This post contains affiliate links.
Owning a trailer can lead to amazing adventures, but it can be a challenge to move, especially without a truck. Occasionally, non-motorized RV owners need their rigs moved just a short distance and don’t have access to a truck.
Other times you may need to move your RV large distances like if you are moving cross country. Thankfully, there are you have options if you find yourself in this situation.
Some RVs, such as motorhomes and campervans, are self-propelled meaning they combine living accommodation with a vehicle engine. These self-propelled RVs don’t require trucks for moving unless they have broken down which is another story.
However, RVs that are not self-propelled, such as caravans (travel trailers and camper trailers), fifth-wheels, pop-up, and truckback campers, require some sort of motor vehicle to tow and move them. If you own a non-motorized RV and find yourself without a truck it’s important to know the different ways available to move them.
If you are in the market for a new RV and happen to find the perfect one but it’s hours away you’ll be happy to hear that many dealerships offer home delivery service. For a fee of course.
Online shopping for RVs is convenient for those who want to browse dealer inventory from home. Since many RV shoppers may not have a vehicle, such as a truck, to initially transport a non-motorized camper or trailer home, most dealers have started providing RV delivery services. This convenient service would also apply if a dealer didn’t have a certain model in stock, which would require delivery from another area.
Though it may seem as if investing in an RV would require in-person shopping, most recreational vehicle websites provide detailed videos as a “walk-through,” along with pictures, floor plans, and other pertinent information. In addition, they allow customers to ask questions or request more information from knowledgeable online sales representatives. Everything from financing to selecting a delivery date can be achieved electronically through many RV websites.
If an RV model is available for home delivery, a dealer representative will drive it to the customer after finalizing the purchase and then give an orientation for the vehicle. This home delivery may come with a fee. However, for those who are without a local RV dealership, or those who don’t have a truck to transport their vehicle home after purchase, a dealer transport service is an excellent way to move an RV from the lot to the customer.
Steep grades are a frequent problem for RVers. Google isn't always helpful at finding the lowest grade route and that is exactly what you need. The Mountain Directory e-Books give the locations and descriptions of over 700 mountain passes and steep grades in 22 states. Get more information on Mountain Directory Here!
Borrow a Truck
Another option for moving an RV without a truck is to borrow one. Occasionally, RV owners may know a friend or relative who has a truck available to borrow that can move an RV. Another option is to talk to other RVers, we are generally a supportive and helpful community and someone might be willing to lend you a truck.
It’s important for RV owners to keep in mind possible insurance and liability concerns should they borrow a truck to move their recreational vehicle. So, it’s essential to check with both your own insurance company and that of the lender to make sure that accidents and/or damages are adequately covered.
Perhaps even more important when borrowing a truck to move a trailer is verifying that the truck is capable of and equipped for transporting the vehicle. The tow rating indicates the maximum weight that the truck can tow without serious risk to the suspension, motor, and transmission. The tow rating of the truck must be greater than the total weight of the trailer.
RV Dry Weight + Passenger’s Weight + Cargo + Liquids = Total Weight
Total weight must not exceed towing capacity.
If you exceed the towing capacity of your vehicle not only do you risk damaging the vehicle itself but it is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS in terms of road safety. Your vehicle’s brakes have only been designed for a maximum weight, exceeding that weight will make braking much harder to do.
A truck that is towing a trailer that is too heavy can easily lose control especially if there is any sway. Sway is when the trailer starts shifting uncontrollably left to right on the road usually due to side winds or large trucks passing. Sway can cause your trailer to run into other vehicles or your truck to lose control and have a major accident. Just something to keep in mind when borrowing a truck
There are two primary methods of towing RVs for truck borrowers to keep in mind:
- Conventional: this type of towing method works with a frame mounted hitch and is the most common means of moving campers and trailers.
- 5th Wheel: this type of towing method works with a mount placed in the truck bed. This allows for a larger towing capacity due to weight distribution.
When borrowing a truck to move an RV, it’s also essential that it is equipped with a proper hitch and wiring. RV owners should ensure that the borrowed truck is fitted with an appropriate hitch class and wire connectors for operating lights, turn signals, and brake lights.
Most people would recommend that RV owners should only borrow a truck to move their vehicle a very short distance and ensure that all safety measures are taken very seriously so as to avoid any negative outcomes. You also want to ensure your trailer is level while being towed, read our article for more details.
