One of the necessary (and often overlooked) aspects of owning a tiny house on wheels is how to tow it. Imagine going through all of the effort to build a beautiful tiny home only to remember that you own a VW Bug.
In order to avoid that particular fiasco, I’m going to walk you through the ins and outs of tiny house towing.
What You Need To Know
Before you take out your checkbook, it’s important to understand some basic information in regards to your trailer and the vehicle you intend to use to haul it.
When purchasing a trailer, you need to be sure that the max weight is built to safely accommodate your tiny house (including you and your stuff). Be sure to speak to someone who knows trailers or consider custom building one to your exact specifications! When shopping for tow vehicles, it’s important to consider the weight it can actually haul. Take a look at the breakdown of tow vehicle sizes in regards to the weight they can pull, but keep in mind that these numbers are averages; exact figures need to be considered for your own tiny house and trailer specifications.
- Some sedans, SUVs, and lighter trucks
- Towing capacity: up to approximately 3,500 lbs*
- Typically SUVs and trucks
- Other features on these vehicles (transmission, engine etc.) can play a big role in how much it can haul.
- Towing capacity: approximately 3,500-5,000 lbs*
Heavy-duty to Extra-heavy duty
- Typically some large SUVs and heavy duty trucks
- towing capacity: approximately 5,000-10,000 lbs*
- Heavy duty trucks built to haul the heaviest of trailers
- Towing capacity: approximately 10,000+ lbs*
*These weights refer to the gross weight, i.e. weight of your tiny house, trailer, passengers and anything else pulled by the tow vehicle.
Another important thing to consider is tongue weight and the weight distribution. Tongue weight is the amount of trailer weight that presses down on the trailer hitch. (The hitch is where the trailer connects to the tow vehicle). You need to choose a vehicle that can handle the correct amount of tongue weight in order to avoid jackknifing or poor steering response.
Your tow vehicle can run on either diesel or gasoline, although some say that diesel trucks have more power to haul at lower speeds. Diesel engines are also capable of lasting longer if maintained properly. Keep in mind, many studies say that diesel is worse for the environment–this might be something to look further into if you are emissions conscious!
Attempting to tow a tiny house with a vehicle that is not roadworthy is just a bad idea. Make sure that your tow vehicle is licensed, insured and up to the correct specifications to tow a tiny house.
It should go without saying that you shouldn’t speed–this is particularly the case when hurtling down the highway with an entire house attached. When towing a tiny house, a good rule of thumb is to drive the speed limit or slightly under. Side wind and other weather-related factors also play a huge role in the way in which you should drive. Giant, eighteen-wheeler trucks often have a maximum speed they are allowed to go for safety reasons. It would only make sense that the same rules apply to tiny house towing.
The Best SUV To Tow Your Tiny House
SUVs are hugely popular because they are a great daily driver and can be really practical with multi-person families. The right SUV can also be easily driven off-road to get to some of those hard-to-reach tiny houses.
Named the 2018 U.S. News Best Car for Families, this SUV packs a lot of potential tiny house towing power. If you opt for their “heavy duty trailer tow package,” you’ll get a lot of great additional features including an integrated trailer brake controller.
Towing capacity: 9,300 lbs*
Land Rover Range Rover
This SUV comes fitted with some advance tech features like Advanced Tow Assist, which allows the driver to use a joystick to back-up the trailer. This is extremely helpful for those who aren’t great at parking a trailer, and also for tight parking spaces.
Towing capacity: 7,716 lbs*
Jeep Grand Cherokee - Diesel
Incredible off-roading capabilities and very user-friendly, this SUV offers an optional 3.0 litre turbo-diesel V6 engine. In other words, this vehicle packs a lot of power and torque.
Towing capacity: 7,400 lbs*
The best truck to tow your tiny house
The go-to vehicle for towing and heavy load capabilities, these cars come with a variety of different specifications for almost any kind of tiny house.
This truck’s towing capacity has increased over the years, and comes loaded with plenty of tech features as well as fairly good gas mileage. The backseat is also spacious, allowing for seating for 3-6 people.
Towing capacity: 13,200 lbs*
Great towing capability and fuel efficiency are two notable features of this Chevy truck. The engine comes with three different capabilities; the turbo-diesel option giving the best fuel economy of the three.
Towing capacity: 7,700 lbs*
While not a traditional truck, this vehicle boasts both versatility and safety as its top features. The Honda Ridgeline is able to haul a lot less than other vehicles on this list, but could be ideal for a smaller tiny house and trailer.
Towing capacity: 5,000 lbs*
*These numbers are based off of the 2018 models, however, the same car of an older make can still do the job. Be sure to ask the right questions when purchasing your vehicle.
Vehicles to avoid when towing your tiny house
Unfortunately, most small or compact cars won’t do the job. When it comes to towing your tiny house, the last thing you want to do is drive a vehicle that doesn’t have enough juice to do the hauling. A vehicle that lacks the weight capabilities of a stronger truck or SUV will not be safe or roadworthy.
Using the correct equipment is essential to your safety and experience of owning and towing a tiny house. Purchasing or borrowing the right vehicle to tow your home should be researched and planned beforehand. There are plenty of options that include not only trucks, but SUVs as well. Take the time to choose according to your tiny house weight requirements, and you will be ready to go!