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Old 03-25-2012, 09:32 AM   #15
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Maximum allowable tow weight

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Originally Posted by mack-in-nc View Post
the various 'you can tow this' ratings?

My RV books all say that you do not exceed the GVWR. If it is 9300 lbs and you try pulling 9350, you are in deep do-do.

Okay but my Airstream book, "Airstream the History of the Land Yacht' by Bryan Burkhart and David Hunt shows Airstreams being towed by all sorts of vehicles...mostly mid size sedans, station wagons and pickup trucks of the 50s and early 60s (when most of the photos in this book were taken) but also, very early in the book, what appears to be a 19 footer or so being towed by what appears to be a 10 speed english bicycle of what we used to call the 'racer' type!" Now I am sure this was a stunt of some sort, but it does make me wonder..are Airstreams easier to tow that other trailers of the same size or is it that you truly can exceed the GVWR, even if it is not a great idea?
Manufacturers put a lot of time and effort to outline what their vehicles can do under IDEAL circumstances, ie, no headwind, no hills, vehicle in optimum conditions . An overweight vehicle handles differently in an emergancy manuver, or panic stopping downhill with a tailwind on rough roads . And all the above is why the old rule of thumb "be at 80% of the vehicle capability and you'll love it". Don't and under the wrong circumstances it can be verly ugly .

Happy Towing
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Old 03-25-2012, 10:18 AM   #16
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Keep in mind the average freeway/ hwy speeds weren't 80mph back in the day those pictures were taken.
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Old 03-25-2012, 11:02 AM   #17
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Well here's my 2 CDN cents. It appears to me manufacturers design vehicles (both TV's and RV's) structure/axles/tires to a pre-determined maximum LOAD rating, which in fact is the GVWR on your door sticker. That's why all of the road regulations in North America that I've seen are built around GVehicleWR and GAxleWR. Aside from the safety factor alone, neither of these weights should be exceeded if for no other reason than it's simply illegal to do so.

The tow rating, typically derived by subtracting the vehicles curb weight from the GCombinedVWR, is a manufacturers recommended maximum towing weight (which includes passengers and cargo in the TV). This is not a legal rating but rather a rating that tries to ensure minimum performance expectations are met, and one that the manufactures can support with it's warranty program.

When a manufacture establishes a tow rating for a vehicle there must be a tug of war between the marketing department (where higher is always better) and risk management that is responsible for protecting the manufacturer from lawsuits of all types, be it from accidents to class-actions suits based on premature component failure. Risk will factor in the lowest common denominator -- e.g. how high can the tow rating be set before the average uninformed, inexperienced owner gets into trouble. Consequently I expect the tow rating is somewhat conservative in most cases.

Therefore the manufacturer's to rating is not so much a hard limit that must never be exceeded under any circumstances, but more of a manufactures recommended guideline that implies "exceed at your own risk".

For the average do-it-yourselfer I would certainly recommend staying within the manufacturers tow rating. But if you're prepared to educate yourself and seek out expert advice, tow ratings can be safely exceeded...up to a point. But there will be a cost such as increased maintenance, and it's possible you may void the manufacturer's warranty depending on the circumstances.

Folks often bring up the liability issue but I don't see what tow-rating weights have to do with it anything -- if you're at fault, you're at fault no matter whether you're over or under the tow rating weight. Your insurance co. can't walk away because no laws were being broken. If you're consciously towing over GVWR that's another matter entirely.

Anyway, that's the way I see it.
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Old 03-25-2012, 11:45 AM   #18
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There's a trick in the ratings that you need to be aware of:
As others have pointed out, maximum trailer weight equals GCWR minus tow vehicle's actual curb weight. So far, so good. Now the trick, the trailer's tongue weight counts toward the tow vehicle's curb weight, because it bears on the tow vehicle's suspension. Total weight of tow vehicle, all of its passengers, fluids, and contents, and the trailer's tongue weight, should not exceed the GVWR. If you take your trailer to public scales, and weigh one axle at a time, the trailer's tongue weight shows up as part of the weight on the tow vehicle's rear axle.
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Old 03-25-2012, 11:57 AM   #19
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Question

"....... It appears to me manufacturers design vehicles (both TV's and RV's) structure/axles/tires to a pre-determined maximum LOAD rating, which in fact is the GVWR on your door sticker."

Not necessarily so...at least not at Airstream.
Here is the weight & spec sheet from our Classic.

Notice the GVWR of the trailer and the weight rating of each axle.....

