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Towing a dinghy

by Tom Jones

Not all cars can be towed with all four wheels on the ground. Different makes and models, and even different model years of the same car, may or may not be towable all four down. The following is a compilation of inputs from several RV Forum members and staff.

There are several ways to determine if a vehicle can be towed all four down:

  • Motorhome Magazine publishes an annual guide to which vehicles can be towed as a dinghy, such as this one. Others are available at their web site.
  • Visit the web site of Remco, the towing experts and check their online vehicle chart. You can also contact them about vehicles not listed.

One caveat regarding the Motorhome Magazine guide mentioned above; While I have no reason to doubt its accuracy, you should realize that it's only a guide. As it clearly states in the document:

"While every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in the charts, it is the reader’s responsibility to verify the suitability of any prospective dinghy vehicle before buying or attempting to tow it."

Generally what you need to tow a car/SUV/truck all four down is a tow bar, a base plate on the vehicle, stop/tail/signal lights connected to the motorhome's system, and an auxiliary braking system. Some toads will need modifications to permit towing without damaging their transmission internally, either a transmission lube pump or a driveline disconnect.

Tow bars come is several types and price ranges, but the most convenient type mounts on the motorhome (MH) and stays there, disconnecting at the toad end rather than uncoupling from the motorhome. The Blue Ox Aventa is an example. Naturally, this type of tow bar is also the most expensive. In addition to the tow bar you will need safety chains.

The base plate is an adapter that is unique to each toad and forms the attachment between the tow bar and the toad itself.

Here in our library we have this illustrated article showing how a tow bar and base plate are attached to a Suburban. An auxiliary brake unit appplies the brakes on the toad when the motorhome brakes are applied. Auxiliary brakes are legally required in nearly all states above a certain weight (typically 3000 lbs or so), but are morally required for any toad because they reduce the stopping distance substantially and that helps assure the safety of everybody on the road. Various toad braking systems are discussed in this article here in our library.

Lube pumps and driveline disconnects are made by a company named Remco towing, which produces towing kits for numerous vehicles that are not otherwise towable 4-down. Remco is also a reliable source of advice on which cars are towable without modfications and what mods will work on other types of vehicle. Just call them for advice or visit their web site -