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Old 10-25-2020, 08:36 AM   #121
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Bruce you're hitting on what seems to be the most misunderstood issue regarding towing performance of various vehicles. Performance vehicles will handle better than full on utility vehicles including large vans and pickups . They will corner tighter at higher speeds, with less yaw and slip. Thus they will negotiate slalom cones at higher speeds without missing cones. They will also feel and ride nicer. None of this changes when each are towing the same size trailer, except one will feel trailer effects much more strongly in the performance touring vehicles and sport utility vehicles. Drivers generally dismiss this as "expected for towing" and incorrectly assign the same effects to trucks, though perhaps to a vague "lesser degree".

What does change is what happens when the towing combination exceeds it's safe operating window, and this is what I think you are alluding to. A large heavy vehicle, when towing under its design limits will remain stable when faced with an emergency that is beyond the combinations capability. Instead it will slip sideways with the same extra yaw angles as it does when unburdened and will go outside of the desired path but the vehicle at all times will continue to respond to driver input so the driver has options available to prevent a catastrophe. The performance SUV with the same sized trailer will not fair so well. It does not have sufficient size and weight to hold back the forces of the trailer and it will no longer respond correctly to driver input. It will loose control and the combination will be at the mercy of the situation at hand.
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Old 10-25-2020, 01:34 PM   #122
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Originally Posted by BayouBiker View Post
Bruce you're hitting on what seems to be the most misunderstood issue regarding towing performance of various vehicles. Performance vehicles will handle better than full on utility vehicles including large vans and pickups . They will corner tighter at higher speeds, with less yaw and slip. Thus they will negotiate slalom cones at higher speeds without missing cones. They will also feel and ride nicer. None of this changes when each are towing the same size trailer, except one will feel trailer effects much more strongly in the performance touring vehicles and sport utility vehicles. Drivers generally dismiss this as "expected for towing" and incorrectly assign the same effects to trucks, though perhaps to a vague "lesser degree".

What does change is what happens when the towing combination exceeds it's safe operating window, and this is what I think you are alluding to. A large heavy vehicle, when towing under its design limits will remain stable when faced with an emergency that is beyond the combinations capability. Instead it will slip sideways with the same extra yaw angles as it does when unburdened and will go outside of the desired path but the vehicle at all times will continue to respond to driver input so the driver has options available to prevent a catastrophe. The performance SUV with the same sized trailer will not fair so well. It does not have sufficient size and weight to hold back the forces of the trailer and it will no longer respond correctly to driver input. It will loose control and the combination will be at the mercy of the situation at hand.
There is a lot to agree on in your first paragraph here. I agree that the performance SUV will corner, brake, etc, better than the heavier truck. No surprise here. What I would point out is that when each vehicle is pulling a (heavier) trailer, the SUV will need to be set up correctly to maintain its edge in handling. You can't just drop a trailer on the ball. The heavier truck can mask the feedback from towing a heavier trailer, due to mass, steering feel or lack of it, and suspension design, and people sometimes celebrate all that, but that dead feeling is not safety, it is a lack of ability to perceive the limits of the vehicle performance. The truck operator then may not know until it is too late. Sure, one can just slow down significantly and then it won't be as likely to be an issue. I just don't often see heavy duty pickup truck operators saying that they drive slower; they seem more likely to talk about 80 mph when towing in my experience (Bruce B excepted)

Active safety matters more to me, not just passive safety like airbags. The best way to avoid injuries from a crash is to avoid the crash. And I want to maintain that connection with the vehicle, and the benefits of the better handling, when towing, not just when operating solo.

I think that published slalom speeds and similar test results (closed course, testing with heavier trailers) can show that the SUV can maintain its edge in active safety, if set up correctly.
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Old 10-25-2020, 03:11 PM   #123
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There is a lot to agree on in your first paragraph here. I agree that the performance SUV will corner, brake, etc, better than the heavier truck. No surprise here. What I would point out is that when each vehicle is pulling a (heavier) trailer, the SUV will need to be set up correctly to maintain its edge in handling. You can't just drop a trailer on the ball. The heavier truck can mask the feedback from towing a heavier trailer, due to mass, steering feel or lack of it, and suspension design, and people sometimes celebrate all that, but that dead feeling is not safety, it is a lack of ability to perceive the limits of the vehicle performance. The truck operator then may not know until it is too late. Sure, one can just slow down significantly and then it won't be as likely to be an issue. I just don't often see heavy duty pickup truck operators saying that they drive slower; they seem more likely to talk about 80 mph when towing in my experience (Bruce B excepted)

Active safety matters more to me, not just passive safety like airbags. The best way to avoid injuries from a crash is to avoid the crash. And I want to maintain that connection with the vehicle, and the benefits of the better handling, when towing, not just when operating solo.

