Renting an RV for a family vacation is becoming more and more popular. Many families want to tow behind a small vehicle or utility trailer as part of their extended vacation. Towing behind a rental RV makes perfect sense. A small vehicle eliminates the need to unhook the RV to run errands or visit local attractions. The big question then is, “Can you tow with a rental RV?”
Can you tow with a rental RV? One company, Cruise America, allows towing but with weight restrictions on the weight of the towed vehicle. Other companies’ rules range from
- No towing
- Limited towing based on the size and weight
- Limited towing based on the Class of RV
- Additional charges per day
The only way to get a clear and precise answer to this question is to ask the company from which you plan to rent the RV and to read the fine print on all the contracts, waivers, and agreements that presented to you when you make the rental. Here’s a guide to help you navigate the fine print.
Renting an RV
Navigating the disparity in the rules and policies of RV rental companies is challenging at best. There doesn’t seem to be any standard or norms for policies on allowing towing behind rental RV’s. The only precise method of determining what is allowed is to ask each company their policies and rules before you sign a contract.
One industry pundit attributes these differences to the way the rental company structures its insurance. The chances of an accident increase when towing and some companies are not willing to take that additional risk.
There are some questions you should ask before signing a contract and request that your salesperson show you specifically in the contract where to find the answer to these questions.
- Is towing behind the vehicle I am renting allowed in the contract?
- Are there any limits such as weight, length, etc. to the vehicle I want to tow?
- Is the RV equipped to tow? Does it have a hitch receiver, light connections, and a brake controller if necessary?
- Does any insurance on the rental RV cover the towed vehicle?
RV Rental Companies we surveyed
We surveyed some of the largest RV rental companies in the US and found some interesting information
Cruise America may well be the largest RV rental company in the US, operating over 130 rental locations across the United States. Some estimates put the market share held by Cruise America at 52% of the RV rental sector.
The RV’s in the Cruise America fleet are all considered Class C RVs and Cruise America further break them down into different categories based on length.
- Large RVs – Sleep up to 7 and have all the amenities of home. Towing is allowed behind this size of RV from Cruise America.
- Standard RVs – Has enough space for five persons and all the expected features. You can tow behind these RVs from Cruise America with some limitations
- Compact RVS – Ideal for three people, these smaller and more agile RVs from Cruise America come fully equipped, and you can tow behind these RVs within the limitations set in the contract
While Cruise America does allow towing behind these RVs, some limitations severely restrict the size and weight of the vehicle you can tow.
- The RVs only have a receiver. You must provide the tow bar.
- Cruise America will not hook up or install any towing equipment or attach the towed vehicle.
- You must inform Cruise America before you execute the contract that you intend to tow.
- You cannot tow anything heavier than 2500 lbs. This weight restriction eliminates even most small cars.
- Additional daily fees above the RV rental charge and any mileage charges for towing apply.
- There is no insurance coverage of any type on the towed vehicle or any accident that involves damage inflicted by the towed vehicle.
Outdoorsy is a peer to peer RV rental service that does not own any RVs itself but provides a platform that RV owners can use to rent their RVs. As such, Outdoorsy has no control over the rules or policies that each RV owner imposes as part of the rental contract. By and large, we found that most of the owners who list their RV for rent on Outdoorsy do not allow towing of any kind with the RV.
Another peer to peer rental service, RVshare is almost as popular as Outdoorsy. As a peer to peer service, you negotiate with the owner of the RV directly. Most use a standard contract that is supplied by RVshare as part of the services provided to RV owners.
We looked through the local listings for both Class A and Class C RVs and found that most of the RV owners don’t allow towing. However, there are some who allow towing behind their RV and some even offer to rent a tow dolly.
There are thousands of RV dealers across the US who operate as independent agents. Many of these dealerships rent RVs as part of their business model. The only way to find out if they allow towing behind their rental RVs is to visit their website or showroom and ask. There are many variations, including:
There are so many differences it is impossible to find any common ground.
Don’t Be Tempted
Don’t be tempted to rent an RV and attach your vehicle or trailer out of sight of the owner. You might get away with the deception, but the downsides far outweigh the advantages.
- If the dealer or owner finds out, they can cancel the contract, or they may be able to impose penalties and additional charges that can far outrun the rental charges.
- Should an accident happen, the insurance that the dealer provides is usually void, and you face the full financial liability for the accident.
- Pulling anything behind an RV puts additional strain on the engine and drive train. If something goes wrong and the dealer learns that you were towing without permission, you stand to be responsible for all the repair costs to the RV.
Related reading: Can You Rent an RV for a Whole Month?(Read This Before)
When You Go
If you find an RV rental that allows towing and you have made sure that your vehicle is suitable for towing, it’s time to get on the road. There are a few things you should remember, especially if this is your first time driving a large RV or pulling a vehicle.
- Remember the length – Driving a thirty-foot RV with a fifteen-foot vehicle attached to the rear is not like pulling your SUV out of the driveway and heading to the supermarket Be mindful of the overall length. You have seen the signs on the back of semi-trucks, stating “Wide Right Turn.” You now face the same sort of challenges negotiating turns.
- Those Height Signs Matter – Your rental RV may not have problems with most highway bridges, but in some commercial areas, there are overhead obstructions of which you must be mindful. Those restricted height signs are there for a reason and you should pay attention to them.
- Backing up may not be an option – With a vehicle or trailer attached to the RV, backing up may not be an option. Unless you are skilled and have some practice, backing an RV with a small trailer or vehicle attached can be a real challenge. Pay attention to where you are headed and don’t get yourself into a situation that prevents you from going forward.
- Check your towed vehicle regularly – There are many connections between your towed vehicle and the RV. Each of these is a weak link and should be inspected thoroughly at each stop. Nothing is more disheartening than looking in the rearview mirror of the RV and seeing your towed vehicle pulling out to pass.
Related reading: Does your Travel Trailer need a Sway Bar? A Simple Guide
RVing can be a great experience for your family. Pulling out onto the open road with the anticipation of adventure and new unexplored experiences is what RVing is all about. Thousands of family’s log millions of miles every year in their RVs, pulling their small trailers or vehicles without mishap. You can as well if you pay attention to the details. Now, hit the road and have a great time!
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