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Old 09-20-2012, 11:22 PM   #43
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Originally Posted by MrUKToad View Post
The world of manufacturers' tow ratings is a very confusing place. We've heard that BMW make specific warnings about tongue weights and WD hitches and yet Withidl has a BMW (fitted with a non-BMW hitch and WD device) that has successfully towed his Airstream for more than ten years.

I think the truth of it is that BMW is a European company and designs its hitches for the lightweight caravans and trailers in Europe. It may do some testing but will not test its vehicle with a non-BMW hitch towing a North American travel trailer, with or without a WD device.

Enter someone like Andy Thompson, a professional hitch rigger, and he will go where BMW engineers don't want to. He'll fit non-standard, strengthened or bespoke hitch receivers and he will do the testing that manufacturers like BMW have no interest in - how many X5s will actually be used for towing? Very few, I'm certain, so it's not worth their while to test.

Just because they don't test, though, doesn't mean that they haven't built a vehicle that will tow, and tow well, albeit with a little modification along the way. The proof is in the real world results, which is where Withidl, and others I'm sure, actually prove a vehicle in a manner that no manufacturer has the time, money or inclination to attempt.

It is possible to put a far more cynical spin on things and say that BMW don't want to be associated with the trailer market; it's a small proportion of their sales base I'm sure and they don't necessarily want to encourage trailer use with the attendant after-sales support that could be required. So, they keep the stated tow limits down and actively discourage large trailer use. For what it's worth, my Toyota suffers from exactly that attitude; a perfectly capable tow vehicle but one that carries a very low stated tow rating because the manufacturer would prefer that I buy a much more expensive vehicle, in all probability in addition to the one I'm currently using.

It doesn't really matter, though, because the OP isn't going to be convinced and that's absolutely fine. I personally think he might be missing a good Tow Vehicle opportunity, but then that's just my view.
MrUKToad, I totally agree with almost all you have said; the exception being that you stated that my X5 was "fitted with a non-BMW hitch" which is in error. I purchased my BMW designed OEM hitch ($500 in 2001) from my local Houston BMW dealer and personally installed it. It is substantial and not reinforced (Andy Thomson viewed a video I took of my installation and said no reinforcement was necessary).
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Old 09-21-2012, 11:38 AM   #44
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To the original poster.. Here is a better example to explain the bigger picture.

Another off shore vehicle builder (Honda) does not recommend the use of a WDH on the Honda Ridgeline. Yet have a look at the 120 pages of Ridgeline's and what they are towing. Also look and see how many of them that are successfully using a WDH.

Ridgeline's can tow (photos) - Honda Ridgeline Owners Club Forums
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Old 09-21-2012, 12:13 PM   #45
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To the original poster.. Here is a better example to explain the bigger picture.

Another off shore vehicle builder (Honda) does not recommend the use of a WDH on the Honda Ridgeline. Yet have a look at the 120 pages of Ridgeline's and what they are towing. Also look and see the 100's of them that are successfully using a WDH.

Ridgeline's can tow (photos) - Honda Ridgeline Owners Club Forums
I love Hondas and have owned many. If Honda made a vehicle (not a pickup) capable of towing my trailer I would seriously consider it.

It sure seems that tow vehicle ratings are screwed up. It seems some sort of standard that is easy for consumers to understand and manufacturers to implement is needed. It is clear that many forum members have successfully towed with vehicles and equipment not supported by manufacturers. Some members went to extraordinary lengths such as driving 2000 miles one way to have Andy Thompson set up their TV+trailer combo.

I just want to use my TV to tow my Airstream knowing it meets all legal and engineering requirements for towing as it comes from the dealer. I would like a system I understand and which is unambiguous as to when the standards are met. If an accident were to occur I want assurance that the fingers won't start pointing at me over whether I was exceeding manufacturer's recommended towing loads.

From what I understand the only vehicle I am interested in that meets legal and the manufacturer's engineering requirements for towing my Airstream is the Toyota Land Cruiser. However, my heart still is with the BMW X5.
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Old 09-21-2012, 03:04 PM   #46
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There are no perfect tow vehicles, just different compromises.

