Many RVers prefer flat towing, or pulling a vehicle with all four wheels down, and it’s easy to understand why. When traveling in an RV, once you reach your destination, having a separate vehicle gives you the versatility and freedom to explore. Plus, tow bars are quick and easy to connect and disconnect, and the equipment required takes up very little room. So what vehicles can be flat towed and how do you determine if your car is one of them?
What is Flat Towing?
Flat towing, also referred to as “dinghy towing” or “four-down towing,” is a way of towing your car with all four wheels on the ground behind your RV. The tow vehicle is connected to the RV by a tow bar and simply follows you as you drive.
Can My Car Be Flat Towed?
The list of vehicles that were safe for flat towing used to be much longer. Unfortunately, not all modern cars can be flat towed. If you try towing a vehicle that isn’t suited for flat towing you are likely to cause significant damage to the transmission; aka a very expensive repair to make.
Does Your Vehicle Have a Manual Transmission?
If the vehicle you plan to flat tow has a manual transmission, you may be just fine. Many front-wheel drive, manual transmission vehicles may be flat towed without modification. Typically, a car with rear-wheel drive and a manual transmission or four-wheel drive with a manual transfer case that can be placed in neutral can be flat towed. Checking the owner’s manual is the best way to check if a vehicle is suitable for flat towing. Almost every manufacturer explicitly indicates in the towing or recreational towing part of every model’s handbook whether it may be towed on all four wheels or whether it must be hauled on a flatbed trailer or towed with a dolly with the driving wheels off the ground.
What If My Vehicle Doesn’t Have a Manual Transmission?
Fewer vehicles are manufactured with manual transmissions these days. That, paired with the rise in the number of vehicles equipped with continuously variable transmissions (CVTs), front-wheel drive, and full- and part-time four-wheel-drive systems has reduced the list of vehicles safe for flat towing to be much shorter. Vehicles equipped with a CVT cannot be hauled with all four wheels on the ground because the transmission would be damaged. If you are pulling that type of vehicle behind your RV for hundreds of miles, the driveshaft is turning and causing damage along the way.
Can I Modify My Car for Flat Towing?
If you have a vehicle that doesn’t fall under the category of “safe for flat towing” you may be able to make modifications that will allow for flat towing. There are aftermarket add-ons that may be installed to some automatic transmission vehicles. However, these can be costly and difficult to install and maintain. Also, if they are not used properly, the engine or drivetrain components of a vehicle might be damaged while being towed which could affect your vehicle’s warranty. If you’re shopping specifically for a towable car, you are better off prioritizing one that is manufacturer approved for flat towing. Otherwise, have a professional help you make any modifications.
Things To Check Before Flat Towing
Once you know what vehicles can be flat towed, there are a few other things you will need to consider.
- The majority of vehicles have steering locks activated by the ignition switch. A vehicle can’t be safely towed if the front wheels won’t turn! To unlock the steering, the key must be in the ignition and the ignition set to the accessory position.
- Some cars and SUVs that can be flat towed require the removal of certain fuses. A handful of four-wheel-drive trucks equipped with automatic transmissions must be pulled four-down with their transmissions in park and transfer cases in neutral.
- Don’t assume that just because past models of a vehicle were safe for flat towing, that newer models will be as well. Technology in vehicles changes, so it’s important to check for the specific year and model of vehicle you want to flat tow.
- Most states require flat-towed vehicles to have auxiliary braking systems that function in combination with the motorhome’s brakes. Smart RV owners who tow a car or truck understand that, even in places where they are not required, auxiliary brake systems are vital for safety.
What Vehicles Can Be Flat Towed?
Does your vehicle make the cut? The following list includes some of the most popular vehicles RVers choose to flat tow. As always, remember that this list may only be for select years, so check with the owner’s manual to confirm.
- Buick Enclave
- Buick Envision
- Cadillac SRX
- Chevrolet Colorado
- Chevrolet Equinox
- Chevrolet Silverado
- Chevrolet Sonic
- Chevrolet Tahoe
- Dodge Durango
- Ford Expedition
- Ford Explorer
- Ford F-150
- Ford Fiesta
- Ford Focus
- GMC Acadia
- GMC Canyon
- GMC Sierra
- GMC Terrain
- Honda CR-V
- Jeep Cherokee
- Jeep Grand Cherokee
- Jeep Wrangler JK
- Jeep Wrangler JL
- Jeep Wrangler TJ
- Lincoln MKX
- Lincoln Navigator
- Mini Cooper
- Ram 1500
Benefits of Flat Towing
While you can tow just about any vehicle behind your RV if you use a tow dolly or a four-wheeled trailer, there are many downsides to these methods. There is a cost associated with purchasing and maintaining a trailer or tow dolly. Additionally, there is a need for storage space for these large pieces of equipment at home and at the campsite when not in use, as well as the extra effort required to get the towed car on and off them. This is why many people opt for flat towing, which only requires a few pieces of equipment that are small and easy to store when not in use. It will also save you time and energy once you are at your destination when you’re ready to hop in your vehicle and go sightseeing or make a supply run.
Get The Top Rated Tow Bars from Blue Ox
Blue Ox offers tow bars to meet all of our customer’s needs, with towing capacities ranging from 6,500 to 15,000 lbs and accessories to make hooking up easy. Blue Ox tow bars premium models feature 2” longer legs to allow more room between your RV and vehicle. Patented non-binding latches quickly disconnect even in the most rugged terrain. Blue Ox baseplates set the standard in the industry with removable tabs that give a clean OEM look when not in use. With the addition of the Patriot Brake, you can travel with confidence that you are compliant with towing regulations and that you reach your destination safely. Order yours today.