Whether you are towing your dinghy or hauling a monster 25-feet caravan, you will need a reliable tow bar on your automobile.
However, tow bars come in different sizes, weight classes and shapes, and this makes choosing the right bar for your vehicle a tough task.
Shopping for an RV tow bar gets even more complicated when you have to think of other factors such as durability, maintenance costs, which brand to buy, and accessories.
Luckily, this guide takes you through the ins and outs of choosing the right tow bar for your vehicle.
Here are a few considerations you should keep in mind when shopping for one.
What To Consider When Choosing A Tow bar
1. Types Of Tow bar
Tow bars are usually classified into three types – the car mount tow bar, the rigid A-frame tow bar, and the RV mount tow bar.
Rigid A-Frame Tow bar
The Rigid A-frame tow bar is the cheapest of the three and uses solid arms to connect the RV to the towed vehicle. The solid arms don’t offer much flexibility, and you will often need to position the vehicle in a precise spot to connect properly. This bar is also difficult to attach, and requires at least two people to complete the task.
Car Mount Tow Bar
The self-aligning car mount tow bar offers greater flexibility as far as positioning the vehicle is concerned. Unlike it’s rigid A-frame counterpart, it comes with adjustable arms.
RV Mount Tow Bar
The RV mount tow bar is quickly gaining popularity each and every year, and it’s easy to see why. It solves one of the most rampant issues with other towing systems – hitting speed bumps on the road.
It comes with a tow ball hitch that raises the whole system, and prevents it from hitting the ground when you enter parking lots. The RV mount tow bar can also be folded and stowed away when not in use to prevent damage.
2. Tow Bar Weight Capacity
The weight class of a particular tow bar determines its tow capacity. There are three weight classes, and each class is determined by the type of bar and how it’s mounted to your vehicle.
Class two tow bars are the lightest of the bunch, with most rated up to just 2645 pounds. As such, they can only be used to tow small 20- by 13-feet trailers. This class uses a flat tongue style hitch.
Class three tow bars are suitable for towing medium weight vehicles and are usually rated up to 3500 pounds. They are appropriate when towing small boats, medium-sized trailers, compact cars, and multi-motorcycle trailers.
Class four is the heaviest tow bar weight class. Bars in this weight class are typically used to haul heavy-duty loads and have a rating of up to 7700 pounds. They can be used to tow heavy boats, caravans, horse floats, and car trailers. This class is also compatible with a weight distribution hitch.
3. Compatibility With Your Car
Not every tow bar is compatible with your vehicle, so it’s important to choose something that suits your car perfectly.
Car manufacturers always indicate how much load a vehicle can tow in the owner’s manual.
This figure should help you determine the right tow bar weight class for your car and ensure that you don’t overspend unnecessarily.
For instance, if you know your small hatchback can tow up a maximum of 2000 pounds, you don’t need to buy a heavy-duty one because it won’t offer any added advantage.
You also need to consider the tow bar mounting position on your car and the type of vehicle to be towed. Front Wheel Drive automobiles with manual transmissions are easy to tow, but those with Auto transmissions require a lube pump.
Rear Wheel Drive cars can’t be towed without a release from the drive shaft. Some four-wheel drive vehicles can be readily towed, but this depends on the vehicle’s manufacturer.
4. Wiring And Safety Cables
There are some low-end tow bars that come with wiring cords for connecting the RV to your car’s brake lights — it’s quite dangerous to tow your vehicle this way, especially if there are no working lights on the vehicle being towed.
If the bar doesn’t come fitted with wiring for car lights, you will have to buy a separate universal kit and six-or four-wire electrical cord.
On top of this, some states require the use of safety cables when using a vehicle tow bar for your RV. This prevents the vehicle from being loose in case this accessory fails.
Most safety cables are usually sold in pairs, with the towing capacity indicated on the specs section. It’s important that you check the bar’s specs to find out what works for it best.
5. All-Terrain Upgrade
If you are an adventurous RV traveler, you might want to choose a tow bar that features an all-terrain upgrade. With this feature, you can unhook the vehicle at different angles and on unleveled surfaces when cruising through rocky terrain.
6. RV Receiver
Perhaps the most critical consideration when choosing a bar is the receiver. If you choose something that doesn’t match the RV receiver, you won’t be able to tow. Your only option in such a case would be to buy an adapter, but this may only make things more complicated.
Therefore, it’s important to check your ideal specs and ensure that they match your RV receiver. There’s a pretty good chance that your RV has a 2-inch square receiver since most bars in today’s market are compatible with this type of receiver. However, it’s always a good idea to confirm this before making a purchase.
How To Hitch An RV Trailer
You could have the best tow bar money can buy, but it could ruin your RV adventure by hitching your RV trailer improperly. Therefore, it’s important that you learn the right way to go about it.
Slowly reverse your vehicle to the trailer’s coupling. If possible, get a friend to direct you so you can know when your vehicle is close enough. Don’t move the trailer towards your vehicle – you can easily injure your back.
When your vehicle is close enough, put it in park mode, and engage the handbrake. Switch off the engine and get out of the vehicle.
Wind the jockey wheel until the tow bar adapter lines up with the trailer coupling.
While gently rolling your trailer forward to get the adapter and trailer coupling in line, remove the hitch pin. For trailers with tow ball couplings, the tow ball should sit just below the coupling.Next, insert the hitch pin and secure it in place with the O-ring clip and the pin’s base. At this point, you will need to lower your trailer so that the coupling socket can latch onto the tow ball. This will rest the full weight of the trailer on the tow vehicle. With everything in place, lock the coupling clamp with the hitch pin.
Now, attach your safety chains. Most trailers have two of these. It’s always a good idea to cross the chains before you connect them to the tow bar tongue. The safety chains provide extra support in case your couplings fail.
Next, connect your electrics. Ensure that all the electrical connections for the brakes are well-fitted. Have a friend check to ensure that the connections are working. Your brake lights should go on when you engage the brakes. Don’t to forget to plug in any additional connections you may need.
At this point, your trailer should be resting its full weight on the towing vehicle.
Release the handbrake, fold it back to the neutral position and drive off.
RV Tow Bar 101 – Summing Up
As it turns out, a lot of thought goes into choosing the right tow bar for your car. But if you take the factors outlined above into consideration, it will be easier to make a good choice.
Fortunately, the market is flooded with brands, so your options in this regard are not limited. These bars also come at different prices, so you will certainly find something that fits your budget.
It’s wise to look at the consumer reviews for a particular brand before you make a purchase. This will give you an idea of what to expect in terms of performance, and reveal any possible problems with a particular option.
Also, be on the lookout for tow bars with added features as these offer the best value for money. Once you find an option that ticks all your checkboxes, install it and embark on your RV adventure.
Last update on 2022-10-01 at 15:31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API