Advertisement

How Self-aligning Motor home-mounted Tow Bars Work

This RV has plenty of room in the woods, but imagine trying to navigate through crowded city streets.
This RV has plenty of room in the woods, but imagine trying to navigate through crowded city streets.
PNC/Photodisc/Getty Images

­

Owning a motor home or RV is all about freedom. That is, until you get into a congested area. Then a motor home can seem like a prison. It's hard to take one into urban areas, difficult to park even in the suburbs and not the most fuel efficient way to make a quick grocery run.

Advertisement

Advertisement

The solution for a lot of motor home owners is to tow another car ­with their RV. Once they're at the destination, having an extra car means more freedom -- to go into cities, go out for a nice dinner or even take a day trip away from the RV. But the logistics of towing an extra car can be tricky.

One of the easiest ways to tow a car is with a self-aligning motor home-mounted tow bar. These tow bars are smaller and less expensive than trailers or dollies. They're also sometimes called "marriage savers" because unlike other towing accessories, they're very easy to hook up. The motor home and the car being towed need only be hooked together. Once the motor home sets off, the self-aligning bars fold and lock into place, keeping the car correctly aligned and the right distance from the RV.

­

Advertisement

With a self-aligning motor home-mounted tow bar, hooking up this car and the RV is an easy job.
With a self-aligning motor home-mounted tow bar, hooking up this car and the RV is an easy job.
Photo courtesy of Jill Fromer/istockphoto

Motor home mounted tow bars have a number of advantages over other types of towing equipment. While most towing set ups require the motor home to have a drop ball mount, these mounts can be problematic as they ride low to the ground and can scrape when the RV goes over a dip. Car-mounted self-aligning tow bars are easy to hook up, but because they're mounted on the car, they have other issues. The extra weight on the car can add to wear on the suspension and brakes, while negatively impacting fuel economy. The car mounted tow cars can also be stolen off of the car.

In contrast, a motor home-mounted self-aligning tow bar has all of the benefits and ease of use of a car-mounted self-aligning tow bar, but none of the drawbacks. When not in use, the tow bar can be securely folded and locked to the RV's hitch.

Advertisement

Advertisement

But undoubtedly, the main advantage of motor home-mounted self-aligning tow bars is how easy they make hooking up the RV and tow car. With most towing setups, the vehicles have to be perfectly aligned before setting off. That means maneuvering the vehicles within a range of less than an inch. That's pretty tough, especially when an RV is involved. With motor home-mounted self-aligning tow bars, the two vehicles need to just be hitched together -- once they start to move, the self-aligning bars lock into place, making the two vehicles perfectly linked.

In order to tow your vehicle safely, you’ll need several parts to install your motor home-mounted tow bar.
In order to tow your vehicle safely, you’ll need several parts to install your motor home-mounted tow bar.
Photo courtesy Darinburt/istockphoto

Motor home-mounted self-aligning tow bars are installed as part of the RVs hitch set-up. As a result, once the proper hitch is in place, the motor home-mounted self-aligning tow bar is easy to bolt into place. Installation doesn't stop there, however. You'll also need to install a number of towing accessories on the car being towed.

You'll need a base plate or bracket, safety cables and brake light wiring kit to make sure your tow bar works safely. The base plate or bracket attaches the bar to the car. The safety cables provide extra attachment from the car to the RV, and the brake light wiring kit wire the car's brake lights to the RV's, so when the RV brakes, the car's brake light will light up, alertring vehicles behind you that the car is slowing down.

Advertisement

Advertisement

The brackets or base plates should be installed on the front of the car being towed. The specific place depends on what kind of car you have; the tow bar seller should be able to help you with that. The safety wires run from the bracket or base plate up to the hitch of the RV, and the brake light wiring kit is installed through the car's fuse box. All in all, installation can be done by one person in an afternoon, but if you're not very handy, you may want to let professionals take care of it.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

More Great Links

Sources

  • Tow Bar FAQ's. http://www.towbar.com/faqs.htm
  • Towing a Vehicle. http://www.rvtechlibrary.com/towing/towing_overview.htm
  • Tow Cars. http://www.rversonline.org/00ConfTowbars.html

Advertisement


Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement