How to Flat Tow a Car Behind an RV

So, you’ve decided to flat tow a car behind your RV, but you’re unsure where to start. Before you hit the road, there are vital steps you need to take for a safe and smooth journey. From selecting the right tow bar to testing the towing setup, each detail plays an important role in your towing experience. Let’s break down the process and get you ready for the open road ahead.

First, Can Your Vehicle Be Flat Towed?

Not all vehicles can be flat towed. It is crucial that you confirm yours can be before attempting to do so. One of the most common “TOADs” for RVers is the 4×4 Jeep Wrangler, because you can place the transfer case in true neutral – plus, who doesn’t love taking a jeep offroad as you travel and camp!

Some other vehicles require the drive shaft(s) to be disconnected for flat towing.

And others would require a tow dolly or trailer.

Please confirm whether your vehicle can be flat towed, along with the proper procedure for doing so, before attempting it!

Selecting the Right Tow Bar

When towing a car behind your RV, selecting the right tow bar is essential for safe and efficient transportation. The tow bar links your RV and the vehicle being towed. As a road warrior, it’s important to choose a tow bar that is compatible with both the receiver hitch on your RV and the vehicle you are towing. 

Being part of the RV community means taking care of your equipment, and that includes investing in a high-quality tow bar. Look for features like adjustable sizing, sturdy construction, and easy installation to make your towing experience hassle-free. By selecting the right tow bar for your setup, you’re ensuring safety and fostering a sense of belonging among fellow RV enthusiasts who value responsible and well-equipped travel practices.

A few brands that make tow bars include Blue Ox, Curt, and Roadmaster. Make sure you do your own research to find out which one will fit your rig and has good customer reviews, though. Websites like are a great place to research towing accessories. They can also provide assistance with matching equipment to your specific needs.

Installing Base Plates on the Car

You’ll also need to install base plates on your car to securely connect it to the tow bar when towing behind your RV. Base plates are vital components that allow for a stable connection between your car and the tow bar. By installing these plates, your car will be properly attached to the RV.

Chances are, you will get base places from the same manufacturer that makes the tow bar you end up going with. If not, make sure to confirm compatibility and functionality. You’ll also want to make sure the process of connecting and disconnecting is as simple as possible.

To begin the installation process, carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions provided with the base plates kit. You may need to remove certain parts of your car’s front end to properly attach the base plates securely. 

These plates provide a solid foundation for the tow bar, ensuring a smooth and secure towing experience. Remember, safety always comes first, so take the time to install the base plates correctly before hitting the road. 

Attaching the Tow Bar to the RV

Begin by aligning the tow bar with the hitch receiver on your RV. Slide the tow bar into the receiver, making sure to secure it with the necessary pins or bolts provided with your tow bar equipment. 

Once the tow bar is attached to the RV hitch, connect the other end to the base plate on the front of your car. After the connection is secure, make certain that the tow vehicle’s emergency brake is on and place the towed vehicle in neutral with the parking brake disengaged per the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Connecting Safety Cables and Chains

The next step after installing the base plates and attaching the tow bar to your car is connecting safety cables and chains to your RV. Safety cables and chains are vital components that provide an extra layer of security while towing your vehicle behind an RV. Follow these steps to properly connect them:

Cross the Cables: Make sure that the safety cables or chains are crossed underneath the tow bar to create a cradle in case of a disconnect.

Secure Attachment Points: Attach one end of each cable to the base plate on your car and the other end to the hitch on your RV. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to confirm attachment points.

Proper Length: Adjust the length of the safety cables or chains to allow for turns and movement without being too loose or too tight.

Test the Connection: Before hitting the road, gently tug the safety cables to verify that they are correctly attached and can support the weight of your towed vehicle.

Setting Up Supplemental Braking System

There are multiple types of supplemental braking systems, from electrically operated units that sit in your TOAD’s floorboard to pneumatic units that are installed under the hood and operated by the coach’s air system (if your coach has air brakes). What you decide for your vehicle will depend on your needs and budget, but there are numerous systems on the market to consider.

Once the tow bar and safety cable are attached, make sure that the supplemental braking system is properly set up for safe towing behind your RV. 

Here are four essential steps to set up your supplemental braking system:

Connect the Braking System: Attach the braking system to both your RV and the towed vehicle to enable synchronized braking.

Adjust Braking Sensitivity: Fine-tune the sensitivity of the supplemental braking system to match the weight and braking requirements of the towed vehicle.

