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Old 01-04-2015, 01:16 AM   #1
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Newbie... Help with Tongue Weight


I am new to the forum. My husband and I are looking at purchasing a TT. The model we are currently looking at is the Wolf Pup 16BHS. My concern on this particular model is the tongue weight. The specs list the tongue weight at 424lbs. The GVWR of the trailer is 3924lbs. My guess is, we will not be at the max for the weight.

Our tow vehicle is a 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum with the tow package. Hitch supports 5,000 lbs with a max tongue weight of 500 lbs. We would not have an excessive amount of cargo in the car, but passengers would be two 150 lbs adults and two young children.

Dealer says we can easily tow this trailer with our vehicle. I am not so sure. We would have a WDH installed and sway bars. I really don't understand how these play into the equation though. I read on a thread somewhere that you should add the weight of the WDH?

Can someone help point me in the right direction? I really dont want to buy too much trailer for my tow vehicle

One other point, we will be trailering this long distances... from Chicago to yellowstone this year and most likely to Maine next year, so we don't want a horrible experience.


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Old 01-04-2015, 01:57 AM   #2
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Hello and welcome from NC. Looking at the specs on that trailer you will likely load it close to max. On average most people tend to add 1000-1500 lbs of stuff to a trailer. Believe it or not dishes, clothes, chairs, firewood, etc add up. Add to that kids toys, anything like pack and play or strollers etc. To give you an idea my family of 3 (we have a 7 yr old dd and a 60 lb dog) added 1300 lbs of stuff to our trailer and we took up about 800 lbs of payload for our family, dog, fiver hitch (150 lbs for this), etc. I think the safest thing for your family is to figure weights out as worst case scenario which means using trailer gvwr for calculations. Ideal tongue weight is 13-15% of loaded trailer weight. This means A gvwr of 3924 could potentially have a tongue weight of 510-588 lbs. On your hitch is the 500 lb max load bearing or with weight distribution?

Next let's talk about payload. Inside your drivers door is a tire loading sticker that will say occupants and cargo should not exceed x lbs. From that number you need to subtract the weight of car seats, family members, pets and any gear that will be in the pathfinder. It might be easier to load everyone into the pathfinder and go weigh it with a full tank of fuel at a catscale. Put front tires on scale pad one and rear tires on scale pad two. Subtract tv total scaled weight from gcwr to get your adjusted towing capacity. Subtract tv total scaled weight from gvwr to get your available payload. Subtract rear axle weight from max gawr. Your tongue weight must be less than available payload and room available on rear axle. Trailer weight must be less than adjusted towing capacity. You also need to be within hitch ratings. I think you will be over with this trailer. Good luck.

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Old 01-04-2015, 06:04 AM   #3
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Old 01-04-2015, 08:33 AM   #4
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As asquared indicated, that trailer tongue weight may be over the your hitch rating. But, their may be a 2nd rating for your hitch when using a WDH. There should be a sticker on the hitch that shows the ratings.....something like "500/5000 tongue weight/towing weight carrying capacity", and "xxx/xxxx tongue weight/towing capacity using a weight distributing hitch"....which are usually higher figures. If there is not a weight distributing rating, then your hitch is probably not made for a weight distributing system. You can check your owners manual to see if a weight distributing system is allowed or not.

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Old 01-04-2015, 09:03 AM   #5
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Newbie... Help with Tongue Weight

Originally Posted by bethers1 View Post
Dealer says we can easily tow this trailer with our vehicle.

Don't make the mistake of believing that salesperson. If your max tongue weight is 500 and the dry hitch weight of the TT is over 400lbs, you will be over the max, just with propane and battery alone. Even with a good WDH, you'll be over or close... Neither of which, in my opinion, is desirable.

I only say this because I wished I had read this forum before I heard the words "Your SUV can tow this trailer, no problem." It was a problem... A problem every camping trip for 8 months, until I upgraded my tow vehicle.

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Old 01-04-2015, 11:51 AM   #6
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Thanks for your suggestions....

The pathfinder's tongue limit with the WDH is where I am totally stuck.

Sticker on the hitch says "see the owners manual for specifications"

owners manual / towing guide says " the use of a WDH is strongly recommended when towing trailers in excess of 5,000 lbs."

also in relation to tongue load: it says " Tongue load
When using a weight carrying or a weight distributing hitch, keep the tongue load between 10 - 15 percent of the total trailer load or use the trailer tongue load specified by the trailer manu- facturer. The tongue load must be within the maximum tongue load limits shown in the follow- ing “Towing Load/Specification” chart. If the tongue load becomes excessive, rearrange cargo to allow for proper tongue load. Do not exceed the maximum tongue weight specification shown in the “Towing load/specification” chart even if the calculated available tongue weight is greater than 15%. If the calculated tongue weight is less than 10% , reduce the total trailer weight to match the available tongue weight.

