The Tiny house Blog

Towing a Tiny House: Here’s What You Need to Know

Updated on:
August 7, 2023
towing a tiny house

Did you know that an estimated 10,000 tiny homes exist in the U.S.? As this trend rises, it's crucial to understand the finer details of moving these mini dwellings. We're here to shed some light on how to navigate towing a tiny house successfully.

From understanding your vehicle's towing capacity and selecting the right truck to familiarizing yourself with legal requirements and maintenance upkeep for your equipment - we've got you covered.

We'll also offer safety tips for when you're on the road and help troubleshoot common issues you may encounter during transportation, and discuss costs associated with towing a tiny house so you can plan accordingly.

Towing Capacity Considerations

Understanding the concept of the "80% Towing Rule"

Let's dive into the concept of the '80% Towing Rule', a common guideline often discussed in the tiny house community.

We'll unpack why this rule is so important, as it's designed to ensure that your vehicle can safely and effectively tow your little home on wheels.

But, we also want to question if sticking strictly to this 80% limit is always the best practice, or if some situations call for going beyond or keeping way below that percentage.

Explaining the rationale behind the rule

The 80% rule, in theory, ensures that your vehicle isn't overworked, reducing potential damage. It also provides extra capacity for unexpected loads like fuel or passengers. In essence, following this rule helps maintain control while on the road.

Determining if it's a safe practice to follow

Towing is best done with a little extra care. Sure, a lot of folks stick to the 80% towing rule as the common guideline, but it may be advisable to consider an even lower percentage - like 50-60% - if we really want to keep things on the safe side.

Towing at just 50-60% of a vehicle's towing capacity isn't just safe, it's smart. It gives us a nice safety cushion and keeps our vehicle and towing gear in good shape for longer. Plus, it gives us better control when driving, especially if we hit bad weather or run into a surprise on the road.

And let's not forget about performance. Towing at a lower percentage keeps our vehicle running smoothly. Accelerating, braking, handling – it's all just better, which makes things safer for us and everyone else on the road.

Factors that affect actual towing capacity

Let's look into what determines your towing capacity. It isn't just about horsepower or torque- other factors play a role too.

The weight of your vehicle, the type and condition of your trailer, the total passenger weight, and even environmental conditions like wind or road slope can affect how much you can tow. Understanding these factors is essential for safe and effective tiny house towing.

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and its significance

Let's dive into the concept of Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and why it's critical when towing a tiny house.

GVWR is the maximum weight that your vehicle can safely handle, including its own weight plus passengers, cargo, and yes, the weight of a towed tiny house.

To ensure we're not overloading our vehicle, we'll need to calculate the weight of our tiny house accurately and consider this in relation to our vehicle's GVWR. This will have a direct impact on our towing capacity.

GVWR and its implications for towing

Understanding GVWR, or Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, is critical when towing a tiny house as it directly impacts the safety and legality of your transport. Here's why:

1. GVWR indicates the maximum weight a vehicle can safely handle.

2. Exceeding this limit can lead to mechanical failures.

3. Legal implications include potential fines for overloading.

gunyah tiny house
View the Gunyah by Hauslein

How to Tow a Tiny House

Now that we've looked at the considerations for towing capacity, let's dive into the nitty-gritty of how to actually tow a tiny house.

We'll walk you through everything from preparing your tiny house for the journey, picking out the perfect towing equipment, and securely hooking it up to your vehicle, right down to the specifics of driving and maneuvering with an extra load hitched on.

Parking can be quite a challenge too, but don't worry - we've got some tips and tricks up our sleeve to help make it a breeze.

Preparing the tiny house for towing

As we gear up for the adventure of moving our tiny house, there's a lot to consider. We'll need to secure loose items and furniture, disconnect utilities and services, and reinforce the structure for transportation.

Securing loose items and furniture

Before hitting the road, it's crucial to secure all loose items and furniture in your tiny house to prevent damage or accidents during transit.

* Use straps or bungee cords for large items.

* Store smaller possessions in cabinets or drawers with latches.

* Securely fasten any hanging decorations

* Ensure all doors and windows are locked tight.

Disconnecting utilities and services

Remember, it's vital to disconnect all applicable utilities and services before hitting the road. That includes water, sewerage, gas, and electricity. 

Reinforcing the structure for transportation

Ensuring your dwelling's structure is tough enough for the journey ahead is crucial, so don't forget to double-check all joints, bolts, and fixtures. We're not just moving a house; we're preserving a home sweet home on wheels!

Choosing the right towing equipment

Next, let's delve into the specifics of choosing the right towing equipment for your tiny house. We'll guide you in selecting an appropriate hitch and coupler, help you understand weight distribution systems, and explore how to safely use chains and breakaway systems. Understanding these elements is crucial for a safe and successful towing experience.

