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Old 02-07-2006, 11:42 AM   #15
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Matching a Tow Vehicle & Trailer

What is all this confusing talk about weights? The weight issue is probably the most critical and least understood issue you will confront when purchasing a towable RV. It is critical because a mismatched tow vehicle and trailer can put you and your loved ones safety in jeopardy. It can also result in expensive repair bills for damage and premature wear to major components on your tow vehicle. It is the least understood issue because the buyer is not educated on weight concerns until it is too late.

Trying to cover everything involved on this subject in a short article is like trying to find the needle in a haystack. For a more in depth look at these topics check out our newest video production “Trailer Towing, Weights Hitch Work & Backing” at >>
http://rveducation101.com/trainingvideos.htm?siteID=0

Let's start with the tow vehicle. The vehicle manufacturer determines tow vehicle ratings. Extensive testing is done and many factors are considered such as; engine size, transmission, axle ratio, chassis, suspension, brakes, tires, cooling system, and tow packages. Any time a vehicle or trailer is given a rating it is based on the weakest link in the chain. For example, the axle on a trailer may be capable of supporting 5,000 pounds, but if the tires on the axle can only support 3,000 pounds the axle is rated for 3,000 pounds. This is why it is crucial that you never exceed a manufacturers rating.

You can take five ˝ ton trucks with the same engine, and tow ratings can vary by 4,000 pounds. One of the major factors affecting tow ratings is the rear axle ratio. Very basically, the axle ratio is a comparison of how many times the drive shaft rotates versus the wheels. If you have a 3.73:1 axle ratio it means the drive shaft rotates 3.73 times for each rotation of the wheels. The higher the numeric value of the rear axle the better it tows, but you compromise gas mileage. The key to selecting the tow vehicle is to figure out what your requirements are and to know exactly how it is equipped so you can determine the correct tow rating. Tow ratings are extremely important, but there are other weight issues concerning the tow vehicle that are often overlooked.

There's a very simple formula we can use to determine how much we can safely tow, but first there are a couple of weight ratings you need to understand:

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR): is the maximum permissible weight of the vehicle or trailer when fully loaded for travel. This includes the unloaded vehicle weight, all fluids, cargo, optional equipment and accessories. The tow vehicle and trailer each have a GVWR.

Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR): is the maximum permissible combined weight of the tow vehicle and the trailer together when they are fully loaded for travel.

Unloaded Vehicle Weight or Dry Weight (UVW) or (DW): is the actual weight of the tow vehicle or trailer as built at the factory. The UVW does not include passengers, cargo, dealer installed options, personal belongings, water, or LP gas.
Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW): is not a rating, it is the actual weight of the tow vehicle when it is fully loaded including passengers, cargo, a full fuel tank and accessories like the hitch.

Gross Trailer Weight (GTW): is not a rating, it is the actual weight of the fully loaded trailer including all options, cargo, personal belongings, food, water and LP gas.

Armed with this information, let's look at a typical buying scenario. We know for a fact that our tow vehicle is rated to tow 8,800 pounds and it has a GCWR of 15,000 pounds. When I account for the cargo in the truck, three additional passengers, and after market accessories my actual tow rating is 8,040 pounds. Keep in mind that any weight you load in or on the truck reduces the tow rating by that amount.

Tow rating for the vehicle 8,800 lbs.
Cargo in the tow vehicle - 150 lbs.
Three passengers - 450 lbs.
Dealer installed options - 160 lbs
Actual tow rating 8,040 lbs.



Now let's look at our towing formula: Tow Vehicle GCWR - Tow Vehicle GVW = the Maximum GVWR for a trailer we can purchase.

The GCWR for my truck is 15,000 pounds. Now I subtract the GVW of my truck when it's fully loaded for travel and this equals the maximum GVWR of a trailer I can consider purchasing. The only way to determine the actual GVW of the tow vehicle is to take the fully loaded vehicle to a set of scales and have it weighed. The GVWR can be found on the Safety Compliance Certification label, located on the exterior left front of the trailer.

