Monday, December 4, 2023


Can I flat-tow my Honda CR-V?

Dear Dave,
I have a Honda CR-V. Is there any way it can be flat-towed behind my motorhome? —Millicent, 2003 Fleetwood Bounder

Dear Millicent,
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?

Dear Dave,
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

Read Dave’s answer.

Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and the author of the “RV Handbook.”

Read more from Dave here


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Dave Solberg
Dave Solberg
Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club. He has been in the RV Industry since 1983 and conducts over 15 seminars at RV shows throughout the country.



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Joe (@guest_220688)
10 months ago

We tow a 2017 Jeep Patriot non 4 wheel drive, 5 speed manual transmission, non locking steering wheel, weighing in at 2,800 +/- pounds due to non 4 wheel and manual. By far one of the easiest vehicles to tow as most Jeeps are.

bill (@guest_220637)
10 months ago

You didn’t mention a very important item regarding tow capacity .. GCVWR .. Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating. It is listed in GM owner manuals as well as other mfg I imagine. It is the maximum legal weight of your rig fully loaded for travel including all fluids plus the full weight of your toad.
12000# RV + 4000# toad = 16000# .. If your vehicle has a GCVWR of 17500# and you have supplemental braking on the toad you might be ok.
Good Luck!

Last edited 10 months ago by bill
Ron H. (@guest_220610)
10 months ago

We bought a new CR-V in 2006 and have been towing it for 16 years. It has been trouble free so far. Before hitching up we always go for a short drive in or around the campground and put it through all the gears. We also go for a drive upon arrival at our destination to boost the battery a bit. A full day of travel for us is rarely more than 300 miles. Our Roadmaster accessory brake is also 16 years old and very reliable, but when it’s connected, it’s very difficult to reach the pedals if we want to go through the gears again. So, 300 mi. is a good maximum travel distance for us.

Tom (@guest_220605)
10 months ago

Install a battery disconnect switch on the battery and disconnect it from the vehicle system. No battery discharge.

Gary W Mayberry (@guest_220670)
10 months ago
Reply to  Tom

On a lot of GM vehicles, you do not want to disconnect the battery without a power supply to keep computer and some other circuits running. Plastic parts in the heating and cooling system become brittle with age. When powered back up they go into a relearn mode and can strip gears which can involve a quite costly repair.

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