Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Advantages and Disadvantages of RV Towing

        Auto | RV Towing

Advantages of RV Towing
Need to get to town for groceries? Just unhook your fifth wheel and go!
Need to get to town for groceries? Just unhook your fifth wheel and go!
Sebastian Iovannitti/iStockPhoto

Before we begin to deflate your dream of purchasing a towed RV, let's take a look at the advantages they offer over motor homes. There are several, and perhaps the most important one is mobility.

When you make camp and realize you could use a few supplies for dinner, you need only unhitch and stabilize your towed RV to gain the freedom of an unfettered vehicle. A motor home can afford this same mobility, but requires you tow a separate car for quick trips; it's kind of like putting the cart before the horse.

In this same vein, travel trailers offer better gas mileage. While having the added weight of a fifth wheel or travel trailer in tow will lower any vehicle's gas mileage, a fuel-efficient truck will still generally get more miles per gallon than motor homes, especially Class A motor homes. A new model of this largest and most expensive type of motor home usually gets 10 miles per gallon. This can drop to about five miles per gallon with a used, 10-year-old Class A coach [source: RV Trader].

Towed RVs also offer a leg up over motor coaches in the realm of maintenance. If a travel trailer or fifth wheel requires maintenance, you need only drop it off at the dealership and leave the dealership in your coach vehicle. Since a motor home is both coach vehicle and RV, you're out of luck on both fronts if it needs maintenance. There's little to do except wait around the mechanic's shop and hope they have fast hands. If the motor home requires overnight repairs, you'll have to stay at a hotel -- probably one within walking distance of your mechanic's shop.

Cost is also a major advantage towed RVs have over motor homes. The bill from the mechanic in the last paragraph would likely run you much more if you own a motor coach, since it has an engine (and thus, more moving parts that require maintenance and replacement). Since they aren't motorized, both travel trailers and fifth wheels also cost less than most kinds of motor homes.

This lack of an engine also means designers of towed RVs can maximize space, allowing for more room families to sleep and hang out comfortably. Most of the space in typical motor homes is consumed by the engine and the cabin. Because of this, purchasing a motor home means you have to shell out more money for more space, or simply go without a little elbow room.

Hold on: It's not time to rush out and purchase a fifth wheel or travel trailer yet. Read the next page to learn about a few disadvantages of a towed trailer before you buy.