Is it hard to tow a pop up camper?

In this article, we will answer the following question: Is it hard to tow a pop up camper? We will give you a few essential tips on towing a pop-up camper. We will guide and tell you how to safely and surely tow any type of camper. 

Is it hard to tow a pop up camper?

No, towing a pop-up camper is not so hard, mainly due to its size and weight. In general, a pop-up camper can be towed by almost any car that has a towing capacity, even without trailer brakes. 

To successfully pull a pop-up camper, follow these basic tips:

  1. Curves and turns: Stay near the middle of your lane when taking a curve. When making a right turn, watch the traffic. Look in your right rear view mirror. Signal your intention to turn and slow down. If the curve is tight, drive forward until the front wheels of your vehicle are clearly past the curve before turning right.

When making a left turn, check the traffic. Signal your intention to turn. Go slowly. As you make your turn, make a big deviation past the intersection before turning.

  1. Slow down and stop: If you come to a sudden stop, the camper could jackknife or slide sideways or the load could shift. To avoid sudden stops, leave a greater distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you. Stay out of the fast lanes and ride at a speed that allows you to slow down and come to a smooth stop in all situations.
  1. Overcoming: You won’t be able to accelerate that quickly if you are towing a pop-up camper. In addition, you will need more space because your vehicle is much longer when a camper is attached to it. Before you pass, make sure you have enough time and space to do so. 

After passing the vehicle, allow more room before pulling into the lane. Do not pull into the lane too early, as this may cause your camper to sway, making it more difficult to control.

  1. Getting overtaken: If you delay traffic, turn on your turn signals, pull over to your side, and let other vehicles pass. When travelling at high speed, trucks and buses create intense turbulence behind them. If a large truck or bus overtakes you, this turbulence may push your camper aside, causing you to lose control. In this case, do not break. 

Gently return your vehicle and camper to the correct position. If you accelerate slightly, it might make the manoeuvre easier.

  1. Reversing: Back up very slowly and have someone outside the vehicle lead you. Make a series of small turns to steer your vehicle. It is advisable to practice this manoeuvre in an empty parking lot until you feel confident.

How much towing capacity do you need to tow a pop-up camper?

When you want to pull a load, you can rely on the maximum towing capacity recommended in the owner’s manual. For example, small sport utility vehicles (SUVs), such as the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4, have a capacity of 680 kg (1,500 lb). 

This is enough to hook up a small pop-up camper – typically weighing around 544 kg (1,200 lb) – or a 272 to 408 kg (600 to 900 lb) trailer carrying the load of a 225 ATV. at 272 kg (500 to 600 lb) or personal watercraft, only slightly lighter.

If you are thinking of towing heavier loads than those mentioned previously, it is better to opt for a mid-size SUV or a pickup truck that will be able to tow at least 1130 kg (2,500 lbs). For example, the base Ford Explorer, which features a 4-cylinder engine, can tow a load of 1360 kg (3000 lbs); with a V6 engine, its capacity is up to 2,540 kg (5,600 lb).

Note that the type of engine can affect the towing capacity of the vehicle. Unsurprisingly, pulling a load will be more difficult for smaller engines. Turbo engines, on the other hand, improve torque (engine power); they, therefore, respond better when exerted. 

The case of electric vehicles

Electric vehicles can also tow loads, but this will particularly affect their range. Audi wanted to demonstrate this fact last year by testing its e-tron SUV. Its representatives travelled the 800 km between Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Austin, Texas, with a load of 1814 kg (4000 lb) attached to the rear. As a result, they achieved an average range of around 175 km, which is roughly half the range of the e-Tron without additional charge, which is 330 km.

In short, if you plan to tow a pop-up camper or an ATV with an electric vehicle, find out in advance where the charging stations are on your route.

Maintaining your car is essential for towing a pop-up camper

Maintaining your vehicle is always important, but even more so if you plan to tow loads. The pressures exerted by this extra weight will cause the mechanical components to work a little harder than normal.

In particular, we recommend checking the air pressure and the condition of the tires on your vehicle and on the trailer. In addition, you must examine and maintain – and replace if necessary – the brake system and taillights of your vehicle and, if applicable, your trailer. 

