#1 Tow bar -
This is the device that connects the motorhome to the towed (dinghy) vehicle. The main considerations in choosing a tow bar are the tow rating and mounting type. The tow rating will be associated with the weight of the vehicle you intend on towing. Motorhome mounted tow bars are the most popular and we have put together a comparison of each by tow rating Click Here to View
Motorhome Mounted - This towbar slides into the receiver of the motorhome and folds and remains there when disconnected. The advantage of this style tow bar is that it does not need to be removed when you disconnect and stored somewhere, it is also easier to work with since most of the weight is leveraged on the motorhome. The arms of these towbars slide in and out to make installing a one person job.
Hitch Mounted - This style towbar is attached by a 2" ball & receiver (most popular size). The advantage is that the pivot point is at the ball which is less likely to wear out and need replacing. Most hitch mounted towbars fold on the front of the towed vehicle with solid arm tow bars needing to be removed from both the motorhome and vehicle and stored while not in use. This style towbar can be found with and without sliding arms, the later being a less expensive option. T
#2 Blue Ox Baseplates or Roadmaster Brackets - This is the bracket that is bolted to the front of the toad and allows the tow bar to be connected. Most tow bar manufacturers have adapters to hook pretty much any tow bar to any baseplate. So you do not have to be concerned with matching components by just one company, you can mix and match to get the best possible towing solution.
Blue Ox Baseplates are made specifically for each vehicle and are designed to be hidden when not in use. They are designed in a way so they do not use a cross member and only require the removal of small lite weight tabs.
Roadmaster Brackets are made specifically for each vehicle and offer 3 different options depending on price and application. Roadmaster Brackets utilize a cross member for strength which can be removed to make the bracket hidden.
#3 Safety Cables - Cables providing a emergency connection if the tow bar where to become disconnected.
All states require safety cables or chains when towing. Safety cables are PVC coated and coiled which eliminates rust and keeps them from dragging on the ground while towing.
#4 Toad Wiring & Kits - Wiring that will allow the towed vehicles brake lights and turn signals to operate in conjunction with the motorhome.
Bulb & Socket Kits allow for the addition of a bulb into the vehicles brake light assembly, which does not interfere with the vehicles wiring system. With this system magnetic lights are not needed and hooking and unhooking is much faster.
Plug & Play Kits are a T style plug setup that connects to your towed vehicles tail-light connectors allowing for very fast and easy installation. These kits are more expensive but have the advantage of a much quicker installation.
A Diode Kit utilizes the vehicles wiring system to send signal to the existing tail lights. A diode it put in place so power is not sent back through the system. This setup is faster since wiring is not needed to be run from the front of the vehicle to the back, but you will need to be familiar with where to place the diodes.
Magnetic temporary lights are fast and easy to install, but will mare the vehicles paint after several uses and will need to be removed when not towing.
#5 Braking System - System to activate the toads brakes while being towed. There are as many different types as there are manufacturers.
As with safety cables, most states require your towed vehicle to have a supplementry braking system. Consult your states laws if you do not plan to use one.
SMI Braking Systems are the most innovative on the market, and are a true proportional braking system. As the motorhome brakes are applied the same force is applied to the towed vehicle. SMI also uses a system to keep the towed vehicles brake pedal live, they utilize a vacuum system to maintain the power brakes even while the vehicle is not running. The advantage of this system is that the towed vehicle is never pushing or stopping the motorhome, installation will be more involved than other types of systems.
Removalable Braking systems such as the Blue Ox Patriot, the Brake Buddy Classic & Vanatge and the Roadmaster 9700 & EvenBrake are easy to install and use. Most systems utilize a pendulum style declinometer to activate and apply braking pressure. Perfect for the occasional tower, these units will need to be removed and stored after each use.
#6 Drop / Raise Receiver - Used to get the proper towbar angle. A towbar should never be out of level more than 3" to 4".
#7 Toad Accessories - Protection devices for the towed vehicle, charging systems to maintain battery life, and related items.
Some of the more popular accessories include tow shields to block road debris from damaging your towed vehicles, Toad-Charge to keep your towed vehicles battery charged while using a braking system or having to leave the ignition on while towing, towbar covers, and extra towbar parts incase repairs on the road are needed.