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Old 09-22-2012, 12:28 AM   #61
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Mercedes Trailer Hitch Ratings

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Originally Posted by OrangeKid View Post
The local MB dealer told me that WD hitches are not necessary when towing up to the recommended maximum load. The ML 350 is rated to tow 7200 lb. Generally Class 3 hitches are rated for up to 6000 lb and 600 lb tongue weight.

Thanks for the specs.
Hi OrangeKid,

That's good to know about the WD hitches but if we get a GL or ML, I'd still like a WD hitch on ours.

I've attached another doc for you regarding Mercedes hitch ratings that I received from Mercedes. Granted this only covers up to 2011 so not sure what the ML's are rated at for 2012 & 2013 but just thought I would give you a heads up to check for yourself.
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Old 09-22-2012, 12:44 AM   #62
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OrangeKid View Post
The local MB dealer told me that WD hitches are not necessary when towing up to the recommended maximum load. The ML 350 is rated to tow 7200 lb.
Can this possibly be good advice? I tow a 23FB with a 4runner, which probably has a longer rear overhang than the ML, but without WD a lot of weight comes off the front wheels and it definitely affects the handling. The WD puts weight back on the front wheels and makes everything much more stable. (Yes, I also have sway control.) The fact that the ML has self adjusting rear suspension will prevent the rear from sagging without WD, but that doesn't transfer that much weight back to the front, does it? With 700lbs on the hitch the front would be almost as relieved of weight with our without stiff rear suspension, or am I missing something?
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Old 09-22-2012, 12:48 AM   #63
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BTW, something else to consider is vehicle width. I tow a 23FB with a 4runner. The 23FB is 8' wide. The larger trailers are wider. I use the Mckesh mirrors at full extension and I can just see comfortably behind the trailer. I don't think I would like the set-up with a wider trailer. Ok, I admit that I like to go into mountain and dirt roads and highly value the mirrors. If I were an interstate & pull-through RV park traveler I'd probably not care as much. I believe a pickup-truck tends to be wider and cause fewer issues with that.
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Old 09-22-2012, 09:59 AM   #64
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Guys, this is what I meant when I posted that Mercedes dealers are useless when it comes to towing. The head mechanic you spoke to doesn't know that tongue weight capacity and hitch receiver: torsion are the big weaknesses in the GL for towing- not towing capacity. My dealership is the same - this week they didn't know where the fuse for the trailer charging circuit is - nor did they know that the truck (they call it a car) actually provides power to the trailer. When i bought my airstream the dealer did not know what WD was - not even the shop foreman. My point isn't that the GL isn't a fantastic TV. It is. It is just you are going to find both your local dealer and MBUSA don't know diddly about towing - and they readily acknowledge this. Maybe one out of a thousand Mercedes owners tow. So take anything they tell you with a big grain of salt.
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Old 09-22-2012, 10:42 AM   #65
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Weight Distribution Hitch

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Originally Posted by ddruker View Post
Guys, this is what I meant when I posted that Mercedes dealers are useless when it comes to towing. The head mechanic you spoke to doesn't know that tongue weight capacity and hitch receiver: torsion are the big weaknesses in the GL for towing- not towing capacity. My dealership is the same - this week they didn't know where the fuse for the trailer charging circuit is - nor did they know that the truck (they call it a car) actually provides power to the trailer. When i bought my airstream the dealer did not know what WD was - not even the shop foreman. My point isn't that the GL isn't a fantastic TV. It is. It is just you are going to find both your local dealer and MBUSA don't know diddly about towing - and they readily acknowledge this. Maybe one out of a thousand Mercedes owners tow. So take anything they tell you with a big grain of salt.
Hi Dan,

Thanks for the info. Do you use a Weight Distribution Hitch when towing your 27' AS with your Mercedes GL? If so, what brand hitch?
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Old 09-22-2012, 11:08 AM   #66
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I am not currently using WD and I've had rock solid stability with the combo but I am likely to invest in the new Anderson hitch to add an additional safety factor. I am always cautious about tongue weight with the GL, so I like that this new option only weighs 60 lbs. I have also had my hitch receiver reinforced, again for extra safety margin.
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Old 09-22-2012, 01:04 PM   #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ddruker View Post
I am not currently using WD and I've had rock solid stability with the combo but I am likely to invest in the new Anderson hitch to add an additional safety factor. I am always cautious about tongue weight with the GL, so I like that this new option only weighs 60 lbs. I have also had my hitch receiver reinforced, again for extra safety margin.
Hi Dan,

The Andersen Hitch seems like a nice option.

