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Towing a vehicle behind an RV is easy once you’ve figured out the setup and installed the right gear. When Kait and I decided to tow a Jeep Wrangler behind the RV, I started researching for the best RV tow bar options out there. Our decision boiled down to two options: Ready Brute and Blue Ox. The thing that sold us on the Ready Brute tow bar was the system came with a fully integrated manual supplemental braking system. This mechanical action doesn’t require any additional electronics and for us that means less to go wrong. Read this Ready Brute Elite tow bar review to see if it’s a good fit for your RV towing needs.
Ready Brute Elite Tow Bar Review
What We Ordered:
– NSA RV Products Ready Brute Elite Tow Bar – includes the Ready Brake system, safety cables, and in-dash light monitor.
– NSA RV Products ReadyStop Towed Vehicle Emergency Break Away Kit. Read Why Do you Need a Break Away System?
– Blue Ox Clevis Connector for the aftermarket Rock Hard Patriot bumper on our Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. NSA RV Products also offers various clevis options for the different baseplates/bumpers.
– Integrated wiring system for working brake / turn signal lights on the vehicle. Read How to Tow a Jeep Wrangler Behind a Motorhome for a detailed walk-through.
Note: since this tow bar review was first published, NSA RV Products has released a new version – the Ready Brute Elite II. While we have not used the new version, the upgrades are supposed to make it easier to connect the tow bar to the vehicle with more durable with steel clevis’.
Why Do You Need a Supplemental Braking System for your Tow Vehicle?
Most states in the U.S. and provinces in Canada require a supplemental braking systems for trailers or vehicles over a certain weight. Since the Ready Brute Elite tow bar came with a supplemental braking system, it’s one of the mains reason we decided this was the best tow bar option for our setup.
Regardless of which towing option you go with, be sure to reference the towing laws in each state/province you visit to make sure you’re in compliance with their requirements.
NSA RV Products has an map of the towing laws in the United States for reference. You can see which states require supplemental braking systems and break away systems for towing.
How the Ready Brute Elite Tow Bar Works
The NSA RV Products website has an F.A.Q. that does a great job of answering this question.
When you apply brakes in your RV the towed vehicle surges forward actually pushing your RV. Ready Brake uses this energy to move a lever forward. A cable is connected to this lever and the other end is clamped to your towed vehicle brake pedal. When the lever moves forward the brake pedal is pulled down and when you drive the RV forward again it allows the lever to move backward and the brake pedal goes back up releasing the towed vehicle brakes.ReadyBrake.com FAQ
The brakes on the towed vehicle will work even when the brake booster on the towed vehicle is not powered (with the engine running). When going downhill, the towed vehicle will not activate the brakes unless the RV is braking (either by applying brakes or using engine braking/downshifting).
The braking from the Ready Brute is also proportional to the amount of brakes applied by the driver. When you brake lightly, the lever on the Ready Brake will move less than in a hard braking situation which makes it a proportional braking system.
What Is the Towing Capacity of the Tow Bar?
The Ready Brute Elite and Elite II tow bars are each rated for up to 8,000 pounds. If you have a heavier vehicle, the Hercules Tow Bar is rated up to 12,000 pounds.
Installing the Ready Brute Elite Tow Bar and Break Away Kit
I installed the Ready Brute Elite tow bar to the motorhome myself and it was very simple. Insert the tow bar to into the tow hitch receiver of the RV. Secure with a locking hitch pin. Note: I opted not to install the included in-dash light monitor.
For the tow vehicle, installation can be a bit more time consuming depending on the make/model of your tow vehicle. The tow bar installation for the Jeep Wrangler JKU was less than two hours.
The directions that came with the tow bar were good, but they were not vehicle specific. The most time consuming part was trying to route the brake cable through the engine compartment without it binding. I would rate this part of the install as easy for a vehicle like the Jeep Wrangler. It may be a bit more difficult with vehicles that have a tighter engine compartment.
