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Old 01-23-2014, 12:42 PM   #1
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Towing with a Toyota Tacoma

I'm new to this whole Airstream thing--we're just looking at trailers now--and I'm trying to figure out what my truck will safely and comfortably tow. Can I get a little advice?

My tow vehicle is a 2008 Toyota Tacoma, 6 cyl, 2 wd, with the towing package. GVWR for that vehicle is 5500, more or less. The trailers we're considering are:

20 Flying Cloud: (GVWR 5000, Base weight 4271)
22 Sport (GVWR 4500, Base weight 3634)
23 Flying Cloud FB (GVWR 6000, Base weight 4761)

I know for the 22 Sport, I've got 1000 lbs of "extra" GVWR, but is that sufficient to two comfortably on the steep grades in the Appalachians? For the 20 FC, I've got 500 lbs "extra" GVWR, but am I cutting it too close? For the 23 Flying Cloud, my truck is under the GVWR by 500 lbs, but is that significant?

A new truck is not (my wife tells me) an option.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
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Old 01-23-2014, 12:50 PM   #2
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The GVWR of your truck is not going to help you much as it indicates how much weight you can put in it, not how much it will tow. GVWR does factor into the tongue weight of the Airstream you chose, but not towing capacity.

You should look at the towing capacity of your truck and compare it to those Base Weight numbers (the weight of the trailer) plus a few hundred pounds for stuff in it.

A 2008 Tacoma towing capacity is 6,500 pounds, with the tow package, 3,500 pounds without the tow package. So you can tell your wife you are definitely in the range for the trailers you are looking at!

If you do not have the towing package you can make a few upgrades. It is likely the tranny cooler, stiffer tires and maybe a bigger alternator.
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Old 01-23-2014, 12:52 PM   #3
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Your GVWR goes to how much tongue weight you can work with as part of your payload, it's not the trailer tow capacity. That should be a specific rating for your truck, and would vary by the engine, rear axle, transmission, etc.

There's also the question of what "tow comfortably" means to you. For some people, that means "tow 70 mph up the steepest mountain pass they can find while listening to Beethoven and sipping coffee." For others it means the engine can rev and tow the grade in a lower gear at lower speed as long as nothing breaks or overheats.

Toyota offered the 2008 V6 truck with a max trailer towing capacity of 6500 lb, 650-lb tongue weight with the tow package on all but the "X-Runner" truck, which was a lower tow rating. So, all 3 trailers you mentioned are within the factory tow rating of an '08 Tacoma V6 with the tow package except for the X-Runner (not to be confused with the Prerunner, which still can have the 6500-lb trailer rating.)
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Old 01-23-2014, 01:37 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belbein View Post
I'm new to this whole Airstream thing--we're just looking at trailers now--and I'm trying to figure out what my truck will safely and comfortably tow. Can I get a little advice?

My tow vehicle is a 2008 Toyota Tacoma, 6 cyl, 2 wd, with the towing package. GVWR for that vehicle is 5500, more or less. The trailers we're considering are:

20 Flying Cloud: (GVWR 5000, Base weight 4271)
22 Sport (GVWR 4500, Base weight 3634)
23 Flying Cloud FB (GVWR 6000, Base weight 4761)

I know for the 22 Sport, I've got 1000 lbs of "extra" GVWR, but is that sufficient to two comfortably on the steep grades in the Appalachians? For the 20 FC, I've got 500 lbs "extra" GVWR, but am I cutting it too close? For the 23 Flying Cloud, my truck is under the GVWR by 500 lbs, but is that significant?

A new truck is not (my wife tells me) an option.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
First of all congratulations on your decision to buy an Airstream. My wife and I bought our 06 Bambi in June of last year and it has become the child we never had..... You'll see what I mean when you get yours.

As far as tow vehicles go, nothing is more important. When you talk about towing a trailer that approaches your max towing capacity you have to consider not so much " can I " as "should I"? And, in your case I'd say the answer is no. When you look at tow ability think more about stop ability.... Is it safe if you should get into a situation where you need to stop quickly, especially on a downhill grade? Again the answer is no.

I tow our 19' w/a 2005 4.7l v8 tundra and feel very comfortable in all driving conditions and situations. However, I wouldn't consider towing anything bigger than my rig with yours.

Have you towed anything with your tv before?
Again, welcome to the forum. You'll get all the help you ever needed here!
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Old 01-23-2014, 03:58 PM   #5
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Let's compare a 2005 Tundra V8 and a 2008 Tacoma V6 w/ tow package, shall we?

I don't know exactly what your Taco is, so I'll just guess at the Prerunner DoubleCab, a popular configuration. I know it's a V6, and I'll assume it's an auto (the most popular configuration.)

Tundra V8 has the same 5-speed auto. Curb weight is 4460 to the Taco's 3845.

Wheelbase is within half an inch.

Track is 3 inches wider on the Tundra.

I think both trucks have rear drums, which is not the best but if you are depending on your truck to stop the trailer, something is wrong. In any event, drum brakes will stop you just fine once or twice, it's the fade that'll get you.

