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Old 05-01-2021, 02:18 PM   #1
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Can I Tow This Trailer with That Tow Vehicle?

I have found that many of the resources available that discuss how to match a tow vehicle and a trailer seem to be missing the mark, particularly for newbies. Generally they give you about 75% of the information you need to know to make a basic determination. I wanted to come up with a very basic guide for those new to towing trailers that could answer that most asked question. I wrote an article targeted at these new or prospective owners. I am looking for constructive feedback from the many knowledgeable contributors on this forum.

The article is here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1...it?usp=sharing

Thanks for your feedback. Donning my flak jacket now.
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Old 05-01-2021, 03:08 PM   #2
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Nice article. This or something like it should be required reading for people new to towing and maybe even for some not so new to towing.
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Old 05-01-2021, 03:59 PM   #3
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As far as I can tell, many (perhaps most) vehicles do not have an official published "Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating".
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Old 05-01-2021, 04:08 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by ealmasy View Post
As far as I can tell, many (perhaps most) vehicles do not have an official published "Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating".
I donít think thatís correct. Mine does. I was recently shopping for an new truck and every truck I looked at also had a GCWR. Itís not always on the door jamb sticker but it is in the spec sheets.
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Old 05-01-2021, 04:17 PM   #5
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Nice work!
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Old 05-01-2021, 04:21 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by JEB View Post
I donít think thatís correct. Mine does. I was recently shopping for an new truck and every truck I looked at also had a GCWR.
The title of the article isn't "Can I tow This Trailer with That Truck?". Most vehicles are not trucks.
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Old 05-01-2021, 04:22 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by ealmasy View Post
The title of the article isn't "Can I tow This Trailer with That Truck?". Most vehicles are not trucks.
Fair point. Most towing vehicles are, however.
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Old 05-01-2021, 04:33 PM   #8
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Gcvwr

Quote:
Originally Posted by ealmasy View Post
As far as I can tell, many (perhaps most) vehicles do not have an official published "Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating".
You raise an interesting point. I'm not sure that all vehicles are run through the testing process, but many truck and SUV options advertise a Towing Capacity which is a computation based on GCWVR. A formula like this would provide a good estimate of the GCVWR:

Estimated GCVWR = TV GVWR + TV Towing Capacity

or more conservatively:

Estimated GCVWR = TV Curb Weight + 400 + TV Towing Capacity.

Thanks for the feedback.
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Old 05-02-2021, 09:12 AM   #9
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Great article - did similar on my Blog ... You may want consider how weight is transferred using a "weight distribution hitch"...
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Old 05-02-2021, 09:34 AM   #10
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Given that payload is probably the most important factor governing towing ability maybe add a chart with realistic payload ranges by popular trim for a few typical popular tow vehicles.

For example the 2021 Ford 150 Technical Specification document contains a lot of information, but lists maximum payload by engine and cab configuration only. A bit deceptive.

One is left to believe typical F150 payloads are in the 1,900 to 2,300 range. Maybe true for a stripped down XL trim but not what most people buy. Platinum and Limited trims say 1,100 to 1,300 lbs, Lariat trim 1,400 to 1,700 lbs. XLT 1,600 to 1,900.
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Old 05-02-2021, 09:35 AM   #11
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Very well written article. Your methodology answers very well the titled question, "Can I town this Trailer with that Tow Vehicle?". This answers the seeming weekly question on an Airstream Forums about towing a 33' Classic with a Toyota Tacoma truck :-(

Good timing, with today's Airstream "The Rivet" email publication containing an article titled, "Finding the Perfect Tow Vehicle". That was a fluffy marketing article but clearly-written by marketing people who just want you to buy a new trailer. Some statements that raised my eyebrows included:

* "And there’s always the debate between diesel and conventional fuel, both of which have plenty of adherents and detractors. We’ll leave that rabbit hole for you to explore at your leisure."

* "Often, you’ll see pickups referenced as “half-ton,” “three-quarter-ton”, or “one-ton” pickups. Those terms in general reference the payload a truck can carry (i.e., cargo and passengers in the cab, plus whatever is loaded in the back bed of the truck). But those designations can confuse more than help sometimes."

* "In general, the average Light-Duty pickup will handle an Airstream with no problem. The largest Airstream travel trailer – the 33-foot Classic – has a GVWR of 10,000 pounds. The most popular makes of Light Duty pickups on the market today have many models with Tow Ratings above 10,000 pounds."



