The three most common and relatively low-cost methods of towing a vehicle behind a motorhome and that are readily available to the RVer include…
Flatbed Trailer… all four of the dinghy wheels are off the ground. All vehicles can be towed on a trailer.
Two-wheeled Dolly… two dinghy wheels are on the ground. Most front wheel-drive vehicles can be towed on a two-wheeled dolly.
Four Down… Your dinghy can possibly be towed with all four of its wheels on the ground. Often called “flat towing” or towing “four down.”
What Will Tow
If you choose the flatbed trailer method, you can tow anything because nothing on the towed vehicle is in contact with the highway as you are driving, i.e., no wheels are turning.
For the other two methods, you must do the research to find if your particular vehicle can be towed using either method. If your vehicle is under warranty and you tow it in a manner not recommended by the manufacturer, then doing this will void the warranty. If your vehicle is no longer under warranty and you tow it in a manner not recommended by the manufacturer, then by towing it, you take a chance of damaging
the vehicle—especially the power train (transmission, rear end, etc.). Most commonly this damage results from lack of lubrication since, while towing, the parts inside (gears, shafts, etc.) actually run dry—they are not being lubricated. This can become a very expensive repair in a very short trip.
Typically, the vehicle’s handbook will tell you what towing methods can be safely used and those that are not recommended. This is a good first stop in your information search.
On a new vehicle, I recommend asking the dealer to contact the manufacturer to get any updates to the handbook with regard to towing. It is not uncommon for updates to take place on new vehicles. The manufacturer will fax the latest information to the dealer. We received new and different information about the changes in the towing method on one new vehicle when we asked.
Where Else To Find Information
Two of the largest RV organizations produce an annual “Dinghy Towing Guide” and both are good. Their guidelines are similar in that the guides are for flat-towable vehicles, include cars, trucks, and SUVs, list those approved by their respective manufacturers for flat towing, and can be towed without major modifications. Both organizations offer their free guides online and they are available in a PDF format you can download.
Do Your Research
Let’s assume you were getting ready to purchase a vehicle that was currently being towed by another RVer. My recommendation would be to download the Guides and check to see if it was approved for towing. Unfortunately, many RVers just hook up and go. They will tow what they have. Remember, towing an unapproved vehicle can result in lots of damage in a short time/trip. But, hey, it’s only money!