Guaranty RV Super Centers

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At Guaranty, we love RVing! We know we’re lucky—we get to spend all day every day thinking about RVs, researching the best makes and models, learning about great road trips and campgrounds, and generally keeping up on the latest RV-related trends, news and lifestyle tips. Best yet, our team of RV-enthusiast bloggers get to share all of that with you! If you’re curious about the latest and greatest in RVs and RVing, we invite you to visit the Guaranty Blog. Be sure to check back with us regularly for updates.

What Can I Tow Behind My Motorhome?

Traditionally, the best flat tow vehicles are rear wheel drive with manual transmission, or a four-wheel drive with a manual transfer case that can be placed in neutral. Although most vehicles can be towed it’s important to refer to the owner’s manual to determine if it can be flat towed with a tow bar or if you need to use a trailer or dolly, as well as any towing restrictions. See Table 1 at the end of this article for the most popular tow vehicles rated by “Roadmaster Inc. Top Bracket” sales and compatibility. Some automatic transmission vehicles are towable but compared to standard transmission vehicles the percentage is quite small, and again your owner’s manual is the best resource for your vehicles towability. Why do you have to worry about what the manual says? What harm can it do to tow my car anyway? Lot’s, and especially to the transmission, which is expensive to rebuild or replace. The transmission is the most critical component because not all transmissions are properly lubricated without the vehicle running. A vehicle that does not lubricate the transmission will require a lube pump to be installed prior to towing, which generally requires a professional and is expensive. Again, tow dollies and trailers are options for vehicles that cannot be flat towed, but they both add a piece of equipment that must be stored when you reach your destination. This equipment also adds weight to your overall combined vehicle weight rating. These factors coupled with the ease of use make the tow bar the most popular towing accessory. For the motorhome that is doing the towing, refer to the motorhome manufacturer's designated tow rating (see below).

Motorhome towing rating


You could find yourself in a situation that will void your warranty. Read up on the laws of the states you will be traveling in as well. Almost all states have rules about overall length and the need for supplemental braking for the towed car.

Why Do I Want To Tow A Car?



A motorhome of any size or class can be one of the best ways to explore the highways of America and Canada, but the byways become a little tricky. Driving a 30’ motorhome down the road and pulling into a campground is far less intimidating than trying to take it through the drive thru window or navigating the narrow city streets found in countless small towns. This is when that tow car comes into play. It is much easier to do short day trips or even go to the grocery store in your “Dinghy” than it is to pack up camp only to return later that day to reestablish base camp.
Motorhome stunt

Can I Pull The Car I Already Own?



For the majority of vehicles on the road today that answer is yes with an asterisk. The asterisk is related to how the vehicle is towed, which is related to the transmission, which determines your vehicles towability. Feels kind of like we are chasing the asterisk in circles, right? Knowing where to start can be the key to reaching your destination, so in Guaranty RV’s estimation, the very first thing you need to tow is advice. To find out if your vehicle can be towed, Guaranty RV Service Advisor Dan Edgecombe says, "The only source you should completely trust is your vehicle's owner's manual.” Manuals starting in the year 2000 list how the vehicle has been approved to tow. Please see the images below for examples:
Car can be flat towed

My Owner’s Manual Says I Can Tow My Car on Four Wheels, Now What?



So your manual says your vehicle is capable of being flat towed or towed on all four wheels. That’s good, four-wheel flat towing with a tow bar is the most widely used because it is by far the easiest to hook up and unhook and the lightest way to travel, only adding around 100 to 150 pounds to your total weight (total weight is considered the combined motorhome weight, passenger weight, and weight of cargo including water and propane). Once familiar with the procedure it can be done in less than five minutes by one person. The one negative is manufacturers advise that you don't back up with your “Dinghy” attached, or run the risk of bending or binding the tow bar. Some good rules of thumb are to check your set up every time you stop for proper attachment and any signs of fatigue or failure. Also perform the installation and removal of your tow bar in the same order each time you hook up and unhook, to ensure you don’t forget or overlook an important step in the process.