In fact, if it weighs more than 454 kg (1000 lb), it must be equipped with its own brakes. Also, the connection to your vehicle must be functional, because the brakes of some trailers are activated thanks to it.

Here are two final tips. First, make sure your vehicle’s engine oil change is performed at the time recommended by the manufacturer. Then, since the transmission is especially stressed when you are pulling a load, pay special attention to its oil: this too should be changed at regular intervals.

Towing a pop-up camper: Know the limits of your vehicle

A vehicle’s towing capacity is easy to find and does not vary much from segment to segment. In the compact sport utility vehicle niche, towing capacity drops from zero to around 3,500 pounds, with most models being able to tow 1,500 pounds. Mid-size SUVs sometimes offer up to 7,500 pounds while pickup trucks, depending on their equipment, often exceed 10,000 pounds.

Of all these models, only the pickup trucks are really designed to tow. That doesn’t mean you can’t pull anything safely with a sport utility vehicle, but towing is in the DNA of the half-ton trucks available to consumers today.

This is why the majority of pickup manufacturers offer what is known as the Gross Combined Weight Rating in their specifications. This data indicates the maximum total weight that the vehicle can accommodate when combining the weight of the vehicle itself and the item to be towed.

This information is sometimes a little harder to find for sport utility vehicles, but what matters is knowing the towing limits of your vehicle.

Once this limit is known, you should absolutely not exceed it, and ideally, you should not approach it either. So if your trailer weighs 3,400 pounds, it is wiser to go with a vehicle capable of towing 5,000 pounds and not 3,500 pounds.

Towing a pop-up camper: Having the right equipment

We have to make sure that we have the right trailer hitch for our needs, and that this hitch is a perfect match for what we want to tow. Although many companies offer trailer hitches, sometimes it is wiser to opt for equipment offered by the manufacturer of the vehicle we are purchasing.

Most of the time, it will be designed for our specific model, and thus better adapt to towing needs. It will often be protected under warranty as well. In addition, security chains are always useful in case there is a separation of our load. Then, if our load is very heavy, it is best to make sure that we have brakes for it.

Make sure everything is working before you leave.

It is not always easy to connect the brakes of our load or its taillights. Sometimes we’re in a rush to get to the vacation route and forget to do a second check. So make sure you connect all the important wires properly and that the taillights are working before exiting, as are the brake indicators.

Be careful on the road.

As most drivers know, driving a vehicle hitched to a trailer requires some adaptation. We have to keep a greater distance from the vehicles in front of us and remember that our braking distances will be greater. We also need to give ourselves more room when taking a curve and apply the brakes lightly if our load suddenly begins to wander from side to side.

Ultimately, towing with your vehicle will be easy if you adopt the tips listed above. If this is our first time with a trailer, why not practice in an empty parking lot or on a country road before heading into a rush hour?

Final thoughts

Driving with a trailer requires certain precautions that not only ensure your safety but that of others as well. As the vehicle is heavier, the braking distance will be much longer. Keep this idea in mind during compulsory stops and avoid following too closely the car in front of you. 

The imposing dimensions of a vehicle pulling a trailer or a pop-up camper obviously have an effect on blind spots, which become more pronounced. If a driver initiates a passing manoeuvre on the freeway, you will lose sight of their car for a long time, hence the importance of remaining alert at all times. 

By adapting your driving to the specifics of a vehicle with a trailer, you will be able to avoid any problems that may arise. Before setting off, take a few walks in the surrounding area to familiarize yourself with this type of driving. You will see: these few hours of practice will be returned to you a hundredfold when you go on an adventure!

FAQ on Is it hard to tow a pop up camper?

How fast can you pull a pop-up camper?

You can pull a pop-up camper anywhere from 50 to 80 mph, depending on where you are driving. Please make note that different states have different towing speed limits for campers. 

How do you know if your car can tow a pop-up camper?

To find out how much your vehicle can tow, you can check your owner’s manual or look up your vehicle’s VIN number. You can also look up the make and model of your vehicle to see what it is capable of towing. Please note that towing capacity may vary depending on whether you have the base model or all the amenities.

How do you know if you tow too much weight?

You know you are towing too much weight when the rear of the truck will appear hunkered down and the front end will feel light.

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