Bob
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Old 03-25-2012, 12:04 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garfield View Post
Well here's my 2 CDN cents. It appears to me manufacturers design vehicles (both TV's and RV's) structure/axles/tires to a pre-determined maximum LOAD rating, which in fact is the GVWR on your door sticker. That's why all of the road regulations in North America that I've seen are built around GVehicleWR and GAxleWR. Aside from the safety factor alone, neither of these weights should be exceeded if for no other reason than it's simply illegal to do so.

The tow rating, typically derived by subtracting the vehicles curb weight from the GCombinedVWR, is a manufacturers recommended maximum towing weight (which includes passengers and cargo in the TV). This is not a legal rating but rather a rating that tries to ensure minimum performance expectations are met, and one that the manufactures can support with it's warranty program.

When a manufacture establishes a tow rating for a vehicle there must be a tug of war between the marketing department (where higher is always better) and risk management that is responsible for protecting the manufacturer from lawsuits of all types, be it from accidents to class-actions suits based on premature component failure. Risk will factor in the lowest common denominator -- e.g. how high can the tow rating be set before the average uninformed, inexperienced owner gets into trouble. Consequently I expect the tow rating is somewhat conservative in most cases.

Therefore the manufacturer's to rating is not so much a hard limit that must never be exceeded under any circumstances, but more of a manufactures recommended guideline that implies "exceed at your own risk".

For the average do-it-yourselfer I would certainly recommend staying within the manufacturers tow rating. But if you're prepared to educate yourself and seek out expert advice, tow ratings can be safely exceeded...up to a point. But there will be a cost such as increased maintenance, and it's possible you may void the manufacturer's warranty depending on the circumstances.

Folks often bring up the liability issue but I don't see what tow-rating weights have to do with it anything -- if you're at fault, you're at fault no matter whether you're over or under the tow rating weight. Your insurance co. can't walk away because no laws were being broken. If you're consciously towing over GVWR that's another matter entirely.

Anyway, that's the way I see it.
Gary,

That was a well reasoned piece and I especially liked the advice regarding DIY or getting a professional to set you up, and the bit about liability; very wise indeed.

I was having a look at the GVWR rules earlier today and you're right that Canadian Provinces use it as the point at which they'd consider you overloaded. Curiously, I don't think it's actually illegal to run over GVWR (or GAVR for that matter) but a Police Officer can decide that you're a danger and he or she will use the GVWR as the main point of reference. Of course, private vehicles are of little interest to the law makers as they have their sights fixed firmly on commercial operators, so unless you are obviously overloaded, it's unlikely that you'll get pulled over.

It would be nice to think that there was some nice simple method, perhaps based on vehicle weight, by which manufacturers arrived at tow ratings but sadly that's not the case. Tow ratings are decided using factors such as customer demand, the needs of the marketing department and what the competition are doing rather than any mathematical or scientific method. Certainly vehicles are tested once the ratings are set, but it's all to do with sales; if you must have ratings figures then GAWRs are more pertinent. A good example of the way tow ratings are set is the minivan market. The current tow rating of 3,500lb is common across all manufacturers and hasn't changed in 40 years, despite the vans being completely different beasts to their predecessors. But the likes of Honda and Toyota are not going to encourage you to tow with a minivan, even though you could, when you can go out and buy a high-margin pick up as well as having the minivan to run the kids to school; it's just not in their interests to do anything else.

Anyway, your advice is good, which is the main thing.
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Old 03-25-2012, 12:09 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ROBERT CROSS View Post
"....... It appears to me manufacturers design vehicles (both TV's and RV's) structure/axles/tires to a pre-determined maximum LOAD rating, which in fact is the GVWR on your door sticker."

Not necessarily so...at least not at Airstream.
Here is the weight & spec sheet from our Classic.

Notice the GVWR of the trailer and the weight rating of each axle.....

Bob
I read about that somewhere or other and that Canadian market Airstreams have higher rated axles (rated that is, they may well be the same things with a different sticker), but I could be just imagining that.
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Old 03-25-2012, 01:48 PM   #22
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"It would be nice to think that there was some nice simple method, perhaps based on vehicle weight, by which manufacturers arrived at tow ratings but sadly that's not the case. Tow ratings are decided using factors such as customer demand, the needs of the marketing department and what the competition are doing rather than any mathematical or scientific method."

That could be changing...

Lets hope it's more realistic than the EPA mileage standards.

