Friday, August 12, 2022


“We’re (finally!) towing a dinghy and loving it!”

By Nanci Dixon
We love having a dinghy vehicle to drive once we park the motorhome. It only took a few car rentals and unhooking the RV to go grocery shopping to realize the value. 

Hooking up the tow arms, wiring, checking the turn and brake signals on our tow car has been easy. I stand back of the car and signal my husband by flapping my left arm, bird-like, to indicate left turn signal and my right arm for right turn and two fists for brake lights. 

I double-check that the transmission is in neutral, key in accessory, nothing electrical is on in car, the emergency brake is off, and the wheels move when I turn the steering wheel. That is what we need to do for our manual transmission model. So far so good.

Then comes the rub. My husband pulls out slowly until both the tow arms click in. But they don’t, at least not at the same time. One tow arm clicks in and the other moves in and out while the car pulls precariously to one side.

Now both my arms are flapping like a chicken and alternating with our stop fist signal. I point one way then the other hoping the stubborn arm will click in. Sometimes it works quickly and sometimes not. Cleaning, silicone, sliding the arm in and out did not seem to help either.

I had come to dread the dinghy hook up. 

Until now…  After nearly twelve years we have finally figured out a way to have both of the arms click in quickly every time. Finally, success!

First, it helps to have the motorhome heading straight with no curves ahead. As my husband pulls the RV forward and one tow arm clicks in, I now turn the steering wheel to have the tires go in the opposite direction of the clicked arm. If the left driver’s-side tow arm is not clicked in, I turn the wheel far to the left. If the right passenger-side arm is not clicked in, I turn the wheel far to the right. It works every time!

Geez, I wish I knew that sooner. Like eleven years sooner… Makes me wonder what other folks have learned while hooking up their tow vehicles. Do you have tips you can share with your fellow RVers? Please comment below.



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1 year ago

Can anyone share with me how often you have to replace your dinghy’s tires? Do they wear at the same rate as if you were just driving the dinghy itself?

1 year ago

To lock the tow bar arms I back the car using the same type action you described when pulling forward.

1 year ago

We do something similar here, but with the tow vehicle rather than moving the RV. If you are close to centered, just turn the wheel right or left, and if you are close to center, you’ll get the un-locked arm to lock. A WORD OF CAUTION … Although the some tow bar manufacturers say just drive away … I destroyed a tow bar (w/pop-up levers), when having only one arm locked, I drove away having to stop in about 20 feet. When I did, the car rolled forward and bent the locked bar in half! Needless to say, we didn’t take the car on that trip. An expensive lesson … lock the bars BEFORE you leave.

Jerry H
1 year ago

The same result can be obtained by turning the motorhome in the opposite direction of the unlatched arm as you pull forward. This is usually the way we do it when presented with the issue. I can say that in most cases it’s not a problem for us because we line the Jeep up carefully. I hook up and have my wife back up very slowly. Usually both arms click in simultaneously.

1 year ago

Had this problem with a Roadmaster, one arm locked on leaving New York but I didn’t realize until 500 miles later. I tried going left and right but nothing helped. Finally it locked in but I don’t know why that happened.

Ray Morgan
1 year ago

We have used a Roadmaster bar for 7 years. Almost every campground will have a fairly straight road in it. To get each arm to lock, make a gentle “s” turn. It works every time for us.

Jeff Hyslop
1 year ago

That method was in the instructions that came with my BlueOx

Michael Haider
1 year ago

I have this happen many times with my Blue Ox system (on 2 different motorhomes). The worst time was we had just enter a hiway under construction and there was no way to stop to rectify the problem. Since then I have been paranoid about this happening. What I do now is make sure the motorhome is level and the tow is lined up to be centered with the hitch. After I get it hooked up, I back the tow up slowly and that seems to get both bars locked.