Selecting the appropriate hitch and coupler

Choosing the right hitch and coupler isn't merely a detail, it's an essential step in safely towing your tiny house. We must ensure they match our trailer's weight and size. A mismatch could lead to disastrous consequences on the road.

Understanding weight distribution systems

Weight distribution systems help maintain equilibrium while hauling heavy trailers. They're the unsung heroes of the road, redistributing trailer load to improve stability and braking efficiency.

Weight Distribution Systems: Enhance stability.

Braking Efficiency: Prevents swaying.

Load Redistributing: Balances weight evenly.

Vehicle Control: Improves steering and handling.

Using safety chains and a breakaway system

Ensuring your trailer is secure isn't just about balance; it's also about safety measures like using chains and breakaway systems.

Safety chains are vital for keeping your tiny house attached to your vehicle if the hitch fails. A breakaway system, on the other hand, applies the brakes of your trailer automatically if it gets disconnected while towing. Both provide an extra layer of protection during travel.

Hooking up the tiny house to the towing vehicle

Now that we've chosen the right towing equipment, let's explore how to hook up our tiny house to the towing vehicle.

We'll talk about aligning the hitch and coupler, securing the connection with safety pins and chains for an added layer of protection, and testing this connection to ensure its stability.

It's crucial we get these steps right as it ensures a safe journey for our tiny home on wheels.

Aligning the hitch and coupler

Apparently, aligning the hitch and coupler is a higher form of art that makes even Picasso look like a finger painter. It's crucial to ensure they're perfectly aligned for safe towing.

We need to position the hitch ball under the coupler, then lower it until it sits snugly on top. Once secure, we can latch and pin it in place before double checking everything is locked tight.

Securing the connection with safety pins and chains

Got your hitch and coupler snugly connected? Don't pat yourself on the back just yet, because it's time to secure that connection with safety pins and chains.

We need to insert a pin through the holes in the hitch ball mount and coupler for added security. Then, we'll cross and attach our safety chains. This way, if our hitch fails, these chains will prevent our tiny house from detaching completely.

Testing the connection for stability

Once all are hooked and chained, it's time to put that sturdy connection through a bit of a stress test, making sure that your treasured abode won't go rogue on the open road.

* Give a good tug on the chains to see if they hold firm.

* Do a quick brake check before hitting the highway.

* Test your turn signals and tail lights.

* Check for any unsecured items inside the tiny house.

* Ensure the hitch is firmly attached and not wobbling.

* Inspect the tires for any signs of wear or damage.

Driving with a towed tiny house

Now that we've got our tiny house hooked up and ready to go, it's time to hit the road. But driving with a towed tiny house isn't just about stepping on the gas and going—it requires careful adjustment of our driving technique. We need to maintain a safe and steady speed and anticipate the challenges of braking and turning. Let's dive into these key areas to ensure a smooth journey with our tiny home in tow.

Maintaining a safe and steady speed

Keeping a safe and steady speed is crucial when pulling any load. We must remember to always stay within legal speed limits, adjusting our pace according to the road conditions and traffic flow.

Anticipating the challenges of braking and turning

When it comes to managing the rigors of braking and turning, it's crucial to anticipate potential obstacles. Here are some challenges you may face:

1. Increased stopping distance: The added weight of a tiny house means we'll need more room to come to a halt.

2. Wide turns: We'll have to make wider swings at corners.

3. Wind resistance: This can greatly affect our control during both braking and turning maneuvers.

lightship L1 RV
Check out the Lightship L1 Electric RV

Safety Tips for Towing a Tiny House

We'll be focusing on the importance of regular maintenance checks, keeping an eye on tire inflation and condition, monitoring weight distribution during towing, and making sure all lights, brakes, and signals are functioning correctly.

It's also crucial to consider how different weather conditions can impact our journey, so we'll discuss that too.

Conducting regular maintenance checks

Before hitting the road with your tiny house, it's crucial to conduct regular maintenance checks to ensure everything is in tip-top shape. Let's not forget that we're hauling an entire home on wheels, so safety should always be our top priority.

It's important to check the tires for wear and tear, verify brake lights are working properly, and confirm the hitch connection is secure. We shouldn't overlook potential issues like leaks or structural problems either. Remember, a small issue today could turn into a big problem on the road tomorrow.

Ensuring proper tire inflation and condition

Moving on from regular maintenance checks, it's crucial to zero in on a component that often gets overlooked - the condition and inflation of your tires.