Install of the ReadyStop Towed Vehicle Emergency Break Away Kit was easy and straightforward. Make sure that when you’re attaching the end of the break-away system to your RV, attach it to the frame of the vehicle and NOT to the tow hitch receiver as the break-away system will not engage if the receiver is rolling down the road with the vehicle.
How We Attached the Towed Vehicle to the RV
Kait would drive the Jeep Wrangler behind our Class A motorhome and make sure it was somewhat aligned to the center of the tow bar. She left enough room between the Jeep and RV to attached the tow bar legs to our fully integrated aluminum bumper. Then she put the Jeep in tow mode before moving on to the next step.
Each leg on the tow bar is first unlocked by turning the red handle perpendicular to the legs and then pulled out and secured to the mounting points on the Jeep’s bumper using pins (other tow vehicles might use a baseplate) and attached the safety cables. Once the legs were attached, she would turn each red handle so it was parallel to the leg (this put them in the locking position).
Then she would signal me to drive the RV forward. As I drove forward slowly, both tow bar legs would fully extended and lock into the travel position. This also ensured that the Jeep was centered to the RV.
Once the tow bar legs were in the travel position, she would secure the brake cable between the Jeep and the tow bar, attach the ReadyStop cable and plug in the umbilical line that operated the Jeep’s brake lights.
To detach the Jeep from the tow bar was as simple as reversing the process, except that the tow bar legs had to be unlocked before the pins were removed.
Pros of the Ready Brute Tow Bar System
1. Good Instructions
The aluminum tow bar came with clear instructions on how to attach and detach the towed vehicle. Installations instructions were easy to follow and included clear diagrams. However, the install instructions were not vehicle specific so it took some time to figure out how to route the cables and other components specific to our towed vehicle.
2. Easy to Use and Stow
When we were not using the tow bar, it folded up and locked in place which allowed us to drive the RV without having to remove the tow bar.
Kait was the expert at attaching and detaching our Jeep. After getting the process down, it only took her about a minute to secure the tow bar to the Jeep and connect all the cables.
The most time consuming part was aligning the Jeep behind the RV, putting it in tow mode and driving the RV forward to extend and lock the legs of the tow bar in the travel position.
3. Tow Bar Rated for 8,000 lbs
We could comfortably tow the 4,500 pound Jeep Wrangler without any worries. When the Jeep was fully loaded, it weighted in at 4,600 pounds.
4. Mechanical Braking System
The supplemental braking system that comes with the Ready Brute Elite tow bar is completely mechanical and does not rely on any electronics. It was easy to visually verify the entire system was working in good order. Once the Jeep was hooked up, Kait would walk along side the RV and watch to make sure the brake arm on the tow bar actuated when I pressed on the brakes in the RV.
We’ve heard and read stories from people who had an electronic braking system that either stopped working or malfunctioned to the point where the braking system applied the brakes when the RV was not braking which fried the brakes on the towed vehicle.
5. Good Customer Service
We’ve contacted NSA RV Products on several occasions and always had a good customer service experience. One time I called the company about the Ready Brake cable because the coating around the steel cable was starting rub off. The owner answered the phone and walked me through the mechanics of the cable and explained why I didn’t have to be concerned. The coating was put on for looks and didn’t effect the function of the system.
6. Limited Lifetime Warranty
The Ready Brute Elite tow bar and Ready Brake kit are covered under the limited lifetime warranty.
Final Thoughts on the Elite Tow Bar System
We used the system for a year and a half during which time we towed for over 35,000 miles before we downsized to a Class B RV. The tow bar and braking systems worked as expected and we did not experience any issues. Since we started RVing in 2015, we have seen many RV tow bar setups on the road and glad we went with the Ready Brute Elite tow bar setup.
If you found this review helpful and decide to purchase the tow bar, please consider ordering through our Amazon affiliate link. There is no additional fee for the buyer and in return we receive a small percentage of the sale. Thanks for your support! We really appreciate it.
