We Flat Tow a Mini Cooper Behind Our RV
I have always wanted a BMW but they are a little out of our price range, at least the ones I keep eyeing. Then I saw the cutest little car, a Mini Cooper. My husband’s eyebrows arched with concern at the size. However, we are elderly, and people seem to shrink with age, and we own a Yorkie so we would fit perfectly. I flashed a pleading glance at him, an old lady sexy look, and a pouty smile. It still works at 60.
So, he started investigating. Imagine how excited I was to learn Mini Coopers are made by BMW. Then envision my frustration when he reported back that the owner’s manual says Coops should not be towed. I held out hope as he explored the internet for more information.
Now a little background. Randy is an ASE certified mechanic with an imaginative mind and a can-do attitude. During our 40-year marriage, I come up with a hairbrained idea, he says it can’t be done, and then he makes it happen. In fact, he loves to be challenged. So, I waited patiently.
A couple weeks later, Randy told me he thought we might be able to tow a Mini Cooper. No surprise to me.
When he made the final announcement that a Mini Cooper would fulfill our needs and my desire, we were sitting in an RV park in Desert Springs, CA. By this time, we had been traveling without a car for several weeks; therefore, we both got excited to begin shopping. A small car would provide more ease when we wanted to explore our surroundings.
Necessary car components
- Manual transmission
- Front wheel drive — NOT all-wheel drive
- Knowledge that a baseplate is available for your car’s specific serial number. To determine this, contact a towing system manufacturer and ask. Randy discussed options with both Roadmaster and Blue Ox. Important: Be sure a product is available for the exact serial number of the car prior to purchasing the car.
Four step process
Once assured towing is an option and the car is purchased, investigate YouTube videos for instructions on how to proceed. Anybody with some mechanical aptitude should successfully be able to install the towing components. Throughout every stage of the process, YouTube videos are available to walk you through installation. Browse several to determine which provide user-friendly content. This also helps to check for accuracy if several instructions provide similar directions.
Now, though I do not claim to have the ability to do this, I did watch Randy accomplish the tasks at the spot where we parked in the RV park. Below is outlined the four steps to complete the project. This does not include a detailed tutorial but will provide information to decide if this is a job you should consider.
Our RV came with a towbar that attached to the receiver hitch. It can be placed and removed easily. They are available an most RV dealerships.
We ordered a baseplate from Roadmaster because that is the towbar brand, and they were extremely helpful and informative. It is recommended to match the towbar and baseplate brand, though the Roadmaster and Blue Ox may be interchangeable.
3. Diode wiring kit for the lights
In all honesty, this was the most difficult part of the process because a Mini Cooper sits so close to the ground and has limited space. Most items required are included in the light kit but below is a list of recommended items to increase ease of installation.
- Floor jack
- Drill with ½ inch bit
- 12-volt test light
Randy also wired the Mini Cooper’s battery to the coach to keep the battery charged.
4. Auxiliary brake system
There are several kinds of braking systems available. However, be aware most states require an auxillary brake system on a tow vehicle. We are currently using a Brake Buddy because it came with our RV. It is a simple system that fits between the seat and the brake that must be installed and removed each time the car is attached or detached.
An easier but slightly more expensive option is an internal system that is built into the car so there is less preparation making it easier to hook up and disconnect. Randy hopes to upgrade to this at a later time.
We have now had our Mini Cooper for about a month and love it. Towing a car provides freedom from the RV while eliminating the need to pack up our home on wheels to sightsee. If you wish to purchase a Mini Cooper to flat tow, be aware the dealership will tell you it can’t be done. For this reason, towing a newer car is discouraged because it may void the warranty. However, we purchased a 2015, have traveled close to 2000 miles so far and there are no issues.
Bonus fact — when flat towing, mileage does not accrue on the odometer.