Question:
Why are you concerned with the tongue weight on the GL since it comes with a Class 4 hitch that can support up to 1000 pounds? The 27' AS has a hitch weight of 770lbs + the weight of the WD hitch. Just curious, are you saying a Class 4 hitch is not sufficient? Or are you implying something else that should be considered?
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Old 09-22-2012, 01:27 PM   #68
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The Mercedes factory receiver on the GL is rated for 7500 # of trailer weight, but also has a placarded limit of 600# tongue weight.

If you overload the receiver without reinforcement, it will break eventually, and you won't get sympathy from your dealer.
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Old 09-22-2012, 05:19 PM   #69
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Here is a useful link that may be of interest on this topic:

Common Weight Distribution and Sway Control Questions | etrailer.com

Note the recommendation that "Weight distributing systems should be used any time the trailer weighs more than 50 percent of the vehicle's weight." While I personally think that is overly conservative, it is yet another "guideline" to consider.
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Old 09-22-2012, 05:29 PM   #70
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Originally Posted by sierrafun View Post
Hi OrangeKid,

That's good to know about the WD hitches but if we get a GL or ML, I'd still like a WD hitch on ours.

I've attached another doc for you regarding Mercedes hitch ratings that I received from Mercedes. Granted this only covers up to 2011 so not sure what the ML's are rated at for 2012 & 2013 but just thought I would give you a heads up to check for yourself.
Thans! I had seen the chart before but I could not locate it. Now I am really confused. According to MB you can tow a 7200 lb. trailer with a Class 3 hitch.
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Old 09-22-2012, 05:31 PM   #71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tvoneicken View Post
Can this possibly be good advice? I tow a 23FB with a 4runner, which probably has a longer rear overhang than the ML, but without WD a lot of weight comes off the front wheels and it definitely affects the handling. The WD puts weight back on the front wheels and makes everything much more stable. (Yes, I also have sway control.) The fact that the ML has self adjusting rear suspension will prevent the rear from sagging without WD, but that doesn't transfer that much weight back to the front, does it? With 700lbs on the hitch the front would be almost as relieved of weight with our without stiff rear suspension, or am I missing something?
I cant imagine towing your 23'FB Airstream without a WD hitch.
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Old 09-22-2012, 05:32 PM   #72
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tvoneicken View Post
BTW, something else to consider is vehicle width. I tow a 23FB with a 4runner. The 23FB is 8' wide. The larger trailers are wider. I use the Mckesh mirrors at full extension and I can just see comfortably behind the trailer. I don't think I would like the set-up with a wider trailer. Ok, I admit that I like to go into mountain and dirt roads and highly value the mirrors. If I were an interstate & pull-through RV park traveler I'd probably not care as much. I believe a pickup-truck tends to be wider and cause fewer issues with that.
I wish SUVs had built in extendable mirrors like pick up trucks as an option.
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Old 09-22-2012, 05:34 PM   #73
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ddruker View Post
Guys, this is what I meant when I posted that Mercedes dealers are useless when it comes to towing. The head mechanic you spoke to doesn't know that tongue weight capacity and hitch receiver: torsion are the big weaknesses in the GL for towing- not towing capacity. My dealership is the same - this week they didn't know where the fuse for the trailer charging circuit is - nor did they know that the truck (they call it a car) actually provides power to the trailer. When i bought my airstream the dealer did not know what WD was - not even the shop foreman. My point isn't that the GL isn't a fantastic TV. It is. It is just you are going to find both your local dealer and MBUSA don't know diddly about towing - and they readily acknowledge this. Maybe one out of a thousand Mercedes owners tow. So take anything they tell you with a big grain of salt.
I think that is pretty sad!
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Old 09-22-2012, 07:12 PM   #74
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Originally Posted by withidl View Post
MrUKToad, I totally agree with almost all you have said; the exception being that you stated that my X5 was "fitted with a non-BMW hitch" which is in error. I purchased my BMW designed OEM hitch ($500 in 2001) from my local Houston BMW dealer and personally installed it. It is substantial and not reinforced (Andy Thomson viewed a video I took of my installation and said no reinforcement was necessary).
My mistake; I'm pleased that you have a BMW part - it just strengthens your case, doesn't it?
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Old 09-22-2012, 07:15 PM   #75
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OrangeKid,

I am in the same boat as you in trying to decide which tow vehicle to purchase and honestly, I have gone around and around with this issue for months. And through this process, here's what I can tell you with complete certainty:

There are no perfect tow vehicles, just different compromises.

