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Nanny&Timbo

Towing a car behind a motorhome

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Hi
I am wondering if it is necessary to have a spearate brake system on the car I am towing behind my 32' motorhome using a blue ox towing system.  The car will be a 2017 Hyumdai Elantra. Any advice will be appreciated. Thanks

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I believe it is required by state law, there may be 1 or 2 states that don't require brakes but that would be pretty limiting to your travel.

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We saw dozens of cars being towed down the interstate yesterday with tow bars.  They all obviously didn't have braking systems but it looked like they were headed to Mexico.

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21 minutes ago, SWharton said:

I believe it is required by state law

I'm not certain, but I believe it depends on the weight of the towed vehicle in the state being towed.  Many states it is over 3,000 lbs.  Texas is over 4,500 lbs.

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7 minutes ago, oldbutspry said:

We saw dozens of cars being towed down the interstate yesterday with tow bars.  They all obviously didn't have braking systems but it looked like they were headed to Mexico.

And you determined that how?   You can't see the supplemental braking system we have for our toad - it sits beneath the navigator's seat.  There is nothing visible from outside.

 

39 minutes ago, Nanny&Timbo said:

Hi
I am wondering if it is necessary to have a spearate brake system on the car I am towing behind my 32' motorhome using a blue ox towing system.  The car will be a 2017 Hyumdai Elantra. Any advice will be appreciated. Thanks

Some states require all cars to have supplemental system when being towed, some it is dependent upon wait.  If going into Canada they require all to have it and (as I understand) are know to pull out the break-away to check to make sure it engages.

Why would you not want to have one?   Yes, I know they are expensive, but .....

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18 minutes ago, Barbaraok said:

And you determined that how?   You can't see the supplemental braking system we have for our toad - it sits beneath the navigator's seat.  There is nothing visible from outside.

These were cars/pickups towing other cars/pickups, usually both somewhat wrecked. Yesterday we saw many groups of 3 or 4 of them headed towards Juarez.  I'm guessing they are transporting them into Mexico or Central America.  Technically they could have had braking systems but I'd bet anything they didn't.

Edited by oldbutspry

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16 minutes ago, oldbutspry said:

These were cars/pickups towing other cars/pickups, usually both somewhat wrecked. Yesterday we saw many groups of 3 or 4 of them headed towards Juarez.  I'm guessing they are transporting them into Mexico or Central America.  Technically they could have had braking systems but I'd bet anything they didn't.

We've seen those convoys of junkers headed south to Mexico for twenty years. I agree that it is highly unlikely that they had braking systems on the towed cars. Even the tow vehicles themselves often look like they barely run...

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And the banter about cars being towed south, with all of its connotations, have what to do with pulling a toad behind an RV?   

Edited by Barbaraok

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1 hour ago, Nanny&Timbo said:

I am wondering if it is necessary to have a spearate brake system on the car I am towing behind my 32' motorhome using a blue ox towing system. 

The answer just depends on how you define the word necessary. I have towed several different vehicles behind two different motorhomes and while I began towing without any braking on the vehicle I was towing, I soon realized that the real answer is one of safety. As far as I have ever found, there is no state law anywhere that specifically requires a auxiliary brakes on a car being towed as most of the laws are actually based on towing of trailers. While I have heard stories of "someone who knew a person" who was ticketed for not having braking, I have never known of anyone who was ticketed and I have never had an LEO check to see if I had an auxiliary brake system, not even when crossing the border into Canada. But never forget that the laws do clearly state that you must be able to stop before you hit someone or something and there is no question that an auxiliary brake system will enable you to stop more quickly. In addition, most such systems allow the driver to apply braking to the towed vehicle without using the motorhome brake, which can help to stop the vehicle from sliding in wet weather. I consider it foolish to tow with no braking because it is a safety issue. If someday a child darts out from between parked cars, you will want every bit of stopping ability that you can get and heavy vehicles just do not stop as well as a car. 

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1 hour ago, Barbaraok said:

And the banter about cars being towed south, with all of its connotations, have what to do with pulling a toad behind an RV?   

I don't know if it is legal. Just pointing out it is commonly done - and with significantly smaller tow vehicles than the OP is talking about.

Edited by oldbutspry

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1 hour ago, oldbutspry said:

I don't know if it is legal. Just pointing out it is commonly done - and with significantly smaller tow vehicles than the OP is talking about.

 

3 hours ago, Barbaraok said:

And the banter about cars being towed south, with all of its connotations, have what to do with pulling a toad behind an RV?   

The general rule of thumb for folks that are NOT transporting cars to Mexico, is that you can tow doubles as long as the First trailer connection is a 5th wheel type hitch.  The 2nd trailer/toad has to have lighting and a braking system powered by the tow vehicle.  The Gross tow rating of the Tow vehicle/truck is usually scrutinized harder if the combination is pulled over. 

