I have a Honda CR-V. Is there any way it can be flat-towed behind my motorhome? —Millicent, 2003 Fleetwood Bounder
There are several issues to look at when it comes to towing a car behind a motorhome. First is the towing capacity of the RV, the weight of the car, and how the transmission or transaxle is affected by being towed without the engine running. When the vehicle is being pulled down the road, all four wheels are turning and that means the transmission or front transaxle is also turning. Since the engine is not running, there is no fluid being pumped to the gears. This could burn out the components in just 100 miles.
RV can handle towing the Honda CR-V
It looks as though your Bounder can tow 5,000 lbs. and the CR-V weighs somewhere around 3,300 – 3,600 lbs., so the RV can handle the towing. The RV Safety & Education Foundation recommends reducing the towing capacity by 10 percent, so that means 4,500 lbs., which is within the guidelines.
Flat towing a Honda CR-V depends on the year. According to several Honda CR-V owner’s manuals, you can flat-tow a CR-V if it is a 2014 model or older. However, this is the procedure they recommend.
Procedure to flat-tow a Honda CR-V
Your CR-V can be towed behind a motorhome at legal highway speeds up to 65 mph (100 km/h). Do not exceed 65 mph (100 km/h). Otherwise, severe transmission damage will occur. To avoid damage to the 4WD system, it must be towed with all four wheels on the ground (flat-towing).
When purchasing a tow bar, make sure you select a reputable manufacturer and installer. Follow the manufacturer’s attachment instructions carefully.
Prepare Honda CR-V for flat-towing
After attaching the tow bar to your motorhome, do the following to prepare your CR-V for “flat-towing”:
5-speed Manual Transmission: Make sure the transmission is filled to the correct level. Do not overfill. Release the parking brake. Shift the transmission to Neutral. Leave the key in the ignition switch and the ignition switch in ACCESSORY (I) so the steering wheel does not lock. Make sure the radio and any items plugged into the accessory power sockets are turned off so you do not run down the battery.
Automatic Transmission: When preparing to tow your CR-V, check the transmission fluid level. Maintaining the correct level is very important. Do not overfill. Do the following every day immediately before you begin towing. Follow the procedure exactly. Otherwise, severe automatic transmission damage will occur. Start the engine. Press on the brake pedal. Shift the lever through all the positions (P, R, N, D, 2,1). Shift to D, then to N. Let the engine run for three minutes, then turn off the engine. Release the parking brake. Leave the ignition switch in ACCESSORY (I) so the steering wheel does not lock. Make sure the radio and any items plugged into the accessory power sockets are turned off so you do not run down the battery.
Extended Towing: If you tow more than 300 miles (500 km) in one day, you should repeat the above procedure at least every 300 miles (500 km), i.e., when you stop for fuel, etc.
If steering wheel is locked
The steering system can be damaged if the steering wheel is locked. Leave the ignition switch in Accessory (I), and make sure The steering wheel turns freely before you begin towing. Improper towing preparation will damage the transmission. Follow the above procedure exactly. If you cannot shift the transmission or start the engine, your vehicle must be transported on a flat-bed or trailer. If you tow your CR-V and it is equipped with an automatic transmission, replace the transmission fluid every two years or 30,000 miles (50,000 km), whichever comes first.
Supplemental braking system recommended
Since the CR-V weighs approximately 3,500 lbs., it is also recommended to have a supplemental braking system in the “toad” such as the Brake Buddy, Blue Ox Patriot, or Roadmaster Even Brake.
Some states require supplemental braking systems on anything over 1,000 lbs. Check out the chart from Brake Buddy® here.
If your CR-V is newer than 2014, check the owner’s manual to see if it can be dolly towed. If it is all wheel drive (AWD), it cannot be dolly towed as the back wheels also require lubrication to the transaxle.
You might also enjoy this from Dave
Do I need supplemental brakes for towing a small Chevy?
I want to tow our 1994 two-door Chev Tracker… manual transmission, manual 4×4. Installing an RV supplemental braking system on this older, very lightweight auto seems unnecessary at first glance. Your thoughts, please? —Lo, 2021 Thor Quantum 25’ motorhome
Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and the author of the “RV Handbook.”
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