How to Tow a Broken Motorhome: The Complete Guide


Motorhomes are large RVs. So, if they break down, towing them is not a walk in the park. So, no matter what the size of your RV, here’s how to tow a broken motorhome.

Most tow companies have the ability to tow large motorhomes. While driving the RV onto a flatbed trailer is ideal, they can be towed with just the front wheels off the ground while in neutral. But rear-wheel-drive motorhomes would ideally have the rear wheels off the ground.

But the above is just the tip of the iceberg.

In this article, we’ll explore if it’s feasible to tow a motorhome with a pickup truck and how to tow a Class A RV. But we’ll also find out if you can tow a motorhome with a tow bar.

Let’s get started.

Can you tow a motorhome with a pickup truck?

Many larger pickup trucks can easily tow a Class B or Class C RV. However, some Class A RVs weigh as much as 30,000 pounds and will be beyond any truck’s capacity. Trucks such as a Ford F-250 or F-350 or a Dodge Ram 2500 or 3500 can pull approximately 23,000 to 24,000 pounds. 

Here’s a handy chart showing the best-known pickups and their tow capacity:

Pickup Truck Make & Model Tow Capacity Type of RV it Can Tow
Nissan Titan XD 11,070 pounds All Class B RVs, a few small Class C RVs
Dodge Ram 1500 12,750 pounds All Class B RVs, a few small Class C RVs
GMC Sierra 1500 13,200 pounds All Class B RVs, and many small Class C RVs
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 13,300 pounds All Class B RVs, and many small Class A and C RVs
Ford F-150 14,000 pounds All Class B RVs, and many small Class A and C RVs
Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD and 3500HD 20,000 pounds All Class B and C RVs, Some smaller Class A RVs
GMC Sierra 2500 and 3500 20,000 pounds All Class B and C RVs, Some smaller Class A RVs
Ram 2500 and 3500 23,000 pounds All Class B and C RVs, Many small-med size Class A RVs
Ford F-250 and F-350 24,200 All Class B and C RVs, Many small-med size Class A RVs

It’s also worth pointing out that most of the time, the tow capacity assumes that what is being towed has braking capability.(source)

In other words, it is expected that you’ve electronically connected the brakes to the RVs brakes so that when you brake in the truck, the RV brakes too. After all, the weight of the RV, in many cases, will be significantly heavier than that of the truck, so it’s crucial to be safe.

Now let’s look at the weight of several popular motorhomes in all 3 categories.

Bear in mind many models, such as the Newmar Bay Star I have still come in several different floor plans. Each of those can vary a lot in weight. So, consult your owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer to be certain.

This is a GUIDE.

Make and Model of RV Type of RV Average Weight
Winnebago Adventurer Class A 22,000 pounds
Newmar Bay Star Class A 22,000 pounds
Forest River Berkshire Class A 47,000 pounds
Coachmen Freelander Class C 22,000 pounds
Thor Compass Class C 13,500 pounds
Jayco Redhawk Class C 14,500 pounds
Airstream Interstate Class B 11,030 pounds

Let’s look at the most vital things to keep in mind when towing a motorhome with a pickup truck. The first thing is to know your motorhome.

Knowing some basic facts about it will help you choose the right pickup truck.

Its size, weight, and GCWR (gross combined vehicle rating) must be known. The GCWR is the maximum allowable combined mass of your motorhome.

Then, you’ll need a truck with a strong frame, powerful engine, and a top-notch suspension system. A 2-wheel drive truck is ideal.

But, you probably think a 4-wheel drive would be better, right?

Interestingly, a 2-wheel drive is better for the job because a 4-wheel drive weighs more and has a lower towing capacity.

The more a truck weighs, the lower its towing capacity. You’ll also need to make sure that the truck’s towing capacity exceeds the weight of your motorhome.

When you’re using a truck to tow a motorhome, it’s crucial that its towing capacity exceed the motorhome’s weight because towing a motorhome with more weight than is ideal could trigger brake fade, tire failure, or an overheated engine in the truck!

