Flat Towing FAQs

Flat towing your car behind your motor home is a great way to bring an additional set of wheels, but it can get complicated and you probably have a lot of questions. We have collected some of the more common questions below. If you have more questions, please feel free to call us at 877-895-1276.

What do I need to flat tow my vehicle?

There are basically four things you need ... (continue reading)

There are basically four things you need to flat tow your vehicle;

  • Baseplate
  • Tow Bar
  • Towed Vehicle Lighting
  • Supplementary Braking System

Baseplate

The baseplate is the part that attaches to your car and connects to the tow bar. Each baseplate is custom designed to fit a specific make and model of vehicle. The fact that there is a baseplate for your vehicle does NOT mean that your specific vehicle can be flat towed. Please see the section below “Can my vehicle be flat towed?”

It is recommended that baseplates be installed by qualified mechanics, but we have many customers who are able to install one themselves. We recommend reviewing the installation instructions to see what is involved in installation and then you can decide if you have the skills or need to find a mechanic.

Tow Bar

The tow bar is the “Y” shaped piece that is the physical connection between the two vehicles. Tow bars must include safety chains and in most cases these are included when you buy a new tow bar. There are tow bars that stay attached to the towing vehicle and others that stay attached to the towed vehicle. In either case, you need to make sure that your tow bar is designed with enough capacity for your towed vehicle.

RV mounted tow bars are the most common because they are the most convenient to use. They are available in 6,500 lbs., 7,500 lbs., 10,000 lbs., and higher capacities. These typically attach to the RV’s receiver hitch and are designed to fold up and out of the way when not in use. Since these are easy to remove from the receiver hitch, we recommend a hitch lock for security purposes.

Vehicle mounted tow bars are designed to stay attached to the towed vehicle and are normally less expensive. These require a hitch ball on the towing vehicle. We recommend locks for this style of tow bar too.

Towed Vehicle Lighting

Just like a trailer, a towed vehicle is required to have lighting that is controlled by the towing vehicle. There are a number of ways to accomplish this when flat towing. The basic options are; removable lights, and hard wired kits. We stock a wide variety of hard wired options in both incandescent and LED systems. The tow bar listing for you specific vehicle will include a recommendation for a custom fit wiring kit.

In all cases, you will need to also purchase a coiled cable that connects between the two vehicles. Since there are a number of combinations of plugs on both ends, you will want to select the one that matches your vehicles.

Supplementary Braking System

A supplementary braking system is installed in the towed vehicle and will apply the brakes when the brakes on the towing vehicle are applied. There are a number of styles of braking systems, but we recommend the Patriot Braking System. This system is wireless, it communicates with the towing vehicle via RF. It is a proportional system that applies the brakes as gently or hard as you do in the towing vehicle. It is also portable, the towed vehicle section is a single piece that is easily removed and stored when not in us.

The answer to this is not very clear... (continue reading)

The answer to this is not very clear. A lot of people will tell you that they are and some will tell you that they aren’t in some states. It probably boils down to the police officer’s understanding of the laws when he is writing the ticket. The only way to know for sure is to ask your lawyer. If you want to research this yourself you can start here http://drivinglaws.aaa.com/tag/trailer-brakes/ but the question is whether or not a towed vehicle qualifies as a “trailer.”

In any case, we strongly recommend supplementary braking systems.

Supplementary braking systems provide you with a much safer and more comfortable towing experience. Without towed vehicle brakes, it is much easier to jack knife your rig and damage your tow bar, or worse.

These systems help preserve the brakes on your towing vehicle. By spreading the braking load across both vehicles, the brakes on the towing vehicle will last longer.

Check your warranty info on your towing vehicles. Some RV manufactures require that towed vehicles have brakes to maintain warranty coverage.

There are several factors r... (continue reading)

There are several factors that should be considered when selecting a tow bar which can all contribute to the safety and enjoyment of towing a vehicle.