Tony King
1 year ago

I have always just pulled forward slowly while turning slightly right & left and I can see/feel them lock in.
Just like the correct way to empty a Black Tank…a million different ways….haha
Us humans are a funny bunch🤷🏻‍♂️

Bill Austin
1 year ago

Having read your article and all the comments I’d say your approach is the simplest and safest to get to both locked which I agree is the safest. Good job.

Paul S Goldberg
1 year ago

The only time I had a problem getting one arm to lock it turned out the connector on the end of the bar had frozen, it needs to be able to swivel through a couple of degrees (RoadMaster Tow Bar). that was 18 years ago. I make sure that everything is well lubed and clean when done towing.

Emanoel Rizea
1 year ago

After attaching the tow arms to the toad, pull the RV forward a few feet. One of the arms will always lock. If you are lucky, both will lock, but most of the time only one locks.
There is no need to get in the toad and move it backwards in any direction.

This is what I do:
1. If the driver side arm is not locked, I turn the wheels of the RV sharp left and move forward a few feet. The driver side arm will lock every time.

2. If the passenger side arm is not locked, I turn the wheels of the RV sharp right and move the RV forward a few feet. The passenger side arm will lock every time.

If you think about how the rear of the RV moves when turning left and right, the above makes perfect sense.

Never start driving without both arms locked.

1 year ago

I hook up the towed, then slowly back up with the towed until they click. If one doesn’t click in, turn the wheel sharply and back up more. If the right one doesn’t click, turn sharply to the left and back up with the toad, and visa versa. Both sides are secure before I leave with the MH.

1 year ago
Reply to  Dale

That is what I also do

1 year ago

Never had a problem locking in the tow bar. Have used two different types in the last thirty years, if the ground is level just push the car back until one bar locks in, the other will lock when the motor home is turned a little.

Deborah Mason
1 year ago

We never (anymore) move out until both arms have clicked in. My husband lines me up as I attach the tow arms, then he does the all the connecting while I check that EVERYTHING is turned off except the brake unit is turned off (barely adequate battery in Honda Fit), all doors locked. When he’s ready I very gently back up until the levers pop up. If one doesn’t, hell tell me which way to turn the wheel & gently back again. Messed up the alignment on toad once by trusting the arms to lock on the move. (Our light check signals are fist-fully open-fist-fully open hands for the turn signals & 4 ways, 2 fully open hands for brake lights, all done at elbow level.) Least things before boarding the coach – make sure great shift is in neutral, key is in accessory, drivers door is locked with second key (the only way it will lock with a key in ignition).

We used to pull back hard & realized it was better to be gentle

1 year ago
Reply to  Deborah Mason

True, the Honda Fit battery is a bit small, and expensive ($150+). However, I put a mechanical disconnect on the battery terminal and physically disconnect the battery. Works every time.
The Fit’s tail lights are powered by the RV, when under tow. Interesting wiring harness to install, but works 100% of the time.

John M
1 year ago

With my tow bar mounted on the jeep I only have one arm that needs to slide as soon as I move about 2 to 5 feet the arm locks in. I have been using the same tow bar for over 20 yrs and never had a problem. Just keep it well cleaned and lubed where needed I also put a cover over it when not hooked to the motorhome,

1 year ago

We have a blue ox and have never had this problem.

1 year ago

We hook it up, push it back until one clicks in if possible, then pull forward doing small turns each direction to make sure both are locked. Works every time. happy RVing.

1 year ago
Reply to  Harley-Dave


Herb & Kathy Baldwin
1 year ago

Don’t worry about having things straight. Once the car is connected, just pull the coach forward slowly and steer the coach to the left and then right. Each arm will click into place in turn. This does require a wide are to be able to do this but often leaving the campground has a few turns before hitting the main road.

1 year ago

You are working too hard to get the tow arms to lock. We just hop in the MH and go, within 50-100 ft. both arms lock and we can feel the little jerk when they do. We do try to hook up in a fairly straight configuration.

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