1) Your 1/2 tons and 3/4 tons are going to provide you with the written towing capacity that both the "legal and manufacturer's engineering requirements suggest." BUT you will have to compromise on driving that large of a vehicle as a daily driver. You will also have to compromise on the fact that a truck is not the best aerodynamically designed vehicle for towing. And in some cases (gas) you will have to compromise on MPG and price.

2) Your European Diesel options provide wonderful gas mileage, are wonderful to drive with plenty of power, are easy to maneuver in and our of campsites and are great as a daily driver. BUT for some (BMW) you will have to compromise on driving a vehicle that the ""legal and manufacturer's engineering" tow ratings exceed your requirements. You will also have to compromise by having some adjustments made to the vehicle in order to safely tow the weight.

3) As another possible compromise, have you considered driving/looking at other European Turbo Diesels that offer a higher written and recommended tow rating? For example:

Volkswagen Toureg TDI Exec: 7700 lbs Tow Rating; 20/29 MPG
Mercedes GL 350 BlueTEC: 7500 lbs Tow Rating; 19/23 MPG
Mercedes ML 350 BlueTEC: 7200 lbs Tow Rating; 20/27 MPG

Just my two cents...
Just need to point out that there is nothing illegal about exceeding a manufacturer's tow rating
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Old 09-22-2012, 09:13 PM   #76
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Would you mind expounding on what you mean?

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Just need to point out that there is nothing illegal about exceeding a manufacturer's tow rating
Hi Mr. Toad,

Would you mind expounding on what you mean by "there is nothing illegal about exceeding a manufacturers tow rating?"

Do you mean if you are fortunate not to ever get into an accident, there is nothing illegal about towing over the limits? Or do you mean that if you get into an accident and you happen to be over the recommended manufacturers tow rating, that this alone would not be an illegal act?

I'm simply trying to understand your point and not only that but learn from your knowledge and experience. As I'm sure you've surmised, I'm a newbie and I'm simply trying to make heads or tails of knowledge that perhaps has alluded me in this discussion.

Kindly,
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Old 09-22-2012, 11:05 PM   #77
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Sierra,

You first need to separate legality from liability - legality is that which is enforceable in law, liability is that which seeks to apportion fault; the two are quite different.

Anyway, the manufacturer's tow rating is a figure set largely by marketing departments in an effort to sell a given vehicle to a certain market, rather than a rating arrived at by the designers and engineers. That's not to say that no testing ever takes place but it's more likely to happen after the rating is set than before it. The following article from Truck Trend magazine explains it better than I do:

The Numbers Game: Current Practice & The Ratings - Consumer Feature - Truck Trend

Tow ratings are, for the most part, quite meaningless other than as a general guide and because they don't mean much they can't be used in law enforcement (tow ratings are NOT legally binding) nor to prove or disprove liability in the event of an accident.

To set a rating on weight alone ignores so many other factors in towing such as the type of hitch and WD system in use, the size and type of trailer to be towed, how many axles it has, how high it is, how it is sprung - the list goes on and on. For example, my TV would struggle to tow a flat sided SOB with a slideout or two, even though it might weigh less than my Airstream, but it can tow the Airstream because that's low, aerodynamic and independently sprung on all four wheels; weight is just one factor in the dynamics of towing.

TV axle ratings and vehicle weight ratings can be enforced, although rarely are, because they are simple measures of downward force and are easily measured and tested. Law enforcement agencies, though, are really only interested in commercial vehicles.

This thread has meandered a little but dealt initially with the OP who felt uncomfortable about towing beyond the manufacturers ratings. Others have come in to say that the rating isn't that important and that he could simply do as others have done and tow anyway. My point is that the manufacturer can set whatever ratings they want but that they can't be enforced in law, nor are they likely to hold up in any claim of liability, simply because they are not based in any measurable or proven manner.

Just to confuse things, the new 2012 SAE standards for towing do set up measurable limits that have been proved. The trouble is that they are only voluntary at the moment and are completely nullified if you modify your vehicle in a way that would compromise the new standards. I guess things will remain confused for a while yet.
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Old 09-23-2012, 12:37 AM   #78
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Sierra,

You first need to separate legality from liability - legality is that which is enforceable in law, liability is that which seeks to apportion fault; the two are quite different.

