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Old 09-18-2016, 04:14 PM   #127
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Originally Posted by Andrew T View Post
Hi Everyone

If it is helpful I can add a little to this story. Fish tailing happens when the trailer is traveling faster than the tow vehicle so it is going a longer distance than the tow vehicle, a "S" pattern instead of a straight line. Correct weight distribution geometry and sway controls all contribute to absorbing any extra energy in the trailer.

There is a tendency to class tow vehicles by the design of the body SUV, Pick UP Car etc. However that is not the best way to access a the capability of a tow vehicle. In fact these days you can have different styles of vehicles built on the same basic chassis platform.

There are substantial differences in the stability you can achieve with the same type of vehicle. So the worst handling pick up trucks are considerably less stable than the best handling compact SUV's and vise versa. Part of this is due to the priorities necessary for the vehicle to fit its market segment.

The GX470's priority is to be a very capable off road vehicle, which it is. However the design properties that make it a good off road vehicle, high center of gravity, soft suspension with lots of articulation, big mushy tires and a long rear overhang to accommodate a huge full size spare tire make it a rather unstable highway vehicle. Connecting a trailer using a very good hitch system can actually give an unstable tow vehicle more directional stability but more often towing with to an inherently unstable vehicle does not make it more stable.

It is difficult to see in the pictures but certainly the ball is well behind the bumper on this unit likely 10-12" so the long overhang was made that much worse. As well the factory hitch on these vehicles is extremely short which allows the ball mount to swing quite a distance side to side, in effect giving the hitch a double pivot point.

If serious off road use is not a priority and you want to tow with a Lexus the RX models are far superior tow vehicles. They have a shorter over hang, low center of gravity, independent rear suspension, a very nice tire and wheel combination. We have had many customers use this vehicle over the last 18 years with excellent results.

If you want to tow with a GX then there are things you can do to make it more stable. When we set one up we change the huge spare to a lower profile tire so a temporary spare, this gives us room to lengthen the hitch receiver and strengthen it so that it will transfer weight. If the customer is not serious about off road use then we install better handling tires we can then use a welded ball mount hitch set up on the most stable trailers but for anything else we would go to a projection hitch such as a Hensley.

Here is a picture of the first RX we set up in 1999 and the stock hitch receiver on a GX, hard to believe they once rated this hitch for 7200 pounds and still rate it for 5000. Maybe they should drop a zero.

I hope this helps.

Andrew T
I'm surprised that an RX would be powerful enough to tow an airstream, maybe a bamby ? I towed my 2,100lb PopUp camper all over the High Sierra a few year back and have made many trips with it. (Sold now as needed a V8 to tow my 5,000lbs Sovereign.) With two male adults, two young teen boys, food & camping gear in general, boy did it struggle up over the highest of passes ! It was a champ though and really miss that vehicle. At 220,000 miles it drove like new. I'd buy again in a heartbeat.

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Old 09-18-2016, 04:59 PM   #128
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While its true that a top heavy vehicle is inherently less stable, this particular incident seems to have happened due to excessive speed. IMO its unsafe to tow at 80 MPH (specially with a short wheelbase top heavy SUV towing a single axle trailer). ST trailer tires are rated at 65 MPH. Also, in CA the towing speed is 55 MPH, meaning most trailers are towed at 60-65 MPH, which is much safer.

Glad no one was hurt. We make mistakes and learn from them.

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Old 09-18-2016, 05:03 PM   #129
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The speed limit is just that, the max limit. No law says you must go the max limit as long as you are at least going the min speed if there is one.
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Old 09-19-2016, 05:23 AM   #130
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We learn from our mistakes. Without discussion and analysis these mistakes may stay hidden. Read your owners manual from your tv and AS. Enlightening, isn't it! Anyone who posts here is fair game, no one is picking on anyone, just trying to put some light on the situation.
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Old 09-19-2016, 11:05 AM   #131
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Originally Posted by Mandy76 View Post
I was stuck behind a trail of semi trucks, when the time was opportune I went to pass. I was going about 75-80 while passing(speeds I had used while passing the day prior without incidence-- my speed varied between 65-80). I was accelerating slowing because I wanted to baby my car. I started to feel the sway, I let off the gas, the sway became very strong immediately and took control of my car. I am new to towing, so I think my ignorance along with the wind tunnel created by the trucks, going 75-80 mph while passing, created the perfect storm.
After reading through this thread and giving it some thought I think the accident may have been prevented by the operator if they would have stayed steady on the speed and grabbed the trailer brakes. Hindsight is always 20/20. It was a natural reaction to let off the gas.

All of us were new to towing a trailer at some point along the way. I often have to remind myself that I am towing a trailer and I need to drive differently than when solo driving (less aggressive - more defensive). Like Mandy I have exceeded speed limits when passing trucks or to clear myself of other traffic. It takes concentration to safely drive these rigs, you have to pay attention in urban areas or cross wind areas, trucks etc... Look 15 seconds ahead, anticipate what traffic is doing.

