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Old 02-23-2014, 09:16 AM   #71
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To All,

Been lurking on this one and reading with interest all of the pros and cons. I accidentally stepped into my trailer and TV combo.

The only additional comment I have for Williams nicely written checklist has to do with stopping power. Acceleration is wonderful but braking is pretty darn critical.

Just a question, William asked can your TV brakes make up for brake fade? (Repeated heating eg: going down a long grade and the brakes gradually overheat and fade) I offer one additional self test.

Try stopping w/o your trailer brakes. Make sure you're in an area that safely allows it and by all means don't do it if it goes against your better judgement. Why try it? Well, one day the brakes might not work and to me is sorta like what we used to do on the first big snowfall back in OH, put it in a parking lot and get the feel back in you head about what a spinning car feels like and reacquaint yourself with the feeling and actions. IF I understand our braking systems all of us rely on wiring to send the signal to the trailer for braking. I've read enough to know that drum brakes require adjustment and the electrical elements of the system have maintenance requirements.

I had to drive home one day from a campout w/o my brakes due to an ActiBrake failure, no way to fix so I used EXTRA space cushioning while driving and yes, I could absolutely feel the extra braking effort required on my trucks big brakes. Not the way to travel.

Safe travels to all.

Gary
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Old 02-23-2014, 09:54 AM   #72
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Raise your hand if you ever had an umbilical failure (human error or mechanical). IT HAPPENS. Drove over 100 miles once with no brakes. A real good case in point.
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Old 02-23-2014, 10:12 AM   #73
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I was looking forward to the article but by the end felt any message was all muddled up. I think every reader knew before they started reading that a badly set up combo is not the best and that manufacturer tow ratings are no substitute for applying common sense and paying attention to tongue weight and correct hitching. What the article did imply was that a truck is not a modern tow vehicle and that a Volvo is better. I'll concede that if you are OK with ignoring manufacturer published limits for tow rating, hitch rating and in some case trailer frontal area and altering the vehicle a bit you can end up with a stable set up that will deal with the majority of scenarios but it's clear that many RVers don't want all these limitations or worries. I mean if I'm dropping say the best part of $100K on kit to go on vacation I don't want to have to worry about putting something in the trunk in case I ruin my dialled in set up, or driving so slowly so it doesn't boil over or melt the brakes. I know that's sounds harsh and I'm not so pro truck that I can't see how for example the big Merc R class looks like a great TV but the sedans and big new trailers just aren't for me.

If Andy's point was that going over the numbers you can find a greyish area and if it all works well that's one thing; but I got a feeling that he was suggesting that the numbers may as well be ignored in favour of low centre of gravity, IRS and low profile tires.

I guess I was expecting to read about actual tow rating information and maybe see some neat trailer TV combos. What I got was a on opinion regarding auto manufacturers risk versus reward motives to sell high profit vehicles from an RV dealer presumably generally motivated to sell bigger high profit trailers. I completely get that from a business perspective once you've established a niche for yourself as a set up guru you should play to your strengths for maximum benefit and I am interested in using one of my vehicles (Jeep Unlimited) as a small TV for a smaller trailer one day but I won't be ignoring all the manufacturer warnings to get there.

I'm pretty sure a decision making profile could be whipped up to categories attitudes to this subject and some of my branches would be

"am I within manufacturer ratings or very close> YES/ NO"
"can my TV tow my trailer(s) without WD down the road a few miles if the need be > YES/ NO"
"Can I accelerate to get out of trouble even it involves a hill? > YES/ NO"
"does my desire to use my TV as my only vehicle override all else? > YES/ NO"
"does my desire to save fuel override all else? >YES/NO"
"do I think that what works on another continent with all the variables means it will always work here? YES/ NO"
"do I think my TV brakes will make up for any drum brake fade on the trailer? YES/ NO"
"do I believe what was good in 1950 works in todays world? >YES/ NO"
"will I ever want/ need 4x4 or AWD? YES/ NO"
"would my wife ever drive a minivan? YES/No just kidding with this one, it's a NO but I threw it in to illustrate how emotion affects our decision here"

As I write this I realize I should probably just hit delete and/ or unsubscribe and move along but I really am interested in tow ratings and will read the next article on SAE standards. I hope against all odds that it's less anecdotal scaremongering and more educational.
I think a beefed up underrated TV is just not worth it.

