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Old 10-19-2021, 10:29 PM   #1
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2021 16' Caravel
Port Townsend , Washington
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Towing over the Grapevine

We have a 2020 Toyota Highlander and want to tow our 16ft Caravel over the Grapevine to Southern CA. I am not asking about obvious weather issues, which we always have to consider going through Oregon, but more about the pull. I know it is a 6 % grade, but longer than anything we have done before. We have towed on I-5 from NW WA over the Siskiyou pass in Oregon and through Ashland, Weed, CA, etc and back with no problem. Anyone have any experience or advice they would like to share? Thanks, Cherel
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Old 10-19-2021, 11:33 PM   #2
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If you've done Siski then the Grapevine is no problem. Not to minimize your questiin as it's always good to be safety cautious but it is literally transversed by everything coming going from LA by all means of vehicles. If you're not good with a lot of traffic just pre-plan find the lane you're comfortable in and head over. Even with snow it gets plowed pretty fast and they'll stop it on either side if necessary but that only happens once in a while.
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Old 10-20-2021, 12:37 AM   #3
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Agreed the Sisk is the steeper of the two and narrower, but the Grapevine has its own challenges. Especially the north end.
Stay in the number 2 lane going uphill, out of the way of the truckers who use the 3 & 4 lanes. Technically illegal but not enforced. Its a long upgrade in two sections heading south so turn off the A/C if your coolant temperature exceeds 210-215, but your Toyota shouldn't have any problem maintaining 55-60.
There is a rest stop after the first section, let your engine run if you decide to stop.
Snow can be a problem since very few people in SoCal know how to drive in it. CHP will shut the freeway down if more than a few inches accumulate.
When or if you're heading Northbound the grade at the north end dropping down into the SJ Valley is 6-7%. This is where the truckers get into trouble. Speed limit is 35 for the trucks but there are a few who lose it every year due to excess speed.
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Old 10-20-2021, 09:22 AM   #4
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Agreed the Sisk is the steeper of the two and narrower, but the Grapevine has its own challenges. Especially the north end.
Stay in the number 2 lane going uphill, out of the way of the truckers who use the 3 & 4 lanes. Technically illegal but not enforced. Its a long upgrade in two sections heading south so turn off the A/C if your coolant temperature exceeds 210-215, but your Toyota shouldn't have any problem maintaining 55-60.
There is a rest stop after the first section, let your engine run if you decide to stop.
Snow can be a problem since very few people in SoCal know how to drive in it. CHP will shut the freeway down if more than a few inches accumulate.
When or if you're heading Northbound the grade at the north end dropping down into the SJ Valley is 6-7%. This is where the truckers get into trouble. Speed limit is 35 for the trucks but there are a few who lose it every year due to excess speed.
Not a bad idea to acknowledge the truck speed limit, and slow down a bit.
And remember to snub your speed off... (Pick your control speed, at 5mph above it, smartly slow to 5mph below it. Allow speed to increase back to +5mph while brakes cool)

Riding your brakes to control speed will overheat them. This is one reason trucks 'runaway'.

The energy being converted to heat by your brakes increases by the square of the speed.
So, slowing from 70mph to 50 heats the brakes as much as *stopping* from 50. (Hence the 35mph speed limit for trucks)
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Old 10-20-2021, 10:07 AM   #5
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That route will take you through Los Angeles area and advise you to consider the timing if you do. We live in Southern Calif. and try to avoid those areas. 101 and 395 are good alternates.
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Old 10-20-2021, 12:23 PM   #6
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Uphill and Down

California’s Grapevine has its challenges, that’s for sure.

Easy peasy, the weather—DO NOT drive the Grapevine in snowy conditions.
Numero dos: pick your hour. Traffic really thickens as you approach LA in daylight hours, but both directions are heavy with truck traffic a good part of the day, the standard for western states. (The Great Santini would suggest midnight-to-four as best window, coming or going, and that gives you the Grapevine AND the nastiest stretch of LA.)

The extended downhill northbound is steeper than 6% no matter the signs. So, speed low but not so much as to screw with the truckers. Play of tranny and brakes but not too much of either. (I don’t know about the wisdom of driving slower than the trucks third lane over. The big guys are often in pairs in rightmost lanes, sometimes “quads and sixes”, as they say. In my truck, I’ve gone by them in train-size lengths, too many overlapping rigs to count. You moving too slowly in either of the right two lanes forces a lot of heavy tonnage jockeying.

‘Course you already know to travel light.

Roberta adds: remember you can rest your vehicle at the top of the northbound grade before heading down. GOOD IDEA.

My schooldays pal way years ago, riding shotgun with his father on drop-calf mission to Oregon, witnessed runaway truck on northbound downhill. His father came up alongside the terrified trucker and signaled he’d pull in front and add his own brakes to the effort. His was a mere one-ton stake, but the assistance got both trucks stopped and onto the shoulder at the bottom of the grade. Brakes shot on both vehicles. Tows into Bakersfield and brewskies all around.

(If you survive the northbound downhill, there’s a Black Bear Diner at the bottom.)
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Old 10-20-2021, 02:46 PM   #7
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The advise provided so far is sage. Just a couple of additional thoughts.
  1. Downshift going down (note what gear your tranny was in going up and use it going down. You shouldn't be on your brakes at all!)
  2. Look FAR ahead to avoid losing forward speed going up hil (forget lanes 3 & 4, but even lane 2 can get clogged at times)
  3. Rain - can be as bad as snow ~ avoid!
  4. Follow "TRUCK/TRAILER Only Lanes at beginning (you'll avoid the spaghetti-bowl of merging freeways that's hard to do with trailers!)

