bing tracking image

Choosing the Right Tow Bars

content loading

Choosing the Right Tow Bars

Hello neighbors, it's Brad here at etrailer and today we're taking a look at different styles of tow bars and that way, we can help you determine what's the best style for your flat-towed vehicle. So, you have an RV and you're traveling around the US and when you park your RV, you're wanting to be able to go to town or just do some adventures without having to take the RV. Well, you're gonna want to tow the vehicle behind the RV. And there's two main options to be able to accomplish that. You have your dolly towing and then you also have your flat tow, which is your other option using a tow bar. The tow dolly does have some benefits and that's simply, some cars can't be flat towed, so this is a great option to be able to get the wheels up there and just tow the rear ones behind and that way, you don't have to worry about installing flat tow systems on a vehicle either.

Now, the downside about these dollies is, well, it's a dolly. You have to store it when you're not using it. So, whether it be at your home or even at the campsite, it is going to take up space and that can be a problem. So, if you've decided that a tow dolly is not for you, then welcome to the world of tow bars. Now, one of the first, and probably the most important, things to decide when picking a tow bar is finding one that has weight capacity to handle the vehicle that's being towed.

And that's just to make sure that you're not overloading the tow bar. So, you get one that handles the weight of your vehicle or more. That's totally fine. And that's the thing with towed vehicles is there's a lot of small flat tows, but people are starting to use larger trucks. So, make sure you have the capacity to be able to handle it.

Another important thing to consider when choosing your tow bar is going to be making sure that it actually attaches to your base plate. And different brands have different styles of attaching. So, here we have a Roadmaster style. We also have a Blue Ox style here. And it really doesn't matter if what brand you buy doesn't match your baseplate because you can get adapters to attach to it.

