Towing a vehicle behind your RV is the ultimate way to ensure you have not only a comfortable home but also a mode of mobility. Using the RV for daily grocery runs and local travel is simply inefficient. It also means you must pack up everything and breakdown camp on every single outing. Towing a secondary vehicle makes life much easier, especially when staying in a single spot for multiple months. Here are some tips for towing safely and efficiently between those great campsites.
RV Requirements for Towing
Before you even consider towing, your RV will require a towing receiver hitch and electrical wiring for the vehicle or trailer used for towing. A class V hitch is the standard because it’s manufactured for heavy duty towing. Most vehicles are heavy and will require a solid hitch. Luckily, many RV’s are made with this feature and if they are not equipped, installing a hitch is not a problem.
In terms of electrical wiring, a 5 or 7 pin connection is standard. You might find a 4-pin connector on some RV’s but the smaller 4-pin is more common light duty vehicles that tow boats and smaller trailers. Adapters are available for these connectors if needed as well. Your towed vehicle will also require an electrical connection installation to make the brake lights and turn signals function in sync with the RV. Towing on a trailer is the exception to this rule.
4wd vs 2wd
Choosing your tow vehicle is something that requires some time and consideration. The tow vehicle really will depend on how you use the vehicle. RVers who recreate outdoors and drive off-road should consider a solid 4×4 vehicle. Plenty of travelers are towing jeeps but you can find any number of compact, mid-size or even full size 4wd vehicles that tow easily. Keep in mind that the weight of the vehicle will influence your fuel economy and also will require more effort from the motor and transmission. RV’s are however equipped to carry a heavy load and towing a vehicle is not overly demanding.
A 2wd vehicle is also just fine and is logistically easier for towing. Choosing a fuel efficient car is not uncommon and it helps offset annual fuel expenses for overall mileage on the RV and car combined. If you’re not driving off-road and are primarily using the vehicle to run errands and travel on surface roads, a 2wd is a good decision.
Different Methods of Towing
There are a few different ways to go about towing the vehicle and they all require specialized equipment. Flat towing or pulling with “four down” is very common and it means all wheels are on the ground. This method requires a tow bar that connects to the vehicle frame and to the receiver hitch on the RV. Before investing in the tow bar, you must determine if the method is compatible with your vehicle. Many vehicles cannot tow in this manner without damaging the transmission. You can disconnect the transmission but doing a disconnect and reconnect on every trip is inconvenient for most travelers. Check the specs on your vehicle and if the car is compatible, this is a great option. Otherwise, using a car dolly or trailer is required for safe traveling.
The car dolly places the front two tires on the dolly with the back two tires trailing on the pavement. This system is great for front wheel drive vehicles and it comes with the convenience of not requiring any modifications for the tow bar. You simply drive the front wheels on the dolly, strap it all down and hit the road. This is a really nice method of towing 2wd drive cars with a front wheel drive system. 4wd vehicles and rear wheel drive powered transmissions may still require the transmission to be disconnected.
The last option is a full car trailer. This requires no modifications on the vehicle and is very convenient, especially for 4wd vehicles. The full car trailer is the most expensive option but it will save you thousands of dollars in transmission repairs or replacement for AWD and 4wd vehicles. It’s important to use a trailer specifically made for the weight of a full vehicle. Most car hauler trailers are double axle, heavy duty trailers with ramps that fold down for easy loading and unloading. The wiring is built into the trailer rather than the vehicle. The trailer is also nice for stashing extra gear like coolers and bicycles.