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RV Tow Car – Do You Really Need One?

We get a lot of new RV’er questions but one we get nearly every time is “Do I really need a tow car for my Motorhome?”.  Like most everything else related to this unique style of travel: there is no one-size-fits-all answer…so, we’ve gathered our thoughts and put together this casual video for anyone having the great “to tow or not to tow” debate:

Still unsure?  Here are 10 things we’ve learned about tow cars over the past several years of full-time RVing:

  1. Choose a tow car to fit your needs.  If you want to go off-roading make sure you have 4 wheel drive.  If you want your friends/family to visit, tow a 4 door (my poor mom always has to rent a car when she visits).  If you’re 2 people who love the driving experience tow a convertible (we have a little too much fun with ours)!  There are plenty of towable cars, SUV’s and trucks out there so don’t settle for something that doesn’t fit your adventurous spirit.
  1. Make sure your car is flat towable.  Confirm with your vehicle manufacturer that you can disengage the transmission for flat towing (all 4 wheels on the ground) behind an RV.  Also confirm that towing the car will not void your warranty.  If other people say they flat tow a model of car, but the manufacturer does not recommend it, I say trust the manufacturer.  You can find a list of approved flat towable cars online (try searching “RV Dinghy Guide”), but always check with the manufacturer about your make, model, and year.  (This part can be extremely confusing.  For instance many people flat tow the Mini Cooper, companies make tow bars and base plates to fit the Mini, but when we called Mini they told us straight up “DO NOT FLAT TOW A MINI COOPER, even if it’s a manual transmission”).
  1. Purchase a non-binding tow bar.  When you get in a tight spot and you need to disconnect in an emergency situation you’ll be thankful you paid that extra $$.  We’ve ended up on mountainside hair pin turns that the RV couldn’t quite make, we’ve been pulled into narrow filling stations where disconnecting the car is the only option, and my favorite is when we got stuck in the sand on a sloping curve where we had to disconnect the car for scouting a wild camping site.  With a non-binding towbar we’re able to disconnect the car at any angle allowing us to maneuver the RV separate from the car.
  1. Always install a supplemental breaking system.  Not only is this safer for emergency stopping and mountain driving, it’s required by law in many states.  True most law enforcement officers won’t question your braking system in the chance you get pulled over, but why risk it?  Also your insurance company might be able to ‘weasel’ out of a claim because you’re not following the laws in your state.
  1. Install a Tire Pressure monitoring system.  Companies such as Tire Minder offer “low cost” wireless solutions that monitor your RV tire pressure and your tow car tire pressure.  I cannot stress how important it is to know immediately when there is a leak in a tire or a rapid heat spike in the tire temperature (meaning you’re about to lose your brakes) while driving in an RV.
  1. Install a Rearview Camera. I think it’s extremely important to monitor the tow car while driving.  This will allow you to see if anything happens to the car while in tow (like a tire flying off, or the car coming disconnected, or sparks flying up behind the wheels…)
  1. Optional Accessories.  Install the proper lighting kit so your tow vehicle lights work with the RV’s lights.  Use appropriate safety cables and install a brake away kit to ensure maximum safety while towing your car.  If your car requires a battery disconnect make sure you install one to safeguard your battery.  Purchase a dual hitch receiver so you can tow the car and carry a bicycle rack (or get folding bikes).  It boggles me how some people cheap out on this part, small accessories make the process more simple and these options often are insignificant in price compared to the expense of the towing setup.
  1. Don’t back up.  The car’s front wheels may “cramp” to the left or right and damage the car’s alignment or worse, the entire steering system.  Don’t ever backup with a tow car attached when you’re flat towing. (You can sure try, but I don’t recommend it at all.)
  1. Dolly or Trailer can be a hassle.  We chose a towbar for our travels so I’m a little biased, but from our research and talking with others who’ve used trailers here’s our take:  a) Many campsites aren’t large enough to fit an RV, a trailer, and a vehicle.  b) If you’re stuck in a tight situation (like hanging over the edge of a cliff in a hairpin turn, yes this really happened to us) you can’t disconnect a trailer and drive it off to safety, you’re stuck trying to backup and correct the situation.  Should you decide to go the trailer route make sure your RV tow rating and the tongue load fall within your RV manufacturers specifications.
  1. Better RV MPG.  Driving a tow car gives us better fuel economy for short trips from our base camp and easier access to last minute pull-out stops while exploring a new city or park.  We combine our RV and our Smart Car MPG to give us our average RV Travel fuel economy, this makes the RV MPG seem a lot better at the end of the day!

A friendly tip – Other terms used for “tow car” are: Dinghy and Toad.  So when you hear people referring to these names you won’t have to respond with “huh?”

For us, pulling a tow car behind the RV is the best way to explore the surrounding area once our RV Basecamp is setup.  Unless you have a small RV it’s a pain to disconnect from the campsite (water, electric, bring in slides, put away dishes, etc) just to run an errand.  What could be even worse is trying to drive a big RV through a national park with size restrictions, narrow roads and winding, mountainous terrain.  We can’t imagine traveling without a tow car and if you ask us we’ll tell you that flat towing our Smart Car as a Dinghy these past years has been a lifesaver…a hundred times over.