I think that published slalom speeds and similar test results (closed course, testing with heavier trailers) can show that the SUV can maintain its edge in active safety, if set up correctly.
Thank you for making an exception for me!
My only experience towing with my Q7 was a trip to Maine and back towing our 16í Bambi International.
We had a Hensley Cub hitch and I experimented with different amounts of weight distribution during the trip and tire pressures.
Although the Audi felt just fine, the trailer did indeed feel nervous compared to the truck. It made me uncomfortable.
I am not sure that I agree with the presumption that a truck masks all input from the trailer. I always have a sense of what is happening back there when towing with a truck. It is certainly muted but it is there.

The one time I had a real emergency maneuver towing, I was driving in Arizona and with our Ram 2500. We were in an off camber corner at something like 50 mph when the semi next to me decided to switch into my lane.
The only thing I could do was stand on the brakes and yank the wheel to the left into the high speed break down lane or center median depending on your view.
The truck and trailer handled like they were made for that moment!
I was in awe that we avoided contact and also an accident.
I have to believe that the gods of Stability Control stepped in and guided us through that one although I can not say for sure.
That truck had a stability control system designed for trailering...
I have no expectation that the Audi does.
Not sure how this all adds up but I still am happier placing my fate in the vehicle designed for the use I am exposing it to.
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Old 10-25-2020, 04:48 PM   #124
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Bruce B: the Audi Q7 is listed as having trailer stability control built in. I went back to 2013; not sure what year yours was, My X5 had it in 2003. The system was built in to the vehicle dynamic stability control system, and the TSC system was supplied by either Continental or Bosch, who also did the ABS and other systems. It is very likely the same system is used in the Audi, but I haven’t read the Audi tech info.

On the BMW, when the system steps in, it shows on the dash. I got the traction control system to intervene, and the dynamic stability control system, but was unable to get the TSC to kick in when towing, despite testing it. I guess I couldn’t make the trailer sway enough.
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Old 10-25-2020, 06:10 PM   #125
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There is a lot to agree on in your first paragraph here. I agree that the performance SUV will corner, brake, etc, better than the heavier truck. No surprise here. What I would point out is that when each vehicle is pulling a (heavier) trailer, the SUV will need to be set up correctly to maintain its edge in handling. You can't just drop a trailer on the ball. The heavier truck can mask the feedback from towing a heavier trailer, due to mass, steering feel or lack of it, and suspension design, and people sometimes celebrate all that, but that dead feeling is not safety, it is a lack of ability to perceive the limits of the vehicle performance. The truck operator then may not know until it is too late. Sure, one can just slow down significantly and then it won't be as likely to be an issue. I just don't often see heavy duty pickup truck operators saying that they drive slower; they seem more likely to talk about 80 mph when towing in my experience (Bruce B excepted)

Active safety matters more to me, not just passive safety like airbags. The best way to avoid injuries from a crash is to avoid the crash. And I want to maintain that connection with the vehicle, and the benefits of the better handling, when towing, not just when operating solo.

I think that published slalom speeds and similar test results (closed course, testing with heavier trailers) can show that the SUV can maintain its edge in active safety, if set up correctly.
All vehicle combinations need to be set up correctly to optimize handling and maximize the extent of their operating envelop. Though the scenario many prefer to address pertains to a situation where one gradually approaches the edge of the envelop so one might perceive the coming instability. In your preferred situation slalom tests and static cornering tests may inform but the other more insidious and difficult is of an unexpected situation that suddenly thrusts the combination from one regime to another. This is where honoring limits provides a significant advantage as the combination will remain inherently stable even if beyond its cornering performance capability while the overloaded combination has now crossed the critical point and won't properly respond to control input, because the transfer function does not have a real solution and the system is unstable.
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Old 10-25-2020, 10:51 PM   #126
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All vehicle combinations need to be set up correctly to optimize handling and maximize the extent of their operating envelop.
Agreed. But the sensitivity to that setup may vary widely across different vehicle types. I don't agree that the two types under discussion necessarily have similar responses to poor setup, which your statement implies by lumping them together.

