2 decisions to make before towing a vehicle with an RV

January 16, 2015

Looking to tow a vehicle using an RV? Discover the two steps you need to follow to do the job safely.
When towing a vehicle using an RV, you have two factors to consider: choosing a vehicle that can be towed by an RV, and then assessing the different methods you can use to tow it.

2 decisions to make before towing a vehicle with an RV

1. Choosing the right vehicle to tow

The towing capacity of your RV

The first step is to check how much weight your RV can tow. Next, calculate the weight of the RV with all cargo and passengers on board. Knowing this will allow you to determine how much additional weight you can haul, including the weight of the towed vehicle and its towing equipment.

The type of transmission

The type of transmission of the towed vehicle will inform the method you can use to tow it. A front-wheel drive vehicle cannot be towed in the same way as a rear-wheel drive or 4x4 vehicle. Take into account whether the vehicle has automatic or manual transmission.

Be sure to consult your owner’s manual, it will tell you which is the best towing method to use. If in doubt, don’t hesitate to contact the manufacturer's customer service.

2. Choose a towing method

Tow bar

A tow bar is a system used to tow a vehicle with all four wheels down. If you’ve determined that you’re car can be towed this way (e.g. automatic transmission in neutral gear), a tow bar is both practical and very easy to use.

On the other hand, this method has some drawbacks. Some cars have no existing attachment point to anchor a tow bar. One option is to have a tow bar custom built, but that can be expensive. Also, keep in mind that if you tow on four wheels, you’re towed vehicle will accumulate mileage during towing.

Tow dolly

A tow dolly is a small two-wheel trailer. Tow dollies elevate two wheels at a time and leave the other two wheels rolling on the ground.

Most front-wheel drive vehicles and many rear-wheel drive vehicles can be towed this way, but not all of them. Certain precautions, such as disconnecting the driveshaft, must be taken to avoid damaging the transmission. Once you arrive at your destination, you’ll have to remove and store the tow dolly.

Flatbed trailer

You can transport any vehicle on a flatbed trailer. The downside is that the trailers are very heavy and you’ll need to keep this in mind when calculating your RV’s towing capacity. Also, they take up a lot of space, and finding a place to park it on a campsite may be an issue.

Flatbed trailers also require fairly large ramps to load and unload the towed vehicle. In other words, it can be cumbersome and inconvenient. It’s not the ideal option for travellers and nomads.

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