Towing Facts

Tow the vehicle with "4 on the floor"

The first thing we must know is how much weight can the big rig tow. The RV has a weight rating called the GCWR, the Gross Combined Weight Rating. This is the total of the motor home and towed vehicle, both fully loaded. Never, ever, exceed the GCWR or any other vehicle weight rating.

Next is the weight the hitch receiver on the RV is rated for. It matters little it the RV tow rating is 7,000 pounds if the receiver is rated for just 3,700 pounds. The max weight that we can tow is 3,700 pounds in that case, and no more. 

The smart fortwo passes that test for most any motorhome, even a Class B.  Now we can start looking at the car itself to see if it can be safely towed on all 4 wheels, and if there are any speed limitations. 

Tow the vehicle with a tow-bar  

The smart fortwo and many other cars can be towed flat with the transmission in neutral and a couple of other things. We won’t go into details as the manufacturer may change the rules and we don't want to mislead anyone. If a towbar is fitted to the smart, modifications to the front panels are required. Some motorhome owners have reported "wheel wobble" problems when towing flat and making different types of turns or on bumpy roads.

Towing the car will also put wear and tear on the tires, axles, joints and bearings, of course.

Many may be concerned about accumulating mileage on the towed vehicle when towing.  Whether or not it shows on the odometer, things are still turning, getting hot and wearing out - needlessly.

We have seen reports that the battery of some cars, including the smart, needs to be disconnected so that the brake light hookup for the tow-bar works right.  There is a modification you can make to avoid this.  Again, check with your dealer.

Collapsible tow bars are common among RVers, since they are self aligning and much easier to hook up and use. The arms extend, self-center and lock in place automatically when you drive away. There are two types of collapsible tow bars, car-mounted and motor home-mounted. Car-mounted tow bars are a little easier to use and fold away on the front of the vehicle when you are finished using it. Motor home-mounted tow bars fold away on the rear of the motor home and never have to be lifted or removed from the front of the vehicle. There can be a significant cost involved in purchasing and installing the tow bar assembly.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces have their own laws on the requirement for brakes on a vehicle (or trailer) being towed behind a motor home. The brakes on a motor home are designed by the vehicle manufacturer to stop the weight of that particular vehicle, but not the towed weight behind it. We need to have a braking system on the towed vehicle to safely reduce the stopping distance and to protect onboard persons.

Cost? Anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand bucks, depending on the rig and the towbar.

Tow the vehicle on a dolly

A tow dolly is designed to lift the drive wheels off of the ground to prevent any damage to the tow vehicle. If the vehicle you want to tow requires expensive driveline modifications or has speed and distance restrictions a tow dolly may be the way to go.

One drawback with a dolly is that the rear wheels carry a higher load and are in use more, thus the rear tires will wear out much faster than will the front tires.

Safety cables and lights are needed for the towed vehicle. Safety cables are needed in the event the towed vehicle breaks loose from the motor home.

The advantages to the dolly are that you will not have to have any adjustments made to your car. Dollies will often have their own brakes as well, which will make towing easier on your motorhome.

The hitching procedure is a little more difficult as the dolly must first be attached to the RV and the car has to be driven up on to the dolly. Then you attach the front wheels of the car to the dolly and secure the car. This is a dirty job at best.

You will also have to use a light bar with brake and taillights attached. Depending on your car, you may be able to have your lights synchronized with the motorhome instead of using the light bar.

The main disadvantage to the dolly is that they add to the weight of your RV and can be awkward at campsites.

Cost for this method ranges from $1,700 to $2,600 with a weight of about 450 pounds.

Unfortunately, the tow dolly also shares one major problem with towing on all four - one simply cannot back up!

Tow the vehicle on a Smart Trailer USA 

The obvious answer, right?

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