As mentioned in the video, our friends Jen and Deas of Nealys on Wheels tried going without a tow car their first year of RV’ing and quickly decided that needed to change.  So, its not the end of the world should you decide to try it out sans toad at first.

You may not need/want a tow car if:

  • You take short trips (2 weeks or less) where you rarely leave the campground.
  • You are pulling a fifth wheel or trailer camper.
  • Your RV is underpowered, over GVWR rating, or not rated with any towing capacity.
  • You have a small (around 25ft) class B or C and you want to travel inconspicuously and stealth camp.

Share your two cents about RV Tow Cars in the comments below and help out your fellow travelers! Not only is it fun for us to read it may just convince others who are on the fence 🙂

You can find our tow bar and accessories in our Shop under the Tow Car tab and if you want to see how to and not to tow a car, we have videos on that too.

Famous for my "how-not-to" videos, and typically the man behind the camera, sometimes I’m forced to be here in the “spotlight”. When you see my face you’re probably reading something more technical than adventurous, but either way I do my best to tell it like it is and infuse my opinions into the commentary…after all this is a blog and not MSN.

Comments (101)

  • Jim McQuarrie

    OK, as I leave this reply just know that we are a little strange in what we like and want. My wife and I are both c are both car buffs and could not bear to drive a small gas friendly car :), (Our Ghibli actually doesn’t do bad on gas). We sold our home and buying our second RV. Our first was a 2014 Thor Miramar which we loved and our new one in a Thor Challenger FH wow this thing is huge inside with a lot more cabinet space and an 8k hitch. We are going to have the banks kit installed and buy an enclosed trailer for our Maserati Ghibli to truck around in. I know the inconveniences but we love city things and while we will hike, that will be secondary. Also my son has three albums and working on a fourth at 17 years old (Christian Rap “Alec McQuarrie” Spotify, iTunes or you tube) and we want to set up some concerts at churches as well for him. so it might be a small pain but for us worth it. Also we will move slow and store the trailer at storage facility when we get close to our destination.
    Ok feel free to comment and say we are crazy, but you wont change our mind 🙂 also we choose gas vs diesel because we didnt want an entry level and the gas coach we have is much nicer than entry level (palazzo) and we want enough left over to buy a condo next year while keeping the rig 🙂

    Jim, Alec, Kat, Cleopatra (Bengal tiger Kat), and Princess (Yorkie)
    oh yes and Angelina our Maserati Ghibli 🙂

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  • Lynn Montambo

    How can I find out if a Nissan Rouge is towable? Front wheel drive on a Dolly?

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    • Curious Minion

      Curious Minion here, (because even super-villains need trusty assistants!) helping out while the Wynns are crossing to French Polynesia. If you do a quick internet search for towable vehicles, a number of guides pop up, from Edmunds, RVIbrake, and a downloadable guide from Motorhome magazine. You can also call Nissan customer service and ask them. Hope that helps.

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  • Deb Pearl

    My husband and I really need to get a new tow bar for our RV and we were wondering what kind would be best. I didn’t know that there was a non-binding tow bar that you could get. That is great that it can allow you to maneuver the RV separate from the car! I bet that comes in really handy in tight spots. We will have to look into it! Thank you for the information!

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  • Plestor

    Ummm, what is a “breaking system”?

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    • Curious Minion

      A braking system uses the brakes of the vehicle being towed to help slow it down so that the RV brakes don’t have to do all the work.

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  • Enjoyed your article on RV towing. This past June my husband and I purchased a 32 ft. 2018 Coachmen Leprechaun. We have gone on a few trips none any longer than 2 weeks, but my husband still wanted an all wheels down tow car. We just purchased a 2013 Smart Car. I just love it! and hope we do all the right things for successful towing in the years to come with this car. We have been sprucing up the cute little car today (my husband used to detail cars when he was a teenager and has a good eye for detail), picking up the RV from dealer tomorrow (working out all the new “kinks”) finally! and within the next week or two hope to have the smart car ready to hit the road with us all wheels down to Gatlinburg.

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  • Brenda Tekin

    Very useful info! Thank you. We are in the process of purchasing a used 27′ Winnebago Sightseer, moving up from a small travel trailer pulled by our ’08 Toyota Highland (w/factory installed towing package). The Sightseer has a 5,000lb rated hitch so we thought we would tow our newer Subaru Forester AWD with automatic transmission. We would have to haul it on a flatbed, which are pricey and then have to deal with the other issues like where to store a 14-16′ trailer, both home and at campsites, connecting and disconnecting the trailer, the extra expense for required safety equipment, etc. After looking at everything involved and the investment required to flatbed a car behind a. SUV, we both agree it is not worth it. We can get a lot of car rentals for just the cost for a flatbed car hauler! For an outing to a remote area where we know we won’t be leaving the campsite, we will plan ahead and stock up on necessary provisions. Now down the road when hubby is ready to retire then we will look at available options to take a cross country trek.

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    • Curious Minion

      There are plenty of cars that can be towed four-down, even some Subarus, without the need for a trailer or tow dolly. Those are pretty easy to connect & disconnect, even for one person.

