We all need a break, and taking your motorhome out to the great outdoors can be just what you need to wind down. But for quick, small trips away from your campsite, a truck or car is much more efficient. You can always bring along your Silverado for any off-road needs, but can you flat tow a Silverado? We looked into the Silverado’s capabilities to find out.
The 2019 and 2020 Silverado 1500, 2500, and 3500 can be flat-towed, but each needs specific configurations to do so. Flat towing requires a four-wheel-drive equipped model and a two-speed transfer case system. The ability to be flat towed can also change with the model year, so always double-check the owner’s manual for your Silverado before you begin flat towing. The flat-tow configuration is standard on the 2020 Silverado 1500 4x4 High Country, Custom Trail Boss, and LT Trail Boss trim levels.
To flat tow your Silverado, you’ll need to:
- Find out if your Silverado can flat tow.
- Research the local towing laws.
- Know the GCWR of your towing vehicle.
- Attach your Silverado safely to a tow vehicle.
- Place the Silverado into "towed" mode.
If you don’t have a Silverado with a four-wheel-drive, then you can’t flat tow the truck at all because it will ruin the transmission. The other necessity, a two-speed transfer case, is not always apparent when you buy the truck. We’ll go over each step for how to flat tow your Silverado, including how to find out what type of transfer case it has, the various equipment you’ll need, and how to put it in towed mode. So, please read on!
Find out if your Silverado can flat tow
Even if the flat-tow configuration is standard on your Silverado’s trim, you should double-check anyway. The instructions below are for the 2019-2020 Silverado. If you’re using a different model year, please check the manual to determine if your vehicle is right for flat towing.
Check the dashboard to the left of your steering wheel. If you have four-wheel-drive, there should be a series of four buttons below a larger, circular button/knob. A single-speed transfer case will have AUTO, 4↑, and 2↑ buttons along with one that has a picture of a vehicle up on two wheels. If you see this arrangement, you cannot flat tow your Silverado.
The two-speed transfer case will be similar, but instead, the buttons will read AUTO, 4↑, 2↑, and 4↓. The big circular button/knob above it should have an “N” for a neutral setting. If this is what you see, then congratulations: you can flat tow your Silverado.
Can You Flat Tow A Chevy Silverado Behind A Motorhome?
Yes, you can flat tow a Silverado with the right configuration behind a motorhome. In fact, flat towing a truck behind a motorhome is the main example given in the owner’s manual for recreational towing, so you know that’s what Chevy had in mind. But first, know the local laws regarding towing.
Will A Silverado Fit On A Tow Dolly?
While a Chevy Silverado might fit on the tow dolly, you will damage it if you do so. Any damages from dolly towing won’t be covered by the warranty either. The trims and configuration don’t change this.
Research the local towing laws
The best way to find out the local towing laws is to look them up on your state or country’s official website. Some areas might require extra equipment or a special license endorsement to operate large RVs. If you’re traveling through several states or countries, make sure you look up each one's regulations on your route.
Know the GCWR of your RV
Before you can flat tow your Silverado, you have to know the weight limit that your RV or towing vehicle can handle. The GCWR stands for a vehicle's gross combined weight rating, which is the total weight that a vehicle can safely handle. This includes passengers' weights, the towing vehicle itself, anything being towed, equipment, and any cargo on board. The GCWR can vary wildly depending on the specific model, engine, and other vehicle drivetrain options. You can sometimes find the GCWR on a door sticker (as well as the vehicle's curb weight) or in your owner’s manual.
For more information, check out our towing capacity and trailer weight guide for RV owners.
Attach your Silverado: What Equipment Do You Need To Flat Tow A Chevy Silverado?
The basic list of accessories you need to hook up your Silverado to a motorhome is:
- Base plates
- Tow bar
- Safety cable
- Light systems
- Supplemental braking
- Towed vehicle protection
We’ll give examples of each piece of equipment and what they are used for. Before you buy any, make sure your Silverado isn't higher than the weight limit for each item. Towing accessories should also come with their own set of instructions on installing and using them correctly.