Roadmaster motorhome mount tow bar


The tow bar gets all the glory, but it’s the baseplate or vehicle bracket that does all the hard work (a baseplate and bracket are accepted industry terms for the same piece of equipment). The tow bar is only as good as the connection points on the motorhome and on the towed vehicle, so secure attachment points are critical. Most motorhomes come from the factory with a class III receiver hitch or better already installed as well as a factory wired tow plug. These hitches have a towing capacity that range from 5,000 pounds to 20,000 pounds on the largest diesel pusher motorhomes. Since your manual says your vehicle can be flat towed there will be a vehicle-specific baseplate that is bolted to the frame. Installation of the tow bar requires the removal of the bumper and sometimes the front grill and can take up to six hours at a shop.

The bracket and the motorhome’s receiver hitch give you solid connection points for the tow bar on the towed car and the motorhome. Coach-mounted receivers are the most common but there are several types of tow bars: self-aligning coach-mounted receivers or towed vehicle-mounted receivers that fold and stay on the vehicle or RV, or rigid/solid A-frame tow bars. The Guaranty RV Travel Center carries a variety of Roadmaster tow bars that are MotorHome Magazine Readers' Choice Award winners.

Towing equipment during installation Tow brackets mounted

My Owner’s Manual Says I Can’t Tow My Car on Four Wheels, But I Love It! Now What?



Not all vehicles can be flat towed including many automatics and even some manual transmissions. When a vehicle is being towed with all four wheels on the ground, the transaxle or driveline is turning. This then turns the output shaft of the vehicle's transmission or transfer case. Many gearboxes do not have an internal lubrication system that is driven by the output shaft. Therefore, when towing this type of vehicle, the transmission or transfer case is not being lubricated and you won't make it 50 miles before damage is done. For some vehicles, there are aftermarket lube pumps or driveline disconnects that can be installed on the “Dinghy”. This can add thousands of dollars to the price of your tow set-up. "I always tell customer to think long and hard before spending this money. You can buy a good used vehicle that is flat towable for not much more, and a whole lot less hassle," says Edgecombe. See Figure 3 below for an example of an Owner’s Manual instruction that limits how the vehicle should be towed.
Car cannot be flat towed

Do I need a Tow Dolly?



If your vehicle is not flat towable you could consider a tow dolly. A dolly allows a front wheel drive vehicle to be towed by supporting the drive axle on the dolly while the rear wheels spin freely. No tow dolly manufacture endorses backing a rear wheel drive vehicle onto their dolly. Tow dolly’s come with or without brakes, but remember those without brakes may not meet the requirements of all states and are not as safe as dolly’s with brakes. Many models have electric brakes and you can have a brake controller installed in your RV relatively easily. The more expensive models have surge brakes. Both electric and hydraulic brakes will meet most states supplemental braking requirements as well as Canada’s. A dolly will add 800 to 1,000 pounds to your total weight and, as we mentioned before, once you've arrived at your destination you need to store the dolly somewhere. Some campgrounds charge a third vehicle fee for the dolly. It may also take practice before you may feel comfortable driving the vehicle onto the tow dolly. And let’s face it, at some point you will be kneeling in a puddle trying to strap the tow cars muddy tires to the dolly.
Tow dolly

Do I need a trailer to tow my car?



If your car doesn't fall into the categories above, you likely have a rear wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicle. In this case, you'll need to have a flatbed or enclosed trailer unless you disconnect the drive line. However, disconnecting the drive line requires technical know-how and could void your warranty. This is also not a viable option if you have disconnect and reconnect the drive line mechanically more than once or twice since it’s time consuming and a hassle. There are driveline disconnects that are built “inline” so you can connect and disconnect as needed from the interior of the vehicle, but much like the previously mentioned lube pump the cost of equipment and labor to have a professional install it can be thousands of dollars. That is money that may be more wisely spent on a vehicle that can be towed without restriction, or on a trailer. Trailers are heavy – over 1,000 pounds – but they can preserve a high-end car. They provide security, privacy and protection from the elements and are easy to hook up while you stay clean. Again the concern will be where to store it at the campground or at home.

Car hauler

Supplemental Braking, What Does It Mean To You?


I have heard of vitamin supplements, but what is a supplemental braking system? A supplemental braking system is an electronic controller mounted in the cab of your motorhome that will apply the brakes to the towed car when the brakes in the motorhome are applied. In the event that the towed car becomes disconnected it will apply the brake-away brakes to the towed car. Most states have a law that requires a towed vehicle to have a supplemental braking system, with various overall length, weight, or stopping distance parameters. Word is Canada will turn you around at the border if your towed car does not have a supplemental braking system. They come in two basic formats, portable or installed. With anything there are pros and cons. In the case of supplemental braking the installed versions are easier to use, simply flip a switch in some applications, but the portables are less expensive.