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      • Brenda Tekin

        Subaru still offers manual transmissions, which are not readily available, which may still be ok to tow 4-down. You can not do this with the 5 to 6-speed automatic, not even with a tow dolly. The Subaru AWD automatics have to be flatbedded. There is a blurb in the manual that says in an emergency situation you can use a tow dolly but speed must be no more than 20mph traveling a very short distance.

        It is crucial that folks read the owner’s manual for towing limits/restrictions. We have heard that Subaru may stop manufacturing the manual transmissions.

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        • Curious Minion

          Right, I understand yours cannot be towed 4-down. I was just suggesting that perhaps you shouldn’t “throw the baby out with the bathwater” because there are a lot of other options out there. But I understand you love yours & may not want to give it up.

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          • Brenda Tekin

            I love our Subaru. We got rid of a 2013 Kia Soul (fun to drive but no AWD) and after quite a bit of research we got the 2016 Forester last January. It gets better gas
            Mileage than that little Kia Soul did. I drove into a snow storm last year heading back from Florida. It was dark and a white out. Had to roll windows down to see out to find my way. That Subaru hugged the snow-covered interstate while other AWD/4-wheel drives were off the road. Soon realized no one was passing me; they were following in my tracks.

            I like to go sightseeing in out of the way areas for nature photography. I will have to adjust to not having our Subaru during those road trips.

            When hubby retires we may move up to a newer coach and can look at our options at that time. For now it will be the RV and car rentals and leaving Bonnie Blue (the Subaru) at home.

      • Klutzy

        Of course everyone’s needs are different, but I found it unbearable to not have a car to sightsee in. After seeing videos of what’s involved re tow dollies, I traded my beloved Prius for a used Honda CR-V and will hit the road next week. Can’t wait! This site can tell you what cars are towable; it’s extremely variable, and some cars work one year but not the next. http://www.motorhome.com/download-dinghy-guides/

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      • mary

        you say….plenty of cars….no…i have been looking for weeks now…every time I find a decent used car, listed as towable online, I pull up their owner manual and NOPE…not towable…very very frustrated…need to trade my old escape and have yet to find a towable car…

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  • letty

    where do we go to have a tow bar installed on our towable vehicle

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    • Curious Minion

      If you buy your own tow bar, any reputable auto garage should be able to do it for you. If you want someone else to take care of the whole thing, soup to nuts, you will probably need to go to an RV dealer or service shop.

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  • Pete

    2010 VW Golf. It has been an awesome tow behind.

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  • Dan Vaughan

    My husband and I have been rving since 2003 and have carried a small motorcycle on the back of our 26′ motorhome. That was fine most of the time but we still found that we were renting a lot. We have 2 dogs and many of the car places won’t allow pets in the cars. We just bought a 2015 Ford Focus and are getting ready to set it up to be towed. Thank you for your useful videos on dos and don’ts as we hope this will help us get off to a good start.

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    • Happy to help! We’ve met many RVers that had the same issues with a motorcycle or scooter. Enjoy the new ride!

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  • Art Hauf

    We to have a Wini Veiw (2008) with small diesel. We’ re interested in any recommendations anyone has on a small tow car. Where would be a good internet site to locate a tow car that might be all set up?

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  • Evelyn Binion

    Enjoying watching your videos!

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  • Stuart Sierer

    I saw that you had a bike rack on your 1st RV and it appeared that you also had a tow car. How did you manage that and what bike rack did you use? BTW, been following for your sailing vids and now the RV’s. I never thought I would be excited about getting a composting toilet.

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  • Bob

    Last year my wife and I purchased a 24 ft Winnebago View. We have only done one extended trip (we rented a car to get around) and next year plan to go for an extended trip 2-4 weeks with lots of sites to visit. We basically do not want to rent a car at each stop to get around and we don’t want to break camp every time we need to visit an attraction or go to the grocery store or whatever. So, we are looking into a tow car. I hope it makes sense once we do it because of the cost involved.

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  • Zopiclone

    But things change. Today the plethora of electronic transmissions and front-wheel and full- and part-time four-wheel-drive systems require a bit of advance planning when one is selecting flat-towed cars and trucks.

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  • Ken Westlake

    We just bought our first class C 25′ motorhome. After being retired for 2 years we decided to splurge and jump into the motorhome life. Two years ago we also bought 2 E-bikes that allow us to get around under electric and peddle power. We have a range of about 30 miles using our E-bikes before needing a recharge. I’ve been thinking about looking at a tow car too but my wife says NO not yet. We are both 61 and have a few mobility issues, but really enjoying are E-bikes. I really enjoy your blog and you tube videos, keep up the great work and motor on.

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  • Brad

    I would rather trailer my vehicle. Put the mileage on a vehicle that’s made to be pulled and that is cheaper and easier to maintain. Save the wear and tear on my car

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  • We travelled from the west coast of Florida to New York (about half way through the Erie Canal) on our 42′ motor yacht. We were doing the Great American Loop but because of health problems, we were unable to continue traveling in a boat. Obviously, you can’t take a vehicle with you on a boat but what we can say is that not having a vehicle for sightseeing was difficult and we missed a LOT. You can only go so far on bikes and you miss a lot of what is around you. Renting a car was not always easy or even possible in some of the places that we stayed.

    We have sold the boat and are now getting ready to buy an rv. When we do, we WILL definitely have a toad. We would not even consider traveling without one.