Anyway, the manufacturer's tow rating is a figure set largely by marketing departments in an effort to sell a given vehicle to a certain market, rather than a rating arrived at by the designers and engineers. That's not to say that no testing ever takes place but it's more likely to happen after the rating is set than before it. The following article from Truck Trend magazine explains it better than I do:

The Numbers Game: Current Practice & The Ratings - Consumer Feature - Truck Trend

Tow ratings are, for the most part, quite meaningless other than as a general guide and because they don't mean much they can't be used in law enforcement (tow ratings are NOT legally binding) nor to prove or disprove liability in the event of an accident.

To set a rating on weight alone ignores so many other factors in towing such as the type of hitch and WD system in use, the size and type of trailer to be towed, how many axles it has, how high it is, how it is sprung - the list goes on and on. For example, my TV would struggle to tow a flat sided SOB with a slideout or two, even though it might weigh less than my Airstream, but it can tow the Airstream because that's low, aerodynamic and independently sprung on all four wheels; weight is just one factor in the dynamics of towing.

TV axle ratings and vehicle weight ratings can be enforced, although rarely are, because they are simple measures of downward force and are easily measured and tested. Law enforcement agencies, though, are really only interested in commercial vehicles.

This thread has meandered a little but dealt initially with the OP who felt uncomfortable about towing beyond the manufacturers ratings. Others have come in to say that the rating isn't that important and that he could simply do as others have done and tow anyway. My point is that the manufacturer can set whatever ratings they want but that they can't be enforced in law, nor are they likely to hold up in any claim of liability, simply because they are not based in any measurable or proven manner.

Just to confuse things, the new 2012 SAE standards for towing do set up measurable limits that have been proved. The trouble is that they are only voluntary at the moment and are completely nullified if you modify your vehicle in a way that would compromise the new standards. I guess things will remain confused for a while yet.
I see a lot of statements in your note about tow ratings that come across as assertions as opposed to facts. For example, how do you know the ratings are developed mainly by marketing departments? How do you know they cannot be enforced? How do you know that tow ratings are not based on any "... measurable or proven manner"?

I'm looking for factual information that supports your assertions.
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Old 09-23-2012, 06:41 AM   #79
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I see a lot of statements in your note about tow ratings that come across as assertions as opposed to facts. For example, how do you know the ratings are developed mainly by marketing departments? How do you know they cannot be enforced? How do you know that tow ratings are not based on any "... measurable or proven manner"?

I'm looking for factual information that supports your assertions.

Hear! Hear!....Current standards and ratings ARE based on durability and capability ratings of the combined components which make up the system for which the rating applies (GVWR, GARW, GCWR, etc) and are always engineering based. Marketing tries to assert their influence but, in my house, engineering and legal ALWAYS trump marketing departments....ALWAYS. The new ratings will be PERFORMANCE based, and while a level playing field for all automakers, we will no longer, I fear, know the capability limits of our TVs. Expect all your ratings for your favorite vehicle to go down......then the arguments will begin all over again about my Prius will tow my 30'er, with a whole lot of new backyard statements and opinions as facts.
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Old 09-23-2012, 07:25 AM   #80
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I'm a newbie and I'm simply trying to make heads or tails of knowledge that perhaps has alluded me in this discussion.

Kindly,
The fine art of towing is very complex with 100's of variables. Different vehicles, connection hardware, specs (accurate or inaccurate) adjustments and other variables all come into play. To simply make a vehicle selection based on it's "tow rating" is just not enough.


Imagine if you were to spend 40 years of your life dedicated it to the fine art of towing. You consult with a multitude of sources..... engineers, mechanics, experts in the field of towing, etc., over and over again.

With a top notch team you put together and test drive (some under every extreme conditions) 1,000's of different, properly connected combinations (all sorts, from small cars, large cars,muscle cars, sports cars, Mini Vans, small SUV's, large SUV's imported SUV's domestic SUV's small trucks, large trucks all the way to a one ton diesel pickup etc, etc). I think then you would have a very good understanding of the big picture.


For the average guy like you and me that is not practical so why not take some information/suggestions from someone who has gone down that 40 year road.

Folks like MrUKToad, myself, withidl, and 1,000's of others have combinations assembled from one who has that team, knowledge and 40 years of towing dedication.

By all means do your research*, find your comfort zone, and enjoy the ride.

*Note some sources of research data are better than others.
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