How To Safely Tow A Car Behind A Motorhome [Everything You Need To Know]

Knowing how to safely tow a car behind a motorhome adds tremendous flexibility to your camping experience. You can easily run errands without having to drive your big rig into cities every time you need something from a store.

With that said, here are three popular ways you can use to tow a car behind your motorhome: 

  1.  Dinghy Tow (All wheels down)
  2.  Flatbed Tow (All wheels up)
  3.  Dolly Tow (Only two wheels down)

These are safe and do not require complex-level technical skills to set up. Just follow our steps and you will be ready to go in no time.

So let’s get started.

How to Safely Tow a Car Behind a Motorhome

Before you start, you should know every car is different. Their towing system will not necessarily be the same as you think. Therefore it’s always a good idea to know the tow type your car accepts. You can find more about it in the user’s manual of the car. 

And finally, depending on the tow you want to go for, you may have to purchase additional attachments.

 

  1. Dinghy Tow (All Wheels Down)

Dinghy towing is one of the most popular methods to tow a car behind your motorhome. In the RV community, this also goes by the name four wheels down, bar towing, flat towing, and so on. 

As the name suggests, all of the wheels of the vehicle stay on the ground when attached to the “A” shaped tow bar. As all of the wheels will be on the road the entire time of towing, make sure your transmission can take it. 

Things you will need-

  1. Flat tow bar installed on the motorhome
  2. Base plate installed on the car
  3. Electrical cable
  4. Safety chains
  5. Auxiliary braking system 

 

  1. First, bring your car behind at a distance where the tow bar extends. 
  2. Place the two big pins on the base plate that will connect the tow bars.
  3. After successfully attaching the tow bar to the base plate, make sure safety pins are tight and secure.
  4. Then attach all the safety chains, electrical wiring, and auxiliary braking system if you have any.

Pros

  1. One of the cheap options available.
  2. Easy to set up within minutes.
  3. Does not require additional storage for towing.
  4. One man job/hooking.

Cons

  1. Transmissions may get damaged due to a lack of lubrication.
  2. The odometer will add mileage to your car.

 

  1. Flatbed Tow (All wheels up)

This is completely the opposite of dinghy towing. Instead of leaving the car on the ground, it uses a flatbed trailer. The car sits on the flatbed safe and sound. Depending on the flatbed you have, you can even fit a couple of golf carts, motorbikes, and so on.

The main reason flatbed is a better option than Dinghy towing is because it will not damage your transmission. And did I say it also doesn’t add any unnecessary mileage to your car? 

Things you will need-

  1. Flatbed trailer
  2. Ramps (if your flatbed doesn’t have one)
  3. Straps with the ratchet system
  4. Electric wiring & Brake control

 

  1. Put the flatbed trailer on the brake before moving your car. 
  2. Every trailer has its own ramp inside. In some models, the whole trailer can pivot accordingly. 
  3. Slowly move your car onto the trailer. Make sure it’s perfectly aligned and activate the emergency brake.
  4. Now tie your wheels securely with ratchet-style straps. 
  5. Plugin the electric wiring for an indication of the lights and brake controls.
  6. Also, don’t forget to attach the safety chains in a criss-cross manner.


Pros

  1. Ideal for almost all cars, bikes, golf carts, and so on.
  2. No harm to the transmission system in the car.
  3. Do not add extra mileage
  4. No unnecessary tire wear.

Cons

  1. Flatbed trailers need licensing
  2. Can be expensive

 

  1. Dolly Tow (Only two wheels down)

The Dolly tow system is only suitable for front-wheel-drive vehicles. Here the dolly lifts up only the front wheels of the car. Think of it as like a miniature trailer, the only difference is instead of lifting the whole car it works on the front portion.

The disadvantage of dinghy tow and the advantage of the flatbed trailer made the dolly tow an effective tow system. It’s small in size, relatively lightweight, easy to store, and simple to set up and attach.

Things you will need-

  1. Ratchets and straps
  2. Safety lines
  3. Electrical wiring

 

  1. First, tow your dolly to your motorhome. Make sure all hitch pins are correctly placed. You don’t want to slip your dolly while moving your car.
  2. Take the ramp pin out so the deck drops down.
  3. Adjust the ramps on the dolly according to the width between the wheels.
  4. Slowly drive down the ramps until it hits the wheel to stop. Engage the parking brake and turn off the ignition so the car doesn’t move in the next procedure.
  5. Fasten the front two wheels with straps and ratchets. Try to tighten the straps equally. Do not leave one side to lose to the other.
  6. After everything is secure and tight, put the car in neutral. 


Pros

  1. Easy and quick installation
  2. If you drive carefully you can back up with a car on the back
  3. No extra pressure on the transmission.
  4. Convenient to store. 

Cons

  1. Only suitable for front-wheel-drive cars.
  2. Some state dolly need licensing 

 

Things to Consider before Towing your Car Behind Your RV

As I said earlier not every tow system is equal. There are a lot of factors to consider before towing your car. Here is a quick list of things you should evaluate.

  1. Read the car’s manual to find out what kind of towing system it prefers. If you are still not sure, make contact with the car manufacturer. 
  2. There are different laws for towing a vehicle in various states. Make sure you are not in violation of the law.
  3. Make sure the tour flatbed and dolly’s wheel axle has appropriate pressure and weight tolerance. 
  4. Install auxiliary brakes control and signal LED on the flatbed and dolly if you don’t have any.
  5. Ensure that your vehicle width fits perfectly on whatever towing system you would want to use.

 

Final Verdict

Bringing a car with a motorhome lessens the stress on you and the rig. After reading how to safely tow a car behind a motorhome, you are now more confident to do it yourself. That said, I hope you can choose the best option for you depending on the situation.

So Tow, explore, and enjoy.

 

Author’s Bio-

We believe in traveling & living in an RV as the most amazing way to throw off conventional life’s boredom. Following these processes, you can understand how to make a perfect journey in a motorhome. That’s how we started Camperlio to share the resources, tips & tricks on camping, and gears to help RV enthusiasts enjoy their life.

 

Harvest Hosts does not endorse any affiliate links, if any, provided in the above article. 

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Comments

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  1. Stu
    13th October, 2021

    Seems to be the wrong photo accompanying this article.
    I’m no expert, but that’s an SUV pulling a travel trailer.
    Just sayin.

  2. Steve Gunden
    13th October, 2021

    Flat towing does not add mileage to the vehicle’s odometer. Our “toad” displays over 36,000 miles, but its tires have traveled over 50,000 miles!
    Only flat tow those vehicles that are capable. Consult your owner’s manual for applicability and for the specific procedure to flat tow.
    There are resources developed annually identifying specific manufacturer makes and models that can be flat towed. Look before buying. ….

  3. Mervyn rudgley
    13th October, 2021

    Why do you think you can’t dolly tow a rear wheel drive car with stick shift?