Towing a car


Well-known member
There is an interesting conversation going on right now on an RV web forum I go to, regarding towing vehicles and whether or not the towed vehicle needs to have a braking system. Most of the respondents agree that whether or not it's required by law it's certainly a good idea. But there's one person (isn't there always!) who is adamant that the CVC specifically exempts towed vehicles with the following:
26458. (a) The braking system on every motor vehicle used to tow another vehicle shall be so arranged that one control on the towing vehicle shall, when applied, operate all the service brakes on the power unit and combination of vehicles when either or both of the following conditions exist: (11007)

(1) The towing vehicle is required to be equipped with power brakes. (11008)

(2) The towed vehicle is required to be equipped with brakes and is equipped with power brakes. (11009)

(b) Subdivision (a) shall not be construed to prohibit motor vehicles from being equipped with an additional control to be used to operate the brakes on the trailer or trailers. (11010)

(c) Subdivision (a) does not apply to any of the following combinations of vehicles, if the combination of vehicles meets the stopping distance requirements of Section 26454: (11011)

(1) Vehicles engaged in driveaway-towaway operations. (11012)

(2) Disabled vehicles, while being towed. (11013)

(3) Towed motor vehicles. (11014)

(4) Trailers equipped with inertially controlled brakes which are designed to be applied automatically upon breakaway from the towing vehicle and which are capable of stopping and holding the trailer stationary for not less than 15 minutes. (11015)

Their argument is that 26458(c)(3) specifically exempts towed motor vehicles. Surprisingly they admit that they received a ticket for not having brakes and took it to court. The original court case found them guilty, as did 3 appellate courts but they still maintain they are right and all the judges are wrong.

So, I'm just wondering: any CHP folks here care to weigh in - does the CVC really exempt cars being towed behind an RV from having a working brake system, or is this guy a sore loser?

ST Guy

Well-known member
I'm not an officer of the law, but I believe you are correct. But only if the two vehicles combined can stop within the distance prescribed in Section 26454, what ever that is.


Не мои о&#1073
does the CVC really exempt cars being towed behind an RV from having a working brake system, or is this guy a sore loser?

I can't say if this is an [URL=""]authoritative source[/URL] but it says brakes are required in 49 of 50 states and Canada (Missouri being the odd one out). I think the law you posted clearly exempts motor vehicles from having interconnected brakes but what do I know?

page 28 said:
Besides the obvious safety aspect of a dinghy braking system, they’re also required by law in most of the United States and in all provinces in Canada. While the requirements differ state by state (and province by province), they’re all based on either trailer weight or stopping distance — and yes, a towed vehicle is considered a trailer. According to U.S. federal law, “Trailer means a motor vehicle with or without motive power, designed for carrying persons or property and for being drawn by another motor vehicle.” Yep, that’s a dinghy vehicle, all right. You can get a complete list of requirements in the U.S. and Canada by visiting .

ST Guy

Well-known member


Super Moderator
Staff member
Would like to see the ticket. It May not be for brakes. Maybe for GCWR. Many smaller RVs are near max Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, to begin with. Add a towed car and you are over GCWR.

"Gross combined weight rating or GCWR is the maximum allowable weight of both the loaded tow vehicle and the loaded trailer that the tow vehicle can handle safely. This maximum combined weight rating is determined by the manufacturer and can be found on your vehicle’s placard."