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
From what I can find on the specs for the Tracker, it seems to weigh in at about 2,400 lbs. curb weight. You can ask five RVers this question and you will get six different answers!
In my opinion, it boils down to the difference between legal towing and safe towing. Additionally, every state has laws pertaining to RV supplemental brakes on a towed vehicle at certain weights. According to the Brake Buddy’s site, Kansas, North Dakota, and Wyoming require supplemental brakes on anything towed. New York and North Carolina require them at 1,000 lbs. California, Nevada, Idaho, Tennessee, and New Hampshire at 1,500. And Mississippi and Ohio at 2,000. So there are several states that you could get a ticket in.
However, will you get stopped and weighed? That is something you will have to judge for yourself. We hear more reports of DOT officers stopping rigs and checking licenses and weights by looking at the GVWR of the data plate on the towed vehicle. Most chassis manufacturers also recommend supplemental brakes over 1,500 lbs. It could be a liability or insurance issue if you are involved in an accident without them.
Once again, it’s your choice. But I recommend RV supplemental brakes when towing just to be safe.
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It’s like insurance, it’s no good until you need it, personally I wouldn’t trust my families lively hood to luck. In case of an accident an ambulance chasing lawyer is going to take everything you’ve got in the settlement. A case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t. They’re not that expensive and many may be available on the used market, that’s where I got mine several years ago.
Regardless of what the law says I would want a braking system towing anything in the mountains. I did not know I should change my brake fluid every 3 years until enough moisture saturated my brake fluid to turn to steam causing complete brake failure on my class A. My tow brakes is all I had and was very thankful they held enough to stop me.
I towed a Chevrolet Sonic with a 27’ Class C . Sonic is about the same weight as the Tracker. There was a noticeable difference in my stopping ability with the Toad. I recommend Always using a supplemental brake system for the Toad. I favor a removable system as it can be easily switched between cars if you decide to change Toads. Installation was easy for me and took no more time than connecting a permanent system.
Invest in the braking system. You will not be wrong. My experience, install a permanent system as opposed to a removable system.
That way, you will not forget it at home.
I always try to stay on the side of safety. If you have a oops and the vehicle breaks away it can cause serious bodily and material destruction. Why risk this and be responsible for someone’s injuries or death?
If you are towing a vehicle without supplemental brakes and get in a wreck of any kind your insurance will not cover you.
Sorry Dave – you can’t be ticketed for a having non-conforming setup IF your rig meets the laws of the state it’s registered in. It’s called reciprocity…
I believe that only holds true for driver’s license… not for safety features.
Try triple towing a 5th wheel and another trailer through a state that doesn’t allow it and see how many tickets you collect. I personally know of one instance where the driver had to leave his boat at the next exit and come back to get it after dropping the 5th wheel. Plus he had the ticket to pay.
Legal and safety issues aside, adding toad breaks will make the trip more enjoyable. Knowing the vehicle is well equipped and capable will reduce stress.
I agree with all the below notes! Why risk all you worked for all your life, to try and cheat the system. You can and will be the loser if anything happens. Do the right thing, because it’s required for a safe reason!
Opinion about what is safe is irrelevant!
Be LEGAL! If you’re not legal a ticket is the least of your worries. If anything happens and you’re not legal you will be 100% responsible.
You will lose everything and you might go to Jail if someone dies.
I personally know a guy who was towing a utility trailer that broke loose and he got 2 years for manslaughter.
I don’t know all the details of course, but I did pick him up at the county jail when he was released and drove back to what used to be his house.
You are wrong about the towing a vehicle law for California and I suspect you are wrong about other states mentioned in your article. It is completely wrong to accept any data regarding towing laws from any company involved in the selling of towing equipment. Majority of them quote laws for towing a trailer but not a vehicle.
The only source of information that you should believe is that provided by each states own Department of Motor Vehicles or DMV.
Federal law requires that a vehicle must be able to stop within a given distance at a given speed. Some states use the same law and also specify a given weight for the towed vehicle. I believe Oregon and California are two of these states.
As stated legal ramifications could get nasty, insurance claims could be astronomical. SIL several years ago decided with his diesel pusher he didn’t need supplemental braking on the toad, after another motorist flagged them down they discovered their toad came loose and luckily coasted off the right side of the highway. Had it went the other way it could’ve been a catastrophe. Hitches are mechanical connections, anything mechanical can and will break at some point in time. With the auxiliary brake comes a break-away cable that will apply the toads brakes if separation occurs stopping the runaway vehicle. IMHO it’s not worth the gamble. As was stated, most manufacturers don’t build extra braking capacity into their RVs. Specs say it’s rated to tow X number of pounds, not stop X number of pounds. Stopping and controlling is always the hard part of towing anything.
I once attended an RV seminar at which a personal injury attorney stated that if he represents a client who suffered injury by the driver of an RV the first thing he checks is for supplemental brakes on the toad. If there are no supplemental brakes he adds negligence to the lawsuit. He claimed it is always a win for his clients. I can’t verify his claim.