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 substantially greater than the maximum load you will be pulling.
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 the highway.
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 vehicles 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 its gasoline cousin has been crushed in the scrap yard.
Next Chapter – Do you really need an Emergency Roadside Assistance plan?
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