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Old 08-19-2013, 08:53 PM   #1
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2013 AWD Yukon Denali - NEWBIE towing questions

Hello everyone. COMPLETE newbie here to the world of towing a travel trailer. So please bare with me and any help or insight you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Peace of mind in what Iím towing is very important to me and my gut says itís not as simple as what some of the dealers make it out to be. The thought of pulling out of a dealer with a brand new trailer and realizing Iíve bitten off more than my Yukon can tow makes me sick! When reading this keep in mind I am definitely going with a weight distribution hitch to just be safe, as anything I select will at least be over 4500lbs.

So to the details: Our TV is a 2013 GMC Yukon Denali. Itís a 6.2L V8. It has a 3.42 axle ratio (NO idea what this means but seems to come up a lot). GMC claims a max trailering capacity of 8100lbs. It has a maximum tongue capacity of 600lbs, but moves up to 1000lbs max with a weight-distributing hitch. GVWR is 7300lbs. GAWR Front is 3550lbs. GAWR Rear is 4200lbs. GCWR is 14,000lbs.

I can not, no matter how much Iíve read, put all these numbers into anything that makes sense to ME. I want to be sure the trailer we purchase is not exceeding the recommended limits for this TV. The trailers Iím looking at are well under the max, and most fall right around 5000lbs (yellow sticker). More importantly to me, the wheelbase on the Yukon is 116 inches, so Iím also concerned about how long of a trailer I can pull before it becomes too much. Again keeping in mind that I will be using a weight distribution hitch.

Answers or simply advise to any of these questions will help us determine what size of trailer we can safely look at. We are torn between a bunk house (double bed, double bunk style - Rockwood UltraLite 2702SS style) type travel trailer which obviously get bigger, longer, and heavier vs. a hybrid style expandable trailer (Rockwood Roo 23IKSS style) which is obviously shorter and lighter.

So ANY honest opinions on what we can safely and honestly tow (both weight and length wise) would again be appreciated. With fellow forum readers like you all, I feel because you have no interest in selling me an RV, I will find an HONEST answer. Sorry to be long windedÖ.it just feels good to get this all down and out!
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Old 08-19-2013, 09:30 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrpeterson5 View Post
Hello everyone. COMPLETE newbie here to the world of towing a travel trailer. So please bare with me and any help or insight you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Peace of mind in what I’m towing is very important to me and my gut says it’s not as simple as what some of the dealers make it out to be. The thought of pulling out of a dealer with a brand new trailer and realizing I’ve bitten off more than my Yukon can tow makes me sick! When reading this keep in mind I am definitely going with a weight distribution hitch to just be safe, as anything I select will at least be over 4500lbs.

So to the details: Our TV is a 2013 GMC Yukon Denali. It’s a 6.2L V8. It has a 3.42 axle ratio (NO idea what this means but seems to come up a lot). GMC claims a max trailering capacity of 8100lbs. It has a maximum tongue capacity of 600lbs, but moves up to 1000lbs max with a weight-distributing hitch. GVWR is 7300lbs. GAWR Front is 3550lbs. GAWR Rear is 4200lbs. GCWR is 14,000lbs.

I can not, no matter how much I’ve read, put all these numbers into anything that makes sense to ME. I want to be sure the trailer we purchase is not exceeding the recommended limits for this TV. The trailers I’m looking at are well under the max, and most fall right around 5000lbs (yellow sticker). More importantly to me, the wheelbase on the Yukon is 116 inches, so I’m also concerned about how long of a trailer I can pull before it becomes too much. Again keeping in mind that I will be using a weight distribution hitch.

Answers or simply advise to any of these questions will help us determine what size of trailer we can safely look at. We are torn between a bunk house (double bed, double bunk style - Rockwood UltraLite 2702SS style) type travel trailer which obviously get bigger, longer, and heavier vs. a hybrid style expandable trailer (Rockwood Roo 23IKSS style) which is obviously shorter and lighter.

So ANY honest opinions on what we can safely and honestly tow (both weight and length wise) would again be appreciated. With fellow forum readers like you all, I feel because you have no interest in selling me an RV, I will find an HONEST answer. Sorry to be long winded….it just feels good to get this all down and out!
I tow with an '08 sequoia, it has similar characteristics to your yukon.

My SUV has 4.30 gearing vs. your 3.42's. The higher the numerical gearing the lower the gear ratio, traditionally meaning a higher tow rating.

Trailer weight is a concern but so is your payload capacity. Weight distribution is a must, even for trucks. Anything over 25 feet should also have dual sway controllers (if you go with a friction type setup).

This forum has every answer here, take your time and search it out.

As far as the trailer goes, the floorplan is the most important thing (IMHO).

