RV Tow Car Setup and DIY Install

The Honda Fit is being put on the car lift to have the RV tow kit installed before we head out to travel the country by RV.

Finding an affordable RV tow vehicle took a little more time than anticipated.  But, now that we have a 2009 Honda Fit that can be towed, it’s time to find all the components to make it towable.  This wasn’t near as easy as I expected, I wasn’t able to find a cheap package deal that included all of the parts I wanted. I had been searching multiple online forums and blogs trying to find someone who had installed reasonably priced RV tow car components and left instructions on how to do so.  Unfortunately, I didn’t find this unicorn, or maybe my Google-fu isn’t as good as I thought it was.

These are the parts I installed to create our affordable RV tow car:

Blue Ox Base Plate BX2253

Ready Brute Elite Tow Bar

Blue Ox Clevis for Tow Bar (had to purchase separate from tow bar for best price)

Ready Stop Emergency Breakaway

Tow Daddy Universal Wiring Kit

Blue Ox 7 blade to 6 round coiled electrical cable

I never found anyone who did this specific setup but I found many who had talked about installing individual pieces on a Honda Fit or a different make and model of vehicle.  Many people are using this setup but haven’t written about it or they just hired someone to install it for them.  There is however a lot of useful information to be gleaned from all the posts that are out there.  You just need to adapt the information to fit your vehicle and your parts.

I began with removing the bumper and exposing the front end of the car to install the Blue Ox BX2253 base plate.  I have removed quite a few bumpers in my former years working in an auto body shop.  This was relatively easy and took about 10 minutes.

A tip before you start installing the base plate would be to get some good drill bits, you will be drilling into high strength steel.  My older well used drill bits made this job take way longer that it needed to.

 

Just starting to bolt the Blue Ox base plate onto the Honda Fit frame as we set up our RV tow car.

The Blue Ox Base plate directions are fairly straight forward but you need to read through them all because some of them are out of order, the directions are only for the base plate, not the rest of the parts you need to install.  Just get the Blue Ox base plate on and leave the bumper off, it will make the installation of the other components much easier.  I won’t go into much detail here since the instructions cover these procedures fairly well.

 

Showing where to drill holes for the Blue Ox base plate while setting up our RV tow car.

Installing the Blue Ox base plate went very smoothly except getting the bumper reinforcement back on.  After drilling the holes for the bolts and tightening the reinforcement to the frame, the base plate was pulling the frame out just enough that the reinforcement bolts wouldn’t go back in.  I had to get some help in order to pry the reinforcement apart enough to get the bolts back in.  We found a large homemade clamp and turned the end backwards to push out, we had to get creative here.  It all worked out, but that was a minor setback.

 

Turning a clamp backwards to push out while setting up the RV tow car to take with us on our full time RV adventure.
We had to get creative, a hydraulic ram would have been nice.

With the base plate installed, I moved on to the brake cable for the Ready Brake.  I recommend removing the battery and drivers side headlight at this point, it will allow you to see the firewall and the conduits path more easily.  Installing the Ready Brake is a pain in the ass, but it’s by far the least expensive supplemental brake option I found.  Finding a way to route the brake cable conduit and feeding the cables through the holes was the worst of it.  I ended up drilling the hole for the conduit and cable about 2 inches left of where the steering column enters the firewall. This places the hole directly behind the brake pedal, at least it does for the manual transmission model.

Luckily, I was using a car lift in a family members garage, this would be substantially more difficult project without it.  Even having access from the underside of the vehicle, it was difficult to get my hand near the firewall to feed the conduit and cable through.

Adam shining a light into the engine compartment from underneath the car trying to feed the Ready Brake cables through the firewall while setting up the RV tow car to travel the country.

Finding a place to mount the Ready Brake conduit and cable was the next dilemma, you need to mount this cable near the center of the vehicle, but Washington State requires a front license plate.  I put the conduit mount right next to the license plate, I’m not sure this was the best idea but without removing license plate, there wasn’t in my opinion, a better option.  By placing the mount here, the brake cable will rub the brake cable guide which might shorten the life of the cable.  I did speak with customer service and they told me that the cable needs to be mounted in the middle, no exceptions (I called after it was already mounted).  You could go above, below, or just move the license plate somewhere else.  If I could do it all over again, I would move or remove the license plate and mount the cable in the middle.

Before tightening the conduit down with the clamps and zip ties, make sure the cable won’t be restricted from turning too sharp or having a clamp to tight.  How do you know what too sharp or too tight is?  Great question, it would seem that the best way to do this is to run the cable through the conduit and test it.  The instructions don’t help show you what is too sharp or too tight.  But doing this will make you pull the cable back out when you need to cut the conduit.  After this you can cut the conduit.  Is this how I did it?  No, I cut the conduit and then found out I had one corner a little too sharp and I’d tightened one clamp too much.  Learn from my mistakes people!  Luckily, I was able to make some adjustments and still make the length I had already cut work. 

