RV Tow Vehicles
If you will be towing an RV travel trailer or fifth-wheel you'll need to know what to look
for in an RV tow vehicle.
This is such an important issue that I advise that you do as much research as possible. Your safety and that of
your vehicle and RV will depend upon your decision. Since there are so many different possible configurations of RV
sizes and makes I can only give you a few general guidelines.
Rest assured that your selection of a tow vehicle will have a major impact on the quality of your RV’ing
experience. Choose wisely. If you want to see what your tow vehicle is made of, pull your RV up the winding Eastern
Continental Divide highway from South Carolina into North Carolina.
For personal safety, and to ensure the long-term durability of your tow vehicle and RV, buy a tow vehicle with a
towing capacity greater than your maximum towed load.
A heavy-duty auxiliary engine cooling system is mandatory. You will
generate tremendous amounts of engine and transmission heat towing your RV. Make sure that one is either
installed on your vehicle or have one installed.
The suspension system on your tow vehicle must be heavy-duty. Otherwise, you risk damaging the frame of your
vehicle, putting your personal safety at risk, and potentially losing your RV.
You must have a heavy-duty transmission system. Pulling an RV places tremendous stresses on your transmission in
addition to the rest of your vehicle’s operating systems.
The rear-axle ratio in your vehicle absolutely must be a proper ratio in relation to your maximum towed load.
You’ll sacrifice some gas mileage, but that is better than burning up your engine or transmission.
Make sure that your mirrors extend out far enough to give you a clear view to the rear of your RV, on both sides of
Whether to go with a gas or diesel powered engine is more an individual matter. We have had both and for overall
performance would not go back to a gasoline-powered engine for towing. We have met other people along the way who
feel just the opposite. Go figure. Passing all the vapor-locked gas-powered engines on the side of the road at high
elevations in Rocky Mountain National Park made us feel good about our decision to go with diesel.
As a general rule, maintenance for a diesel-powered vehicle will be more expensive. On the other hand, if you
properly maintain your diesel truck, it can still be running many years after it’s gasoline cousin has been crushed
in the scrap yard.