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Old 04-14-2003, 09:29 PM   #1
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More on tow ratings

More interesting info on towing. To me the most valuable aspect of this post is that it is better to have too much towing vehicle than too little, because accidents happen under unusual circumstances, when things go wrong.

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There's a great deal more to tow ratings than power. To get some perspective on that, consider the average over-the-road truck. Typically 400 horsepower or less to haul 80,000 pounds. Do your own math.

And consider this reasoning for a 75% recomendtion:

There is pretty general agreement that it is unwise and possibly dangerous to EXCEED maximum ratings, but many of us with long trailering experience have found that tow rating information is often misleading - or at least not applicable to everyone.

1. The tow rating is ALWAYS a maximum figure, and is as large as the manufacturer dares make it. They hope you will buy their stuff for towing. Their rating may or may not be right for you. Every maker has his own methods of setting tow ratings. Some are conservative and some are ludicrously over-stated (many Jeep Cherokees were rated at 5,000 lbs, and IMO are hopelessly overloaded at that figure).

2. MOST tow ratings (nothing personal or specific vs your brand) do not allow for long steep grades - up or (especially) down.

3. Most tow ratings make no allowance for bad road conditions.

4. Most tow ratings are accompanied by asterisks that call attention to special equipment "required". Your rig may not have those features.

5. Most tow ratings make no allowance whatever for emergency maneuvers. I assure you your vehicle WILL NOT turn or stop as fast or as safely with the maximum load as it will with a lot less. The difference can be dramatic. Don't believe me? Try a few tactics in a large parking lot.

6. Vehicle tow ratings make no allowance for the DRIVER'S "tow rating". No insult intended, but if you have to ask how much your rig will tow, you have neither the experience or the knowledge to handle the maximum load safely. IMO.

7. One of the most-overlooked factors in safe towing is a COMBINED maximum (GCWR = Gross Combined Weight Rating, often only found in a towing guide) that dictates a much lighter-than-maximum TOWED load. Most of the weight of cargo & passengers in the tow vehicle must be deducted from the permissible towed load to find the true rating. Some towing guides appear to gloss over this issue because the marketing types want to put the best possible face on their product.

8. What is reasonably safe and comfortable at 45 mph may well be a lethal weapon at 75. Tow ratings, IMO, do NOT reflect any respect for this hazard.

9. An internal combustion engine loses about 2 1/2 to 3% efficiency per thousand feet. You can easily lose 15-18% in the mountains unless you have a turbocharger or supercharger.

10. Regardless of weight ratings, SUV's and "1/2'-ton" pickups are mostly useless for serious towing. They will handle pop-ups and even some of the short "lite" trailers - and will haul yer big one out to the lake if you are careful. But competent handling of a large TT requires a long wheelbase & short overhang.

Someone once wrote: "You can tow anything with anything - the question is how far, how safely?"

BOTTOM LINE: IF you trust the experienced trailerists who have been there and done that and don't want to go back, you will not exceed about 75% of the rated maximum. The number is of course not writ by the finger of God on a stone tablet - it is merely an indication that you should stay well below the manufacturer's maximum allowance if you want a safe, comfortable trip. Some say the figure ought to be as low as 50 or 60%. But except for a few macho braggarts, most experienced folks agree in principle if not detail with these concerns. For example, go to http://www.popuptimes.com/archives/75rule.asp

DISCLAIMER: My advice is useless. I have no degrees and no interest in knowing your credentials. I've never towed a 34' TT with an Intrepid but have survived many equally stupid tricks. I currently own NO Banks headers, fuel magnets, deer whistles, "Smart" solenoids or louvered tailgates. I've never deliberately allowed a holding tank to freeze solid, and have no financial interest in whether you join RVCG, wear clothes, overinflate your tires or hate Firestone. If you take my advice, I guarantee absolutely NOTHING. Got that? Will Sill
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Old 04-14-2003, 09:46 PM   #2
 
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Amen Brother ipso_facto.
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Old 04-14-2003, 09:53 PM   #3
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Great post! Especially:

Quote:
What is reasonably safe and comfortable at 45 mph may well be a lethal weapon at 75.
And:

Quote:
Someone once wrote: "You can tow anything with anything - the question is how far, how safely?"
Reminds me of the old commercial where they tow a railroad boxcar with a Cub Cadet riding mower.
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Old 04-15-2003, 10:11 AM   #4
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Good post.
Shame on the truck mfg for the missleading information but many of the TT sales folks are just as bad in what they will tell you.