And you’ll want a truck with automatic transmission because these types of trucks have higher tow ratings.

They are also a lot easier to drive since the transmission shifts automatically. That way, you can simply focus on the road and the motorhome.

You’ll want to weigh the motorhome and the truck together at a certified scale or weight station before you hit the road.

Have you ever wondered whether RVs and motorhomes are the same?

You’re in luck because a recent article I published explored the difference. In it, I shared what the different names for RVs mean and looked at which one’s better: a travel trailer or a motorhome. But I also revealed whether you should buy a Class A or a Class B.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How do you tow a Class A RV?

The best way to tow a Class A RV is using a flatbed trailer. However, front-wheel-drive Class A RVs can be towed with the front wheels off the ground. For rear-wheel-drive Class A RVs, disconnecting the drive shaft may be necessary before towing with the rear wheels on the ground.

And it’s worth noting that most Class A RVs are rear-wheel drive.

Class A RVs are some of the largest RVs in the market. They weigh a lot and are very long. Some weigh between 16,000 to 30,000 pounds and are between 20 feet to 45 feet!

So, they can be cumbersome to tow. You’ll need a towing vehicle with enough torque and towing power to get the job done.

Because Class A RVs are heavy, the towing vehicle would need to be able to disperse the RV’s weight evenly. A towing system with an electric brake pre-installed is ideal. Flatbed trailers are ideal for towing Class A RVs.

Torn between buying a Class A motorhome and a travel trailer?

That’s what I explored in a recent article. I showed whether travel trailers are better than motorhomes and Class A motorhomes. But I also shared how long will a Class A motorhome last.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How do you tow a Class C RV?

The best way to tow a Class C RV is using a flatbed trailer. However, front-wheel-drive Class C RVs can be towed with the front wheels off the ground. For rear-wheel-drive Class C RVs, disconnecting the drive shaft may be necessary before towing with the rear wheels on the ground.

Class C RVs are close to Class A RVs.

So, they are big. As such, they are equally demanding to tow. They range in size between 10,000 to 12,000 pounds. It follows that the towing vehicle must have the capacity to tow a Class C RV within that range.

You’ll also want a towing vehicle that has an electric brake system attached to the towing device.

A tow dolly attached to a full-sized truck can get the job done. Ensure that the tow dolly and the RV are properly aligned before you drive off.

Also, make sure that there is a 700-to-800-pound buffer between the front and back of the RV. Ensure as well that the ball height is between 16 to 18 inches for effective hauling. Each tire should be strapped securely, and between 40- and 50-miles intervals, check if the tires are tied down properly.

If you’re buying a new RV, is it even worth considering a Class B?

In a recent article, I shared 13 significant pros and cons of Class B RVs, including the 1 reason I’ll probably never buy one.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Can I tow a motorhome with a tow bar?

A tow bar can be used to tow a motorhome, provided the towing vehicle has the tow capacity to accommodate the RV’s weight. But for rear-wheel-drive RVs, if towing from the front, it may be necessary to disconnect the driveshaft.

Essentially, a tow bar connects the towing vehicle to the vehicle being towed.

And it allows for swiveling so that vehicles can move independently in turns and over bumps. In virtually all cases, one can get a fitting tow bar off the shelf. And bespoke ones can also be crafted if needed.

But also remember, as I mentioned above, that in most cases, the tow capacity assumes that what is being towed has braking capability.

In other words, it’s expected that you’ve electronically connected the brakes to the RVs brakes so that when you brake in the truck, the RV brakes too. After all, the weight of the RV, in many cases, will be significantly heavier than that of the truck, so it’s crucial to be safe.

Thinking of living full-time in an RV? 

Before you sell everything you own and say goodbye to city life, you’ll agree it’s smart to find out the pros and cons of living full-

time in an RV.

