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Old 02-18-2018, 11:12 AM   #1
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4 down for beginners questions.

We are new motorhome owners last spring in preparation of retirement. We purchased a tow dolly to pull our front wheel drive Ford Escape and it gets the job done. We've only used it a couple of times.

But I've got the itch to try four down towing...... but I find it confusing and maybe a little more expensive.

Our motorhome is a 2003 Holiday Rambler gasser.

What kind of setup is needed to tow flat down with a jeep or something else and what can I expect budget for it?

Thank you in advance.
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Old 02-18-2018, 11:44 AM   #2
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Which Jeep model are you wanting to tow? Please click the Search This Forum link in the upper right and type it in for more than you probably wanted.
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Old 02-18-2018, 11:54 AM   #3
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Read all about it:

https://www.fmcmagazine.com/towing-guides.html

We tow a 2016 C-Max and are happy with it.

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Old 02-18-2018, 01:08 PM   #4
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WNYtraveler-

You should expect to pay between $1,500 and $3,500 for the parts and labor, mostly depending on how much of the labor you do yourself.

Parts needed:
1) Baseplate (or suitable bumper in case of some Jeeps)
2) Towbar
3) Braking system
4) Breakaway system
5) Lighting system

According to the brochure for your coach (link here), your coach may be limited to towing 4,000 pounds unless modified or choosing to exceed manufacturer's ratings. Here are the pertinent values:

GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating): 22,000 pounds
GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating): 26,000 pounds
Hitch Rating: 4,000 pounds for 22,000 GVWR chassis

There should be a rating label on your coach's hitch, so you can confirm the 4,000 rating (or not). Sometimes the owner's manual also spells that out.

Note: Actual loaded vehicle weights seem to exceed published curb weights (by anecdotal reports).
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Old 02-18-2018, 01:11 PM   #5
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it doesn't look like your Ford Escape is 4-down towable, but if you find a comparable vehicle that is(Focus, Fiesta, Fusion, Cmax, etc), then yes, all you need is to install the baseplate for it, then get the tow bar that will handle it's weight. The type of vehicle pulling it matters not, as long as it has the ability to handle the tow weight.
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Old 02-18-2018, 01:19 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WNYtraveler View Post
We are new motorhome owners last spring in preparation of retirement. We purchased a tow dolly to pull our front wheel drive Ford Escape and it gets the job done. We've only used it a couple of times.

But I've got the itch to try four down towing...... but I find it confusing and maybe a little more expensive.

Our motorhome is a 2003 Holiday Rambler gasser.

What kind of setup is needed to tow flat down with a jeep or something else and what can I expect budget for it?

Thank you in advance.
WNYtraveler,
The short and positive answer to your question is, it's considerably easier to FLAT TOW than any other method of towing, period! I mean think about it, there's nothing to deal with, other than the toad. No trailer, no dolly, nothing. And, not only that great benefit but, what to do with either of those when camping in either regular campgrounds or RV parks that don't have the space for them?

There are lots of flat towable toads. The Jeep Wrangler is close to the top choice in toads, for multiple reasons. Setting up a Jeep Wrangler to be towed, is made hard by some. But, it's actually very easy. The physical connection from a tow bar to the Jeep can be made in two basic ways.

1. The use of a "base plate" . That's simply a steel mechanism that is designed specifically for a particular vehicles front end characteristics (meaning base plates are not universal) and, bolted to the underside of the bumper and or frame. Then a tow bar is attached to that base plate via whatever connection types designed for both.

2. The installation of an aftermarket front bumper. This method has multiple advantages, should the owner be interested in those. The first being that if the owner has any interest at all in off roading, an aftermarket front bumper is always stronger than the cheap, fairly thin combo of plastic and sheet metal front stock bumpers. And, because they're stronger and built to take the rigors of whatever kind of capacity of off roading the owner wants to dish out, they also are normally outfitted with what's called "recovery tabs".

Those recovery tabs are seriously thick, about 3/4" to be more specific and, they have normally a 7/8" or 1" hole in them, that normally have "D-rings" dangling from them. Those D-rings are used for attaching tow straps to, to either get the owner out of a situation or, get some other jeeper out of his or hers.

But, those recovery tabs, are also used at tow bar attachment points! The D-rings are removed (if one carries them in the first place) and, adapters that are attached to the end of the tow bar, are fitted right over the recovery tabs and, a large, 7/8" pin is inserted and retained in place by multiple means.

That's the main physical setup. The safety chains or, more commonly used safety "cables" are attached to the Jeep in also, multiple ways.

Then, wiring a jeep for flat towing is also one of the simplest things on earth but, again, some make it much harder than it needs to be. I've tied into the factory wiring for decades to use the factory tail lights/bulbs as toad lighting and, that works flawlessly. For the later Jeeps, like the JK models, there are aftermarket tow harness's that do all this for ya. The Hopkins model is outstanding and works flawless and, is considerably cheaper than the Mopar unit and, is also considerably easier to install. Now this only applies to the later jeeps.

https://www.amazon.com/Hopkins-56200...=Hopkins+56200

But, the simplicity of prep for towing is another reason for folks to choose Jeep Wranglers. The owners manual spells it all out, step by step but, in short, it's this simple.

1. Transfer case into "N" or Neutral
2. Transmission, if Auto, into Park, if a stick, into just about any gear.
3. Some need the key in and turned to unlock steering wheel for proper tracking behind the motor home, some don't lock the steering so the key in and turned, is not needed, like ours.

