The Smart Fortwo, more commonly known as just the “smart car,” is one of the world’s most popular microcars. Their super small size and light weight make them a great option for a toad. But, can a smart car be towed behind an RV?
The smart car has many of the ideal characteristics for when you want to tow a car behind your RV. They barely add any weight or length to your rig and they get amazing gas mileage. There are even full-electric versions so you don’t need gas at all!
Let’s take a look at the ins and outs of towing a smart car behind an RV.
Can You Tow a Smart Car Behind a Motorhome?
Yes, you can tow a smart car behind a motorhome. But there are some things to consider.
First of all, it’s not recommended to tow the smart car with a tow dolly. Doing so risks damaging the smart car’s transmission, as well as the braking system. It’s possible if you don’t have other options, but you’ll need to disconnect the driveshaft first.
Instead, it’s recommended to either flat-tow your smart car or use a flatbed trailer.
Flat towing is also known as “dinghy towing” or “four-down towing”. It uses a device called a tow bar attached to your vehicle to pull it while all four wheels of the vehicle maintain contact with the road.
Flat towing requires some initial setup and most vehicles (including your smart car) will need some extra equipment installed, like a baseplate. But once set up, attaching and detaching your vehicle is super easy. Whenever you need your car, you can just detach it and drive away.
The other option is to transport your smart car on a trailer. This is a bit less convenient because it takes longer to get your car on and off. But, it’s also the method that puts the least wear on your vehicle, because the car’s tires don’t make contact with the road.
Let’s take a closer look at what you’ll need to do to tow a smart car behind an RV.
How to Flat Tow a Smart Car Behind an RV
Before trying to flat-tow your smart car, you should consult your manual. Different versions and model years of the smart car will have different requirements and limitations for flat towing. And, if you still have questions, consider contacting Smart directly.
Items You’ll Need to Install
You’ll need to install a few things before towing a smart car behind your RV.
The first thing you’ll need is a tow bar and a towing base plate to attach it to. Towing base plates are specific to different cars, so make sure you get the right one. A popular option is this one from Blue Ox.
A wiring kit is required so your RV can control your smart car’s rear lights. You should also attach a supplemental braking system so you can control the smart car’s brakes while towing it.
You’ll also want to install a battery disconnect switch. You’ll need to switch this off when towing your car or your smart car’s active braking system could activate and become damaged. It can also result in a discharged battery.
The installation for these items can be a bit complicated. So, unless you’re pretty handy, you’ll probably want to have a professional do it for you.
Flat Towing a Smart Car Procedure
Once you have everything installed, you’re ready to flat tow your smart car. You should follow the following procedure to flat tow your smart car:
- Engage the parking brake and switch on the ignition of the smart car.
- Depress the brake pedal and, with it still pressed, move the gear selector to Drive, then to Manual.
- Move the gear selector like you would to downshift and hold it there for 30 seconds.
- After about 30 seconds, your instruments should display 6th gear.
- Release the gear selector and leave it in the manual lane.
- Release the brakes.
- Make sure the instrument panel still shows 6th gear.
- Switch off the ignition and wait about 10 seconds.
- With the key still in the ignition, turn the battery off with the battery switch or disconnect it.
- Release the parking brake.
These instructions are specifically for smart cars from 2016 and newer. For older models, the procedure might be slightly different. To get the most accurate info, check your manual or contact smart.
Some RVers have also mentioned having some trouble when flat towing their smart car. Specifically, that the wheels “slam” back and forth while driving.
If you have this problem, it’s recommended to attach bungee cords to the steering wheel. These are attached at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions, then criss-crossed and attached to the seat frame. They should still have enough length for the wheel to turn when you do.
How to Tow a Smart Car Behind an RV on a Flatbed Trailer
Towing a smart car behind your RV on a flatbed trailer is pretty much the same as towing any other car on a trailer. The only big difference is how small the smart car is. It’s both shorter and lighter than most cars, so it can fit on a smaller trailer.
How to Load Your Smart Car onto a Flatbed Trailer
You’ll first drive your smart car up onto your trailer. You should have ramps that can be deployed from your trailer to help with this. For the best weight distribution, try to have about 60% of your car’s weight on the front half of the trailer.
Once you’re in position, make sure the car is in park and engage the parking brake. Then secure the vehicle using chains or ratchet straps.
Make sure to put away any ramps and raise the tailgate – you’re good to go!
Using a trailer isn’t too difficult, but it’s the least simple option for towing. It’s also the most expensive option.
However, using a trailer does have some upsides. For one, you don’t have to install anything new on your smart car. Plus, using a trailer keeps your car completely off the road. That means it doesn’t put extra wear and tear on your vehicle. So, if you want your car to stay in the best shape for the longest, a trailer is a great choice.
