Towing an additional vehicle is a great way to elevate your travels. The RV provides a comfortable and luxurious ride to each new destination. But once you’ve parked your motorhome at your latest campsite, it can be handy to have a smaller vehicle for things like driving to the grocery store, sightseeing, and parking at trailheads with limited space. Bringing along a tow car is the best of both worlds–and it’s easy to learn how.
The following are tips to help you find the best way to tow a vehicle with your Newmar coach. If you’re looking for even more detailed information, Newgle provides loads of technical, educational information specifically for Newmar owners. You’ll learn more about hitches, best practices in towing procedures, and more there.
There are two primary ways to tow a car behind your RV: flat towing and trailer towing. The method you choose will depend on the type of car you have.
The first method is towing your car with all four wheels down—also known as flat towing or dingy towing. This is one of the most popular and most affordable ways to tow a vehicle with an RV. Flat towing has virtually no impact on your gas mileage and doesn’t add stress and wear to your motorhome. It’s fast to set up, and the parts take up minimal storage space. This method uses a small tow bar to connect your vehicle to your motorhome. You’ll also need a base plate kit, a wiring kit, safety cables, and a supplemental brake system.
However, not all vehicles can be towed with four wheels down. For example, most all-wheel and 4-wheel drive cars cannot be flat-towed and will typically require trailer towing to avoid damaging the vehicle transmission. Still, many cars, SUVs, trucks can be towed safely with no modifications. Check out motorhome.com’s most recent list of 50 vehicles that are manufacturer-approved for flat towing. When in doubt, check with your dealer or your vehicle’s owner’s manual to understand the manufacturer requirements for towing your vehicle.
If flat towing isn’t an option for your vehicle, you can still safely and easily tow your car behind your motorhome by securing the car to a tow dolly or loading it onto trailer.
A tow dolly lets you tow your car with two wheels up. This is the most typical configuration for towing cars with front-wheel drive transmissions. To use a tow dolly, you’ll need to secure the vehicle to the dolly with ratchet straps and safety chains. Also, keep in mind that many states also require a license for the dolly, so you’ll need to plan ahead for this.
A trailer (also known as a car hauler) allows you to tow your car with all four wheels up and off the road. This is most typical for all-wheel and 4-wheel drive vehicles. When selecting a trailer, make sure it is long enough to fit the entire vehicle and that the trailer is rated for the weight of the vehicle you plan to tow. In addition to the trailer, you will also need a ramp (sometimes included with the trailer) and ratchet straps to secure the vehicle. If the trailer has electric brakes, you may also need a separate brake controller. Like tow dollies, trailers require a separate license.
The main consideration to keep in mind with both tow dollies and trailers is that you need to factor in the combined weight of the tow dolly/trailer and the towed vehicle to make sure they are within the towing capacity of your motorhome. We’ll get to that in more detail in the next section. Dollies and trailers may also need to be detached and stored when not in use.
In addition to choosing the right towing method, calculating your towing capacity is equally important to safely tow your vehicle. To do this, you’ll need to grab a few different numbers to ensure you are accurately calculating the total payload for the vehicle.
First, you’ll need to calculate your Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW). GVW is the sum of your RV’s curb weight, plus any cargo weight, water weight, LP weight, passenger weight, and tongue weight. Note that curb weight refers to how much the RV weighs with no cargo and a full fuel tank. The GVW cannot exceed the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) for your RV, which is the MAX total weight that your RV can weigh when loaded before it is considered unsafe.
Next, you’ll need to determine your Gross Combination Weight (GCW), which is your GVW plus your trailer or toad weight. This number cannot exceed the Gross Combined Weight Rating of your RV.
Finally, to get your towing capacity, subtract your Gross Vehicle Weight from your motorhome’s Gross Vehicle Combined Weight Rating. In other words, your towing capacity is the maximum combined weight rating for your motorhome minus the weight of your loaded RV, including all passengers, cargo, fuel accessories, etc.
While this gives you the max towing capacity that the motorhome can handle, it’s important to also check the rating of your motorhome car towing hitch, which may be lower. You’ll need to make sure you are staying within all published weight ratings for the motorhome and hitch to safely tow your vehicle.
Towing a car behind your motorhome requires just a few easy steps and the payoff is enormous. With a smaller, more nimble vehicle in tow, you’ll bring along both the creature comforts of home on the road and the unlimited flexibility to sightsee, navigate tighter urban roads, and more. Now that you know how to safely tow a car with your motorhome, there’s no limit to your adventures!
Disclaimer: Newmar is not responsible for wiring on any trailer or towed vehicle and recommends any wiring be completed by a qualified professional.