1. Proper Tire Inflation: We can't stress enough how vital this is for safe towing. Under-inflated tires generate more heat due to increased friction, which could lead to tire failure. Over-inflated ones, on the other hand, are susceptible to damage from potholes or debris.

2. Tire Condition: Regularly inspect your tiny house tires for any signs of wear and tear or damage like cuts, bulges, or punctures.

3. Spare Tires: Always carry a spare tire (or two!). You never know when you'll need it.

Monitoring the weight distribution during towing

Uneven weight distribution can lead to swaying, instability, or even tipping over while towing our tiny houses.

To avoid these scary scenarios, we must ensure that about 60% of the weight rests towards the front half of the trailer. This helps keep our tow vehicle and tiny house aligned and stable during transit.

We also need to be careful not to overload any one side more than the other; it's crucial for us to maintain a balanced load within our tiny house.

Take a look at this video for a visual reference on why proper weight distribution is crucial:

Checking lights, brakes, and signals

We know this might sound super basic, but trust us, it's super important - let's chat about checking those lights, brakes, and signals on your trailer.

Imagine being a music conductor, but instead of violins and flutes, you've got lights, brakes, and signals - gotta make sure they're all playing the same tune for a smooth ride, right?

Those brake lights and turn signals on our trailer are like our road language. They're how we talk to other drivers, letting 'em know what we're up to so no one ends up in a fender bender. And let's not forget about the brakes - we definitely want to keep an eye on those bad boys, 'cause nothing ruins a day faster than unexpected brake problems when you're towing your tiny house.

Being aware of weather conditions and their impact

Weather's fickle nature can't be overlooked when it comes to planning your journey with a trailer. Unpredictable and potentially hazardous, weather impacts road conditions and overall driving safety.

Rain: Wet roads increase the risk of hydroplaning and reduce visibility.

Wind: High winds can sway or tip over the trailer.

Snow/Ice: Wintery conditions make roads slippery, increasing the chances of skidding or losing control.

Heat: Overheating is common during hot days. Regularly check your engine temperature.

Each weather condition requires specific precautions. So always check the forecast before setting off and adjust your travel plans accordingly. 

Planning Your Route

We need to map out our journey in advance, keeping an eye out for potential obstacles and low-clearance areas that could pose challenges.

Considering the availability of fuel stations and rest stops along the way is also essential, as well as planning for overnight stays – ensuring a smooth and stress-free journey.

Mapping out the journey in advance

Just like a seasoned captain charting his course across the endless ocean, you'll want to map out your journey well in advance when towing a tiny house.

This isn't just about knowing the quickest route from point A to B, but also understanding the potential challenges along the way.

We recommend using mapping tools and GPS systems for real-time updates on road conditions. These can warn us of traffic jams, construction zones, or bad weather that may slow our progress.

We should also consider factors such as road gradients, bridge heights, and weight restrictions which can affect our ability to tow safely.

Identifying potential obstacles and low-clearance areas

Navigating the open road with your home in tow, it's crucial to identify any potential hazards and low-clearance areas that might pose a threat to your journey. We can't stress enough how important this step is, as it ensures both our safety and the protection of our precious tiny house.

1. Bridges and Overpasses: Some bridges have lower than standard heights that could damage our tiny house.

2. Tree Branches: Untrimmed or low-hanging branches along roads can scratch or even tear apart parts of your tiny home.

3. Tunnels: Similar to bridges, some tunnels have height restrictions that we need to be aware of.

4. Road Conditions: Potholes, uneven surfaces, or steep inclines can make towing challenging and potentially dangerous if we're not prepared for them in advance.

Considering the availability of fuel stations and rest areas

Contemplating the spacing between fuel stations and rest areas forms an integral part of your itinerary when embarking on a road trip with your small-scale dwelling hitched behind. We need to think about how far we can travel before needing to refuel or take a break. That's not something to leave up to chance!

We must research ahead for available fuel stops along our route, taking into account the fuel consumption rate of our towing vehicle. And let's not forget those essential pit stops! Rest areas offer us opportunities to stretch our legs, catch some sleep, and check on the house.

Planning for overnight stays and accommodations

Don't underestimate the importance of mapping out your overnight stops and accommodations during your road trip adventure. We need to remember that not all campgrounds or RV parks are tiny house friendly. It's crucial to do our homework beforehand to avoid last-minute hitches.

Let's try calling ahead and inquiring about their policies on tiny houses. We might also want to ask about space availability since maneuvering a tiny house in crowded areas can be tricky. In some cases, we might find ourselves needing additional permits or facing restrictions.

kill devil hills tiny house
View Kill Devil Hills by Modern Tiny Living

Legal and Permit Requirements

Now that we've plotted our route, it's time to dive into the legalities.

