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Old 08-29-2009, 08:11 AM   #1
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Sae towing standards for 2012

From the NY Times:
August 30, 2009
Common Standard on Towing

FOR decades automakers have promoted the towing capacity of their vehicles, particularly pickup trucks, as a selling point. What many consumers did not know was that the industry had no standard to ensure apples-to-apples comparisons and to prevent companies from making unrealistic claims.

“I think in many ways consumers just went with what was printed in the brochure and took no real thought as to how it was developed,” said David Champion, the director of auto testing for Consumer Reports magazine.

That will soon change. SAE International, the group formerly known as the Society of Automotive Engineers, has established a voluntary standard that specifies how automakers should measure towing capacity.

“My personal opinion is that some of the numbers were getting a little carried away,” said Robert Krouse, a General Motors engineer specializing in towing who is also chairman of the SAE committee that came up with the standard. The committee included engineers from G.M., Chrysler, Ford, Honda and Toyota, as well as industry experts.

Mr. Krouse declined to say whether any automaker was doing anything unethical, but acknowledged that there had been potential for a company, if so inclined, “to turn the numbers” in its favor.

For example, without an industry standard, Mr. Krouse said, there was no requirement specifying how quickly a vehicle had to tow its load. “You could limp up any hill and say, ‘Well, we got to the top,’ Mr. Krouse said. “If you didn’t think your customers would complain, you could get away with anything.”

If automakers choose to use the SAE standard, consumers should come out ahead. “The good part is that the numbers should be more directly comparable, so a Toyota 10,000 pounds and a G.M. 10,000 pounds and a Ford 10,000 pounds should be pretty similar,” Mr. Krouse said.

The new standard, called J2807, specifies not just how quickly a vehicle must be able to accelerate — including uphill grades — but also how it stops and how it handles. With increases in horsepower and torque it is possible for a vehicle to tow a trailer that outweighs it, creating potential challenges to drivers, Mr. Krouse said.

“Being able to handle the trailer is an even more critical part of the equation,” he said. Consumers can quickly tell how a vehicle accelerates, but poor handling “sneaks up on you,” he said. “You can be in trouble in a hurry.”

So one requirement is that the vehicle’s suspension must be able to resist a trailer’s fishtailing.

One implication of the new standard is that towing numbers are likely to drop by 200 to 500 pounds. That is because the new standard specifies how the towing vehicle must be equipped when the tests are conducted.

Previously, the tested vehicle could be a stripped-down model without options, and only a driver needed to be on board. Now there must be a driver and a 150-pound passenger as well as typical options like air-conditioning.

That could increase the vehicle’s curb weight — and decrease the existing towing capability — by 200 to 500 pounds, Mr. Krouse said.

The standard was introduced at SAE International’s conference last year and is now undergoing some minor changes, Mr. Krouse said. It covers cars, minivans, S.U.V.’s and all but the largest heavy-duty pickups. The SAE committee originally recommended that automakers begin using the new standard for 2011 models, but Mr. Krouse said that given the tumult in the industry that could slip to 2012.

Nothing prevents an automaker from adopting the method earlier. But it could be a competitive disadvantage to be the only company using the system.

For consumers, the thing to look for would be a note on sales or promotional material stating that the tow rating was calculated using SAE standard J2807.

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Old 08-29-2009, 08:22 AM   #2
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Great article! Thanks for sharing it with us.

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Old 08-29-2009, 08:42 AM   #3
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I, for one, will welcome some realistic tow numbers. The proposed standards don't go far enough IMO. The vehicle should have weights equal to the typical family (mom, dad, 2.2 kids, dog, ~300 lbs. luggage, and full gas tank). At this level, we're talking what,,,, maybe 1000 lbs,,,?
For too long, every time the maker adds a few horsepower, they tack-on another 500>1000 lbs., of so-called tow capacity.
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Old 08-29-2009, 08:55 AM   #4
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Thanx for posting that. It was very interesting. Maybe now we will get the real story on what can tow how much.