No substitute for doing your homework but I wish your post could be displayed at all TT sales lot offices.

Garry
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Old 11-12-2004, 12:38 AM   #5
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Red face Tow Ratings

Ditto! You've said it very well.

Many forget that the air is pretty thin at 10,000 or 11,800 feet, and WE have a hard time breathing. Imagine the problem that an engine has, even with a turbo? (Its the equivalent of the engine having a cardiac arrest.)

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Old 11-12-2004, 08:05 AM   #6
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Thumbs up Everybody's favorite topic after polishing: towing

I agree with almost everything said. The one exception is the remark concerning "1/2 ton" pickups. The manufacturers have been playing it pretty loose with labeling in the last few years. 1 ton single rear wheel trucks have been relabeled "3/4 ton heavy duty" and there are big differences between the "1500" truck of today and one of the 1970's. Just take a look under a recent Dodge 4x4 1500. You will see a really big heavy truck under there. When I tow 6000 lbs of trailer (with fluids and everything else including the kitchen sink), I have confidence that even if the brakes on the trailer disappear, that heavy truck can handle the load. I am inside the 80% figure for the factory tow rating. IMHO
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Old 11-12-2004, 12:11 PM   #7
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Ipso,

Great quote. Where/who is it from?
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Old 11-12-2004, 02:52 PM   #8
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I will be the devils advocate here. Yes - the marketing department will want tow ratings overstated, but the legal department will want them understated. I have experienced both.

My father's 1983 Chev S10 pickup with a little 110 hp V6 was supposedly rated to tow his Airstream 23' Safari - and it was a terrible match. He could barely get it out of the driveway! He soon bought a Suburban.

Yet my 2002 Ford Explorer with a V8 and tow package does a good job towing my 2003 Safari 25SS. I'm sure a 1 ton diesel would tow better, although it might shake the trailer apart. The Explorer works well as designed.

Finally, the statement "a large TT requires a long wheelbase & short overhang" is true - but how many pickups or Suburbans have a short overhang?
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Old 11-15-2004, 02:29 PM   #9
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Item #10 Re: "Most 1/2 tons and SUVs are useless for towing."

I'm a "newbie" and refer you to this thread. http://www.airforums.com/forum...ults&pollid=41

276 members responded. 45% tow with a 1/2 ton. 41% tow with a 3/4 ton. 14% tow with a 1 ton. Why are so many members towing with a 1/2 ton if it's not getting the job done? I'm trying to figure out if a 1/2 ton will "get r done" or do some of us have "tonnage envy".
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Old 11-15-2004, 03:09 PM   #10
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Daryl,

Numbers can be skewed any way you'd like them. My take on the numbers you mention is that more than 50% of the folks are using 3/4 ton or larger.

Having come from the 1/2 camp (or equiv) I will tell you first hand the 1/2 tons have enough power to tug along a 25' or 30' coach (if it's a 5.7 or 6.0L engine minumum). Maybe even larger. The bottom line as I see it is that you can DO anything at any time, but you can only do the right thing one way. For larger heavier coaches, I would go with a 3/4 ton. Why? Because that is what it's built for. The 1/2 tons share the same trans, rear axles, etc that the body on frame passeger cars use. Most (not all)1/2 tons are glorified body on frame passenger cars with 4WD. That's not to say the 1/2 tons can't do the job, it's just that the 3/4 tons do it a bit better since when the build the 3/4 or larger, the idea behind it is towing, plowing or heavy hauling, as such more robust equipement is added (trans, rear end, axle hubs, brakes, etc).

