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Old 05-15-2012, 04:01 PM   #1
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Help me understand the numbers on towing capacity of my Yukon Denali

First of all, my hat is off to those of you who understand all this stuff and who take the time to explain it. I am trying to learn and want to see if I am getting it right. I would like to get a ballpark on the capability of my 2008 Yukon Denali to tow a larger trailer. We currently have a 17 ft. Jayco featherlight, with the tent beds on each end, but want to move to a trailer with a walk around bed and more amenities, hopefully without changing our TV. I used the calculator in Changing Gears that was referenced in some of the threads. I read the manual for the car, and got the numbers off the door plates as explained in the manual. I also have the original window sticker from the car. Using these sources, I came up with the following information:

This is the short version of the Denali,not the XL. It is an AWD vehicle, with a 6.2 V8, and axle ratio of 3.42. It has self leveling rear shocks and autoride suspension.
GVWR 7,100
GCWR 14,000
Max trailer weight 7,900
GAWR 3550 front, 4100 rear
MVCW 1375 (found on door of car)
Max tongue weight (from manual) 600 lbs with weight carrying hitch, 1000 lbs with weight distributing hitch [ we plan to purchase the latter)

Putting this info into the Changing Gears calculator, I come up with Max. trailer weight of 6,900 lbs, but only 5,520 if I use the 20% safety margin. Please confirm that this is the number I should use for the LOADED trailer - not the dry weight of the trailer. Right? Thus, if there is going to be 1000 lbs of gear/propane/water in the trailer, then the trailer itself should only weigh 4,520 lbs, if abiding by the 20% safety rule. Right?

I understand that the dry trailer weight listed in the Rockwood trailer brochure may be/probably is less than the actual weight of the trailer. Can I trust the number posted on the door of the actual unit is a pretty accurate dry weight - provided the dealer hasn't added any items?

What about the weight of the hitch? Is it counted as part of the trailer load in making this calculation? Or is it counted as part of the additional weight that the car carries?

The Changing Gear calculator also says that the max. tongue weight (assuming the tongue weight is 12% of trailer weight) is 828 lbs, but if using the 20% margin, it is 662 lbs. Am I right that this is simply a calculation based on the maximum trailer weight @ 12%?

Finally, I am confused by the MVCW number of 1325, found on the door of the car. Based on what it says in the car manual, this appears to be the maximum amount of weight you can put in the car itself. If so, and if the passengers and dog weigh 535 lbs, that only leaves 840 lbs of additional weight that the car can carry. Does the weight of the gasoline, and the hitch weight come out of this number? How about the tongue weight? Do I subtract it from this number? If so, it seems like we won't be able to carry anything in the car if we are pulling a trailer, and that we should go on diets and get a smaller dog!

Put it all together and it looks like to me that we need to consider something smaller than the 2604 Rockwood Ultralite that we fell in love with that has a dry weight posted on the door of about 5800 lbs. Either that, or get a different TV.

I really appreciate your guidance in understanding these numbers.
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Old 05-15-2012, 04:32 PM   #2
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You have done a lot of homework already.....kudos to you !!

The 6900 lbs that you got from changing gears is probably the GCWR minus the Yukon's GVWR. If you don't load the Yukon to the max, then you can tow more.

But, as you stated, by the time you add the passengers and the dog (535 lbs), plus the weight of the trailer tongue you will be close to the GVWR of the Yukon.....or maybe even over. The MVCW (I presume that means maximum vehicle cargo weight ??) is figured on what the factory says your vehicle weighed when made. Some fluids are figured into that and some not.....like gas. Any other additions you have added to the Yukon would also have to befigured in. You would also have to figure in camping gear and such thrown into the back.....it all adds up.

The hitch is part of the tow vehicle, and would add to your Yukon weight. That alone can be 60 lbs. or so.

The tongue weight listed in brochures is usually a low estimate of tongue weight. After propane and a battery are added, that can be an additional 100 lbs. or more. Also, as you load the camper, the tongue will get heavier.

