Getting the Subaru Setup to be Flat-Towed
When we first got the idea to experience more motorized RVing, we wanted to also share the process of flat-towing. The first thing we learned is that Motorhome Magazine publishes an annual dinghy towing guide. And if you choose to flat-tow a vehicle from that list, it’s pretty straight forward. However, we were looking for a second car for the boys to drive and were not interested in the usual suspects when it comes to a “dinghy” such as a Jeep, Ford Explorer or other expensive SUV’s.
Plus, with the KYD Cabin being at 6,910 feet in Flagstaff, AZ, having a vehicle that can handle the snow was also a requirement. Turns out the Subaru Crosstrek can be flat towed if it has a manual transmission.
The second thing we learned is that this is not an inexpensive procedure. Below is a list of the parts we used and links to those parts on eTrailer’s website. Also below is the labor cost from Cliff’s welding.
Can a Subaru be Flat Towed – Everything You Need to Know
The above link is a great article that answers all the questions you might have about which exact model of Subaru you need to flat tow.
Roadmaster Direct-Connect Base Plate Kit – Removable Arms
Item # RM-52927-5 $435.00
This Baseplate integrates seamlessly into the tow vehicle and is hardly noticeable when not being towed, which is most of the time. The two brackets are easy to remove and store making it even more seamless.
Roadmaster Nighthawk All Terrain Tow Bar w/ LED Lights
Item # RM-676 $1,170
This tow bar came highly recommended by several experienced motorized RVers. The integrated LED lights provide a nice safety feature when towing at night so careless drivers don’t side swipe your tow vehicle.
Roadmaster InvisiBrake Supplemental Braking System
Item # RM-8700 $1,203.35
The reason we went with the InvisiBrake system is because it’s compatible with electric braking on most gas-powered RVs or air brakes found on most larger Class A RVs. Without knowing what kind of RV we’d like to rent or potentially buy in the future, this braking system gave us options.
**Update: In our experience, this braking system has been finicky and sometimes works intermittently. I wouldn’t use it again. Rather, I’d go with Air Force One if I knew I had air braking or Stay In Play.
Flat Tow Setup Labor
The labor for the Roadmaster InvisiBrake system was consideringly more than other systems such as Air Force One. Partly due to having to run wires below the carpet and mount the braking system box below the driver’s seat.
The labor invoice below includes the hitch we installed on the Subaru so we can carry bikes and obviously not included in the flat towing setup, but the invoice does not reflect the Demco wireless brake indicator to tell me that the brakes on the tow vehicle are working. That was roughly $250 and not essential, but nice to have.
The only advantage to setting up a vehicle to be flat towed is that it’s transferable from one RV to another. Thus, it’s a one-time cost if you plan on keeping your dinghy.
Flat tow vs. Dolly
We can’t share a personal experience with comparing flat towing to a dolly, but it seems usually a dolly makes sense for three reasons. The first being that you have a vehicle that can’t be flat towed and you’re not ready to replace it. The second is the cost of getting a vehicle set up to flat-tow and lately, your tow vehicle not having any wear on the tires and other components.
Although we’ve not been flat towing very long and have never used a dolly, we have been RVing for over 5 years and have stayed at hundreds of RV parks. We’ve seen RVers maneuver their dolly and it seems like a lot of work. Plus, there are many RV sites that can’t accommodate a motorized RV, tow vehicle and dolly. Based on the reasons mentioned above, if this is the only option, then it’s better than not going! But it seems flat-towing is the most common and preferred method which is why we wanted to share the setup.