Many RV owners like to take a small vehicle along on their journeys, so they can conveniently run errands and take day trips once they've settled into a camping spot. The easiest way to accomplish this is to flat tow the smaller vehicle behind the RV. The various Fiat models are popular among RV owners because they are lightweight, nimble, and easy to maneuver. So, which Fiat models can be flat towed? We've done the research, and we have the answers for you!
You can safely flat tow the following Fiat vehicles, as long as they have BOTH a manual transmission and front-wheel drive. Do not flat tow them if they have an automatic transmission or all-wheel drive.
- Fiat 500 and 500 Abarth
- Fiat 500X
Do not flat tow the following Fiat vehicles:
- Fiat 500L
- Fiat 500e
- 124 Spider and 124 Spider Abarth
In the remainder of this article, we'll discuss in detail why each Fiat model can, or cannot, be flat towed. Additionally, we'll explain whether you can tow each on a dolly or a flatbed trailer. We'll discuss the weight of the various Fiat 500 models and how that impacts towing them behind another vehicle, such as an RV. And we will describe what equipment is needed to flat tow a vehicle. Keep reading to learn everything about flat towing a Fiat!
Can You Flat Tow A Fiat (Inc. A 500L)?
Flat towing, also known as dinghy towing, refers to towing a vehicle with all four of its wheels on the ground. Although this may seem like a simple concept, determining which vehicles can safely be flat towed is not straightforward.
For example, a vehicle with automatic transmission can suffer damage to its differential if it is flat towed without first disengaging the driveshaft. Similarly, vehicles with CVT (continuously variable transmission) are not good candidates for flat towing.
And, while most vehicles with manual transmission can be flat towed, it's always best to check your owner's manual to be certain.
We've examined the owner's manuals of all seven current Fiat models. Below, we'll tell you which ones can be flat towed and which should only be towed on a dolly or trailer. And we'll provide a link to each model's owner's manual.
If you flat tow any Fiat, remember these four guidelines:
- Put the transmission in Neutral
- Disengage the parking brake
- Turn the ignition to ACC position (this unlocks the steering column)
- Maximum towing speed is 65 mph
500 And 500 Abarth
The Fiat 500 comes standard with a 5-speed manual transmission; a 6-speed automatic transmission is available. The 500 Abarth comes with a standard 6-speed manual transmission and an optional 6-speed automatic.
Both models feature front-wheel drive, so they can be towed on a dolly as long as the front wheels are not in contact with the road.
- Flat tow: safe for manual transmission; not safe for automatic transmission
- Dolly tow with front wheels off the ground: safe for both manual and automatic transmission
- Dolly tow with rear wheels off the ground: not recommended for manual; not safe for automatic
- Trailer tow with all four wheels on trailer: safe for both manual and automatic transmission
The 500X is Fiat's small crossover SUV. It comes with a 6-speed manual transmission; a 9-speed automatic transmission is optional.
The 500X is primarily a front-wheel-drive vehicle; however, all-wheel drive (AWD) is available, as well. The all-wheel-drive version cannot be flat towed or dolly towed.
- Flat tow: safe for 500X with both manual transmission and front-wheel-drive; not safe for automatic transmission or all-wheel drive.
- Dolly tow with front wheels off the ground: safe for 500X with both manual transmission and front-wheel drive; safe for 500X with both automatic transmission and front-wheel drive; not safe for 500X (manual or automatic transmission) with all-wheel drive.
- Dolly tow with rear wheels off the ground: not safe for any 500X.
- Trailer tow with all four wheels on trailer: safe for all 500X models.
The Fiat 500L is a four-door passenger vehicle. It's available only with a 6-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive.
- Flat tow: not safe for 500L.
- Dolly tow with front wheels off the ground: safe for all 500L models.
- Dolly tow with rear wheels off the ground: not safe for 500L.
- Trailer tow with all four wheels on trailer: safe for all 500L models.
Fiat's electric car, the 500e, has a single-speed transmission and front-wheel drive.
- Flat tow: not safe for 500e.
- Dolly tow with front wheels off the ground: safe for all 500e vehicles.