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  • Earl Carnes

    Thank you, really enjoy your blog. We’re two retirees, purchased a Coach House 261XL Platinum a year ago, trying to get our sea legs. We’re looking for a Smart Car to tow. Any particular advice or things to keep in mind? All insights much appreciated!

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  • YES, YES, TOW CAR!!! I’ve owned a Class B (van) and now a Class C. I didn’t have a tow car with the Class B but did get one for the Class C. Not having a tow car with the Class B was a huge pain in the patootie! There were lots of things I missed seeing because once I had the van parked (backing in, of course) and hooked up (water and electricity), that had been so much work that I didn’t want to do it again until I had to. Imagine the joy of treating your Class B as if it’s also your run-around car: unhooking (maybe in rain or snow), sightseeing in it for a day, and coming back to your site in pouring rain and darkness, where (oh, joy) you get to do the maneuvering backward into the space and hooking up again. This happened to me more than once. I’d like to go back to a Class B, and when I do, I’ll definitely have a tow car. (BTW, after speaking with the Wynns at the October 2014 RV Show in Pomona, CA, I got a Smart Car for my tow car. Great little runabout!)

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  • gremlinbangles

    3 months into rving and know we need a tow car. However it seems like most towable cars have instructions like disconnect battery cables, pull fuses, etc, oh and it needs to be automatic. And I want simple….

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    • Paul

      We have a 2013 HONDA Fit that we’ve flat towed for 2 years now. We’ve never disconnected battery cables or pulled fuses and we’ve never had the battery run down. The Fit weighs ~2600 lbs, has an unbelievable amount of space for a small car and gets great gas mileage. Plus, it’s a great second car when we are not RVing. For us, it’s the best choice for a Class C Toad.

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  • Norman Frenk

    I have been RV-ing since 1993 and never used a tow-car. Excellent way to drive and maneuver on the way to & fro but once there, I would always have to rent a car. NOT convenient at that point. If you are out in the RV extensively, I couldn’t see any other way to go but to have a tow car. Renting at that point would be painful! Your friends did that for a year? Oh no!

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  • Joe

    I wanted to share a quick non-toad perspective. We travel in a smaller RV (26′ C) with bikes instead of a toad. In rural places we can usually find parking without a problem. In urban areas, Enterprise Rent-A-Car (we’ll pick you up, at the campground!) and Uber/Lyft are awesome options. It’s definitely cheaper than setting up and maintaining a toad, and it makes driving easier. The downside, of course, is a little more hassle. You can’t run for ice cream or whatever at 10pm just because.

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    • Awesome, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and experience!

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  • Susan Johnston

    Love this informative video — as all of your videos are! Do you have a link to information about the different types of set-ups for towing?
    Enjoyed the photo-bomb at the end! Missing seeing your cats in this one though!

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  • Pat Stanton

    We tow a four wheel drive, four door Silverado. Very comfortable drive and plenty of room for us, the dogs or friends. Camper shell gives great additional storage. It was great in Alaska when we went to some remote trailheads and needed the four wheel drive. 380hp Cummins pulls it just fine. Had supplemental brakes hooked up that uses air brakes on coach to apply truck brakes proportionately and tire pressure monitor.

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  • Jason

    Great video and very informative. I do wonder though if you have ever given thoughts to a Fifth-Wheel? I am really, really mulling over which is better in the long run. Instead of a tow car you have a tow “base camp”, per se. Of significant difference is the obvious cost. An HD truck (let’s say a diesel 1 ton) with a nice Fifth-Wheel camper can be done under $100K–or at least right about. That means a nice 2500 Ram truck and say a Montana High Country (just pointing out that the $100K gets you quite a lot). However, I will mention right off the bat that I LOVE that feeling of driving a Class A. So cool driving those things…but is it worth the extra $50K-$100K?

    Anyway, as always, love RVing, love your videos, love you guys (especially Nikki). I am interested though as to your take on the Fifth-Wheel. Take care you two and God bless!

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  • Larry

    We were not in a hurry to get a toad and thought we would rent a car until we were ready to buy. After two trips we got in a hurry to find a toad. It was a hassle dealing with rental agencies.

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  • Roc Nerd

    Hey guys, we just got a new “used” RV and figure the tow car thing is in our future. What is a ball park figure for a set up like yours? $2000 -$2500? Are they generally something the average person can install or do you need to have a mechanic install?
    Thanks for sharing your travels, they are fun to follow and very informative (I have my eye on that solar set-up).

    If you find yourself back in San Diego try the Coral Tree Tea house in Old Town San Diego to satisfy your high tea craving.

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  • We did not have (do now) a tire pressure monitoring kit and we had a front tire blow on our tow vehicle and someone had to point at us as they drove by to let me know….could not feel a thing from the RV, and we have a 30′ Class C…could not see a problem in camera either, but did see a small chunk of rubber fly off in rear mirror after they pointed at us. Now we have a monitor system and it brings peace of mind for under $500. –Dave (GoingRvWay.com)

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  • Tom & Debbi Lavender

    We just finished a 14 month trip in a Roadtrek 170 ( small class B ) pulling a Smart car. We put 6000 miles on the Roadtrek and over 20,000 on the Smart car. We wouldn’t ever consider being without our tow car. Makes life so easy.

