<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Tips for motorhome tow cars
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Practical Tips For Towing

The following tips were compiled from an inquiry that I made several weeks ago regarding practical tips for towing in the Yahoo Bounder Group and in the www.rversonline.org group. These tips were compiled from group replies and personal e-mails from both groups. I have received several requests to share the information and therefore I’ve put together this compilation. I would like to thank all the persons who shared their tips.

1. Check List for Hooking Up and Unhooking the Toad:

By far the most tips had to do with developing a good check list and using it for hooking up and unhooking the toad. Keep a copy of the checklist in the toad and in the RV.

Attached is a list that I was directed to and which I believe makes a good starting point in developing a list that is specific for your situation. I’ve also included tips from those who commented and there is some overlap and you as you probably already know, different folks do things in different ways and some things are more important to some than others.

Towing Safety Checklist

Inspect the tow bar, dolly or trailer for loose bolts and worn parts. Tighten loose bolts and replace worn parts before hooking up. If you have bolts that are consistently coming loose, use Loctite or put on a double nut to keep them tight.

During hook up:

1. Hook up on a flat smooth surface.
2. If you have a coupler style tow bar; check the fit of the coupler on the ball. Adjust the coupler if necessary.
3. Hook up the tow bar.
4. Set up the towed vehicle’’s steering and transmission to tow.
5. Check your parking brake to ensure it is disengaged.
6. Latch the legs on a self-aligning tow bar.
7. Attach the safety cables. Cross the cables between the vehicles and wrap the cables around the tow bar legs to keep them from dragging.
8. Attach the electrical cable.
9. Check the function of all lights on both vehicles.
10. Locate your spare key and lock the towed vehicle’’s doors.
11. Drive with care and remember your vehicle will be about 25 feet longer while towing.

Each time you stop, check the tow bar, base plate and cables to make sure they are still properly attached. Check the tires of the towed vehicle to make sure they are not going flat. If you are using a dolly or trailer, check the wheels to make sure they are not hot to the touch. If the wheels are hot, it may indicate a brake or bearing problem.

Each day before you start check the lights to make sure they are working properly.
Between trips clean the towbar and cables to keep them in good shape. Also, clean and lubricate the tow bar as recommended by the manufacturer’s instructions.

Have a checklist. It's just too easy to get distracted and forget something (like ignition position, emergency brake, break away hook up, transmission in wrong position, etc.,). I have mine on a red sheet, in a plastic cover, and a twist-tie so I can tie it on the steering wheel. (I get in a hurry and forget things, so I need "strong" reminders.)

Make sure you have a second key to the tow vehicle. That way you can leave the rig parked for a while, hooked up, and not have to worry about unlocked doors.

Check all the connections every time you fuel up, or make a rest stop. I also took a marker, made a black mark across the nut, bolt, washer. That way a quick look will reveal if that mark is aligned. If not, something is loosening. (By the way, in all our travels I have never had any bolt come loose, but....)

Make sure that the toad emergency brake is off before you leave. And probably more important, be sure that you set the emergency brake before you start to disconnect. Put that on your list.

Never let yourself be interrupted when hooking up. Keep your mind on your work.

2. Toad Braking System: The second largest group of comments had to do with making sure to install a braking system to aid in stopping the toad while it is being towed

3. Refueling: As far as refueling is concerned we find we look for corner gas stations with gas bays parallel to the street. These seem easier to get in and out of for us. Because we often find it difficult to locate the ideal refueling setup, when our gauge gets down to about half full we start looking for stations that offer an ease of entry.

You're right - you can't back up. Learn to watch like a hawk for "blind alley" situations that you can't get out of...or you'll have to unhook and turn around and then re hook up everything. I have backed up 1 or 2 feet at a gas pump, but even that isn't recommended.

Backing up is a problem and is something to be avoided. However,- in rare cases we found ourselves in the position of having to back up a little, three to six feet because of an awkward situation. There was room to slip into the drivers seat of our Saturn, so my wife got in and guided it so we could back up the six or so feet we needed to have room to unhook.

I never found refueling to be a problem when towing. The biggest trick with a Bounder is to get the back of the rig stopped at the pump, as the gas fill is at the rear. Many folks have the co pilot get out and give signals when the fill pipe is aligned with the pump.

Finally, one of my biggest concerns and an issue I pay close attention to is being sure, before I pull in to a fuel stop, that I can easily pull out without any backing up. If that forces me to pass up cheaper fuel, so be it. Nothing worse than 40' - 50' of motorhome and tow vehicle trying to back out of a convenience store gas station.

4. Arriving at Campgrounds: When arriving at campgrounds we have found it more practical to unhook just before, or immediately after pulling in. We do this because we use the Saturn to check out and pick out a campsite, then go back to the registration office and sign in. This seems easier than driving all around with a vehicle in tow.

In Campgrounds, I usually ask when registering if there is room to unhook at the site. Most do, but a few are tight and the CG folks will tell you the best approach. I like pull throughs. If all they offer for an over night stop is a back in, I'll probably pass and opt for another location. Have not run into that problem often, but occasionally.

5. Driving and Maneuvering: One comforting thing to remember is that the toad is narrower than the Bounder, so it's always "inside" the Bounder's turning circle. In other words, if you get the Bounder through, the toad will follow.

Learn to use the rearview camera ALL THE TIME. I never shut mine off. It'll show you when you have the toad far enough past the car you're passing to able to pull back in. BE CAREFUL - the lens is a real "wideangle" and the distances look different than they are, but you'll get the hang of it. Also, there should be a plastic overlay for the rearview camera monitor that has a distance scale on it. Often this is never installed by the dealer. Look in the info package for the backup camera that came with all the new rig information.

Be aware of the possibility of a flat tire on the Toad. I keep my eyes on the backup camera and look for abnormal vibrations on the toad. With my camera I can see very clearly. It would not take too long to start a fire with a flat on the toad!

6. Stopping While On the Road: Pranksters have been known to remove pins from the hitch. Locks are available from the hitch manufactures. As a safety and security point, I always keep mine locked. Also lock the Receiver hitch pin. Hitches can be a high theft item.