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Though the scenario many prefer to address pertains to a situation where one gradually approaches the edge of the envelop so one might perceive the coming instability.
The specifics of the setup of the combination can also impact the speed at which one approaches the edge of the envelope. It may not be the same across vehicle types

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In your preferred situation slalom tests and static cornering tests may inform but the other more insidious and difficult is of an unexpected situation that suddenly thrusts the combination from one regime to another. This is where honoring limits provides a significant advantage as the combination will remain inherently stable even if beyond its cornering performance capability while the overloaded combination has now crossed the critical point and won't properly respond to control input...
My preference is to deal with the widest range of potential impacts, not just one. Evasive maneuvers, cornering, tracking, braking, and the onset of sway due to exceeding the critical speed for the combination, to name some.

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because the transfer function does not have a real solution and the system is unstable.
You just crossed back into theory from the real world, by invoking the solution to a mathematical model. My preference, to use your term, is to deal with real performance, not just theoretical modelled performance.
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Old 10-26-2020, 06:17 AM   #127
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We can all agree the BMW X5 has plenty of HP and torque to pull a travel trailer. (as does any 6.2L-7.3L engine) The X5 also can out maneuver any large pickup BUT do you want 4700 lbs. under you when trying to slow or stop quickly or would you rather have 6600 lbs. under you? I have a feeling those extra 1900 lbs. would not get pushed around as easily.
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Old 10-26-2020, 08:16 AM   #128
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As a hypothetical but realistic situation, consider this:

A typical US made large towing vehicle like a pickup or full size SUV will have a static understeer gradient of 2.5-3 deg/g, add gear for camping and it will drop to 1.8- 2.3, add a 7,500 lb trailer and we are looking at 0.7-1.2. Add WD tension and we may be at 0.5-1.0. Typical European performance SUV will start at 1-1.5 drop to 0.6-1.1 then with the large US made trailer will drop to -0.2 to -0.8 Oversteer. The SUV now has a concealed instability that setup can't easily address without trading off risk of dynamic instability.
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Old 10-26-2020, 02:33 PM   #129
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JCL
We can all agree the BMW X5 has plenty of HP and torque to pull a travel trailer. (as does any 6.2L-7.3L engine) The X5 also can out maneuver any large pickup BUT do you want 4700 lbs. under you when trying to slow or stop quickly or would you rather have 6600 lbs. under you? I have a feeling those extra 1900 lbs. would not get pushed around as easily.
Other things being equal, those additional 1900 lbs of ballast will extend the stopping distance (and I don't want that); they will negatively impact vehicle handling (the additional weight is fine when going straight, but is a drawback when changing direction); and the usual location for that weight, higher off the road, will tend to make the vehicle less stable whether towing or not.

There is a relationship between tow vehicle mass and combination towing stability, but the proper use of WD equipment and attention to setup makes it far less relevant than other factors. It is like the singular focus on wheelbase we often see. Sure, a long wheelbase can provide a benefit. But the experts tell us that the overhang (rear axle to hitch ball) matters a lot as well. They don't use wheelbase as a towing criteria as much as they use the proportion of rear overhang to wheelbase. A shorter wheelbase vehicle can be more stable than a longer wheelbase vehicle if it has a proportionally shorter overhang.

It is important to not just look at the numbers, but the system.
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Old 10-26-2020, 07:36 PM   #130
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Other things being equal, those additional 1900 lbs of ballast will extend the stopping distance (and I don't want that);
Yet in the real world other things are not equal. The additional payload afforded the bulkier vehicle increases rear axle traction to a greater degree and pickups are able to use the braking capacity they have so towing stopping distances are not a safety issue. Insurance experience indicates vehicle loss of control are far more frequent and serious accidents.

Quote:
they will negatively impact vehicle handling (the additional weight is fine when going straight, but is a drawback when changing direction);
Trucks don't have issues changing lanes and negotiating corners at posted speeds or managing interchanges. Most people who tow don't weave in and out of traffic or take the combination to the track. It may be a cool selling point for installers who want to stoke the ego of performance aficionados, but it don't go much beyond that.

Quote:
and the usual location for that weight, higher off the road, will tend to make the vehicle less stable whether towing or not.
Light trucks generally experience roll issues north of .7 g well above anything a towing combination can handle. This is just an dog whistle designed to distract from the real issues facing light SUVs. The two most frequent causes of serious towing accidents.

Quote:
There is a relationship between tow vehicle mass and combination towing stability, but the proper use of WD equipment and attention to setup makes it far less relevant than other factors. It is like the singular focus on wheelbase we often see.
Smooth sounding but how accurate? The 1900 lbs plus the 600-1000 additional payload capacity generally afforded along with it has a tremendous impact on slowing yaw acceleration and contributing to both static and dynamic stability. The BMW X5 and similar vehicle. I wonder because the math doesn't work, so what set-up unique to an SUV makes up for this significant deficit?