We'll need to research local, state, and national regulations that apply to towing a tiny house, obtain any necessary permits and licenses, and get familiar with weight restrictions and height limitations.

It's also crucial for us to understand and comply with specialized towing laws to ensure a smooth journey.

Researching local, state, and national regulations

Before you hitch up that tiny house and hit the road, it's crucial to familiarize yourself with local, state, and national regulations.

Each state may have its own rules regarding trailer weights, dimensions, and safety requirements. Tiny homes may be subject to stricter laws and regulations in some areas.

We recommend starting your research by contacting the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or similar entity in your area. They'll provide information about permit requirements and restrictions for towing a trailer or RV. Also, consider contacting local law enforcement agencies—they often have detailed knowledge about roadside regulations.

Remember, it's our responsibility as tiny house owners to ensure we're complying with all laws. A little preparation can save us from potential headaches down the line.

Understanding width restrictions and height limitations

Navigating through the complexities of width restrictions and height limitations is crucial when planning for a mobile residence, as failure to comply can lead to unexpected setbacks. To avoid unpleasant surprises, we need to gather accurate information about local and state regulations on towing a tiny house.

Height Limitations: Generally, tiny houses shouldn't be taller than 13.5 feet from ground level. Any excess could make it difficult or even illegal to move.

Width Considerations: The majority of states restrict the width of any towable structure to 8.5 feet.

For tiny homes that fall outside these restrictions, it's important to note that they will require special towing trip permits. These permits are essential to ensure compliance with transportation regulations and safety standards when moving the tiny homes from one location to another.

Insurance and Liability Considerations

It's crucial to review your existing tiny home insurance coverage, explore specialized insurance options for towing, and fully understand liability issues to protect yourself effectively.

Additionally, we must ensure that both our tiny house and the towing vehicle have comprehensive coverage.

Reviewing your existing insurance coverage

Before you hitch up your tiny dream house and set off into the sunset, it's crucial to give your existing insurance coverage a thorough once-over. We must ensure our policy is comprehensive enough to cover any eventualities during the journey.

The key things we need to check are if our current auto insurance covers towing a tiny house. If not, we'll need additional coverage.

Also, let's not forget about liability protection. If an accident happens while we're on the road and it's found that our tiny house was at fault, we could be held responsible for any damage caused. So make sure you've got adequate liability coverage too!

Exploring specialized insurance options for towing

So, let's discuss specialized insurance options that cater specifically to our unique on-the-road living scenario. It's essential for us to explore these alternatives because they can provide comprehensive coverage tailored just for towing tiny houses.

Here are three types of insurance we should consider:

RV Insurance: Some companies classify tiny homes as recreational vehicles. This could be an option if we've built our home on a trailer base. However, it might not cover us when the house is detached from our vehicle or while it's parked.

Mobile Home Insurance: This type of policy usually covers homes that are stationary but can be mobile. Be sure to check if it includes coverage while moving.

DIY Tiny House Insurance: A few insurers offer policies designed specifically for tiny houses. Some include comprehensive protection during transit and while stationary.

Ensuring coverage for the tiny house and towing vehicle

Securing comprehensive coverage for both your tiny house and the beast of a vehicle that pulls it along life's highways is as vital as the foundations upon which your mobile home rests. It's not just about being legal; it's about protecting what you've worked hard to build.

We strongly advise speaking directly with insurance agents who understand this unique lifestyle choice. They'll help ensure you're covered, whether you're parked or on the move. Remember, standard auto policies may not cover damages to your home-on-wheels while in transit. You might need special towing or RV insurance for that added protection. It's also worth asking whether your policy covers theft, fire, or other unforeseen incidents.

Troubleshooting Common Towing Issues

When it comes to towing, we're all bound to encounter a few bumps in the road. From dealing with sway and instability to troubleshooting problems with braking and steering, or even handling tire blowouts and emergencies - these are common issues we need to address.

But remember, there's no shame in seeking professional help when needed; after all, it's all about keeping safe while on the move.

Dealing with sway and instability

You'll have to tackle the challenges of sway and instability head-on if you're planning on towing a tiny house - it's not as simple as hitching up and hitting the road. You won't just be dealing with the weight of your home, but also wind resistance, speed limitations, and potentially hazardous road conditions.

Here are some tips we've found helpful:

* Invest in a high-quality sway control system. This can greatly reduce trailer movement caused by crosswinds or passing traffic.

* Ensure that it's properly adjusted for your specific load.

* Regular maintenance is key to its effectiveness.

* Balance your load evenly across all axles. Too much weight at either end can lead to instability.

