As our travels progressed the first few months of RV ownership, the realization soon came about that in order to fully enjoy the places and locales we were visiting, we needed to travel beyond the confines of the RV Park or campground we happen to be staying at.
The lack of convenience in being able to quickly get in and out of the RV destination started to impress upon us the need to have easy transportation nearby. Then started the research to see what kind of vehicle we can tow behind the motorhome that would give us the flexibility we need to travel outside the RV Park and better enjoy our travels. The main reasons were:
- Quick in & out travel – for groceries, camp store and other amenities
- Easily parkable – for day trips and other adventures
- In case of emergency – Ready access to a vehicle
- Another means of transportation – if the motorhome became disabled – we’d have
- Too long to break/setup camp – Our motorhome (33ft) can take 15-20 minutes on average.
That made the decision easy to determine we needed a vehicle to tow, but what vehicle and equipment needed to tow became as onerous a research project as buying the RV itself.
- Must be flat-towable thus a manual transmission
- Good tow-bar and base plate options
- No fuse pulling or key in ignition
- No hour or mileage restrictions to charge battery
- Easy to mod for tailights or diodes
- Less than 3,000 lbs in weight for easier towing
Out of those requirements, we refined the list down to the Honda Fit and the Hyundia Elantra. Both cars came in the 2,500-2,800 lb range which was good for our motorhome chassis (Be sure to check your towing and tongue weight capacity as they are important).
A great resource to use to determine flat towing capability for a car is the Family Motor Coach Association website. They have a section specifically on flat towing and guide for which cars could be best suited. The annual subscription is well worth the cost for the guide alone.
We settled on the Hyundai Elantra GT and happened to find a 2014 manual transmission close by here in New Jersey. The car weighs in an est. 2,865 lbs and had plenty of videos online showing base plate and tow bar installs that gave confidence in getting a good set up.
TOWING GEAR NEEDED:
Now that we had the car settled as to what we were going to get. It was time to think about the towing gear necessary to complete the project and prep for our first tow. Depending on the car, there are lots of options to choose from, so do you research carefully as you want to make absolutely sure there are no incompatibilities and and all safety considerations are achieved.
Cost estimates for the additional equipment to get your Dinghy/Toad vehicle ready, range from $1,000 – $3,000.
You do not have to purchase the more expensive options but here’s our “short” list of the major equipment and why we purchased it:
|Base Plate – Roadmaster EZ2||Base Plate that permanently attaches to your car allowing to connect tow bars from your motorhome||Can be DIY or Professionally installed. For Elantra – youtube video guides are avail.|
|Tow Bar – Roadmaster NightHawk||Tow bar arms that connect your towed vehicle to the motorhome||Non-binding tow bar with LED lights|
|Quick Disconnect – Roadmaster Quick Disconnect||Attached to the base plate as an assembly to connect the tow bar to.||The NightHawk tow bar requires a quick disconnect bar when used with EZ2 base plate (not all base plates require this)|
|Supplemental Braking System – SMI Stay-n-Play DUO||Directly installs to towed vehicle to apply towed brakes simultaneously when the motorhome brakes||There are lots of options for either a portable or permanent install kit. Research is required for your specific vehicle and needs. Some states require this for certain towed vehicles|
|Lighting Wiring Kit – Roadmaster 6 Diode Kit||Allows for motorhome brake and turn signals to be linked to the towed vehicle||If your turn signals are separate from your brake lights – a 6 diode kit will engaged them all|
|Drop Receiver – Roadmaster Dual Hitch Receiver||Allows the towed vehicle to be no higher or lower than +/- 3 inches in relation to the motorhome tow hitch||We elected a dual receiver to be able to attach our bike carrier in addition to towing our car. Be sure to check your motorhome tongue weight limits if you were to do the same|
|Break-Away Cable – Fastway Coiled Break-Away||In case of catastrophic disconnect – the break-away cable triggers your supplemental braking system||Attaches to the break-away switch provided in the supplemental braking system|
|Hitch Lock – Bolt Receiver Lock||Avoid theft of your expensive tow bar|
|Charge Line – RVIBrake Battery Charger||Charges your towed vehicle battery while under tow||Some vehicles require the key in ignition or ACC-ON in order to disable steering wheel lock, which can drain battery over time.|
Now that all the parts have been ordered – In the next few weeks, I’ll be working on guides for the base plate, wiring/charge-line, and supplemental braking system install. In addition to the tow bar/hitch set-up.