I learn all I can about the outdoors, including RVing and paddleboarding.
When we first purchased our Class C, we did not have plans to tow a vehicle with it. As we got more comfortable driving the Class C, we started discussing how much we would enjoy having an extra vehicle while camping, especially with our two girls, so we could go into town, shop, and so on.
Furthermore, we could use the extra vehicle to pull a portable waste tank. When we camped at campgrounds without sewer hookups, we found it useful to have a portable waste tank that we could take to the dump station as needed.
So we looked into setting up a rig to flat-tow the jeep.
How I Researched Our Flat Towing Setup
So I began my long journey of researching flat towing. Here are some of the questions I had to answer:
1. How Much Weight Can Your Class C Tow?
Check with your manufacturer regarding your model and how much weight capacity you can tow. Which would include the Tongue/Hitch weight and Maximum Towing Capacity. The tongue weight is calculated by the weight/pressure that is applied from the tongue/coupler to the hitch on your vehicle. The Maximum towing capacity is the weight limit that the RV or motorhome can safely tow. This is calculated by the RV's GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight):
Passengers + Cargo + Fluids + etc. + Towed Vehicle = GVW.
On my particular RV, the maximum tongue weight is 750 lbs. and the maximum tow capacity is 7,500 lbs. Now, I don't think I would want to attempt to tow 7,500 lbs; I would probably max out around 5,000 lbs.
2. What Vehicle Do You Want to Tow?
We needed a vehicle that met the weight limit and our expectations of the type of vehicle we wanted to travel around with and use as a daily driver for us, even when not being towed. And we considered the price. So, this is where the Jeep Wrangler comes in. We started looking at local dealers, and there was really nothing to pick from. So than we started looking online, and found a used Jeep with low miles, and the price was in our budget. The Jeep weight comes in less than 5,000 lbs.
3. What Products Do You Need for Towing?
These are the items you need to safely and legally flat-tow your vehicle behind your motorhome.
- Base plate for the tow vehicle
- Tow bar
- Wiring for brakes lights, turn signals, etc.
- Safety cables
- Braking system
- Tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) for both the RV and the towed vehicle.
4. Where Should You Go to Get Towing Products?
Now, it's time to research the parts needed to make this all come together. I'm sure you've heard about Blue Ox, but other brands out there make similar stuff, like Roadmaster, Demco, and NSA Tow Bars.
The source that I used to evaluate different brands is etrailer.com. They have both brands and good videos to go along with the parts.
NSA Tow Bars (https://nsatowbars.com/) sells kits with everything included to get what is needed for your setup. NSA Tow Bars will package their tow bar with Roadmaster, Demco, or Blue Ox Base Plates. You basically pick the base plate you want with their tow bar. Also, the braking system is included with their tow bar. You won't have to buy a separate braking system, unless you want to.
Another base plate for Jeeps 2010 and older is available from Rock Jock.
How I Selected Towing Products
Selecting the products for me was partly driven by the installation of the product, because I would be installing the entire system myself and it had to be specific to my 2018 Jeep.
1. Base Plate: For my 2018 Jeep. I selected the Roadmaster Direct Connect base plate Model 521448-5. There is no drilling involved. Some of the other base plates would have required me to remove the bumper and do some drilling for the installation.
2. Tow Bar: I went with the Roadmaster Falcon All Terrain (RM-522). Features that made me select this tow bar included its very clean look and its non-binding arms. Be careful in selecting your tow bar and base plate: make sure they are compatible in how they connect.
3. Wiring: This one was pretty easy for me to select. I want edto make sure the Jeep rear lighting was plugged into the RV lighting, so that when I braked or turned, both RV and Jeep lights responded the same. I went with the Roadmaster Diode setup (RM-15267). I believe the worst part is just tucking away the wires and ensuring a clean OEM setup.
4. Safety Cables: I went with the Roadmaster 80" Cables (RM-674). Not a lot to dig into here. Get some good cables that fit your set-up.
5. Braking System: This component was the most time-consuming for me to research. The cost of the braking system is half the cost of the entire setup. It's illegal in 49 of 50 states to flat tow without a supplemental braking system, so it is a must have.
I went with the RViBrake3 system. This was the best of all the braking systems I researched and had the most non-intrusive setup. RVi also has other components that will compliment their system. Check eBay before your purchase: I actually found three listings for the RViBrake product, two listings for the RViBrake3 and one for the RViBrake2. I actually purchased the RViBrake2. The cost was so much less than new and it was basically a new system.
6. TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System). You will want to monitor the tire pressure and temperature in both the RV/motorhome and the vehicle being towed.
I use the system from TireMinder, and I am really pleased with it.
How I Installed the Towing System
The install took about 4-6 hours and was not really a bad experience. The only issue I had was that the brackets on my Mopar light bar interfered with the baseplate bracket. So, I had to make some modifications to the Mopar light bar brackets, so that I could keep the light bar and lights.
The other issue was cosmetic: trimming the plastic front skid plate. The instructions regarding the dimensions were not as accurate as they stated; I had to modify the cuts a little more. Nevertheless it all came out great. Start by using the dimensions provided in the instructions, and tweak as you try to fit it back. It all worked out, and I was able to maintain that stock look with the skid plate. I used a dremel to make my cuts.
I made a cardboard template, 5-inch by 9-inch, for my initial cuts on both sides for the actual baseplate arms. I used painter's tape to mark my lines. Again, there will be some tweaking with your cuts, but don't go too far off from the instructions. The skid plate will mount back into position.
There were no issues regarding mounting points, nuts, bolts, or alignment. The Baseplate fit like a glove on my 2018 Jeep.
I did order a set of Roadmaster receiver inserts from Amazon, to keep dirt and debris out of the baseplate receiver connection points.
First Road Trip With Flat Tow Setup
We made our first road trip with the tow setup to Desitin Florida. About 200 miles one way. Prior to heading out, I did a couple test tows with my F-150, and then a final test tow with my Class C.
The Jeep towed smoothly behind the Class C. I thought I would have to make larger turns to accommodate the Jeep, but I found out very quickly that there was no need to make any larger turning radius than normal driving with the RV. The Jeep tracked directly behind the RV. I felt like, as long as I cleared the rear tires as normal on the RV when making a turn, the Jeep would track and clear the turn also.
Of course you cannot back up the the RV, while the tow vehicle is connected; you must keep moving forward. So we had to think more when we stopped along the road. Even with all the preparation we did regarding where we would stop for fuel, we still came across challenges that made it not fun.
Our first stop was a Loves truck stop with a McDonald's attached that had crowds and slow service. Basically, I had to block some traffic while waiting on the wife to return from McDonald's.
You cannot prepare enough. On our trip back, the wife and I made note of all the gas stations that would be a good stop to fuel up easily.
Below are some online sources that helped me in researching the solution for me.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 mlowell