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  • Dwayne

    They do make a tow dolly that folds in half and can be stowed under the rear of the motor home at a camp site. It’s called the Kar Kaddy SS. The expense of towing four down is eliminated when towing using this tow dolly. There is a viable option besides four down towing.

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  • David

    Great vid but, what’s the story on the runner toward the end?

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  • Amy

    We have been FT for four months now. Can’t imagine not having a tow car. We tow a 2013 Subaru Crosstrek – manual transmission. We have always owned Subarus and didn’t want to give up the security of all wheel drive and high clearance. In hindsight, we have heard of others “modifying” their transmissions to make their cars towable. Not sure if we could have done this with our Outback, but it would have saved some money if we could have. We were more focused on the weight of the car, Crosstrek was much lighter ( 3000 lbs I think???). It’s a great option that I’m not sure many folks are aware of.

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  • Good description of towing options. When we first researched RVs, a toad was one of the posibilities. We decided on a 24.5 foot LTV Unity and no toad, after watching other RVers’ hassles and friends dealing with their trailer.

    One thing we like about our Unity (and other class B-plus RVs) is that we can go from hooked up to ready for departure in 15 minutes or less. The whole system is a lot less complex and consequently, more reliable too.

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  • DC

    If you want 4WD and prefer 4 doors and a little more luxury, check out the Jeep Cherokee, Limited with Active Drive II. It’s made to flat tow and 2014+ is a real dream Toad.

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  • Thanks for sharing your opinions on this, and all RV-related issues. I’ve learned a lot from you guys! After a year and 7,000 miles of experience with our new class A motorhome, we just upgraded our old 2009 Pontiac Vibe toad to a new 2015 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk and love it! Not only is does it have an automatic transmission (which the Vibe did not), it’s a great 4-wheel-drive vehicle to take off-road wherever we go.

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  • Very good information provided here (as usual). We are now going on our third year of FTing. We travel in a 40-foot MH pulling a Honda Fit. I couldn’t imagine trying to take the MH into places which we want to visit. The MH makes the perfect “basecamp” and the Fit is excellent for maneuvering into tight spaces and around big cities. BTW, we love our Fit. It averages about 38 MPG and has WAY more interior space than the Smart Car (sorry guys).

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  • Jeff Auch

    Another great video! Love the little video bomber too.

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  • James Lapsley

    I agree 100% about the “necessity” of having a toad. On our first trip out with a 28′ class C we tried to go it without bringing any vehicle, what a pain. For all of the same reasons you mentioned in your video it is a real necessity. My wife and I now have a 2013 Bounder 33C and flat tow a 2011 Ford Ranger which just so happens to also be my daily driver. Like many RVers we like to bring extra “stuff” depending on the trip; sometimes we bring our boat which fits nicely on top of the canopy. Inside of the canopy we have our boat motors and extra gear. Like you mentioned the RV Dingy was an excellent starting point in our decision making process. We were able to consider vehicle weight, type, and auto or manual. Finally, it was a matter of deciding which towing system to equip the vehicle with. I initially started with a brake buddy but have since graduated to a brake master system since it is way easier to set up and more reliable. Keep up the good work in your travels.

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  • George Williams

    Whether it’s a 3 day or 3 week trip, a toad is a must!! Prefer tow dolly: much less wear on toad; can tow most front wheel drive cars (buy battery saver if your toad requires battery cable disconnect…stores all digital and preset codes); change vehicles without installing hardware; use dolly for other needs (tow disabled vehicle); choose dolly that will store on short spaces under rear of MH; choose dolly with self contained disk brakes; choose dolly that can be backed up for short distance; lifts toad front to prevent rock/road debris damage without a bra/shield; install a switch on your reverse camera to observe your toad at any time.

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  • Janet Nevada

    I hope this isn’t too far off topic, but would be something someone considering a tow car might not have dealt with without it, and I really value your opinion! I’m going to Zion soon and I plan to hike up the Narrows (your pics of your trip were amazing!) which means leaving my dog in a rental RV in the campground all day. The site has power hookup, and the RV has air-conditioning. It will be the end of September so it should be okay outside, but it could still reach into the mid to upper 80s, and I have some anxiety about leaving her and whether the temp will stay good for her. Is it okay to leave a dog in the RV like that? Should I leave a window open, or the roof vent? Do you feel confident leaving your cats? (BTW, my anxiety is around the temps, not about her destroying stuff or barking.) Thanks in advance.

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    • I totally understand your concerns and in the beginning we were much more cautious too. If you have hookups with AC then you should be fine. We choose the no hookup site when we were there (late September, early October) and just left the windows and vents open and the temps never got much over 80 inside the coach.

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  • Robert Lighton

    So if you can’t back up with a toad four down…what do you do if you are going the wrong direction and have to turn around on a local road? Always wondering about this. I drive a Mercedes cab chassis 25′ long and am able to do 3 point turnarounds fairly easily. I think about a toad if I did a cross country trip.

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    • We make the block. In 5 years we have only had to disconnect in a situation like that maybe twice.

