What Are Safe RV Towing Speeds?
There’s a lot to know when it comes to RV towing. Whether you’re towing a bumper-pull or fifth wheel with a truck, or you’re pulling a little tow car behind a motorhome, knowing the ropes before you hit the road is important. Weight limits, how to hitch up, and how to avoid low-clearance bridges are some of the things newbies need to know.
Another biggie? Safe RV towing speeds.
How fast you’re going can completely change how things go should a high wind catch you by surprise, or should somebody cut you off. Therefore, learning about safe RV towing speeds should be at the top of your list before your first trip.
Lucky for you, that’s exactly what we’re going to discuss below.
How fast can I go when towing or driving an RV?
Let’s jump right in by answering that burning question: How fast can you safely go while towing or driving an RV? Honestly, the answer to this depends on a lot of factors.
In ideal conditions and barring any local speed limits saying otherwise, the fastest you should find yourself towing a bumper-pull, fifth wheel, or car on a dolly or trailer is between 55 and 60 mph, and many choose to keep the speedometer around 50. Meanwhile, most experts recommend you never flat tow a car faster than 55 mph.
Driving a motorhome without a tow car? In that case, you can probably go a little faster, but 60 to 65 mph should still be your max speed.
Why do I need to drive my RV slowly?
Wondering why you need to drive slower in an RV? There are actually several reasons why slower RV towing speeds are safer.
Stopping a big vehicle takes more time
The bigger your rig is, the heavier it is, and the heavier your rig is, the longer it will take to stop. Driving faster makes it even more difficult to stop quickly, meaning a slow driver is going to be much better off should traffic come to a sudden halt.
Turning a big rig is more difficult
Turning an RV takes some getting used to. It requires that you swing wide and calculate things just right. This is much easier to do if you give yourself time to think and take your turns slowly. Not only will this help you ensure you get those turns right, it’ll also reduce the amount of damage you do if you get one wrong.
Going too fast can cause sway
When towing a bumper-pull or a car on a trailer, driving fast can lead to the trailer swaying back and forth. If this sway gets too rough, it can actually take control of your vehicle, swinging you back and forth, and potentially even causing your tow vehicle to spin.
Obviously, this is very dangerous and is something you want to prevent. Driving slowly is one of the best ways to prevent sway.
Driving uphill too fast can cause engine damage
Planning on driving through the mountains? Plan to go slow. Attempting to drive a big rig uphill fast can cause damage to the engine of your vehicle, leading to costly repairs and leaving you stranded on the side of the road.
When should you slow down in an RV?
Not only should you stick to the speeds mentioned above in ideal conditions, there are actually other factors that can require you to slow down even more. Pay attention when RV towing, and if one or more of these factors come into play, adjust your speed accordingly.
Lower legal speed limit
Obviously, you do have to mind the legal speed limits in any given area. Watch for truck-specific speed limits, as these apply to RVs as well. Additionally, know that some states have speed limits that apply specifically to those who are towing, so be sure to look up these limits before hitting the road.
Windy conditions can be extremely dangerous, especially for tall, top-heavy RVs. If you feel your trailer swaying in the wind, or if the wind feels like it’s causing your motorhome to be out of control, slow down. Still an issue? Stop and stay put until the windy weather passes.
Another weather issue that can make driving an RV unsafe is rain or fog that causes poor visibility. If you’re finding it difficult to see while driving your RV, slow down and turn on your headlights. Depending on the situation, you might even consider pulling over until things clear up.
As mentioned above, driving fast up an incline can cause damage to your vehicle. Not only that, many trucks and motorhomes simply won’t be able to pull all that weight uphill even if you tried to gun it.
Plan to slow down on inclines, and know that your travel day will likely be longer than your GPS predicts. (As longtime RVers well know, it usually is anyway).
Other RV towing tips
Now that you know how what you can expect in terms of RV towing speeds, let’s touch on a few other RV towing tips.
Know your weight limits
First, make sure you know how much weight your RV can hold, how much your truck can tow, and the other weight limits of your rig. Watch the weight of your setup and make sure you stay well within these limits.
