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Old 07-26-2019, 11:23 AM   #1
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Safe Towing

I've been noticing a lot people out there with smaller suv's pulling travel trailers. What I mean is travel trailers that are 22 to 25 foot trailers that weigh in over 4000 pounds. We were camping at Twanoh State Park in Washington State and this older gentleman pulled in to the camp ground towing one of those Classic trailers and his tow vehicle was a Toyota Highlander. The trailer weighs in at 4200 pounds and the max tow on the Highlander is 5000 pounds. Then another time I saw a couple of women who had a Subaru Outback and they were towing one of those older Aljo trailers. Some people think that they can tow anything with such a little vehicle. I was told when I went looking for trailer know what a safe tow would be. It is suppose to be at 20% of the total towing capacity of the tow vehicle. WDH doesn't change this figure it just distributes the weight for better tow. Someone on these Forums had a Honda Pilot and a trailer that was less than 1000 pound of their max towing. I think it is the sales person who is selling the units (just to make a profit) have no idea about how much their customer can tow. This is why I do my research and I ask to find out the safety window in towing.
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Old 07-26-2019, 11:54 AM   #2
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Many salesmen, if they do any research at all, are just going to look in the towing guide to see if the vehicle can tow it. They're not worried about safety cushions or anything else except upsales of better hitches and what not which usually adds even more weight. The true fact is if the consumer isn't willing to do their homework on such things, they probably shouldn't even be buying. People don't seem to care that poor decisions not only endanger themselves but others around them if they should have an accident.
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Old 07-26-2019, 11:54 AM   #3
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20% of towing capacity would be extremely low. You need to look at all numbers, especially payload which is generally the 1st limit to hit.

A lot of people have way more trailer then they should have.
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Old 07-26-2019, 11:59 AM   #4
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Many of us donít know what we donít know. And there are people that do know but arenít worried.
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Old 07-26-2019, 12:22 PM   #5
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I've pushed the numbers on multiple occasions through the years. I wasn't worried, but I knew where I was and what I was doing. Some people should stay below the limits of their vehicle, and this goes for some that I know have been pulling for decades. There is not a hard fast number (20% below limit, etc), the limits are there to give the driver a safe environment to pull with the vehicle. Many people look at one number, and not a combination of all numbers involved. If you know those numbers, you are more informed than most. One number that gets passed over more often than not, is total frontage area. Pulling a 3000lb flat utility trailer, is night and day difference from a 3000lb travel trailer. Use the numbers as a guide and familiarize yourself, before you start pushing the envelope.
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Old 07-26-2019, 12:23 PM   #6
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Most RV salesman will say, "Oh, your XYZ will pull this" without even knowing what the specs are on your XYZ.

This is especially bad on 1/2 ton pickup trucks. For example, my 2009 Silverado's owners manual listed ninety-nine (yeah, 99!) different permutations (engine, tow package, bed size, cab size, HD cooling, etc) and the towing capacity ranged from 4,000 to 12,000 lbs. That's quite a spread. And you can't tell which version you have by just looking at it. But the salesman will see you've got a 1/2 ton and will tell you it can pull whatever TT you're looking at, without having any real knowledge of your trucks capabilities.

And as llr said, you'll probably exceed payload before towing capacity. And you'll never hear an RV salesman talk about payload!
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Old 07-26-2019, 12:23 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by RZ406 View Post
It is suppose to be at 20% of the total towing capacity of the tow vehicle.
Originally Posted by llr View Post
20% of towing capacity would be extremely low. You need to look at all numbers, especially payload which is generally the 1st limit to hit.

A lot of people have way more trailer then they should have.
I'm sure he means 80%, but either way, where is that stated? I doubt the manufacturer says to only use 80% of their published numbers. With SAE J2807, I would follow those numbers, and I agree payload is the first number to keep an eye on.
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Old 07-26-2019, 12:34 PM   #8
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The key is to better understand the consequence of being overweight. If you drop a too-heavy trailer on your hitch, it doesn't just snap off. It's not immediately catastrophic like that. The consequences are much more insidious and cumulative.

The best examples are to watch YouTube videos of overloaded cranes, overloaded dump trucks, and other equipment. All of those things, as they were overloaded, operated pretty OK ... right up until the point that they didn't.

And, that's how it goes with trucks/trailers, too. It feels OK and it seems to pull just fine. OK. And, it's all good right up until the point where it's not.

Most 1 tons have a GVWR of 11,500 lbs. Most also have an option to order with a GVWR of 11,400 lbs. Many have an option to order with a GVWR of 10,000 lbs. A strong argument could be made that these lower ratings are kind of silly and don't speak to the true capability of the truck. Fair enough.

But, SUVs, cars, and even 1/2 tons are in a different class of vehicle. I'd be certain to follow GVWR, Payload, GAWR, tow ratings, and GCWR specs for those vehicles. I believe they matter. I believe that, while exceeding those ratings won't cause spontaneous combustion of your TV, it's not safe to exceed those ratings.

Conversely, I think the ratings are acceptable as-is and don't need any post-processing by us. Towing less will of course cause less wear and tear on components (shocks, brakes, etc.). But, staying within the stated capacities will be safe without any artificial buffer.
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