Welcome to the Forums and the world of Airstreaming!
Originally Posted by Flight
Hi everyone, I'm new to towing, and seriously considering buying a 16-19' Sport. I see lots of opinions on tow vehicles, but would like to know what specifications I should be considering, ie weight of TV vs trailer, horsepower, torque, wheelbase, other??
I toured the Airstream plant in Ohio last week, and the only advice I got from them was "Go see a dealer." I don't want to walk into a dealer and have him try to sell me an Expedition with a huge engine if all I need is a 6-cyl. Escape.
As you have probably noted by now, most of us here on the Forums start with the manufacturers trailer tow ratings for tow vehicles and then apply rules that we have established that help to insure that our tow vehicle choices fit our comfort level for the various compromises. For instance, the following are among my most important considerations when looking at a new tow vehicle:
- Must be able to tow my 6,100 pound Overlander across the steepest Rocky Mountain passes without downshifting below 2nd gear when climbing.
- Must have sufficient reserve horsepower and torque to quickly mege with traffic when passing through large cities.
- Must provide comfortable seating for a minumum of four adults and ideally at least six.
- Must be two-wheel drive with locking rear differential -- after three positively miserable experiences with four-wheel-drive trucks or SUVs I will never buy another tow vehcile with four-wheel-drive.
- If the vehicle has front wheel drive, it must have at least 3.07 Final Drive with a motor that produces at least 425 pouns-feet of torque. My Cadillac with the 2.70 fintal drive is marginal with the Overlander at much more than 2,000 feet above sea level; but a friend who has an earlier model of the same car with the 3.07 final drive has a real go-getter for mountain towing.
When I purchased my last new tow vehicle in 1998, my base list of requirements included:
- Minimum 8,000 pound trailer tow rating (approximately 135% of my Overlander's loaded weight)
- Minimum 7.0 Liter displacement motor with 3.70 minimum to 4.10 maximum differential gearing.
- Locking rear differential.
- Heavy Duty factory towing package.
- Auxilliary transmission fluid cooler with cooling fan.
- All-Season Radials rather than M/S Radials for quieter more relaxed ride characteristics.
- Shocks and Springs as standard with trailer tow -- after one truck with quad shocks, wagon springs, and huge 36" mud/snow tires I won't make that mistake again - - I don't know whether the Airstream suffered more or my passengers.
I will admit that I truly miss the days when you could buy a large family car with a 450 to 474 cubic inch V8 and trailer towing package. I love my Suburban, but nothing beats towing with either my Cadillac or Dodge convertibles. My Airstream dreams were made with combinations similar to this:
Granted a 30+ year-old tow vehicle isn't for evryone, but this is my favorite combination. It has povided a few unusual moments over the years, but it has only let me down once while towing when a newly rebuilt alternator died 250 miles into my 2008 trip to Yellowstone National Park and Bozeman, Montana. On that same trip it did leave a few souvenirs along the side of the road as its four fiberglass fender extensions (part of the 5 MPH bumper package) gradually disintegrated during the round-trip to Montana.
Good luck with your tow vehicle selection!