That’s what a recent article of mine is about. In it, I shared the pros and cons, looked at whether RVs are ideal for long-time living, and explored what it’s like to live in an RV full-time. I even revealed whether it’s legal to live in an RV.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

What is the best way to tow an RV?

The best way to tow an RV is on a large flatbed trailer towed by a professional towing company with experience and liability insurance to ensure everything goes smoothly.

That doesn’t mean you can’t DIY it with a large-capacity pickup.

But it’s riskier if you haven’t done it before. At the very least, I wouldn’t try and tow it any farther than the nearest repair show.

But let’s look at all the things to consider.

Weight

This is arguably the most vital consideration in towing an RV.

But it’s not as simple as it seems. In fact, there are 6 different types of weight that are relevant. They are curb weight, dry weight, gross vehicle weight rating, tongue weight, gross trailer weight, and towing capacity.

Towing capacity: The maximum amount of weight a vehicle can tow. The exact figure can be found in the owner’s manual of the vehicle.

Tongue weight: The weight that a fully loaded RV exerts on the towing vehicle. Ideally, it should be 10 to 15 percent of the gross trailer weight (GTW).

Curb weight: The weight of the vehicle without passengers or cargo.

Dry weight: The weight of the vehicle without passengers, cargo, or fluid.

Gross trailer weight: The total weight of the trailer, including the weight of what is inside.

Gross vehicle weight rating: The maximum total safe weight of the vehicle. It’s the dry weight plus the weight of anything in or added to the vehicle.

Now, let’s check out another key criterion.

Tow vehicle essentials

The towing vehicle that would be adequate should have the following: hitch receiver, electric connector socket, ball mount kit, and brake controller.

The hitch receiver is the central point of connection between the RV and the truck (or any other adequate towing vehicle). It’s a square metal tube centered in the rear, under the vehicle. It’s included in all factory-installed packages.

The electrical connector socket is located near the hitch receiver on your tow vehicle. It is a female socket.

There are two common types, one has 4-pin, while the other 7-pin.

It allows your truck (or any other tow vehicle) to communicate with your RV’s electrical system, including the brakes and lighting. It’s also included in all factory-installed packages.

The ball mount kit connects the truck’s hitch receiver to the RV. It consists of a trailer ball, a ball mount, and a hitch pin.

The brake controller allows the towing vehicle’s brake pedal to communicate with the RV’s electric brakes. When you stop or slow down the towing vehicle, it allows your RV to stop or slow down at the same time.

Adequate tow hitch

An adequate hitch has the right strength and maximum weight capacity (how heavy an RV it can support). They are four types of ball-type hitches:

  • Class I: Light duty up to 2,000 lbs.
  • Class II: Moderate duty – up to 3,500 lbs.
  • Class III: Versatile/mix between 3,500 & 6,000 lbs.
  • Class IV: Heavy-duty between 10,000 & 12,000 lbs.

After determining the right class of tow hitch, the next thing is to choose one that is compatible with your tow vehicle’s hitch receiver.

Towing an RV is a bit more involved than driving it on its own. There’s the need to be more careful because the added load exerts a lot of pressure as you drive. So, you’ll have to drive slowly.

RV Breakdown || Getting Towed

Conclusion

In the article, we explored if it’s feasible to tow a motorhome with a pickup truck and how to tow a Class A RV.

But we also found out if you can tow a motorhome with a tow bar. We looked at how to tow a Class C RV, and we concluded by exploring the best way to tow an RV.


I also have to point out that I am an experienced RV owner, and I’ve driven Class A and Class C RVs many times. However, I have never been a tow truck driver, and I have never towed a motorhome. So, my content should not be construed as professional advice. If you need your motorhome towed, you should seek the advice of a qualified professional in your area.


Image by Tyler Clemmensen from Pixabay and Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay and Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

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Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell travels on and off with his 3 daughters in a Newmar Baystar Class A Motorhome. He writes extensively on both RVs, campgrounds, parenting on the road tips, remote learning & schooling, and much more!

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