Frequently Asked Questions: RV Towing

March 13, 2019

Frequently Asked Questions: RV Towing


Whether you’re looking at buying your first travel trailer or ready to take your new fifth wheel RV out on the road, what the first tow will be like sparks curiosity. We’re here to break down the basics of RV towing and share what to expect. With these answers in your back pocket, we hope you’ll feel confident and ready to take on your next adventure.

Is my vehicle big enough to tow an RV?

When it comes to towing an RV, size does matter. We recommend looking at your Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) to see what the total allowable weight for your car or truck is before purchasing a travel trailer or fifth wheel RV.

If equipped with towing gear, you might be surprised to find that your vehicle is powerful enough to tow a variety of RVs.

What are the most important terms to understand?

You may hear several abbreviations and technical terms associated with towing. They are important to understand when it comes to purchasing and properly towing your RV because they refer to the total amount of weight you can safely tow.

  • Unloaded Vehicle Weight (UVW), or Dry Weight, is the weight of an RV that does not include cargo, fresh water, propane gas, options or accessories. The addition of these can affect the stated hitch weight.
  • Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) is the total allowable weight of the tow vehicle and the trailer, the cargo in each, the hitch hardware, fluids and occupants.
  • Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is the total allowable weight for the trailer, including the occupants, fluids, options, hitch hardware, cargo and trailer-hitch weight.
  • Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) is the total allowable weight on an individual axle, including the weight of the tires, wheels, brakes and the axle itself.

Will towing an RV be easy?

Towing a travel trailer or a fifth wheel might take some getting used to, but it’s something anyone can learn. The biggest tip to remember while towing is to stay aware and try to anticipate traffic and road conditions in advance, so you have ample time to safely maneuver your RV.

Are there any safety tips I should know?

Before you take off on your adventure, practice driving somewhere quiet and away from heavy traffic. This will help you get more comfortable with backing up, turning, parking, changing lanes, stopping and so forth. Being familiar with the size of your full towing arrangement will make all of these maneuvers comfortable.

You can also keep RV safety trends in mind when looking at RV features and add-ons. At Jayco, many of our towable RVs include our patent-pending JaySMART™ lighting system, which is designed to more clearly signal your driving intentions and increase visibility.

Is my hitch setup correct?

Before you hit the road with your new RV, practice hitching up and unhitching. You want to be sure everything is installed properly and adjusted to be the perfect fit. For your first installation, that can mean testing your setup by driving around a safe area and adjusting as needed.

You can also view the tow guide put together by Trailer Life magazine for more information on conventional and fifth wheel hitch basics and setup. It’s a great resource for tow ratings and fundamentals too!

What does packing a towable RV have to do with towing?

As with any towing situation, loading up your RV in a balanced way makes towing easier. It helps eliminate sway—another term you may hear that refers to the side-to-side movement of the trailer behind the tow vehicle—and makes the driving experience more enjoyable.

What are the easiest towing models from Jayco?

We have several lightweight travel trailers available in dozens of floorplans that range from our compact and feature-packed Hummingbird that weighs in under 2,000 pounds, to the Eagle HT Travel Trailer, part of one of the longest-running, most successful RV brands on the market, which is luxury- and amenity-packed.

If you’re looking to buy an RV, we definitely recommend exploring our Easy Towing page or our trailers here on to see photos, specs, floorplans and features. Events are also a great opportunity to see the latest and greatest models in person!

These are just a few of the questions we get from RV towing beginners. If you have more questions though, be sure to talk with your local Jayco dealer, our Customer Service department or reach out to our Facebook community of more than 45,000 RVers. Happy towing!

Additional Resources

5 Reasons to Make a Travel Trailer Your First RV

5 Reasons to Make a Toy Hauler Your First RV

5 Reasons to Make a Fifth Wheel Your First RV

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