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red.jimbo 04-12-2011 11:56 AM

A Fool-Proof Method for Judging your Tow Vehicle
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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Camp on!

crocus 04-12-2011 12:00 PM

Great post.
Bang on. :thumbsup:

Herk7769 04-12-2011 12:16 PM

Deserves to be "Stuck"
So I did...

Great post. :trink39:

SaskCampers 04-12-2011 12:40 PM

Very well said.

BigDTx 04-12-2011 02:25 PM

Great Post. Here is a link to the Ford F150 towing guides.

SaskCampers 04-12-2011 02:49 PM

Dodge bodybuilder, just select the year in question and then follow through.

Triguy 04-12-2011 02:58 PM

Good advice that people need to educate themselves...

Until you got to the part to read the TV's towing guide.

The information in these IS often inflated and if followed, cause many to end up with a travel trailer heavier than they should buy.

IIRC - my Toyota Seq book says that I can tow up to 9,600lbs and that I should strive for a tongue weight percentage of 9-11%.:roflblack:

grhodes50 04-12-2011 03:12 PM

Thanks red.jimbo. Well said. :thumbsup::thumbsup:

tncruiser 04-12-2011 03:54 PM

well said
but your attack on lawyers

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.
thats only the first98% talk like that is defamation to the other 2%
in all seriousness well thought out,thought provoking post

LadyWindrider 04-12-2011 04:17 PM


Great suggestions, let's see how many actually follow it.

dezolen 04-12-2011 04:37 PM

And I have yet to see any manufacturer specify traiiler length limit due to wheelbase.
Seems odd considering there are so many theoretical towing experts on the forums.

red.jimbo 04-12-2011 04:57 PM

For those out there who may have taken offense to my mention of the "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 to be clear, I wasn't referring to ALL lawyers, just the class of lawyers who fit in that category.

We will have to start a separate thread to comment on how many lawyers are in each class. I'm sure the opinions vary....even among the lawyers.

With that in mind, remember that my point was that the ambulance-chasing-scum-sucking-bottom-feeding-rat-faced lawyers are the ones that keep the auto manufacturers honest. Without them, we wouldn't be able to trust the auto manufacturers, now would we? ;)

youroo 04-12-2011 05:28 PM they (DO) know what they are talking about,read their info,all of it ,it is very helpful for towing and setup! Youroo!!;)

kbrown1075 04-12-2011 05:54 PM

Awesome post!

yvesm 04-12-2011 07:16 PM

Why don't sharks eat lawyers.... professional courtesy :roflblack::roflblack:

Namchief 02-17-2012 03:31 AM

Well If you can not find your user manual for your Truck or need a user manual for something else Free Manual Downloads PDF Owner Guides and Technical Specification Manuals |

Holiday Road 04-11-2012 09:34 PM

Great post, pull in the scale and have your unit weight and then shift the load accordingly. I have done this and now i know where to load all my gear.

whj77372 04-12-2012 10:35 AM

Sorry but I don't feel that way. I feel obligated to provide my towing experience and feel that towing guides, even from truck makers, would have you pulling trailers that are to heavy for the real world. I have been called weight police etc., I have pulled 5er's for a nunber of years and would not follow what the Ford towing guide for F250 2011 says that I could pull. I also wonder as I read in this forum that "you don't even know that it is back there" and wonder why I have never had that experience. Currently I tow a fiver with a GVWR of 9,980 lbs with a F250, 2011, diesel, crew cab, long bed, 2wd and I know that I am pulling it. Be careful, be safe and happy trails.
I have read a few articles about truck makers increasing their towing capacity without making any meanful improvements just so the can say mine can pull more then yours.

Wildwood Danny 04-12-2012 11:53 AM

Good post, check out towing manuals and tv capacities, weight your trailer, know what you are capable of and comfortable with, don't depend on dealers (some know what you can tow and others do not or just want to make a sale), be responsible for finding out on your own what you need to have to tow with. Everybody has an opinion and not all are the one that you need, only you can make that decision.

Have a fantastical RVing experience.

beanoil 05-31-2012 05:36 PM


Originally Posted by yvesm (Post 95790)
Why don't sharks eat lawyers.... professional courtesy :roflblack::roflblack:

What do you call 500 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean? A good start...

whj nailed it. I tow a 30WRLTSA with an F350 extended cab long bed 6.0 leaker diesel. I know it's back there, but I have no trouble moving briskly away from a stoplight, and bringing the load to a safe stop, and don't lose MPH on any grades I have encountered in the mostly flat Midwest. I guesstimate it would do fine nearly anywhere. My old TV, an F250 with the 5.4 Triton took a bit to get moving, and always lost speed going up even mild hills. There is no replacement for displacement, and you can't have too much luck, time, money, or horsepower. I venture to say that if a dealer tells you "I tow these all the time with my (Chevy, Ford, Nissan, Dodge, Etc.) 1/2 ton", he is referring to towing the things around the parking lot after they are delivered.

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