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Old 07-14-2011, 06:56 AM   #15
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I was a bit curious about this - I wanted to investigate how times have changed. Perceptions have shifted to the idea that you can only tow with a truck, but not long ago, towing with a car was commonplace.

Consider a 1980 Chevy Malibu. Rated to tow 4000 pounds (from what I could find online), the Malibu weighed less than the Jetta and was similar in size. Even with a V8, the Chevy had less torque than the TDI. No doubt the Jetta will stop better, handle better, and has a better cooling system. The only advantage the Malibu might have is the ease of bolting a hitch to its ladder frame, but hitch upgrades to the Jetta can address that.

What happened? Everyone started buying SUVs for their family car instead of buying sedans. Automakers realized there was no marketing advantage to fully validating higher tow ratings for sedans in this market, so they basically stopped doing it. That's a shame.

Tom
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Old 07-14-2011, 06:56 AM   #16
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It's brain freeze....their "frost-backs" after all.

My plan...if I see what I consider an un-safe traveler, I steer clear.

Just because you can, doesn't mean you....never mind.
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Old 07-14-2011, 07:22 AM   #17
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I have an '06 5-speed manual Jetta TDI that I use as my daily driver and I love it because it gets a little better than 50 MPG. I don't know that I would want to tow anything with it, especially an Airstrem. But that's just my opinion and you know what they say about opinions...

We were at our leased site at Penn Wood Airstream Park a few years ago for the Autumn Leaf Rally and a few units from Canada came in for the rally. One of the Canucks was towing a 34' Airstream with a Cadillac CTS! The rig was set up by Can-Am. Again I am sure the CTS had the power to pull it, but I would be a little concerend about stopping it.

Here's a picture from days of yore...This was in the marketing pamphlet we found in amongst the paperwork when we bought our '87 34' Excella 1000. It always makes me smile...
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Old 07-14-2011, 07:53 AM   #18
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Kevin

I would not panic because I would already be in a lower gear using engine braking to keep my speed down. The VW 4 wheel disc brakes would then be adequate to provide additional braking as needed. Also, we are talking about a 3,000 lb car here and a similar 3000 lb trailer. I suspect the 6,000 lb truck towing a 9,000 lb (or more) trailer would have more of a problem stopping than the VW would.

I always use engine braking for controlling my speed when going downhill whether I am driving my car (5 speed manual) or towing my trailer (6 speed auto). This has allowed me to drive 150k on my 02 BMW 330 Coupe before replacing the brake pads.

Dan
Don't take this as a criticism, but do you really mean "always"?

Using engine braking on wet roads or even worse when towing on ice (of any kind) is a really bad idea. Using engine braking when going down hill on wet or ice covered roads is a really, really lousy idea.
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Old 07-14-2011, 08:36 AM   #19
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You can rest assured that Andy Thompson at Can Am would not have sent a customer out in a combination that either didn't work or wasn't safe; his reputation is made on these things and that reputation is formidable. He tends to work on the math and physics of towing rather than the general received wisdom and hearsay that is prevalent in the RV world. He then proves his work with track and road testing and ultimately, of course, with thousands of happy customers.

I'd imagine all the Can Am customers out there will be smiling at the success of the Jetta as a tow vehicle for an Airstream and the somewhat alarmed comments of the non-Can Am customers.
This is exactly what my new acquaintance said over and over. He could not say enough good things about Andy Thompson's reputation and how he can "see" when a trailer and tow vehicle combination will work when others nay say it all over the place. The couple seemed to be very confident in their rig. It looked amazing, too!

We did not talk about any problems with braking, but Frank said he uses the car's gear box to slow down. Says he likes to drive a car, not have the car drive him, hence he is all about manual transmissions!
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Old 07-14-2011, 08:49 AM   #20
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Yes, I really do mean always. When you are going downhill, you either need to use the brakes or engine braking to keep your speed under control. The tires/pavement friction do not know or care what is providing the braking force to slow the wheels down. I don't believe that I have ever lost traction going down a slippery hill using engine braking. Now, I do not use complete engine braking to control my speed. I always use the brakes a little bit, so that if I start slipping, the anti-skid feature of the brakes can perform their function. I have had quite a bit of experience in slick conditions as I go to Snowshoe skiing (WV) quite often in the winter. I also grew up in Michigan.

Dan
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Old 07-14-2011, 08:55 AM   #21
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I know for a fact I could stop the airstream and the F-350 I was towing it with by just squeezing those two little finger handle thingys on the ford dash, and applying the trailer brakes alone. I did it several times.

God, i would LOVE to be able to tow with a vintage Caddy or Lincoln. Or a Mercedes...

But we live in a time when soccer moms think they need four wheel drive to navigate the smooth concrete of I-10 between Houston and Katy. I mean, how can one handle freeway traffic without a full roll cage and winch these days?
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Old 07-14-2011, 08:59 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by ROBERT CROSS View Post
My plan...if I see what I consider an un-safe traveler, I steer clear.

Just because you can, doesn't mean you....never mind.
I get the feeling you do a lot of steering.

Here's another angle to this. Last weekend we camped next to folks towing a "lightweight" 24-foot-long SOB with their newish Jeep Liberty. That trailer weighs around 4000 lbs and sits fairly high on its axles. (In other words, it won't tow like an Airstream.)

