You know, I’ve been thinking for a while about what some of the risks are about towing vehicles. And about how I can minimize some of those risks.
So before we left on a 3000 mile trip cross country, I decided to make a couple of purchases. Items that I thought might help me safety-wise as I’m going down the road.
And boy am I glad I did!!!! Because in Fort Worth, Texas at the convergence of two major highways, my tow bar broke.
Disclosure: Please note this post may contain affiliate links. This means – at no additional cost to you – I earn a commission if you make a purchase using our affiliate links. I only link to products and companies I use and feel comfortable recommending. The income goes toward supporting the free content on this website
What Happened When My RV Tow Bar Broke
So immediately we had to get off the highway. And move over a couple of lanes of traffic as we did. Of course, you can imagine how difficult that can be with a big rig!
Finally, we got into an area where it was safe enough to stop. And cars were whizzing by at 75 and 80 miles an hour.
Now I’ve got to apologize to you because I see these RV YouTube channels where things like this happens.
And the first thing that comes to their mind is to grab that video camera. Then go out there and video the whole mess, or at least take a few pictures.
Well I apologize because that was the last thing on my mind at that point. I’ve got to tell you, in situations like that I feel a lot of stress and anxiety.
So the only thing that was on my mind was to get this situation resolved safely. And then try to get back on the road in a safe manner.
So I don’t have any video or pictures to show you of what actually happened. But as a first person account, I can tell you it was very stressful.
It was really challenging, and I don’t want to have to go through that again anytime soon.
But what happened there, the breaking of that towbar, set things in motion. Things that really taught me some very good lessons. And made me glad I had done what I did before we left on this trip.
Lesson #1 Learned When My RV Tow Bar Broke
So let’s start with lesson number one. And that is to make sure that you have a really good functioning rear camera.
Now I had a rear camera in my 2004 Newmar Kountry Star. But when a rig is that old, there’s all kinds of little issues that develop with various components.
And sure enough, in the last year or so, I started having trouble with that camera. It would just sort of go out on me all of a sudden without warning.
And it could be out for a minute or it could be out for an hour or more. So during that time I wouldn’t know what’s going on behind me.
Now when I realized that this was going to be an ongoing problem, I got somebody working on it. First of all, I replaced the camera and that didn’t solve the problem.
Then I had some other people try to diagnose it. And as soon as they looked at it, it was not showing any problem at all. It was functioning fine.
So I got to thinking about it. And I kind of figured that this really sounds like it’s more of an electrical problem. Maybe a short somewhere in the wiring system.
Now I’m sure there are some of you who know a lot about electrical issues
and shorts. And if so, you know you could spend forever looking for this kind of thing and still not find it. Meanwhile, it could become very expensive.
RV Rear Camera Systems Can Be Challenging For Big Rigs
So I finally decided, I’ve had enough of this. I’m just going to buy a new
wireless rear camera and install it myself.
But that has its own set of issues. Just go on Amazon and start reading about rear view cameras for RVs.
You’ll see that there’s a lot of folks that complain that they don’t work very well for long RVs. I mean for short ones they’re okay.
But when you get up to 35 to 40 feet and beyond, a lot of RVers were complaining. They said that they just didn’t have enough signal to reach that far.
So I just kept looking. Finally I finally found a rear view camera system that said it was designed for longer rigs. And I got it.
Well, boy am I glad I did! Because that’s how I knew that the tow bar had broke.
How The Rear Camera Helped When MY RV Tow Bar Broke
While I’m driving, I always make a visual sweep of my gauges that are in front of me. And of my mirrors as I’m going down the road.
So I check from time to time on a regular basis to make sure that everything’s where it should be.
And while I was visually sweeping my gauges, I looked up into my rear view camera. When I did, there’s my car back there moving from side to side as I’m going down the highway.
Now it should be following straight behind me, but it wasn’t. In fact, there was a couple of times I could see it in my side mirror.
So I knew right away that there was a major problem with the tow bar. And that meant I had to get over to the side of the road and get this
resolved before it got worse.
Sure enough, seeing that situation in the rear view camera really saved me. Because if I hadn’t gotten over then, there’s a very good chance that the second bar would have broken too. And that could have been really bad!
So my first lesson is simple. Always make sure that you have a good functioning rear view camera when towing. That way you know what’s going on back there with your towed vehicle.
