Special Limited Time Offer – Join Today and Receive our RV Foundations Course FREE for One-Year! Valued at $127. Offer ends July 4th!

Prepping the Toad for the Road

Prepping the Toad for the Road 1

A couple years into our RV life, we purchased a new toad. To clarify, we decided to ditch our Mini Cooper for an off-road capable Xterrra to tow behind our motorhome aka our new toad. Unfortunately, cars just donā€™t come ready to be towed four wheels down. We already knew that we preferred flat towing as opposed to a using a tow dolly, so it became a matter of choosing the right tow bar and braking system and then having installed.Ā 


  1. The tow plate canā€™t interfere with off-roading
    Some companiesā€™ tow plates protrudeĀ from below the bumper. I didnā€™t like this option as I knew weā€™d be off-road and I didnā€™t want the lowest part of the front end to be the critical tow plate. I was sure I would end up damaging it by bashing it into a rock on one of our adventures.
  2. AĀ cleanĀ appearance when not hooked up
    When the Xterra is not being towed, I didnā€™t want too much gear hanging off the front end. Again, I didnā€™t want to risk damaging something when out having fun.
  3. A good braking system
    We needed a brake system to help keep the Xterraā€™s 5000 pounds from pushing us down the mountains. We also needed a brake system to make towing it legal in all 50 states and Canada.
  4. A simple interface
    We wanted as few connections as possible and to be able to quickly remove the car from the RV if needed. Sometimes you must drop the motorhome in a cool town and do a little impromptu exploring. We wanted to be able to unhook quickly without drawing too much attention to ourselves.
  5. A new tow bar
    We needed a new tow bar as well. Our previous towbar was purchased used and only after we had it did we notice that it had been damaged and welded. It worked ok for the lightweight Mini, but we preferred to have a new one with a hefty SUV so that we could feel safe.

After a bit of research, we settled on a system that gave us a mid-bumper placement tow plate. This keeps the connections up out of harmā€™s way when we go off-road. If I manage to damage them, then Iā€™ll have bigger problems than a bent tow-plate!

Prepping the Toad for the Road 2


  • The simplest portable box system works well for most people. But if you move often, it can get a little tiring having toĀ position it and remove it for every trip.
  • The air braking system works beautifully mimicking the exact brake pressure from your motorhome. Of course, you need air brakes in your motorhome for it to work.
  • TheĀ Invisibrake is hidden and no fuss once installed. The install is a little more complicated, though.

Prepping the Toad for the Road 3

Prepping the Toad for the Road 4

Prepping the Toad for the Road 5

We chose the Invisibrake for its ease of use once installed and portability to another RV with or without air brakes. The systemĀ activates automatically when we hook up the car. When stopped, there are no extra parts to remove beyond the tow bar set-up before we can jump in and drive. When switching RVs, the toad remains unchanged. The only add to the new motorhome would be the LED on the dash and connection to the RV plug that alerts you to the braking of the toad when the system is in use.

A nice benefit to the system is that it also acts as a trickle charger to keep the toad battery charged when on the road. This is great for people who have to leave the key in the ignition to keep the steering wheel unlocked. With this little feature, there are no worries about arriving at the final destination with a dead battery.

We installed the tow plate on our Mini and doing that once was enough. This time we turned to professionalsĀ to get our new purchase ready for his new life on the road. Our tech spent the first day pulling the Xterraā€™s face off and removing some of its under bitsĀ to properly fit the base plate to the frame.

Prepping the Toad for the Road 6
We had to take his face off!

The baseplate installation was straightforward. Remove the front fascia, remove some of the existing metal components, bolt on the baseplate, trim some plastic here and there, and re-assemble.

Prepping the Toad for the Road 7
Gary at Nolanā€™s RV preparing to install the Invisibrake system

The next step was installing the Invisibrake system. The first thing was to find a place for the controller. The manufacturer recommends installing the control under one of the front seats. For the Pro-4x model this didnā€™t work because there is a subwoofer under one seat and the navigation computer under the other. Instead, we decided to mount the controller in the storage compartment under the floor in the trunk. This will keep it protected and out-of-the-way.

Prepping the Toad for the Road 8

After completing the installation on the Xterra, we brought in the motorhome to verify everything worked and install the brake light in the dash. We went over the connections to our motorhomeĀ and hooked everything up for his first tow.

Prepping the Toad for the Road 9


  1. Receiver for tow bar connections to drag the SUV down the highway
  2. Safety cable connection in case it tries to escape
  3. Power plug to send power to the brake lights, turn signals, and brake controller ā€“Ā This plug also sends the signal back to the motorhome dashĀ LED.
  4. Emergency brake away connection ā€“Ā In case the car manages to escape, this pin will pull out and the brake controller will apply the brakes to try toĀ bring it to a stop before it hurts anybody. This is the last line of defense that we hope to never use.
Prepping the Toad for the Road 10

The professionals did a great job of setting the Xterra up and troubleshooting our old plug on the back of the RV. Since we left, we made some slight adjustments to the brake controller to dial in the braking power and havenā€™t had any issues. This system has provided us with many miles of service without us having to do anything but hook up normally and hit the highway!

Prepping the Toad for the Road 11


Brandon Hatcher

Brandon & his wife Kerensa hit the road in January of 2014 and havenā€™t looked back. After years of moving for jobs, they decided to go where they wanted and take the jobs with them. They left with their two dogs and cat in a motorhome to explore the country after an extensive research and planning period. He joined the Escapees team as Branding Director.

Did you like this post? Pin it to Pinterest!

Prepping the Toad for the Road 12

5 Responses

  1. Quite often when you hitch up the toad, only one of the tow arm extensions will fully extend and lock in place. I make a quick little back and forth turn in the motorhome (left then right) when I start out so both tow arms extend and lock in place.

  2. Good information, would like to read about the exact tow bar you choose to install. Also as in previous comment having an idea of installation cost would be a good reference starting point.

  3. Any thoughts on stopping rocks from hitting the toad? Mud flaps on the RV or shields either vertical or horizontal?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Limited Time Offer

Join Today & Receive RV Foundations FREE!

$127 Value!


Sign up for Escapees RV Club News and Never Miss a Thing!

Find Your Community at Escapees Events!

Learn to RV with Escapees!

Whether you’re a part-time or full-time RVer, you can learn to RV with our in-person and online training.Ā 

RVers Boot Camp is your in-person opportunity to learn directly from RVing experts.

RVers Online University allows you to learn at your own pace from the comfort of your own home or RV.

Never miss a post.

Sign up for Escapees RV Club News now!