From my personal experience, if I lived anywhere near california or a state with similar terrain I would stick to a trailer of less than 6000lbs (dry) and make sure it was a low rider (torsion suspension).

BTW, my truck was originally rated for 8800 lbs towing, with the new SAE J2807 tow standard it is now rated at 7200lbs. GM hasn't adopted that standard yet (that I'm aware of).

You'll hear the 80% rule (don't go over 80% of your tow rating with the trailer loaded) which I isn't a bad place to start...

Good luck
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Old 08-19-2013, 09:47 PM   #3
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For the actual camper weight loaded, you'll need to add at least 1000 lbs to the yellow sticker dry weights and figure on a tongue weight that's 12-13% of that loaded weight. Or better yet, use the campers GVWR as the weight guideline. Either way, I'd suggest that you stay under 6500 lbs loaded which would put the ideal tongue weight around 800 lbs. As already mentioned, you really need to pay attention to the payload capacity, especially if you have many passengers or gear to carry in the SUV.

The shorter wheelbase makes sway control of utmost importance...you may want to consider a premium W/D sway control hitch like Pro Pride or Hennessey to keep it in check. For camper length you might go as long as 28' with the hitches mentioned above.

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Old 08-19-2013, 09:58 PM   #4
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Ok, so here are the numbers that matter:

Quote:
GVWR is 7300lbs. GAWR Front is 3550lbs. GAWR Rear is 4200lbs. GCWR is 14,000lbs.
What you firstly need to find out is what your current vehicle weighs when you're loaded like you are going camping. Make sure you have all of the usual passengers, pets and gear and travel stuff. You can go to a truck stop if you're near a highway- they almost all have CAT Scales or the like to get weighed. If you can, get numbers for the front and rear axles.

Then, you can start to do some math. Essentially the number from your GVWR (7,300 pounds) minus your loaded weight is what is left over for tongue weight of the camper. The camper's tongue weight is typically 10%-15% of the camper's actual loaded weight.

I say "actual loaded" weight specifically because the advertised dry weights are fictional in the real world. The moment the camper gets to the dealer, they should add propane and battery to it- increasing the weight from advertised. Heck, anything you add adds to the dry weight.

It is said that most people add 1,000-1,500 pounds to the dry weight of a camper. The most conservative number to go off of is the GVWR as that is the maximum that the camper is to ever weigh. To figure out the tongue weight for estimating purposes, take 10% and 15% of the campers' GVWR that you're looking at.

These tongue weight estimates and ensure that the GVWR minus truck weight number is higher than them.
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Old 08-19-2013, 10:05 PM   #5
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JR, 1st thing......welcome to the forum !!!

You are wise to be asking the questions before buying a trailer.

Shineysideup has some good information there, but I am going to add to that.

Your 3.42 gear ratio means that your drive-shaft revolves 3.42 turns for every revolution that your tires make. If your transmission has a 1 to 1 ratio, then that is also the same number of revolutions that your engine makes to drive the wheels. Overdrive reduces that some. The more revolutions that the engine takes to turn the rear wheels means more power, but less speed. A 3.73 final drive ratio means the drive-shaft turns over 3.73 times to 1 revolution of the wheels. More power to the wheels, but less speed per engine revolution. Confused yet ??

In Shineysideup's case, it could be that the transmission is geared lower, maybe giving him the same power at the wheels as some SUVs with transmissions that are geared higher. I think I just confused myself.

Generally speaking, a higher numeric (lower gear ratio) final drive ratio means more power to the wheels, and a better tow vehicle.

Length of trailer: There is no "written in stone" rules on that. A common equation is to take the wheelbase of the tow vehicle in inches, divide by 5, and that gives you a maximum total trailer length in feet for a conventional upright travel trailer. Using that equation with your Yukon, that would be about a 23' trailer.

A more concerning figure would be your GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating). That should be stated on a sticker on your driver's side door. The tongue weight of the trailer you buy will add significantly to the wieght of your Yukon. The best thing you can do to figure what kind of tongue weight can be added without exceeding your GVWR, is to load up all of the family (including Fido), throw what camping gear and luggage you expect to take on a trip, and head to some truck scales and see what your actual vehicle weight is. Subtract that from your GVWR, and that is the maximum tongue weight that your Yukon can handle.

Also note that you have a GCWR (gross combined weight rating). Even though your have a 8100 lb. tow rating, that is usually figured on an empty vehicle plus a 150 lb. driver. As the weight of the Yukon increases, then the tow rating decreases.
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Old 08-19-2013, 10:05 PM   #6
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If your towing capacity is 8100 pounds (although that sounds high for a 3.42 ratio), you ought to stick with a trailer that grosses out at 6100 pounds (GVWR or the cargo capacity plus the yellow sticker). I believe in keeping the GVWR at least a ton under the vehicles tow rating. Keep in mind the cargo capacity on the trailer includes water, battery, propane and propane tanks as well as all your stuff.

