Can Toyota Rav4 Be Pulled Behind A Motorhome? (Explained)


The Toyota Rav4 has been around for quite some time, and this alone speaks volumes about this vehicle.

Since 1996, this car has been loved so dearly because of its smooth ride, comfortable cabin, tremendous cargo space, and wonderful fuel economy.

Additionally, it has also been known for its good safety record in crash testing and not forgetting its off-roading capabilities. The big question is, can the Toyota Rav4 be towed when all four wheels are on the floor? That is why I sought to find answers, and below were my findings. 

Can Toyota Rav4 Be Flat Towed?

Yes, some Toyota RAV4s can be pulled behind a motorhome as long as you buy the correct model with the correct transmission type. Only the manual transmission models from 1996-2000 can be flat-towed behind an RV. Both the automatic and manual models from 2001 can be towed, but from 2002 to 2005 (the last year Rav4s could be flat towed), only 4WD manuals are flat-towable.

Later-generation models from 2006 till now are not rated for flat towing. No Rav4 EV model can be dinghy towed.

The 2020 model, in particular, offers two off-roading models, which are the Dynamic Torque Vectoring All-Wheel Drive and the TRDOff-Road trim, which makes tackling treacherous conditions with ease.

However, it is important to note that for the 2001 models and the 2002 to 2005 models that can be flat towed, you shouldn’t exceed a speed of 55 mph and not tow continuously for more than 200 miles.

Before you even embark on flat towing, there are special accessories and equipment that must be purchased from your motor home manufacturer or service outlet.

Additionally, you should always put the transmission in a neutral position whenever you dinghy tow. This allows the wheels to rotate freely with ease.

It is also important to let the engine run for more than three minutes after you get to the distance limit after you are done towing before you use the vehicle or resume towing.

All these recommendations help to prevent damage to your transmission or the transfer components. 

Car Manufacturer Toyota makes many off-road vehicles, including the Rav4 that would seem ideal for flat towing. They might seem excellent when they are blazing through the adventure trails you take them through but don’t automatically qualify them for flat towing.

In fact, as surprising as it may seem, most automatic transmission automobiles from Toyota are not rated for dinghy towing.

The main reason for this is the lubrication of the transmission. Some of Toyota’s vehicles need some continuous lubrication of the transmission through a pump to keep the moving parts lubricated.

To keep the lubrication pump running, the engine must be running to prevent severe damage to the transmission, beating the whole point of flat towing if the engine is on. 

Can I Upgrade My Rav4 So I Can Flat Tow It?

Yes, there are some aftermarket add-ons available for the Rav4 to allow it to be flat towed. Devices such as transmission lubricating pumps and driveshaft decouplers can be added to automatic transmissions for you to pull them on all fours.

It is important to note that these devices are somewhat complicated to install and even maintain and sometimes be very expensive.

Installing these devices might void your warranty or have a negative impact on the extended service plan that you might have bought.

If these components are not installed correctly, damage can be caused to the drivetrain or even the engine. It is advisable to get a factory-ready flat towable Rav4 to be safe. 

What Do I Need To Flat Tow My Rav4?

A flat towing kit is a set of hardware components that you will need to flat tow your vehicle. Buying the components as a kit will ensure that they integrate with ease and work together beautifully. Additionally, you can be sure that you will tow legally and safely as all the components are included. 

There are a total of five components that you need to tow a vehicle.

First, there is the base plate. The base plate’s function is to distribute the forces evenly when pressure is exerted on the tow bar. It is usually attached to the vehicle you want to tow and is typically a tailor-fit for attachment ease.

Next, there is a tow bar. This is the link that secures the two vehicles together. It usually comes in two arms that go into attachment points on the baseplate that was already installed.

Most tow bars need an adapter and quick disconnects to make the base plate and tow bar compatible.

An excellent option to buy is the RoadMaster Tracker Tow Bar that was explicitly designed for use over long distances, and its quick attachments enable it to be used more frequently. It is also rated for towing speeds of 45 miles per hour. 

The third item is the safety cables. For your flat tow set up to remain legal, you definitely need a set of these. Safety cables act as a failsafe link between the two vehicles in case the tow bar is detached when towing or breaks.

It is mandatory to use this component in many regions for obvious safety reasons, and failure to so will land you in trouble.

A good recommendation is the RoadMaster 68 Inch Single Hook, Coiled Safety Cables rated for a towing capacity of 6000 pounds, which is more than enough to secure your Rav4.

The fourth part is the lighting. A good set of taillights is fundamental to making the towed vehicle safe and visible to other drivers, especially when you are braking. 

There are different ways of adding lighting to your Rav4, and they are dependent on how often you intend on going to flat tow. I would recommend a diode kit if you frequently dinghy tow your vehicle or a magnetic towing light kit for infrequent towing.

Finally, the last component is a supplemental braking system that works hand in hand with the braking system of the car that is being towed.

This braking system helps make the towing process as smooth as possible by equaling both vehicles’ braking forces. It works by attaching the component to the brake pedal of the towed vehicle and syncing the motorhome braking through wiring.

Currently, most regions require this component to be used in every flat towing set up as part of the law. I would recommend the RoadMaster Even Brake Portable Proportional braking system that is very easy to install on your Rav4.

This particular set up helps reduce wear and tear on the motorhome brakes and the vehicle you are towing through proportionate braking. 

How Can I Tow My Rav4?

Besides flat towing, you can tow a Rav4 using tow dollies, which elevate the front wheels of the vehicle that is being towed. Tow dollies can only be used on Rav4 models that only use two-wheel drive systems. All-wheel drive system models cannot be dolly pulled because the transmission will be engaged during towing, severely damaging its components.

Elevation of the front wheels prevents this as the rear wheels rotate freely without engaging the transmission.

When using tow dollies, the first step is ensuring that the dolly and the hitch ball are set at the same height.

Next is securing the hitch ball to the coupler and connecting the safety chains between the hitch and the dolly. It is good practice to crisscross them under the tongue to maximize effectiveness if the tow dolly gets detached.

The next step involved connecting the lights and the brakes through the cabling wires. 

Once you check if the weights are within limits, you can proceed and find a nice level ground where you can load your vehicle.

First, you need to unlock the ramps you will drive up to, drive up the ramps, ensure that the wheels are centered nicely, and then park your vehicle. You put the transmission into the park position for automatic vehicles while you put it into first gear for manuals.

Next, you have to lock the steering wheel into a straight position as you temporarily apply the parking brake. If it doesn’t lock, you must manually immobilize it to ensure that it stays in that position. 

The next step involves using the right size tire straps and wrapping them around the tires. Tightening the traps correctly and locking the ratchet is very important. 

Finally, you have to attach safety chains between the dolly and the towed vehicle, release the parking brake, step out the vehicle, lock it, and you are ready to tow. 

Towing A Rav4

Most Toyota vehicles, including the Rav4, aren’t particularly rated for flat towing, but there are indeed a few from previous generations that can be used for flat towing.

However, this should not stop you from owning this wonderful machine as there are other towing methods that you could use to take this vehicle on your next adventure. 

John Nelson

You can find John stringing a hammock from the back of his SUV to a tree camping in the outdoors most weekends during warmer weather. John loves the outdoors and the freedom four-wheel-drive vehicles offer.

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