The Art of Vehicle Towing with Your Motorcoach
Whether you are motorcoaching for a two-week vacation at Hearthside Grove Motorcoach Resort or heading to the sunbelt for the winter, it’s a real inconvenience to have to unhook from your camp site’s sewer, water and electric every time you need to take a quick trip to D & W Fresh Market to stock up on groceries, visit friends in a nearby resort or take a day trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. And then, when you get to your destination, finding a parking spot for your rig… Of course, when you return, you have to re-attach all those utilities before you kick back in your easy chair with your favorite beverage.
The best way to eliminate these hassles is to take your car or pickup along, towed behind your motorcoach so when you get to the campground simply unhitch or unload that vehicle and it’s ready for service anytime the mood hits you to go somewhere.
Knowing the best towing solution for your particular needs can be overwhelming and confusing. Luckily, the experts at Blue Ox Towing Products are ready to provide you with the ideal answers.
There are three ways to bring your towed car with you and you need to decide which option best suits your needs:
1) Transport Units/Trailers
The first one is using a trailer that allows you to raise all four wheels of your towed vehicle off of the ground. These are most commonly used with vehicles like Corvettes, Lexus or classic cars. Transport Units will vary in price from $1,500 to $6,000.
2) Tow Dollies
The next option is a tow dolly. These get the front wheels of the towed vehicle off the ground. There are some advantages to using a dolly: By putting a front wheel drive vehicle on a dolly you will not need a lube pump or other device to make the vehicle towable.
Tow dollies are useful for vehicles you don’t want to or can’t tow four wheels down. Dollies are a great option if you intend to use it with multiple vehicles or want to time-share it with friends. If braking is a concern, be sure to check if the manufacturer has this option available for immediate or possible future use.
3) Tow Bars
The final & most popular choice is to tow all four wheels down using a tow bar. The main reason for choosing a tow bar is convenience. Tow bars give you the least amount of equipment to deal with to tow your vehicle. The biggest disadvantage with dollies and trailers is what to do with them when you get to the campground. Many campgrounds do not have room to let you park a trailer or dolly on your site along with your motorhome and towed vehicle. In most cases you would have to unhook the trailer and park it somewhere away from your campsite. With a tow bar you can unhook and the towing equipment will fold up and stay with your motorhome or your car and not take up any additional parking space. A tow bar is also lighter to carry than a dolly or trailer and prices for a tow bar start out lower than either tow dolly or a trailer.
There are three general types of tow bars available:
(1) Self-Aligning Motorhome Mounted (Blue Ox Avail, Aventa LX, or Aladdin),
The newest addition to Blue Ox’s line of motorhome mounted tow bars is the 10,000 lbs capacity Avail. (to find out more about the Avail click here)
(2) Self-Aligning Car Mounted (Blue Ox Acclaim)
(3) Rigid A-Frame (Blue Ox Ambassador). When choosing a tow bar, dolly or trailer be sure to check on the support that will be available as you travel across the country. Some smaller companies do not have the dealer network or ability to help you after the sale.
Blue Ox provides all of the accessories that you may need or want for towing. For safety purposes, federal law requires RV activated taillights and safety cables. Also, most states and Canadian provinces have laws on the books concerning braking for trailers. Brakes are required on trailers with GVWR’s as low as 1,000 pounds in some states. Enforcement of these laws has not been followed most places in the United States. Interpretation of the law’s application to cars in tow has probably been a big reason why these laws have not been actively enforced. British Columbia province in Canada has been actively enforcing this law, stopping people, writing tickets and making them drive the tow car separately if they do not have the proper equipment.
The main thing to remember with auxiliary braking systems is that they are just what they state – auxiliary brakes. They are not meant to stop your motorhome any faster. They are designed to assist in slowing down the towed vehicle and reduce the stopping distance that was changed due to the addition of the towed car.
Most front wheel drive manual transmission cars can be towed with all four wheels on the ground with no modification. Most front wheel drive automatic transmission vehicles will need a lube pump or similar device in order to tow it four wheels down. Rear wheel drive automatics will require a device to disconnect the driveshaft in order to tow four down.
There are many front wheel drive automatic transmission vehicles that can be towed without modification. Refer to your vehicle’s owners manual for specific instructions and limitations.
Also, some 4 wheel drive vehicles can be towed (both automatic and manual transmission). Refer to your vehicle’s owners manual for specific instructions and limitations.
Towing Safety Checklist
Inspect the tow bar, dolly or trailer for loose bolts and worn parts. Tighten loose bolts and replace worn parts before hooking up. If you have bolts that are consistently coming loose, use Loctite or put on a double nut to keep them tight.
During Hook Up:
- Hook up on a flat smooth surface.
- If you have a coupler style tow bar; check the fit of the coupler on the ball. Adjust the coupler if necessary.
- Hook up the tow bar.
- Set up the towed vehicle’s steering and transmission to tow.
- Check your parking brake to ensure it is disengaged.
- Latch the legs on a self-aligning tow bar.
- Attach the safety cables. Cross the cables between the vehicles and wrap the cables around the tow bar legs to keep them from dragging.
- Attach the electrical cable.
- Check the function of all lights on both vehicles.
- Locate your spare key and lock the towed vehicle’s doors.
- Drive with care and remember your vehicle will be about 25 feet longer while towing.
Each time you stop, check the tow bar, base plate and cables to make sure they are still properly attached. Check the tires of the towed vehicle to make sure they are not going flat. If you are using a dolly or trailer, check the wheels to make sure they are not hot to the touch. If the wheels are hot, it may indicate a brake or bearing problem. Each day before you start check the lights to make sure they are working properly. Between trips clean the tow bar and cables to keep them in good shape. Also, clean and lubricate the tow bar as recommended by the manufacturer’s instructions.
Armed with this primer on the art of towing, you are now ready to make those motorcoach excursions more convenient and enjoyable by taking your towed vehicle along when you join us here in Petoskey at Hearthside Grove Motorcoach Resort.
One Mill Rd.- Industrial Park
Pender, Nebraska 68047