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  • Tom Kranauer

    We REALLY love you guys. Your giving us a lot of info before our adventure and your advice on towing a car was great. The only question I have is tow dolly vs tow bar. I’m worried about putting on mileage and the extreme wear on the tires and transmission of we use a tow bar. What’s your thoughts.

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    • We choose tow bar so we’re obviously biased in not wanting to deal with a dolly. Our car has held up great over the 5 years and really enjoy the simplicity of our setup.

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  • Rick Garboden

    I agree that you should have a tow car if possible. We did our first year(camping not full time) with only our class A MH. I had to be choosy as to where to camp that we had enough to do within either walking or biking distance. It certainly had us leaving out choices on what was in an area to explore. After we set up our Honda CRV it makes our travels so much more enjoyable. And we flat tow as I wouldn’t want to deal with a wheel dolly either.

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  • HiI guys!

    I agree completely , we love having our towed with us. Our Jeep has taken us lots of places we wouldn’t consider going with the RV. When we’re looking at boondocking sites, one of us often scouts ahead to be sure the RV will fit comfortably.
    In some cases, even cars with automatic transmissions that can’t otherwise be towed can be modified with a transmission lube pump to allow them to be towed. Here’s the link to Remco, one of the manufacturers, there may be others. http://www.remcoindustries.com/Towing/product.php?f=lubePumpKit.php

    Thanks for the good information – love the site!

    Eric

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  • Abner

    Listen to the Wynns, you need a flat tow vehicle! It’s a must have!

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  • Doug Rennick

    Guys my thoughts are that before you hit the water as you mentioned a while ago,you should arrange to experience C-Class Outlaw by Thor.This way you will experience living in a much smaller RV, but this one has a garage in the back of it with a deck,once you move your smart car out it converts to a master bedroom with all the extras like TV/AC and the comfort of home with a deck that you can sit there at night with a nice glass of wine on your own or with friends you meet on your travels. My wife and I are retired,and my wife is on disability and a fixed income.The above mentioned RV is what we dream about having one day,with at leased 500 watts of solar power,compost toilet,and all the extras that go with it,and also a smart car or mini cooper.this idea of ours is a dream and hope to be able to also boondock at some time. Guys dreaming is great,and we totally enjoy your travels,and do not forget you guys are (LIVING THE DREAM) like a lot of us would really like to do in this life time.Congrats on all you do and keep up the great work.:)

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  • L A Burch

    We are definitely pro-tow. We fulltime and tend to travel a little more loosely. As such, we enjoy the convenience having our own car allows us. We can take in that extra city or “must see” for the area without having to worry about being on a rental schedule or a bus schedule. Our class A serves as our base camp too and most times we have some idea of what we want to see in an area but we usually stumble upon something unique to the area that reveals itself after we’ve arrived and having our tow allows is explore/wander as we see fit.

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  • Keia

    Thank you, Wynns, for another great post/video. I enjoyed reading the comments and seeing how others are enjoying the open road. We purchased a 31ft Class C at the end of last year and added a tow system the beginning of this year. I love having the flexibility to tow our Jeep Liberty, and it is wonderful to have since we are traveling with small children (ages 7 and 4). Usually, we stay at state parks and explore the surrounding area. I love the flexibility of having a toad so we are not limited to staying at the campsite (little legs can only pedal for small distances =). We are taking a two week RV trip to three destinations. We are looking forward to breaking out the Jeep and seeing the world around us. All the best to my fellow RVers =).

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  • John Puccetti

    I may be crazy and it may cost our marriage but we have a 2015 Roadtrek SS Agile solar panels Mercedes 4 cylinder 24.5 mpg diesel. Space is very tight so I hope to utilize out door space with the awning. No tow car maybe bikes. To make it work I am thinking a hotel every 10 days or so but my first goal is the west coast. We just got back from Mendocino CA and it worked OK. Love what you are doing but 7 mpg is unacceptable an 18 wheeler gets better than that fully loaded.

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    • I don’t think you are crazy and sounds doable to me. We know lots of van dwelling/traveling folks who couldn’t imagine having anything larger. That is the beauty of this lifestyle, there is no wrong way but lots of different ways to go about it! Have fun and let us know how you fair!

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  • Great topic to discuss. We are of the same mind, travel BIG, explore the heck out of everything!

    Btw, did you catch the kid? Cracked up!

    Great video again!
    ren & scott

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    • Ha ha, I know right! That kid was our next door neighbor, he was cute.

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  • Twice now having a tow vehicle has saved us from a tow truck and service. Sometimes the nicest part of having a tow car is just running to get a simple part that is preventing the RV from being drive-able. Recently we were less than an hour from home when the alternator went out. We were able to swap with another battery and make it the rest of the way home and replaced the alternator the next day: in the daylight, after the engine has cooled. 2 years ago we didn’t have a tow truck and we spent 6 DAYS in the RV at a Camping World in the Springfield, Missouri with no ability to get around, get groceries, etc. etc. Longest 6 days I ever spent in that RV. 🙂

