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Old 03-20-2013, 05:52 PM   #1
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Towing with an Interstate 3500

I'd like to take my wife's 2012 AWD Subaru Impreza, which has an automatic transmission, behind our Class B.

Can someone suggest or point me toward trailers or ways to tow it?
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Old 03-20-2013, 06:22 PM   #2
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I'd like to take my wife's 2012 Subaru Impreza, which has an automatic transmission, behind our Class B.

Can someone suggest or point me toward trailers or ways to tow it?
First, the Motorhome Magazine Guide to Dinghy Towing indicates that the automatic-transmission Subaru Impreza 2.0i is NOT flat-towable. Just to get that out of the way. Pity. I just outfitted my daily-driver to be towable behind my Interstate, and I could have given you some tips on that.

Because of the unique Subaru drivetrain, dolly-towing isn't really an option, either. That leaves you with loading it up on a flatbed trailer.

There are a number of trailers on the market that will handle a car with a curb weight of 3000 pounds or so like the Subaru. Just about anybody that makes trailers seems to eventually try their hand at car haulers.

Key features to watch out for, brakes on all four trailer wheels— in a quick Internet search, the first trailer manufacturer I found only puts brakes on one axle, which is legal in some states but not in others.

Also look for lots of tie-down points. You'll want to secure the car to the trailer front and rear and not just rely upon the car's weight to hold it in place. In the same quick Internet search, I found trailers that didn't come with ANY tie-down points that still were marketed as "car haulers."

Loading ramps are also important. The longer the ramps, the less likely you are to scrape the underside of the car as you go up them. Also, ramps should be adjustable to fit the width of the car's track, and if they're removable, there should be someplace on the trailer to store them.

Keywords for your own Internet search would be "open car hauler trailer" and your location, to find a maker nearby to where you live.

For my personal preference, I'd avoid enclosed "race car trailers." Getting in and out of the car inside one of those trailers can require some acrobatics. A flatbed is easier to get the car on and off, and to secure the car to the trailer.
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Old 03-20-2013, 06:49 PM   #3
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Well it's more expensive but you would probably be better off looking for an aluminum trailer, it would save 500-1000lbs off the trailer weight. Since your car is a good 3000lbs, adding more then 1500lbs for an aluminum trailer is pushing the 5000lb tow rating.
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Old 03-21-2013, 10:07 AM   #4
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I have used U-Haul car haulers behind my 2011 Interstate to transport my '47 Chevy Coupe, which weighs 3,100 pounds. The Interstate handled it with no problem whatsoever. I don't know the weight of the empty U-Haul trailer, but the entire package (car + trailer) passed U-Haul's requirements.

I see that the newer Interstates have a 6,400 lb towing capacity. Does anyone know what, if anything, changed between the model years to provide the increased towing capacity? I'm wondering if it's something I can retrofit to my Interstate, which is built on the 2010 Sprinter platform.

John
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Old 03-21-2013, 10:42 AM   #5
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I have used U-Haul car haulers behind my 2011 Interstate to transport my '47 Chevy Coupe, which weighs 3,100 pounds. The Interstate handled it with no problem whatsoever. I don't know the weight of the empty U-Haul trailer, but the entire package (car + trailer) passed U-Haul's requirements.

I see that the newer Interstates have a 6,400 lb towing capacity. Does anyone know what, if anything, changed between the model years to provide the increased towing capacity? I'm wondering if it's something I can retrofit to my Interstate, which is built on the 2010 Sprinter platform.

John
The Interstates built on a Sprinter 2500 chassis have a 5000-pound towing capacity.
The Interstates built on a Sprinter 3500 chassis have a 7500-pound towing capacity.
The Interstates built on a Sprinter 3500 Extended chassis have a 5000-pound towing capacity.

There's no retrofit to turn a 2500 into a 3500, that I know of, since the difference is mainly the dual rear wheels on the 3500 and the accompanying increase in load capacity. Interstate GVWR and GCWR are identical to the base Sprinters before Airstream converted them.

By the way, the 6400-pound capcity you mention is the difference between GCWR and GVWR. If the Interstate isn't loaded all the way up to GVWR, you can theoretically use up to the full 7500-pound hitch receiver capacity on a 3500 model.

