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Traveling in a motorhome or RV can be very freeing and exciting. However, you may find that you also want the convenience of having your own personal vehicle for day trips or grocery runs. Towing a car or small vehicle with your RV can help you save on gas money, as well as give you more freedom to adventure while on your trip.
It is common – and easy – to tow a car behind an RV or motorhome. There are a few different ways to do this, as well as factors to consider when deciding which method is right for you.
First, there’s the obvious question: Does towing a car behind an RV put miles on it?
Generally, mileage will not increase while towing a vehicle as most modern cars use electric systems that only track mileage when the engine is switched on. For older cars with mechanical odometers, the mileage will increase – especially with flat towing or with a tow dolly.
To read other posts about towing, check these out:
- Everything You Need to Know About Towing a Pop-up Camper
- Must Have Supplies for your New Camper and Towing Vehicle That You May Have Never Thought Of
Here, we’ll break down everything you need to know about towing. We’ll talk about the different towing options available and how they may impact your vehicle’s mileage.
Let’s get started!
Is It Safe to Tow a Car Behind an RV?
You may be wondering if it’s dangerous to tow a vehicle behind an RV. The simple answer is yes, you can safely tow a car behind your RV as long as you’re doing it correctly. However, if not done correctly, towing a vehicle with an RV can cause damage to your towed vehicle.
Let’s dissect this a bit.
Is it a good idea – and is it safe – to tow a car behind an RV?
In general, it is safe to tow a car behind an RV as long as the RV is in good condition, the correct towing equipment is used, and all weight limits are obeyed. With the proper trailer hitch and wiring, a vehicle can be safely towed with a trailer, flat towed, or with a tow dolly.
While you can tow almost any car behind an RV, some cars are easier to tow than others. This largely depends on how you tow your vehicle.
What is the Best Way to Tow a Vehicle Behind an RV?
As we mentioned, there are several ways you can use an RV to tow a car. One of the easiest and most common ways to tow a vehicle behind an RV is known as “flat towing”.
Flat towing involves towing cars with manual transmissions by letting them roll behind your RV on their own four wheels.
However, this isn’t the only method of towing a vehicle behind your car, and may not be ideal for every situation. Other options may be better suited to the vehicle you wish to tow.
Let’s take a look at the different ways you can tow a vehicle with an RV so you can decide which option is best for you.
Different Ways to Tow a Vehicle Behind an RV
When it comes down to the different ways you can tow a car behind a camper, the most popular methods are flat towing, using a tow dolly, or using a car hauler.
We will discuss each of these in more detail below.
Flat towing is one of the most popular ways to tow a car behind a motorhome. This method is also known as the “four down” or “toading” method due to all four of the towed vehicle’s wheels making contact with the road. Safe flat towing requires the use of a small tow bar as well as safety cables, a wiring kit, and a supplementary braking system.
Flat towing may or may not put miles on your car. Let’s discuss when this may happen.
The majority of cars manufactured before 2000 had mechanical odometers installed. The mileage on vehicles with mechanical odometers will be increased by flat towing.
However, most newer vehicles (manufactured after 2000) have electronic odometers. Many of these have a transfer case, which can be shifted into neutral for towing.
If your vehicle has an electronic odometer, and the transmission is turned off and not turning, this should not add miles on the odometer.
Flat towing is suitable for most lightweight vehicles, but make sure your vehicle is compatible before attempting this. If it’s not, it could damage your transmission. There are many resources online to help determine if your car can be flat towed and keep you from inadvertently damaging it.
Another popular way of towing a vehicle behind an RV is by using a tow dolly. This method is best for cars with front-wheel-drive transmissions.
A tow dolly is a small trailer that has two wheels and can be attached to a hitch on your RV. It supports the front wheels of the car while you tow it.
The back two wheels of your vehicle remain on the road.
However, if your car is rear-wheel drive and you’re using a tow dolly, mileage will be added.
Most modern cars are front-wheel drive, with odometer sensors integrated into the front suspension. By using a tow dolly with a front-wheel-drive car, the drive train will stay motionless and miles will not be accumulated. This method is also very safe as tow dollies have their own independent braking systems.
In addition, it is not advised to use a tow dolly on a fixed all-wheel drive vehicle, as this can damage the drive components and transmission system.
