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.