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Old 02-13-2007, 12:18 PM   #1
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How much towing capacity do I need?

I am using my 96 Suburban 2500 4X4 to tow my 2007 Safari SE FB with a GVWR of about 7500 lbs. If I am using a load leveling hitch, to I need a vehicle rated at 7500 pounds or can I get by with a bit less? Right now, my TV is rated at 10200 and I have no problems but the TV is getting a bit long in the tooth for my wifes comfort.

Thanks
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Old 02-13-2007, 12:27 PM   #2
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I believe that you are now at a good place in TT to TV ratio. My personal comfort zone is the 75% range. I tow a 25' FB with a 2500 Sub. I have also pulled it with our '04 Tahoe. It works, but it's just not as comfortable. You might not be happy with a half ton TV towing a 27 footer.
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Old 02-13-2007, 12:34 PM   #3
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I agree. What you have is great. I'm not sure I'd go less. I too have a Suburban 3/4 and it's perfect for our 25'. I would imagine it would be the same for a 27'. Besides, towing with a 1/2 Burb or truck isn't gonna save you any $$ in terms of maint or fuel. Might be a bit softer ride, but to me, the upgrades of a 3/4 well outweigh the slightly firmer ride.
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Old 02-13-2007, 12:36 PM   #4
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I think it is a great combination, except that I think you and I should trade trailers.

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Old 02-13-2007, 12:37 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by altamont
TV is getting a bit long in the tooth for my wifes comfort.

Thanks
Does this mean the Mrs is giving you the green light to buy a new truck. Lots of nice new trucks out right now.......
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Old 02-13-2007, 12:44 PM   #6
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Get Ready...

Altamont-

You've asked a "charged" question, and should see lots of responses... In meantime, you could try "search" feature above, and look for tow vehicle or tow capacity threads, and get a preview of all the opinions previously shared here...

I'll try to summarize, since we have slightly lighter trailer, and recently did an upgrade...

There are "Half Ton" trucks and SUV's (Suburbans and Expedition/Excursions) rated to tow 7200#, so you might get away with that.. Most posters here recommend getting tow vehicle with tow capacity such that trailer is 80% or less of rated number, since tow capacity also must include passengers and luggage and hitch parts as well as the trailer and contents.

A few argue you can equal or exceed tow capacity with trailer GVWR, assuming you'll tow with empty tanks and trailer below its max gross weight.. I feel that could work in Iowa, but not here in California, where you have to deal with passes like Donner or Grapevine or Siskayou's or even Cuesta to get to beach or southern CA or Nevada...

I think wheelbase is important, and would opt for long wheelbase truck or SUV like Suburban or Excursion. I also think truck should WEIGH close to 80% of trailer GVWR so that if truck and trailer get into tug of war, truck has chance of winning.. (Search on accident reports for more details..)

One option is to consider a "fund" for maintenance and invest in the old "Burb, though lack of airbags and CD players and soundproofing might not work for spouse.. In spirit of "Vintage" members here, you can do a lot to fix up an old Suburban for a lot less than cost of a new truck.

Finally, you also have option now (especially when gas prices spike) of finding clean late model used Suburban or Excursion for less than $20K, with tow capacity of ~8K#, and low mileage. There are big trucks from commuters who can't afford the run from Tracy to San Jose anymore for sale in mid-teens, as 2002 to 2004 models. Unfortunately, this also means your used Suburban isn't worth much on resale market... Check dealers and craigs list from Livermore to Stockton to Modesto for bargains... We bought a 2002 Excursion with 40K miles and full tow pkg, including 4.11 rear axle for $17K a year ago to pull our 6500# trailer.

I'll let others chime in on diesel v. gas discussions. You are either willing to trade some noise and vibration for fuel mileage and torque, or not... If vehicle only used for towing, choice gets a little easier, but not much...

John McG
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Old 02-13-2007, 12:58 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by altamont
If I am using a load leveling hitch, to I need a vehicle rated at 7500 pounds or can I get by with a bit less?
the answer to your question is...NO.

using a weight distributing (load leveling) hitch in NO WAY changes the requirement for adequate towing capacity.

w/d doesn't increase the towing capacity.

w/d does redistribute mass to the front axle/tires and does reduce the 'lever effect' of the hitch/ball point on the rear axle/tires

without w/d gear most receivers are maxed out at 500lbs, while a few rate to 750lb tongue weight.

so as trailer tongue weight climbs above 500lbs, w/d gear goes from 'useful' to 'essential' to 'required'

the issue of 'tow rating' for the tv relative to gross weight of your trailer is separate and multifactored.

the questions of 'how much towing capacity do i need?' and 'does a w/d hitch reduce tow capacity requirements?' are often confused.