Tow vehicle GCWR 15,000 lbs.
Tow Vehicle GVW - 6,832 lbs.
Maximum GVWR of Trailer = 8,168 lbs.




So let's say we found a trailer with a floor plan we like that has a GVWR of 8,000 lbs. The UVW or Dry Weight of the trailer is 6,350 pounds. Keep in mind we have to add any dealer installed options, cargo loaded in the trailer, any water we add to the fresh water holding tank and LP gas. This gives us a gross trailer weight of 7,075 pounds. Ask the RV dealer to show you the weight label that is inside the trailer for accurate trailer weights. Unloaded Vehicle Weights found in a manufacturer's brochure are normally for the base model of the trailer and do not include options the dealer may have ordered on the unit. In the majority of cases there is a significant difference between the GVWR and the UVW of the trailer.



UVW or DW of trailer 6,350 lbs.
Dealer installed options + 100 lbs.
Cargo in the trailer + 300 lbs.
Water 8.3 X 32 gallons + 266 lbs.
LP gas 4.23 X 14 gallons + 59 lbs.
Gross Trailer Weight 7,075 lbs.


Let's see if this will work: Remember our GCWR is 15,000 pounds. When we subtract the weight of our fully loaded tow vehicle and our fully loaded trailer we still have 1,093 pounds to spare before we exceed our GCWR.

Tow Vehicle GCWR 15,000 lbs.
Combined Weight of (fully loaded)
Tow Vehicle & Trailer - 13,907 lbs
= 1,093 lbs. to spare


This method will almost always works, unless you have the tow vehicle and the trailer loaded to their maximum GVWR, which when added together can exceed the GCWR. This is more likely to happen when the tow vehicle is a light duty vehicle like a mini van, small SUV or light duty truck. In this situation you simply add the GVWR of the tow vehicle to the GVWR of the trailer then select a tow vehicle that is rated for the combined weight.

If your original calculations are based on estimates you need to verify all weights by going to a set of scales and properly weighing the vehicle and trailer. Keep in mind this is a crash course and there are many more weight factors and considerations we did not even touch on. Gross Axle Weight Ratings (GAWR), tires, tire inflation, proper hitch work, trailer brakes and much more need to be addressed. I cover a lot of this information in my “Trailer Towing, Weights, Hitch Work & Backing” DVD. I hope this helped to clear up some of the issues concerning matching your tow vehicle and trailer to ensure a safe towing system.

Happy Camping,
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Old 02-07-2006, 11:47 AM   #16
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Chialo...you did not mention considering a Nissan Titan...I have the crew cab with a cargo cover which reminds me of the several subarbans I've owned with cargo capacity...I don't pull a tt (I'm a mh nut) but, I do pull a 3 horse trailer (6,000lbs +) the Titan (with the tow package) handles it with no problems at all...price is really great now...I tested all pickups and the Titan won hands down for me...check it out...joe...
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Old 02-07-2006, 04:23 PM   #17
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Coe

I've been thinking a lot lately about getting an old truck to pull my old trailer. It looks cool, plus it doesn't require plopping all the money down for a new vehicle; no, generally it means spending a LOT more

I think an old Cab-Over Engine would be mighty nice...

Check out this one: http://www.winningcollection.com/gallery/album07
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Old 02-07-2006, 10:17 PM   #18
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Davidh? Adding up different weights to not exceed GCWR or towing capacity is not a useful exercise. See the last paragraph of my 2nd post in this thread. It is all about load capacity of the tow vehicle. I give it a different take here but the bottom line remains the same.

