Tow Cars and Towables – Part 1 – Bernice’s Tips

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September 17, 2008

Many Boomers enjoy using either a travel trailer, fifth wheel, folding camping trailer (known as a pop up), or a truck camper (a hard-sided housekeeping unit loaded onto the back of a pickup truck). These recreational vehicles are also called “towables” because a motorized vehicle such as an automobile or truck tows them.

When motorhomers are new to towing a car, they can think of many reasons not to. Once they’ve done it, they wonder why they waited. We called our first tow car “Patches” because it had so many rusted places on it that had been patched. It faithfully served us all over the country for 14 years both as a family car and a tow car.

This series, Tow Cars and Towables, includes tips on how to drive safely with a tow car or towable and also how to properly set up a towable at your campsite.

Traveling with Towables

  • Whether you are a seasoned camper or just starting down the road to adventure, when you arrive at your campsite you must chock all four wheels both forward and backward. This is especially important to do if you are pulling a trailer, whether it’s a 10-foot pop up or a 37-foot fifth wheel, before you unhook from the tow vehicle. -James G. Brown, Finksburg, MD
  • Follow these easy steps to set up and secure your RV trailer:
    • Position your trailer on the site to your liking.
    • Check to see if you will be able to reach all hookups.
    • Check for trees, tree limbs, or any other objects that would interfere with putting your awning out.
    • Move the trailer forward or backward, whichever is necessary, onto wheel ramps or blocks of wood to level the trailer side to side. (Use a level to check.)
    • Secure trailer wheels with a wheel block front and back so the trailer cannot drift off the ramps.
    • Put a jack base or block of wood under the hitch jack.
    • Turn the hitch jack handle until the trailer is level front to back. (Use a level to check.)
    • Turn the hitch jack handle three turns to lower the front of the trailer. Put a leveling jack flush under each rear corner of the trailer bumper or frame.
    • Turn the hitch jack handle six turns to raise the front of the trailer. Put a leveling jack flush under each front corner of the trailer frame and turn the hitch jack handle three turns to return the trailer to its original position.

    Your trailer should now be level and secure. Connect to water, electricity, and sewer, and extend the awning. -Earl D. Lambert, Westminster, MD

  • Store a small square of carpet on top of your hitching tools. When you arrive at a site and are ready to unhitch, place the carpet piece on the ground near the hitch. Then  you can kneel on it rather than on the ground. -Connie Burk Davis, Westminster, MD

Stay tuned for next week’s continuation of this series when I detail general tips for using a trailer and begin my tips on towing a car.

Bernice Beard

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  2. Ken

    We’ve been towing a 2006 Chev HHR all four on the road for 2 years now. It’s very simple. The manual has directions. Put the car in neutral, take the hand brake off, put the ignition key in the acc position, pull the #8 fuse from the fuse box.& go. Takes no more than 5 minutes. Have fun.

  3. Freda

    We have ‘towed’ a Saturn for 12 years, all four on the road. It is so convenient.

  4. Enjoying R.Ving is just like everything else in life.Use common sense in all
    things from towing a toad behind a motorhome. to learning all you can about
    driving a m/h or towing a 5’er or trailer. Be safe and enjoy the experience.
    Life is an adventure, Enjoy it and enjoy life.

  5. TOWABLES – DO NOT TAKE MOTOR HOME’S TOWABLE PAMPLET FOR FACE VALUE. We went looking for a new dingy and of the four we considered, three could NOT be towed four-down. But MH’s guide said they could. I don’t know of anyone who would buy a new dingy WITHOUT checking the owners manual to be certain it could be towed four-down. I wrote MH but never got an answer back from them on this problem with their Guide. I’m NOT bad-mouthing MH, but the person(s) responsible for compiling the info for their Guide should consider being a little more responsible by confirming all info before publishing. I’m off my soap-box! Thank you for reading and heeding. Richard

  6. I’m new to the RV world as I just picked up a ’78 Airstream this past weekend. After you level the trailer, why would you lower the front before using the rear leveling jack? Is it to place more of the load on the jacks? In my case, the feet that turn down are attached to my trailer so I’m not sure they’re even considered “jacks”.

    I look forward to more helpful articles on your site!

    Thanks, Jude