The base plate attaches directly to the vehicle's frame and secures it to the rest of the flat-towing setup. There are many different types of base plates, so you’ll have to find one that matches your Silverado. They’ll usually come with the necessary bolts and instructions to install it on your vehicle.
The tow bar links the base plate to the motorhome’s hitch in the back, so it is the main arm and component you’ll see for flat towing. Make sure that it has the right kind of hitch to attach to your motorhome.
The safety cable is coiled like a spring and has two hooks/attachments on either end. It will keep your truck attached to the motorhome if the tow bar fails or detaches in an emergency. Never flat tow without one!
The lighting system connects your truck’s (or whatever vehicle you’re flat towing) brake lights and turn signals to the RV’s lights and turn signals. This is necessary so that vehicles behind you can see your turn signals or brake lights even if they can’t see your RV past the towed truck. It will also let other drivers see the truck’s rear lights at night so they can gauge the distance and know that a vehicle is there. This system usually needs a main electrical cord and a smaller wire kit that connects the RV to the truck.
While supplemental braking systems might not be required by law in every state or country, we highly recommend using one. Supplemental brakes come in various types, but they add extra security and braking power to your towing setup. Auxiliary brakes connect the brakes of your motorhome or RV to the towed vehicle so that both vehicle’s brake systems will activate simultaneously. They also have a backup feature where your towed vehicle will apply the brakes if it ends up getting disconnected from the RV.
Towed vehicle protection
Whatever vehicle you have attached behind your motorhome, it will probably receive a couple of hits from debris thrown by the motorhome’s wheels. There are plenty of protective covers available, but some won’t work with the Silverado. You can’t cover the front grille because proper airflow is needed for the engine and transmission, even while flat towing. The Silverado's best option is a rock shield that sits parallel to the road between the truck and your motorhome. As you can guess by the name, rock shields stop rocks that might be flung by the motorhome’s back wheels, and it won’t compromise the truck’s airflow.
We’ve included a video below where Ken from HitchSource talks about each of these pieces of equipment with some examples, so you have a better idea of what they look like.
Change the Silverado into "towed" mode
You can find a detailed set of instructions in your owner’s manual for the Silverado, but we’ve included some basic steps here for your convenience. The method for preparing a 2019-2020 Silverado to be flat towed is the same across the 1500, 2500, and 3500 models.
- Park the vehicle behind the towing RV and attach it using the equipment mentioned above.
- Turn the engine on.
- Shift the transfer case to neutral (using the settings to the left of the steering wheel).
- Release the parking brake.
- Make sure the transfer case is neutral by shifting the transmission to Drive and Reverse. The truck shouldn’t move at all while shifting.
- Shift it into Drive.
- What to do with the keys:
- If you have an ignition key, turn it to the ACCESSORY position (ACC) and leave it there to prevent the steering column from locking. A locked column prevents the truck from turning correctly and can be difficult to control and dangerous.
- If you have a keyless access fob, turn the engine off. Keep the fob with you and manually lock the doors.
- Disconnect the negative battery cable (-). Check the owner’s manual for detailed instructions on how to disconnect it from the battery safely. Wrap and secure the end of the negative wire and the post with something non-conductive to make sure it doesn’t rub up against metal surfaces and activate the brakes while being towed, which is extremely dangerous.
- Shift the transmission to park.
- Rotate the steering wheel to make sure it’s unlocked.
Double-check all the steps in your owner’s manual, make sure the equipment is secure, and then you’re ready to go!
What Other Chevy Vehicles Can Be Flat Towed?
Here’s a quick list of some other Chevy vehicles than can be flat towed if you don’t have a Silverado:
Once again, double check your manual before you start flat towing. The engine and transmission options on some of these models might make the vehicle incompatible with flat towing. For example, a Chevy Spark needs a manual transmission to be flat towed. The Colorado and Tahoe have a similar configuration requirement to the Silverado, and all of the models mentioned in the list are for the 2019 and 2020 versions.
Now you know everything you need to start flat towing your Silverado and use it to see local sights too far from your campsite to walk.