December 1, 2002

TT #34 Practical Tips for Towing

By: Rob Lowe

Technical Tips #34 


 Notes And Updates: The link to the articles on the Blue Ox website is no longer active. More information can be obtained from Customer Support at www.blueox.com

Practical Tips For Towing

Check List for Hooking Up and Unhooking the Toad:

I have recently noticed an increasing number of motorhomes towing a variety of vehicles and I have seen some examples where safety has been ignored. It is important that we follow a standardized procedure and I found a good one on the Blue Ox website http://www.aemfg.com/towingbasics.html It is a good basis from which to start and I encourage you to customize it to so that it becomes your own. Keep a copy in both your Toad and your motorhome, and encourage all drivers to read and understand the process. You never know when one may become incapacitated and the other will need to hook-up.

Towing Safety Checklist

  • Inspect the tow bar, dolly or trailer for loose bolts and worn parts. Tighten loose bolts and replace worn parts before hooking up. If you have bolts that are consistently coming loose, use Loctite® or put on a double nut to keep them tight.
  • Hook up on a flat smooth surface.
  • If you have a coupler style tow bar, check the fit of the coupler on the ball. Adjust the coupler if necessary.
  • Hook up the tow bar.
  • Set up the towed vehicle's steering and transmission to tow.
  • Check your parking brake to ensure it is off and disengaged.
  • Latch the legs on a self-aligning tow bar.
  • Attach the safety cables. Cross the cables between the vehicles and wrap the cables around the tow bar legs to keep them from dragging.
  • Attach the electrical cable and tow brake system connections
  • Check the function of all lights on both vehicles.
  • Locate your spare key and lock the towed vehicle's doors.
  • Drive with care and remember your vehicle will be about 25 feet longer while towing.
  • Each time you stop check the tow bar, baseplate and safety cables to make sure they are still properly attached. Pay particular attention to the hitch clips and pins that secure your towbar or drop hitch to the motorhome hitch. Many breakaways occur because a pin clip has been removed and the pin drops out allowing the toad to be dragged on the safety cables. Check the tires of the towed vehicle to make sure they are not going flat. If you are using a dolly or trailer, check the wheels to make sure they are not hot to the touch. If the wheels are hot, it may indicate a brake or bearing problem.
  • Each day before you start check the lights to make sure they are working properly.
  • Between trips clean the towbar and cables to keep them in good shape. Also, clean and lubricate the tow bar as recommended by the manufacturer's instructions (usually by applying spray silicone lubricant.)
  • Have a checklist. It's just too easy to get distracted and forget something (like ignition position, emergency brake, break away hook up, transmission in wrong position, etc.,). One owner places his checklist in a colored plastic sheet cover attaching it conspicuously in the tow car
  • Make sure you have a second key to the tow vehicle. That way you can leave your rig parked hooked up, and not have to worry about unlocked doors.
  • Check all the connections every time you fuel up, or make a rest stop
  • Never let yourself be interrupted when hooking up. Keep your mind on your work.


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