So, if you have a Blue Ox base plate but want a Roadmaster Tow bar, not to worry. You can simply get those ends, put those on, and you'll be ready to go. Now taking a look at the most common style of tow bar, it's gonna be the RV hitch-mounted tow bar. And we have three selections here that we're gonna take a little bit closer look at and they all kind of fall into a little bit different of a category. So, we're gonna look a little bit closer, one by one, and see why that is. So, taking a look at a more traditional style tow bar, we have the Roadmaster Falcon 2. And this is gonna be kind of an entry level tow bar. It's gonna do a fine job of being able to hook up to your vehicle and get the job done, but it kind of stops there. There's really no frills. You are going to have just kind of a little bit more cluttering going on as it doesn't have any cable management. And the one thing that really separates this from the other tow bars we'll take a look at is the fact that it binds up when you are ready to unhook the vehicle. And what I mean by "when it binds up" is the fact that when you're hooked up to your vehicle, this is gonna extend and lock in place. And when you're ready to unhook your vehicle, you're gonna need to draw this back. That way you can take the tension off of your arms to be able to get your vehicle unhooked. And the problem is, unless you're on perfectly flat ground, these are not really going to want to twist. You can see, I have a little bit of movement here, whereas the other tow bars are gonna rotate around freely. And what that means is undoing this and we're relieving that tension can be tricky. So, just with a little bit of twisting here, I'm having a hard time pushing that in and with the weight of the vehicle tensioning this up, it can be super tricky and a lot of people resort to hitting this with a hammer or getting the tool to pry this back. Either way, it makes for a little bit more of a difficult situation if you hook up or unhook a lot. If you're just getting your feet wet with flat towing a vehicle or you just have a very lightweight vehicle and you don't tow that often, this is gonna be a great economical choice to be able to tow your car behind you. Now, moving up to the non-binding class of tow bars, you have our etrailer SD and this is a really good middle-of-the-road that gives you a lot of bang for buck and there's quite a bit of tow bars that fall into that same category. And then, non-binding. You can see this free spin. So, when it's retracted, it doesn't matter if it's slightly twisted one way or the other. If you're on uneven surface, you have this release here which is gonna allow you to pull that back in and not have to fight that. Now, you can see, we don't have any ends attached to our tow bar, and that's so you can choose the end to match your base plate. So, when choosing a tow bar, make sure that you are matching accordingly to the manufacturer that you have for your baseplate. Now, some of the bells and whistles that I mentioned with this middle-of-the-road tow bar is going to be cable management. And this really just cleans everything up. There's a lot of cables being attached and to have them attached to the tow bar is just gonna make everything a little bit nicer, keep your cables with it. That's less components to hold onto. And this one comes with the safety cables already attached in the brackets and it keeps it nice and clean. Something else that it has that's really nice is also cable management for your umbilical. So when you hook up your diode wiring, you can actually put this on this shaft here. We'll just put our clip in place and that's gonna keep this from dragging on the ground. So, even if you have a cable that may be a little bit long, no worries, this is gonna hold it up. And again, just kind of keep everything nice and tidy while hooked up. In that same middle-of-the-road classification of tow bar, we can also find things like the Blue Ox Avail, which also comes with safety cables, and these are coiled to keep them off the ground and it's still gonna be non-binding. Now if you flat tow more than a handful of times a year or you just simply want the best out there, you're gonna move up to that premium category and that's where we're gonna find the Roadmaster Nighthawk. It does have your cable management and this one's done a little bit differently by having our channels underneath here with the safety cables able to go through there. But also you have your umbilical, which also goes to the channel, keeping it nice and clean and also included. So, that's a nice little benefit of the Nighthawk. Now, one of my favorite features, and definitely one that makes this one stand out from any other tow bar on the market is going to be the integrated LED lights. Now, I can always spot a Nighthawk while I'm driving, especially at nighttime, because these are illuminated. And the great part is so can other drivers. And the reason being is when you're flat towing your vehicle at night, the headlights on the car are not on. Your taillights are on, but if someone's next to you for a while and they decide to merge over, they may not see the headlights of the vehicle and hit your towed vehicle. Well, these LEDs are gonna let them know something is connected to that vehicle. Now, a less common type of tow bar is going to be your car-mounted. So, instead of going into the receiver of the hitch of an RV, it has a ball mount. So, you're gonna need a ball mount to attach to that. And this is gonna fit, I think, kind of a small niche. We had a customer that would deliver RVs for a living and he would tow his own personal vehicle behind it. And this is great because you can keep this with the car, drop it onto the ball mount of the RV and go. Another great option B, if you have a work truck, a large construction truck maybe, and you needed a "get around" vehicle while you're in town, this could also work well for that. Now, some things to consider when choosing your tow bar. You're gonna wanna measure your base plate height as well as the hitch on the RV and you're gonna want that to be within a three-inch window. And really, you're shooting for as level as possible once connected. And three inches is kind of the max. And so if you're at a larger distance than that, you can pick up a high/low adapter, which is gonna allow you to rise or drop to be able to connect perfectly. Some other add-ons you may consider when purchasing your tow bar are going to be a cover for it. So, if it lives on the back of your RV in its stowed position, you can put a cover on there and leave it on there and it's gonna be protected from the elements. It's also a great way to get all your cables managed in there so you can have all your flat tow components tied in that bag. It also looks great. Some other things you can pick up are going to be locking pins and that way you can lock them all in place and no one can walk away with your investment or unhook your vehicle. And lastly, if you're worried about any rock chips hitting the front of your towed vehicle, there's also some screen set up that you can put in place, such as The Tow Defender, and that's just gonna create a little bit of a barrier between the RV and the towed vehicle. So in summary, I think most of you watching this are gonna kind of lean towards the non-binding tow bars and I hope that's the case because I think they truly are the best towing experience you can get. And if you are just needing to tow occasionally, your standard style with the binding arms is gonna be fine. Now, if you do have a special occasion for towing or a special application, as far as your construction trucks, or something along those lines, you can go ahead and go for the car-mounted one. So, hopefully this kind of helps decipher which one's best for you.

About Us
photos and videos
Original Photos & Videos

Produced to make sure you know what you are getting and you get exactly what you need.

Installations Completed

To make sure products work and fit the way they are supposed to.

etrailer call center
Phone Calls & Emails Answered

1,125,924 phone calls and 1,350,587 emails to help find the right solution.

etrailer training
Average Hours of Product Training

We get to know our products firsthand so experts can better help you.

etrailer service
Years of Quality Customer Service

Assisting our neighbors and customers, face to face at the counter.

etrailer experts
Pages of Expert Information

Created to make sure you have all the answers to your questions, from real experts.