Pros and Cons of Flat-Towing vs Trailer-Towing Behind Your Motorhome

The RV lifestyle opens to the door to so many new adventures. However, if you’re going to be taking longer trips with a motorhome, you will more than likely want to tow a vehicle behind the motorhome. Otherwise, you’re limited to either having somebody follow you in a vehicle to your destination, or being stuck driving the motorhome to every little place you need to go.


At first glance, this might seem like a rather easy problem to solve if you haven’t done this before. However, there are some important factors to consider when deciding to tow a vehicle behind a motorhome.


The first thing you’ll need to decide when towing a vehicle behind your motorhome is whether to tow your vehicle on a trailer behind your motorhome, or if you want to “flat-tow” your vehicle. Flat-towing is where all four of your vehicle’s tires are on the ground and it’s attached to the motorhome with tow bars. There’s advantages and disadvantages to both methods, so below is a quick pros and cons list to help break down them down.


Trailer Towing

Pros:

  • You can tow a wider variety of vehicles, including those with automatic transmissions, which often cannot be flat-towed.
  • The weight of the towed vehicle is distributed over the trailer’s axles, which can help improve stability while towing.
  • You can backup with a trailer, even if it is challenging. Not all vehicles and/or tow bar setups support backing up with a vehicle attached to the motorhome.
  • Trailer towing can be easier to setup versus a flat tow vehicle.

Cons:

  • You need to purchase a trailer, which can be expensive.
  • Trailers require additional storage space when they are not in use, which may also incur additional expenses.
  • Many RV parks have restrictions and/or additional fees if you have to park a trailer.
  • Towing a trailer can be more difficult to maneuver than flat towing.
  • Trailers add additional weight which can reduce the fuel efficiency of the motorhome.

Flat-Towing

Pros:

  • Flat towing is generally less expensive than trailer towing since you don’t need to purchase a trailer.
  • Flat towing is usually easier to maneuver.
  • Flat towing can be more fuel-efficient since the weight of the towed vehicle is not added to the weight of the motorhome.
  • You don’t have to pay to store/park the trailer when it isn’t in use.

Cons:

  • You can only flat-tow vehicles with manual transmissions or certain models of automatic transmissions that are specifically designed for flat towing.
  • Flat towing can put more wear and tear on the towed vehicle’s tires, suspension, and drivetrain.
  • The setup for flat towing a vehicle can be more complex.
We chose the flat tow option, and so far are happy with our decision. This did pose an additional hurdle for us being we just bought a new Toyota Camry last year which had an automatic transmission. This vehicle couldn’t be flat towed, so we had to take a little bit of a financial hit to trade the Camry in on a Jeep Grand Cherokee which was capable of being flat towed.

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