Skip to Content

The Ultimate Guide to Towed Vehicle Protection: Mudflaps to Shields

The Ultimate Guide to Towed Vehicle Protection: Mudflaps to Shields

Towing a car behind a motorhome leaves it open to damage from rocks, especially when you’re traveling on unpaved roads. Nobody wants to have to deal with chipped paint or, even worse, a cracked windshield. Fortunately, there are options for tow vehicle protection. We’ve used one of these options extensively ourselves, with good results. But is any towed vehicle rock protection 100% effective?

In this post, we’ll tell you the best ways to protect a towed vehicle from rocks as you travel down the road, and what you need to be aware of as you shop for that protection.

What Kind of Towed Vehicle Protection Is Best for Your RV?

There are several good options available to protect a towed vehicle as it rides down the road behind a motorhome. Which type of protection works best depends to some degree on the type of motorhome and tow vehicle you have, and it can also be influenced by the type of tow bar system you have.

Let’s take a look at the variety of different options available that can serve as an RV towed vehicle shield to protect your toad from damage as you travel.

Mudflaps

Adding a full-width mudflap (sometimes referred to as a rock guard) to the back of your motorhome can help prevent rocks and other road debris from being kicked up onto your towed car. We’ve used this style of protection for a couple of decades. We had an Ultra Guard on our first motorhome for two years, and then we had a factory-installed equivalent on our Newmar Mountain Aire diesel pusher for the next 18 years.

Our Newmar motorhome's full-width mudflap

At the top of this photo you can see how our factory-installed, full-width mudflap extended almost to the road, helping to protect our toad car!

This level of protection worked quite well for us, though it’s not 100% effective for everyone, depending on where you travel. Based on our travel style, and considering our motorhome and tow car setup, we never needed to use any additional product for tow vehicle protection… and we never had a single chip or crack in our windshield due to towing the car.

However, our setup offered some extra protection because of the large, black plastic bumper our 2003 Honda CR-V had. It was nearly impervious to everything and extended fairly far up the front of the car, providing good protection from anything flung up by the RV. All of this combined with our style of travel (we never took our motorhome to Alaska and we drive slowly and carefully on unpaved roads) meant that the full-width mudflap was perfectly sufficient for our needs.

The front bumper of our 2003 Honda CR-V

Our 2003 Honda CR-V had a large, black plastic bumper that came up high enough to protect the vehicle from any road debris that might get past the full-width mudflap on our motorhome.

If you frequently travel on unimproved roads and/or have a tendency to catch yourself going a little too fast on them, this may not be sufficient protection for you. One year we were planning to travel to Alaska and decided to install a barrier like the Roadmaster Tow Defender/Protect-a-Tow (highlighted below). We chose this option because we’d read a lot of information indicating that it was the best choice for keeping the rocks and gravel on the beat-up sections of the Alcan Highway from being flung up onto the car. 

As it turned out, we had to scrap our plans for that trip, so we never did need the Tow Defender. All of this is to say that under normal travel conditions, a high-quality full-width mudflap may well be all the protection you need.

We should note that some people feel like these rubber-style mudflaps can cause rocks and debris to be flung up from the road onto the towed vehicle. We never experienced that issue.

RV Full-Width Mudflap

SMART SOLUTIONS (00014 94" x 20" Rock Solid Ultra Guard
  • Provides tough shielding for the back of your coach and your vehicle in tow from rocks, diesel oil, gravel, tar and other road debris
  • Made of a special blend of rubber with reinforcing fabric and ribs molded in to reduce wind sail and to ensure durability

Bras/Covers/Nose Masks

Adding a bra/cover/nose mask to your toad when it’s being pulled behind your motorhome can also offer good protection against rocks and debris. A bra can have the added advantage of protecting your toad even when it’s not attached to your motorhome. The downside of bras is that they can sometimes result in paint/finish damage, particularly if you don’t regularly clean under them.

Covers can provide even more complete protection, making sure the windshield is covered to prevent chips and stars. The downside of a cover is that it has to be put in place each time you connect, which may be something you’d prefer not to deal with.

A Tow Car Shield installed on a car behind towed

This cover is called the “Tow Car Shield”. It offers great protection but has to be attached every time you intend to tow the car behind your rig. (Photo credit: RV and Off-Road)

Tow Defender / Protect-a-Tow

These are mesh/fabric devices that extend between the RV and the towed vehicle, creating a barrier to anything that’s thrown up by the RV. This piece of gear keeps road debris from being able to reach the hood or windshield of your towed car. The debris simply continues underneath the car and out the back.

Like the Tow Car Shield cover above, however, this type of tow vehicle protection requires more setup when connecting. However, these are very effective and are popular among travelers planning trips to Alaska in particular because the construction and unpaved sections of the Alcan Highway are notorious for rock damage to towed vehicles.

We should note that if you have a diesel pusher, it’s possible that hot exhaust from the engine can damage the vinyl fabric of these devices. This occurs because diesel pusher exhaust pipes come out at the rear bumper. So unless they’re angled to direct the exhaust out the side of the RV, they direct their heat backward toward the toad.

To address this issue, Roadmaster offers an accessory called the “Heat Shield”, which is an add-on to the Tow Defender. It puts a heat-protective layer on the passenger-side front corner of the Tow Defender, preventing the hot exhaust from damaging the vinyl mesh fabric.