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  • Andrea

    New to RV-ing. We got our used 36ft Class A in April. It came with a tow hook up for 4 wheels down. We debated buying another car because the tow info on my MKX says it can’t be pulled over 65mph. I was afraid that I would ruin my car. My husband didn’t want to purchase another car. (The MKX was just under 100,000 miles) He called our car dealer and a few other car experts and all told him not to worry. That it was set at 65 because of liability. Well… We left Florida and are now in North Dakota…. and the MKX has been just fine. And I have definitely gone over 65mph! I can’t imagine being without the car. Biggest challenge… the tow system I have is a bear to get unhooked by a woman when it is not perfectly lined up. (Husband is riding cross country on a bike.) I figured out that it is better to drop the car at the park check in BEFORE I try to go to the site in the RV park because I am usually in pretty straight alignment there. When I leave unless I have a way to pull straight forward from my site, I will move the car and the rig to a flat straight location to hook up. When I screw up…and boy have I…..I am grateful my dad handed me a rubber mallet before I left town…..lol. PS. For some reason the Blue cord that goes between the car and rig for the brakes lights got longer and longer… probably the heat? It managed to find the ground and was dragged between Colorado and Wyoming. (Yet another new RVer mistake…oops.) God bless the kind staff at the Laramie KOA. They repaired it for me and wouldn’t take any money in return! Any other tips, tricks or things I should be careful about with the tow thing??? Every time I think I have it figured out…. well you know..lol.

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  • John

    We just took our first long RV trip in our class C, and we invested in a tow dolly for our Prius. It worked out pretty well, and was really important for all our side excursions. Though my wife and I both feel that the next car we get will be one we can tow four down. Until then, we’ll be dolly towing our Prius.

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  • Debbie

    I can’t imagine not having a tow car. We have a 36 ft class A, and pull a 2014 CRV. You don’t even know the car is behind you unless you look in the rear view mirror, or you pull into a tight space. Yes the cost of the set up can be pricey, but I am soooo glad we didn’t use a dolly. We always find central locations to camp, then use our car in a 100 mile radius around the camp to explore. We were surprised to hear that the 2015 CRV can’t be towed. Hope these car manufacturers don’t create a problem for us RVers!

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  • great article. I’m heading out on an 18 month tour to volunteer and raise funds for charity and I’ve chosen to tow a trailer as I have a smart car, my bikes and a pop up movie theater used for events. So simply towing a car wasn’t an option. I’m certain there will be a few more obstacles to deal with but hoping overall it’s the best option. Cheers!

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  • Dan Seibert

    I saw that walking figure at the end and couldn’t help but think of “Signs.” Please put on your tin foil hats, aliens are nearby. : )

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  • Joe

    Nice video and video bomb BTW!

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  • FRANCINE Shea

    Please do a video on your tow setup
    Thanks

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  • Connie C.

    Great video. I’m in the process of researching a tow car. I like the Smart Car, but it seems to me that I heard that not all models (or years?) can be towed 4-down. Is that true? Would I have to get a manual transmission? Thanks.
    — Connie C.

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    • Best and easiest way to find out if the car you are looking at is towable, is to call the manufacture. They will give you the full scoop and you know its solid information.

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  • Thom Colby

    As always, great video with lots of info and perspective!

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  • We 2nd your conclusions so completely that we’ll even 3rd and 4th them! lol We can surely understand the decision that might be involved for the occasional part-timer or weekender about whether to invest in a tow car set-up or not, especially if they don’t already own a flat-towable vehicle. But for a full-timer or most-timer, we cannot fathom how you function without a car. Ours is among the most indispensable pieces of RVing equipment we own. Thanks for the fantastic overview and rundown on the topic. Mark us as two more solid YES! votes (can we both vote, or is it restricted to one per RV?) for anyone who’s planning to RV more than occasionally, but is on the fence about the value of a toad.

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  • Alan

    Good video. Now my two cents. We’ve had a 29ft Class C since 2005. We only use it to vacation in summer as we are still a working family with kids. We have never towed! One year we drove 6000 miles on one trip around the country without a car. On that trip we had a week where I was working about 30 miles from the campsite and I rented a car from Enterprise. They gladly pick you up then take you to your rental. The reverse at the end of the rental. Most of the time we choose to camp where there is local public transportation. Our favorite is Virginia Beach. From memorial day to Labor day buses to the beachfront and aquarium visit several campgrounds near the beach. Another is Townsend, TN near the smokies. There we use bicycles to get to the stores. A toad is nice, but plenty of camping can happen without one.

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  • Ronald Wouda

    Have you or can you do a video on why you decided to travel in a motorhome and tow a car verses traveling with a travel trailer or fifth wheeler pulled either by a pickup or van? What are the plus and minus factors in your choice?

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  • Yes to having a tow car. Can’t imagine being without it now. Used to have a small class C that was not capable of towing so got by without it. But, at 23′ you can easily drive over to the grocery store or laundromat which I did on a weekly basis. With my current 37′ class A I’d be at a loss without my Jeep. I think of my tow car as giving me independence. And, with my diesel pusher, I still get 9 MPG towing the 5,000 lb. Jeep (Grand Cherokee). Happy travels to all!

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  • Gary

    Great video as always. My thoughts on a tow vehicle, if your RV has a wheelbase of 170 inches or more you need a tow vehicle. If it’s less than 170 inches you don’t really need one.

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  • Great topic guys.. and we couldn’t agree more! When we moved from a travel trailer to a motorhome, we tried going toad-free for the first 6 months. It is certainly workable, and it totally changes the way you approach your travels.