Take it easy and you'll be fine.
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Old 10-20-2021, 04:23 PM   #8
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Towing over Grapevine

Thank you all for great info and I do feel encouraged! Our destination is Palm Desert so originally we’re going to go left before the Grapevine and I believe that takes us over Tehachapi which some have told us not great. Then considered going left at Gorman and avoiding Pasadena stuff. Sometimes so many options beget more complications! Been over the Grapevine so many times over the decades as we lived in Bay Area… but just not the same with the trailer. I have not so fond memories of overheating back in the 70’s!
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Old 10-20-2021, 05:14 PM   #9
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Since your destination is Palm Desert take the 5 to the 210 (new freeway since the 70's) and it will take you almost to Redlands. That route is much calmer and a little bit less congested. If you are a Costco person there are several stations along the 210 to refuel but you won't see them from the freeway as most of that is down lower than the store advertisements so plan ahead. Although some California drivers may seem aggressive for the most part they're pretty well versed on their urban traffic. They are assertive with their lame changes but usually do it with some skill. Just leave yourself your own gap and look ahead for slowing traffic.
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Old 10-20-2021, 05:50 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Setenta View Post
Thank you all for great info and I do feel encouraged! Our destination is Palm Desert so originally we’re going to go left before the Grapevine and I believe that takes us over Tehachapi which some have told us not great. Then considered going left at Gorman and avoiding Pasadena stuff. Sometimes so many options beget more complications! Been over the Grapevine so many times over the decades as we lived in Bay Area… but just not the same with the trailer. I have not so fond memories of overheating back in the 70’s!
Hwy 58 east of Bakersfield is twisty and has steep stretches...
You are eventually going to have to come down into the valley, the Grapevine might as well be the route.
I-15 from Hesperia feels about the same as the Grapevine.
As mentioned, head east on the 210 and that'll being you to I-10 (about a mile out of Shaky-Town)...
Fraser Park is a good place to catch a rest and a meal before you head down the hill...
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Old 10-20-2021, 06:36 PM   #11
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Keep in mind that all that truck traffic has left the road surface a little worse for wear. Expect a little more shaking in the rig and pack accordingly. Just went over that pass last week and could not believe the scene when we opened the door when we got to our destination.
Safe travels no matter which route you choose!
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Old 10-20-2021, 06:57 PM   #12
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+1

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hittenstiehl View Post
If you've done Siski then the Grapevine is no problem. Not to minimize your questiin as it's always good to be safety cautious but it is literally transversed by everything coming going from LA by all means of vehicles. If you're not good with a lot of traffic just pre-plan find the lane you're comfortable in and head over. Even with snow it gets plowed pretty fast and they'll stop it on either side if necessary but that only happens once in a while.
+1 for the above...
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Old 10-20-2021, 08:32 PM   #13
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No Problem

I've towed a 16 over Grapevine many times with a 2014 4Runner 4WD without any prolems. The only problem are the truck chains - groups of trucks taking over the entire road. Then I just tuck myself in somewhere and try and go with the flow and stay out of their way. They're much bigger than I am.
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Old 10-20-2021, 10:06 PM   #14
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In California trailers are only allowed in the right two lanes. But if you stick to the #3 lane and just stay with traffic you should be fine. The steep part is only a few miles long and really not worth the effort to be in a hurry.
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Old 10-21-2021, 08:51 AM   #15
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Keep in mind that all that truck traffic has left the road surface a little worse for wear. Expect a little more shaking in the rig and pack accordingly. Just went over that pass last week and could not believe the scene when we opened the door when we got to our destination.

Safe travels no matter which route you choose!
Please tell me that the beer was unharmed!
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Old 10-21-2021, 02:04 PM   #16
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Okay! We are doing it! Sometimes you just have to step outside your comfort zone and your support gave me the nudge I needed! Thanks so much. Cherel
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Old 10-21-2021, 07:50 PM   #17
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Hahaha! The beer can ride in the car!
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Old 10-21-2021, 08:34 PM   #18
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Slow and easy on the northbound downgrade

We’ve taken our TB 27 over the Grapevine several times. Southbound is straight forward. However, the final northbound downgrade can be a bit of an issue. The first time, we took it at 55 and relied on the transmission and brakes to hold us. Resulted in overheated breaks and warped rotors on the truck. After that, we go with the trucks in the rightmost 35 MPH lanes and have had no issues. We just fit right in and nobody cares. The brakes are happy.

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Old 10-24-2021, 12:58 PM   #19
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Grapevine Smapevine

The only crazy thing about this pass is the ridiculous wind warning signs you will see AND will pop up on your nav system. I was was freaked out this spring with my new 27', literally the first day out from the dealership going to Malibu and we see multiple flashing road signs warning against trailers for dangerous high wind. I pulled over to get gas in the town just before you have to decide which way to go, called a CHP friend, he checked the weather, said no worries.
Got to the top, no wind at all. Drive the recommended speeds, you will be fine and dont believe the wind warnings
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Old 10-24-2021, 01:43 PM   #20
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You'll be fine. We towed our 22FB Bambi with a Jeep Grand Cherokee (v6) over it.
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