The Liberty has a high center of gravity and a so-so wheelbase. Libertys don't really handle or stop well, partly due to sacrifices made for their "Trail Rating." They don't have much power either. While it does have the advantage of a short rear overhang, the weight-distribution hitch they were using wound up placing the hitch ball nearly a foot from the rear bumper.

So sure, that Liberty was rated to tow 5000 lbs and can theoretically handle that trailer. But I have no doubt that a professionally set-up configuration using a Airstream, a better-handling and -braking car, and a properly set-up weight distribution hitch is a safer rig.

Tom
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Old 07-14-2011, 09:15 AM   #23
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Texas

Yes, I really do mean always. When you are going downhill, you either need to use the brakes or engine braking to keep your speed under control. The tires/pavement friction do not know or care what is providing the braking force to slow the wheels down. I don't believe that I have ever lost traction going down a slippery hill using engine braking. Now, I do not use complete engine braking to control my speed. I always use the brakes a little bit, so that if I start slipping, the anti-skid feature of the brakes can perform their function. I have had quite a bit of experience in slick conditions as I go to Snowshoe skiing (WV) quite often in the winter. I also grew up in Michigan.

Dan
I understand what you are saying now. I read the "always" in the earlier posting as meaning exclusive - i.e.. without any other braking.

Seems like we are in agreement that the use of engine braking when towing on slick surfaces needs to be done in conjunction with the use of the trailer's brakes.
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Old 07-14-2011, 10:11 AM   #24
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~~

But we live in a time when soccer moms think they need four wheel drive to navigate the smooth concrete of I-10 between Houston and Katy. I mean, how can one handle freeway traffic without a full roll cage and winch these days?
Actually, for driving around Houston, a full roll cage is probably pretty useful. And a full clip! The winch, not so much.
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Old 07-14-2011, 11:06 AM   #25
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Actually, for driving around Houston, a full roll cage is probably pretty useful. And a full clip! The winch, not so much.
I hear ya! Really, the only time I am ever in Houston, proper, is however long it takes me to get from George Bush International to the town line. I circumnavigate the rest of it.

and a Glock 27 is one of my favorite insurance policies.
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Old 07-14-2011, 11:35 AM   #26
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He tends to work on the math and physics of towing rather than the general received wisdom and hearsay that is prevalent in the RV world. He then proves his work with track and road testing and ultimately, of course, with thousands of happy customers.
It is always interesting how fear and paranoia seem to supersede experience and measure in topics like this. The OP says the rig owners had extensive experience with their rig and were happy with its performance. Who are you to refute or dismiss that?

The creativity involved in the denial of the experience is amazing. How about facts rather than fears, facts that are pertinent and in context? Since the record of performance is fairly well established, those facts need to be rather well sounded as well in order to match. -- but then look at the downgrade standard advice and how it was contested for an example of difficulty in this area.

It may not be your cup of tea, but tolerance for others and their 'cup of tea' might be a worthwhile goal, I think. Maybe we can learn something if we are open to the experiences and preferences of others?
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Old 07-14-2011, 12:01 PM   #27
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It is always interesting how fear and paranoia seem to supersede experience and measure in topics like this. The OP says the rig owners had extensive experience with their rig and were happy with its performance. Who are you to refute or dismiss that?

The creativity involved in the denial of the experience is amazing. How about facts rather than fears, facts that are pertinent and in context? Since the record of performance is fairly well established, those facts need to be rather well sounded as well in order to match. -- but then look at the downgrade standard advice and how it was contested for an example of difficulty in this area.

It may not be your cup of tea, but tolerance for others and their 'cup of tea' might be a worthwhile goal, I think. Maybe we can learn something if we are open to the experiences and preferences of others?
Amen! I got the same naysayer comments last year when I posted about my assembly (2001 BMW X5 @ 5,000# + 31í ASCL @ 8,300#) which relatively speaking is much more robust. Youíd think by now there would be acceptance of these PROVEN assemblies! Come to think of it, I havenít ever seen accidents which have been atributed to assemblies of this sort.
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Old 07-14-2011, 12:17 PM   #28
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Amen! Come to think of it, I havenít ever seen accidents which have been linked (blamed on) to assemblies of this sort.
x2

Even if there are some which are blamed and somehow linked to the towing inadequacies that everyone is convinced are present in not having an F450 Superduty to tow a Bambi, then I would contest that 99% of those accidents are user error and mental inadequacy. Maybe I'm just biased because I live in Los Angeles and where everyone likes to be beyond agressive in their driving tactics, but I can count on one hand how many improper towing/hauling/driving setups I see in one day (i.e. someone carrying a 15 foot, unsecured pile of metal in their pickup, or someone towing a flatbed car hauler with an old 80's Toyota Pickup, etc.). On the flip side, I can't even begin to document how many times I see big rigs, RVs, TTs, and even school buses not even checking their blind spot (or not caring) before merging into and almost taking out a car.

Going down hills and in other scenarios where the vehicle can supposedly not stop an Airstream, I would bet that any issues with stopping are likely from the driver not giving sufficient following distance in the first place, or going 75 mph downhill and then realizing there is a turn at some point.

Ok I'll stop my rant.
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