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RV Towing
So you finally took the plunge and purchased that motorhome you have always dreamed about, but what do you do once you get to your destination. You don't want to have to unhook the motorhome and store everything away to see the area sites in the RV. So towing a vehicle with your motorhome is the next logical step in RV'ing and having the right setup makes all the difference in how well that experience goes.
There are basically three options to get this done, use a tow dolly, tow the vehicle on a trailer or tow the vehicle 4 wheels down. There are pros and cons to each method and we could spend a lot of time debating this, but for the sake of argument and the length of this article, lets say you have determined 4 wheels down is the right choice for your towing needs.
There are currently three main players in the tow bar & baseplate market those being Demco, Roadmaster and Blue Ox. We have personally towed more miles with the Blue Ox setup and like the ease of use their towing system has although all three have proven to be very reliable. So where do you start and what is needed?
Towed Vehicle Selection - First you must determine what vehicle you will be towing and whether it can be towed 4 wheels down. Not every vehicle can be towed this way and it is very important to check with the manufacturer to confirm that it can. As a reference here is the new vehicle 2014 Dinghy Guide to help you get started. Next you will need to ensure that a baseplate (see below for details on base plates) is available for vehicle. We have a complete listing of Blue Ox baseplates by make, model & year. It also important to consider the weight of the vehicle and the towing capacity of the RV. To many times RV'ers think that because the RV is big it should be able to tow any size vehicle. What's not considered is the hitch rating and as well as the tow rating of the motorhome. These are all spec's that should be carefully analyzed before even attempting to tow a vehicle.
  • If you own a vehicle that you have found cannot be towed 4 wheels down all is not lost, there is still a chance that a transmission lube pump or drive shaft disconnect system can be used to make the dinghy towable. Check with Remco Towing for their application information.
  • If you do not have a vehicle yet, the most common vehicles that are towed are Jeep, Ford, Saturn and Honda. Check with the 2014 Dinghy Guide to help get you started on your search.
Equipment needed to tow - Now that you have your towed vehicle we can review the products you need to get you towing.
Base Plate
Blue Ox Baseplate With Removable Tabs
  • Baseplates - The baseplate (also known as a mounting bracket) is mounted to the frame of your towed vehicle and connects your towed vehicle to a tow bar. Blue Ox baseplates are manufactured to fit a specific vehicle and feature removable tabs which make the base plate almost undetectable. See our complete listing of Blue Ox baseplates.
    • Blue Ox baseplates come with all of the hardware required along with step by step installation instructions. With a standard set of tools this is generally an afternoon DIY project or if needed many auto repair facilities will install a baseplate at the going labor rate.
Tow Bar
Blue Ox Motorhome Mounted Tow Bar
  • Towbars - The tow bar connects the motorhome to the towed vehicle. Blue Ox manufacturers three different types of tow bars;
    • Receiver mounted self aligning tow bar (also known as motorhome mounted tow bar) - installs into the receiver of the the motorhome and when not in use can be folded and remains with the motorhome. The arms on all of these tow bars are adjustable so hooking up is made easy for a single person to attach the tow bar to the baseplate on uneven terrain. Current Blue Ox models include the Aventa LX (10,000 lb rated), Aladdin (7500 lb rated) & Alpha (6,000 lb rated).
    • Hitch mounted self aligning tow bar (also known as towed vehicle mounted tow bar) - connects to a ball mounted or pintle hitch and folds on the tow vehicle when not in use. The arms on these tow bar are adjustable for hooking up although this tow bar is a little more difficult to setup with one person than the receiver mounted tow bar. Current Blue Ox models include Acclaim (6500 lb rated), Allure (10,000 lb rated), Torrent (40,000 lb rated), Triton (80,000 lb rated) & Triumph (120,000 lb rated)
    • Hitch mounted rigid A-frame tow bar is perfect for the budget minded RV'er or someone who will only be towing a few times a year. These towbars are much harder to connect and may require the baseplate to have a specific tab distance since they are rigid. Current Blue Ox models include the Adventurer (5,000 lb rated) and Ambassador (5,000 lb rated, tab with must be 24")
Patriot Braking System
Blue Ox Patriot Braking System
  • Braking Systems - This is a device that applies the brakes in the towed vehicle when you are applying the brakes in the motorhome. Most people when they start out towing don't believe they need a braking system. The motorhome is big it can easily stop itself and a car behind it. And generally this is true, but how much time and distance this can happen is the real factor. With enough notice most motorhomes can stop most towed vehicles, but it is the emergency stops that causes the problem. Your motorhome cannot stop in the same distance with that additional weight back there and in many cases that stopping distance is increased considerably. And then we have the legal aspect, all states have a towing law with most requiring a supplemental braking system when towing over 2500 lbs. And an even scarier situation would be a brake away, where the towed vehicle became detached from the motorhome. With a braking system the included brake away safety device would apply the brakes on the car immediately. Blue Ox offers a few different types of braking systems:
    • Portable Braking System - This is easily installed and removed from the vehicle when ever needed and utilizes a decelerometer to actuate the brakes proportionally with the stopping of the motorhome. An air or electric cylinder is attached to the brake pedal and depresses the pedal as braking is needed. This is a good choice when you maybe using multiple tow vehicles or change vehicles frequently. The downside is that it take a little more setup time than a permanently installed system and it has to be stored when not in use. The Blue Ox Patriot Braking System is the only model they have in this category of braking systems.
    • Momentum Braking Receivers - These are the simplest of all braking systems and use the forward momentum of your towed vehicle to pull a cable that is attached to the towed vehicles brake pedal. Blue Ox currently offers the Universal AutoStop & AutoStop for Aladdin/Alpha towbars
    • To see some of the other option in braking systems that Blue Ox doesn't cover click here.
Towing Accessories
Blue Ox Towing Accessories
  • Towing Accessories - As with anything as involved as towing a vehicle behind your motorhome, there are many add on items that maybe needed to complete the job or just make it a whole lot easier.
    • Taillight Wiring Kits & Cables - Your towed vehicles taillights must be working to be towed so there are a number of solutions from adding additional bulbs to the taillights or tapping into the vehicle wiring and adding blocking diodes. Since your Blue Ox Baseplate comes with a mount for a taillight receptacle, it can be utilized with a coiled cable that attaches to the motorhome 7 way trailer connection. This allows for quick and easy connection to the towed vehicles lighting.
    • Towed Vehicle Protectors - Use these shields to protect your towed vehicle from flying rocks, debris, oil, mud, tar, dirt and other items kicked up by your Motor Home. These devices deflect road debris away preventing chips and dings to your towed vehicle.
    • Tow Bar Accessories - Items such as safety cables, tow bar locks, tow bar covers, adapters and repair parts.

RV Towing System