(the chart says 500 lbs)

so my question is... does the WDH redistribute tongue load, so I am actually below 500? (Or why would nissan put all these comments in about using a WDH if your trailer is over 5000 lbs..... if it is over 5,000 lbs, wouldn't your tongue load always be over 500 lbs??
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Old 01-04-2015, 11:57 AM   #7
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forgot to put the full text of the manual in... This text is what makes me think my tongue weight can actually be over 500 lbs.... here is what it says about WDH

"Many vehicles can’t carry the full tongue weight of a given trailer, and need some of the tongue weight transferred through the frame and pushing down on the front wheels. This gives stability to the tow vehicle.
A weight-distributing hitch system (Class IV) is recommended if you plan to tow trailers with a maximum weight over 5,000 lbs (2,268 kg) ."
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Old 01-04-2015, 12:43 PM   #8
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Another question to ask yourself is "where will I be going?" If you will be mainly pulling on flat land- that would be good. If you have to climb mountains every trip ( like we did) you may be unhappy with your tow vehicle. For every 1000 ft in elevation above sea level, deduct 2% of tow capacity (about 200lbs).

We had a Honda Pilot with a similar tow capacity. While it could pull our high wall pop up @ 4000 lbs, hills were a challenge and was wringing the motor to its max power above 6000 ft. We also had all wheel drive which made taking off from a stop SO much easier. We were always over in tongue weight and vehicle capacity so we upgraded to a Tundra- then upgraded the trailer- and the viscous cycle begins!

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Old 01-04-2015, 01:21 PM   #9
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The WDH hitch is designed to transfer some of the trailer tongue weight forward closer to the center point of your vehicle. This will generally give you a bit more tongue weight carrying capacity provided that your hitch is designed to handle the additional weight. Most add-on hitches publish separate ratings for WDH and non-WDH weights. Not sure that Nissan has separate ratings for factory hitches but a good trailer garage might be a good guide for you there. Towing is NEVER any fun when you are worried about being over the limits of your vehicle.

I tend to agree that the Wolf Pup might be just a bit too much for tongue weight. Right off I might suggest that you consider a Hybrid. The Roo or Shamrock model 17 from FR reduce the published tongue weight to 354#which is less than the Pup at 424#. With Hybrids you do not lose any interior room to beds. With this model you also gain a two axel 4 tire trailer, which in my opinion is desirable over a single axel, 2 tire trailer. Hitch Weight 354# and Trailer weight 3116# for 170

The Hybrids have two propane tanks and a tongue mounted battery. You do not have to travel with loaded propane bottles if you plan at stopping at electric equipped campgrounds for the fridge which will keep the tongue weight down well below your 500# limit. You do need the battery to power the tongue jack and the emergency brakes on the trailer.

Most weight distribution hitches weigh in the neighborhood of 75#. That 75# is on the rear of the vehicle and would count as tongue weight. Adding a battery and even empty propane tanks to the tongue would quickly get you close to the weight limit of your vehicle starting at the lighter weight of 354# for the Model 17. Usually a WDH will give you a little more tongue weight capacity then the published specs when not using a WDH, so you might be able to do it with the Pathfinder. You will have to carefully and thoughtfully load your trailer and vehicle to stay within weight limits, as you will be close. This probably precludes bicycles…

You might want to look into getting air bag suspension installed on the Pathfinder to augment your load handling ability, as MAX tongue weight will pull down your rear end of the TV and leave the front end high which is unsafe. Using Load Lever air bags prevents this from happening. I had these installed on my TV and I will swear that they improved the handling and safety of my TV pulling my Shamrock 183. I don’t see an “Air Lift” system for YOUR vehicle at website but I might call around and verify first before you discount this idea. LINK HERE
Q. Will adding air springs increase the Weight Rating of my vehicle?
A. No. Adding air springs will not change the Weight Rating (GVWR, GCWR, GAWR) of your vehicle. Our air springs simply increase your suspension’s ability to support heavy loads. We strongly recommend that you never exceed your vehicle’s Weight Ratings. Exceeding your vehicle’s rating is dangerous and will void your Air Lift warranty.

There is an “All-Aluminum” trailer maker out there that will have even lighter loading. If you google you can find it. These are ideal for smaller tow vehicles. I started with one of their popups and was very pleased with it over 4 seasons, until I upgraded to my Shamrock Hybrid 183 this past May which gives me added comfort options that the wife and I wanted at a price we could afford with our current TV.

Good luck and Happy Camping!
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Old 01-04-2015, 01:47 PM   #10
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It does seem like this trailer is going to be a little too much for our pathfinder. This is going to be used for family vacations all over the place, with a lot of highway driving, so I really want something that isnt going to make our towing experience miserable.

We have been looking at hybrids and high wall pop ups as well, but really liked the look of the wolf pup. I think we will look at the RPOD, though the price is a bit more, I do love the look. Unfortunately it has a wet bath, which just seems like a nightmare. We have also been looking at the Spree escape and sportsman, but I am concerned about the quality since they are so much lighter than the wolf pup.

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