What Is Dinghy Towing? Find Out Now

By Derrick •  Updated: 05/11/23 •  14 min read

Have you ever heard the term “dinghy towing” and wondered what it was all about? If so, don’t worry – you’re not alone! Dinghy towing is a method of towing a small car or vehicle behind a larger one – typically an RV. It’s also known as flat-towing, four-down-towing or recreational towing. But why would anyone want to tow another vehicle behind them?

Dinghy towing can be incredibly useful for those on long road trips, camping adventures, or simply for people seeking more freedom and flexibility when traveling by their RVs. With dinghy towing, you can easily explore your destination without packing up and driving your entire RV each time. However, before hitting the open road with your dinghy in tow, you need to know some important things.

In this blog post we’ll give you the lowdown on everything related to dinghy towing: from what it is and how it works; to whether your vehicle is suitable for dingy towing; as well as tips on how to use this method of transportation while out exploring safely. So buckle up and let’s get started!

What Is Dinghy Towing?

If you’re new to recreational vehicles, you may be wondering what dinghy towing is. Simply put, it’s the process of pulling a small vehicle behind a larger one, usually an RV or motorhome. The towed vehicle, also known as the “dinghy” or “toad,” is typically a car that can be easily attached and detached from the tow vehicle.

Dinghy towing is a popular method for RVers who want to explore their destinations without having to break down camp every time they need to run errands or go sightseeing. By towing a small car behind their RV, they have access to transportation once they reach their destination without having to rely on public transportation or rental cars.

Before you start dinghy towing, there are some things you need to know about setting up your tow vehicle and dinghy properly and safely. In the next section, we’ll cover everything you need for dinghy towing.

What You Need For Dinghy Towing

Before you can start dinghy towing, there are a few things you’ll need to have in place. Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll need:

Tow Vehicle: You’ll need a vehicle capable of safely towing your dinghy. Check the owner’s manual for your tow vehicle to determine its maximum towing capacity.

Tow Bar: A tow bar connects the dinghy to the tow vehicle. Several types of tow bars are available, so make sure you choose one suitable for your specific needs.

Vehicle Wiring Harness: This harness connects the electrical system of the dinghy to that of the tow vehicle, allowing for brake lights and turn signals on the dinghy while it’s being towed.

Safety Chains: These chains provide an extra layer of security in case the tow bar or hitch fails. Be sure they’re rated for more than enough weight and cross them under/over tongue/hitch body area before buckling them onto either side on their respective hooks under hitch coupler/engine cradle or similar structure.

Towing Lights: Towing lights are essential if your dinghy doesn’t have functioning brake lights and turn signals. They help other drivers on the road know when you’re slowing down or turning.

By having these items ready before starting out, you can ensure a safe and successful journey with your dinghy in tow!

Tow Vehicle

When it comes to dinghy towing, your tow vehicle plays a critical role in ensuring a safe and successful trip. Here are some things to keep in mind when selecting a tow vehicle for dinghy towing:

  • Choose a vehicle that is rated for the weight of your dinghy and all associated equipment.
  • Look for a vehicle with an automatic transmission, as manual transmissions can be difficult to use when towing.
  • Check the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure that the specific make and model of your chosen vehicles is suitable for dinghy towing.

Once you have selected your tow vehicle, it’s important to equip it with all the necessary components such as a proper tow bar, wiring harness, safety chains, and towing lights. Ensuring everything is properly set up will help prevent accidents and damage during transport.

Tow Bar

The tow bar is a crucial component of the dinghy towing setup. It’s what connects the dinghy to the tow vehicle and helps ensure safe, stable towing.

When choosing a tow bar, ensure it is compatible with your tow vehicle and dinghy. There are several types of tow bars available:

  • A-frame style: This type of tow bar resembles an “A” shape and is commonly used for smaller vehicles.
  • Self-aligning style: This type of tow bar has arms that extend and retract automatically to help guide the dinghy into position during hookup.
  • Receiver-mounted style: This type of tow bar attaches to a receiver hitch on the back of the motorhome or RV.

Ensure that your chosen tow bar meets all necessary safety standards. Also, make sure it has enough weight capacity to handle your particular setup.

Once you have selected your desired kind, mount it securely onto both your vehicle and dingy. Double-check that all connections are tight before starting out on your trip.