BTW..... to the forum !!
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Old 05-15-2012, 04:42 PM   #3
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Reading through your note without running the numbers it looks like you have it right. not sure what everyone runs for margin, but just want to make sure you are not confusing margin with hitch weight percentage of load, for a TT is 10-15% You could drop your margin to get a larger hitch weight (15%) gives you 850lbs (weight dist) but I do not see a way for you to get to the 6629lbs GVWR of the 2604 at best it looks like it would be about .5% margin on that TT and TV combo.
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Old 05-15-2012, 04:47 PM   #4
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TT specs for what the OP was asking,

2604 Rockwood Ultralite

Dry Weight 5228lbs
GVWR 6629lbs
Cargo Capacity 1363lbs
Hitch Weight 629lbs
Axle Weight 4599lbs
Exterior Height 9.33'
Exterior Length 29.08'
Exterior Width 8.00'
Interior Height 6.50'
Fresh Water
Black Water
Gray Water 37gal
38gal
38gal
Awning Size 21'
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Old 05-15-2012, 04:52 PM   #5
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Another thing that should be considered is the length of the trailer in relation to the wheelbase of the tow vehicle. That trailer is close to 30' long......that is a lot of trailer for a vehicle with a 116" wheelbase.
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Old 05-15-2012, 04:53 PM   #6
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This will take a bit so bear with us.

Some quick replies to your questions:

Finally, I am confused by the MVCW number of 1325, found on the door of the car. Based on what it says in the car manual, this appears to be the maximum amount of weight you can put in the car itself.

Yea, that was my guess too. Payload. However I will look that up when I validate your numbers.

If so, and if the passengers and dog weigh 535 lbs, that only leaves 840 lbs of additional weight that the car can carry.

If it is payload, that is correct.

Does the weight of the gasoline?

No, a full tank and a 150 pound driver are included in the Curb weight and not counted towards payload.

How about the tongue weight?

That IS counted as payload.

Do I subtract it from this number? YES If so, it seems like we won't be able to carry anything in the car if we are pulling a trailer, and that we should go on diets and get a smaller dog!

Tow ratings are based on a tow vehicle AT its curb weight for a given drive train and towing options (or lack thereof).

Anything you put in the car has to come off the tongue weight allowed.

But not all is lost. Remember that tongue weight depends on loading.
Moving heavy items to the rear (provided the required 10-15% ratio of tongue to gross is maintained) can shift some weight to the camper.

You do not need the 20% extra capacity stated in the calculator. Use 10% if you will be towing infrequently and can eat the extra gas if you have to make a long pull up a hill for example.

Like I said, I will re-look at all your excellent work and get back with you tonight after I validate your ratings and re-run the calculator.
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Old 05-15-2012, 05:01 PM   #7
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It sure does add up!
By the way, I forgot to say that the car came with the "Trailering Equipment Heavy Duty"

The MVCW on the car door is described in the manual as the: "Maximum Vehicle Capacity Weight". I am kind of surpised that this may wind up being a huge limitation. I did a rough calculation as follows, but am not sure it is right.
MVCW = 1375. It is described in the manual as "all occupants and cargo cannot exceed this amount"
people and dog = 535
gas (I am guessing this qualifies as cargo?) = 22 gallons (guessing here) @ 6.073lb/gallon (from wiki) = 133 lbs.
That leaves only about 700 lbs for tongue , hitch (?) and any stuff in the car!!
According to the Changing Gears calculation, if I stick with the 20% safety factor on loaded trailer weight as the max, the tongue would be 662lbs at 12%. That means I could only carry about 40lbs of additional "stuff" in the Yukon. Heck, my purse sometimes seems to weigh more than that! And maybe the hitch takes up that amount? If I ignore the 20% safety factor, my tongue weight could go up to 828lbs. But when combined with the people, dog and gas, the MVCW would be exceeded by about 100 lbs. Am I getting that right?
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Old 05-15-2012, 05:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NancyTX View Post
Am I getting that right?
Like I said I need some time to sit down and wrap my head around this, but yea, you are getting it right.

The gas and the 150 pound driver do not count against that payload I do not believe. To be honest I have never seen payload described as it is on your door.

If you want to get blown away, just check how little you can tow with the big Hummer. I think a tricycle can tow more.

There is enough here to work with and if I need more I will get back to you.
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Old 05-15-2012, 05:09 PM   #9
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What year is your Denali?

never mind I found it in your profile -> 2008
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Old 05-15-2012, 05:14 PM   #10
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Great info so far.... the only thing I can really add is my experience and opinion.

Basically, I'm okay loading right up to the max by adding airbags and better tires than come stock. The airbags help prevent the rear from sagging and most people consider tires to be the weak link in most tow setups.

But, all that being said, it is a drag to always be right at your limit and have to think and plan about what you're bringing with.

A 2500 series Yukon is a great tow vehicle but be ready for a MUCH stiffer ride. I basically have that vehicle (2500 Silverado Duramax) and it's a lot bumpier than my old 1/2 ton. But it's a much better TV. So, like everything, there are trade-offs.
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