According to the U-haul web page, their car hauler trailers have an empty weight of 2,210 pounds and they use hydraulic surge brakes.
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Old 03-21-2013, 11:02 AM   #6
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Thanks for the quick reply! I failed to mention that my Interstate is a Sprinter 3500, not a 2500. The stated towing capacity is (was?) 5,000 lbs. for my model year (2010), but I'm thinking that was understated. The very next year that number went up to 7,500 lbs. with no apparent changes to the vehicle???
With a 3,100 lb. car and a 2,100 lb. trailer I was obviously over the stated limit, but the Airstream handled it with ease.
Thanks again,
John
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Old 03-21-2013, 11:13 AM   #7
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Thanks for the quick reply! I failed to mention that my Interstate is a Sprinter 3500, not a 2500. The stated towing capacity is (was?) 5,000 lbs. for my model year (2010), but I'm thinking that was understated. The very next year that number went up to 7,500 lbs. with no apparent changes to the vehicle???
All I can think of for that would be that perhaps yours has a different hitch receiver, which you may be able to swap out with a receiver having a higher rating.
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Old 03-21-2013, 11:20 AM   #8
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I went back a did a little research. The brochure for the 2012 Interstate does refer to a Mercedes-Benz towing package and a M-B ESP Trailer Stability Assist system. The 2011 brochure makes no mention of these features. So I guess there is a difference between the model years after all.
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Old 03-22-2013, 01:14 AM   #9
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One 2012 brochure states tow capacity of 6,400 lbs. and another states 6,900 lbs. My 2011 brochure states 5,000 lbs. Both are 3500 series non-extended.
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Old 03-22-2013, 05:09 AM   #10
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One 2012 brochure states tow capacity of 6,400 lbs. and another states 6,900 lbs. My 2011 brochure states 5,000 lbs. Both are 3500 series non-extended.
Brochures are not official vehicle documentation, and I wouldn't trust them. Go to the owner's manuals. In particular, the Sprinter manuals, not the Interstate manual (which just refers you back to the Sprinter manuals anyway).

The 2011 Sprinter owner's manual (page 286) cites a gross trailer weight of 7500 pounds for a non-extended Sprinter 3500, and 5000 pounds for an extended Sprinter 3500.

That doesn't mean you can get the full gross trailer weight, though. You have to weigh the Interstate, and subtract actual weight from the Sprinter's 15,250-pound GCWR to find your actual towing capacity.
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Old 04-08-2013, 08:27 PM   #11
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Max Weight on EXT 3500 2013

According to specifications, GVWR is 11,030 lbs. and UBW is 8,133 lbs. which leaves 2,897 lbs. as the NCC assuming a full tank of diesel.

So I weighed the vehicle with all my cargo, fuel diesel except no food, no baggage (clothing) and and just me and the weight was 10,180 lbs.

Assuming the above, I calculate I have effectively 850 lbs. (11,030 - 10,180) to work with for other liquids, food, baggage and other people. I calculate roughly that if all the fluids were full, this would take up 740 lbs, leaving 110 lbs for food, other people and luggage.

Food, 3 more people (since I was part of the 10,180 lbs) and luggage, I estimate to be an additional 1,000 lbs.

Therefore fully loaded, all fluids full:

For 2 people, I would be overweight by roughly 300 lbs.

For 4 people, I would be overweight by roughly 900 lbs.

If I eliminate the grey, black and heater water, I pick up 400 lbs., if I cut out the fresh water, then 600 lbs.

Has anybody tested overweight of up to 900 lbs. or 500 lbs.? Handling?

btw, MB has the specs at 8,550 GVWR so I guess they already have it beefed up to max.
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Old 04-09-2013, 06:48 AM   #12
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btw, MB has the specs at 8,550 GVWR so I guess they already have it beefed up to max.
That 8,550# GVWR is for the Sprinter 2500 (all wheelbases & roof heights), not the Sprinter 3500 170-inch-wheelbase high-roof.

For the cargo van 170-inch-wheelbase high-roof Sprinter 3500s (two front seats, otherwise empty interior, i.e. what Airstream started with before the conversion) the numbers are:
GVWR 11,030#
GCWR 15,250#
GAWR (Front) 4,410#
GAWR (Rear) 7,720#
Curb weight 6,010# Regular, 6,153 EXT
Towing Capacity 7,500# Regular, 5,000# EXT. Not that you can get all the way up to that on an Interstate, due to the higher curb weight of the conversion cutting into the trailer portion of the GCWR.

Airstreams' conversion does not increase any of the stock Sprinter specifications except the curb weight, with a corresponding decrease in net cargo capacity.

So, even before Airstream did their conversion, the EXT was 143# heavier than the regualr model. Since Airstream's coachwork fills at least part of the extra 53 cubic feet of cargo volume as well (bed extension, larger rear overhead lockers, etc.), the difference in curb weight between the regular and EXT model Interstates is probably a little higher than just 143#.

Not that any of this helps you, just fun facts to know and tell.

One thing that might help you, if you're not going to be boondocking, you could consider removing the Onan generator. That would save you another 125 pounds. If you don't use the awning, removing it would save you another 97 pounds.

You also said that you weighed your Interstate with all of your cargo, but no clothing or food. What cargo are you carrying, besides clothing and food? I assume cookware and dishes, at least, possibly a toolbox, lawn chairs, etc. Anything that could be left behind without severe inconvenience?
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