If you are towing "heavy", you need a heavy duty truck as a beefed up 300/Jetta just does not have the payload. If you are not towing "heavy", then there are much better alternatives. For example, you can get a Jeep GC or VW Touareg. They are car based SUVs, ride well, handle well, get good fuel economy (even better than 300) and can be used as daily drivers, do not require any after market modifications (no trip to Canada, or spending weeks to set a WDH), and most importantly are both rated to tow > 7000# -- This provide you with peace of mind, in a society where McDonald gets sued for serving hot coffee.
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Old 02-23-2014, 10:27 AM   #74
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Manufacturer's Tow Ratings

On Friday my wife and I counted over 100 Rvs in the 200 mile stretch between Las Cruces NM and Benson, AZ.

These 100 ranged all aspects from the very small to the very large. Big trailers with little tow vehicles and little trailers with big tow vehicles.

None of these posed a significant delay through the hills and mountains, none of these were being blown all over the road, and none of them were in the ditch.

Everyone likes their own brand don't you know!

My brand is between big and small, my 1/2 ton Silverado does a fine job with my 6.500 lb Airstream.

It used to be that smallish cars were light, not so much anymore. A Chevy Camaro and a Dodge Challenger outweigh my 55 Lincoln.

A car with a little mass and some good bigger rubber on the ground CAN be safe if made safe.
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Old 02-23-2014, 10:40 AM   #75
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The bit about the Volvo cracks me up. We took Euro delivery of a 2001 V70 XC in Germany. There were rumors going around at the time that they were going to ban them from the autobahn because of the poor stopping distance. We got ours and hauled ass anyway, but yes it was less than desirable. It was especially noticeable when we would be cruising at 90 or so MPH and have to pull over for an Audi or Porsche going 100+ and invariably have to hit the brakes hard for the trucks in the right lane which are regulated at much lower speeds.

I recently saw a ratings of popular SUVs and even now the XC70 was down rated on brakes. I know some folks here do use as a TV, but not me. Its a great car. But not suitable for towing IMO.

I think the more interesting possibility will be the upcoming redesigned XC90, but some will probably have an issue with the 4 Cyl eDrive engines... I personally think they will kick ass. But as stated above, I worry more about the Stopping than the going.
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Old 02-23-2014, 02:12 PM   #76
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Modern cars and trucks are very, very different than the vehicles of the past. There's been some discussion of brakes. Before the '80's, few, if any, American vehicles had disc brakes. Disc brakes stop better and don't fade nearly as quickly as drum brakes. Some didn't have power assisted brakes which made it even harder to stop. So, a modern car may be a better tow vehicle than an old truck and a modern truck may be better than a modern car, but you have to match the vehicle to the trailer and make whatever modifications are necessary—that can be hard work to figure out and to do. Blanket statements, however, ignore the specifics of each situation.

Some people mention size—the tow vehicle should be the same or bigger size than the trailer. The 18 wheel tractor trailers aren't like that, so maybe this size thing isn't all that important. Again, each situation is different and many vehicles can be adapted to a specific towing situations.

And the McDonald's coffee case keeps coming up on many threads. Dennis is correct—the award was reduced significantly on appeal. Also, the coffee wasn't hot, it was scalding. Everyone expects coffee to be hot, but scalding? This was one of many lawsuits against McDonalds for scalding coffee that caused serious burns. I think they lost them all.

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Old 02-23-2014, 02:25 PM   #77
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As I packed up our campsite at Ft De Soto this morning on our way to the Keys I wondered what someone pulling an Airstream with a Jetta does with their Porta Tank......
Just be safe everybody!
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Old 02-23-2014, 04:42 PM   #78
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Originally Posted by Bruce B View Post
As I packed up our campsite at Ft De Soto this morning on our way to the Keys I wondered what someone pulling an Airstream with a Jetta does with their Porta Tank......
Just be safe everybody!
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Another unique reason for needing a truck. We do have a Jetta at home, tow with a Ram 1500, but don't have a need for a Porta Tank.