Rent a Truck
Rather than borrowing a truck to move an RV, it may be better to rent one. Most car rental companies prohibit attaching a hitch or towing a vehicle of any kind with a rental vehicle. However, a growing number of rental companies are offering “tow-capable” trucks for personal use to customers.
Previously, most truck rental companies restricted their offers to commercial businesses. With increasing customer demand for towing rental solutions, some companies, such as Enterprise Truck Rental decided to offer the same truck rental options for personal use. This business model has been growing, as many RV owners find the need to move their vehicles but are without a proper tow-capable truck of their own.
Therefore, there are options for renting a truck to move an RV. Customers generally have the option of renting a ¾- or 1-ton pickup truck, equipped with a hitch, in order to tow campers, trailers, and other recreational vehicles based on the need for personal use.
If you need a vehicle for just a short, quick move check out your local Home Depot or Lowes. They usually have work trucks available to rent that are tow-capable and are meant to be used for a short trip. No Home Depot (you poor soul), UHaul dealerships are everywhere and practically all of their vehicles are tow-capable.
Renting a vehicle is a great option if you have a conventionally towed trailer. If you have a fifth wheel, it’s going to be much harder to find a rental truck that has one of these installed or at least the mounts to install one. And no you can’t just install a fifth wheel hitch in the bed of the rental since it involves drilling through the frame.
Occasionally, RVs that are non-motorized just need to be moved a short distance. In these cases, if a truck is unavailable, a Trailer Valet is an excellent option. A Trailer Valet is a specialized “tongue” jack dolly system that easily allows the flexibility and maneuverability to pivot and move a trailer. This is potentially helpful for RV owners who are without a truck for moving their vehicle up an incline, around a driveway, or into a parking space.
- High quality strength: Moves up to 5,000 pounds or 500 pounds tongue weight. Best in its class for its towing capacity and compact build
- Patented drive system: High and low drive gears. Heavy-duty jack to drive your trailer to your hitch vehicle. Automatic safety brake
- Easy to use: Installs in minutes. Park or move your trailer into tight spots or driveways and to position it in a garage. Folds up or down...
Here are the benefits of Trailer Valets:
- Trailer Valets have great towing capacity, are compact, and contain built-in jacks. They can be used to move trailers short distances, such as bringing a trailer to a hitch vehicle, fitting into tight parking spots, or positioning it in a garage.
- Trailer Valets are capable of navigating corners and allow RV owners to make adjustments in steering while the trailer is moving. They are also handy for leveling, hooking, and unhooking trailers.
- Some Trailer Valets can be moved with a drill attachment.
- Other, more expensive, models come with a rechargeable battery and remote-control feature for independent moving. This allows RV owners to stand away from their trailers so they can navigate tight spaces without needing another person to observe the process and help avoid accidents.
- Treads on these valet models allow them to go over almost any surface, such as gravel, grass, and dirt.
There are many benefits for RV owners when it comes to having Trailer Valet options for moving trailers a short distance or into a tight spot. However, these dolly systems can be quite expensive as an investment.
Utilize Shipping Marketplaces
Another method of moving a trailer without a truck is to utilize shipping marketplaces. These online sites match customers requiring trailer transport with trailer transport services. Shipping companies assist RV owners who may need to move their vehicles across the country or even to international destinations.
Online marketplaces such as uShip allow RV owners to create shipment listings that stipulate the details of their vehicle and requests for delivery service. Once the listing is submitted to the shipping service, RV transport services can offer rates and quotes as a means of garnering your business. This creates competition among transport companies so that customers can receive better rates.
The cost of transporting an RV depends on the size of the vehicle and the distance it is to be moved. Depending on these factors, shipping an RV can cost, on average, between $1.00-$3.00 per mile traveled. Shipping marketplaces often provide transport calculators for a general idea of cost based on previous shipments.
Though shipping marketplaces allow transport services to provide delivery rates, it’s important for RV owners to research these transport companies before they commit to the service. Transporting RVs is considered a specialized service, so not just any vehicle transportation company is qualified to move RVs.
RV owners should verify the legal permit of any potential transport company. Motor vehicle transporters are required to have license numbers from the Department of Transportation and Motor Carrier on file. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration provides a website to verify licensing and authority information for these services, which is available to the public.
If you need to move your RV and you don’t have a truck to do so, a shipping marketplace is a valuable way of finding transport services to meet your RV delivery needs.
