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Old 10-11-2015, 10:54 PM   #1
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Tow Vehicle 101, please?

I just read somewhere that you have to subtract the weight of the tow vehicle from the towing capacity, and that what is left is what's good for the trailer. Is that true?

I am SUCH a newbie oh my god. I'm taking somewhat of a break from shopping for an airstream so that I can focus my efforts on upgrading from a regular SUV to a tow vehicle. I've been putting the cart before the horse, so-to-speak. My dad's minivan might be able to do a short one-way tow... not much more. But as always I find the more I research, the less I know about the subject.

What are some fool-proof makes and models between ohhh 1998 and 2010 that you can purchase without much investment, but that are strong enough to pull up to a 30ft Airstream?

I'm looking to sell my current vehicle to Carmax (I gotta find out how much they'll give me for it, I'm hoping for 2k at least) once I find my tow vehicle. I have $5k banked right now, but I'd like to spend LESS than $3k if possible. If I get more from Carmax, I might be able to go a little higher.

The only specs I really care about are tow-related ones, and that it has a decent sized back seat for my dog and it isn't TOO humongous, as I'm used to driving a Saturn Vue. And it has to be Automatic because I can't drive stick. Any vehicle suggestions or threads I should read that answer my questions?
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Old 10-11-2015, 11:09 PM   #2
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Your starting point is the actual weight of your 30ft AS. Is it a heavy classic, or a lighter Flying Cloud? If you are in the 8,000s then you have some intersteing choices. If you are 9,000 heading higher then you may be looking at a 3/4 ton truck.
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Old 10-11-2015, 11:29 PM   #3
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1976 25' Tradewind
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Most of the trailers I've been looking at have a starting weight of 3-4k, and I'd like to stay on the smaller side (22-27 ft). I'd really rather not get an ambassador or sovereign or something. I'm also more interested in the older models, from the late 60s/early 70s, which I've read are a little lighter than the newer ones they made in the 80s/90s.

I'm also going to be going light on amenities and such - basic original furnishings, or lightweight replacements, a light composting toilet, etc. I also specifically prefer the rear-bath models because of the offset they provide for the weight balancing. But I need a vehicle that can handle routinely moving a small airstream around. Like, I'm living in the trailer and I move it around all year long. Whether it's a small argosy or tradewind or whatever I manage to find is irrelevant.

I just want to make sure that whatever used vehicle I get can handle that but still be good for just... going to the store or to work. I'm not looking for a monster truck, just something non-descript with a really good towing package.
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Old 10-12-2015, 07:25 AM   #4
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You need to look on the left side of the trailer, there you will see a plate that has all the weights of the trailer you are considering. The main one you want to concentrate on is the GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight). This one is how much your trailer can weigh legally when loaded, ie tanks full, clothes, food and stuff. You'd be surprised how much weight you can load without even know it.

Then you find a tow vehicle and also on the left side, but this time on the drivers side door post you will find another plate. This one tells you the GVW of the truck the combined weight of the truck and trailer and also one stating how much weight your vehicle can tow. Do not listen to sale people, if need be go on line and check to see the tow rating of the vehicle you are looking at. Sales people often don't know, and will at times make something up for a sale. Once you have compatibility in the two plates you will have your tow vehicle.

I tow a 30' and I've used a 1/2 Ton Pick Up, not enough. Then a 3/4 Ton Pick Up with Diesel which was terrific. Now I have a 1 Ton Pick Up Diesel, just like the 3/4 Ton. Personally I would not tow a 30' without a Diesel Pick Up, but that is me. You'll find tons of info on these forums and especially on tow vehicles. Everyone has an opinion and history so read and be cautious.

Good Luck, sometimes an AS dealer can be a help, especially the technicians if they are good ones.
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Old 10-12-2015, 08:36 AM   #5
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I would think that just about any truck in the world would handle anything under 5000 lbs. Well I say that, I mean any "1/2 ton truck, suburban, van"

If you want something that would tow anything you could purchase, then a 3/4 ton truck would do the trick. 2500, F250...

For the budget, I'd stick to an early 00's gasoline extended cab Silverado - which will fit the dog, and I'd tow a light trailer, 22 feet. That's a well rounded combo. No?
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Old 10-12-2015, 08:41 AM   #6
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2002 Chevy Silverado LS extended cab

2004 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT extended cab 2wd 5.3 V8

2003 silverado 2500hd extended cab

2003 Chevy 2500 Silverado 4 X 4 4 door

Many choices available near you
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Old 10-12-2015, 09:06 AM   #7
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1976 25' Tradewind
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Thanks for the suggestions. I'll start looking up the GVW for the models of airstream I like, so that I know what towing capacity to look for.

If I get a hold of, let's say a Trade Wind from 1969 - It's weight in the list is 4340 lbs. But that's the dry weight. Typically, how much MORE would it weight loaded? 5000? 6000? I pretty much don't want a vehicle that's more than 27 MAYBE 29 ft. So the ones I consider are all under 5000 lbs, so I thought I was looking for something that can tow 5000 or more.

