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How Rigid A-frame Tow Bars Work

Purpose of Rigid A-frame Tow Bars
Despite its simplicity, it takes two people to properly use a rigid A-frame tow bar.
Despite its simplicity, it takes two people to properly use a rigid A-frame tow bar.
Tim McCaig/

The purpose of rigid A-frame tow bars is to pull any load your motor home can. To find out how much weight your motor home can haul safely, you must consider the motor home's tow rating and the tow rating of the hitch receiver on the back. Depending on the motor home's capabilities, you could easily tow a small car, an SUV or even a boat with a rigid A-frame tow bar.

­The A-frame tow b­ar is a solid, welded tow bar that doesn't adjust itself to fit your vehicle. A-frame tow bars (shaped like a capital letter "A") start and stay in the rigid position. The arms of self-adjusting versions, in contrast, extend and contract a bit to allow you to position the tow bar properly, then the tow bar extends to a rigid tow position as the motor home pulls ahead.

Using a rigid A-frame tow bar is a two-person job. One person holds up the tow bar, which is connected to the RV, and guides the tow vehicle driver to the exact spot where the coupler can be attached. The coordination required between the tow-bar coupler and the tow vehicle driver is so tricky that some sarcastically call the self-adjusting tow bars "marriage savers."

The main advantages of rigid A-frame tow bars are price and weight. It's the cheapest and lightest towing equipment option. Because of its rigid design, it's best for people who only tow vehicles a couple of times a year. No matter how often you use it, though, it has to be properly installed. We'll explore the tools needed to install one on the next page.