Invest in towing mirrors
If you’re towing a fifth wheel or bumper-pull, you will likely want to invest in special towing mirrors for your truck. These will help ensure you can see beside and behind your rig while towing.
Ensure you have trailer brakes
Trailer brakes are incredibly important. If you don’t have them, get some. Make sure they are installed and calibrated correctly, and know how to use them in case of emergency.
Never ride in a trailer or towed vehicle
We’d also like to remind you that people and pets should never ride in a trailer or towed vehicle. Doing so is extremely dangerous and not worth the hazard it poses.
Use an RV-safe GPS
Driving or towing an RV is different. You can’t drive as far, as long, or as fast. Knowing where you need to stop at the end of the day is a challenge, unless you have RV LIFE Trip Wizard. The unique Driving Radius provided by RV LIFE Trip Wizard shows you exactly where to stop and find a campground or RV park, based on criteria you have set. Plan ahead, plan smart, and know exactly where to stop.
Chelsea Gonzales is a full-time RVer, freelance writer, and roadschooling mama who loves sharing her expertise about RVing with kids, roadschooling, and full-time RVing. The entrepreneurial and free-spirited author is also artistic director of the Aistear Mobile Irish Dance Academy, and currently travels with her family in a 27-foot travel trailer. Chelsea’s informational articles about full-time RVing, raising children on the road, camping, and destination features appear on her blog, Wonder Wherever We Wander. throughout the RV LIFE network, and in RV industry media outlets such as Outdoorsy, Coach-Net, and RV Share.
Ron L. says
You failed to mention most trailer tires have a maximum speed rating of 65 mph. Going faster invites tire overheating, tread delamination and/or blowouts.
Dan Bolduc says
California has the worst laws as far as towing.. The speed limit towing is 55. In the meant time the speed limit is 65… Going from Susanville California to Reno is a two lane road.. I have had miles of cars behind me and one pickup tried to pass. As he was passing an 18 wheeler coming toward him almost collided.. The pickup had to go off the road to avoid a head on with the trucker…
Jere Jarrell says
Never go down hill faster than going up hill. ie if your rig slows down to 45 going up the hill. Don’t go down the hill faster than 45.
use your transmission retarder or your jake brake going down hill down ride your brakes. If you need to slow down brake firmly slow down and get off the brakes for 30 seconds and let them cool off. The last thing you want to do is to lose your brakes going down hill. Follow an 18 wheeler in the mountains and watch how he uses his brakes.
I bought Goodyear Endurance ST205/75R14 Radial Trailer Tire – Load Range D and the Radial Tire is
N – 87 mph rating. I took her 70-75 mph on Utah interstate 15 where the Speed limit is 80 mph all all towing or not. If you tow any slower You will get blown off the hwy by other travel Trailers and Semi-trucks towing 40ft trailers
Goodyear Endurance ST205/75R14 Radial Trailer Tire – Load Range D and the Radial Tire is
N – 87 mph rating.
Ken Larson says
In addition to the speed rating, ply rating etc. you also need the correct tire pressure which may be less than the max pressure indicated on the sidewall; the max tire pressure (65 psi) is for a fully maxed out loaded trailer (for your tire that means the trailer max weight is 7,800 lbs if you have 4 tires). In order to keep the entire width of the tread on the road the tire pressure may be less than the max pressure. Every tire mfg provides a table indicating the correct tire pressure for the weight on the tire. Our TT dry weight is 4,072 lbs with a max payload of 1,428 lbs. We seldom load the trailer to it’s max so I always weight the trailer before hitting the road than consult the Goodyear Endurance chart for my 215/75R14 tires. An example is if we are just going for a few days locally and the trailer weights (4,072+900) 4,972 lbs loaded the correct tire pressure is 25 psi cold pressure (4,972/4 tires=1,243 lbs/tire) per the Goodyear Endurance Load/Inflation chart to keep the full tread width on the pavement. The Goodyear Endurance psi chart can be found at https://www.goodyearrvtires.com/pdfs/rv_inflation.pdf.
