Hey guys, I’m Alastair, and today I’m talking about whether a Class B camper van can tow a car. I’ve had a lot of experience with vans, campers, road trips, and towing vehicles (more specifically towing an Airstream with my Sprinter camper van that I built with Helen).
You can learn more about our build here, if you’re curious!
I’ve also done additional research on anything I wasn’t 100% sure about, and actually, after all the time I’ve spent diving deeper into this topic, I’m actually quite excited for the next time I need to tow a car or travel trailer.
Right then, let’s get started!
What is a Class B camper van?
Let’s start by defining what a Class B camper van actually is, as it will ensure the information we provide aligns with the camper van you may have or are referring to when asking whether a Class B camper van can tow a car.
Class B motorhomes or Class B camper vans are types of recreational vehicles (RV) that are built on a standard full-sized van chassis. They’re sometimes referred to as “camper vans,” “conversion vans,” or “campervans” and they’re the vans that you’ll see on our Instagram feed with people (usually couples) enjoying van life.
Unlike larger Class A or Class C motorhomes, Class B camper vans are generally smaller and easier to drive, park, and maneuver. This is exactly what makes them so popular!
They’re typically around 20 to 25 feet in length, and can usually fit in a standard parking space – another win for Class B Motorhome drivers.
Despite their compact size, Class B camper vans are designed to be self-contained and offer many of the same amenities as larger RVs which is why they’re perfect for van life road tripping.
Sure, there are pros and cons to owning a camper van but when you think about it, camper vans are the perfect way to see the continent because they’re agile, have all the amenities you need and it’s much cheaper sleeping in your queen sized van bed than a hotel for the night.
They typically include a kitchenette with a stove (or mini induction hob), sink, refrigerator, bed, a bathroom with a toilet and shower, a sleeping area that can be converted into a dining or living area, and storage space for gear and supplies.
Many Class B camper vans are also equipped with a range of modern features and technologies, such as solar panels, lithium-ion batteries, Wi-Fi, lighting, running water, and smart home automation systems if you’re lucky ;).
Overall, a Class B camper van is a versatile and comfortable way to travel, camp, and explore the great outdoors.
Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a full-time adventurer, a Class B camper van can offer you the freedom and flexibility to go wherever your heart desires – I know because I do it frequently! 🙂
Differences between Class A, B, and C motorhomes
Class A, B, and C motorhomes are three types of recreational vehicles (RVs) that differ in several ways. Class A motorhomes are the largest of the three and are built on a bus or truck chassis.
Class B motorhomes are the smallest and are built on a van or SUV chassis, while Class C motorhomes are smaller than Class A but larger than Class B (I know, confusing right?) and are built on a van or truck chassis.
Class A motorhomes typically have the most sleeping capacity, with many models featuring multiple bedrooms and beds. In contrast, Class B motorhomes have a smaller sleeping capacity, with some models featuring fold-out or convertible beds.
Class C motorhomes fall somewhere in between, with some models featuring over-cab sleeping areas.
Class A motorhomes often have the most luxurious and high-end amenities, including full-size kitchens, bathrooms, and entertainment systems but they’re much larger and are less agile in terms of drivability and where you can park them.
Class B motorhomes /campervans, typically have more basic amenities, such as a small kitchenette and a compact bathroom, although there are some extremely luxurious ones out there, just look at our Instagram feed!
Class A motorhomes can be difficult to maneuver due to their large size and weight, while Class B motorhomes are the most maneuverable due to their small size.
Finally, Class A motorhomes are typically the most expensive due to their size and amenities, while Class B motorhomes are typically the least expensive depending on where you buy your camper van or the amount of work you put into your own DIY van conversion.
Can a Class B camper van tow a car?
The question you came here for then! The short answer is yes, a Class B camper van can tow a car.
However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind before hitching that car to the back of your camper, because wait for it, you guessed it… not all camper vans have the same amount of towing capacity, and cars vary wildly in size and weight.
Firstly, you need to make sure that your camper van is rated for towing – meaning, can it tow a vehicle? Some Class B vans come with factory-installed towing packages, with a towing hitch and sometimes a trailer sway controller to minimize sway when towing a trailer.
That said, I don’t believe it’s possible to hook a sway controller up to a car as they work by controlling left and right side brakes independently, which is very much a trailer thing.
Others might require an aftermarket hitch which will require fitting, most likely by a professional to ensure everything is set up correctly.
So, before you hit the road, make sure your camper can handle your car’s vehicle weight – I’ll share more on this later on.
