Dinghy Towing: A 4 Part Series On Setting Up A Vehicle to Tow Four Wheels Down – Part 4 (towed vehicle accessories)

towed vehicle accessories
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In the last article of this series we look at towed vehicle accessories, which include tail light wiring, drop receivers, vehicle protection, and a few other towing necessities.

Like any trailer, a vehicle in tow must also have working tail lights, which includes turn signals, running lights, and brake lights.  While those mickey mouse ears (as some call them) tail lights that are stuck on the roof of a vehicle are an easy way to go, they are not practical for the frequent traveler.   So let’s look at the various towed vehicle tail light wiring options available:

  • Bulb and Socket Kits – This kit includes separate bulbs and sockets which get added to your existing towed vehicle’s tail light housings.  If you have the room in the tail light assembly, then this is an easy and quick way to add tail lights to the towed vehicle.  You simply drill a hole in the plastic, pop the socket in, run your wiring to the front of the vehicle to a socket, and you’re done.
    • Pros: Least expensive, DIY project requiring standard tools.
    • Cons: Can be a tight fit on smaller tail light assemblies, lights can seem dim if not pointed correctly
  • Diode Kits – In this kit you use blocking diodes and tie into the vehicle’s existing wiring back at the tail light assembly.  The diodes keep electrical feedback from entering the vehicle’s wiring that may cause other lights to come on.
    • Pros: don’t have to alter tail light housing, DIY project requiring standard tools.
    • Cons: there needs to be room for diodes, requires a little more electrical knowledge
  • Plug & Play T Connector Kits – These kits are vehicle specific and include a T connector that is installed at the tail light housing.  With this kit, you would unplug the connector going into the tail light housing, and plug this in to one end of the T connector.  The other end is then plugged into the tail light housing, giving you the required link to the tail lights.
    • Pros: easy installation
    • Cons: much more expensive than other kits
  •  Magnetic Light Kits – Traditionally these included tail lights with a magnetic base and wiring back to the motorhome.  Newer kits are now available with a LED light bar and wireless transmitter making them a more attractive option.
    • Pros: not permanently installed.
    • Cons: they are expensive depending on the setup, they have to be put on & removed each time you tow.

One of the last important items that needs to be reviewed in your towing setup is the tow bar angle.  Not every towed vehicle and motorhome will perfectly line up and a drop/rise receiver may need to be added to get your tow bar within 3″ of level between both vehicles.   This is one of those towed vehicle accessories that many times gets overlooked, but is critical in safely towing a vehicle behind your motorhome, and required by every tow bar manufacturer.  If you need to use a drop receiver, make sure that it has the proper rating for your towing setup.

If you will be towing a newer vehicle, it will only take one trip in the rain before you may consider some sort of towed vehicle protection system.  You’ll find that an incredible amount of road debris is kicked up, especially while driving in the rain, and protecting your vehicle’s finish will become top priority.   Products such as the Blue Ox Kargard II will greatly reduce the amount of road debris from hitting your vehicle, and more importantly, deflect those direct hits that will cause stone chips in the paint.   This is one of those towed vehicle accessories you may want to consider after towing a few times to decide which protection system would best suit your needs.

As we come to a close in this 4 part series on Dinghy Towing, there are just a few other items we would like to fill you in on that will make towing your vehicle safer and more enjoyable.  If you will be in areas where theft could be an issue, there are locking tow pins for the tow bar as well as at the tow bar and baseplate connections.  I also recommend using a hitch immobilizer to keep the tow bar from moving up or down and side to side.  A little movement here translates into a lot of movement in the tow vehicle.  Lastly, using a tow bar cover is always a good idea. This will keep all parts of the tow bar moving freely, and eliminate the chance for rust to form on joints and tow bar arms.

We hope you find this article on tow vehicle accessories as well as the others informative and helpful in getting your dinghy vehicle setup to tow 4 wheels down.

Dinghy Towing: A 4 Part Series On Setting Up A Vehicle to Tow Four Wheels Down – Part 4 (towed vehicle accessories) was last modified: January 4th, 2016 by Bill Rowell

About the Author

Bill Rowell
I have been camping and RV'ing with my Wife and 2 children for the past 20 years. We began our RV'ing careers in a 1995 Jayco pop-up camper which we got caught in the rain in every time we used it. In 1998 I found a 1989 Winnebago Chieftain 23' Class A motorhome which we loved. During that time I was always looking online for good RV information but unable to find it. So I decided to start a website called iRV2.com which is a forum for RV'ers to share information. We wanted a family friendly site in which members were willing to help each other and leave the drama out. In 2000 I purchased our first new RV which was a 30' Coachmen Mirada Class A. For a new RV I had to make a lot of modifications to this motorhome just to make it a road worthy RV. My displeasure with traditional RV's lead me to Truck Conversions and in 2002 we built our first Showhauler motorhome. In 2004 we built our second Truck Conversions which was an improvement over the first, but a trip to the Winnebago factory in 2006 sealed my fate with the rest of the family who saw a Winnebago Vectra diesel pusher in our future. So in 2006 we made the move and enjoyed traveling the country in that until 2010 when we thought we would downside since the kids were off doing their own thing. Somewhere in that time we found ourselves with way to many irons in the fire and decided to focus all our energy on RVupgrades.com as well as another business we own and thus said goodbye to iRV2.com. This was a very tough decision since we had made so many RV'ing friends and great memories, but times had changed and it was time to leave it in new hands to continue it's growth. In 2010 we downsized to a Winnebago Cambria Class C which I really liked, but we quickly found was not the most roadworthy choice for long range travel. So in 2012 we went back to Showhauler and with all of the updates they made to their product found the last motorhome we will ever buy. (Sound familiar) There is never a last RV you'll ever buy when your a die-hard RV'er :-)

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