In one place, the article correctly says, "Knowing the GVWR of your Airstream and your tow vehicle is the start. Understanding how to keep your weight under that number is the second half of the equation." But later oddly says, "It’s a great idea to exceed the GVWR..." (my comment, it's not just a great idea...).

Anyhow, you wrote a very helpful article. Further consideration is obviously worthwhile about the stability of a short wheelbase towing vehicle versus a long trailer, fuel mileage, on/off road towing capabilities in different surface and weather conditions, storage capacity for different number of passengers, pets, toys, etc. But your analysis technique is excellent. Well done.
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Old 05-02-2021, 10:44 AM   #12
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Hi

I think it misses a few things:

Some numbers in some places are dry / empty weights. Each passenger / fresh water tank fill etc takes away from the number. In other places things like passengers are assumed and the weight is after X number of passengers that each weigh Y pounds. Often a bit of digging is required to sort this out.

The hitch weighs something. If it's a WD/AS hitch that "something" likely is a noticeable number.

Trailers above a certain weight (varies by state) need to have electric brakes. Having them also means a TV that is adapted to control them. (7 pin vs 4 pin etc ....).

Trailers often require an anti-sway system to tow safely ( to reduce sway ). Just what point that is ... not easy to define. It still needs to be mentioned.

Trailers above a certain weight even *with* a vehicle that appears to have the numbers, may need a WD hitch. That is a bit easier to define.

A combo that can tow without damaging the TV may not be a safe / stable combination. In fact, running right up to the max numbers is a pretty good way to guarantee getting into trouble. As a first pass, derating the numbers is a really good idea. Alternately you could get into a whole section on loading and sway / stability.

Some vehicles that have "ratings" adequate to not be damaged towing this or that don't have the horsepower / torque to do so under all conditions. Again, a complicated subject.

No matter how well one thinks they have done the math, checking it at a scale is a really good idea. It's dirt cheap and pretty easy to do. I think it needs to be mentioned.

There are some more esoteric things like tire inflation levels. I think they can be left for the advanced course ....

Bob
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Old 05-02-2021, 10:54 AM   #13
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Quote:
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nice work!
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Old 05-03-2021, 08:53 AM   #14
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JayOhBee - great guidance. How can this be setup for an easy search on this Forum for folks interested in this topic?

Comments on your great article:
1. I did not see any mention of the GAWR for rear axle. This was the weakest link in our 1/2 ton TV. We were within Payload, GCVWR and tow rating, but over by several hundred pounds on the rear axle rating.
2. You calculations on max trailer towing capability was: GCVWR - Gross Weight of TV. It may need to be calibrated?
* I will use my F250 as an example that does not work with your formula.
* GVWR = 10,000 lbs, GCVWR = 19,500lbs, Tow rating is 12,500 lbs. Your formula would indicate the tow rating on this truck should be 9,500 lbs.
3. Question on your calculations on the 2021 Sequoia:
* Curb Weight = 5730, GCVWR = 13,600, Towing = 7400. IF you subtract the 7400 tow rating from 13,600 GCVWR and the 5730 for curb weight, the payload would be 13,600 - 12,700 = 1,100 for payload. 1,110 is not enough payload to safely tow most 25í and up ASís. Very few Toyota brand vehicles with 5.7 V8 have a payload adequate for towing 6,000+ lb trailers. I checked to see if any Toyota could be equipped to provide about 2,000 lbs payload before ordering my F250 and the sales manager said NO. As you know most Tundraís payloads are less than 1500 lbs.
NOTE: I have asked the guys at TFL Trucks, YOUTUBE channel and FORD FORUMS and have not had an explanation on why my GCVWR is NOT 22,500 lbs. No one has been able to explain this apparent discrepancy. This may be a very unique experience?

Thank you for putting this list together and I suggest you send it to the International Rally folks for consideration in setting up a seminar for the Rally this July in Lebanon, TN
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Old 05-04-2021, 10:10 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kscherzi View Post
maybe add a chart with realistic payload ranges

Thanks for the feedback. I tried to get across the concept that every individual truck has its own sticker and its own numbers. I don't think that came through as well as I would have liked. I'll take another stab at it.
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Old 05-04-2021, 10:11 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drbrick View Post
Great article - did similar on my Blog ... You may want consider how weight is transferred using a "weight distribution hitch"...