That job was the worst of it, but you do still need to install the Ready Stop Break Away Kit.  At least you do if you would like to stay legal in the majority of states.  But don’t worry, you can follow the path of the Ready Brake cables up to the bumper.  Just find a different place to mount it at the front, typically near the drivers side tow bar bracket.  This job is much easier since you just finished doing a similar job.  I installed the box on top of the frame rail, there was easy access here if you ever need to hit the release button.

Now that the cable is run and the conduit is all set up, it’s time to connect the cables to the brake pedal.  This process is fairly straight forward but the access is tight.  I left a little extra cable, more than was required and looped it around the pedal, just in case I needed extra later.  The Ready Brake and Ready Stop brake cables mounted to the brake pedal while setting up the RV tow car for traveling the country.There are some additional tips and tricks that are available online, such as adding a clevis to the brake pedal.  Doing so would allow you to disconnect the ready brake when not towing, I haven’t installed this yet but I do intend to do so at some point in the future.  I really could have used a third arm during this process of crawling under the dash, holding the cables while trying to cut them, and clamping them to the brake pedal.  Adam squeezing under the dash to install the Ready Brake cables while setting up the RV tow car to travel the country.

Next up is to figure out the wiring for the tail lights.  There are many options here, I wanted the easiest and least intrusive kit possible.  You can use the kits with diodes and relays but if you need to install the brake light relay (you do with an 09 Honda Fit), this will put you back under the dash doing wiring.

Do you need diodes and relays?  If your vehicles brake lights and tail lights are separate, then you do.

Does that sound like fun?  Not to me.  So, I went with the Tow Daddy Universal wiring kit.  This has the diodes and brake relay built in. The instructions were only okay, but as a universal kit, they were attempting to cover all vehicles.  Just test the vehicle wires (with 12 volt test light) to make sure you have the correct wires and match them to correct color coded Tow Daddy wires.

 

Getting ready to splice in the wires for the Towdaddy Universal wiring kit in the RV tow car.

Once you’ve connected all the brake, tail, and turn signal wires to the Tow Daddy box.  Where to mount it?  The best place I found was in the spare tire well, it had room and had easy access.  I added multiple extra layers of 3M Scotch Double sided tape, this will help hold the Towdaddy Box and will also help to dampen the vibration.  It’s now time to run the wiring harness to the front.  I ended up running the wire through a plug that I found up near the back seat.  Just cut a slit in the plastic plug and reinstall after running the wire through the hole.  Don’t forget to seal around the slit after the installation is done.  I used RTV Gasket Maker to seal the slit in the plastic plug and also for the cables/conduit coming through the firewall.

 

A picture of the rear interior with a red arrow pointing at where the plug is for the RV tow car wiring to exit the interior and run underneath the car to the front of the vehicle.
The plug is hidden but it’s there.

I considered running it inside the car all the way to the firewall but didn’t feel like dealing with the firewall again after the Ready Brake and Ready Stop wires.  I suggest using automotive wire conduit to cover the wire underneath the vehicle where ever possible.  There are many different routes that can be taken in order to get the wire up to the bumper.  Just make sure to steer clear of hot or moving parts.  I forgot to get a picture of the route I used, but it’s not difficult, you’ll find a good one.  I recommend removing plastic shields and running the wire behind them as much as possible.

I used the 6 round electrical connector that came with the Blue Ox cable on the end of the wiring harness. That seemed like the best place to mount the wiring connector, it was sturdy and didn’t require drilling additional holes.  In doing so, I was able to use the mount that was already on the Blue Ox base plate.  But, in order to use the Blue Ox base plates wiring mount, I would need to cut more of the bumpers grille.

Take an extra minute at this point to confirm that all the wires are in the right place on the connector.

You don’t want to wire this up wrong.  This might be a good time to confirm that the connector on the RV matches the way you just wired up the tow car.  Do a test fit or two of the bumper, this will make sure no more cutting of the bumper is required.  I had to make an additional cut to the bumpers grille due to the wiring connector mount pushing on the bumpers grille.  The instructions say you will only need to cut a small piece of the grille out, I had to cut out a much larger area than the directions claim and in a few places in order to make things fit.  But, my base plate might have a very slight upward angle although I did level it when drilling the holes, this might be why I had to cut more of the bumper grilles than what was stated.

Once everything is mounted and tightened down, put the vehicle back together and connect everything up to the RV for a trial run.  Check to make sure all tail lights, blinkers, brake lights, and the in dash brake light monitor (if it’s being used) to make sure all connections have been made and everything is working as it should.  The RV hooked up to the towed car as we are leaving Montana to travel to Utah on our full time RV living adventure.

The towed car is all hooked up to the RV with the newly installed tow gear as we get ready to head to Utah on this full time RV adventure.

I had a Roadmaster in dash brake light monitor already installed from the previous owner.  So, instead of wiring a new one from the back of the RV to the front, I just used what was already there.  I just needed to tap into the brake lights and run an additional wire for the in dash brake light monitor.  This wire was run along side the Tow Daddy wiring harness from the back of the car to the front.

We have been towing the car for about 3500 miles now and we have been very pleased with this setup.  It takes about 5 minutes to setup and we haven’t had any problems with it.  I highly recommend all these components!  If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

 

2 Replies to “RV Tow Car Setup and DIY Install”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.