Service, What Is An Ounce of Prevention Worth?



Before you head out on the highway, make sure your RV and vehicle are in road-ready shape. Paul Forte, Guaranty Chevrolet Service Manager advises, "Before towing make sure that all the gear box oils are full, tires are aired up to proper pressure and the front end is aligned to factory specs. Check to make sure all the lights work correctly. Make sure your braking system works correctly and is properly set to your vehicle. Check the hitch set up and brake-away system. Most importantly, be safe and have fun!" If you are not capable of doing these checks yourself, or simply don’t have the time Guaranty can help. Please make a service appointment well in advance of your vacation; the busy season can last all year long these days.

Accessories, Who Doesn’t Like to Accessorize?



For any type of towing situation, there is additional equipment you need to be legal and safe. Wiring kits make sure both vehicles lights work as one. In certain vehicles there are fuses that need to be removed while towing. Make sure you know which ones so you don't lose critical exterior lights or power. There is also a way to install a switch that will disable the circuit without having to crawl under the dash to remove a fuse. It is the Fusemaster line, from Roadmaster, and they offer a handful of options that are somewhat vehicle specific. The law requires you have safety cables/chains that connect both vehicles together in case a mechanism fails and the units become separated. Depending on the clearance of either rig, you might need a drop hitch so your tow bar is level and doesn't bind.

Anti-sway bars and stabilizers (springs) can be upgraded or added to most motorhome chassis to increase stability and decrease driver fatigue. And then there's protection: locks, tow bar covers, splash guards and rock shields keep the dust out, can prevent damage to expensive headlights, and save the paint job on your car and RV.
Drop hitch

Conclusion



This is just enough information to introduce you to towing and get you thinking about your next steps. Because so much of the equipment involved in towing a “Dinghy” is vehicle specific, and each vehicle has its own set of idiosyncrasies it can be easy get information overload. No matter where you are in the process Guaranty and other qualified RV Dealerships can help. Take a little extra time to get advice from an expert before taking your maiden voyage or after making a change to your towing setup. You’ll be happy you did.

The chart below lists vehicles by Make, Model, and which year the Roadmaster Bracket Item Number fits. The Item Number is the part number for the bracket (or baseplate). The two to three digit number that follows the Item Number is the type of bracket, which are designated as follows:

XL = Removable arms (pull pin to remove)
EZ = Removable arms (twist to remove)
EZ2 = Removable arms (twist to remove)
EZ4 = Removable arms (twist to remove)
EZ5 = Removable arms (twist to remove)
MX = Removable arms (pull pin to remove, no crossbar needed)
MS = Non Removable arms (no crossbar needed)

MX and MS brackets are only for use with motorhome mounted tow bars. They eliminate the need for the included QD crossbar. The MX and MS brackets will not work with a car mounted tow bar like the STOWMASTER, nor will they work with the Easy Hook Safety Cables, Guardian or any accessory that requires a Roadmaster QD crossbar.

Table 1: Roadmaster Inc. Top Brackets
Top ten tow cars

2016 RV Awards: The Best Motorhomes and Towables - Part 1

It’s the time of year again when we get to see which RVs, campgrounds, resorts and RV dealers came out a cut above the rest and won the big annual RV awards. We’ve just seen the 2016 results, and they’re pretty exciting! If you’ve been thinking about a new RV, or you’re starting to plan your 2017 camping and road trips, now is the time to read up on what other RVers think is the best of the best. The folks who are handing out these awards are some of the most knowledgeable in the industry, and they’ve taken the time to solicit the opinions of thousands of other RVers, dealers and industry leaders who know the RV lifestyle inside and out.

Motorhome Magazine’s annual Reader’s Choice Awards gives motorhome enthusiasts the opportunity to vote for their favorite motorhomes and everything that goes with them, from cleaning products to dinghy vehicles. In other words, these are “simply the best” motorhomes, RV destinations and auxiliary products chosen by other RVers just like you.