it seems even sales folks will suggest..."if you get a w/d hitch you can tow more"

this is a misleading truth, because IF the tongue weight is 500lbs or more w/d gear does allow one to tow more...

tongue weight.

but total trailer weight still cannot exceed the agreed/arbitrary/factory tv capacity.


cheers
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Old 02-13-2007, 01:29 PM   #8
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yeah, it says right on my hitch: max weight: 5000lbs. 10,000lbs with w/d.

so I can tow 10,000lbs!!!



yeah. IF I take that receiver off, and mount it to a 3/4 ton truck. LOL!

seriously: very common mistake. people look at what it says on the HITCH, and think that is the rating for the TRUCK.
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Old 02-13-2007, 03:45 PM   #9
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Good info from all. Thanks

Right now, the only problem I have is with the wife and her not trusting an older vehicle. Truthfully, our Burb only has 98k miles and always has been well maintained. Gas cost is not an issue and I do like the ride. In fact, it rides better towing the AS than by itself!

So I might "buy" some miles by getting a newer unit but I will stay with the 3/4 ton with either the 7.4 or 8.1 liter engine as that size seems to work really well. An Allison tranny would be a bonus.
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Old 02-13-2007, 04:17 PM   #10
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Welcome aboard!

Quote:
Originally Posted by altamont
Right now, the only problem I have is with the wife and her not trusting an older vehicle.
Lucky man!

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Old 02-13-2007, 04:23 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by altamont
Good info from all. Thanks

Right now, the only problem I have is with the wife and her not trusting an older vehicle. Truthfully, our Burb only has 98k miles and always has been well maintained. Gas cost is not an issue and I do like the ride. In fact, it rides better towing the AS than by itself!

So I might "buy" some miles by getting a newer unit but I will stay with the 3/4 ton with either the 7.4 or 8.1 liter engine as that size seems to work really well. An Allison tranny would be a bonus.
You could renew that unit with a crate eng, tran and undercarriage bushings. Spend some money on the interior. You'll have a near new burb that feels new and will look new on the inside.
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Old 02-13-2007, 04:55 PM   #12
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Believe it or not, the paint is pretty much perfect (GM ?), the interior has some wear on the leather which I had replaced and the engine burns no oil to speak of. I put on new Bilstein shocks (heartly recommend them) and I replaced the tires and the wheels within the last year. I think that is what is making me nervous as we have EVERYTING to go wrong now.
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Old 02-13-2007, 05:14 PM   #13
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My 1/2 ton does a good job towing our 28'er, but it's at its max, and being in Florida I have never had to tow it more than 50' above sea level. I'm hoping to hold out a couple of years until Chevy comes out with a Suburban with the new clean diesel engine they're supposedly working on - I've heard it will be the '09 model. Point is, as a Suburban fan not in desperate need of a new ride right this minute, sounds like maybe you would be a candidate to wait for that as well. Assuming Chevy is actually going to produce such a vehicle ...
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Old 02-13-2007, 05:21 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goin camping
You could renew that unit ... Spend some money on the interior. You'll have a near new burb that ... will look new on the inside.
That's what I did with my '84 7.4 l, Suburban C20. Had the tranny rebuilt too. Motor is still kickin' butt at 189,000 miles.

I agree with Condoluminum's observation that you asked a "charged question". Here's something else to consider - Everyone else's potential overkill with what they tow with, and your comfort level with what you drove to the party. Overkill is great for campground conversation, but sux for a daily driver.

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Old 02-13-2007, 05:32 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chuck
yeah, it says right on my hitch: max weight: 5000lbs. 10,000lbs with w/d.

so I can tow 10,000lbs!!!



yeah. IF I take that receiver off, and mount it to a 3/4 ton truck. LOL!

seriously: very common mistake. people look at what it says on the HITCH, and think that is the rating for the TRUCK.
My hitch says 8000# and 10k# WD...but the bumper is a Class V rated to 10k# ('course it is a dually F350 ) BTW the truck is rated to 12k# conventional (not on THAT hitch) and 14k# fifth wheel...why didn't Airstream make a classic fiver

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Old 02-13-2007, 07:44 PM   #16
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Old 02-20-2007, 07:55 PM   #17
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My wife and I are close to retirement and would like to tavel in our72, 21 foot Globetrotter Airstream. Problem is what tow vehicle to buy. I've pulled it with my 2002 Tocoma on flat roads and in 5th gear but you know it's a load and I wouldn't want to try out west. I'm thinking of a 2002 or newer Suburban and would like to stick to a 1500 for gas milage purposes. What do you folks think. Will that do it or do I have to go to 3/4 ton? If so will a 6 liter V8 do the job? And what's the benefit of 2WD vs 4 WD in a tow vehicle?