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When you tow a car behind a motorhome it is considered a trailer and all the applicable state trailering laws apply.  As stated previously, each state sets the laws on when a trailer requires brakes.  It is usually by the weight of the trailer.  It is a safety issue and states do not want vehicles towing heavy loads without supplemental braking.

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I have heard the argument that it is a towed vehicle and not a trailer.  Most motorhomes have a max towed weight that is unbraked.  The motorhome has no way to determine if the 4000# load is a car or a load of bricks on a utility trailer.  It is a towed load and thus all the states laws apply.  Some states have  unbraked load limit as low as 1500#.

Ken

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20 hours ago, TXiceman said:

I have heard the argument that it is a towed vehicle and not a trailer.  Most motorhomes have a max towed weight that is unbraked.  The motorhome has no way to determine if the 4000# load is a car or a load of bricks on a utility trailer.  It is a towed load and thus all the states laws apply.  Some states have  unbraked load limit as low as 1500#.

Ken

My understanding of this rule is if the combined weight of the rv and towed vehicle doesn't exceed the gvwr of the rv.  Therefore the rv is rated to stop up to the gross vehicle weight. I don't imagine many rvs have 4 or 5 thousand pounds of spare unused weight capacity, but I guess there might be some. That is one advantage of using a dolly. The dolly has the brakes on it. 

Edited by Muskoka Guy

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8 minutes ago, Muskoka Guy said:

My understanding of this rule is if the combined weight of the rv and towed vehicle doesn't exceed the gvwr of the rv.  Therefore the rv is rated to stop up to the gross vehicle weight. I don't imagine many rvs have 4 or 5 thousand pounds of spare unused weight capacity, but I guess there might be some. That is one advantage of using a dolly. The dolly has the brakes on it. 

Guy, irregardless of your reasoning about GVWR and such, a state law will supersede that.  As noted, many states require brakes on a towed load over 1500#.  And as an RVer you are required to follow the laws of the states you travel through for such items as speed, length and weight.

Ken

 

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Yes required. But more importantly it is just the right thing to do. So that you have an emergency braking system in the event that the toad separates from the MH, it will stop before taking out oncoming traffic.

 

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24 minutes ago, TXiceman said:

Guy, irregardless of your reasoning about GVWR and such, a state law will supersede that.  As noted, many states require brakes on a towed load over 1500#.  And as an RVer you are required to follow the laws of the states you travel through for such items as speed, length and weight.

Ken

 

I have just read that some where. Very doubtful anyone would or could use that as justification for not having brakes. The laws are different everywhere. Safer to just have them, and avoid getting a ticket.

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I cannot understand the thought process that they buy a $100K plus motorhome and an expensive towed vehicle and then can't justify the $$$ to safety connect and control the towed car.  If the auxiliary bakes in the car can stop you 6 inches shorter, it can be the difference between a safe stop and a wreck.

Ken

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19 hours ago, filthy-beast said:

Yes required. But more importantly it is just the right thing to do. So that you have an emergency braking system in the event that the toad separates from the MH, it will stop before taking out oncoming traffic.

 

Yes. I agree. But these are two different things - one progressively applies the brakes on a toad to assist with braking and the other aggressively applies the toad's brakes if it separates from the toad vehicle. I believe the latter is required by law everywhere, as it should be.

For years I used my under 3,000 lbs Chevrolet Cobalt as a tow vehicle to tow an Aliner that weighed around 1,700 lbs (over 1/2 the weight of the tow vehicle). In many states this light of a trailer would be exempt from a law requiring brakes, however considering the ratio of tow vehicle to towed weight I would have been foolish to tow it without electric brakes and a good proportional brake controller.

Now I have a 22,000 lb MH with excellent ABS brakes on 6 braking wheels (the tag axle has brakes too) and am towing my little, under 3,000 lb Cobalt (that was my old tow vehicle) without brakes (other than a safety brake system that pulls a cable to activate its brakes in the unlikely event that the toad breaks free from the MH.) Again, I think it is the ratio of TV vs toad that is important.  My toad is about 13% of the weight of the tow vehicle, not 58% as it was when I was previously towing with the car.

Would progressive brakes on the toad stop the rig in less distance than not having them? Certainly, by a small amount - about the same as travelling empty as opposed to fully loaded. You can decide to either pay the $1,500 for a good progressive brake system on your toad or drive a little slower and leave a little more stopping distance between the car ahead. I'll choose the latter now that I'm retired and just seeing the sights with no hurry to get anywhere. If I'm doing 55 mph in a 65 mph zone just pass me if I'm too slow for you. If traffic is starting to back up then I'll courteously pull over and let them by.

Now, If I were towing a 5,000 lb toad rather than a 2,900 lb one, or I had a significantly lighter TV, or one with marginal brakes or no braking tag axle, then my answer would be completely different.   

Chip

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I didn't know you could put a break-away system on a toad without also having a regular braking system. You should have both.  My point was even if you think your MH can handle stopping both vehicle just fine add a full braking system for the safety of the rest of us on the road.

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