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Old 08-04-2010, 09:01 AM   #1
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2001 19' Bambi
Dallas , Texas
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4-Runner 19' Bambi combo

New to this forum, and have a question. My tow vehicle is a 2010 4-Runner Trail Edition, and has a big old 6 cylinder motor. It's rated to tow 5000 lbs, which is under the Bambi's loaded weight. But, I'm a little worried whether it can pull hard enough to trverse mountains. Next summer it's going to make a road trip to Alaska, and there are some huge peaks between Texas and Alaska. Does any one have any experiance or tips about towing with a 6 cylinder?
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Old 08-04-2010, 10:11 AM   #2
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I have a '02 Tacoma with V-6, 5 speed. I tow my tractor and equpment (about 6k lbs). It's adequate and stable, but more power would be welcome on hills.

I also have a '97 4Runner with V-6, 5 speed we bought new. It now has 254K miles and is a mechanical wonder! No major repairs ever and still looks new.

If you accept that one doesn't need to go 70 MPH up long grades, I expect you'll be fine.

I'd try your rig before buying another TV.

Bob
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Old 08-04-2010, 10:36 AM   #3
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Thanks Bob, the shake down run is going to be this week end- heading up to Broken Bow OK for a quick camp out. I can't wait to see how the 4-Runner does.
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Old 08-04-2010, 11:02 AM   #4
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We also use a small trailer. My first concern is loading of the trailer. You indicated the Bambi weighs over 5000 lbs loaded. I believe the maximum total weight for the Bambi is 4500 lbs (I am not sure that is correct), so the trailer seems to be overloaded. So first, deal with getting the proper load on the Bambi, and very importantly balanced so that the front or the back of the trailer is not overloaded. Overload the back and you may have a serious sway condition, overload the front and you may have trouble using your weight distribution hitch to properly transfer weight to the front steering axle of the truck.

More importantly than the power of the little truck is its stability, and its payload capacity. It has a high center of gravity, live axle, and soft tires, as well as a relatively short wheelbase, none of which are ideal for towing stability. You must also keep the load in/on the 4-Runner itself (including trailer tongue weight, passengers, gear) within payload specifications for the truck.

So you must get these loads within specs. Then you need to find a (rare) shop who can properly install a good weight distribution hitch for you, and (even more rare) properly set it up for you. Then there is the problem of inadequate factory hitch receivers on many vehicles (and probably yours) that cannot withstand the forces of a weight distribution hitch. Again, you must find a shop who truly understands these hitches, and can reinforce or replace it as needed.

I have been dealing with these close margins on our own vehicles. The simple solution that so many have done is to simply go out and get much bigger truck than you might need. That's not the direction I'm going, but will work as well. You still have to keep the trailer load with its own limit, or you may suffer trailer tire, axle, and/or frame failures.

Doug
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Old 08-04-2010, 03:06 PM   #5
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I have not driven a 4Runner, but if you plan on driving in the mountains, I'd seriously consider a larger TV. There are some long downgrades in the Rockies where even our Tundra (with the big V8) would not hold the speed down without riding the brakes a little. I suspect that you would have difficulty with your 4Runner on these grades.

I imagine that you might be fine on the flats, but when you hit the mountains, I think you will be reconsidering a larger vehicle. Before you head out to Alaska, I'd see if you can find a friend or relative with a full size pickup or Suburban-type vehicle to test drive towing your trailer. That might change your mind.

Just another opinion...
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Old 08-04-2010, 03:49 PM   #6
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And a good opinion, Phoenix. I worry much more about coming down a mountain road than going up.

Am not sure how a heavier tow vehicle can slow the speed down though, or necessarily have better braking.
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Old 08-04-2010, 03:55 PM   #7
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I tow a 28 ft Safari with a 07 2500 Burb. I live in Denver and go to the mountains almost every weekend. I would not tow a 19 with a 4-Runner. Period. If you're going in the mountains with steeps, you're going to have hard time and have a white knuckle experience. This is my opinion. If you got a Hensley Hitch, that might help with sway, but a 19 seems like too much. Too bad they stopped putting the V8 in the 4Runner. The wheelbase should not be an issue.
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Old 08-04-2010, 04:34 PM   #8
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Okay, this is where I get confused (and yes, I suppose its been discussed many times).

