Finding An Affordable RV Tow Vehicle

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Our new Honda Fit tow car right after getting a wash while traveling full time around the country in our RV.

Initially, we planned on using our motorcycle to get around and run errands once we arrive at our destination.  However, once we started into this evolving escapades the motorcycle had drawbacks that we hadn’t considered.  So, we decided that a car would be a better option for us and the search began.

While searching for a car to tow with the RV, we thought that purchasing a vehicle already set up with the base plates, wiring, tow bar, and supplemental brake system would be the way to go.  While this would be a great way to go, our experience was a little different.  The pool of vehicles to choose from was very limited and would involve some traveling to inspect them.

As our search began, a few tow ready vehicles were listed on Craigslist, but they were gone within two days, at least the good ones.  The overpriced and beat to shit vehicles sat on there forever, nobody wanted them, they were garbage.  After a few months of chasing the vehicles that fit our idea of a good tow car, we decided to expand our search to vehicles that could be towed, but we would need to add all the tow equipment ourselves.  Staying within our budget and still getting a good used car was going to be a challenge.  We were hoping to keep our tow car budget to the amount we sold the KLR for, combined with what we can realistically get for the Mazda.  We didn’t want something too nice, the RV will be kicking up rocks and other debris at it.  Well, that and I also hate the massive depreciation on new cars.

The vehicle would need to meet a few basic requirements to be added to the list.  Fuel efficiency, reliability, parts availability, condition, budget friendly, and be towable.  The list ended up including Honda Civic, Fit, Accord, CRV, Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3, GM Canyon/Colorado, Chevy Cobalt, Spark, and probably a few more I’m forgetting at the moment.  The used car market seemed to be fairly hot in the spring/summer of 2018.  To my surprise, (not that I should be) half of the used cars on Craigslist that fit our criteria had salvage titles.

I wouldn’t have a problem with a salvage title car, as long as there was paperwork and maybe some pictures documenting why it was totaled.  I called on multiple salvage title vehicles and the answer was the same on every single one, “I don’t know what happened, that was how I bought it”.  That answer doesn’t work for me, having worked in the autobody industry for 15 years I can tell you, many cars that have been totaled by insurance companies are still in really good shape.  Many are scrapped or thrown into the junkyard because of the scratches on the paint or something minor.  Sure, there are the others that have major structural damage or have been in a flood, these are the vehicles to watch out for.  Structural damage can be hidden beneath the other panels very well, without taking the car apart you might never see it.  Without documentation showing which is which, I would never purchase it, and I would recommend you don’t either.

We looked at many different vehicles in our search for the perfect tow car. In the past, we have typically known the right vehicle when we’ve seen it and this time was no different.  We found a 2009 Honda Fit about an hour away from where we were staying.  After taking it for a test drive and inspecting it, we knew this was the one.  Of course we couldn’t tell the owner that, at least not yet.  We also needed the owner to lower the price a bit, it had been on the market for almost a month.

The owner was aloof, he couldn’t answer many of the simple questions, why are you getting rid of it?  The answer was “I don’t know”.  There is one new tire and the rest are the same, what happened?  “I got a flat”.  It must have been pretty bad if it couldn’t be patched.  Did you hit something?  Was there an alignment done after it was fixed?  “It was flat and I had an alignment done.”  I’m going to need to see the paperwork for the alignment.  With cash in hand after the test drive we agreed on a price, but he didn’t want to sell it today. WTF is wrong with the younger generation?  You have it for sale!  That means when someone comes with cash to purchase it, you sell it.  This could explain why the vehicle has been on the market for a month or more.  After all of the questions and inspection, this was a good vehicle at a great price.  I’ll jump through a hoop or two in order to get a smoking deal.  We met at a parking lot nearby a week later to pick up the car and get the title.

The Honda Fit sitting next to the RV while we live in the RV full time while traveling the country.

This was the first Honda Fit we looked at in our tow car search.  I’m glad we found it, I didn’t know how versatile these things were and it’s fuel efficient.  It’s a hatchback and the rear seats fold completely flat creating a very large cargo area.  With the seats in the normal upright position, the bottom part of the rear seats can also fold up creating additional options for storage if needed.  This will be a more functional vehicle than the others we looked at.  But, it would need to pass the doggie sniff test, and it did.

Ace sitting in the back of the new tow car giving it the sniff test while we travel the country living full time in our RV.

Now we need to set it up for towing, but we’ll save that for another post.

Getting ready to add the equipment required to tow the honda behind the RV while traveling the country full time in the RV.

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