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Will Keeping Your Camper Hitched Overnight Damage Your Vehicle?

You don’t have to RV for long before you discover that RV travel days are anything but predictable. However, whether your travel days go to plan or not, sometimes you may not want to unhitch your camper.

So will you damage your vehicle by hitching your trailer overnight? Let’s look and see!

Will Keeping Your Camper Hitched Overnight Damage Your Vehicle?

Hitching your trailer overnight isn’t likely to cause any damage to your vehicle. However, this assumes you’re staying within your vehicle’s tow ratings. If you’re over the tow ratings on your vehicle, hitching your camper will likely cause issues.

These issues can occur whether you’re parking overnight or traveling down the road.

Is It OK to Leave Your Trailer Plugged into Your Vehicle? 

Plugging your trailer into your vehicle overnight isn’t a problem for most drivers. However, it depends on how your vehicle sends power from the 12-volt line to the trailer. Most modern cars stop the flow of electricity from the battery to the trailer when the key is no longer in the “on” position.

However, some older vehicles function differently. Plugging a trailer into some vehicles can cause you to pull power from your vehicle’s battery while parking for the night. If you pull enough power or your battery isn’t in the best condition, you could wake up to a dead battery in your vehicle. You won’t go anywhere anytime soon until you recharge the battery or ask someone to help you jumpstart your vehicle.

Some RVers play it safe and unplug their camper from their tow vehicle. This eliminates potential issues and ensures they wake up to a full battery in the morning. Just ensure you plug your camper back into your vehicle before hitting the road in the morning.

Pro Tip: Want to make hitching up quick and easy? Use these 7 Tips for Hitching up an RV Camper that Actually Work.

Airstream parked at campsite at night
While hitching your trailer overnight may not cause harm to your vehicle, it is always a good idea to unhitch if possible.

Can I Sleep in My Camper While It’s Hitched to My Vehicle?

As long as you’re staying under the tow ratings of your vehicle, sleeping in your camper while it’s hitched isn’t going to cause any problems. This is how many people sleep when taking advantage of overnight stops like Harvest Hosts or retail parking lots like Walmart and Cracker Barrel.

Like at a campsite, you’ll want to make your RV as level as possible. Doing so will make it more comfortable and allow your propane appliances to work efficiently. Many have issues with propane refrigerators struggling to cool when the RV is unlevel. If you want to keep your food cool, make sure your RV is level.

Unless you’re putting down your landing gear or jacks, you’ll likely notice an increase in the amount of bounce you feel in your rig. It only takes a few minutes to put your jacks down, but you want to ensure you don’t cause any damage to the surface where you’re parking. Just don’t forget to raise your jacks in the morning before hitting the road.

Campers unhitched at campsite
Keeping your camper hitched overnight allows an easy exit in the morning.

What Are the Benefits of Keeping Your Camper Hitched Overnight?

Many RVers stay hitched overnight, especially if they do a quick nightly stop. This can save time and allow minimal effort for leaving first thing in the morning. Why unhitch and hitch again when it’s unnecessary?

In addition to minimizing effort, it can maximize safety. You never know where you’ll park for the night while RVing. A Walmart parking lot may look safe and secure during the daytime, but things can quickly change once the sun goes down or the store closes. If you ever need to leave in a hurry, staying hitched can allow you to leave in minutes. The last thing you want is to be in a hurry while hitching up. This is a recipe for disaster.

An additional benefit of staying hitched can be avoiding nasty weather. Hitching can be challenging, but even more so if you have to do it in less-than-ideal weather conditions. If the weather forecast calls for inclement weather when you plan to leave, hitch up and do as much as you can before the weather turns south. You can go as quickly as possible and minimize your time packing things up.

Are There Any Disadvantages to Keeping Your Camper Hitched Overnight?

One of the only disadvantages of staying hitched overnight is that your tow vehicle will be out of commission. You’ll need to take your camper anywhere you plan to go. You can’t take your camper or trailer everywhere.

You’ll want to ensure that any roads or areas you take your RV are safe and won’t damage your rig.

Pro Tip: We uncovered Should You Grease Your Hitch Ball When Towing? Discover all you need to know.

Is It Worth Keeping Your Camper Hitched Overnight? 

There are times when keeping your camper hitched is worth it. If you’re only stopping for the night, it’s typically not worth the effort to unhitch. You can also leave as quickly as possible should a situation become unsafe due to crime or dangerous weather.

It’s best to decide whether to hitch overnight on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes it will be worth it, and sometimes it won’t. Being an RVer means being flexible and going with the flow in these situations.

Would you leave your camper hitched overnight? Tell us in the comments!

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