Roadmaster Tow Defender Model 4750

This model of the Roadmaster Tow Defender is for Blue Ox, Demco, and Roadmaster tow bars with “direct connect” baseplates.

ROADMASTER 4750 Tow Defender
  • Quick installation and release
  • Lightweight and compact — weighs just 14.5 pounds, and rolls up to four inches in diameter

Roadmaster Tow Defender Model 4700

This model is for Roadmaster tow bars with “crossbar style” baseplates.

Roadmaster 4700 Tow Defender
  • Powder-coated steel supports and heavy-duty gas struts for maximum durability, support and cornering flexibility
  • Country of Origin : China

Roadmaster Heat Shield

This is the piece noted above that attaches to the Tow Defender to protect it from the heat of the exhaust on diesel pushers. The Roadmaster Head Shield can be purchased through eTrailer.

Protect-a-Tow

The Protect-a-Tow has a universal fit for regular 8′ and wide-body 8.5′ width motorhomes. This product isn’t recommended for diesel pushers with rear exiting exhaust pipes (see the Roadmaster Tow Defender and Heat Shield above for that application). Also, if you’re using a tall drop/rise hitch, or a hitch extender, with your tow bar setup… or if you tow using a dolly… you may need an extended-length Protect-a-Tow. In all of these situations, it’s best to contact Protect-a-Tow directly (1-888-264-5444) to inquire about compatibility.

Protect-a-Tow, MH-9854 Towed Vehicle Protection for Vehicles Being Towed Behind Motorhomes.
  • Protect-a-Tow is the ultimate protection for your towed vehicle.
  • Protects your towed vehicle, Motorhome and tow bar from flying road debris.

Rock Shields

Rock shields are hard plastic barriers that mount to the front of the towed car, usually to the lugs that connect the tow bar to the base plate. They stick almost straight up, creating a wall against rocks and debris being flung up onto the car from the road.

Examples of rock shields/guards are shown below.

Please note: if you’re interested in a hard shield like this you’ll need to check your towed car’s owner’s manual before purchasing one. Some vehicles have transmission coolers and need good air flow when being towed. Blocking airflow to the radiator using one of these shields could lead to damage.

Roadmaster Guardian Rock Shield

This rock shield only works with Roadmaster tow bars that have the “crossbar style” baseplates.

ROADMASTER 4000 Guardian Rock Shield
  • Not compatible with EZ5, MS, or MX baseplates
  • The package length is 116.586 centimeters

Blue Ox KarGard

This type of rock shield attaches to Blue Ox baseplates at the triple-lug connections. Note that these fold in half for easier storage.

Blue Ox BX8870 KarGard Protective Shield , Black
  • A polyethylene shield protects the towed vehicle from road debris and folds for storage.
  • Aluminum mounting equipment is designed for quick and easy installation.

Demco Sentry

Demco offers two models. The first model shown below is for use on flat-towed vehicles. For much more information on flat-towing, please see our posts on what cars can be flat-towed behind an RV and what is the best tow bar for flat-towing.

Demco 9523135 Sentry Rock Deflector
  • Unique position and 30º angle deflect debris down and away from your vehicle; Messy cleanup and costly paint chip repair are minimized
  • High density polyethylene retains its shape and takes destructive abuse; Lightweight but strong, the Sentry Deflector is durable, yet pliable and...

The following Demco model can be used when dolly towing. For more information on this type of towing, see our post on how to choose and use an RV tow dolly.

Sale
DEMCO 5950 Sentry Rock Deflector, Black
  • Unique position and 30 degree angle deflect debris down and away from your vehicle. Messy cleanup and costly paint chip repair are minimized
  • High Density Polyethylene retains its shape and takes destructive abuse

We hope all of this information is helpful to you as you consider what might be the best tow vehicle protection for your particular use. If you use any type of towed vehicle rock protection that has performed well for you, drop us a comment below to let us know about your experience. Be sure to include some information about your motorhome and towed vehicle and the type of roads on which you typically drive.

Free RVing Tips, Tricks, Reviews & Giveaways

As 20-year full-timers, we share everything we’ve learned about RVing over the years. Join our online community to receive a wealth of great RVing knowledge delivered daily to your inbox.

Whether you’re a new RVer or a seasoned full-timer, you’ll love the wide range of RVing topics we cover. Don’t miss a single article or any of our famous Giveaways. Subscribe to our newsletter today!

We'd Love It If You Shared This!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Loggenrock

Saturday 1st of June 2024

As one who has driven to Alaska, I'd say the biggest source of windshield damage comes not from the vehicle towing, but rather from oncoming vehicles going in the opposite direction at higher rates of speed. I found simply slowing down and pulling over when meeting oncoming traffic was the best approach.

Ethan Bernstein

Saturday 1st of June 2024

We did Alcan last summer towing a Jeep. We installed a UltraGuard mudflap and Tow Defender and these worked so well keeping our Jeep pristine. We eventually had to put in a new windshield after the trip…thanks to driving on Dalton Highway to Prudhoe Bay (without RV).

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

PLEASE NOTE: We're handy RVers, not professional technicians. We're happy with the techniques and products we use, but be sure to confirm that all methods and materials you use are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.

We participate in affiliate programs from many companies (including the Amazon affiliate program), which provides a means for us to earn a small commission by linking to products there. But our opinions are our own and we only link to products we can recommend to friends with complete confidence. And using our links won't cost you an extra penny!