When I calculated for our current trailer, I added to the yellow sticker:
28 gallons of fresh water (230 pounds rounded up)
6 gallons in water heater (48 pounds)
Battery (50 pounds)
Propane, two 20 pound tanks (40 pounds)
Propane tanks (not sure, guessed 15 pounds total)
Yellow sticker on trailer: 4600 pounds
Total so far: 4983 pounds
Add around 500 pounds of stuff, I'm basically looking at 5500 pounds of trailer if carrying a full tank of water.
I forget what my cargo capacity is, but I figured my trailers GVWR to be about 7400 pounds. 2300 pounds under my truck's towing capacity. Check!
My Tundra, which also has 4.30 gears, has an SAE tow rating of 9700 pounds. So I feel fine, lots of room. I pull easily, accelerate on steep hills, and no over heating.
If it were me with that vehicle, I'd go with the hybrid. The bunk house is going to be Tom heavy. But in the end, it's your judgement call.
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Old 08-19-2013, 10:23 PM   #7
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I just traded out of a 2011 Yukon XL Denali. Same as yours except the XL which has a longer wheelbase. I bought a 2014 30' wildwood. The trailer was about 1600 below the tow ratings. I had plenty of power and adequate braking with the integrated brake controller. I used a Reese dual cam weight distributing hitch. Even with the dual cam anti sway it felt like it was wandering all over the road. It wasn't trailer sway but it wandered and took a lot of driver correction to stay in the lanes.

What it came down to was the tires that are on the Yukon. They are "P" (passenger car) rated tires. The sidewall has to much flex for carrying the load of a sizable trailer or payload. You really need LT (light truck) tires that have heavier stiffer sidewalls. I also noticed the same situation with a smaller rented travel trailer last year.

I traded for a new 2012 F350 diesel to fix the problem. I liked my Yukon, but love my truck. The Denali will be fine in regards to drive terrain and braking. I think the tires will be your weakest link.

I didn't notice where you live, but I have a set of Blizzak snow and ice tires with only 3000 miles on them. They make a huge difference in the winter time even with all wheel drive. I am looking to sell them at a fair price

Jason
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Old 08-20-2013, 12:11 AM   #8
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I had a 2008 Denali XL that I used to tow my previous trailer, 2501ss, about 27'. I always had plenty of power. But a couple of things caused me to go with the 3/4 ton. 1 - always felt goosey, even with equalizer hitch. 2 - with our mountains the trans temp would get pretty hot even with the factory trans cooler. The 3/4 ton made a HUGE difference! And made it easier to move on up to the fifth wheel.
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Old 08-20-2013, 02:25 AM   #9
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jrpeterson5--I have a Durango, similar to your Denali. 119" wheelbase so slightly longer but towing capacity of 7200 lbs, slightly less than the Denali. I have the 5.7 Hemi, again slightly less than your 6.2. The yellow sticker on my Mini Lite is 3600 lbs with cargo capacity of 1050 lbs. The Mini Lite is 21.6 feet long. I have the Equalizer 4 way anti sway WD hitch.

The reason I mention all of this is that I am in the middle of a 3 month trip from Minnesota to Alaska. So far I have about 5500 miles on this trip and it has been mountains, mountains and more mountains. The Durango and Mini Lite have worked well together. It appears to be an appropriate combination. I have not had any sway issues and have had no problems going up or down 7% grades.

If you are like me and don't want to buy a pickup truck, then be realistic with what your Denali can handle comfortably! I would suggest 21 to no more than 23 feet and look at the ultra light type units. The weight a SUV can handle is also less than a pickup truck.

If you are conservative, I think you will be a lot more comfortable when you are driving and a lot safer. A WD hitch is an absolute requirement in my opinion. Don't try to push the limits and I think you will be happier. It has worked for me. If you want a longer or heavier RV then you need to look at a truck.

You are doing the right thing by reading this forum and asking your questions. Good luck with your purchase.
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Old 08-20-2013, 07:21 AM   #10
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Your getting a lot of good info here for sure!
Just adding a little to it ...
check this web site out, it can help or totally confuse ya
But with a little time and effort you can find out what you can haul safely.
Dont rely on the dealer for accurate weight info. Most of the time they look at your weight rating of your tv and tt. They dont even worry about the rest of stuff that goes into calculating a safe weight for towing.

Oh and the mfg info on campers most of the time there on the low side. My lacrosse info said I had a togue 875lbs. Went to the scales and found out it was 1,200 lbs. With hardly anything added to the camper

Travel Trailer Weight Calculator

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