That's the simply and ultra short version. The owners manual spells out quite a few more steps.

But, suffice to say, flat towing, especially a jeep of again, just about any year Wrangler, is about as simple as it gets and, the use of a Jeep as a toad, has all the advantages of a regular run-a-round toad but, some outstanding fun in off road and sightseeing adventures. And no, you don't have to "Rock Crawl" like so many think is what Jeeps are for. Good luck.
Scott
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Old 02-18-2018, 01:36 PM   #7
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I pull a Chevy Tracker 4 down, some thing I learned:

Pulling 4 down, you can't back-up at all. Not a problem till you pull in and can't get out without backing up. If my car has any out of alignment with the RV front to back, it's very hard to un-hitch, (disconnect the car from the towbar).
Twice this last year I pulled in and couldn't get out, I had to unhitch the car with it turned some, a real PIA.
The tow bar needs to be straight, (in line with the connections on the car) to tow properly. No up or down angle.
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Old 02-18-2018, 01:40 PM   #8
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sorry, but that's not true,,,, it's fantasy. You can back up a towed vehicle just like you can any trailer or anything else... there is no 'law' against it, but you have very little room for mistakes. Your vehicle's front wheels could turn and start sliding, or you could jackknife the vehicle quickly... but that's true with ANY type of pulled vehicle or trailer.

the object is to back very slowly, with no turning, keeping the vehicle very straight while you do...

folks who tow a vehicle with a tow bar don't 'want' to back up, but it does happen.
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Old 02-19-2018, 06:29 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by l1v3fr33ord1 View Post
WNYtraveler-

You should expect to pay between $1,500 and $3,500 for the parts and labor, mostly depending on how much of the labor you do yourself.

Parts needed:
1) Baseplate (or suitable bumper in case of some Jeeps)
2) Towbar
3) Braking system
4) Breakaway system
5) Lighting system

According to the brochure for your coach (link here), your coach may be limited to towing 4,000 pounds unless modified or choosing to exceed manufacturer's ratings. Here are the pertinent values:

GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating): 22,000 pounds
GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating): 26,000 pounds
Hitch Rating: 4,000 pounds for 22,000 GVWR chassis

There should be a rating label on your coach's hitch, so you can confirm the 4,000 rating (or not). Sometimes the owner's manual also spells that out.

Note: Actual loaded vehicle weights seem to exceed published curb weights (by anecdotal reports).
Thanks for the info. My coach is rated to tow 5,000 pounds. Using my tow dolly with my Escape puts me near the top of that. That's what has me leaning to four down. But it also has served the purpose so far as our travels have been short and limited to western New York.

I purchased my Master tow dolly with surge brakes at a decent price and I'm confident it will sell at the same price or better. It looks in New condition.
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Old 02-19-2018, 06:31 AM   #10
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it doesn't look like your Ford Escape is 4-down towable, but if you find a comparable vehicle that is(Focus, Fiesta, Fusion, Cmax, etc), then yes, all you need is to install the baseplate for it, then get the tow bar that will handle it's weight. The type of vehicle pulling it matters not, as long as it has the ability to handle the tow weight.
No.... my Escape isn't 4 down towable..... that's why we purchased the dolly.
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Old 02-19-2018, 06:43 AM   #11
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sorry, but that's not true,,,, it's fantasy. You can back up a towed vehicle just like you can any trailer or anything else... there is no 'law' against it, but you have very little room for mistakes. Your vehicle's front wheels could turn and start sliding, or you could jackknife the vehicle quickly... but that's true with ANY type of pulled vehicle or trailer.

the object is to back very slowly, with no turning, keeping the vehicle very straight while you do...

folks who tow a vehicle with a tow bar don't 'want' to back up, but it does happen.
Backing up is possible but hazardous. Every tow bar manufacturer warns not to do it. They say that for a good reason. While you can get away with it sometimes you can also damage the towbar, the toad, or the baseplate/hitch. It is a crapshoot, and I for one would rather spend 5 or 10 minutes to unhitch and reconnect than take the risk of backing up. Having said that, after one or two of these episodes you learn to anticipate and avoid the need to back up or unhook by thinking ahead and making sure that you have room to turn around at all times.
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Old 02-19-2018, 06:44 AM   #12
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I tow four down but if I were you I would just keep using the dolly until you discover it just isn't what you want. Keep using it and see how it goes for awhile.
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Old 02-19-2018, 06:54 AM   #13
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Backing up is possible but hazardous. Every tow bar manufacturer warns not to do it. They say that for a good reason. While you can get away with it sometimes you can also damage the towbar, the toad, or the baseplate/hitch. It is a crapshoot, and I for one would rather spend 5 or 10 minutes to unhitch and reconnect than take the risk of backing up. Having said that, after one or two of these episodes you learn to anticipate and avoid the need to back up or unhook by thinking ahead and making sure that you have room to turn around at all times.
I agree...... trying to back up a tow dolly isn't happening either. It's better to avoid the situation in the first place.
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Old 02-19-2018, 06:58 AM   #14
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I tow four down but if I were you I would just keep using the dolly until you discover it just isn't what you want. Keep using it and see how it goes for awhile.
We might. We bought our dolly right and it works well. Our Escape is paid for and we really love it. If we did go 4 down, I'd get rid of my Toyota Tacoma pick-up.
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