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From what I understand the only vehicle I am interested in that meets legal and the manufacturer's engineering requirements for towing my Airstream is the Toyota Land Cruiser. However, my heart still is with the BMW X5.
OrangeKid,

I am in the same boat as you in trying to decide which tow vehicle to purchase and honestly, I have gone around and around with this issue for months. And through this process, here's what I can tell you with complete certainty:

There are no perfect tow vehicles, just different compromises.

1) Your 1/2 tons and 3/4 tons are going to provide you with the written towing capacity that both the "legal and manufacturer's engineering requirements suggest." BUT you will have to compromise on driving that large of a vehicle as a daily driver. You will also have to compromise on the fact that a truck is not the best aerodynamically designed vehicle for towing. And in some cases (gas) you will have to compromise on MPG and price.

2) Your European Diesel options provide wonderful gas mileage, are wonderful to drive with plenty of power, are easy to maneuver in and our of campsites and are great as a daily driver. BUT for some (BMW) you will have to compromise on driving a vehicle that the ""legal and manufacturer's engineering" tow ratings exceed your requirements. You will also have to compromise by having some adjustments made to the vehicle in order to safely tow the weight.

3) As another possible compromise, have you considered driving/looking at other European Turbo Diesels that offer a higher written and recommended tow rating? For example:

Volkswagen Toureg TDI Exec: 7700 lbs Tow Rating; 20/29 MPG
Mercedes GL 350 BlueTEC: 7500 lbs Tow Rating; 19/23 MPG
Mercedes ML 350 BlueTEC: 7200 lbs Tow Rating; 20/27 MPG

Just my two cents...
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Old 09-21-2012, 04:16 PM   #47
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OrangeKid,

I am in the same boat as you in trying to decide which tow vehicle to purchase and honestly, I have gone around and around with this issue for months. And through this process, here's what I can tell you with complete certainty:

There are no perfect tow vehicles, just different compromises.

1) Your 1/2 tons and 3/4 tons are going to provide you with the written towing capacity that both the "legal and manufacturer's engineering requirements suggest." BUT you will have to compromise on driving that large of a vehicle as a daily driver. You will also have to compromise on the fact that a truck is not the best aerodynamically designed vehicle for towing. And in some cases (gas) you will have to compromise on MPG and price.

2) Your European Diesel options provide wonderful gas mileage, are wonderful to drive with plenty of power, are easy to maneuver in and our of campsites and are great as a daily driver. BUT for some (BMW) you will have to compromise on driving a vehicle that the ""legal and manufacturer's engineering" tow ratings exceed your requirements. You will also have to compromise by having some adjustments made to the vehicle in order to safely tow the weight.

3) As another possible compromise, have you considered driving/looking at other European Turbo Diesels that offer a higher written and recommended tow rating? For example:

Volkswagen Toureg TDI Exec: 7700 lbs Tow Rating; 20/29 MPG
Mercedes GL 350 BlueTEC: 7500 lbs Tow Rating; 19/23 MPG
Mercedes ML 350 BlueTEC: 7200 lbs Tow Rating; 20/27 MPG

Just my two cents...
We now live in a Condo in downtown Portland. The streets are narrow and we have very little use for a vehicle as Portland has great public transportation. However, we do need a vehicle once or twice a week and we do want a TV for our Airstream.

Pickups are totally out of the question living downtown. They are just not practical as a daily auto.

About a year ago I went through this whole process over the VW Touareg diesel. I think it is a great vehicle, almost as good as a BMW X5, but I ran into the same issue of not allowing a WD hitch. My Airstream dealer recommended against a Touareg. He said he would not allow a potential Airstream buyer to test tow using a Touareg. So I gave up on the Touareg idea.

I will be test driving the two Mercedes SUV diesels next week. But I afraid they have the same issue wrt WD hitches.

