RV Towing Basics 101

RV Towing Basics 101

The first weeks of the  New Year are a popular time for many Snowbirds to head South in their RV’s and travel trailers. Some will plan to seek out the sun in their daily driver with the rig hitched in place. Others will choose to travel in the comfort of their motorhome with a second vehicle in tow  Both methods offer a unique set of pros and cons which we will investigate further.

Towing Your RV or Trailer

Gone are the days of needing a powerful truck to tow around your travel trailer. Most vehicles from a mid-sized sedan and upward have the capability to pull your rig but ALWAYS check your owners manual for specific limitations and weight capacities.

The main component to towing is the right type of hitch for the right type of vehicle … Fifth wheel hitches for your trusty pickup truck, hitch balls or receivers for your full-size sedan to pull the tent trailer or a gooseneck hitch for the biggest of the big.

ALWAYS be sure that your hitch is properly secured and that all towing lights are in sync between the tow vehicle and the travel trailer. Keep a keen eye on the road and your surroundings with additional towing mirrors to help eliminate blind spots. When available, use a spotter outside to help you navigate into tight parking spots and uneven campsites.

Towing Your Second Set of Wheels

As RV’s get bigger and cars get smaller, many Snowbirds opt for the option of towing their daily vehicle behind their motorhome. This gives them the convenience of an extra set of wheels without tearing down the RV setup each time you need to drive away.

The most popular method is flat towing, also known as dinghy towing or “toading”. This allows the towed vehicle to have all four wheels on the ground while attached to the motorhome with a tow bar. Flat towing works best on vehicles with manual transmissions but mechanical modifications can be made. It is VERY important to consult your warranty before attempting this type of tow as many auto manufacturers discourage it due to the transmission issues it can cause.

For a small fee, Motorhome Magazine sells dinghy towing guides that will tell you if your vehicle is flat-towable and includes weights, towing speed and duration limits as well as required procedures when you are flat towing a vehicle.

If flat towing isn’t an option, there are always tow dollies and trailers available. While this is arguably the best option for your vehicle, it does take extra weight from your towing capacity … often up to 4000 pounds worth. You will also have to consider the extra space your dolly or trailer will take up once you arrive at your destination.

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