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Old 02-25-2007, 01:37 PM   #18
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Suburban 1500 2WD will handle it...

Steve-

Welcome to club, and to near retirement world...

Your 21' Airstream could easily be handled by a Suburban 1500 (1/2 ton) with basic tow package included and basic V8 (6L better, but std V8 OK...).

We towed our 88 Excella 25' trailer with '94 Suburban K1500 for several years, and had no issues other than need to slow down going up serious grades (7-9%) to around 50 mph.. We could live with that, and routinely ran 60 to 65 mph on level or rolling terrain, comfortable we could manuever and stop safely. Suburbans from 2002 to 2004 should be rated at tow capacities from 6500 to 7500 pounds GVW, and your unit should have a GVWR less than 4500#... We upgraded to 2002 Ford Excursion last year for amenities and slightly heavier chassis/towing limits with 6800# trailer, it works great.

As for 4WD, it gets you a free pass on chains when driving in snow in some locations, but few of us are interested in towing with snow on ground. It is also benefit in pulling boats up slippery launch ramps on trailers, but that might not be need for you either. Might help if you loved to camp at ends of gravel logging roads at bottom of steep canyons.. Beyond that, it adds weight and tends to make ride rougher. You'd never tow on highway in 4WD except in a blizzard... With gas crossing $3 again to stay this time, lots of slightly used Suburbans bought as family station wagons and soccer-vans and commute-mobiles are going to be back on the market cheap.. At least here in Calif where the 50 mile one-way commute is common.. Good luck!
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Old 02-25-2007, 02:07 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Condoluminum
Steve-

Welcome to club, and to near retirement world...

...

As for 4WD, it gets you a free pass on chains when driving in snow in some locations, but few of us are interested in towing with snow on ground. It is also benefit in pulling boats up slippery launch ramps on trailers, but that might not be need for you either. Might help if you loved to camp at ends of gravel logging roads at bottom of steep canyons.. Beyond that, it adds weight and tends to make ride rougher. You'd never tow on highway in 4WD except in a blizzard... With gas crossing $3 again to stay this time, lots of slightly used Suburbans bought as family station wagons and soccer-vans and commute-mobiles are going to be back on the market cheap.. At least here in Calif where the 50 mile one-way commute is common.. Good luck!
As everyone has said, welcome. 4WD can make a difference in very few common situations, but I have gotten temporarily stuck in my 2wd several times. It doesn't take much of a rut or slope to hold back the trailer, and if my truck is on grass or mud, I have to really work to move. Three out of 6 times that I turned up my steep gravel drive, I slipped partway up and had to back down into the neighbors drive to get a running start. (Try that at 12:15am after driving 13 hours ).

Regarding capacity, I am a firm believer in towing "overkill" if that's how you want to consider it. The first time the tails wags the dog, you will have to change your pants, if you don't end up in worse shape. Luckily, it seems that this seldom happens, and has never been an issue for me (I purchased what I thought would be a great TV: I have a Dodge 2500 2wd quad cab with Cummins diesel in a long wheelbase, and it weighs just over 7,000lbs. With my 6 speed, I get about 17 mpg regularly, got up to about 20 on level highway trips, and get about 14.5 towing. I am looking at getting a 4wd before a 2010 trip up the Alcan Highway to Alaska).

I am not sure that everyone agrees but I feel that the tow vehicle that is considered to have adequate towing capacity must also include adequate stopping capacity, and the ability to safely perform emergency manuevers when needed. Most (if not all) 3/4 ton vehicles do.

Good luck and have fun.
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Old 02-25-2007, 02:16 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Condoluminum

As for 4WD, it gets you a free pass on chains when driving in snow in some locations, but few of us are interested in towing with snow on ground. It is also benefit in pulling boats up slippery launch ramps on trailers, but that might not be need for you either. Might help if you loved to camp at ends of gravel logging roads at bottom of steep canyons.. Beyond that, it adds weight and tends to make ride rougher. You'd never tow on highway in 4WD except in a blizzard... With gas crossing $3 again to stay this time, lots of slightly used Suburbans bought as family station wagons and soccer-vans and commute-mobiles are going to be back on the market cheap.. At least here in Calif where the 50 mile one-way commute is common.. Good luck!
I have a 2wd F150, in addition to more power I wish I had 4wd. Wet grass, less mud than you might think, and gravel roads have all caused me grief. I tend to be a boondocker so these are issues for me. If you stay in the mega campgrounds and never get on gravel, I suppose it wouldnt be important.
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