This type of converstaion has been talked about over and over and over again. There are folks with strong opinions and facts supporting both sides of the fence here. This conversation is kind of like talking politics or religion. You'll never convert the masses. You have to do what you feel is best based on the info you find.
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Old 11-15-2004, 04:58 PM   #11
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I tow a 26ft Argosy with an 02 GMC 5.3 373rear. I feel comfortable towing with it. Would I like taking long trips, say a month or more, I don't think so but being the only vechicle I have it works good for a week or two over the summer and on weekends. Planning on retirement next year and thinking of looking at a 3/4 ton to feel a little more relaxed. Marivn
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Old 11-15-2004, 05:14 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertwinkie
That's not to say the 1/2 tons can't do the job, it's just that the 3/4 tons do it a bit better since when the build the 3/4 or larger, the idea behind it is towing, plowing or heavy hauling, as such more robust equipement is added (trans, rear end, axle hubs, brakes, etc).
I'll jump in since I moved from a '99 half ton Chevy van to a '03 3/4 ton GMC. Rear axle in the Chevy was a 3.73 and the GMC is a 4.10. Engine on the Chevy was a 5.7 liter, GMC is a 6.0 liter. From a body style and option standpoint the vehicles are identical.

What I got standard with the new van was the transmission oil cooler, the tow/haul button and a heavier duty transmission. Also standard on the 3/4 ton van was 16" wheels vs. 15" on the half ton. Also new was four wheel disk brakes on the new van vs. front disk and rear drums on the half ton.

I pulled the same trailer an '01 27' Safari with both vehicles. The difference in horsepower and pickup was quite noticable. The GMC allows me to tow in OD. The Chevy van manual recommeded 3rd gear. The tow/haul feature gives me great acceleration. The big thing other than the previously mention items was the stability of the new van. Yes its rougher riding when empty, but when towing it is much smoother. The beefier frame and suspension pretty much eliminates the pitching that used to occur when you hit a dip in the road. Its hard to explain but it just seems more stable.

With the Classic slide out that I now have, a 3/4 ton vehicle is mandatory and I truthfully cannot see how the half ton could have managed. After comparing the two vans as tow vehicles, I wish I had originally gone after a 3/4 ton unit back in '99.

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Old 11-15-2004, 07:09 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertwinkie
The 1/2 tons share the same trans, rear axles, etc that the body on frame passeger cars use. Most (not all)1/2 tons are glorified body on frame passenger cars with 4WD. That's not to say the 1/2 tons can't do the job, it's just that the 3/4 tons do it a bit better since when the build the 3/4 or larger, the idea behind it is towing, plowing or heavy hauling, as such more robust equipement is added (trans, rear end, axle hubs, brakes, etc).
I know, Twink, that we have hashed this out before. But I can't let this go. 1/2 tons have more in common these days with 3/4 tons than passenger cars. A 1500HD has all the stuff you listed on the 3/4 ton, as well as the frame. There just isn't much of a line seperating them anymore. I can not stand to see a 1500HD compared to a passenger car. NO WAY, JOSE! My truck is no glorified body on a passenger car.

And I won't even respond to the orginal post that says "Regardless of weight ratings, SUV's and "1/2'-ton" pickups are mostly useless for serious towing." What a load of crap! More misinformation for the masses.
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Old 11-15-2004, 10:10 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Dee
I know, Twink, that we have hashed this out before. But I can't let this go. 1/2 tons have more in common these days with 3/4 tons than passenger cars. A 1500HD has all the stuff you listed on the 3/4 ton, as well as the frame. There just isn't much of a line seperating them anymore. I can not stand to see a 1500HD compared to a passenger car. NO WAY, JOSE! My truck is no glorified body on a passenger car.

And I won't even respond to the orginal post that says "Regardless of weight ratings, SUV's and "1/2'-ton" pickups are mostly useless for serious towing." What a load of crap! More misinformation for the masses.
Dee, you are totally right on that point, the exception is the 1500HD. I was really talking about the standard and SS versions of the 1500. The HD is in a class all by itself.

I also agree, I also wouldn't comment on that SUV and 1/2 ton comment either.

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