Be Safe—Get an Auxiliary Braking System

Since towing a vehicle four-down is the most popular towing method used by motorhome owners, let me take a minute and talk about auxiliary braking systems. If you read the fine print in most motorhome manuals, you will find that the weight of a towed vehicle (without auxiliary brakes) is limited to only 1,500 lbs.—even if the coach has a high GCVWR and a hitch rated at 5,000 lbs. It is interesting to note that even a small Saturn weighs about 2,200 lbs.

Many RVers with diesel pushers don’t feel it necessary to be concerned with an auxiliary braking system, but they could be in deep legal trouble if they are ever involved in an accident. If they are involved in an accident with their RV and toad (even when they are not at fault), the other person’s lawyer will likely make mince-meat out of their case—saying that they were negligent (by not having an auxiliary braking system).

If you look at the towing requirements of almost all states, you will find the same 1,500 lbs. weight limit. While it is true that almost no states really enforce this law, do you really want to take a chance? For most prudent RVers with toads, they consider an auxiliary braking system to be good legal insurance, regardless of what RV they drive. You should also be aware that the province of British Columbia does enforce their law about towing a vehicle that weighs more than 4,400 lbs, and they require both an auxiliary braking system and a break-away system. It is not much fun traveling in your RV while your navigator drives your toad behind you.

For those perfectionists who "really want to know," here are links to two different sites that present towing weight limits in all the states. Be aware, however, that the data presented by these sites are not in complete agreement.

The bottom line, folks, is “be safe” and put an auxiliary braking system in your toad.

Be sure that you purchase a break-away system when you buy your auxiliary toad braking system. A break-away system will automatically apply the toad brakes if the toad ever separates from the motorhome by more than a few inches. If the toad separates from the motorhome, the break-away cable stays with the motorhome and pulls out of a plug on the toad, causing the toad brakes to be fully applied. You should never need this device, but some states and provinces require this device on any towed vehicle. It is always better to be safe than sorry—especially in today’s litigious society where people seem all too ready to sue you.

pic of breakaway hardware

Return to Main page or click Continue to go to the Hooking Up Your Toad section

Back to Main Page

Continue to Next

Back to Main button

ForwardNext button