The Pros And Cons Of Toad Vehicles
It can be fun to shop for the perfect RV. You look for something that has the right floor plan, amenities, and special perks! But at the end of the day, an RV is pretty hard to travel in (especially in a crowded urban environment). That’s where secondary “toad” vehicles come to the rescue!
A “toad” is an affectionate nickname for any vehicle that you tow behind an RV. They’re most commonly towed behind motorhomes because travel trailers already have a separate vehicle to pull them. Towed and Toad sound the same, and eventually the shorter (and more fun) “toad” took hold as the more common reference.
Plenty of people love their towed vehicles, while others find them to be unnecessary. This is an individual choice, but there are a few factors that might influence your decision. Read on to learn about the various pros and cons of traveling with a secondary vehicle. The benefits are considerable, but you’ll also have to deal with potential issues and annoyances.
Freedom from the campsite
The first benefit of towed vehicles is the extra freedom they offer. Motorhomes are difficult to move, especially once you have already set up your campsite. You don’t want to have to unhook everything in order to run to the grocery store! With a towed vehicle, you can travel to and from your campsite with minimal effort. You’ll have more freedom to explore the area with a smaller vehicle.
Better fuel efficiency
It’s no secret that RVs and motorhomes consume a lot of fuel. They’re usually decent during highway driving, but you can easily empty your fuel tank if you use these vehicles to navigate a city. Stop-and-start traffic is a nightmare! On the other hand, towed vehicles are generally small and fuel efficient. A single tank of gas can last you for weeks, depending on how far you drive. It’s also cheaper to refuel them.
We’ve touched on this point already, but towed vehicles are also easier to control. Whether you’re in a crowded city or driving rural backroads, you’ll be happy to have something that’s small, light, and maneuverable. It’s easy to avoid getting trapped in sand, mud, and snow if you’re in a vehicle like this.
Additional storage space
RV storage space is limited, and sometimes you just don’t have enough room for all your gear. But if you’re bringing a second vehicle anyway, why not take advantage of the extra space? You can use a toad to store bulky items like skis, kayaks, bikes, and more. Think of it as a bonus storage trailer!
Most vehicles can function as toads
Although the classic towed vehicle is generally small and lightweight, you can bring almost any type of car or truck if you have the right towing capacity. Always prioritize safety and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for both the RV and the towed vehicle.
Helpful if you have a breakdown
As much as we love our RVs, sometimes they will break down without warning. In this case, you may be stranded for hours while you wait for help to arrive. If you can’t call for help, you might be waiting even longer! This is where towed vehicles can be a real lifesaver. You can just load into the getaway car and drive for help.
Jump-starting your motorhome is also easy if you have a second vehicle on hand. If you can fix the problem yourself, you might also be able to save money on expensive service calls and roadside assistance.
Easier to find parking
Because towed vehicles are smaller than the RVs they’re attached to, you won’t have any problem finding a parking spot for them. This also makes city driving so much easier because you won’t have to find accommodation for a rig that’s more than 30 feet long.
Different towing options
Finally, you have a lot of options available to you when you decide to travel with a toad. If it has the right type of transmission, you can tow it flat on the ground (with all four wheels touching the ground). You could also use a tow dolly where only the back two wheels will spin.
Lastly, you can hoist the whole thing onto a separate trailer and hitch it to the back of the RV if you want to preserve the wheels. This flexibility means that you can bring almost any vehicle that you choose.
Extra cost to purchase towing equipment
Although you have a lot of choices for towing your secondary vehicle, you’ll need to pay extra to create a safe setup. Some additional costs may include a tow dolly, safety chains, a tow bar, lighting cables, and more. The price will vary depending on the towing style you choose, but you could easily spend $1,000 or more during this process.
The rig may exceed state length/weight limits
You also need to stay within the bounds of the law while you tow an extra vehicle. Every state has its own regulations about RV length and weight limits. You can usually combine a motorhome and a toad without issue, but things get dicey if you want to string together a tow vehicle, a trailer, and an extra vehicle at the back. This is known as triple towing, and several states expressly forbid this practice.
Carefully check the weight limits of your RV and ensure that your towed vehicle will not exceed them. Weigh and measure the whole procession once you’re ready. Make sure you’re not violating any state laws!
Extra maintenance and insurance costs
RVs are already expensive to maintain, but now you need to worry about an additional vehicle. Tow vehicles fall under the same requirements as any car. So you need to ensure they have proper insurance, registration, fuel refills, oil changes, and more. This can really add up.
Additional wear and tear for the toad
Towing can take a toll on your towed vehicles. Even if their engine isn’t running, their tires are still spinning, plus they’re hitting every bump and pothole in the road. This can damage the suspension and tires. If you use a tow dolly, the rear tires will also wear down more quickly than the front ones.
Unless you use a driveline disconnect, your toad vehicle will also rack up plenty of mileage during towing. This can reduce the resale value if you ever want to sell it.
Reduced gas mileage
Speaking of mileage, think about how a secondary road vehicle will impact your fuel efficiency. It adds thousands of extra pounds to your rig, which means that you’ll burn through your fuel much more quickly. You’ll need to make frequent stops at the gas pump. This is both annoying and expensive!
Reduced maneuverability while traveling
RVs and motorhomes are already bulky, so you don’t usually want to add extra weight and length into the equation. Even a small toad will add several extra feet to your overall length, and you shouldn’t discount the weight either. You’ll be forced to make wider turns and add additional time for acceleration and braking. In short, you’ll become even less maneuverable on the roads.
Cannot reverse with the toad vehicle attached
This next point depends on the type of towing you do. If you flat tow or use a dolly, you won’t be able to reverse while the towed vehicle is connected. You can cause serious damage if you try. You’ll have to spend extra time and effort to connect and disconnect every time you need to park or move. On the other hand, flatbed trailers will enable you to back up normally.
May incur additional toll fees
If you travel on toll roads, they sometimes charge you for towing an extra vehicle. The additional cost isn’t too high, but it can still be annoying. Prepare to pay a bit extra, just in case!
Hard to see the toad while driving
Finally, most drivers with towed vehicles have visibility issues. The towed vehicle is much narrower than the main RV, so the mirrors can’t always see it. This is a problem if something goes wrong on the road. You won’t be able to see if the towed vehicle has popped a tire or breaks loose from its connection points.
In the end, there are many benefits to traveling with a toad, but it also adds some extra complications. If you decide that this isn’t the route for you, rental cars, bikes, buses, and rideshares are good alternatives to explore.
Get tips from other RVers
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