A vacation with an RV is one of the most comfortable ways to travel. But what if you will need a vehicle to get around the place you are visiting? An RV isn’t easy to park and is certainly less efficient on fuel than a car. A practical solution is to bring your car with you. But how will you take your car along with you?
Installing a tow bar is the way out! A tow bar attaches to your vehicle and connects to your RV’s existing trailer hitch. To fix the tow bar, you will need to attach it to the front bumper or subframe of your vehicle so it can be anchored firmly in place.
Keep reading to find out how to fit a tow bar to your vehicle
One of the most important steps is making sure your vehicle can be safely towed with all four wheels on the ground. Some vehicles with all-wheel drive and some four-wheel drive systems, being towed with all the wheels on the road can cause massive amounts of damage to the transfer case or transmission– causing you delays in your journey or costly repair bills.
Check your owner’s manual.
Practically all car manufacturers include this information in the towing section of the owner’s manual.
In this step you may need to cut and drill parts in order to install the tow bar brackets on the front of your car.
Warning: When drilling your car’s frame, carefully follow the instructions included with your tow bar. Sometimes the kit includes a guiding sticker. An ill-placed drill hole can weaken the frame and cause structural problems.
You can locate the mounting points on the frame near the front bumper. The frame or subframe, is a heavy, square metal tube that gives firmness to your car’s structure and provides a mounting point for the car’s body, engine, and other components.
Tip: The frame is usually hidden behind or below the front bumper‘s plastic cover.
Find the center-line of the vehicle with your measuring tape and mark the frame with your marker. Using the measurement in the instructions, mark the mounting locations on either side of the center line. Then, measure the overall distance required between the mounting brackets, halve it, and mark that distance on either side of the center line on the car’s frame.
Mark the spot you need to cut with your marker.
Cut the section with an angle grinder equipped or cutting wheel. This tool can be used to cut either metal or plastic parts.
Tip: If you had to cut off any plastic parts, trim the raw edges with a utility knife for a smooth appearance.
Mark the spots where holes need to be drilled with a marker.
Put an indent in the drill spot using a punch and a hammer. Without the indent, the bit can wander a little and the hole will be inaccurate.
Drill the necessary holes. Start with a small bit such as ⅛” and make a pilot hole. Only then work your way up in size until you have the designated size of hole according to the installation instructions.
Assemble the mounting brackets and their hardware according to the instructions. Ensure that you use lock washers where indicated to prevent the bolts from getting loose.
Tip: You can use a thread-locker liquid to keep the bolts tight.
Use a wrench and a ratchet with the correct socket to tighten all the nuts and bolts as much as possible.
Tip: Re-check the bolts after driving 60 miles to make sure they haven’t started to loosen. Re-tighten them all once again.
The tow bar is a large, triangular shaped section of tubular metal. It is connected with linch pins— a style of pins that have built-in safety rings.
Each mounting bracket will have a hole through it for a linch pin to slide into. Line the tow bar with these holes.
Once lined up, drop a linch pin into the hole, connecting the mounting bracket to the tow bar. Flip the spring-loaded linch pin safety ring over to prevent the pin from coming loose.
Tip: Other types of tow bar may have a vertical pin welded to it in order to align and connect with the mounting bracket. Install the bar, then put a linch pin through the vertical pin and flip the loop over to retain the pin securely.
Some styles connect to a hitch ball while others are inserted directly into the receiver. Check what type of connector you have and then connect it according to instructions.
The safety cables connect your vehicle to the RV in the event of an accident, damage or failure of the tow bar. Attach the carabiner-style safety cable clips to their designated spot on the tow bar. Then, attach the safety clips to the trailer hitch, to the loops on either side of the receiver.
Note: In some areas and states, using a tow bar requires the use of additional braking methods depending on the tow vehicle and vehicle towed.
All in all, the installation can take up from 30 minutes to 4 hours. The process is very much a specialist job and may take some time for your first time. However, leaving the work for a car service team is always an option and has greater chances of guaranteed quality, safety, and time efficiency.