Car haulers are small trailers that attach to your tow vehicle. However, unlike a tow dolly, a car hauler is a full trailer where none of the towed car’s wheels make contact with the road. As a result, hauling a vehicle on a car hauler will not result in any mileage accumulating on the towed vehicle.
If you’re worried about causing damage to your towed vehicle, this is the safest option. Using a car hauler eliminates the threat of transmission damage, which is a concern in rear-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles.
Like tow dollies, car hauler trailers come with a braking system installed. This eliminates having to buy a supplementary braking system that would be needed for flat towing. Furthermore, you can buy a car hauler trailer with a ramp that can be used to easily load and unload your towed vehicle.
Can You Tow a Car Behind a Class C RV?
Larger motorhomes with powerful engines are frequently equipped for towing. But what about the humble Class C motorhome?
Can you tow a car behind a Class C RV?
In general, a Class C RV can tow about 3,000 – 6,000 pounds, so you can flat tow a small, lightweight car with a Class C RV. Depending on the towing capacity and GVWR of the RV, you could tow a Ford Focus or Honda Civic.
Since each RV is different you must check the GVWR and ensure that you will be below the limit – even after the RV is fully loaded.
Flat towing is likely the best option for towing a car with a Class C camper since a tow dolly or trailer would add weight to your limited setup. However, as long as the car plus tow dolly is under the towing capacity of the RV, you could tow with that setup.
Does Towing a Car Behind an RV Put Miles on It?
In general, towing a modern car behind an RV does not add mileage on it. However, if you’re towing an older vehicle equipped with a mechanical odometer, towing with a full trailer will be necessary to avoid adding mileage.
If you’re wondering does towing a car add mileage, it can – but there are ways to tow a vehicle without adding miles to it. This is thanks to a fairly recent change in how vehicle pedometers function.
However, cars that are older than thirty years likely have mechanical odometers that function differently than the newer electronic ones. This means flat towing or using a tow dolly to tow your older vehicle will increase the mileage.
Newer vehicles have more modern electric systems. The odometer will only track the car’s mileage while it is turned on. So, as long as the vehicle is off, the mileage should not change.
Does Towing a Vehicle Behind an RV Cause Damage?
Keep in mind, though, that towing a vehicle behind an RV can cause damage. When you’re the flat towing, your car – and especially your tires – may still experience some general wear and tear due to their exposure to the road’s surface. Even with a tow dolly, your back wheels are still exposed to the road’s surface and could experience damage, even if the mileage remains unaffected.
For that reason, it is often safer to tow a vehicle behind an RV on a trailer. If you’re using a car haul trailer to tow a vehicle behind your RV, none of your wheels will make contact with the road. This means that your wheels remain protected from wear and tear and ensures that no tow miles are added to your vehicle’s odometer.
Is a Towed Car Covered Under My RV Insurance?
A common misconception about RV insurance is that anything you’re towing with your insured RV is also covered by that same policy. Never assume anything about your insurance policy. Before towing anything with your RV, double-check your policy and speak with your agent about exactly what is covered.
Typically, you will be required to have an insurance policy for your motorhome and a separate one for any vehicles or other “toys” (like a motorcycle) that you may be towing.
If you’re in the market for good RV insurance, be sure to check out Roamly – this is insurance designed specifically for RVs by RV users.
Final Thoughts on Towing a Car with an RV
When you want to know if towing a car will add mileage, there is no simple “yes” or “no” answer. While it can up your mileage, it doesn’t have to.
If you want to avoid increasing your car’s mileage while towing it behind an RV, this information should help you make an informed decision about which method is best suited to you. This will depend on the age of your car, the type of transmission, and more.
The next time you need to tow a vehicle behind your motorhome, you’ll know how to do so without adding miles to the towed car. This article discussed the different ways you can tow a car behind an RV, as well as how towing a car can add mileage in some situations.
To read about other RV resources, start here:
- RV Shower Won’t Drain: 7 Common Causes And Fixes
- Do RV Outlets Work On Battery?
- How Far Can an RV Go on a Tank of Gas
While you’re planning your next RV journey, make sure you cover all your bases by grabbing an RV Preparation Checklist from my Etsy Store. This way you can ensure you have everything ready to go for a fun, hassle-free getaway.
Hi, I’m Shauna – Welcome to Family Travel Fever. We are a large family, that was bitten by the travel bug! I take the kids by myself because I don’t mind flying or driving solo with my crew to discover the coolest places.
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