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Old 06-14-2002, 07:42 PM   #1
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Question Question about my 2000 Dodge Dakota

I just joined and find this site is really full of great info. I have not found my first airstream yet but hopfully I will soon. I do have one question that maybe someone out there may be able to help me clear up. I have a 2000 Dodge Dakota 4.7 v8 2wd automatic. Will this truck be able to pull a older model 25 ft. safari trailer? I have recieved many different variations on my trucks capabilities. If someone out there tows with a Dakota I would love to hear from you. thanks
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Old 06-15-2002, 09:41 AM   #2
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Not so sure

I can give an opinion based on an indirect comparison.

I pulled a TrailManor 3124K (about 3600# loaded and very little wind resistance since it folds down to 5' high) with my 5.2L extended cab Dakota. Performance with that trailer was quite good.

I later traded the Dakota on a 5.3L 4wd Silverado which gave just a little bit better towing performance than the Dakota did. The two trucks are generally pretty close in performance with the Silverado being a little bit better puller, with a lot smoother transmission in tow/haul mode.

I recently bought a 2003 International AS which runs close to 5000# loaded. The AS pulls quite nicely with the Silverado, but I can sure feel the extra 1200# or so on the hills. I think that the AS is just about about all I would like to pull with the Silverado in any sort of mountainous terrain.

That said, since the Silverado pulls better tha the Dakota did and I feel that my 5000# AS is about maximum under hilly conditions for the Silverado, I would conclude that a still heavier 25# Safari would be more than I would like to pull with a Dakota.

BTW: I got rid of my Dakota because the transmission was found to be full of metal chips when I took it in for a transmission fluid change. I used the truck mostly for towing the TrailManor and that makes me wonder about the Dakota transmissions standing up under heavy towing conditions.
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Old 06-15-2002, 12:13 PM   #3
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A 4.7l Dakota with auto trans has a GCWR (Gross combination weight rating) of 9200 lbs with a 3:55 axle ratio and 10500 lbs with a 3:90 axle ratio.If you subtract your trucks loaded weight from the GCWR you will have your max trailer weight rating. You did not say which body style you have. The Dodge trailer tow guide for 2000 list the following approxmate empty curb weights for a 2wd,
Standard cab 3804
Club Cab 4012
Quad Cab 4253

I was involved in the development of the Dakota trailer tow numbers. The 4.7 engine is a better engine than the old 5.2 engine and also has a different automatic transmission than the old 5.2. However do not exceed the GCWR numbers as you will have problems in the future if you do. These numbers are also based on having the factory trailer tow package. If you do not have the factory tow package I do not recommend trying to upgrade the truck as the factory package includes several electrical system upgrades and a heavy duty cooling system with different radiator and fan drive, as well as trans oil cooler. Just adding the trans cooler is not good enough.

If you do have a trailer tow package I recommend you follow the owners manual and change the rear axle fluid to a synthetic lube,
such as mobil 1 or Amsoil. The axle will run cooler with the synthetic lube and is required if you are going into the mountains. The axle would be fine on level ground with out it but I still recommend the change. I also change my transmission and engine to full synthetic lubes.
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Old 06-15-2002, 01:30 PM   #4
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That proves the point

My 22' International AS would pretty much max out a Dakota with the 3.55 rear end and only have about a 1300# cushion with the 3.90 rear end. The 25' Safari empty weighs about what my International weighs fully loaded and it would equal or exceed the GCWR limit with either rear end ratio when loaded. The gross weight of the Safari is about 6300#.

The max towed wright and the GCWR are the most the truck manufacturer can boast in a very competitive arena. The number is the max the manufacturer can claim without opening up to massive warrenty costs. There is no assurance that the combination will perform at a reasonable level at GCWR, only that it won't break the maker's back with warrenty claims.

In other words, even if it doesn't break, you'll wish you had pedals to help it along.
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Old 06-16-2002, 03:17 PM   #5
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Unhappy

thanks for your info I guess I might have to relize that my truck maybe can't tow an airstream of that size. I 'm just wondering now how cars could pull these trailers?
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Old 06-16-2002, 07:12 PM   #6
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In the good old days

Big V-8 powered RWD sedans in the past didn't do too bad pulling trailers. Of course, traffic was a lot slower and more forgiving in those days. Also, the trailers foot for foot were generally lighter then. Look at some of the restoration photos, there isn't very much inside some of the older trailers.