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Old 08-29-2009, 10:14 AM   #5
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Great post! Given the seemingly ever increasing number of folks interested in becoming first time a/k/a newbie towers, standard comparative analysis may make tow vehicle selection somewhat easier. The highways may also be safer because of more informed purchases and use of better matched tow vehicles and travel trailers.

Its too bad the states do not require and offer RV driver training and a specific level of standard driver skills before being able to hitch up to a travel trailer and enter the public traffic stream.
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Old 08-29-2009, 11:10 AM   #6
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It would be nice to have standardized, reliable information. Not just "Ford says..." and "Toyota says...". I usually look at Road and Track and other publications to look at their testing, especially the towing uphill data.
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Old 08-29-2009, 12:27 PM   #7
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Wonder if they'll factor in the 80% rule? ............Awe I should not have said that!
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Old 08-29-2009, 12:49 PM   #8
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Thanks Denis. I wonder if it includes payloads?

I'm usually 3-7 days behind on reading the Times, yet you have tomorrow's*. Could you post who will win tonight's baseball games so we can get on the phone to our bookies?


*I expect you got it off the internet, but it reminded me an old movie where someone got the paper a day early and then went to the track and cashed in. Are "bookies" listed in the yellow pages?
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Old 08-29-2009, 01:16 PM   #9
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If the towing capacities touted by the various manufactures were accurate and factual for the real world, we would not need any 80% rule.

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Old 08-29-2009, 01:26 PM   #10
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'Bout time....

Here's a link from Novermber of '07 where the initialization of the process was discussed.

Too bad it's taken so long to implement. In these days of more and more government intervention it's a wonder that industry wide standards were not instituted in the '70's.

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Old 08-29-2009, 02:33 PM   #11
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Im REALLY surprised that will all the government oversight in the automotive/transportation industry that this had never been addressed and made standardised. Its always been my assumption that the manufacturers LOWER the numbers for liability purposes...Im guessing that lawyers were involved as well as engineers when it comes to disclosing calculations.
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Old 08-29-2009, 03:03 PM   #12
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Its too bad the states do not require
yes, let's do away with personal responsibility and just turn it over to the government. Gotta' be a winner there!

Take note of a quote from the PSA

“The good part is that the numbers should be more directly comparable ...” Mr. Krouse said.
It appears the idea is to assist the quality of informed judgment by providing measures that have a known reference and meaning. It does not appear that they are trying to make your decisions for you. -- no lawyers, no liability fears, no rules, no guidelines, just a referent for the measure so people can make their own judgment about what is best for them.

I do wonder, though, why so many folks want to mandate their own decisions and judgments about what is best on others.
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Old 08-29-2009, 03:30 PM   #13
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It will be interesting to see how implementing the SAE standard affects tow ratings. Having read the new standard and discussed towing with quite a few vehicle engineers, I know that at least one manfacturer publishes numbers based on tests that were more difficult than some of the powertrain cooling test speeds in the new standard.

Likewise, there have been ratings that were actually adjusted downwards for marketing reasons (a smaller engine that could provide better cooling and was a lot lighter than the heavier big-block, yet had a lower tow rating).

Finally, there are some vehicles where a manufacturer simply makes sure the vehicle can tow a competitive amount - for instance, a minivan typically tows 3500 lbs. It takes time and money to validate beyond that, and it doesn't provide much marketing advantage to have a higher rating, so the manufacturer stops there.

In other words, despite what that article says, if everyone follows the SAE standards to the letter, numbers might not necessarily always go down.

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Old 08-29-2009, 03:51 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by moosetags View Post
If the towing capacities touted by the various manufactures were accurate and factual for the real world, there would not need to be any 80% rule.

Probably right! I've always accepted the 80% rule on the basis that I figured it was probably the marketing departments more than anyone else that determined what the advertised tow rating would be!

On the other hand, once you accept are used to the 80% concept, It will be tough to let it go.

Even if the "new" tow ratings are realistic, I still feel you are better off not pushing any mechanical device to its limit in the interest of longevity!

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