All About Tow Vehicles

When planning to purchase an RV, there are so many important factors to consider. One must first consider what type of RV is best for them and their lifestyle (see this handy guide for all the necessary considerations to make your choice). When making this choice, many people may decide that they feel more comfortable driving a tow vehicle with a towable RV. If you have a motorhome or are searching for information on towing a vehicle, check this other helpful article.

As far as driving capabilities go, when towing an RV, you will be driving a truck or similar vehicle, while pulling your RV behind you. However, there are a few obstacles to overcome if you do not have any towing experience. If you do not already own a tow vehicle, this would involve purchasing a truck or other vehicle capable of towing your trailer. There is also the obstacle of becoming accustomed to towing, as there can be several factors that take some practice. However, for many, the idea of setting up their trailer or fifth wheel at a campsite, unhooking, and being able to continue exploring in their truck is very attractive.

Continue reading to learn more about tow vehicles and RVing. See this helpful guide from U-Haul for towing terms or any other terms that you are unsure of. Remember to always check your manufacturer’s manual to determine your vehicle’s towing capacity. 

Type of Towable RVs

Knowing what type of RV you will be towing is a crucial factor in choosing a tow vehicle. If you decide on a fifth wheel, you must choose a truck, as the fifth wheel must actually connect to a hitch inside the bed of the truck. Fifth wheels are also some of the heaviest towable RVs on the market, so a fifth wheel will also involve choosing a truck with a higher towing capacity.

If you are considering choosing a travel trailer but haven’t selected a size yet, then there are also some important factors to consider. Travel trailers have some of the widest size variations of all RVs. From the lightest pop-ups to the beefy two-story trailers, you have almost endless choices to fit your needs and your tow vehicle’s capabilities. 

A truck camper is another type of RV that technically requires a tow vehicle. For the price and convenience, these can be a great fit for many couples or individuals wanting to travel anywhere their truck can take them. Where you are planning to travel will greatly impact your choice. National park campgrounds cannot typically accommodate RVs over thirty-five feet in length. Many other campgrounds struggle to have enough spaces for larger RVs, so spots can be in high demand.

How to Choose the Right Tow Vehicle

The type of towable RV and its weight are the main factors when choosing your tow vehicle. SUVs, minivans, Jeeps, and some other four-wheel-drive vehicles are capable of towing lighter loads like pop-ups, teardrop campers, and other Light models of trailers. 

RVs with a higher Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) require a much heavier-duty vehicle that is almost always a truck. Remember to consider the weight of the trailer fully loaded with water, fuels, belongings, etc. It can be incredibly damaging and dangerous to tow beyond your vehicle’s capacity. You can not only hurt your vehicle, but potentially cause a car accident. 

Supplies Needed for all Towable RVs

No matter which type of towable RV you decide to try, you will first need to acquire a few basic tools. 

1. Lighting

The first important component is trailer lighting. Some trucks and other tow vehicles come with a tow lighting package, but this is not always the case. If your tow vehicle is not already set up with tow lighting, it will need to be installed. This important component connects your vehicle’s lighting to your trailer’s so that when you brake, the trailer’s brake lights come on, and when you use a turn signal, those traveling behind your trailer also know you are about to turn. This step is absolutely mandatory, and it is incredibly important that your tow lighting is set up correctly for both your safety and the safety of others driving around you.

2. Hitch

To tow your trailer, you will also need a hitch set-up of some sort. Many trucks already come with a hitch installed, but not every truck had this feature. Hitch installations are fairly common for shops and require the parts and some time spent welding. U-Haul even performs hitch installations on vehicles, which can be handy if your local shop is tied up. 

If you’re towing a fifth wheel, a special hitch and rails need to be installed into the bed of your truck. This can be a very expensive step, but it’s crucial that these parts be installed correctly. Keep in mind that these parts will also take up space in the bed of your truck indefinitely, unless you decide to have them removed between trips (not recommended). 

3. Upgrades and Accessories

Most vehicles do not come equipped with adequate mirrors for towing. Since you are already sacrificing your rear-view mirror, you will need to solely rely on your side mirrors to safely tow. Upgrades like bubble mirrors or extenders will be necessary to see the entire length of your RV.

Backup cameras can also be a very beneficial accessory for additional comfort. These can be invaluable for backing into campsites or any other situations of reversing, especially if you are travelling alone or without another adult present. 

Vehicle coolers can also be added onto your tow vehicle to prevent overheating, which can sometimes occur due to the strain that towing places on the tow vehicle. Transmission coolers, oil and power steering coolers, and radiator fans can all be installed to ensure your tow vehicle never overheats. 

Additional Considerations

The amount of people that will be travelling with you is another factor to consider when choosing a tow vehicle. Most states do not allow passengers to ride in the towed trailer for safety reasons, so everyone will need to ride in the tow vehicle itself. Keep in mind any pets that will also be travelling, as they should also ride in the vehicle with you. If you have a truck, it may be necessary to have a second row of seats for this reason. 

Towing can create additional wear and tear on your vehicle, especially when towing heavy loads. If your tow vehicle breaks down, this can be problematic if it is also your main mode of transportation. Be sure that all of the regularly scheduled maintenance is being performed on your tow vehicle, and, as stated above, never exceed your vehicle’s towing capacity.

Choosing to tow an RV is not a choice to be taken lightly. There are many considerations when choosing the towable RV itself, and also when choosing a tow vehicle. Oftentimes this is a larger up-front investment. However, the benefits of towing an RV are unmatched. Just be sure to do your own research and consult professionals and manufacturers to ensure that you have all the correct components to safely tow. Improper towing can cause severe, expensive, and dangerous damages, so it is essential that you are as safe as possible. Once you have everything all set up, you’re ready to hit the road to your next Harvest Hosts location!

Do you tow an RV? What type of towable RV do you have? What was the hardest step setting this up? Tell us about it in the comments!

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