I hope it works out for Mandy to get back into Airstreaming, don't be afraid of the tow just learn and go.
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Old 09-19-2016, 11:33 AM   #132
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Originally Posted by Rpatrick16 View Post

PS. if I may add an addendum for the rest of you folks reading this...."please wear your seatbelts! I've lived in Montana for nearly four years now and there's been "too many highway deaths". The most common cause..."death by ejection during a "roll over". "airstream family"...please make it a point to "buckle up". If you don't and have the misfortune to roll your vehicle you will "most certainly die or will live in a 'vegetative state' for the remainder of your lives".
Wow; nearly four years in MT and you have reached this conclusion about causes for MT highway fatalities ...

What about the issues surrounding alcohol and driving in MT ???

A huge thank you to Mandy for sharing her candid thoughts of the incident.
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Old 09-19-2016, 11:52 AM   #133
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Best wishes to Mandy, here's hoping she plucks up her courage and gives it another try. It's great to see strong independent women taking up their Airstreams and getting out on the road to enjoy this great country.

BTW, gotta say - when we started towing our Airstream, neither dealer (Airstream nor Ram truck) really told us anything about safe towing speeds, following distance, sway (other than to say that Airstreams don't sway), etc. We had to find that info on our own. Thanks to my brother, who already had some experience and warned me about speed maximums with ST tires. I'm not saying it was the dealers' responsibility to teach us these things, but it would have been nice if either or both of them had at least pointed us in the right directions for learning the things we clearly needed to know.

Like many newbies, we didn't find Air Forums until some months after we had started towing Rocinante to various interesting places for camping adventures. Before that we just did our best, trying to be careful and stay out of trouble. Once we found Air Forums and turned the noise filters up high enough, it became a helpful and useful resource for safety ideas and such, and we appreciate what we've found here.

The 8-hour RV driving class we took a couple of months ago from a commercial truck driving school (in our case, this one: has made an enormous difference in our knowledge, understanding and capability when it comes to towing and parking our trailer. We heartily recommend that investment to anyone new to towing - even if you've been towing for a year or two, you would likely still learn a ton (we sure did). Not saying whether such a course would have prevented this accident, but more education and experience never hurts.
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Old 09-19-2016, 01:44 PM   #134
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Can we leave Mandy alone yet. Maybr the op can call it done.

Mandy came in here and very graciously told her story, took our criticism which we like to refer to as our humble (not) opinions.


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Old 09-19-2016, 02:02 PM   #135
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It is simple enough, the accident was caused by a sway event. Unfortunately it was Mandy's first experience with a sway event so she was neither looking for it to happen nor was she prepared to deal with it.

Her vehicle had previously not exhibited this condition so she was confident in the rigs stability to the point that she became comfortable too soon.

Not all of us have been towing trailers from a very young age, and not everyone knows to be cautious until they learn the limitations and characteristics of their vehicle.

For sure it has been a hard lesson, it does no one any good to rub salt into the wound.

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Old 09-19-2016, 02:32 PM   #136
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I think it was obvious from the beginning that it was a sway event. What's more important is what caused the event. Windy conditions, speeds in access of 20 percent over the tire ratings? These are the things I would like shared so it can stop someone else from making the same mistakes.
That's not trying to rub salt in anything.
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Old 09-19-2016, 02:49 PM   #137
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Probably a good time to close this thread in my opinion.

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Old 09-19-2016, 02:55 PM   #138
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My prior car was 2003 Nissan Exterra they are short wheel base high center of gravity, real bear cat in minor cross winds even at slower speeds. They are rated for towing, has 2 inch receiver, I towed 17 ft. bass tracker no prob. but to tow even small AS or SOB I wouldn't even consider of it. As pointed out in prev posts high hcg and short wheel base is disaster. I have a little experience towing [well over 65 yrs.] so use common sense even if tow cap. is higher. I just returned from Joliet Nascar, camper next to me had suv way to small for sob that he had. When I talked to him about this in polite way, he said has plenty power, also he is a relative new towing trailers [first year] also old enough to no that could be disaster with this setup. May be Mandy's posts will help some one that is not aware of things that can happen. I also tow at speeds some others consider to high but when conditions call for slower speeds I imed. slow to safe speed even 35 or 40. Others pass me swaying, no common sense or knowing what could happen. Bill
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Old 09-19-2016, 03:34 PM   #139
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Per group suggestions above, Site Team has elected to close this thread.

Again, when posting to any thread, please do remember forum rules:

Most emphasized component of the rules: "We take the "be nice" rule VERY seriously! We do not tolerate ANY rudeness."

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