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Old 03-20-2016, 01:33 PM   #1
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Question Tow vehicle Tongue Weight vs. Trailer Tongue Weight

Hi! We are considering our first Airstream and looking at the 2016 20' FC and 2016 22' Sport. Tongue weight on the FC is 631 lbs. GVWR for the FC is 5000lb, which is our TV limit. We have a 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee with the V6 engine and a mfg installed tow package (with a Class IV receiver hitch). The owner's manual stated TW limit for the TV is 500lb. Will a weight distributing hitch allow us to stay within the 500lb TW TV limit?

I am also interested in any comments on my vehicle as a TV. Thanks!
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Old 03-20-2016, 01:42 PM   #2
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No.

A weight distributing hitch doesn't change the actual tongue weight of the trailer. It changes the distribution of the weight on the TV to distribute the tongue weight better across the front and rear wheels.

You would be exceeding the tongue weight on your TV by 131 lbs or about 25% rough figure. Plus whatever the changes might be from how you load your vehicle.
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Old 03-20-2016, 02:18 PM   #3
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Class IV receiver.....

As stated, WD hitch does not change TW.

Ck payload sticker for axle & tire ratings, those #'s determine allowed weights.

......most likely 500lb w/o a weight distributing hitch.

Bob
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Old 03-20-2016, 03:21 PM   #4
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According to my manuals for my 2013 Chevy Duramax 2500, the towing capacity drops from 15,800 to 13,000 for WD vs. WC hitch type, but tongue weight capacity is 1,500 regardless of hitch type. That 1,500# max is also on the sticker on the hitch receiver itself.

See if your manuals and receiver sticker have something similar. Good luck!
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Old 03-20-2016, 03:22 PM   #5
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The tongue weight for an AS includes the LPG cylinders full, the battery bank, and the base trailer without options. Options include an additional battery, a more comfortable mattress, and camping gear, as well as the weight distribution hitch. The published tongue weight is also a dry weight without fresh, grey or black water. So do not rely on the published tongue weight to be the maximum you will have when ready to go camping. Investigate what folks have measured their trailers to weigh and estimate what you will add, what it will weigh and how it will balance. That will give you a better idea of your actual conditions.

See above comment to check axle and tire weights. Surprised that the limit is 500#s, but the models have changed. TV tongue weight capacity is calculated by the OEM engineers and considers the mass that is removed from the front axle by the applied tongue weight. That is why some rigs have more tongue weight capacity if Weight distribution is used. This is the key to your question and the answer you must determine. There are some other issues, including axle, tire, spring, and receiver capacity. Some factory receivers are only designed for a specific tongue weight. If that is the controlling parameter, an upgraded aftermarket hitch might serve you well. However, not if the axles will not support the load you want to carry. Check the axle ratings first. You can replace tires and wheels with heavier capacity components.

Next, there is the load you carry in the vehicle - people, drinks, pets, tools and camping gear that will not fit in the coach. The tow vehicle must handle that payload as well as the tongue weight of the trailer. Payload total includes tongue weight. They are not separate capacities.

You have a lot of figuring to do. The tongue weight needs to be at least 10% of the trailer weight to be stable. A total of 15% is considered ideal, but a very stable tow vehicle, lower travel speed and active driving likely offsets some of that requirement, maybe.

Driving speed has another effect. The Goodyear Marathon tires fitted as OEM standard are ST or specialty trailer tires. They have a significant load rating, but are limited to 65 mph. Above 65 mph the ST tires build heat which destroys them over not too long a period. The 65 mph limit is also associated with stability and tongue weight. Traveling slower is more stable. Research tires before you buy.

The two trailers you are considering both are good choices, but for very different reasons. Purchasing the trailer that can be towed by the existing tow vehicle is a consideration, however, a lot of folks tend to trade up over time. If you can find the layout that really works for your lifestyle, you can maximize the trailer investment by keeping it longer. Be careful with your choice.