Vehicle Wiring Harness

When it comes to dinghy towing, having a vehicle wiring harness is essential. This allows you to connect the brake lights and turn signals of your dinghy to those on your tow vehicle, ensuring that other drivers can see when you’re braking or turning.

When shopping for a wiring harness, make sure to get one that’s specifically designed for your tow vehicle and dinghy. Many manufacturers offer plug-and-play custom wiring kits, making installation quick and easy.

Once installed, test the wiring harness by having someone stand behind the dinghy while you operate the brakes and turn signals from your tow vehicle. Make any necessary adjustments before hitting the road to ensure safety while towing.

Safety Chains

Before you start dinghy towing, it’s important to make sure that your setup is secure. One of the key components of a safe setup is safety chains.

Safety chains are there as a backup in case the tow bar fails. In the event that something goes wrong, the safety chains will keep your dinghy connected to your tow vehicle and prevent it from breaking away completely.

To use safety chains properly, attach them to both the dinghy and tow vehicle using appropriate attachments such as clevis hooks or S-hooks. Make sure that they’re not dragging on the ground but also not too tight; there should be some slack but not so much that they’re dragging on the ground. Check them regularly during travel to ensure they remain taut and aren’t rubbing against anything that could damage them.

By following these simple steps, you can help ensure a safe and stress-free dinghy towing experience for everyone involved!

Towing Lights

Another important component you’ll need for dinghy towing is towing lights. These are required by law and serve to notify other drivers on the road of your intentions while towing.

Make sure that the wiring harness between your tow vehicle and dinghy is properly connected, as this will allow the towing lights to function correctly. This will also ensure that you comply with state laws regarding dinghy towing.

Some states may require additional lighting or reflectors on your dinghy, so be sure to check local regulations before hitting the road. It’s always better to be safe than sorry regarding towing safety!

How To Set Up Your Dinghy

If you’re new to dinghy towing, setting up your vehicle for the first time may feel a little intimidating. But don’t worry – with a little preparation and patience, you can easily get it done.

Firstly, make sure that your tow bar is properly attached to both the tow vehicle and the dinghy. The wiring harness should also be properly connected so that all lights on the dinghy work in sync with those on the tow vehicle.

Next, ensure that there are no loose items in or around your dinghy. These could cause damage during transit or even become dangerous projectiles if they come loose while driving.

Once you’ve secured your dinghy to the tow bar and made any necessary adjustments, it’s important to test out its stability before hitting the road. Ensure that everything feels secure by gently tugging or shaking before setting off.

Remember always to drive cautiously and leave plenty of room between yourself and other vehicles on the road when towing a dinghy. By taking these precautions and following best practices for safety, you’ll be well-equipped for an enjoyable trip with your beloved watercraft in tow!

Preparing The Tow Vehicle

Before you start dinghy towing, it’s important to prepare your tow vehicle properly. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Consult your vehicle owner’s manual to find out if it is capable of dinghy towing and what specific requirements need to be met.
  2. Install the necessary equipment on the tow vehicle, including a base plate or receiver hitch for attaching the tow bar, and a wiring harness for connecting the taillights of the dinghy.
  3. Check that all connections are secure and functioning properly before setting off on your trip.
  4. Ensure that your tires are inflated properly, as underinflated or overinflated tires can cause issues with stability and control when towing.
  5. Adjust your mirrors so you have a clear view of both your towed vehicle and surrounding traffic.

By preparing your tow vehicle, you will help ensure a safe and successful dinghy towing experience. Remember to always err on the side of caution when making decisions about safety while driving with a dinghy in tow!

Preparing The Dinghy

Preparing the dinghy for towing is just as important as preparing the tow vehicle. Here’s what you need to do to get your dinghy ready:

  1. Check the owner’s manual: Make sure that your dinghy can be safely towed, and if so, what the proper procedure is for preparing it.
  2. Disconnect or remove accessories: Before towing your dinghy, make sure that any accessories like bike racks or cargo carriers are disconnected or removed. These can create wind resistance and cause damage to the vehicle.
  3. Put transmission in neutral: Your dinghy must have a transmission that can be placed in neutral for towing. Refer to your owner’s manual on how to put it into neutral
  4. Set parking brake: Engage the parking brake on the Dingy after placing its transmission in Neutral position
  5. Turn off all electronics and lock doors/hatches : This helps conserve battery life of Dingy during long journey

By following these steps, you’ll ensure that your dinghy is properly prepared for safe and successful towing behind your tow vehicle!