It looks to me like the trend is toward smaller, well-matched tow vehicles rather than overkill. Can-Am is leading this with hundreds (maybe more) of successful combinations. And few if any reports of the dangers and disasters we keep being warned about from pretty much the same handful of protesters.

We tow with a light duty truck but are definitely looking to a more useful, better handling and braking SUV to replace it. Perhaps we need more insurance to cover the less likely event we'll get in trouble with the SUV?
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Old 02-23-2014, 09:44 PM   #79
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I've just caught up with this thread again and I see it's gone down the "illegal" and "litigious" blind alleys again.

Neither of those arguments advances the view that manufacturers' tow ratings are realistic and have been derived through proper engineering methodologies because neither has ever been backed with any real evidence. Can anyone quote a case of someone being sued for exceeding a tow rating? Are there any actual State or Provincial Laws that specifically mention tow ratings? The answer in both cases is no and the reason is that the tow rating gives no real indication as to a vehicle's actual ability to tow.

There are plenty of people out there successfully towing with vehicles that nominally are "underrated", and that is the real evidence that tow ratings don't count for much. The combinations are not illegal or dangerous and a certain Canadian business has managed quite well over the past forty years on the back of this success. Yes, they're in it to make money, but if it were some shady operation out to fleece unsuspecting newbies then don't you think they'd have been found out by now?

I'm always a bit disappointed that so many of my fellow Airstreamers feel unable to open their minds sufficiently to accept not only an alternate view on towing, but also to accept the evidence that very often is sitting right in front of them. No one is asking them to ditch their trucks but we are asking that you don't keep telling us that it can't be done when it patently can!

By the way, I'm looking forward to towing for the forth season with my underrated minivan and hoping to see some other hopelessly deluded Airstreamers with similarly underrated TVs
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Old 02-24-2014, 07:31 AM   #80
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I have another piece of "ridiculous" to add to the fray, just for fun.

You might think its ridiculous to tow an 8000lb trailer with a vehicle that is rated to tow 3500.
You might also think its ridiculous that they rate them this low, when we've seen said vehicles do it with aplomb.

How 'bout this: My very peppy, zoom-zoomy mid size sedan has a tow rating of "0". Zip. Nada.
It seems that its manufacturer (Mazda) has taken AndyT's advise to car makers, and says "just don't do it".
Now, I'm not saying that I should be able to tow a camper with this car, but a little jet-ski, or one of those little utility carts for hauling a few pounds of junk to the dump...drag a little dinghy up to the lake? Seriously? nothing???
{shrug}.
I don't think you can take this number any more seriously than any of the other "not really tested" vehicles. If this thing is so delicate that it can't handle a little utility trailer, it is too delicate to withstand the rigors of daily-driving while carrying only people inside it.
But that number isn't saying "it can't do it". What it says is "we (Mazda) don't want to be involved."
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Old 02-24-2014, 08:38 AM   #81
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For myself I'm not so terrified of being sued it's just that I feel that the manufacturer is telling me something with their published information that has value. When they say their vehicle is good to tow x I interpret that as best I can. If they say our vehicle is only good to tow 3000 lbs I figure they either have little confidence in it's tow abilities over and above 3000 lbs and/ or don't feel there's much of a reward for them as previous covered to warrant the risk. Either way what I hear is that the vehicle isn't what I'm looking for to tow 6000 lbw. Now, obviously it might be an awesome vehicle for towing 6000 lbs but I personally feel that I'd like one from a manufacturer who stands ups and says they built it to tow at least 6000 lbs. I'm not hating on cars and SUV's just expressing a point of view. I'm glad there's variety in the world and variety is why some of us see a TV rated at 3000 lbs towing 6000 lbs and take from that the rating is bogus and means nothing at all, and then others see an interpretation of information that doesn't sit right.