- Dolly tow with rear wheels off the ground: not safe for 500e.
- Trailer tow with all four wheels on trailer: safe for all 500e vehicles.
124 Spider And 124 Spider Abarth
The owner's manual for the Fiat 124 Spider and 124 Spider Abarth does not provide specific information about recommended methods for long-distance towing of one of these vehicles.
However, based on what we know about the Spider's transmission and drive systems, we can confidently provide guidelines.
Both vehicles have a standard 6-speed manual transmission, with optional 6-speed automatic. Both are rear-wheel drive, which makes them poor candidates for flat towing or dolly towing.
- Flat tow: not recommended for Spider with manual transmission; not safe for automatic transmission.
- Dolly tow with front wheels off the ground: not safe for any Spider.
- Dolly tow with rear wheels off the ground: not recommended for Spider with manual transmission; not safe for automatic transmission.
- Trailer tow with all four wheels on trailer: safe for all Spiders.
The owner's manual for the 124 Spider states that, "in an emergency, the vehicle can be flat towed for a short distance, provided that the transmission is in Neutral, the parking brake disengaged, the ignition in ACC position, and the towing speed is low."
This infers that flat towing a Spider is appropriate only for getting it to a nearby repair shop if no flatbed trailer is available for the tow.
Can A Fiat Be Towed Behind An RV?
One of the most common scenarios for towing a Fiat is to take it along on an RV trip. It's convenient to have a small vehicle available for errand running and day trips. If you are considering towing your Fiat behind an RV, keep the following factors in mind:
- What towing options are available for your vehicle? Most Fiat models with manual transmission and front-wheel drive can be flat towed or dolly towed. Some with automatic transmission can also be dolly towed. All Fiats can be towed on a flatbed trailer.
- What is the towing capacity of your RV? The combined weight of your Fiat, its contents, and the towing apparatus must not exceed the total towing capacity of your RV. Check your RV's owner's manual to determine how much weight it can safely pull.
How Much Does A Fiat 500 Weigh?
If you're planning on taking your Fiat along on your next RVing adventure, you'll need to calculate the weight of the car, anything you're storing inside it, and the towing equipment. This total weight must be less than or equal to your RV's maximum towing capacity.
Below is the "curb weight" of each Fiat model: the weight of a base model, with no people or cargo inside.
- 500: 2,366 lbs
- 500 Abarth: 2,512 lbs
- 500X: 3,000 - 3,350 lbs
- 500L: 3,254 lbs
- 500e: 2,980 lbs
- 124 Spider and 124 Spider Abarth: 2,436 - 2,477 lbs
What Equipment Is Needed To Flat Tow A Vehicle?
Hitch For Towing Vehicle
If your RV doesn't already have a hitch, you'll need to add one. Make sure to purchase a hitch that's compatible with the latch end of the vehicle's tow bar.
Base Plate Kit
A base plate kit is a set of steel components that you install permanently on the front frame of your vehicle. When you're ready to tow your vehicle, you'll attach the tow bar to the base plate.
Because all vehicles are configured differently, make sure to buy a base plate kit that's designed for your vehicle's make and model.
The tow bar is a rigid steel frame that connects to your RV's hitch at one end and to the base plate at the front of the towed vehicle. Like the base plate kit, the tow bar is customized to your vehicle's make and model.
Always attach safety cables to the rear frame of the towing vehicle and the front frame of the towed car. This will keep the towed vehicle connected to your RV in the unlikely but potentially disastrous event that your tow bar fails.
Wiring For Lights
For safety, you must also install temporary taillights on the back of the towed vehicle, wired to your RV's system so that they signal turns and braking in synch with the RV. This alerts drivers behind you when you are slowing down or preparing to turn or change lanes.
Supplemental Braking System
Finally, you'll need a supplemental braking system, which synchronizes the brakes on the towed vehicle with those on your RV. This is required in most US states and in Canada.
It also is an excellent safety precaution, as a supplemental braking system can reduce your rig's stopping distance by up to 30%.
Now that you know which Fiat models you can tow behind your RV, and what towing methods to use, you're ready to hit the road with your Fiat in tow!
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