By their very nature, motorhomes are large and can be somewhat challenging to park. This is especially true for large Class A Motorhomes that offer the space and luxuries of home. This prompts many people to consider towing a second vehicle behind their RV.
This gives them the ability to scamper about the area, without always having to pack up and move their often-cumbersome home base. Yet not every car is perfectly suited to be towed behind a RV, especially for a long distance.
So, just what cars can be flat towed behind an rv? To better understand your options, you will first need to identify a few key criteria.
A good first step is to check the vehicle’s owner’s manual. Even if you don’t have the manual, or you are contemplating purchasing multiple options, a quick search of the internet for “Free Vehicle Owner’s Manual” should turn up easy results.
Ideally, you are looking for a rear-wheel-drive as well as manual transmission, or something like a four-wheel-drive vehicle with a manual transfer case that can be placed in “Neutral.” The Jeep Wranglers and Ram pickups are generally most popular flat tow vehicle among RVers. These characteristics allow you to tow the vehicle flat behind the RV.
Also known as “Dinghy Towing” there are some vehicles that can’t be flat towed, however, you will have to take special measures, like mounting them on a tow dolly.
How To Know If Your Vehicle Can Be Towed Flat?
You certainly need to check the owner’s manual for information on the transmission and the transfer case.
Attempting to tow a vehicle that isn’t designed to handle it can cause serious damage and potentially ruin your RV vacation right out of the gate!
It’s also important to note that many states have restrictions related to weight and total length.
This often applies to the combined characteristics of the motorhome with the tow vehicle attached.
If this is your first time doing this, or you are going to be traveling through other states than your own, you should take the extra time to look up all pertinent rules of the road.
You also want to double-check the towing capacity of your RV. Afterall some RVs already tax the engine just going down the road on their own.
Double-check your motorhome’s owner’s manual to get a better understanding of the safe and acceptable towing capacity.
There are even some motorhomes that are sold with upgrades available to improve the overall hitch weight. A dealership can help you understand the options that are best for your model.
However, the chassis and suspension still can only take so much. If you have a smaller motorhome, be prepared to temper your expectations.
list of cars that can be towed flat behind motorhome
Of course, the best option in all of this is to own or purchase a vehicle that can already be towed flat, without having to take any other measures.
While Ram half-ton pickup trucks with manual transmissions and Jeeps are very popular flat tow vehicle among RVers, they are not your only options. In fact, there are several attractive flat tow-able vehicles worth considering. Just make sure to do your research. If you don’t already own or have access to a specific vehicle, you should check online for a free, downloadable owner’s manual.
Don’t just assume that all makes and models are the same. You need to make sure you have the correct year every time.
The following list of cars that can be towed flat behind motorhome is a good place to start. Just make sure to put in your due diligence for the specific model year you are interested in before choosing if it is suited for flat towing behind an RV.
1. Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Hard Rock Edition
It has a 6-speed manual transmission with 4-wheel drive. The curb weight averages around 6,300 pounds.
2. The Jeep Wrangler
It is available with a 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission. The curb weight ranges from 3,800 to 4,200 pounds.
3. The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
It has a 4-wheel drive drivetrain, with a 6-speed manual transmission. There is also a trim level that has an8-speed Torqueflite 850REautomatic transmission. The curb weight ranges from 3,900 to 4,500 pounds.
4. The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk
This is a new and very popular model in the Jeep line. It has 9-speed 948Te Auto W/Active Drive Ii 4-wheel drive transmission, and a curb weight of around 4,300 pounds.
5. The Ford F-150
This half-ton pickup truck is one of the best-selling in the world and is available in multiple trim levels. The standard model has an electronic 6-speed automatic transmission with optional 4-wheel drive. There is also a trim level with a 10-speed automatic transmission. The curb weight varies by trim level and can range from 4,000 to 5,700 pounds.
6. The Ram 1500
This half-ton truck is available with an 8-speed, four-wheel-drive automatic transmission with overdrive. The curb weight averages around 5,300 pounds. Though there are other trim levels which might increase the weight.
7. The Chevy Colorado
There are multiple trim levels of this light-duty pickup truck. Including a 4-wheel drive 8-speed shift-able automatic transmission. The curb weight ranges from around 4,300 to 4,600 pounds.
8. The Fiat 500
This front-wheel-drive car is available in front-wheel drive with a 5-speed manual transmission. The curb weight averages around 2,500 pounds.
9. Fiat 500 Abarth
This tuned “Hot Hatch” is popular on an international level. It’s available with a front-wheel-drive 5-speed manual transmission. It has a curb weight of around 2,500 pounds.