Lesson #2 Learned When My RV Tow Bar Broke
Now let’s get to lesson number two. And that is to always make sure that you have a good functioning tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). One that has sensors for your RV and for the vehicle behind it too.
Now I wrote an article a while back on RV tire pressure. And I covered how to manually make sure your tire pressures are where they should be.
I also explained how to check the tire pressure before you leave out on a trip. And it’s still very good advice.
I might be able to tell something’s wrong with the motorhome’s tires as I’m going down the road. But I will never know if the tires are having a problem in the towed vehicle.
Horror Stories I’ve Heard About Towing
And I’ve heard some stories that aren’t really very encouraging in regards to this. I’ve read about people towing a car, and they have a flat tire that they never feel in the RV.
So the flat tire just gets worse and worse. And then the rubber wears away and you have the rim right on pavement.
Now when you continue driving with the rim on pavement, it’s very easy to start throwing sparks. And I’ve even heard of situations where this has gone on for many, many miles. Finally the sparks can cause a fire in the towed vehicle.
So all of this was on my mind. And I decided then to not only install a TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) unit on my motorhome. But also make sure there were enough sensors for that towed vehicle as well.
A Near Tire Blowout When My RV Tow Bar Broke
And once again, boy am I glad I did! Because remember I said that when
one thing went wrong, other problems developed from it.
Well when the tow bar broke, it meant I had to get a new one. So I ordered one in right away. But I noticed it was really stiff from the factory.
I mean it was so stiff that I could barely pull the two connecting bars apart. But I thought if it’s coming from the factory that way, maybe there’s a reason for it being that stiff initially. And maybe it’ll loosen up pretty quickly.
So I went ahead and installed it. Then I hooked the tow vehicle up, and
down the highway I went.
Well it wasn’t long going down the highway before my TPMS unit alarm starts going off. And it’s telling me that both front tires have reached the danger zone for internal tire temperature.
Why You Need A Good RV TPMS
This because the good TPMS units don’t just tell you about your tire pressure. They also tell you what the temperature is inside each tire.
And at 200 degrees or so inside a tire, that’s about the point where they start coming apart. So the TPMS unit warns you at 165 degrees.
Well, both my front tires were at 165 degrees inside the tire. So of course, we pull right over immediately. And we unhooked the CRV. Then we caravanned on to the next stop.
As we were driving, I got to thinking that it can’t be the tires themselves. Because you wouldn’t have two of them having a problem at the same time.
I also knew that tow bar was pretty stiff. So at the rest stop I loosened up that tow bar a little bit. Then I adjusted it some more and got it to where it was much more pliable.
What’s Happened Since I Got A TPMS
Now the good news is that since I did that I haven’t had any problem with my CRV’s front tires. Especially not while towing.
So my point is this. Suppose I hadn’t had those sensors on my tires in the tow vehicle. In that case, I would never have known what was going on as I was towing the car down the highway.
So I probably would have been blissfully driving along while the tire temperature just kept rising. And eventually I could have had two blowouts, not just one. You can imagine how difficult that could have been!
So both things that I addressed before I left on the trip, actually came into good use. And I wanted to share that with you so hopefully it will be of some benefit for you.
Let’s Review The Lessons Learned When My RV Tow Bar Broke
Now let’s review. Number one is make sure you have a good functioning rear view camera system. And that’s true whether you’re flat towing or using a tow dolly.
It is also important whether you have a towable RV behind you or you are towing a small vehicle behind a motorized RV.
Whatever your setup is, make sure that you can see what’s going on back there.
But then take that one step further. And have a tire pressure monitoring system installed too. One that includes not only the tow vehicle, but what’s being towed behind as well.
That way you will know what’s going on with the towed vehicle’s tires. Because that’s really where the rubber literally meets the road.
Now the good news in all of this is this. So far both of these systems, the rear view camera and the TPMS, have functioned beautifully.
And I can say that I have a lot more peace of mind now. Because of knowing that I have this information readily available to me as I drive.
So I know about what’s going on, not only in the vehicle I’m driving, but in the one I’m towing too.
Now I’m going to put links to both of those systems here. And that way you can look at them and see what you think.
And if you think it’s something that might work for you, then great! Because both of these systems have worked very well for me.
Of course, whatever you decide to do is fine. But I highly recommend that you get that rear camera installed and make sure it’s working. And then get a TPMS for your RV and put some sensors on your towed vehicle as well.
Well that’s it for now. Have safe and happy travels my friends. Until next time…