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Can Forklifts be Used to Tow?

Forklifts are not designed to tow, and it is not recommended that you attempt to do so. 

If you desperately need to tow with your forklift, there are attachments that support forklift towing, though these should only be used for towing vehicles of a specific type, size and weight as outlined with each attachment. For continuous towing, we recommend finding more suitable towing equipment. 

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This article will explain why towing is not recommended on a standalone forklift, and the accessories you can use to make towing safer.

Why can’t you tow with a forklift?

Forklifts were designed to lift heavy materials with its forks and transport it short distances. As they were not designed for towing, forklifts don’t possess the weight distribution and braking capacity needed to tow a vehicle safely.

  • Most forklift trucks have rear wheel steering and their front wheels are only used for braking. This configuration of steering and braking doesn’t provide the driver with the level of control needed to tow a vehicle safely. There is a high risk of the forklift losing control and tipping over. 
  • The forks of a forklift truck are not designed to tug heavy weight. Towing a vehicle may result in the forks becoming damaged or uneven. This will reduce the stability of the tow truck and could result in it tipping over.

Why is there a hook on my forklift if it’s not suitable for towing?

It is a misconception that the towing hook on your forklift means your model is suitable to tow. This hook was designed exclusively for the forklift truck to be towed by a suitable towing vehicle when the forklift needs assistance or repairs.

What attachments can I use to tow with a forklift?

Many forklift trucks are unsuitable for towing in any circumstances, even with attachments. Before considering any form of towing with your tow truck, you should refer to the manufacturer to check for suitability and restrictions.

There are two main attachments that are used for towing with a forklift:

  • Forklift towing hitch

This attachment allows you to tow trailers short distances around the workplace. It attaches to the forks and uses a tow ball or pin. Check the maximum capacity of the towball or pin before towing a trailer. The weight of the trailer should never exceed the towing capacity.

  • Forklift car mover

This attachment makes it possible to lift and move a car short distances using your tow truck. The attachment has two articulating arms which latch onto the front wheel of the car. The vehicle will be suitably hoisted to prevent damage to the wheels.

If you’re in need of accessories for towing, or for any more information regarding our products and their safety capacities, get in touch with our team. East Midlands Forklift provides a range of forklifts and attachments suitable for various jobs and sites. If you’re unsure of which forklift is right for you, we offer on-site surveys to help you find the safest and most suitable lifting equipment. Contact us to find out more.


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