Towing a Smart Car Behind an RV is Totally Possible
The lightweight, super compact Smart Fortwo, aka the smart car, is a great option for a towed car. It’s not recommended for dolly towing, but you can flat tow it or use a flatbed.
Whatever method you choose, towing a smart car behind your RV is a great way to get the most out of your RV. Wherever you go, you’ll have a great, convenient way to get around, even in places your big motorhome might not be able to go.
Jennifer lives with her husband in a 29′ trailer in Mexico. She is one half of DashboardDrifters.com and the founder of RVSpotDrop, a web service for full-time RVers. Jennifer Jennings has been RVing for 2+ years and writing about the RV and Van Life for 2+ years. Jennifer specializes in topics such as Lifestyle, van life, campgrounds features, destination features, and product lists.
19 thoughts on “Can a Smart Car Be Towed Behind an RV?”
There is no driveshaft to disconnect. The engine connects directly to the transaxle.
We towed 2 different ones for years until we needed back seat for mom.
We have a 2009 Smart car that we have been towing for several years now. It works great with its light weight and ease to hook up. With the Smart being small you will need a drop receiver to get the tow bar close to level. We use a double one so we can have our bike rack also. A electric Smart car would have to be trailered as the manual says it cannot be flat towed. Also the older than 2015 models don’t have as much transmission instructions when getting ready to flat tow. I use the bungee on the steering wheel, the one I left it off it would not return to center after a slow turn.
We have been flat towing our 2016 Smart for 3 years and couldn’t ask for a better toad.
I am under the impression that from 2017 and up they can’t be flat towed due to a transmission change.
It’s critical that you read the owners manual for your Smart on how to flat tow if possible. As example my start procedure is different than yours.
After hearing I could not tow my 2014 electric Smartcar, I had Dan Edgecomb at Guaranty RV (Guaranty was recently bought by Bishes) confirm whether I could not tow, and the answer was that the electric version must be trailered. A member of the travel club at Guaranty was the person that originated the bungee fix for towing the gasoline version of the Smart car, so Dan and I were both aware that the gas version could be flat towed.
Under section “How to Load Your Smart Car onto a Flatbed Trailer,” I’m sure you meant to write weight distribution, not weight distruction.
Thanks for catching that! Fixed.
Don’t tow one with a tow dolly? No reason why not. Just back it on. Simple, and works. Been done a lot of times with no problems.
Personally, I would not own a tow dolly. Simply because I would not use it often enough to merit buying one; or even making one. Same with a tow bar. I’d opt for a trailer, because it is simple to use, and you can get a lot of other use out of one rather than just hauling a little toy car around.
What about towing a 2014 Mini Cooper – Clubman?
(With automatic transmission)
Can a manual transmission be a ‘toad’?
Is it best to put up on flat trailer?
I carry my 2005 French/Canadian Smart For 2 cabrio inside the garage of my 2018 Thor Outlaw 29H class C motorhome. 2005 models are only 1,800 lbs and 99 inches long, and it fits fine.
“RV” is a pretty generic term. Toads, big & small, behind Class A’s are pretty common. Rarely behind Class C’s and have never seen one behind a 5th wheel. Are there articles/recommendations specifically for fivers? I get that you can unhook the truck etc but a 3500 diesel dually isn’t economical and downright inconvenient when parking spaces are designed for today’s smaller cars. I personally hate driving it in city traffic, shopping centers or short jaunts to the grocery store…
Just get a Wrangler. Go where ever you want and designed to be toad
We have been towing our 2015 Smart for several years. Installing a baseplate and the wiring kit was not terribly difficult. Can’t hardly tell it is behind our 30′ 2001 Airstream.
There’s a lot of misinformation in this article. You have to pull the engine out to disconnect the driveshafts. Never toe a smart car newer than 2016 even a manual transmission the newer ones have plastic gears in the transmission. You can always toe any smart car with a dolly on the back wheels.
Have Smart Electric Car which appears to be towable ONLY via trailer. Are there any Electric vehicles which are towable??
A totally unsafe vehicle O k if you want to die away from home . Think Honda civic
Why can’t you use a dolly and tow the car backward?
I tow my 2009 Smart Car behind my 2003 Motorhome and do not know it is there. I LOVE IT!! There is a procedure that is in the book, not difficult. BUT you must do it exactly as it says both setting it up to go and breaking it down to unhitch. Fun car to have along for sure. The only downside is that you cannot invite others along since it only fits two people. But lots of place for company or a dog.
Putting the car on a trailer seems like a wise way to move the car. Once at your destination, can you tow your trailer with the Smart Car ? “Rod & Custom Magazine” long ago designed a trailer to haul street rods to shows, that could be set up into a Conestoga wagon structure when at the destination. Just a suggestion.
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