Flat towing involves pulling the car or truck behind your motor home with all four of the vehicle's wheels on the road. It's quick, easy, and hassle-free, but unfortunately, not all vehicles can be towed this way without damage. Before you attempt to tow your car this way, it's important to understand whether it's safe to do so.
How to Know if You Can Flat Tow Your Car
No matter how up-to-date or exhaustive a list of cars that can be flat towed is, it's not the best way to determine whether it's safe to tow your vehicle this way. Instead, it's a good idea to do a little research of your own.
Understand What Makes a Car a Good Candidate
According to Edmunds.com, a vehicle must have a transmission that is self-lubricating when the engine is off in order to be a candidate for dinghy towing. This rules out some, but not all, vehicles with automatic transmissions, as well as a few stick shifts. If these cars are flat towed without the proper lubrication, the transmission can be irreparably damaged.
You have the best chance of being able to dinghy tow a car that is a manual transmission and operates using rear-wheel drive. Some four-wheel-drive vehicles, especially those with manual transmissions, are also good options.
Check Your Owner's Manual
No matter which kind of car you have, always check the owner's manual for information about flat towing. The manual will say whether you can tow the car with all four wheels on the road or whether you need to elevate the drive wheels or use a trailer.
Look for the following terms in your manual to find out the answer for your specific make, model, and year:
- Dinghy towing
- Four-down towing
- Flat towing
Your owner's manual will also outline the exact procedure for flat towing your car. This will vary from model to model, and following the procedure exactly is important for staying safe on the road and preserving the integrity of your vehicle.
Contact the Manufacturer
The answer to your vehicle's towing capability should be in your owner's manual, but you can also contact the manufacturer directly to find out more. This is a good option if you aren't sure you understand the language in the manual or you have questions about the flat towing procedure. Simply call the customer service number listed in the owner's manual to speak with someone who can help you.
Motor Home Magazine List
Certain vehicles are good bets for flat towing, but this list changes with each model year. You can contact the car manufacturer to find out the most up-to-date information about cars that can be flat towed, or you can also access the official list from Motor Home Magazine. Motor Home Magazine is the only reliable source for this information online. You'll find a separate list for each model year, and each list costs about two dollars. The current year's list is typically free.
Even if a vehicle is on the list, it's essential that you check the owner's manual and confirm the dingy towing capability with the vehicle manufacturer. This is especially important if you're considering buying a vehicle for this purpose.
Using After-Market Parts to Flat Tow a Car
Buying a car specifically for flat towing is a great solution, but it isn't always practical. If your car isn't manufacturer-approved for this type of towing, there are some products you can add that will make it safe for flat towing. In fact, Edmunds.com says that with the right after-market parts, just about any model can be flat towed. However, these parts are expensive, and in some cases, they can void your warranty. You can learn more about the specific parts you need, which may include transmission lubrication pumps and decouplers for the drive shaft, by contacting your local RV dealer.
Safety Is Essential
Although flat towing a car is convenient and practical, it can be dangerous if the car isn't suited to this type of towing. As with all aspects of camping, safety is essential. Take the time to ensure that your car can be dinghy towed so you don't do any damage to your RV or your vehicle.