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What Is Flat Towing?

If you’re taking a camping trip in your motorhome, you may want a separate car to drive around once you arrive. This way, you can easily go to the grocery store, venture out to national parks, and cruise scenic drives.

Flat towing is another option.

Let’s look at it in more detail so you can decide if it’s the right towing method for you. Let’s dive in!

What Is Flat Towing?

Also known as “four-down towing” or “dinghy towing,” flat towing is when all four wheels are on the ground. This is in contrast to trailer towing or dolly towing, where two or four wheels are off of the ground.

Flat towing doesn’t require additional heavy equipment like trailer or a tow dolly. However, only certain vehicles are capable of flat towing. It’s very important to know if it is safe to use your vehicle when towing this way to prevent transmission damage.

Is It Better to Flat Tow or Trailer Tow? 

It depends on your vehicle as to whether or not you should flat tow or trailer tow. If you can’t flat tow it, you have no other option but to tow it on a trailer or dolly. Having a vehicle you can flat tow is often ideal because you don’t have to find storage space for the trailer once you arrive at your campsite. A trailer will also add weight to your motorhome, so you always want to ensure you are safely within the towing capacity.

Your camping style also affects whether or not you choose to flat tow or use a trailer. Some RVers prefer to us a trailer because they don’t want to install the components needed to flat tow. There are modifications made to your vehicle to do so.

This can also be quite expensive. You’ll need to purchase a tow bar, trailer hitch, and wiring kit. Some states even required an auxiliary braking system.

It’s also easier to tow different vehicles with a dolly. Maybe you want to go off-roading in your Jeep one weekend, and the following weekend you want to go cruising in your convertible. You can use the same trailer to transport both vehicles.

Pro Tip: We took a closer look at What Is an RV Towing Dolly to help you decide what towing option is best for you.

Motorhome flat towing Jeep behind it
Keep all four wheels on the ground while you vehicle is being towed.

Is Flat Towing Safe? 

Yes! It is safe as long as the manufacturer states that your vehicle is capable of it. Always check your vehicle’s owner’s manual. Even within the same models, there are different capabilities. A 2010 Ford Escape might be able to be flat towed, while a 2013 Ford Escape might not.

As far as safety, there is nothing dangerous about towing with all four wheels on the ground. As long as you hook up the proper connections and equipment and stay within the towing capacity of your motorhome, it’s perfectly safe to tow your car this way.

Does Flat Towing Add Miles? 

Flat towing adds miles to your vehicle if you have a mechanical odometer. Electronic odometers don’t calculate miles while flat towing. Probably the bigger issue is the added wear and tear to your tires.

The tires are still spinning along the interstate, so they’ll rack up the miles even if your odometer doesn’t. On the other hand, if you tow using a trailer, the vehicle’s tires aren’t rolling. This means there are no miles and no additional wear and tear on your tires.

RV flat towing Jeep
No tow dolly or a trailer on hand? No problem!

What Cars Can Be Flat Towed Behind Motorhomes? 

As mentioned before, you must check your vehicle’s owner’s manual to know if it’s capable of flat towing. In general, Jeep Wranglers, Jeep Grand Cherokees, Honda CR-Vs, Ford Fusions, and light-duty trucks can use this towing technique. But the year is also important to double-check.

When a vehicle’s four wheels are on the ground, the drivetrain and transmission are affected because the wheels turn. Most vehicles with automatic transmissions can’t be flat towed. On the other hand, some manual transmission vehicles can’t either.

If you flat tow your vehicle and it doesn’t have the design for it, you risk major damage and expensive repairs.

Do You Flat Tow in Neutral? 

You do flat tow in neutral. You can’t just put any car in neutral and start, though. Read the specific instructions first that come with your vehicle. You may need to engage or disengage certain systems. Your vehicle’s owner’s manual will give you exact instructions to help protect your transmission.

Pro Tip: Wondering Is It Safe For You to Tow in Overdrive? We uncovered the truth!

Is Flat Towing Worth It?

If you travel often and have a vehicle capable of flat towing, investing in the necessary equipment is worth it. Having a smaller vehicle to run errands and visit downtown cities makes the experience more enjoyable. You don’t have to worry about calling a cab or Uber, and you don’t have to drive your motorhome down narrow roads.

Trailer and tow dollies are other good alternatives. Still, the biggest challenge will be finding a place to store the trailer.

If you own a motorhome, do you flat tow? Or do you prefer to get those tires off of the road? Tell us in the comments!

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