Camping season has begun. I know this for a fact because I am getting more emails asking me the most popular question on this forum. The question is, “Will my <insert specific tow vehicle here> be able to tow my new <insert specific camper here>?"
I suppose it is a good thing that members of this forum are doing their best to research this, because it is a significant question that must be answered, and answered correctly. But I believe I speak for a lot of the members of this forum when I say, “I can’t answer that question for you.”
Please don’t think that I am rude or that I don’t care. In fact the exact opposite is true. Rather, I am giving you very friendly advice and I do care about you. Therefore, I am writing this post.
In fact, I have found that there is only one expert on this entire forum which is even remotely qualified to answer that question, and I strongly suggest you only expect a reliable answer to that question from this one member. That member is you.
You are the only one that has a good grasp on your specific driving skill, your budget, your risk tolerance, the trailer you are purchasing, and the true capability of your vehicle. Therefore might I suggest you do the following research before you make your decision: Obtain the towing guide for your vehicle, and read it cover to cover.
Every vehicle that is capable of towing something has a towing guide, and vice versa. I have been able to find them by searching the manufacturer’s website. Make sure the guide is specific to your model year. Just because the 2010 model looks almost identical to the 2002 model does not mean it can tow the same.
Unless you want to be a test driver--or what is sometimes referred to a crash-test dummy--I highly recommend that you comply with the limits specified with-in the manufacturers towing guides.
I trust these guides for two reasons:
- If you have spent time in the USA, you know that we have a high concentration of tort lawyers that are ready to file suit with any potential problem. Just like you and me, the auto manufactures do not like to talk to plaintiff lawyers either. Therefore, they have published their towing guides to make it clear what their vehicles are capable of towing, and the precautions you should take while doing so.
- Because of #1, the auto manufacturers cannot afford to publish lies in print with their company logo on it. Therefore, they need to test their vehicles to verify they can truly tow what they say they can.
I live in Colorado, and by my estimation Colorado is second only to Michigan for automobile testing. The auto manufacturers love to bring their camouflaged test vehicles up to the I-70 corridor for high-altitude grade-A Rocky-Mountain road testing.
When they bring their next-generation tow vehicles here for testing, they hitch them to a contraption that looks a-lot like a flat-bed trailer full of iron weights and a solid wall at the front of the trailer to simulate wind drag. Then they parade these vehicles up and down the 6-7% grades of I-70 stopping only to buy gas, and fuel the drivers up on fast-food and gas-station fare. They go to all this trouble, because they want to know the question to a very important question before they give the answer to us, “Is it safe to tow with this vehicle?”
They then take their data back to where ever they came from and use it as a basis to publish their towing guide.
Once you have the guide in hand, study it, review it, read the specs on your trailer, do the math, and make sure you trust your conclusions. If you are confused about anything in these guides, bring your specific questions to this forum, we are happy to give you our experience. However, be careful not to go beyond the capabilities of your vehicle specified in this guide; that is territory where only test drivers belong.
One last thing--and it almost goes without saying--if you have a friend
who tells you that you can tow your camper with your tow vehicle, and that friend
is the same guy you bought your camper from, be skeptical.....very skeptical.
In the end, thoughtful and careful research from reliable sources
is the only thing that separates a savvy consumer from a crash-test dummy.