I can see why there's so much passion about the subject it's just weird that the bulk of us probably want the same thing in the end it's just how we want to get it done that differs.

I do want to add a quick list of things that don't affect tow ratings as it might cut down on the distractions:
lower profile tires
tire pressure
bigger engine
bigger transmission
better brakes
air bags
fancy hitch
altering trailer balance
trailer brakes
avoiding hills
driving slowly
driving extra carefully
the weather
what was used in the 50's, 60's 70's, 80's, 90's, though to today

* some of the above will make towing easier and safer but the tow rating of the vehicle from the original manufacturer never changes.
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Old 02-24-2014, 09:27 AM   #82
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... they built it to tow at least 6000 lbs.
See, this is what I'm seeing: people take these numbers and interpret them to mean all different things.
another is "..my pickup was designed to tow"---it was not "designed" to do any such thing. It was "designed" for tradesmen to carry bulky tools and materials from local lumber/freight depots to a local construction site.
As it turns out, they "can" tow stuff, too. And when mfg's found that more and more people want a truck for just that purpose, they started marketing to that effect.
So, was the truck built "to tow" x amount? or does it just turn out that it was built "to do other stuff and be profitable at a certain price point"....and as it turned out after evaluating the finished product, it was decided that it can tow a certain amount of weight without ______ {something negative or undesireable} happening? And just what exactly is that negative thing? A safety issue? premature wear? catastrophic disruption of the time/space continuum?
I guess everybody has to interpret for themselves...the easiest conclusion is to just stay under that number.

Anything that was truly "designed" to tow would have been equipped by the manufacturer with all (or most) of the items in your list (save for the behavioral ones).
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lower profile tires
tire pressure
bigger engine
bigger transmission
better brakes
air bags
fancy hitch
altering trailer balance
trailer brakes
avoiding hills
driving slowly
driving extra carefully
the weather
what was used in the 50's, 60's 70's, 80's, 90's, though to today

* some of the above will make towing easier and safer but the tow rating of the vehicle from the original manufacturer never changes.
cuz they didn't install it. They're not going to take responsibility for anything they didn't put together, themselves.
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Old 02-24-2014, 10:02 AM   #83
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A while back I posted a link to an article in Truck Trend Magazine that went a little way to exploring how tow ratings were set. It was written in light of the proposed new SAE standardized ratings.

The gist of the piece was that marketing was the main driver for tow ratings and whilst some testing was done, it was mostly after the rating was set, to check that it was indeed viable.

A couple of people dismissed the article saying "you shouldn't believe all that you read on the Internet", which is true, but this piece was from a reputable publication and quoted industry sources by name; in my book that's as true an account as you're ever going to get.

My apologies to those who will already have seen the article but I'm adding the link again. You will note that the quotes in the piece are not from a certain business in Canada but actual people from actual manufacturers. Of course, you're free to draw your own conclusions but I think that it backs up what OP's point was at the start of the thread.

The Numbers Game: Current Practice & The Ratings - Consumer Feature - Truck Trend Page 2
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Old 02-24-2014, 10:14 AM   #84
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"It all starts when we're developing a platform," adds Richard Miller, regional product manager for Nissan trucks. "We research the market and the customers, see what our competitors are doing, and decide where we want to position our vehicle. If we want to be the leader, we'll check competitors' ratings, project where we expect them to be by the time we launch our new platform, and set that as a target. That target is then cascaded to the different engineering and component groups, who test and develop their parts to meet it."

This is the most important quote of the article. Of course a new design proposal begins with market analysis. I think that is a far cry from those who say marketing fiddles with the numbers AFTER a vehicle is developed.

The red text is the crux of our discussion, IMO. If you exceed those component engineering parameters, you run the risk of affecting durability, and reliability, at a minimum. And risk safety, depending on the component, potentially.

Engineering does "build in" a safety margin, but like I said before...it is not nearly as large as some here on the forum believe and push.

Read more: The Numbers Game: Current Practice & The Ratings - Consumer Feature - Truck Trend Page 2
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