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RV Nightmare: Towing a Broken Motorhome

RV Nightmare: Towing a Broken Motorhome

If you don’t know how to tow a broken motorhome, you risk having a very bad day every time you set out in your RV. A happy-go-lucky family vacation will turn sour pretty fast if you have a major breakdown on the road. 

Becoming a better and more adept traveler starts with knowing how to manage your equipment. Work on honing your skills by investing a few minutes in a quick read. Check out some tips that may help you if trouble strikes while out adventuring. 

towing a motorhome
Depending on your RV class type, you will have to tow your broken motorhome in different ways.

Breakdowns Happen, Even to RVs

Breakdowns happen, and RVs are certainly no exception to the rule. Engines have a lot of different moving parts, and something always goes wrong at one point or another. 

When you’re out exploring in your RV, you’ll likely find yourself far from a mechanic as well. It behooves you to have a plan should you find yourself in a position where motorhome towing is your best option. 

Commonly Missed RV and Vehicle Maintenance Items | Preventing Catastrophic Failure and Breakdowns

Can You Tow a Broken Motorhome?

If you have the right knowledge and the right machinery, you can tow any vehicle, no matter the size. Most established towing companies will have the ability to tow your motorhome easily. 

However, you’ll need to know how to do the job yourself at times. How you go about towing your motorhome depends on its class. 

How to Tow Depends on Motorhome Type

If you have a Class B or Class C motorhome, traditional heavy-duty pickup truck tow trucks should have no trouble pulling the weight after a breakdown. However, Class A motorhomes can weigh up to 50,000 pounds, and might even have air brakes. These will not be towable by a standard tow truck. Here is a little guidance on the issue. 

Class A Motorhome Towing

Class A motorhomes are the largest and heaviest of all the rigs on the market. Most likely a large tow truck (the type that can tow semi trucks) will be needed to move your rig. Your options will depend on your class A size and type. You will need a proper tow truck for a class A so don’t try to tow it on your own. You should consult your owner manual for the proper way to tow your particular motorhome, but let’s take a look at the different methods that are used.

Smaller gas class A’s might be able to fit on a flatbed trailer, but you will need to know the weight and height of your RV to provide to the tow company. In this case, the entire RV will be loaded onto a trailer.

Some Gas Class A’s can also be towed by lifting the front of the motorhome off the ground. Many times the transmissions are not designed for towing and the driveshaft needs to be disconnected before towing. Alternativly if the tow truck is big enough the RV can somtimes be lifted from the back and towed backwards.

towing a motorhome by lifting the rear wheels up

For diesel class A motorhomes a semi wrecker is usually needed that can provide air to the coach. Air brakes have parking brakes that are spring loaded and only can be released when there is aire pressure in the system. If the coach is not running the tow vehicle will need to provide air pressure to the coach so that it can roll. Its important to have an experienced tow operator that specializes in semi trucks and busses tow a diesel class A.

burned class A bus towing
If a diesel class A motorhomes is inoperable it usually needs to be towed using a semi truck wrecker.

Camper Van/Class B Motorhome Towing

You can tow most Class B motorhomes the same way you would have a truck or large car towed. Again check your operators manual to know what methods are allowable for your vehicle. If its a all wheel drive it may need to be put on a flatbed to be moved. This is because the drivetrain is sometimes not disconnactable.

Front-wheel-drive vehicles are an exception because you can pull them with only the front wheels lifted from the ground.

If you need to tow it short distances or pulled out of a stuck situation usually the vehicle can be put in neutral and pulled, but only do this for short distances at slow speeds.

class A on trailer
Class B’s can be towed like a car most times.

Class C Motorhome Towing

If you need to tow a Class C motorhome, you might need a flatbed trailer. If you have a rear-wheel drive Class C, you might have to disconnect the drive shaft to tow it safely with only the front wheels lifted. 

Again you should know the weight and height of your RV that you can provide to the tow operator so that they are sure to bring the right tow truck. Like other vehicles the drive axle might need to be disconnected to safely tow a class C.

RV in smoke on road
Towing a broken big rig can be very dangerous if not done correctly.

RV Towing Frequently Asked Questions

Towing a broken motorhome takes a bit of skill and is more complicated than finding the right truck. Look at three of the most frequently asked questions and their answers now. 

Can You Tow a Motorhome With a Truck? 

The answer to this question depends on what size motorhome you want to tow. Also, consider what equipment you have on hand and how much power you have in the truck you’ll use. If all the numbers add up, the answer is yes. You can tow a Class B and C motorhome with a tow dolly using most half-ton pickup trucks. The more powerful the truck, the better. Dont attempt to tow a class A yourself and we dont recommend towing any motorhome if you are not experienced with vehicle towing.

Can a Motorhome Be Flat-Towed? 

We don’t recommend flat-towing your RV. However, you can safely flat-tow some smaller vehicles with the right tow bar and truck. Flat-towing is also referred to as four-down towing, meaning all four wheels of the broken motorhome touch the road during the tow. 

If you want to flat tow your motorhome the safest way is to fully disconnect the driveshaft and make sure the parking brake is not set.

How Do You Pull a Motorhome Out of Mud?

Pulling a motorhome out of the mud is the same for a car or truck, except everything is bigger and heavier. First, try to reverse the vehicle to see if you can gain traction. If not, try putting planks or something to help add traction underneath the wheels, and try again. You may be able to use the motorhomes jacks to lift it up and set it down on traction aids. If that doesn’t work, try using the planks, a strong chain (winch or rope), and a heavy-duty pickup truck to get out of the mud. 

Usually a tow operator will have a special bar that allows them to get the tow cable very close to the ground so they can pull from underneath the body work. This is the only way to prevent damage if it needs to be pulled out.

RV driving on highway
Plan ahead and be prepared in case something goes wrong while on the road.

Motorhome Towing Services & Roadside Assistance

Ensure you have an insurance policy providing roadside assistance on your motorhome before any trips. You can keep your hands clean and relax throughout the process by having good coverage. You may also want to research motorhome towing services along your planned route. Preparation and research can save the day if you have any issues. 

Pro Tip: We found the Best RV Roadside Assistance options to give you peace of mind while RVing.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Motorhome Towed by Professionals?

The cost of towing will depend on the size of your RV. Towing a camper van will likely cost closer to what you would expect if you got your car towed. But, it’ll cost much more if you need roadside assistance for a broken Class A or B motorhome. Expect to pay in the range of $4 to $7 per mile for a lift. To tow a larger motorhome 40 miles, you could expect to pay $225 to $300 for the service. 

Roadside assistance helping truck towing motorhome
When in doubt, call roadside assistance for help.

Is Motorhome Towing on Your Own a Good Idea?

Don’t try to tow a broken motorhome on your own if you’re not 100% confident in your abilities or have the right equipment. It’s a very dangerous process. Ensure all variables align before trying. However, if you know how, towing your own motorhome could save you quite a bit of money. 

Pro Tip: Make sure you know these 10 Ways to Make Towing a Big Rig Less Dangerous before hitting the road.

Tom Talks About Trucks & Towing - Our Experience and Tips on Towing Heavy

Towing a Broken Motorhome Doesn’t Have to Be a Nightmare

In conclusion, you don’t have to be terrified of being caught in a situation where your motorhome breaks down. The key is to plan ahead. Be prepared, and know your options should something go wrong on the road. Hopefully, you now have a much better idea of where to begin if you need a motorhome towing. 

Have you ever had to tow a broken motorhome? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

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