Also, you can do a lot of modification to a paid for tow vehicle. That might be an option to consider. Alternatively, if you are not a DIY mechanic, trading up for a lease return with a good warranty might move your RV plan forward. Investigate and make your plan. A wise man once told me that there are a lot of ways to make an idea work. Some might even be yours.

Good luck with your investigation. Make it happen and enjoy the adventure. Pat
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Old 03-21-2016, 02:02 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by mpsgolf View Post
No.

A weight distributing hitch doesn't change the actual tongue weight of the trailer. It changes the distribution of the weight on the TV to distribute the tongue weight better across the front and rear wheels.

You would be exceeding the tongue weight on your TV by 131 lbs or about 25% rough figure. Plus whatever the changes might be from how you load your vehicle.
Doesn't the WD hitch distribute the tongue weight over all three road contact points FW, RW, TW's??...So it is likely properly set up the TV will not see 500 lbs on the hitch receiver. That rating is the max a straight downward load without WD. All the other comments about total load when finally ready to camp are right...but we have had posts here on this forum for Jeep Grand Cherokees with 25' AS. The probable answer for the OP is to get his hitch replaced or beefed up. The vehicle is good for it...and in 2011 most manufacturers seriously under stated the vehicle tow capacity. CanAM had no problem setting up my 03 Dakota for my '96 25 Excella. Tow rating is 5000#. Hitch original spec 700 lbs WD. Obviously the AS is greater on both counts. They added braces to the hitch to stabilize sideways flex!
JCW
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Old 03-21-2016, 02:18 PM   #7
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You could consider replacing the batteries with sealed units, and relocating the batteries to a spot closer to the axle, like under the dinette in the 20'. That alone might reduce your tongue weight by 100#. I was considering that when I was looking at 20' ers.
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Old 03-21-2016, 03:29 PM   #8
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You could consider replacing the batteries with sealed units, and relocating the batteries to a spot closer to the axle, like under the dinette in the 20'. That alone might reduce your tongue weight by 100#. I was considering that when I was looking at 20' ers.

Before the AS, I had a 23' HiLo, that had a tongue weight of around 700+ lbs. before filling the fresh tank half full. (Later, full tank)

I was towing with a 6 cyl. Toyota 4-Runner, that had an aftermarket WD. Husky hitch, rated for 6000/600 lbd.
So I bolted two 40 lb. lead bars to the back frame using 3 each, MS-21250 bolts and DSC-97 nuts. it worked out rather well, and I towed this set-up for six years, all over the Maritimes, and back through the Vermont hills.
The rig was stable even up to 120KPH going downhills to 'zoom' up the other side. Yes, the Goodyear tires were rated for sustained 110 KPH, but I normally cruised at 100; thus the overspeed was just a short sprint.
It was a nice set-up.
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Old 03-21-2016, 04:23 PM   #9
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Are you sure about the tongue weight specification for the TV? Many hitches are rated for 500 lbs with no WD and for !000 with the WD. Perhaps the Jeep spec is for not using a WD hitch? I would be very wary of trying to reduce the TW of the trailer much. The WD hitch will distribute a little of the TW to the front wheels and the trailer wheels but the rated TW of the trailer is probably lower than the actual.
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Old 03-21-2016, 05:06 PM   #10
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I have towed many miles with my 2012 Grand Cherokee Overland V8 with the factory hitch. My trailers both have 700# tongue weights. I believe that the tow rating of 500# you have listed is the rating for a dead weight hitch, not the WD type. I think that WD rating is much higher, 800 or 1000# from my memory.
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Old 03-23-2016, 01:33 PM   #11
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Thanks to all who posted a reply. It's been very informative. My V6 engine does limit me to 5000lb. I checked it out. The owners manual states a WD hitch is mandatory for towing over 3500lb. I think it best to err on the side of safety and go with a Trailer GVWR of 5000lb or less. It's not like a 22' Sport is a terrible choice. ;-)
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