RV Tow Vehicles: What Do You Need to Know?
An RV allows you to live on the road and take a bit of home with you in your travels. Towing a smaller car with your RV (in RV lingo, this is often called dinghy towing) allows you to have another vehicle available for side trips or errand runs without having to break camp. Bringing another car (again, in RV lingo, a car being towed is also known as a "toad") also gives you a vehicle that is easier to maneuver and has better gas mileage. Towing a car with your RV is an attractive option, but it requires some additional preparation to be effective.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Towing
Before you look into how to tow a car, there are several issues you need to consider. Your first need to know how much weight your RV can tow. Some cars will be lighter, and therefore easier to tow. Keep in mind that if you are going to tow a car, you may be towing the weight of a trailer in addition to the weight of a car, as not all cars can be towed directly on the pavement. It’s also a good idea to check with the manufacturer of the car you plan to tow as to how that vehicle can handle being towed. Your local and state authorities may also have rules regarding what you need in a trailer, such as turn and brake signals or reflectors.
After you have researched what you need to have to tow a car, it is also beneficial to consider how to drive with something behind your RV. If you have never towed anything, it’s a good idea to practice driving and backing up before taking a long trip. As you drive, maintaining a safe speed and using mirrors will keep you and other motorists safe.
In choosing options for dingy towing, the most common choices are flatbed trailers, tow bars, and tow dollies. Each of these options has advantages and disadvantages that should be considered before making a decision.
Flatbed trailers carry the car with all four wheels off the ground. With the car completely off the ground, you do not need to add mileage and wear to the towed car. Flatbed trailers also work for multiple kinds of cars, regardless of size or transmission style.
There are some disadvantages to flatbed trailers. The main disadvantage of flatbed trailers is they add even more weight to your RV. The additional weight can slow the RV and lessen gas mileage. The other disadvantage is that a trailer is another large item to maneuver and store.
Tow bars attach the front of the car and pull the vehicle with all four wheels on the road. Tow bars can be relatively inexpensive and easy to pack. Tow bars also allow you to more easily connect the lights of the RV to the lights of the car, which helps with signaling braking and turning.
Even with the advantages, tow bars have a few disadvantages. Because all four wheels of the car are on the ground, using a tow bar adds mileage and wear to the vehicle. Not all cars can be towed with all four wheels on the ground. Know your limitations, you must check with your vehicles owner manual first!. The biggest disadvantage of using a tow bar is you will not be able to back up the RV, because the tow bar does not allow control over the front wheels of the towed car.
A tow dolly combines the stability of a trailer with the lightness of a tow bar. The tow dolly has a sort of mini trailer for the front two wheels of the car, leaving the back two wheels on the road. In a forward-wheel drive car, this setup avoids adding mileage.
The tow dolly comes with several disadvantages. Attaching the tow dolly can be a complicated process. Tow dollies can also be expensive and cumbersome to use. Like trailers, tow dollies may require licensing from your state authorities.
Bringing an additional vehicle on an RV trip expands the kind of activities you can do. Towing a car means that you can access more on your trips. Weighing your options of towing equipment is a good first step to enhancing your RV experience.
While you can mount and install towing equipment to your RV or "toad" vehicle yourself, if you do not have experience, please consider having all towing equipment professionally installed for safety and security reassurance.