10. Chevrolet Spark
This front-wheel-drive hatchback is available with a five-speed manual transmission. There are many features and trim levels available, and the curb weight ranges from 2,200 to 2,400 pounds.
11. The Chevrolet Malibu
This four-door front-wheel-drive sedan is available with a 9-speed transmission. It has an average curb weight of around 3,200 pounds. This is a good option for a small family who wants to get around town or tour the local attractions in comfort.
12. The Ford Fusion Hybrid
This front-wheel-drive car is available with a very fuel-efficient hybrid engine. It’s also available with a continuously variable-speed automatic transmission. There are accessories and options available, which can affect the overall curb weight. It averages around 3,600 pounds which makes it another great flat towing vehicle.
13. The Chevrolet Sonic
This front-wheel-drive car is available as a small sedan or a hatchback coupe. It has a 6-speed automatic transmission and a curb weight ranging between 2,600 and 2,800 pounds.
14. The Honda CR-V
This small Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) is available in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, with a 5-speed automatic transmission. Depending on the accessories and trim level the curb weight can range between 3,300 pounds to 3,500 pounds. This is another great option popular SUV to flat tow for small families. The four-wheel-drive version is especially nice if you are going to be driving on rough or muddy roads.
15. Smart Fortwo
This popular “Smart Car” is popular thanks to being lightweight and highly fuel-efficient. It’s set up to only handle two individuals, making it an option for couples who want to travel. The standard model can be towed flat behind a RV, but the electric drive version cannot. It weighs in around 1,800-pound curb weight.
These options represent the tip of the iceberg for you to start researching. As always you should double-check that the specific year model can be towed flat. Auto manufacturers sometimes make changes in a vehicle’s characteristics or drivetrain.
How Do I Flat Tow My Vehicle Behind An RV?
If you are a new RV owner, or you haven’t flat towed a vehicle behind your motorhome before, there are a few pointers to keep in mind.
Some of them are basic yet are worth mentioning. Others are necessary to make sure everything is safe as well as legal.
To tow safely tow a vehicle behind a large Motorhome, you need to first have the right equipment in place.
This includes a hitch and tow package at the rear of your motorhome. If you don’t currently have one, you should be able to find a dealer or a certified RV mechanic who can install one.
There is some customization to the flat-towing process. Some motorhomes have upgradable towing packages available.
Make sure to let them know that you intend to flat tow or dinghy tow a vehicle.
That way the installer will know to install the proper tow bar. There are a few different options available, and they might recommend one over the other.
Use Self-Aligning Tow Bars
Self-Aligning Tow Bars are handy because they help adjusts to any minor errors you might make while driving them down the road.
They expand contracts with the motorhome’s movement. Many people find this to be the preferred option. They are also easier to set up and use.
A-Frame Tow Bars are a little stronger than their self-aligning siblings. They also require a special mounted under the vehicle’s frame.
They are very sturdy and heavy-duty, as well as cheaper to have installed.
This might be the preferred option if you are going to be towing a heavy vehicle like a half-ton pickup truck.
Use cross chains when towing
Safety Tow Chains are absolutely critical, and in most states, they must be connected to the vehicle being towed by law.
At this moment safety chains, that are rated to handle the vehicle’s weight will prevent a catastrophic runaway event.
It also helps to “Cross Chain” then, as added insurance to make sure the S hooks don’t accidentally shake loose on a very rough road.
You also need to make sure that the tow vehicle is set up to be towed for your particular set up.
This includes things like secure connections or hardpoints in the front, as well as addressing the signal and braking lights.
There are a few different ways to do this. The easiest is to have a dealer or certified mechanic install a permanent light system that’s connected to a permanently installed wiring loom.
Setting Your Vehicle To Be Towed
This is another time to check the vehicle’s owner’s manual. Some vehicles have a specific “Tow Mode” that the transmission or transfer case needs to be set to.
While others simply need to be put in neutral to make sure that the gears are not engaged.
There are even some aftermarket devices that are designed to hold a manual transmissions gear selector knob or “Stick” in the neutral position.
Signal Lights are also critical and required by law for any trailer. While they might seem a little basic, the wiring loom and other components have a knack for going wrong on trailers, or at some point throughout the motorhome’s electric system.
Make sure the leads are clean before connecting them. Any debris on the male end of a connector can and likely will get jammed into the female component causing long-term problems.
It’s a good idea to test them a day or two before you intend to leave.
This will give you time to fix any minor issues. It would also be wise to keep a portable trailer light kit on board.
Just in case something goes wrong along the way, and you don’t have time to diagnose it, you can always hook up the magnetic mounted lights to keep you moving down the road.
What If My Vehicle Can’t Be Towed Flat Behind My RV?