    Here’s our post going over our decision points of To Tow or Not to Tow: http://www.technomadia.com/2011/11/to-tow-or-not-to-tow/

    BTW.. we’re one of those crazy Mini Cooper folks, as you know. Ours has been flat towed for over 5 years now.. and no problems. Yes, MINI can deny a *transmission* warranty claim if the cause is found to be the towing (assume it will be, of course).. but it does not void the warranty as a whole. And Mini as a corporation will tell you not to flat tow, but we’ve talked with mechanics and dealers who verify otherwise. 🙂 For us, we went with an older model that didn’t have a warranty anyway, and had been setup to flat tow already. It makes a great little toad.

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  • Mike

    On number 9, you lumped dolly and trailer together. There are differences between these and even some advantages over flat towing with a dolly. Dolly’s are cheaper to purchase than the 4 down setup, can be backed for short distances, have brakes built in, and can take a wide variety of cars that can’t be flat towed. They can also be stowed either under the rear of a motorhome or even lifted up and stored vertically – ie ACME EZ Tow. For me the cost of selling a perfectly nice car, to buy another and then spend another 4 grand to setup for flat towing is too much. Besides, my car is known to me, well serviced and reliable with great gas mileage but can only be towed on a dolly or trailer. A trailer is way to much trouble and expense, but If I wanted to bring a rear wheel drive car then this is the best solution.

    If I were starting out without a car and purchasing one to tow, I would probably go with flat tow because most people do and the majority may be right. But I am not in that situation, and I like my car and saving the dollars too.

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    • John

      I would add that if you have a low profile car (like a Prius), be sure and get a tow dolly designed for it. We got a Master Tow, and it worked ok with some accommodation, but I really wish we could have purchased a low profile friendly dolly.

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    • Mark Elliott

      I agree with you about the convenience and lower cost of using a dolly. Add to that the fact that you save all the extra miles on the drive train of your front wheel drive toad (50% if you RV like the Wynns) and have zero worries about voiding your warranty or the hassle of having to stop every 100-150 miles to “exercise” the transmission of your 4 down toad. Given all this it seems to me a dolly is at least as good if not a much better option than 4 down towing. I have read numerous RV blogs where the writers recommend against using a dolly and instead suggest flat towing but I’ve never seen any actual facts to back up those opinions so if anyone reading here can offer specific real world pros/cons of using a dolly vs 4 down set-up I’d be really interested in seeing your comments. Thx

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      • Our smart car is made to tow and is covered under warranty and does not require any stopping or special treatment such as that when towing. Also, towing miles are not added to our odometer. Because of all of these things, we love towing flat and not having the extra hassle of a dolly. Our car has held up fantastic and not had any issues. Choosing a car that is ready for flat towing makes a lot of sense. However, if you have a car you love and a dolly is the only way to tow it, then go for it. The convenience and ease of our flat towing is why we choose to give up our mini cooper for the smart. There isn’t a wrong or a right and its important to do what works best for you and your situation.

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  • Kenneth

    We just returned from a 109 day, 17,000+ mile trip around the continental U.S.and much like you I averaged our fuel use over the entire trip. We parked our 27 foot trailer and drove our 2011 Chevrolet Silverado to explore many areas. Our overall average was 17.47 mpg. Having the tow vehicle makes things much easier so I suspect a toad would be necessary if we were ever to go the motorhome route.

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  • We drove the RV from base camp into Yosemite Valley several times on our trip last year, what a nightmare! We are still part-timers and don’t have a vehicle that can flat tow, so we are thinking about getting a used dolly just to hold us over for vacations until we buy the next vehicle that will be flat towable!

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  • Pete

    Suggestion #4 should be changed to “braking” system. However, “breaking” often happens when RV’ing (at least to me). : )
    (really enjoy your website)

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  • As a solo traveler, I’ve found my Vespa to be my favorite toad. Since my traveling actually started on it then followed the motorhome, it is also something I’ve super comfy with. I actually got an RV because I was a bit sick of being wet all the time, so I’m not likely to ride it in the rain, though.
    A scooter or motorcycle makes a great toad option, as well, for even better gas mileage, shorter overall length and FUN. I have a hitch carrier with an easy roll on/off ramp.
    Similar to your Smart Car, though, unless someone is adventurous, they usually want to rent a car when they travel with me, or since my rig is small, we just drive it to sightsee.
    Actually… off to take a ride now!

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    • Excellent option and perspective! Thanks so much for taking the time to share Jill!

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  • This is something that we’ve been thinking about a LOT the past week, and I have been doing a lot of research on it so I’m so happy that you have a post on it. We just bought Class C (24 feet long) and we don’t plan on towing anything. We do have many bikes (both mountain and road bikes) as well as a moped to get us anywhere too out of the way. Due to the reasons above, I am really hoping that it works for us!

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    • Sounds like a great set up, especially with the moped! You will have to let us know how you feel after your first few trips but I think it sounds pretty ideal!

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    • Sue B

      Can I ask how you are transporting your bikes??? We are about to begin our full time RV life and have 6 bikes.

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  • Debbie Wright

    Thanks for the great video! How’s the Smart doing with the rough roads in Alaska?

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