Test the System: Before hitting the road, conduct a test to confirm that the supplemental braking system engages appropriately when you brake in the RV.

Regular Maintenance: Routinely inspect and maintain your supplemental braking system to ensure it functions correctly each time you tow your vehicle behind your RV.

Checking Lights and Signals

Before towing, it is vital to check the lights and signals on both your RV and the towed vehicle. Inspecting the taillights, brake lights, turn signals, and hazard lights on both vehicles is important for your safety and the safety of others on the road. Start by making sure that all lights are bright, visible, and not burnt out.

Take the time to test each light individually, including the headlights and reverse lights. Replace any bulbs that are not working correctly before hitting the road. Additionally, check the connection between the RV and the towed vehicle to confirm that the lights sync up and function simultaneously.

Properly working lights and signals are crucial for signaling your intentions to other drivers and ensuring everyone can see your RV and towed vehicle clearly, especially during nighttime or adverse weather conditions. 

Testing the Towing Setup

Before heading out on your journey, make sure that you have tested the towing setup thoroughly. Here are some essential steps to follow:

Check the Hitch Connection: Make sure the hitch is properly connected and that there is no excessive movement between the RV and the towed car. A loose connection can be risky and may lead to hazards on the road.

Test the Brakes: Before hitting the road, test the brakes on both the RV and the towed car. Ensure that the braking system is working effectively to prevent any mishaps while driving.

Inspect Tire Pressure: Check the tire pressure on both the RV and the towed car. Proper tire pressure is essential for safe towing and can help prevent blowouts or other tire-related issues.

Practice TurningFind an open space to practice turning with the towed car attached. This will help you get a feel for how the setup handles in different situations, making you more confident on the road.

Remember – No Reversing! You are very likely to damage your towing setup if you reverse while flat towing. It can be done for a very short distance, but is not recommended. We recommend avoiding it altogether.

Driving and Maneuvering Safely

After confirming that your flat towing setup is properly tested, focus on driving and maneuvering safely while towing a car behind your RV. When on the road, remember to maintain a safe distance from other vehicles to allow for smoother braking and maneuvering in case of sudden stops. Keep a steady speed to prevent swaying, and make gentle turns to avoid straining the towing equipment.

Always be aware of your surroundings and use your mirrors frequently to monitor the car being towed. Remember, you are now driving a longer and heavier vehicle, so take wider turns to prevent the car from hitting curbs or obstacles. Be cautious when changing lanes, and give yourself plenty of room to merge smoothly.

Practice patience and avoid sudden movements that could cause instability. If you need to make a stop, do so gradually and allow for extra braking distance. 

Parking and Unhooking the Car

When it’s time to park and unhook the car behind your RV, make sure you choose a level and stable surface. 

Engage Parking Brake: Before unhooking your car, always activate the parking brake to prevent any accidental rolling.

Place Wheel Chocks: Use wheel chocks to secure the car’s wheels and add an extra layer of safety while unhooking.

Put the Vehicle in Park: Take the car out of neutral and place it in park (or put it in gear, if manual) so that it is ready to go when you’re done unhooking it.

Turn off the Ignition: Before unhooking, ensure the car’s ignition is switched off to avoid any potential electrical issues.

Check Hitch Connection: Before completely unhooking the car, double-check the hitch connection to make sure it is secure and ready for travel.

Remove Base Plate Pins: If your base plate has removable pins that connect to the tow bar, remove them so they are not sticking out from the front of your vehicle.

Disconnect Braking System: If your braking system needs to be disconnected and removed from the TOAD before you can drive it after disconnecting, do so now.

Stow Tow Bar: If your RV is staying put for a while, you should remove and stow the tow bar so that it doesn’t get stolen or damaged. Otherwise, simply fold it up so that it is not a tripping hazard. Remember to stow any pins or accessories so they don’t get lost, as well!

Maintenance and Troubleshooting

Regularly inspecting and maintaining your RV and towed car is vital to guarantee the longevity and safety of your towing setup. Before each trip, check that all towing equipment is in good condition. Make sure that the hitch, safety chains, and wiring connections are properly attached and functioning. It’s also essential to inspect the tires on both the RV and the towed car, looking for signs of wear and any damage that could cause problems on the road.

Additionally, If you notice strange noises, vibrations, or handling problems while towing, investigate and address them immediately before continuing your journey. It’s important to address any maintenance or repair needs as soon as they arise to prevent accidents and costly damage. By staying proactive and attentive to the maintenance of your RV and towed car, you can enjoy a safe and worry-free flat towing experience.

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