'05 Tundra Ltd. Access-Cab V8 is rated to tow 7100 lb, '08 Taco w/ V6 tow package is rated to tow 6500 lb.

Oh, and to keep comparing apples to apples, the 22' Sport has the same rated gross weight as a 2006 19' Safari SE so if that tows fine with the smaller '05 Tundra, it'll likely tow about the same with an '08 Taco V6 w/ the tow package. The 4500 lb gross of either trailer is well within the capabilities of either truck. You'll likely go a bit slower up a steep hill than the '05 Tundra V8 which has a little more hp and torque, and you won't likely get any better gas mileage, but your Taco is paid for.
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Old 01-23-2014, 04:59 PM   #6
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Aaaargh ... even more confused

Thank you all for your answers. I'm not entirely sure I understand them. I do understand that I either am--or maybe I am not--safe to tow the 20, 22 and 23 with my Toyota Tacoma Access Cab Prerunner. But ...

I have obviously been laboring under the misimpression that GVWR was the magic number. If it's not, then what is? I know you have to compare towing capacity to weight, but how much weight do I use as my estimate of additional weight to add to the "dry weight" to make this calculation?

Really, sailboats were a whole lot easier.
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Old 01-23-2014, 05:33 PM   #7
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We two an 06 Safari SE 19' Bambi with our 2007 Tacoma 2WD 6Cyl Double Cab short bed. It has the tow package and is rated to tow 6500 lbs. We do fine with the 19', managing the AZ, NM, SoCO and CA mountains. We might be able to get way with a 20' but I know from experience that we'd be pushing the upper limits of the truck with anything larger and heavier than the 19'. If we ever go bigger, so will the truck.
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Old 01-23-2014, 05:53 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Markj55 View Post
When you look at tow ability think more about stop ability.... Is it safe if you should get into a situation where you need to stop quickly, especially on a downhill grade? Again the answer is no.

With a properly set-up rig, the trailer will always stop itself.

Ideally, your shortest stopping distance while towing will be slightly shorter than your stopping distance when not towing, i.e. the trailer will help stop the tow vehicle, not the other way around.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DKB_SATX View Post
For some people, that means "tow 70 mph up the steepest mountain pass they can find while listening to Beethoven and sipping coffee."
That had me laugh out loud.
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Old 01-23-2014, 06:08 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belbein View Post
Thank you all for your answers. I'm not entirely sure I understand them. I do understand that I either am--or maybe I am not--safe to tow the 20, 22 and 23 with my Toyota Tacoma Access Cab Prerunner. But ...

I have obviously been laboring under the misimpression that GVWR was the magic number. If it's not, then what is? I know you have to compare towing capacity to weight, but how much weight do I use as my estimate of additional weight to add to the "dry weight" to make this calculation?

Really, sailboats were a whole lot easier.
It is not so hard once you figure out the lingo - just like sailing

First, you are safe to tow a good sized Airstream, bigger than what you are even looking at.

Towing capacity of the truck and the dry weight of the Airstream, plus the stuff you will put in it is what you need to focus on first. Get this in the ballpark.

- GVWR is basically the maximum safe combined weight of a vehicle (truck or trailer) and its contents. So if your truck weighs say, 4000lbs and has a GVWR of 5000lbs, you can safely put 1000lbs of stuff in it (people, cargo, fuel)

- Towing capacity is the maximum recommended weight of the trailer you should pull with your truck.

- GVWR of your truck is independent of what you decide to tow with it (with one exception I'll mention below)

So, if your the truck has a towing capacity of 6000lbs you could tow a trailer with a dry/base weight of 5000lbs and still safely be able to put 1000lbs of stuff in the trailler like propane, fresh water, and beer.

Now, that trailer also has a GVWR. If this trailer that weighs 5000lbs dry had a GVWR of say, 5500lbs, you would want to limit the stuff you put in it to 500lbs even though your truck could handle more weight in the trailer. IMHO it is very hard to stuff enough stuff in an Airstream to exceed its GVWR so ignore the trailer's GVWR, for now.

Finally, the exception I mentioned. When you hook up the trailer to that truck, the weight of the trailer tongue on your hitch will put about 500lbs of force into your truck. Think of it like putting two of you 250lb buddies in the bed. This only is of concern to being sure you do not exceed you truck's GVWR - again this is not something that most truck/Airstream rigs need to worry about.

Hope that helps.
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Old 01-23-2014, 06:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belbein View Post
Thank you all for your answers. I'm not entirely sure I understand them. I do understand that I either am--or maybe I am not--safe to tow the 20, 22 and 23 with my Toyota Tacoma Access Cab Prerunner. But ...

I have obviously been laboring under the misimpression that GVWR was the magic number. If it's not, then what is? I know you have to compare towing capacity to weight, but how much weight do I use as my estimate of additional weight to add to the "dry weight" to make this calculation?

