How to Tow an RV

How to Tow an RVRecreational vehicles (RVs) may be one of the biggest vehicles on the roads, but they aren't immune to breakdowns. Given their use as long-distance modes of transportation, when RVs break down, their owners often find themselves stuck in unfamiliar territory with few options. Though you'll need both a strong truck with the capacity to pull a heavy load and a skilled driver to tow a broken-down RV, in some cases it may be your only option. However, you should avoid towing an RV on your own whenever possible.


Difficulty: Challenging

How to:

Things You’ll Need:
  • Truck (able to tow a 3/4 ton load or higher, with hitch)
  • Tow bar
Step 1
Attach a tow bar to the hitch of the truck, then slowly back the truck up to the front of the RV until you can hook the tow bar to the frame of the RV. Most tow bars feature a base plate, which you can attach to the frame of your RV using the bolts that came with your tow bar. The bolts go through pre-drilled holes in the middle front section of the RV frame. You will need someone to watch the tow bar, to make sure it is attached, while you put the truck into drive and slowly move forward.
Step 2
Attach safety cables or chains on either side of the hitch and hook them to the frame of the RV. These thick metal cables are usually comprised of chain link, are specially-made for towing and often come with the tow bar; you can also purchase them from an auto parts store. The chains are there to catch the RV if the tow bar breaks, preventing your RV from breaking loose and running away. As with the base plate, these hooks are placed in pre-drilled holes in the RV frame on either side of where the base plate attaches.
Step 3
Hook up the electrical cables so that the truck's turn and brake lights will register on the back of the RV. These come as a bundle of 8 to 12 different-colored smaller wires leading into a plastic plug connection. Every RV should have the attachment head for the electrical cables stowed underneath its body. This is usually tucked up behind the bumper or tied down to the front of the frame, near where the base plate attaches. On a truck it might be stuffed up above the hitch near one of the taillights or tucked along the inside edge of the truck bed. It's usually just two plugs that have to be connected together. Verify after connecting that the lights are working properly.
Step 4
Accelerate with extreme caution, and give yourself 3 to 4 times as much distance to brake as you would otherwise. Stay on side roads rather than main roads, and tow to the nearest shop or parking destination. No matter what kind of truck you have, being towed will put serious strain on the body of your RV.
Step 5
With the RV hooked up to it, the truck should be driven as if it is about 100 feet longer than it is when not towing anything. You should take very wide left and right turns. In some situations, you should avoid right turns altogether if they are too tight.

Tips & Warnings

Have someone sit in the driver's seat of the RV and hit the brakes in timing with the truck driver. This puts less strain on the towing truck, reducing the odds of any damage or an accident occurring.
Do not try to tow an RV up or down steep inclines in any circumstances. Call a tow company.
It is not recommended to try and tow an RV on your own, if you have other options. Tow trucks are better equipped to do this; in addition, the tow company will assume liability when towing the RV, taking the pressure off you.

Article Written By Jonathan Croswell

Jonathan Croswell has spent more than five years writing and editing for a number of newspapers and online publications, including the "Omaha World-Herald" and "New York Newsday." Croswell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Nebraska and is currently pursuing a Master's of Health and Exercise Science at Portland State University.

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