If a Suburban weighs about the same as a 28 ft Safari, and a 4-Runner weighs about the same as a 19 ft Bambi, why is that Suburban combo so much better than the 4-Runner combo, relative to white knuckles?

Doug
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Old 08-04-2010, 05:41 PM   #9
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We are aware of a number of V6 powered vehicles that have towed Airstreams to Alaska.

Things to keep in mind about towing and TV's is general is that at Tow Rating and the TV's weight has little to do with how well the combination will handle overall.
Some of the better performing combinations have TV's that are lighter than the trailer.
From an armchair position TV/Trailer performance can be difficult to evaluate.
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Old 08-05-2010, 07:09 AM   #10
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Thanks everyone, for the opinions and the advise.
I have an electric brake controller device being installed, and am going to go for some mild mountains in Oklahoma this week end to check how the 4-Runner is as a TV for the Bambi. I will be very careful with the weight distribution also.
I really appreciate you folks!
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Old 08-05-2010, 09:01 AM   #11
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I am a bigger hammer guy (diesel Excursion and 25 foot Safari) and live in Colorado. With that being said, I wouldn't give up on your 4 Runner and Bambi without a trial run since the rig is within the tow rating of your vehicle.
You can drive through Colorado on I-70 and never face more than a 6% grade. There is about a 4 mile downgrade below the Eisenhower Tunnel and about a 3 miler on the west side of Vail Pass and that is it. If you gear down, don't ride your brakes and go slow you will have no problems.
White knuckle moments, if any, are reserved for places like the west side of Rabbit Ears Pass long 8% grade and Monarch Pass, steep grades and tight turns.
People have complained about brake shuddering and disc warping on the Tundra. There is a dealer installed brake upgrade if that is an issue with your 4 Runner.
Good luck and post about your trip.
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Old 08-06-2010, 01:40 AM   #12
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The main advantages to a bigger, heavier tow vehicle is that it probably has a larger engine with more braking power; and being a heavier vehicle, it probably has bigger brakes. Both of these give you a larger safety margin on down grades (besides the obvious advantage of the larger engine going uphill). Ideally, you won't have to use the brakes at all on the down grades.

I'm not sure if they still do this, but the rangers used to check brake temperatures on one of the flat areas coming down Pike's Peak, just after the first of the steepest down grades. If your brakes were hot, they would make you park on the side of the road for 30 minutes until your brakes cooled off. Years ago, the ranger cautiously put his hand close to the hub on our front wheel to check and see how hot it was, then clamped down on wheel bare handed -- "Dead cold!" he said. "You must not have used the brakes at all." (We weren't towing, at the time.)

That's the way it should be. If your vehicle won't hold a safe speed in a lower gear, your tow vehicle is too small.

Other advantages of a larger TV (significantly larger than what is being towed): Less mechanical wear on the TV (engine, transmission and brakes), better braking, better hill climbing, better emergency handling, possibly better fuel economy, more room for your extra stuff, and in general, more easy cruising and less white-knuckle driving.

While the 4Runner may work OK for you, the concerns you have will be lessened with a larger TV...
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Old 08-06-2010, 08:39 AM   #13
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I just got back from a week in Colorado with a 19' Bambi and a Acura MDX. I didn't have any white knuckle moments (except a non maintained road to Cottonwood lake in Buena Vista CO) I have the tow package with transmission cooler and PS coolers. I also upgraded my Brakes, changed the fluid, have Reese WD bars and anti sway. I didn't win any races (slow is better even in a bug truck) but I went down some good grades on I70 and barley tapped my brakes (to avoid hitting someone going slower in front of me) the transmission did a great job slowing me down. We did have to pass a large class A that was smoking (brakes) all the way from Eisenhower tunnel to Dillon! He never even pulled over to let the cool off! Just kept ridding the brakes!

I would look over your brakes and make sure you have the proper coolers etc and just go slow and what ever gear you go up should be the gear you go down. Slow going down is a good thing. Happy travels.
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Old 09-12-2010, 07:56 PM   #14
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OK, the 4-Runner is a good enough TV, had power to spare, and absolutly no issues. But, with 2 of us heading out and a big German Shepperd, there wasn't enough room for gear! We took an inflatible kayak, one cooler, chairs, charcoal + grill, all the camping stuff. We were will set up for a short duration trip, but need more room for gear on the 3 month trip to Alaska- so it will have to be a full size truck.
No fault of the 4-Runner, it preformed it's TV duty prefectly!
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