Really, sailboats were a whole lot easier.
GVWR is the heaviest weight that Toyota says is allowable for your loaded truck alone. There are 2 other values, the front and rear axle allowable weights, that often total MORE than the GVWR, but GVWR is all Toyota says is allowable in the aggregate.

GVWR minus the empty "curb" weight of your truck is your payload. The weight of passengers and stuff AND the tongue weight of a trailer (if you're towing) count against payload. There are lengthy arguments imbued with quasi-religious fervor about whether exceeding (or even reaching) this value is ever acceptable, and this is *NOT* one of those. I'm simply explaining how these numbers are defined.

Your truck may have another gross weight capacity assigned, a full-size truck would at least. That's "GCVWR" or Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating, and means the actual weight of the truck plus actual weight of a trailer shouldn't exceed that number. Often this number is less than GVWR plus the rated trailer towing capacity, because marketing people drive these published numbers more than engineers do, and marketing people want the biggest numbers to compare to the competition more than they want the numbers to add up in a logical way.

So, you have 2 people with real-world experience with very similar trucks (TBRich's Taco and MarkJ55's Tundra) pulling 4500-lb-gross Airstreams saying that they're happy with the results but don't feel like going much bigger on the trailer. That suggests that the 23' FC may be big for the rig, the 22' Sport should work fine, and the 20' FC may depend on how you load it and what your comfort zone is. I emphasize suggests because there's a lot of variability in what people consider comfortable/workable/satisfactory. In the end it's your decision, and what the rest of us are saying as far as whether it will or it won't is just our opinions, backed by experience or not.
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Old 01-23-2014, 07:49 PM   #11
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OK, this is all much clearer. Thank you.

(At least, I think it's clearer. The next post will probably befuddle me all over again.)
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Old 01-23-2014, 09:07 PM   #12
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I would not say a 4500 pound travel trailer is "well within the capabilities" of a Tacoma. I would say, with a few things in the bed of the truck, plus the tongue weight of the trailer, and two people in it, you will be at or over the rear axle weight limit.
So I would call it somewhere between barely adequate or slightly inadequate.

Much of this depends on how you pack, and whether you view manufacturer stated limits as "limits" or "suggestions".
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Old 01-23-2014, 10:57 PM   #13
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I assume you're only casting aspersions on payload, since 4500 lb is less than 70% of the 6500 towing capacity. Oh, and that's J2807 towing capacity, by the way.

The Tacoma Prerunner Access Cab V6 has a payload of 1360 lb. That's likely including full fuel and a 150 lb driver, that's the common method but I'm making an assumption there. That's pretty similar to most tarted-up "half tons" these days.

Airstream claims a 393-lb tongue weight for the 22 Sport. Let's call that 500 lb, that's more than a 25% excess over claimed. That leaves 860 lb for a passenger, cargo, and the amount you weigh over 150 lb if you're a chunker like I am. I don't think it's too hard to get below that for camping, and you're not likely to be full-timing in a 22 Sport.
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Old 01-24-2014, 04:36 AM   #14
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With a properly set-up rig, the trailer will always stop itself.

Ideally, your shortest stopping distance while towing will be slightly shorter than your stopping distance when not towing, i.e. the trailer will help stop the tow vehicle, not the other way around......"
I keep reading references to how the Airstream brakes will stop the trailer and thus the weight of the trailer has no impact on stopping distance and I feel I have to weigh in here...

Have any of you ever made a comparison of the drum brakes fitted to an Airstream to the brakes fitted to any automobile?

I have.

After reading statements like the one quoted above many times and never actually feeling that my own Airstreams brakes did much more than add just a modest amount of drag (I could not even induce a wheel lock up on pavement with my own trailer brakes when I tried) I decided that I wanted to investigate. My wheel bearings needed maintenance any way.

So, I pulled everything apart. A quick glance revealed that the grease seals had leaked and my brakes were covered by a layer of grease. Ah ha, so this explains the lack of performance of my brakes I thought. A quick phone call to Dexter secured all new parts (two years warranty thank you very much!) including new drums, loaded backing plates, shoes, magnets, everything.

The new parts were installed and the system tested again...hmmmmm...

Not a whole lot there. I even removed the drums again after 500 miles to verify that the new seals had not leaked again. Everything looks fine now, just not a lot of power in these brakes.

I even towed the trailer with an external brake controller to see if perhaps my controller was mysteriously loosing voltage to the brake magnets.

Nope, no difference.

My conclusion is that the combination of the magnet/arm applicator, single shoe per wheel (in a given direction) brakes are simply not that powerful.

My brakes are obviously better now that they are not covered in grease but they are pitiful when compared to any automobile braking system I have ever seen.

I question that the trailer brakes as executed on our Bambi (same parts as all modern drum brake equipped Airstreams) are strong enough to entirely negate the impact of the weight of the trailer on the tow vehicle.

My guess is that every tow vehicle/trailer combo uses more distance to stop than the unloaded tow vehicle.

I make it a point to drive as though it does.

Bruce
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