Thanks! Maybe WD will be in part 2!
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Old 05-04-2021, 10:14 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trowbridge View Post
Good timing, with today's Airstream "The Rivet" email publication containing an article titled, "Finding the Perfect Tow Vehicle". That was a fluffy marketing article but clearly-written by marketing people who just want you to buy a new trailer.
Yes, I was disappointed in that article. Like so many others, it touches on important topics but does not give the new or prospective owner enough information to actually make a determination. As you point out, their objective is to sell trailers, not necessarily to educate. Thanks!
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Old 05-04-2021, 10:24 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle_bob View Post
Hi

I think it misses a few things:

Some numbers in some places are dry / empty weights. Each passenger / fresh water tank fill etc takes away from the number. In other places things like passengers are assumed and the weight is after X number of passengers that each weigh Y pounds. Often a bit of digging is required to sort this out.

The hitch weighs something. If it's a WD/AS hitch that "something" likely is a noticeable number.

Trailers above a certain weight (varies by state) need to have electric brakes. Having them also means a TV that is adapted to control them. (7 pin vs 4 pin etc ....).

Trailers often require an anti-sway system to tow safely ( to reduce sway ). Just what point that is ... not easy to define. It still needs to be mentioned.

Trailers above a certain weight even *with* a vehicle that appears to have the numbers, may need a WD hitch. That is a bit easier to define.

A combo that can tow without damaging the TV may not be a safe / stable combination. In fact, running right up to the max numbers is a pretty good way to guarantee getting into trouble. As a first pass, derating the numbers is a really good idea. Alternately you could get into a whole section on loading and sway / stability.

Some vehicles that have "ratings" adequate to not be damaged towing this or that don't have the horsepower / torque to do so under all conditions. Again, a complicated subject.

No matter how well one thinks they have done the math, checking it at a scale is a really good idea. It's dirt cheap and pretty easy to do. I think it needs to be mentioned.

There are some more esoteric things like tire inflation levels. I think they can be left for the advanced course ....

Bob
Hi Bob,
When I began this project I chose to start by picking just a few measurements or calculations that would give a new or prospective owner an idea as to whether or not they could use their too small TV to pull their too large trailer. I wanted to 1) provide enough information so they could actually do the computations provided, 2) explain the terms well enough so they could understand what is going on, and 3) have the result be meaningful. In order to do this I had to leave out quite a few important items. The plan once I get this article dialed in is to write another one that covers more detail as you suggest. This is really supposed to be an introductory document. I'll need to express that better in the wording up front. I'll also add something to the effect of: "just because you can, doesn't mean you should". Thanks for the feedback. I really appreciate everyone taking the time. Thanks!
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Old 05-04-2021, 10:43 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by superChop View Post
1. I did not see any mention of the GAWR for rear axle.

<snip>

2. You calculations on max trailer towing capability was: GCVWR - Gross Weight of TV. It may need to be calibrated?
* I will use my F250 as an example that does not work with your formula.
* GVWR = 10,000 lbs, GCVWR = 19,500lbs, Tow rating is 12,500 lbs. Your formula would indicate the tow rating on this truck should be 9,500 lbs.
<snip>

3. Question on your calculations on the 2021 Sequoia:
* Curb Weight = 5730, GCVWR = 13,600, Towing = 7400. IF you subtract the 7400 tow rating from 13,600 GCVWR and the 5730 for curb weight, the payload would be 13,600 - 12,700 = 1,100 for payload.
<snip>
Lol, yes, GAWR. I really had to cut this down to get it to the point that a newbie could read, understand, and work the computations. I figured adding in the GAWR would be too much. However, I will need to add some text telling the reader that this is a "first cut" to determine if the combination meets the basics. I need to make clear that there is much more and the devil is in the details...so I'll need a part 2 to the article .
On the Sequoia calcs, The web site stated that the payload was 1370, so I took them at their word. GCVWR - Towing Capacity should give you the curb weight of the vehicle they tested plus about 400 pounds. The curb weight listed on the web page I used is not going to be the same as the one they tested, nor will it be the same as the one you purchase. That is where the discrepancy is between the 1370 and the 1100 you came up with. GCVWR is a measured number on a specific vehicle combination. I believe that they then generalize that across the product line. The real computation is:

GCVWR - (actual curb weight of the vehicle tested) - 400 = Towing Capacity.


I agree that 1100 is tool low, but so is 1370
Thanks for the feedback! I appreciate it.
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Old 05-09-2021, 10:04 AM   #20
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F150 half ton towing

Alot is said to refer to factory specs. I marvel at the new F150 TV ad showing the Platinum trim pulling, what looks to be a new 28-30 foot AS with a motorcycle in the bed.
So there, looks factory approved to me......
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