* Always drive at a safe speed, adjusting according to current road conditions.

Addressing problems with braking and steering

Having covered the challenges of sway and instability, let's not forget another significant aspect of towing a tiny house: dealing with braking and steering issues.

The added weight of a tiny home can significantly affect your vehicle's braking abilities. We need to ensure our towing vehicle has an adequate braking system capable of handling the extra load. Additionally, it may be wise to consider installing trailer brakes for added safety.

Steering is another matter that requires attention. With more weight in tow, steering becomes less responsive and harder to control. We strongly recommend practicing in a safe area before hitting the open road, so you're comfortable maneuvering your tiny house on wheels.

Remember, safety should always be our top priority!

Handling tire blowouts and emergencies

Imagine it's late at night, and the road is deserted. Suddenly, without warning, a tire blowout occurs – an emergency situation that could turn disastrous with your precious cargo in tow. We can't stress enough the importance of regular inspections to prevent such scenarios.

But if you still find yourself in this predicament, don't panic. Stay calm and avoid slamming on your brakes. Instead, try to maintain control by steering steadily. Slowly move towards the shoulder or any other safe spot away from traffic.

Once stopped, assess the damage before deciding whether to change the tire yourself or call for help. Always ensure you have a spare tire available and familiarize yourself with how to replace it properly. It's crucial we're ready for these emergencies when towing our tiny houses.

Seeking professional help when needed

It's not a sign of weakness to ask for help when it's required. In fact, it can be the smartest move you make when towing a tiny house.

There are certain situations where professional expertise is not just beneficial, but crucial. For example, consider an issue with your trailer hitch. It's one area you don't want to risk making mistakes with. If it fails while on the road, the consequences could be disastrous. This is when we would advise seeking assistance from a certified mechanic or towing expert.

Similarly, if you're dealing with electrical problems related to brakes or lighting systems, call in a professional. The last thing we need is faulty lights or brakes when traveling down highways and through busy city streets.

How much does it cost to tow a tiny house?

You're probably wondering about the costs involved in towing a tiny house, aren't you? Well, we're here to shed some light on that.

The cost often varies depending on several factors, with prices ranging from a few hundred to thousands of dollars.

Here are four primary elements affecting the total expense:

1. Distance: The further your tiny house needs to be towed, the more it will cost. Prices generally rise according to mileage.

2. Size and Weight: Heavier and larger houses require more powerful (and expensive) towing vehicles.

3. Towing Company Rates: Different companies offer different rates for their services – always shop around for best prices.

4. Permits and Insurance: Depending on where you live or moving to, you might need permits and additional insurance which adds up.

Remember these are just estimates; actual costs may vary significantly based on unique circumstances. Always request detailed quotes from potential service providers before making a decision.

the thistle tiny house
View The Thistle by Summit Tiny Homes

Best Truck for Towing a Tiny House

Understanding the importance of a reliable towing vehicle

Don't be fooled by your burly pickup truck's muscular look, not all macho vehicles can handle the hefty task of towing a tiny house. It's crucial to understand that not every truck or SUV has the capacity to tow heavy loads, and your tiny house is no exception.

We can't overstress the importance of using a reliable vehicle for this purpose. The last thing we want is for you to experience mechanical issues midway through your journey. Imagine being stuck on a deserted highway with no help in sight - it's definitely not an ideal scenario.

Evaluating different truck models and their towing capacities

After realizing the crucial role a reliable towing vehicle plays in safely transporting your tiny house, let's dive deeper into which specific truck models could be the best fit. When assessing different trucks, it's critical to consider their towing capacities. This tells you how much weight a truck can pull without causing damage or unsafe conditions.

Check out our article on the best trucks for towing a tiny house for a comprehensive list and review!

Considering fuel efficiency and power requirements

Fuel efficiency and power requirements are key factors to weigh in when choosing your truck, not just for the environment's sake, but also your wallet's.

Let's be honest, towing a tiny house is no small task and it demands a lot of energy. So, we need to consider how much fuel our truck will consume during the journey.

We're looking for a balance between strength and sustainability; that sweet spot where our truck can pull weight without guzzling gas.

Now, more fuel-efficient trucks may have lower towing capacities, so it's about finding what works best for us individually. Remember, higher horsepower means more power but potentially less mileage per gallon.

Don't overlook hybrid or electric models either! These options could offer an excellent compromise between power and fuel efficiency.


Ironically, it's not such a 'tiny' task after all, is it? We've learned that there's more to it than just hitching and hitting the road. It's about knowing your limits, staying safe, planning wisely, meeting legal requirements, maintaining gear, and handling hitches along the way.

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