Options in the tow vehicle subtract from the load capacity before hitching up starts; eg, 4WD, toppers (truck caps), tonneau covers and (ulp!) the hitch receiver bolted onto the frame of the tow vehicle! You even must include the weight of the humans on board. I have been in summer wet pavement conditions where I would have been stuck without 4WD. There is no simple formula to success -- except having plenty of tow vehicle. Thus wiser minds than mine have recommended only loading up to 85% of TV load capacity -- and choosing a TV with those margins of reserve. Shorter wheelbase of anything mid-size is a negative.

I haven't seen manufacturers' websites very willing to be up front about load capacity for their mid-size SUVs -- they often don't mention it at all. But if you subtract (empty) curb weight from the GVWR, the result should be the max load capacity. Mid-size SUVs may be just fine for a small fishing boat or the smallest of popup campers. It may not become clear until you actually dredge thru the owners manual. You should be given this access at the dealer!

First, let's exclude the Volvo XC90 outright. The new Pathfinders have more tow capacity (look out!) but the hitch weight could restrict you to 55-65% of that tow load. 1/2-ton pickups (F-150, GM & Dodge 1500, Nissan Titan and Toyota Tundra) could be good choices up to 22' but are not for the current heavy 25' Airstreams (certain HD versions may be the exception and do more for you). The SUV version of those (Armada and Sequoia) have less load capacity but probably still suitable to 22'. Yes, a well equipped Tahoe/Yukon could probably handle your 19' Bambi. I am the original Titan owner on these forums and have just sold it because it cannot add up to deal with my 2006 25' Safari.

You may arrive at a final and stable outcome if you are certain to stay with the 19' Bambi. It is trite and often repeated, but you'll never have "too much" tow vehicle.
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Old 02-07-2006, 10:32 PM   #19
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i'm with you canoe stream gotta figure/include all of those load issues........

and don't expect davidh to defend the position in his post.....

i think this is someone else's piece......that he is sharing with us.

http://rveducation101.com/Articles/T...cleTrailer.pdf

so again back to what the orginal poster might consider....the vdubs towing capacity doesn't change with w/d or with load in the t.v.....

that's right the stated towing capacity for the vdub or porsche doesn't go down (or up) when loaded with fuel, people and so on...or with load bars...

anyone care to gues WHY the rating doesn't change under any of the conditions that every other rating changes?

so that's another reason why i suggested the vdbb just this one time....
i'm guessing she/he wants simple...and at 7000+lbs rating the trailer is well under this even loaded....

but remember i DO like my big ford psd....it will handle anything a/s currently offers....

cheers
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Old 02-07-2006, 10:37 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ankornuta
I've been thinking a lot lately about getting an old truck to pull my old trailer. It looks cool, plus it doesn't require plopping all the money down for a new vehicle; no, generally it means spending a LOT more

I think an old Cab-Over Engine would be mighty nice...

Check out this one: http://www.winningcollection.com/gallery/album07
Ankornuta,

One of the members of our unit has two, a single cab and a crew cab. I will try and remember to take a picture next time I see them.

Bill
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Old 02-07-2006, 10:43 PM   #21
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About 7-8 months ago a Forums member went to a CAT scale. They proved that weight distribution gear did transfer some hitch load to the front axle of the TV as it should (without changing the actual hitch or ball weight impact on the TV). Specifically, the load borne by the trailer axles was unchanged -- another way of saying that WD gear does not change the hitch weight.
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Old 02-07-2006, 10:47 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canoe stream
About 7-8 months ago a Forums member went to a CAT scale. They proved that weight distribution gear did transfer some hitch load to the front axle of the TV as it should (without changing the actual hitch or ball weight impact on the TV). Specifically, the load borne by the trailer axles was unchanged -- another way of saying that WD gear does not change the hitch weight.

whopppeeeeeee! do ya mean this thread bobby'o ?

http://www.airforums.com/forum...ght=cat+scales

seems i was close by that day.....

cheers
2air'
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Old 02-07-2006, 10:50 PM   #23
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Thumbs up Tee-hee-hee!!