Securing The Dinghy To The Tow Vehicle

Now that you have your tow vehicle and dinghy set up, it’s time to secure the dinghy to the tow vehicle. This is an important step as a poorly secured dinghy can cause serious accidents on the road.

First, attach the tow bar to both vehicles according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure all bolts and pins are securely in place. Then, connect the safety chains from each side of the tow bar to designated anchor points on your towing vehicle.

Next, attach the wiring harness between your dinghy and towing vehicle so that turn signals and brake lights on your dinghy work in sync with those on your towing vehicle. Additionally, make sure you have installed towing lights on your dinghy if required by law in your state.

Finally, double-check everything before getting behind the wheel. Walk around both vehicles once more, making sure all connections are tight and secure and there is no slack or sagging in any part of the connection system.

By following these steps carefully, you can ensure a safe journey when Dinghy Towing!

Towing Safety

Towing safety is a crucial aspect of dinghy towing that should never be overlooked. Here are some tips to ensure you tow safely:

  • Follow all local and state laws regarding towing.
  • Make sure your tow vehicle is rated for dinghy towing and that it can handle the weight of both the dinghy and any gear or passengers you have in it.
  • Always use appropriate safety chains to secure the dinghy to the tow vehicle, making sure they are crossed under the tongue of the hitch.
  • Use a proper tow bar with locking pins on each end to keep everything secure while driving.
  • Double-check that all lights on both vehicles are working correctly before hitting the road.
  • Take wide turns when driving so as not to damage either vehicle or put additional strain on your setup.

Following these basic precautions will help ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. Also regularly maintain your vehicles, checking brake lights, tires pressure, oiling etc., keeping them in good condition for many more excursions down the road!

Safe Driving Tips

Safety should always be your top priority when it comes to dinghy towing. Here are some safe driving tips to keep in mind:

  1. Start slow: It’s important to take things slow when towing a dinghy. Accelerate and brake gradually to avoid any sudden movements that could cause the tow vehicle or the dinghy to lose control.
  2. Stay alert: Keep your eyes on the road always, and be aware of what’s happening around you. Leave plenty of space between yourself and other vehicles on the road.
  3. Watch for obstacles: When towing a dinghy, you’ll need more room than usual to maneuver around obstacles like corners or parked cars. Keep an eye out for these challenges and plan your route accordingly.
  4. Avoid sharp turns: Make sure you take turns slowly and avoid sharp turns whenever possible as they can put a lot of strain on the tow bar and increase the risk of accidents.

By following these simple safe driving tips, you can help minimize the risk of accidents while dinghy towing, allowing you to enjoy your trip with peace of mind!

Vehicle Maintenance

Before you start dinghy towing, it’s important to make sure your tow vehicle is in good condition. Regular maintenance will help ensure that your vehicle is up to towing a dinghy.

Make sure to check:

  • The engine oil level and quality
  • The transmission fluid level and quality
  • The coolant level and condition
  • Tire pressure on both the tow vehicle and the dinghy

Regularly maintaining your vehicle can help prevent breakdowns while you’re on the road. It’s also a good idea to have your brakes checked before setting out on a trip, especially if you’ll be going through mountainous or hilly terrain. If anything seems off with your vehicle, take it in for repairs before attempting any kind of towing.

By taking care of routine maintenance tasks ahead of time, you can feel confident that your tow vehicle is ready for the job at hand, making for a smoother and safer towing experience overall.


In conclusion, dinghy towing is a great way to bring your smaller vehicle along with you on trips while still being able to enjoy the freedom of driving your RV or larger vehicle.

When it comes to setting up your dinghy for towing, make sure you have all the necessary equipment including a tow bar, wiring harness, safety chains, and towing lights. Properly securing and preparing both your tow vehicle and dinghy is crucial for a safe trip.

Remember to always prioritize safety when towing and follow safe driving tips such as avoiding sudden stops or turns. Additionally, regular maintenance checks on both vehicles will ensure that they are functioning properly during the entire trip.

Overall, with proper preparation and attention to detail, dinghy towing can be an enjoyable experience for all involved. Enjoy the journey!