least 5250kg unladen, you’ve got yourself a problem that could involve the law and the insurance industry if something goes wrong.

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