Get familiar with these and the only hitch in your trip will be on your RV.
Towing will become second nature once you understand the key pieces of equipment involved. In this post, we’ll present some of the basic components that are involved in RV towing like hitches, anti-sway bars, safety cables, mirrors and more. The exact gear you’ll need will depend on your RV and tow vehicle.
The magnificent seven.
1. Bed-mounted hitch
For you fifth-wheelers out there, this is what you’ll use to hitch your RV to the bed of your pickup truck. Like other hitches and mounts, these are specific to your towing truck as well as the weight of your RV (remember to weigh it fully loaded). There are a couple of great advantages to the bed-mounted fifth-wheel system. First, it moves the weight of the trailer up, so there isn’t so much stress on the rear of your truck. Having the weight distributed more in the truck bed also makes the towed RV more stable and easier to maneuver. Bed-mounted hitches are also relatively easy to engage and disengage, so once your RV is parked, you can set your truck free for other uses.
2. Rear hitch setup
If you’re not hauling a fifth wheel, you’ll need a rear towing setup. The hitch includes:
- Receiver: This attaches to the underside of your vehicle and is particular to the make and model of your towing vehicle.
- Ball mount: Just what it sounds like, the ball mount goes into the hitch receiver opening and holds the hitch ball. Ball mounts are available in different sizes depending on the type and weight of RV you’re towing.
- Pin and clip: These hold the ball mount inside the receiver. Consider adding a lock because, yes, people steal hitching components sometimes.
- Hitch ball: This is sized to match the coupler on your RV.
3. Sway control
Some hitching systems come with built-in sway control. If not, you can add sway control devices like anti-sway bars that use friction and tension to distribute weight and keep the towed vehicle in alignment. Make sure any device you use is compatible with your braking system. Also, if you’re shopping for a tow vehicle, many vehicles now incorporate electronic stability control for trailers with anti-sway technologies.
4. Wiring package
Some rear towing packages come with wiring, but you may need to purchase a separate kit. Some are “plug and play” while others require splicing, so be sure that if you’re shopping for a bargain, you are also comfortable with the level of installation expertise. The wiring package powers the tail lights, brake lights, and turn signals on the RV you’re towing. Working lights are required by law on any vehicle being towed.
5. Auxiliary breaking system
There are various braking system options that will allow you to control the braking of your RV from inside the towing vehicle. Newer models have wireless receivers and are very convenient to use, offering smooth braking that is easier on your vehicle. Some of these systems also include a breakaway feature that will slow your RV should it become detached from your vehicle.
6. Safety cables
Wrap safety cables (or chains) over and around your hitch any time you are towing, and make sure they are rated to the weight you are towing. Safety cables keep your towed vehicle attached in case the hitch comes undone.
Mirrors are one of the most overlooked—but critical—parts of a good towing package. Consider getting mirror extenders so you can see all the way down your RV and out to the sides for safe travel.
PRO TIP — RV rear view cameras are also awesome. They let you see traffic behind you while in motion and also give you a great perspective when parking if you ever need to reverse. There are lots of aftermarket options if you’re interested.
Know before you tow.
Learning about towing gear is second only to knowing all the specs for your RV and towing vehicle. Remember, before you tow, you should know the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of your towing vehicle, so you can be sure it can accommodate the weight you intend to tow.
Also, always check the specs and follow manufacturers’ recommendations for hitches and accessories based on the makes and models of your vehicles. After you’ve selected key pieces of equipment that work with your vehicles, you’ll get the swing of it—with minimized sway.
Now that you’re no longer a newbie, check out our RV Towing Guide for all the information you can handle. Then you might want to mosey on over to our Best Vehicles for Towing Guide to pick out that perfect pickup.