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Old 08-06-2020, 09:29 AM   #1
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2020 16' Basecamp
Little Rock , Arkansas
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Is our hitch too low?

Hi friends! We just recently bought our first travel trailer--the Basecamp! We absolutely love it and couldn't be happier.

Before we bought, we knew we needed a new tow vehicle. We attempted a lot of online research. We wanted a used TV that could handle the weight but get decent gas mileage, and yet be affordable! In the end, we bought a Toyota Highlander AWD V6. It was rated for 5000lbs. It didn't have a tow package, but our dealer told us that it would be fine--and so did our airstream dealer.

So, we've had the Basecamp about 4 weeks, and the Highlander has towed beautifully. the MPG isn't the best--we get about 14MPG. But it hasn't struggled, even on hills. However, take a look at the pictures. I can see where the back of the car is lower than the front--it's lifting the front slightly. To me, our hitch seems really low--so low that I'm afraid to go off paved roads. And the whole reason I bought the Basecamp was for traveling in different places.

Does anyone have a suggestion for what we should do? or nothing? I can't seem to find anyone in Little Rock that specializes in trailer towing, so I don't know where to go for help. Do we need a weight distributing hitch? or suspension lifts? or just leave it alone? I definitely don't want to ruin the suspension on our highlander!

Thanks so much in advance for your advice and help!
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Old 08-06-2020, 09:53 AM   #2
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1972 23' Safari
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WD Hitch

I would invest in a WD hitch, that should even your tow vehicle out and give you better handling. As for tow hitch being low, it looks ok to me.
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Old 08-06-2020, 10:01 AM   #3
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Congrats on the new setup!

We have a similar weight configuration with our tow vehicle and our trailer.

We have 5,000 lbs towing on our tow vehicle
We have 600 lbs tongue weight
Our payload max is 1,477 lbs

Our trailer has a published tongue weight of 422 lbs (yours is 410 lbs)
Our trailer has a published GVW of 4,500 (yours is 3,500 lbs)

We generally see our tongue weight at about 500 lbs.
Our trailer sits around 4,000 lbs.

I think the tongue weight is creating the sag in the rear that you are seeing. The photos are also taken while you are on a slope so it looks like the rear is higher at first look.

I think a WDH will certainly improve the ride and level out your setup.

Just keep in mind that a WD hitch may add up to 100 extra lbs to the situation which will cut into your payload.

I am happy that I added WD to my setup as I was able to bring rear of the tow vehicle up ~2 inches so I still have about 3/4" of drop in the rear but the ride has greatly improved and the tow vehicle has more stability and control than without a WDH.

If you get a WDH, look for a system that incorporates sway control and closely matches the weight range of the tongue weight you will likely see. So maybe in the range of 400 to 500 lbs. If you start looking at the WD hitches you will see that they have load ratings. If you get one with too high a load rating, it will be stiff and you will most likely feel it as well as the trailer will start popping or loosening things.
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Old 08-06-2020, 10:17 AM   #4
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Great advice so far.

Also increase pressure on the rear tires a bit. 5-7 psi will do it but don't exceed max sidewall. Vehicle level attitude is one indicator of a proper set-up and just as important is trailer frame attitude. You want it as level as possible. If you can't get it perfectly level due shank adjustment spacing, a tad low in the front is better than a tad high because level or low prevents trailer inertia from unloading rear axle in a panic situation.
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Old 08-06-2020, 10:27 AM   #5
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Love the setup there.

Which basecamp do you have? 16 or 20? Can't see from the pics, but is the basecamp setting level?

Pretty normal to have some squat in the rear. A WD hitch would certainly help level the ride with some mild WD tension. It's arguable whether one is necessary. It can definitely help with squat, and increase stability in compromising conditions. I'd recommend a simple light one like an Anderson.

Other thing you can is to get a hitch ball that brings it in closer and tighter to the rear bumper. That will decrease the leverage the tongue weight has on the tow vehicle improving posture incrementally. I know you have a hatch and clearance to that may be a compromise.
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Old 08-06-2020, 11:06 AM   #6
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Nose of the AS looks high...Better photo of the entire reg would help.

Bob
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Old 08-06-2020, 11:23 AM   #7
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2020 16' Basecamp
Little Rock , Arkansas
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I have a BC 16'. Yes, I was on a bit of a decline in our parking lot in this picture. I can take a better picture next time we are fully connected and level. It just looked really low to me--and I am concerned about where that will allow us to go. we've only been to state parks so far, so we've had concrete pads and full hookups. But we want to be able to explore some BLM camping.

we do check the tire pressure every trip, and we try to keep all of the tires aired appropriately. Sounds like it doesn't look too bad the way it is--which is great! we don't have any experience towing, so we aren't sure how it's supposed to look.