Which tow bar setup do you have for your RV?
32 thoughts on “Ready Brute Elite Tow Bar Review”
We have ordered our Class A (Newmar Bay Star) and toad vehicle (Jeep Wrangler Sport Unlimited). We ordered the Rock Hard aluminum integrated bumper and the Ready Brute Elite II tow bar kit. I’m not too concerned about the bumper install, but I am a bit concerned about the installation of the tow bar (especially the routing of the mechanical brake cable and the lighting harness). I’m pretty good at following directions and have found some YouTube install videos, can this be a “DIY” project or do you recommend finding a professional installer? Thanks, Mark.
I did the install myself in a couple hours. The most difficult part for me was routing the cable through the engine compartment so it didn’t bind. It took me a couple tries but once I got it, we never had any issues. You do have to drill a hole in the firewall, but that was straight forward (at least in our 2015 Wrangler). That said, if the project isn’t something you’re comfortable with, I’d suggest finding an installer who’s willing to warranty their work.
On the NSA website showing the map you referred: ” No matter how you say it, in order to tow a vehicle behind a motorhome or RV legally in any State or Province you must have a base plate bracket installed on the “toad” …”
The Rock Hard bumper is not a base plate system. Is it still legal to tow in all 50 states using the tow bar attached to the bumper instead of a baseplate? Thanks, Mike
Hi Mike – I would suggest contacting them directly and asking as they would know better than we would. Make sure to provide a link or other info so they know exactly what the bumper is. I say that because the brackets that you purchase with the bumper act just like a “baseplate” does and they bolt directly into the frame (the differentiation here is that you’re not bolting something onto the bumper, you’re bolting it into the frame of the Jeep which just so happen to be the same bolts used to hold the bumper on). I’ve also never seen a law that mentions a “baseplate” and how they define one.
Joe, your Amazon link go to the Elite, not the Elite II. Don’t know how it affects your affiliate program.
We are in the process of buying a new Class C and a Wrangler (based on your thoughts). This post was very helpful. Clearly this direct and proportional system is the best concept around. Thank you.
Why did you downsize to a Class B?
Hi Wadi – this post will explain why we made the switch to the class b: https://weretherussos.com/class-b-camper-van-for-full-time-rving/
That said, we’ve been in a truck camper now for over a year: https://weretherussos.com/four-wheel-campers/
What is the difference between the ReadyBrute and the ReadyBrute Elite?
According to their website, the Elite version includes the Ready Brake auxiliary braking system.
Thanks, I see that now. I have a Roadmaster tow bar. What is the advantage of going with the ReadBrake and the ReadyBrake Tow Bar? i.e. Would it be better to just get the ReadyBrake tow bar and sell the Roadmaster?
Have jeep 2018 JKU for sale with aluminum hard rock bumper and readybrute elite tow bar, contact me: email@example.com. we used is just for over a year.
I’m just reading this Joe and i can’t tell if this string is current or old. I’m looking to set up a 2012 wrangler behind my Winnebago Fuse. I have been trying to decide between the surge brake set up and the more conventional electric brake system. For all of your reasons I’m looking seriously at the Ready Brute – simple, easy to hock up, fast. But, what happens when you try to back up a bit (i know you can’t back a toad up much) – does the jeep brakes lock up? For example, you’re at a gas station and you need to back up 3′ to align with the pump? Or, you get jammed in by something in front of you when parked and you need to back up a couple feet to improve your exit angle?
And, in addition to all of the minor back up situations i can dream up, is there any way to actually do some longer back up like with someone sitting in the toad to steer? Anyone ever done this?
I’m new to the whole toad set up so I have lots of questions.