Next, you’ll need to make sure that your car is properly equipped for towing. This means having a front tow hitch and bar installed, as well as any necessary wiring for lights, and brakes.
It’s also important to make sure that your vehicle weight is within the limits of your camper’s towing capacity. You will be able to find this out in your vehicle’s owner’s manual, or on the manufacturer’s website.
For example, Mercedes Benz shares the towing capacity of their cargo vans on their website but bear in mind you need to also consider gross vehicle weight rating because if you have a converted camper van, then it will undoubtedly weigh more than a standard cargo van, and that matters! Keep reading to the end of this post to learn more about Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).
Mercedes Sprinter Vans, including the Worker Cargo, Cargo, Crew, and Passenger, has a maximum towing capacity of around 5,000 pounds.
For reference, according to way.com, the average weight of a small car in the USA is around 2600 pounds while the average weight of a car is 4094 pounds, and a large car weighs around 4400 pounds on average.
Again though, check the maximum towing capacity of your Class B Motorhome, and the weight of the car you intend to tow, to be sure. You can visit your nearest CAT Scale to get a weight reading of your Class B Motorhome, and the car that you intend to safely tow.
Using a CAT Scale is actually a really fun experience too, so I definitely recommend giving it a go sometime, especially if you’ve converted your own Camper van and want to know how much weight your conversion added to your van.
Finally, you’ll want to make sure that you’re comfortable with towing a car and have experience or at least test driven your setup before leaving on your road trip.
Driving a camper van is already a different experience from driving a regular car, and adding a car to the mix can make things even more challenging but it’s really nothing to be afraid of, so don’t let it put you off.
So, make sure you’re prepared for the extra weight, length, and maneuverability adjustments, and always take it slow and steady on the road until you’re confident with your new rig.
Keep reading for more useful information regarding the motorhome’s towing capacity, types of hitches, and tips to safely tow your car with your Class B motorhome (or Class B RV).
Steps and precautions to take before, during, and after towing
Checklist for installing the tow bar and wiring
Installing a tow bar and wiring for towing a car with a Class B camper van requires careful planning, preparation, and execution. Here is a checklist of things to consider before starting the process:
- Check the towing capacity and GVWR of the Class B camper van before installing a tow bar which I explain earlier in this post.
- Choose the right type of tow bar based on the, weight and size of the car and the compatibility with the camper van’s hitch. Some tow bars will be better at reducing trailer sway than others. Learn more about the different types of tow hitch below.
- Install the appropriate wiring and lighting system to synchronize the car’s brakes, turn signals, and tail lights with your camper van’s own system. You should also consider
- Consider installing a supplemental braking system for the towed car to improve safety and control.
- Seek professional assistance if you’re not comfortable or experienced with the installation process.
Checklists for adjusting your mirrors and brakes
Adjusting mirrors and brakes are important steps that you need to take before towing a car with a Class B motorhome or camper. Here’s the process for each:
- Ensure that your van’s mirrors are properly positioned to provide clear visibility of the sides and rear of the camper van and the towed car. This is super important as most camper van’s (mine included) will not have rear-view mirror visibility due to there being no windows in the back of the van. Stock mirrors likely won’t be able to see behind the vehicle either, so you’ll probably need to explore installing towing mirrors that stick out a bit further away from the side of your van, in order to give you more visibility perspective behind you. Yes, some camper vans have digital rear-view displays from their parking cameras but they don’t usually stay on while driving.
- Adjust the towing mirrors to eliminate any blind spots and to ensure that you can see approaching vehicles and obstacles from all angles.
- Check the mirrors again before driving to ensure that they remain in the proper position and have not shifted during the setup process.
- Check the brake system of the towed car to ensure that it’s in good working condition.
- Adjust the brakes on the towed car to ensure that they are properly aligned and synchronized with the brakes of the camper van.
- Test the brake system by driving the camper van and the towed car slowly and applying the brakes gradually to ensure that they respond effectively.
- Make any necessary adjustments to the brake system to ensure that it’s working smoothly and effectively.
Checking the tires and fluids
Before towing your car it’s also important to check the tires and fluids of your Class B RV. To check the tires, ensure that they have the recommended pressure and sufficient tread depth, and check the wheels’ lug nuts are secure.
Class B motorhomes weigh a fair amount and adding extra weight from the towed vehicle means tire pressure is even more important – it will also help with fuel economy or gas mileage over long journeys.
For fluids, check the engine oil level using the dipstick, and ensure that the coolant, brake fluid, and transmission fluid levels are between the minimum and maximum marks on their respective reservoirs. Also check your screen wash for good measure!