The National RV Dealers Association (RVDA) is the only national association dedicated to helping RV retailers with education, member services, industry leadership, etc. They bestow their annual Quality Circle Awards to RV manufacturers that “achieve the highest rating in the association’s Dealer Satisfaction Index (DSI) Survey”. This award is chosen by dealers like Guaranty. We keep a close eye on the RVs that come through our inventory, looking for the best manufacturers, those who give top of the line service and build the highest quality RVs on the road today. Those are the only ones we vote for.

For the next couple weeks, we’re going to talk about some of the motorhomes and towables that won the big prizes for 2016. As we turn the corner to 2017, we’ll also take a look at award-winning campgrounds, resorts and the best states to RV, so you can start planning your next adventures!

Motorhomes: Best of 2016—Class As


The Motorhome Magazine Reader’s Choice Award voters and the RVDA DSI survey agree that Newmar and Winnebago continue to be excellent choices in the Class A division of motorhomes, and we couldn’t agree more!

Since Winnebago Industries was founded in 1958 in Forest City, Iowa, they have worked hard to become one of the foremost RV manufacturers in the nation. They’ve literally built hundreds of thousands of motorhomes, and their commitment to quality, safety and innovation has never wavered. Winnebago is the only RV manufacturer who has consistently received the RVDA Quality Circle Award every year since 1958. It’s no wonder they’ve become a household name—when America thinks of motorhomes, they think of the iconic Winnebago “W”. Whether you’re looking for a gas powered Class A like the stylish Sunstar, or a Suncruiser with high end amenities, or you’ve got your eye on a high powered diesel pusher like the opulent Grand Tour or the stunning Solei, Winnebago will give you the level of long lasting value you’re looking for.

Newmar is another iconic American RV manufacturer who has been doing things right since the very beginning. They have been building some of the best motorhomes in the industry for nearly 50 years and are widely known for their craftsmanship and innovation in design, as well as their rockstar customer service. They’ve brought innovations to RV manufacturing like a unique chassis welding process to make a quieter, smoother ride, and the Newmar Full-Paint Masterpiece™ Finish for a gorgeous exterior that lasts the lifetime of the motorhome. In the gas powered Class A division, we’ve long been fans of Newmar’s Bay Star model for its sleek livability and ease of driving. And for a step up in gas powered elegance, we also love the Canyon Star. (Note: Newmar’s Canyon Star 3911 has an excellent wheelchair accessible floorplan– give us a call if you’d like to learn more about this option.) Newmar also scores big points in the diesel Class A category with their beautiful Ventana and Dutch Star models, which bring a perfect blend of high end amenities and supreme comfort to life on the road.

Motorhomes: Best of 2016—Class Cs


Whether you’re looking for a motorhome to transport the whole family, or you want a little more fuel efficiency than you can get from a big Class A motorhome, a Class C model is a great choice. 2016’s three big winners in this category are Winnebago, Jayco and Thor Motor Coach.

Winnebago’s Class C lineup includes models built on both Ford and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis, and integrates powerful body design, versatile livability and high tech electronics. So whether you’re looking for a sleek turbo diesel Navion on a Sprinter chassis, or a supremely family friendly floorplan like you’ll find in the Spirit, there is a Winnebago Class C motorhome to fit your needs. Whichever model is right for you, you’ll know that you’re getting top of the line quality that will serve you for years to come.

Jayco is another American RV manufacturer that has been around a long time (since 1968) and has shown a consistent commitment to build the best Class C motorhomes at a great value. Jayco is currently the nation’s largest family-owned and operated RV manufacturer. These family-favorite Class C’s blend old-world Amish craftsmanship with state of the art technology, and give floorplan options that sleep as many as 11 people! For high quality at a good price, we recommend looking at Jayco Greyhawk or Melbourne models, and if you want to go up a step in power, the diesel powered Seneca has what it takes to travel anywhere you want to go.

Thor Motor Coach was founded in 2010, so might look like a newcomer to the motorhome market. But this powerhouse manufacturer was actually created from a merger of Damon Motor Coach and Four Winds International, so puts decades of RV manufacturing expertise into every Class C motorhome they build, and the quality shows! Today, Thor Motor Coach builds nearly one out of every four motorhomes sold in the U.S., including some of the most recognizable Class C’s on the road. The ever family friendly Winds models are a Guaranty RV favorite!

Next week we’re going to continue looking at the 2016 Reader’s Choice Awards and RVDA winners. If you’re curious about this year’s top Class B motorhomes (campervans) and towables, be sure to check back in. And give us a call if you have any questions.