My! How did you ever know? Thanks 2air'. A great project from start to finish!
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Old 02-07-2006, 11:01 PM   #24
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Canoe stream Your wright on the money about the tounge weight, I never got into all that you can get into, I only posted that, so some buyers would hopefully have a better understanding about weights and limits on both units, I see alot of people towing with rigs that are not even close to what they need to pull there unit down the road, and that becomes a safty factor for all who are on the road around them. And the real sad part of it, is that alot of the salesmen selling these units do not have a clue, there more concerned about moving the unit than selling the customer the right unit for the job. And I hate to say but alot of the people buying, cut the corners also and will not buy the right unit for the job, they will stay on the light end of it, for the ride and MPG. I think if some of these people had there units scaled they would really be surprised of there actual tounge weight and there weight all across the board. Like you basicly said why limit yourself on the tow rig, wheather it be for miles per gallon or ride, get a unit that can handle the job and then some. I pull with a 1 ton powerstroke, yeh it cost more to run in fuel when I'm not towing, but when I am towing I got the wright setup and I just moesy on don the road with out all the weight issues in the back of my mind..
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Old 02-08-2006, 01:15 PM   #25
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Ankornuta,

One of the members of our unit has two, a single cab and a crew cab. I will try and remember to take a picture next time I see them.

Bill
Oh nice! The crew cab is exactly what I want! I have to finish the Cruiser first though, then the Corvair Corsa, THEN I can get my COE...

(alright, I'll stop being off-topic on this thread now)
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Old 02-08-2006, 08:38 PM   #26
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Okay davidh -- sorry. A friend tows a 28' 5th wheel with a standard extended cab Tundra and his fishing boat behind that. Talk about overloaded. Somebody from the Twin Cities overturned their TV, 5th wheel and boat on I-94 just west of St. Cloud last summer. It is amazing what people will do...

I would hope that the Wally Wiki will eventually provide the basics of the knowledge base available on this website so that folks (& I) won't have to flustrate (Minnesota word --recognize it?) ourselves every time we revisit certain issues.

Peace!
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Old 02-08-2006, 11:09 PM   #27
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RoadKingMoe had a good write up somewhere on the calculation of required wheelbase, but I can't seem to find it....though I did find the Airstream/Intrepid thread and got a heck of a laugh out of if.
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Old 02-08-2006, 11:32 PM   #28
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We are looking again at tow vehicles. My husband is thinking of the Yukon. I am telling him the XL would be better because of the wheel base, from what I am reading here at the forum threads. He's also brought home books for the Suburban and Tahoe. He's wanting to keep it smaller, i.e. the Expy's size.

I poured over 2airishuman's posts and links and I haven't got it yet fixed in my mind. Oh 2air, your first haul was a brand-new 34'? Wow, when you do something you do it up BIG!

So I gather the longer wheel bases make for a more stable ride. I think Jack may be right about stabilizer arms in his info from Reese. We have a Reese dual cam. Andy may be talking about only hensley arrows in going lighter on the arms? Our bars are the 800# size. But the Classic is listed at 870 (?) for the hitch weight. The hitch weight is killing us in all this.

2air, why, why does the hitch remain the only factor that does not change? Anything to do with a pond of metal weighs the same as a pond of feathers?

So we need to add the weight of the hitch as well as the car and the trailer and contents to the GVWR. Does that weight go added to the hitch weight? Is the hitch weight and the tongue weight the same? And to what number am I adding/subtracting it to/from? The truck's maximum hitch weight? Then the dealer is saying that doesn't matter because it is redistributed. But I see Andy say the front and rear axle weight cannot be more than 10 percent away from each other for the TV.

I'm plugging away here waiting for the light bulb to go off. I'd rather understand why we are doing what than just getting the biggest and assuming we're good.

I also thought that I may have read that the wheel base by the calculations is larger than the big 34's have vehicles for? yes/no?
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