I would not try yo keep up with Semi trucks with 40ft trailers going 80mph on interstate 15 threw Utah
Chart does not specify the number of axles. I am sure two, four and six tires on the road have different inflation psi.
Charles Brannen says
As a retired OTR truck driver I can give some tips. Always drop down 1 gear lower downhill than you used to climb it up. Always take curves, hills and ramps at least 5 mph less than signs call for. ALWAYS check hubs, tires and brakes with a laser thermometer when you stop after 200 miles or so. Lock your coupler and drawbar with a lock so they can’t be sabotaged or stolen while you stop. And please slow down. You aren’t semi. They have much heavier tires and brakes and can stop faster than you can.
Any Onomise says
A lot of vague talk but you missed tire ratings. 65mph tires are common!
Stephan Guy says
I didn’t see any mention about tires – A lot of tires for RV’s are not designed for high speeds
Good article. But one important thing that was omitted is your tires. Check the speed rating on your trailer tires, and don’t exceed that. Also make sure they are in good shape, not too old, and properly inflated. And don’t exceed the weight rating.
Phillip Clouser says
The speed rating of your trailer tires should also be considered. It’s my understanding that most are rated at 60mph max. Exceeding that for a long period could cause tire disintegration, and blow out.
Ryan Hoaglin says
Great information for new Rv’ers! Another reason for trailer sway is improper loading. If your trailer has all the weight behind the axles, it will sway every time. Load it with center of load slightly ahead of axles and it should tow like a dream.
I bought Goodyear Endurance ST205/75R14 Radial Trailer Tire – Load Range D and the Radial Tire is
N – 87 mph rating. I took her 70-75 mph on Utah interstate 15 where the Speed limit is 80 mph all all towing or not. If you tow any slower You will get blown off the hwy by other travel Trailers and Semi-trucks towing 40ft traielrs
Big trucks haven’t used 40 foot trailers except for doubles since sometime in ICC and separate sizes for each state. There may still be a few 48 footers but almost all are 53 foot trailers.
jim godfrey says
Keep in mind that many State Police remind folks during safe towing sessions for RV’s that any speed 15 mph below the posted speed limit you are creating a traffic hazard. You are forcing everyone to pass you! Also, when you are flat towing a vehicle behind a motorhome, follow your manufacturers directions in your owners manual. Mine states 65 mph, not the 55 mph you mentioned.
My wife and I just returned from Utah interstate 15 near Cedar City where the Speed limit is 80MPH for All Vehicles, towing or not, and Semi Trucks.
The fastest I could pull our travel Trailer was 70-75mph.
Any faster and the Truck did not feel Stable.
Any Slower, all the other Traffic going the speed limit of 80 MPH including semi-trucks with 40ft trailers, and large travel trailers would Blow us off the travel lane.
Rodd Garcia says
Use your common sense. Don’t be in a hurry, as doing so can cloud your judgement. Be mindful of weather conditions. If you’re not comfortable driving at Interstate speeds, which can vary from state to state, take more scenic highways and enjoy drive. There are countless small cities and towns “off the beaten path.” Its all about being safe, and minimizing your stress, enjoying the experience, and making memories.
Photography is a big time hobby of my bride and I, so when we travel (pulling our 40′ fiver), we plan our trips so as to avoid or minimize interstate driving, if I can help it. We amateur photogs love to explore new places.
Be safe and most of all, have fun! Safe travels Y’all…….
Tom G says
The first and most important when flat towing a vehicle, is “Follow your manufacturer’s directions in your owners manual.”, mine states 65 mph. Higher speeds could damage the transmission or void the warranty on the transmission. Not something that I want to happen when the manufacturer’s warranty is 100K miles on the drive train.
H Sutton says
NEVER leave home without a spare tire!
As a seasoned RVer for 18+ years and driving a class C and now a 30 ft trailer I usually stay between 60 – 65 mph. I have seen a handful of RVers going 50mph, far from most. Love the other replies and agree with most of them.