But I can't find a list of GVWs for the airstreams, so I don't know how much weight life adds to them.

If I'm considering a Chevy Trailblazer LS... is 6200 to 6400 lbs towing capacity enough in my case? Or should I also be looking at 4wd vs 2wd and other factors that effect towing?
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Old 10-12-2015, 09:28 AM   #8
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For the tow vehicle you should know:
GVWR - gross vehicle weight rating (the maximum the tow vehicle can weigh loaded)
GCWR - gross combined weight rating (max the TV and trailer can weigh together)
Payload capacity - the amount of stuff the TV can carry

For the trailer you should know:
GVRW - gross vehicle weight rating (the maximum the trailer can weigh loaded)
Tongue Weight - 10% to 15% of GVRW of trailer (this varies with what you put inside)

GENERALLY - To figure out if a tow vehicle is rated to tow a trailer you can calculate:
(1) Will (GVWR of TV)+(GVWR of trailer) exceed (GCRW of tow vehicle)
(2) Will (tongue wt at 10-15%)+(passengers and what you load in the TV) exceed the payload capacity of the TV
If no weight limit is exceeded, GENERALLY, it will do the job. There are many other issues to consider, like axle load capacity and tire load capacity.

As far as 4WD vs 2WD, that depends if you plan to stay on pavement or go somewhere that traction might not be so good. A tow vehicle can get stuck on wet grass trying to pull a heavy trailer up a slight grade.

add edit:
Each tow vehicle is different, options chosen (body type, gears ratio, engine, transmission type) can give the same vehicle different capacities, so you have to look at that specific vehicle. There are placards on the vehicle that give some of the data.

Sometimes you also must look at the Owner's Manual to find charts that show the GCRW for the varying body type, engine type, transmission type, and gear ratio.

Old Airstreams weigh less than new Airstreams of the same length.
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Old 10-12-2015, 09:43 AM   #9
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I enjoy this, it pretty much covers all of your questions and then some:
http://howto.curtmfg.com/Pages/index.cfm.20.html
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Old 10-12-2015, 09:45 AM   #10
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Sounds like you want an SUV, but many here have suggested trucks.
I tow with an SUV.
My $0.02 :
Get 4wd. There will be a day you are really happy you have it.

10yo Chevy Tahoes can be had for a song. Cheap to have serviced, too.

I had a 2006 Nissan Pathfinder, and towed a 4500lb SOB trailer. I'd tow a 27' airstream with it, as long as it was equipped with sway control and load distribution. Easy to drive and park when not towing.

I now have a 2012 Nissan Armada. It would tow what you want without hesitation, but the old Armadas had some issues and the newer ones will be over your budget.

Eric
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Old 10-12-2015, 09:59 AM   #11
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Weights of Airstreams can be found here
http://www.airstream.com/wp-content/...me-Weights.pdf
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Old 10-12-2015, 10:10 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by starstruck08 View Post
If I get a hold of, let's say a Trade Wind from 1969 - It's weight in the list is 4340 lbs. But that's the dry weight. Typically, how much MORE would it weight loaded? 5000? 6000? I pretty much don't want a vehicle that's more than 27 MAYBE 29 ft. So the ones I consider are all under 5000 lbs, so I thought I was looking for something that can tow 5000 or more.
Let's think about it... and of course, remember that some of this can be stowed in the back of the truck.

Say you carry 30 gallons of water 8 x 30 = 240
Clothes, shoes = 20 lbs?
Dog food, your food, light cookware = 60 lbs
Blankets, Pillows, Bedding = 10lbs?
Computers, ipads, chargers = 4 lbs?
camp chairs, camp table, outdoor lighting, bug spray, etc... = 60lbs

You see where I'm going... if you carried more than 500 lb's of stuff, you *might* have too much stuff
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Old 10-12-2015, 10:12 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ericpeltier View Post
Sounds like you want an SUV, but many here have suggested trucks.
I tow with an SUV.
My $0.02 :
Get 4wd. There will be a day you are really happy you have it.

10yo Chevy Tahoes can be had for a song. Cheap to have serviced, too.

I had a 2006 Nissan Pathfinder, and towed a 4500lb SOB trailer. I'd tow a 27' airstream with it, as long as it was equipped with sway control and load distribution. Easy to drive and park when not towing.

I now have a 2012 Nissan Armada. It would tow what you want without hesitation, but the old Armadas had some issues and the newer ones will be over your budget.

Eric
A tahoe is a decent choice, might also want to look at the chevy cargo vans... sometimes you can find a bullet proof chevy 3500 diesel cargo van.... tons of space, will tow the moon. Don't be too nervous if it has 209,000 miles on it....
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Old 10-12-2015, 10:16 AM   #14
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https://fortmyers.craigslist.org/col...262563651.html

https://miami.craigslist.org/mdc/cto/5239049071.html

Didn't check if these were diesel or not..
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