Hire a Transportation Company
Hiring a transportation company is the easiest and most secure way to move your RV long distances without a truck. These professional companies can be found through shipping marketplaces or independent research by RV owners. Keep in mind to verify the licensing of any transport company before committing to their services.
There are two primary methods used by RV transport businesses to move recreational vehicles that are not self-propelled:
- Flatbed: this service utilizes large trucks and flatbed trailers. These trailers are capable of transporting multiple RVs at the same time and for great distances.
- Towing: this service allows an RV to be hauled to a destination using professional equipment and trucks for safe loading and transportation. The type of equipment and truck is dependent on the type and size of the RV being transported.
RV owners are responsible for preparing their vehicles for safety and security so that they can be moved long distances. Most transport carriers will clearly indicate the proper steps to take for this process, and they will ensure that requirements are met. This preparation reduces the risk of accidents and/or damage to RVs during shipping. Typically you will not be allowed to ship your trailer with any personal items inside.
Many owner’s manuals for recreational vehicles provide specific manufacturer information regarding vehicle shipment. RV owners should consult their manuals and allow time to complete the recommended steps. This will ensure that the RV transport process will go smoothly and maintain good conditions en route.
Some of the basic safety and security measures to take before transporting your RV are:
- Securing doors, windows, and cupboards
- Turning off all appliances and electronics
- Disconnecting the power supply and closing gas lines
- Securely latching pop-ups or slide-outs
- Performing visual inspection inside and outside of the vehicle
Occasionally, RV owners need their vehicles transported internationally. There are carriers that provide this service with the help of shipping vessels that are designed to carry wheeled cargo. International transport and shipping fees may be expensive.
Finally, it’s vital that RV owners verify the insurance certificate held by transport services. Typically, licensed RV transporters are legally required to carry $750,000 at a minimum in both liability and property damage insurance, in addition to their proper licensing and authority.
Verifying this will assure RV owners that there is a level of insurance to cover certain types of damage that their vehicle would potentially incur when being transported. RV owners should check the insurance terms carefully to note any exclusions or limitations, and then decide if purchasing supplementary insurance through a third-party policy is necessary.
Most transportation companies supply a condition report to compare the state of a vehicle before and after shipping. Just as you would inspect your RV before transporting, you should also inspect the vehicle with a transportation service representative to see if any damage took place while in transit. Any damage that was not pre-existing should be noted in detail upon delivery and documented as fully as possible in case a claim needs to be filed.
It can seem as if the process of hiring a company and readying a recreational vehicle for transport is laborious and requires great attention to detail. However, if an RV owner does not have a truck or another means of transporting their vehicle, hiring a transportation company is the safest and most effective option to protect the investment in and condition of an RV.
Overall, there are various ways for an RV owner to move their vehicle without a truck of their own. Though it is more practical to own a proper truck, situations arise when this is not possible or in which an alternative is needed.
Ultimately, RV owners should protect their vehicle as an investment. Whether it needs to be moved a great distance or just a short one, it’s advisable for RV enthusiasts to take every precaution in reducing the risks of damage or accident to the vehicle itself and any people involved. These precautions would include verifying licensing for transport companies and being certain of all insurance coverage and limitations, among other things.
RV owners may be without a truck for many reasons across the lifespan of their trailer. So, it’s important to know ways to move an RV without a truck.
Recommended Gear for Towing
- New ratchet lock system
- Adds the extra vision to tow wide loads without interfering with your existing mirror
- Fit all mirror up to 11 1/2 inch tall. The mirror head is 5 inch x 8 inch with a viewing area of approximately 5 1/8 inch x 7 ¾ inch. The...
- Designed for a Smoother Ride: Interchangeable bars provide positive latching action
- Kit Includes: 1000 lbs. weight distributing hitch, sway control and 2-5/16" hitch ball
- Ready-To-Go Hitch ball and Sway Control Ball: Pre-installed and torqued to specification on adjustable ball mount
Fix It Yourself RV Maintenance Course
The most costly parts of RV ownership are repairs and maintenance. That’s why I recommend learning to do your own RV repair and maintenance.
The Fix It Yourself RV Maintenance Course is the perfect way to learn how to do the most common repairs and maintenance on your RV. A Certified RV Technician wrote and filmed the course so you know the information is actually correct.
Plus it’s downloadable so you can access it from anywhere, even when boondocking in the middle of nowhere with no service.
Find out more about the best RV Maintenance and Repair Course available!