As with any towing system, the most important consideration should be capacity. What is the total weight of the vehicle you’ll be flat towing when it’s fully loaded? Tow bars come in a range of weight capacities from 3,500 to 10,000 pounds when used with a receiver-style hitch. Some tow bars are even designed to be pulled with a heavy duty pintle hook and can be rated even higher, but for the purposes of this article, we’ll concentrate on the conventional receiver-style tow bars that are most commonly used in the RV market.

Consult the owner’s manual of the vehicle you’ll be towing to determine the total weight of that vehicle and then add in the weight any option equipment it may have or additional cargo it may be carrying while being towed. If that information is not readily available, consider having the vehicle weighed at a local truck stop or other facility with such equipment. Here’s a link to a CAT scale locator: https://catscale.com/cat-scale-locator/

Tow bar systems are just like any other towing system when it comes to capacity – the lowest rated component in the system determines the total capacity for the system. Your tow bar may be rated for 10,000 pounds, but if the hitch receiver it’s connected to is only rated for 3,500 pounds, that is the maximum capacity of your towing system.

Another factor to consider when selecting a tow bar is where will the tow bar be stored when it’s not in use? There are 3 basic types of tow bars – the most popular models fold and store on the back of the motor home. Others fold and store on the front of the towed vehicle, and others must be removed and stored when not in use. That last style is typically an “A-frame” style of tow bar that may or may not have legs that fold together when not in use and can be difficult to store.

Those 3 styles of tow bars mentioned above also has a bearing on baseplate connectivity. The connection points of the baseplate on the towed vehicle can vary in width. Folding leg-style tow bars can adjust to fit most any width of attachment points, but a rigid A-frame style tow bar can only be mounted to a baseplate with 24-inch-wide attachment points. To use that style of tow bar on a baseplate with non-24-inch attachment points, an additional adapter will be required.

Speaking of adapters, Blue Ox makes a variety of adapters to allow you to use their tow bars on other brands of baseplates, or vice versa. Here’s a link to our adapter page is you need to make a connection between different brands of equipment: https://www.blueoxtowbars.com/categories/Blue_Ox_Tow_Bar_Adapters

Beyond those factors mentioned above, which tow bar you choose comes down to convenience and performance. And, like everything else in this world, you get what you pay for. Blue Ox manufactures a wide variety of tow bars fit the needs and budget of full time RV’ers or weekend campers.

Many factors must be considered... (continue reading)

Many factors must be considered when determining whether a vehicle can be flat towed or not. In the past, most any vehicle with a manual transmission could be assumed suitable for flat towing as well as any SUV or 4-wheel drive vehicle that was equipped with a manual transfer case. But today’s vehicles are much more complicated with electronically controlled transmissions, intelligent all-wheel drive and a host of other features that serve to make this a much more complex answer.

The first step in determining if a vehicle is flat towable is to consult the owner’s manual. If this is a vehicle you’re considering purchasing, a copy of the owner’s manual may be available on line. Some vehicles may be flat towable when equipped one way, but may not be flat towable when equipped with other options. Be sure to consider all options when determining towability.

Besides the problems imposed by a vehicle’s transmission and driveline components, another factor to consider is the vehicle’s ignition switch and steering wheel lock. Keyless ignition systems are very convenient, but if the steering column can’t be unlocked to allow the wheels to steer while flat towing, that vehicle may not be a good candidate.

Since the year 2000, Motorhome Magazine has been publishing a “Guide to Dinghy Towing” containing setup tips, optional equipment and a full list of vehicles and options that determine whether that model is flat towable as it comes from the factory, or if additional equipment can be installed to adapt it for towing. Click on the link below to see the complete list of guides by year.

http://www.motorhome.com/download-dinghy-guides/

Once again, always consult the owner’s manual of any vehicle you’re considering as a candidate for flat towing. If you have questions, consult the dealer. They might also have some advice about whether flat towing a vehicle has any possible effect on the manufacturer’s warranty.