Lots of folks try to tow way too much. A couple of years ago, coming across Mississippi on I-20, I saw something strange way up ahead. As I got nearer, I found that it was about a 25' trailer, weaving all over both lanes at about 35mph. I hung back a while, afraid to pass, until I found a good spot with a good shoulder and lots of flat, wide open space to the left. As I passed, I found the the tow vehicle was one of the early, little-bitty Ford Broncos, manned by an elderly couple. No equalizer bars to be seen. The hitch was almost scraping the road, the front wheels were just barely touching the road, and the driver was frantically cranking the wheel as the trailer swayed wildly back and forth. I have often wondered whether they made it wherever they were headed.
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Old 06-17-2002, 09:46 AM   #7
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Your Dakota will tow one of the older Safaris with out a problem. The older trailers are lighter and depending on the year are only 7' or 8' wide vs. the new Safari which is 8 1/2' wide.

As long as you stay with a trailer with a GWR which stays with in the trucks weight rating.

The new Airstream web site lists trailer Gross weight ratings and dry weights back to 1952.
The site is www.airstream.com
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Old 06-17-2002, 04:55 PM   #8
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thanks


I went to the site and found what I needed. It is an older unit I'm looking at -1973. The site that lists the trailer weight lists "dry wgt." which I guess is the base curb wgt. and the GVWR that I was given for the trailer is the total weight the trailer can be (curb wgt. plus contents)
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Old 06-18-2002, 11:49 AM   #9
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apple1: dodge questions...

how is the 4.7 "better" than the 318, with its long reputation of durability. (just curious).

You mentioned to me before that the owner's manual recommends synthetic lube, but I couln't find that in my manual. (2000 RAM 1500QC 4x4). Is it ok to switch the engine oil to synthetic after 36,000 miles of "regular"? (I thought I read somewhere a while back that synthetic should be started near the begining of the engine's life, but not later...).

That factory towing package has to be one of the biggest bargains in the auto-biz. they charge something like 250-300 bucks for it. It would cost more than that for a decent hitch aftermarket....I wonder why so cheap for all those goodies?
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Old 06-18-2002, 07:46 PM   #10
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Chuck,
The 4.7 engine is new design with over head cams and is more efficent than good old 5.2. Has better low end torque and lower first gear ratio.
Under trailer tow section the owners manual recommends change to synthetic lube.
Also trans oil change with trailer tow is every 24,000 miles and I changed to Amsoil synthetic lube. I have used synthetic oil since new but see no reason why you can't switch now.
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Old 06-18-2002, 10:03 PM   #11
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Chuck,
You can make your switch now without problems if your engine is in sound mechanical condition. I switched to Amsoil synthetic 5W-30 when I bought my '92 Z71 4X4 with 38,000 miles. It was running strong with 143,000 when my son rolled it trying to miss a deer in the road. My new '01 2500HD was started on synthetics at 2,800 miles and has 10,800 lovable miles as of now. I also went to a Mag-Hytec aluminum rear diff. pan to add an additional 1.5 qts. of Amsoil synthetic gear lube after 2,300 miles. No problems with either change. Craig
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Old 06-19-2002, 07:59 PM   #12
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apple 1,

Since you were involved in computing the towing numbers for the Dodge Dakota, what consideration did you give to the trailer's aerodynamic drag? My experience in towing Airstreams for 4 years has proven the weight issue to be only part of the equation. The considerably lower wind resistance and lower centre of gravity of an Airstream allows one to tow a heavier unit than would be possible with a conventional 'square front' travel trailer.
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Old 06-21-2002, 09:45 AM   #13
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Norm, Penny & Tiger
Several years ago we did some studies on trailer wind resistance and the effect on the tow vehicle. We found the Airstream wind resistance to be about 30% less than a square front trailer on level road. However when climbing a grade the resistance becomes less of a factor and weight becomes more of a factor as the grade increases. As a result we always used square front trailers for all testing. I still recommend staying with in the truck manufactuers recommendation for trailer weight, even with the reduced wind resistance.
Jim
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Old 06-21-2002, 11:30 AM   #14
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Thumbs up Wind resistance

I agree with apple1 on the wind resistance vs weight situation.

As far as level-road towing, I find that my International is not signifigantly harder to pull then my former TrailManor which folded down to 5'2" plus the AC and vent covers on the roof.

Both my trips with the International so far have been in the Texas Hill Country with lots of short, steep ups and downs, just about the worst towing terrain you could ask for. The approximately 1000 extra pounds of the International are quite obvious. With the TrailManor, there was never more than one downshift on hills with a maximum RPM in the mid 20s. With the International there are two downshifts on most hills with RPMs in the 30s and an occasional 3rd shift if the foot gets too heavy.
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