Can You Backup a Motorhome with a Car Attached?

Motorhome with a car driving down highway.

We’ve all been there where you miss a turn because you weren’t paying attention or didn’t hear the GPS. In a regular vehicle, if the road is clear, you could simply reverse the car and correct your navigation.

However, missing a turn in a large motorhome with a car attached is not that simple. If you’ve ever made this mistake, you know what we mean.

If you don’t already know the answer, keep reading to learn if you can back up a motorhome with a car attached. Let’s get started!

Motorhome with a car driving to its next destination.

What Are the Risks of Backing Up a Motorhome with a Car Attached?

It doesn’t matter if you have a Class A motorhome or smaller, backing up a motorhome with a car attached comes with a handful of risks. Some are obvious, but others not so much. Let’s take a look!

Damage to Your Tow Bar

The tow bars connect the motorhome to the vehicle you tow. The engineering of tow bars can only absorb the stress and force from one direction. When you apply force in the opposite direction, these bars can bend or break.

You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you can no longer tow your vehicle because you broke the bars. Even the slightest bending of your tow bars can render them useless. Avoid any potential issues by never going in reverse while towing.

Damage to Your Vehicle

When you connect a tow vehicle to your motorhome, the towbars join directly to the tow vehicle’s frame. When you reverse, you apply massive amounts of force to the frame and the steering column. A small mistake can quickly escalate into a dire and expensive situation.

Jackknifing Your Vehicle

If you ignore your vehicles while reversing, you can easily jackknife your motorhome and tow vehicle. This jackknifing puts an incredible amount of force on the tow bar and frame. The more severe the jackknife, the more damage you risk.

Jackknifing can become an issue for any type of vehicle or trailer. You must be aware of your surroundings and watch the angles and distances between the tow vehicle and the trailer itself. 

Motorhome towing a card behind it on the road.

Running a Curb

Backing into or over a curb is not only embarrassing, but it can do some massive damage to your motorhome or tow vehicle. When you run a curb, you risk puncturing your tire or even bending the rim. Both have the potential to leave you stranded or, at best, delayed.

Be aware of your surroundings while driving. Keep your distance from other objects, especially any that can easily damage your motorhome or tow vehicle. You would probably rather buy that new RV gadget or camping gear than buying new tires or wheels.

Can You Back Up Your Motorhome While Flat Towing Your Car?

Absolutely not. If you find yourself needing to reverse, you should always disconnect the tow vehicle from your motorhome. This is the only way to guarantee that your tow vehicle and tow bars will not suffer damage. There are rare instances where you can reverse a few feet at most but only do this in an emergency. 

You would also want to make sure that you go straight back and not turn the motorhome. The slightest turning of the wheels will cause the tow vehicle to turn, which will cause damage to your tow bars and possibly the tow vehicle as well.

Is it Safe to Back Up Your Motorhome While Your Car Is on a Trailer?

While it is safer to back up your motorhome with a trailer hitched to it, it still poses a risk. Motorhomes are incredibly long and have a small turning radius. The angle required when reversing will quickly cause a trailer to jackknife.

When you jackknife a trailer, you risk damaging the trailer and the motorhome. If you must maneuver, make sure to keep an eye on the distance between the motorhome and the trailer. It will require a significant amount of room to complete the maneuver and not damage anything.

What Is the Safest Way to Reverse Your Motorhome With a Car Attached?

The safest way to reverse your motorhome is to detach the car. You should understand how to hitch and unhitch efficiently before hitting the road. You don’t want to find yourself in a difficult situation with angry drivers honking at you while you try to watch a YouTube video or read this to figure out where you went wrong.

However, in an emergency, you may be able to reverse your motorhome 2 or 3 feet to maneuver. You want to make sure the wheels on the tow vehicle stay completely straight and are not even slightly angled. If you turn the tow vehicle’s tires, it’s only a matter of time before something breaks.

Is it Hard to Learn How to Back Up a Towed Vehicle?

If you have towed a trailer before, you may not find it that difficult to back up. You want to make sure you give yourself plenty of room to maneuver and that you take your time. Being in a rush is often the start of something getting damaged or overlooked. Don’t make that rookie mistake.

When you back up, remember that you turn the wheel towards where you want the back of the trailer to go. If you want the trailer to move towards the driver’s side, turn the wheel towards the left. If you want the back of the trailer to move towards the passenger side, turn the wheel to the right.

With a little bit of practice, you’ll become an expert at backing up a towed vehicle. Be sure to find the time to take your motorhome and tow vehicle to a large parking lot for you to experience how the two respond to each other. Make sure you take it slow and steady to avoid damaging anything.

Plan Your Route

We hope after reading this that you won’t have a simple mistake, like backing up your motorhome with a car attached. Do your due diligence to plan your route, and don’t drive distracted. Your wallet will thank you.

Did you have to learn this lesson the hard way? Have you ever caused damage to your tow vehicle, motorhome, or tow bars from backing up?

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