Hey Mark – In short, don’t back up regardless of what system you have. It can cause some severe damage and a person in the back won’t be able to hold the wheel in place and if the wheel suddenly turned, could injure the person trying to hold it. In all the time we towed our Jeep, we only ever had an issue once (trying to make a u-turn) where we had to get out and unhook the Jeep. Just take your time and try to plan your entry/exit when you get some place. Same thing when parking, park in such a way where someone can’t park in front of you and you leave yourself a bit of an exit. For example, if you park along multiple spots, take up a portion of the one in front so a car can’t squeeze in there and then angle the RV enough so you can pull straight out. Worst case, you have to unhook the Jeep to move the RV.
Other piece of caution – make sure you don’t overload your Fuse if towing the Jeep. I don’t know about your particular Fuse but according to Winnebago’s website, the Fuse has a GVWR of 10,360 lbs and a GCWR (weight of RV and toad) of 13,500. This means if you fully load your Fuse, you only have about 3,000 lbs of capacity which is not enough to tow the Jeep. I’d recommend getting your Fuse weighed to determine if you have enough capacity left to tow the Jeep. Most truck stops have a CAT scale where you can get weighed for $11.
How does this impact brake wear on the towed vehicle? We drive into and through mountains a lot.
Hi Keith – we didn’t notice any significant wear. That said, a braking system is required in most states on any towed vehicle. I don’t think this system produces more wear than any other.
We have a problem that 1/3 of the time the hookup to the Jeep is jammed and there is pressure so that you cant disengage red handles nor remove the pins to release the connection. Any suggestions?
Nothing we can think of without actually seeing what is happening. I’d suggest calling ReadyBrute and talking to them. Their customer service is great.
Set emergency brake in towed vehicle, start engine and turn steering wheel fully to the right or left as required to release tension. Works for me every time!
Great information, thank you! My local hitch and welding shop recommended the Hercules to me as opposed to the Ready Brute Elite. I’m a Class C towing a Wrangler. The Hercules seems to be the same but it’s rated up to 12,000 lbs. Has the same braking system. It’s 12lbs heavier but approx. $100 less??? Any experience with this and why they chose it? They said it’s more commonly used now.
Thanks for your straightforward review…I’m purchasing a new Buick Envision to flat tow behind my Phaeton 40QBH and wanted a tough tow bar with a simple mechanical supplemental braking system. I put the bar in my Amazon shopping cart, using your provided link to order as soon as we get to our winter destination in a couple weeks.
Thank you Bill! The ReadyBrute was problem free and we would get another. Unfortunately we only get credit if you complete the purchase within 24 hrs of putting the item in your basket so if you’re able to re-add it once you’re ready to buy, great! Otherwise we’re just happy you’re getting a great tow bar! Thank again!
Joe, bought it through your affiliate link so look for that big commission check! Also bought your same bumper. Question: what clevis do i buy? link? Thanks!
Awesome, thank you! The clevis is specific to the base plate you’re using…so for example, if you have a Blue Ox baseplate you would get this: http://amzn.to/2wyif5l
This post was very helpful, and got a nice extra bump in knowledge about the zerk fittings and their whereabouts… including the F53 chassis (Have a Bounder)!
Very happy you got so much out of it. I picked up a grease gun at Harbor Freight and it’s been working great. Enjoy the Bounder!
Great review, I have the same tow setup and have used it for three years with no problems although you have to have it lined up perfectly or one side may not lock out…at least that has been our experience. Don’t forget to grease the zerk fittings ever so often.
We haven’t had that issue with ours. We can be pretty off center and still get it to work. We will pull the E brake if we’re in a downward incline or that. You can try it in your case if you’re off center too.
Where are the fittings? We haven’t seen any on ours.
I think you can see the zerk fitting in your picture, just under the letter R …. should be one on each leg. I believe the older ones didn’t have the zerks so on those you have to remove the rubber boot and grease inside. Safe Travels.
Found them! Thanks Ray, now we have an excuse to buy a grease gun 🙂
Great, Your F53 chassis has about 9 fittings on the front end too, I hit those once a year as well. Safe travels!