It’s a good idea to perform these checks before every trip and address any issues before hitting the road.
Tips for driving a camper van with a towed car
Here are some tips for driving a Class B camper van with a towed car – if I missed some please let me know in the comments to make this list even more comprehensive:
- Allow more space for braking and turning: A camper van towing a car requires more space to stop and turn. Always leave a greater distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you, and allow more space to turn.
- Check your speed: Camper vans with towed cars are heavier and less maneuverable than regular cars, so driving at a moderate speed is recommended. Keep your speed within the recommended limits and always drive at a speed that’s comfortable for you.
- Use your mirrors: Check your mirrors frequently to keep an eye on the towed car and the traffic behind you. Always make sure that the mirrors are properly adjusted before you start driving.
- Anticipate wind and other weather conditions: Camper vans with towed cars can be affected by wind and other weather conditions such as rain or snow. Anticipate these conditions and adjust your driving accordingly.
- Be mindful of your surroundings: Always be aware of the height and width of your camper van, and avoid roads or bridges that may be too narrow or low for your vehicle. Plan your route ahead of time to avoid any potential hazards.
- Plan your stops ahead of time: It’s important to plan your stops ahead of time, especially when towing a car. Look for larger gas stations, parking lots, and rest areas that can accommodate your camper van and the towed car.
Frequently Asked Questions relating to whether a class b camper van can tow a car
What is Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and why is it important?
GVWR is an important consideration when it comes to towing a car with a Class B camper van or any other type of vehicle for that matter. GVWR is the maximum weight that a vehicle can safely carry, including its own weight, passengers, cargo, and any towed load which could be things like bicycles, water, and batteries.
If the combined weight exceeds the GVWR of the camper van, it can put a strain on the vehicle’s engine, transmission, brakes, and suspension, chassis and compromise its safety and stability on the road.
Therefore, it’s important to check the manufacturer’s specifications and guidelines for towing capacity, as well as the GVWR, of the Class B camper van before hitching a car to it.
It’s always a good idea to consult with a professional mechanic or RV dealer to ensure that your camper van and the towed car are compatible and the tow car is properly equipped for towing.
What does ‘dry weight’ mean?
Dry weight refers to the weight of a vehicle or object when it is completely empty or without any additional cargo, fluids, or passengers.
For example, in the context of RVs or camper vans, the dry weight would refer to the weight of the vehicle without any fuel, water, propane, or personal belongings on board.
What are the different types of towing hitches?
There are several types of towing hitches available, including:
Ball Hitch: This is the most common type of hitch and consists of a ball that is attached to the tow vehicle and inserted into a socket on the trailer hitch. It’s one of the cheaper options but doesn’t do a great job of minimizing sway.
Sway Control Hitch: This type of hitch is designed to reduce sway and improve stability while towing, and can be used with a ball hitch or weight distribution hitch.
Pintle Hitch: This type of hitch is similar to a ball hitch, but uses a hook and pintle combination instead of a ball and socket.
Weight Distribution Hitch: This type of hitch is designed to distribute the weight of the trailer evenly across the tow vehicle, improving handling and stability while towing.
Fifth Wheel Hitch: This type of hitch is designed for larger trailers and campers, and is mounted in the bed of a pickup truck – so totally irrelevant for you but worth mentioning incase it comes up in a pub quiz next week, haha.
Gooseneck Hitch: This type of hitch is similar to a fifth wheel hitch, but is mounted on a plate that is bolted to the bed of a pickup truck – again irrelevant if you’re towing with a van but wow you’re going to smash that pub quiz next week.
The type of towing hitch that is best for your vehicle and trailer will depend on several factors, including the weight of your car, the towing capacity of your van, and the type of trailer hitch that is compatible with your vehicle.
With all that in mind it’s important to consult with a professional or refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure that you choose the appropriate hitch for your towing needs.
What is trailer sway?
Trailer sway, also known as fishtailing, is a dangerous condition that can occur when towing a trailer. It refers to the back-and-forth movement of the trailer that can be caused by factors such as wind gusts, uneven roads, or sudden movements of the tow vehicle.
Trailer sway can cause the tow vehicle and trailer to become unstable, making it difficult for you to maintain control. In severe cases, it can lead to the trailer flipping over or causing the entire rig to jackknife.
I hope you enjoyed this in-depth article that answers the question: “can a class b camper van tow a car?”. Have you done this before, can you offer our readers some more tips and advice? Share them in the comments below.