Outdoor+Travel

Double Your Road-Trip Freedom: Tow Your Car Behind Your RV

Joe Hill - The Honeycombs, OR

Janis Joplin may have sang that freedom is having nothing left to lose, but we’re adding another definition: Freedom is also taking off cross-country in your recreational vehicle. You add another layer of freedom to the adventure when you bring your car along—towing your vehicle behind your RV gives you the freedom to easily take quick jaunts around town and see the sights, including awesome new places to use your hammock! Before you hitch up that vehicle, however, ensure that everything is up to snuff.

Make Sure Your RV Is up for the Task

Towing your car behind your RV with the car on all four wheels or on a dolly does not add significant hitch weight, but you still need to ensure your RV is up for pulling this weight under all conditions. Your RV needs to be able to efficiently climb steep grades with the extra weight and be powerful enough to stop its own weight plus that of your towed car or dolly. Check your RV manual or with the manufacturer for the gross weight your RV can handle.

And Your Car Is, Too

While towing a car on all four wheels may be the easiest towing option for quick use of your car at your destination, not every car is up for the task. Edmunds notes that certain four-wheel drive vehicles are not suitable for towing due to their engines’ constant need for lubrication while moving or engaging the driveshaft. After-market equipment, such as transmission lubrication pumps or driveshaft decouplers, can come to the rescue in such cases, provided you install the equipment carefully and correctly.

Pay Attention to Detail

Your vehicle’s owner’s manual will tell you if your car is up for four-wheel towing (also called dinghy towing). It will also outline any special towing instructions your car may require, such as leaving the key in the ignition switch, the removal of certain fuses or periodic stops to run the car’s engine.

In four-wheel towing, the condition of your car’s tires is an important detail. All tires need to be of the same size, type and construction. This kind of towing puts wear and tear on the vehicle’s tires, so check the tread, make sure the rubber isn’t degraded and each one is properly inflated. For lengthy trips, consider investing in a new set of tires, such as Kuhmo Tires from TireBuyer.com.

Photo by ljguitar via Flickr

Meet Legal and Safety Requirements

Requirements for towing a car may vary slightly from state to state, but most include two fundamental conditions: First, your towed vehicle must have a full set of working lights, including tail lights, brake lights and turn signal lights; second, your towed vehicle should have an auxiliary brake system that works in conjunction with the RV’s brakes. While eight states don’t require auxiliary brakes for a towed vehicle, including them can greatly enhance your own safety as well as the safety of those on the road around you. Besides, you never know exactly where you’ll end up with all that freedom beckoning.

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