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Old 06-18-2013, 07:56 PM   #1
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new to rving and close to buying airstream

i was one day from ordering a sport-16 with gross weight 3500 with tongue weight of 350.my car, lexus 400H (hybrid) has a max capacity of 3500 and 350... perfect....
until i learned today that lexus does not want one to use a weight distribution hitch, which seemingly eliminates my sport-16 option and any other airstream.
do you recommend that i could/should simply hookup to my 3500 capacity hitch-ball without weight distribution?


can you get an antisway arrangement that is effective without weight distribution and would you recommend this?
thanks kindly
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Old 06-18-2013, 09:23 PM   #2
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There have been several threads on this forum regarding whether or not a WD hitch is necessary on smaller airstreams. I tow a 20 Argosy with a Honda Ridgeline, and the owners manual for my Ridgeline says not to use a WD hitch. I understand this is because the computer that controls the AWD and other running gear systems in the Ridgeline can be adversely affected by a WD hitch. So I tow without a WD hitch, and the Honda computer system handles everything great - no issues at all. I will be adding an anti-sway hitch just because.
I do think you're pushing it as far as using your Lexus for a tow vehicle if you are at the maximum gross weight and tongue weight. First, the tongue weight is probably "dry", meaning it doesn't take into account water, gray water tank and black water tank, and probably no propane. Also, I bet the trailer, once you load it up with all your stuff and water and propane will probably weigh more than the 3500 lbs. AND, your Lexus' max capacity of 3500lbs includes the trailer, people and all the gear, so even if the trailer weighs in at 3500lbs, you still have you and your passengers and gear. I think this would not be safe. So, I think that if you are going to use your Lexus as a tow vehicle, you need to consider a much lighter trailer, like maybe a Casita. The other option is to get a different tow vehicle.
But that's just my opinion.
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Old 06-19-2013, 06:01 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by DryFly View Post
I do think you're pushing it as far as using your Lexus for a tow vehicle if you are at the maximum gross weight and tongue weight. First, the tongue weight is probably "dry", meaning it doesn't take into account water, gray water tank and black water tank, and probably no propane. Also, I bet the trailer, once you load it up with all your stuff and water and propane will probably weigh more than the 3500 lbs.
Actually, the OP indicated that the gross trailer weight was 3500 pounds. That's not a dry weight, that's a loaded weight. Though of course it IS possible to overload the trailer; all your stuff adds up quickly.

You need to look at THREE criteria for your tow vehicle:
1 - Receiver rated capacity, which you indicate is 3500/350;
2 - GCWR, or Gross Combined Weight Rating, the maximum weight of tow vehicle and trailer combined;
3 - Actual loaded weight of your tow vehicle, including the trailer tongue weight. If you don't know this and don't have access to scales, use the GVWR.

To give you an example, my Airstream Interstate class B motorhome has a receiver rated for 7500 pounds and 750 pounds tongue weight.
GCWR is 15,300 pounds.
GVWR is 11,030 pounds.

So, how much can I tow based on those numbers? The answer is NOT 7500 pounds. If I have my Interstate loaded to maximum capacity, the most trailer I can tow is (15,300-11,030=) 4,270 pounds. To find the actual towing capacity at any given time, I'd have to weigh my Interstate, fully loaded, add in the actual trailer tongue weight, and subtract that number from 15,300 pounds.

If you want to really be safe, you'd also have to look at gross axle weights, front and rear, for the tow vehicle, and make sure you don't exceed either axle's rated capacity when everything is hooked up and fully loaded.

I tried looking up the GVWR and the GCWR of the Lexus 400h, without any luck. Even the Lexus website only lists curb weight and towing capacity. So you'll have to consult your owner's manual, or the data plate on the driver's side door post to find the GVWR, GCWR and gross axle weight ratings.
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Old 06-19-2013, 08:47 AM   #4
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I too tow with a Ridgeline and have been for 7 years without a WD. And no problems. I suspect the Lexus people don't want you to use one for the same reason that Honda doen't. Even though your at max at GW I believe you are OK.
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Old 06-19-2013, 10:09 AM   #5
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until i learned today that lexus does not want one to use a weight distribution hitch, which seemingly eliminates my sport-16 option and any other airstream.
Most non-U.S. automakers discourage using WD hitches because WD isn't used outside North America. In most other countries it's prohibited by law. The reasons are complex, and partly have to do with trade barriers and partly with a different approach to towing.

You might want to consider contacting other people who own cars like yours, or do some searching on the web, to see what their towing experiences have been. I don't know about Lexus in particular but many people have towed successfully using WD with a wide variety of foreign cars where the use of WD is discouraged by the manufacturer.


Quote:
do you recommend that i could/should simply hookup to my 3500 capacity hitch-ball without weight distribution?


can you get an antisway arrangement that is effective without weight distribution and would you recommend this?
thanks kindly
WD is itself the most effective sway control. Sure, you can get a friction sway bar and use it with a WD head with no WD bars, but I don't think it would help much.
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Old 06-19-2013, 05:03 PM   #6
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This is definitely worth a conversation with Andy Thomson at Can/Am. If anyone can provide you solid information, I think he can. He's also a great guy.
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Old 06-19-2013, 08:44 PM   #7
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many thanks

i so appreciate all the help that your responses have provided. you all sure have confirmed that airstream and its devotee's are the best!
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