Flat Towing 101: What You Need To Know

Flat Towing 101

If you have a campervan or any other vehicle that you need to tow from A to B, you might think towing it is a simple and largely unimportant process.

However, not all towing is created equal – and you may find that in some cases, there are superior options for towing a particular load! 

One of those options might be flat towing. If you’re someone curious about how you might flat tow something and want to know the key equipment and considerations you need to do it safely and effectively, then this educational article is for you!

What is Flat Towing?

What is Flat Towing

Flat towing is a specific form of towing a vehicle that keeps all four of the wheels of the towed vehicle on the ground. It’s a popular method of towing for those with RVs who want to take their vehicles with them, towed directly behind their truck. 

Unlike use with a trailer or a tow dolly, a flat towed vehicle is in contact completely with the ground with all four wheels.

As such, different things need to be taken into consideration for the towed vehicle to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the towing! 

When is Flat Towing a Good Option?

Flat towing is really best suited for things that are designed to be flat towed. 

As you know, many trailers are two-wheeled, such as those for smaller boats or generally moving furniture or other things around. 

Towing with a trailer is its own style of towing, but for other vehicles, flat towing is the best option. 

Many models of SUVs and trucks are flat towable and flat towing is best in situations where short distances need to be covered or in emergencies when towing on a trailer may not be feasible. 

Vehicles like RVs are also often flat-towed since they are already too large to bother with a trailer. 

Essential Equipment for Flat Towing

Flat towing does require some specific equipment to ensure the safety of the tower, their property, and anyone else they are sharing the road with. 

Obviously, the first piece of equipment is the tow bar! You need a tow bar on your car; otherwise, you can’t tow anything – flat towing or otherwise. 

Next is the base plate, a set of brackets or mounting points for securely affixing to the frame or chassis of the towed vehicle. 

The base plate is the stable foundation for attaching the tow bar, ensuring a strong and reliable connection between the two vehicles. 

Remember: something being flat towed likely doesn’t have its own tow bar connection point, so it’s important to have a means of connecting the two vehicles!

This component is essential for distributing towing forces evenly and minimizing stress on the towing vehicle’s frame.

Safety cables are the next piece of essential equipment. Safety cables are the secondary connection between the towing and towed vehicles. 

Made of heavy-duty steel, cables are a backup in case of hitch failure and stop the towed vehicle from detaching and causing accidents or damage on the road.

In many regions, a breakaway switch is mandated by law as an additional safety measure. 

This device automatically activates the brakes on the towed vehicle if it becomes disconnected from the towing vehicle, so you can be assured that in the event of unhitching, your towed vehicle doesn’t become a danger on the road.

Tow lights and reflectors are also important for flat towing, just as they are with trailer towing. 

Just like trailer towing, you’ll need to synchronize your tow lights with the lights on your towing vehicle so that you can communicate with drivers behind you.  

Additional mirrors may be a requirement too – so if the vehicle you are towing is too large for your own mirrors, don’t hesitate to add extra mirrors1 

In cases of particularly large or heavy vehicles, supplementary braking systems may be necessary. 

Finally, and true of all flat towing scenarios, the vehicle you are towing must have a transmission transfer case that can be set to neutral so that the wheels are allowed to freely rotate during towing. 

How to Flat Tow

Flat towing a vehicle requires a few key steps to ensure safety and reliability. 

First, prepare the towed vehicle for towing by ensuring the transmission or transfer case is set to neutral and that the parking brake is disengaged so the wheels rotate freely. 

Check that all lights on the towed vehicle, including brake lights, turn signals, and tail lights, are working.

Attach the tow bar to the base plates mounted on the front of the vehicle. The tow bar must be securely connected and locked into place, and double-check the connections to prevent any detachment during towing. 

Attach the safety cables from the tow bar to designated anchor points on the towing vehicle and cross them underneath the tow bar to form a cradle shape. This will help prevent lateral movement of the towed vehicle in case it disconnects! 

Install the wiring harness for tow lights and connect it to both the towing and towed vehicles to synchronize the lights. 

You can also install additional reflectors or lights on the rear of the towed vehicle to make it much easier for everyone to see, especially during nighttime or low-visibility conditions. 

Verify that all connections are secure and functional by testing the brake lights, turn signals, and tail lights on both vehicles.

Once you’re driving, keep a few things in mind. Maintain a safe following distance, as you will not be able to slow down or stop as quickly as other motorists who are not towing a heavy load like you are!

Take regular stops to check the towing connection and monitor your tire pressure, as you want to make sure that your setup is functioning perfectly to avoid any disaster. 

Tips for Safe Flat Towing

The most important thing with flat towing is to check and double-check your connection before you head out onto the open road. 

Ensuring you have connected everything properly and safely will give you the best results – and if you aren’t sure, ask someone who knows! 

Once you’re out on the road, adhere to any speed restrictions in place and take your time. Carrying a heavy load will make slowing down, stopping, and changing lanes more difficult than if you were driving without a towed vehicle. 

Take breaks to check your towing setup so you know that everything is functioning properly. 

Make sure that the weight distribution on your towed vehicle is such that you are not creating a tipping hazard on corners and you can slow down and stop safely. 

Finally, if there are any legal requirements for towing a vehicle where you are driving, be sure to stick to them for your safety and the safety of other road users. 


Flat towing is not something you will need to do all the time – but when the time comes, it pays to be prepared! 

Following these key steps will ensure you are a safe motorist when flat towing and that you can get from A to B without any trouble.