Thank you all for the help!
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Old 08-06-2020, 01:50 PM   #8
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I want to return to pteck's advice on a lightweight WD and sway hitch. The Andersen would be a nice fit for this situation. Unbalanced tensions are minimal with the design, the 2020 Basecamp has the new tongue and is completely compatible with the Andersen. It is forgiving so it won't stress the vehicle or trailer so much as other designs would, the hitch itself is also relatively light and won't detract much from payload, it's easy to manage and has excellent sway control. Have a look at the design and see if it is right for you.

On tire pressure, you want the rear tires stiffer with 5 psi more pressure than the fronts to help with cornering and suspension response, so keep the fronts at OEM recommended pressure.

Airstream recommends trailer tire pressure be at max sidewall for several reasons including sway stability and safety margin but it is often a bit harsh on the trailer and content. There is a trade-off to be had. I run mine about 20% off of max because I got tired of cleaning up the inside of the trailer and refastening things but your experience may vary. It's a judgement call.
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Old 08-06-2020, 02:48 PM   #9
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2020 16' Basecamp
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Thanks, Brian! I read on some other forums that the Andersen WD Hitch seems to work best. Glad to know that it works on the 2020, because I was worried about that! Our service guy at the dealer told us that we couldn't use a sway hitch because the propane tanks were in the way. I figured that it was just the one that they sold that wouldn't fit.

The tire pressure info is extremely helpful too--will definitely try that next time we start our trip.

Thanks again to all!
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Old 08-06-2020, 02:54 PM   #10
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If you're primary concern is ride height and having enough clearance for uneven road situations, airbags can also be a great option.

Common and reasonably price mod. You can inflate for towing, and deflate when not. Therefore not having to compromise ride for either situation.

These links may help.
https://www.toyotanation.com/threads...alled.1419746/

https://www.etrailer.com/Vehicle-Sus...t/AL60732.html
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Old 08-06-2020, 03:22 PM   #11
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You're welcome, I'm glad you're having a good experience and that the Highlander tows well. You didn't say and nobody asked, but I assume you had a trailer brake controller added.

Happy camping.
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Old 08-07-2020, 09:23 AM   #12
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Short term/lower expense - The suggestion about increasing tire pressure in rear tires of Highlander is a good one. Also use a leveling gauge to make sure the trailer is level front/back, and purchase a receptacle hitch to keep it at that attitude.

Long term/larger expense - Weight distributing hitch will level out the Highlander. But it may hurt your ability to take the trailer offroad because you need articulation between the vehicle and the Basecamp to go over bumps and dips.

If you still have problems with the Basecamp's ground clearance, you can always have a small lift installed to drop the axle by 1" to 3" and/or put slightly larger tires on the Airstream (similar to what was just announced for the new Basecamp X.

If you're still having trouble with the Highlander's ground clearance, there are lift kits for it too...for example, ReadyLift has a 2" lift kit for Highlanders. Only $399. https://www.readylift.com/2-0-sst-li...hlander-1.html Just make sure you have it installed by a skilled professional. It can accomodate P265 tires on 17" rims. Just remember that increasing tire size will reduce your effective gear ratios.
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Old 08-07-2020, 09:30 AM   #13
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Hi

Head over to your local CAT scale and see how much weight you have on that rear axle. I'd say it's likely you are over limit. The weight limit numbers you need are on the sticker on your door post. There are a number of threads here on how to do the weight process. You want the numbers with everything fully loaded (including all passengers) / ready for a trip.

Don't assume anything, get the real numbers. Get the numbers for front axle, and rear axle on the TV. Get the number for the trailer axle. All need to be in spec. I'd suggest that they need to be in by a couple hundred pounds, but that's just me ....

Once you have the numbers, the next question is: Are you over limit, even if you put on a WD hitch? The hitch *will* add weight to the rig (possibly a couple hundred pounds). If so, something has to stay home *or* you need a new vehicle. If the trailer is "under weight" fully loaded (including water tanks), you might move stuff back there. That usually is not the case with small trailers.

Assuming there is some margin, there are a lot of WD hitches out there that will help things out.

Bob
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Old 08-07-2020, 12:55 PM   #14
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Looks like the weight of the trailer on the stinger has your receiver hitch bent downward. Better check it out.
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Old 08-08-2020, 08:23 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tbashin View Post
Looks like the weight of the trailer on the stinger has your receiver hitch bent downward. Better check it out.
Hi

Indeed, it's quite possible to have a 500 lb receiver on a TV and a trailer that's over that ....

Bob
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