My 2006 Sequoia SR5 4WD is a fine tow vehicle. It is just too ponderous for driving around Portland. But I may just make do with it until I find a suitable vehicle for both towing and occasional driving. The land Cruiser can tow. It is smaller than our Sequoia and therefore less ponderous. I'm still considering it.

I will check out the new Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel when it debuts in January. It is built on the same platform as the MB ML-350 diesel.
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Old 09-21-2012, 05:12 PM   #48
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But we can't help but wonder:
If we were in an accident, who would be found liable and negligible for exceeding the maximum allowable towing capacity of the vehicle? Not only that but another concern of ours is what if during a hill descent our trailer brakes gave out, can this vehicle stop our 7600lb trailer?
No question who would be liable - you would. I too, love the way the BMW handles (we have a Sportswagon but of course, donít tow with it). Thereís going to be a trade off in vehicles, one that tows well and one that can navigate the narrow, poorly pave streets of Portland to your comfort level.

Bottom line is, when the manufacturer say donít do it, donít. Sure, maybe the vehicle can tow the trailer (most can) but can it do so safely?Accidents happen, thatís why theyíre called accidents. Donít create a situation where youíre liable even when you werenít the cause of it. Good luck.
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Old 09-21-2012, 05:38 PM   #49
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But i do know better!

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Originally Posted by OrangeKid View Post
I guess from my perspective most of the "good info" that has been reported to me consists assertions based on individual forum members experience who have used the BMW for towing trailers that exceeds BMW's written load limits and used equipment (WD hitches) that is expressly forbidden by BMW.

How can BMW, which makes such a finely engineered SUV be so wrong about the towing capabilities of its vehicles? It blows my mind. Do forum members also ignore BMW's recommended maintenance schedule because they know better? I find it hard to believe that forum members, however much experience they have with a few BMWs, can know more about the engineering properties of the BMW than the BMW engineers that designed it.
For what it's worth, sometimes yes. I was a Lubrication Engineer with Texaco Lubricants Co. BMW recommends 5W-30 synthetic engine oil mainly for fuel economy (less internal fluid friction); BUT I DO KNOW BETTER, and have used Mobil 1 15W-50 oil since new because the best engine protection when towing at relatively low rpm and high load is a higher viscosity oil.

Additionally, at delivery of my X5 I literally had the BMW service department drain all of the engine coolant and replace it with Texaco's "Extended Life Coolant/Dexcool" (I'll provide my rationale if anybody cares).
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Old 09-21-2012, 06:06 PM   #50
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For what it's worth, sometimes yes. I was a Lubrication Engineer with Texaco Lubricants Co. BMW recommends 5W-30 synthetic engine oil mainly for fuel economy (less internal fluid friction); BUT I DO KNOW BETTER, and have used Mobil 1 15W-50 oil since new because the best engine protection when towing at relatively low rpm and high load is a higher viscosity oil.
The recommended engine oil for our G35 is also 5W-30 but I have been using 10W-30 Mobil 1 Synthetic with excellent results. If we ever decide to go with a larger/heavier Airstream then 15W-50 Mobil 1 would be up for consideration. I also replaced the stock rear end fluid with synthetic.

withdl..... Many thnxs. Really appreciate your expertise, comments and involvement on this forum.
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Old 09-21-2012, 06:18 PM   #51
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For what it's worth, sometimes yes. I was a Lubrication Engineer with Texaco Lubricants Co. BMW recommends 5W-30 synthetic engine oil mainly for fuel economy (less internal fluid friction); BUT I DO KNOW BETTER, and have used Mobil 1 15W-50 oil since new because the best engine protection when towing at relatively low rpm and high load is a higher viscosity oil.

Additionally, at delivery of my X5 I literally had the BMW service department drain all of the engine coolant and replace it with Texaco's "Extended Life Coolant/Dexcool" (I'll provide my rationale if anybody cares).
withidl you are a Lubrication Engineer and so you do know about lubrication. But most of us are not expert in towing, tires, hitches and receivers. That is why we need towing information/standards that are accurate, reliable and understandable by the average consumer. I realize you researched and worked hard to make your TV and trailer combo work. And I appreciate your sharing your knowledge with forum members. Those of us who do not have your expertise must rely on auto, trailer and hitch manufacturers to provide the necessary information to evaluate TV-trailer combinations.