This isn’t the end of the world, nor does it mean you have a bad vehicle. If your RV has the suspension, power and other characteristics to technically tow the weight of your vehicle, you do still have some options.
Use A Car Dolly
A car dolly is one of the more popular options. You basically hitch the dolly to the back of your motorhome, then secure the vehicle’s drive tires to it.
With some vehicles, it might look a little awkward, but as long as the vehicle is in neutral, and the non-drive tires are off the pavement it will track behind you as if you were towing a heavy boat or a trailer.
There are some agencies that will rent a car dolly for a very reasonable fee. Just make sure you have a chance to inspect it first and make sure that it is rated to handle the weight of your vehicle.
With some of these rental car dollies, you’re never quite sure just how much abuse they’ve taken before you got your hands on it.
If you are going to be using it frequently, it might be a better idea to sink a little bit of extra money into a car dolly of your own.
Just don’t be surprised if you get a call from one of your friends when their car breaks down and they need to get it to the mechanic!
Alter The Vehicle’s Drive Train
There are some aftermarket mechanics that can adapt your vehicle with things like a drive shaft de-coupler, which would allow you to tow it flat.
However, this does require some technical expertise on your part, and might well end up costing more than buying a brand-new car dolly.
A quick word of caution though is that these devices can be expensive and complicated to install and maintain.
If used incorrectly or not installed properly, the engine or drivetrain components can be damaged while a vehicle is being towed even affecting the warranties on your vehicles.
Use A Flat Bed Trailer
For an all-time all-wheel-drive vehicle, your best option might be to tow it on a flatbed trailer.
For this to be a viable option your motorhome needs to have the power and hitch capacity to handle not only the vehicle but the weight of a heavy-duty trailer. You will also need to learn how to properly secure the vehicle to the trailer.
Tips For Maintaining The Vehicle While You Are Towing It
There are a few things you need to keep in mind once you are hooked up and underway. It’s not just enough to pull the vehicle along like a dead elephant.
There are some little things you may need to address along the way or make sure are in place before you set off.
The transmission in the vehicle being towed operates with less drag being applied than when it’s being driven.
Double-check the owner’s manual for any transmission circulation recommendations.
Most vehicle manufacturers will recommend that you circulate the transmission every 200 miles.
For most automatic transmissions and vehicles with pump-dependent manual transmissions, the output shaft is only lubricated when the vehicle’s engine is running.
If the transmission fluid isn’t occasionally circulated it could eventually cause severe transmission damage at highway towing speeds.
While you are stopped double-check the lighting system. Even magnetic lights can sometimes shake around at the angle that might make it hard for someone following you to see them clearly.
When you are driving or riding in a car, you can usually tell if a specific tire is going low.
It tends to cause a strange wobble or vibration that inevitably forces you to get out, check it and fill it with air. It can be much harder to tell if a flat towed vehicle has one or more low tires.
Worse still, if you don’t notice a tire with low pressure it can cause the vehicle to track poorly behind the motorhome.
This causes excess tread wear on the low tire and can cause abnormal tread wear on one or more of the other properly pressurized tires.
If it goes unchecked for too long the disparity could alter the dynamics of all four tires. Even after the low tire is refilled it the vehicle could still develop a nasty wobble or vibration at speed.
The only way to remedy a situation like this is to replace two or more tires which can be a significant expense.
In a worst-case scenario, a low tire could lead to a total blowout, which could be a major safety issue and could cause severe damage to both the vehicle being towed as well as the motorhome towing it.
The bottom line is that it’s a good idea to double-check all four tires before setting off, and again at every fuel stop or every two-hundred miles. Whichever comes first.
There are tire pressure monitor systems that you can hook up which will send a coordinated notice to the cab of the motorhome should a tire start to lose air pressure, and trigger the vehicle’s own warning system.
Keeping a small emergency air compressor in one of the motorhome’s storage compartments is also a good idea.
It can be very handy if you notice a problem and there isn’t any available air nearby or the available air is in a tough spot for you to maneuver.
Electronic Braking Assist Systems
Currently, 43 out of 50 US states require some form of electronic braking assist system for vehicles being flat towed behind a motorhome.
There are simple kits available for a reasonable price. When in doubt you can have a dealer or certified mechanic install one when they prep your motorhome and/or vehicle.
This system can be run through a wiring loom just like a permanent lighting system. It is designed to help motorhome and vehicle to brake in tandem.
It reduces overall stress on the hitch, as well as reducing the chances of a serious accident. It’s especially helpful if you need to brake hard with the motorhome.
There is also a non-permanent version of the electronic braking assist system. However, they are less reliable, and some states won’t allow them on flat towed vehicles.
Make sure to double check what the regulations are for your state, as well as any state you will be traveling through when working out your vacation plans.
Last Updated on