Bob
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Old 03-25-2012, 02:33 PM   #23
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Some food for thought. I recently read about an RV owner who towing a trailer way over the towing capacity listed for his tow vehicle. He was involved in a accident due to not being able to stop and some people lost their lives. When the lawers got involved they went after the RV owner for involuntary manslaughter for being over the listed capacity of his tow vehicle. My point, just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.
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Old 03-25-2012, 04:55 PM   #24
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I can tell you that if I am investigating a serious collision, the vehicles get towed to a secure location for mechanical inspection. I recently had a pedestrian get hit by an over-width cargo trailer - seriously injured. I guarantee, that if your trailer, tow vehicle, or anything bolted on - is going to be examined and compared to whatever Motor Vehicle Act Regulations apply.

It's great that Can-am does all these wonderful things... I'm telling you that if I take photos of your 'specialized' rig, and Nissan, Ford, or whoever says "Yeah, there's a reason we don't put class IV hitches on a Fiesta"... you're in trouble. If you're over weight, it's no different than a tractor-trailer accident where overloading is a factor... Maybe your insurance company still covers you, maybe they don't... that's not really up to me. But, if my final accident report points the finger at a vehicle defect that YOU created, how are you going to defend yourself?

What if someone has ended up dead? Are the people that set you up going to cover your liability? It doesn't matter if the rigging didn't cause the crash... it's just like having a wreck when you are drunk - the assumption is automatically that the drunk guy is liable.

There are lots of situations that are within the numbers, but are still unsafe... I just hate these types of questions... its the same as "How much over the speed limit before I get a ticket?"

There are limits and numbers. If you don't agree, fine, but if you get caught up - don't pretend you didn't know.
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Old 03-25-2012, 10:18 PM   #25
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Friday, with investigator, judge and jury like you around I think I'll just lock myself up in the house the rest of my life.

I wish these threads could have a complete discussion without some self-appointed legal beagle jumping in with dire warnings. Have we as (North) Americans always been burdened by this crap?

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Old 03-25-2012, 10:20 PM   #26
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It's great that Can-am does all these wonderful things... I'm telling you that if I take photos of your 'specialized' rig, and Nissan, Ford, or whoever says "Yeah, there's a reason we don't put class IV hitches on a Fiesta"... you're in trouble.
I think that you're spot on but, as the determination of Tow Ratings (not the Axle or Gross Weight) has no basis in anything other than a whim, the manufacturer couldn't stand up in court and say that there was a reason why they don't put that Class IV hitch on, at least not one that had any meaning.

If we're talking GVWR or GAWR, both properly set and recordable figures, then they'd have a case. In my view.
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Old 03-25-2012, 11:19 PM   #27
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Friday, with investigator, judge and jury like you around I think I'll just lock myself up in the house the rest of my life.

I wish these threads could have a complete discussion without some self-appointed legal beagle jumping in with dire warnings. Have we as (North) Americans always been burdened by this crap?

doug k
I'm not a 'legal beagle', I'm a cop... and I'm tired of the 'how close can I get to the edge' type of questions. You can get as close as you want, until you fall off.

This forum is full of people that tell the tale of how they've driven for 50 years and never had a problem. That is great. What you don't see is people relating many horror stories. I'm here to be a dose of reality because I'm the one that see's the 1 in 1000, or 1 in a million... and can say that sometimes the warnings come because of wisdom... not because some jack-ass thinks laws are 'a burden', except when they are the one wronged - then wait for the change in attitude.

I'm not even in that busy an area, and I've lost track of how many fatal accidents I've been to.
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Old 03-25-2012, 11:30 PM   #28
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Of course, private vehicles are of little interest to the law makers as they have their sights fixed firmly on commercial operators, so unless you are obviously overloaded, it's unlikely that you'll get pulled over.
It is true... the most properly-equipped to check RV's are Commercial Vehicle Inspectors, who have access to portable scales and such. In this area, RV inspections are typically part of a combined enforcement day where many agencies will set up (usually at a weigh scale) and do inspections on all types of vehicles for the day. If it looks too heavy, it goes on the scale.

More typical things we want to see are functioning break-away devices, working brakes, and working lights. The compliance rate on all three of those together is usually around 50%... not great. It's usually the case where people have known for a long time that something isn't working, they just never get around to fixing it.

Unfortunately, without some type of enforcement action... a lot of people wouldn't bother keeping their RV's in good repair... Lots of people will swap their licence plate off their boat trailer to their RV trailer, thinking it's not with the $50 a year for another plate... then come up with some BS story for insurance when their trailer gets wrecked and wasn't registered to be on the road.

Who pays? The rest of us.
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