If I was towing with an overloaded TV and I had an accident I would not be able to say to the police, insurance company and injured parties "withidl on the Airstream Forums told me my TV-trailer combo is O.K".
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Old 09-21-2012, 06:25 PM   #52
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Originally Posted by withidl View Post
For what it's worth, sometimes yes. I was a Lubrication Engineer with Texaco Lubricants Co. BMW recommends 5W-30 synthetic engine oil mainly for fuel economy (less internal fluid friction); BUT I DO KNOW BETTER, and have used Mobil 1 15W-50 oil since new because the best engine protection when towing at relatively low rpm and high load is a higher viscosity oil.

Additionally, at delivery of my X5 I literally had the BMW service department drain all of the engine coolant and replace it with Texaco's "Extended Life Coolant/Dexcool" (I'll provide my rationale if anybody cares).
Aha! I think I have cracked the code as to why this issue is so controversial here on the AS forum....

There are two types of AS enthusiasts--those who are also automobile enthusiasts and those who are not. When I view similar topics as this on the car fourums (I belong to both BMW and Porsche forums), almost all of the responses favor withidl's stance on the issue. [BTW, many of us enthusiasts also alter the manufacturer's maintenance recommendations for our own vehicles, making them even more safe, reliable, and fun]

withidl'ers: you are clearly also an automobile enthusiast and very knowledgable about things mechanical. I suspect that your mechanical knowledge has made you comfortable that the BMW has sufficient excess capacity to tow the extra weight with no compromise to safety or longevity of the vehicle. I commend you for both your knowledge and your willingness to share it here with your fellow AS enthusiasts. It has been very helpful for many of us.

OrangeKid'ers: I suspect you are interested in the finer things in life (othewise, why would you own an AS and be looking at the euro SUV's .) Your current vehicle knowledge is somewhat limited, hence, your perception of safety is limited to the manufacturers recommendations. Putting your faith in the manufacturer's rated capacity may very well be the best thing for you. If you were to learn more about the vehicle, it may expand your range of acceptable TV's. Don't rely solely on us withidl'ers to make that choice--it has to be one that you are comfortable with. So go look at that Jeep when it comes out. I'm sure it will be a perfectly fine vehicle and will tow your AS just fine. Just don't expect it to provide the same level of comfort, fun and refinement as a BMW/Merc/P-truck/VW would.
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Old 09-21-2012, 07:57 PM   #53
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I pull our 27 foot Safari with a 2011 Mercedes GL diesel. It is a superb tow vehicle but Mercedes is not at all helpful. They are silent on WD for instance. I did get my factory hitch reinforced for added safety - about $400 - and it has been flawless. For a large heavy truck we average 26 MPG highway and 16 MPG when towing.

The new 2013 just came out last week...
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Old 09-21-2012, 09:16 PM   #54
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I pull our 27 foot Safari with a 2011 Mercedes GL diesel. It is a superb tow vehicle but Mercedes is not at all helpful. They are silent on WD for instance. I did get my factory hitch reinforced for added safety - about $400 - and it has been flawless. For a large heavy truck we average 26 MPG highway and 16 MPG when towing.

The new 2013 just came out last week...
I'm test driving one next Wednesday. I am also test driving the ML350 diesel. Both have Class 4 hitches.
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Old 09-21-2012, 09:19 PM   #55
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Don't rely solely on us withidl'ers to make that choice--it has to be one that you are comfortable with.
You got it!
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Old 09-21-2012, 10:42 PM   #56
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The manufacturer recommendation on towing is not a "legal" prescription. Falls outside what the law addresses.

Did you, in your last loss-of-control accident, provide certified copies of your tire inflation, rotation schedule and tread depth measurements for that week? If you want "manufacturer recommendations" that are more likely to lead to road mishaps look no further than this.


Setting up cars to tow heavy was SOP right into the 1980's.
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