Quote:
Sure, a long wheelbase can provide a benefit. But the experts tell us that the overhang (rear axle to hitch ball) matters a lot as well. They don't use wheelbase as a towing criteria as much as they use the proportion of rear overhang to wheelbase.

A shorter wheelbase vehicle can be more stable than a longer wheelbase vehicle if it has a proportionally shorter overhang.

It is important to not just look at the numbers, but the system.
The math does not use that ratio, the actual relationship is not nearly so clean. But let's go with your imprecise experts and see how your X5 compares to my Ram, just for the fun of it. Afterwards might be a good time to describe the other strategies for making up the mass difference.
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Old 10-27-2020, 08:46 AM   #131
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The two primary causes of serious towing accidents other than operator error, don't go away because many people never seem to embrace the distinction between pleasant handling and a comfortable ride vs. loss of control in an emergency when one finds themselves beyond the fundamental capability of the towing combination largely determined by relative weight and size.

Those who wax eloquently about the wonderful towing experiences perhaps have not had the misfortune of experiencing the fairly rare circumstances that can lead to loss of control if the vehicle is undersized for the situation. Some attempt to extend their ignorance or deception to others. Some people understand the risk and accept it, but don't attempt to convince others to take the risk, or if they do, they disclose them. Other avoid the risk and appeal to others to do the same. Life goes on.
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Old 10-27-2020, 06:05 PM   #132
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The two primary causes of serious towing accidents other than operator error, don't go away because many people never seem to embrace the distinction between pleasant handling and a comfortable ride vs. loss of control in an emergency when one finds themselves beyond the fundamental capability of the towing combination largely determined by relative weight and size.

Those who wax eloquently about the wonderful towing experiences perhaps have not had the misfortune of experiencing the fairly rare circumstances that can lead to loss of control if the vehicle is undersized for the situation. Some attempt to extend their ignorance or deception to others. Some people understand the risk and accept it, but don't attempt to convince others to take the risk, or if they do, they disclose them. Other avoid the risk and appeal to others to do the same. Life goes on.
Brian's post virtually sums it up.

It is virtually impossible to assess how a rig will behave in (say) an emergency swerve by how it 'feels' in normal driving.

The attempts of some people (posting on this form) to attempt to make fundamentally unstable rigs 'safe' is disturbing.

Much of that required is a tow vehicle that, when laden, is at least as heavy as the laden trailer; the right tow vehicle rear tire pressures (about 7-10 psi higher when towing) and about 10% tow ball mass. And above all - not exceeding 62 mph (100 km/h).

You all have what is arguably the world's best trailer - they need and deserve an adequately heavy tow vehicle.

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Old 10-27-2020, 08:25 PM   #133
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Much of that required is a tow vehicle that, when laden, is at least as heavy as the laden trailer; the right tow vehicle rear tire pressures (about 7-10 psi higher when towing) and about 10% tow ball mass. And above all - not exceeding 62 mph (100 km/h).
Collyn

What are the error bars on the blue bold statement? For example, I have ordered an Airstream with 10,000 lb. GVWR (please forgive the barbaric units) and my tow vehicle weighs about 8500 lbs. when we're fully loaded up for a camping trip. I'll be pulling it with a "1 ton" truck. Practically speaking, I don't know how to get a heavier tow vehicle than what I already own. While I'm not challenging your knowledge or logic, this just doesn't feel right to me...especially when my truck is certified by GM to be able to tow 20,000 lbs. with a conventional hitch. Can you help me rectify these statements?

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Old 10-27-2020, 09:31 PM   #134
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Do not worry. Experts sometimes are going too far with their wisdom. I would need to be scared to merge to highway and see all the semis. Yeah, I hear already - semis have pin over the rear axle... Propride projects the pivot point forward to rear axle and I am still hearing that my tow vehicle is inherently unstable... decisions, decisions...
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Old 10-27-2020, 09:43 PM   #135
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The Department of Overkill Engineering has long ago decided to shoot the armchair hitch engineers, install a ProPride hitch system on a Toyota Tacoma, and tow our 2007 22 foot international CCD to go camping. The rest of the engineering going on around here is for improvements and comfort modifications.

Lots of towing in all kinds of horrid traffic and terrain validates this decision. As a very smart Boeing Test Pilot once pointed out, sometimes all the engineering in the world boils down to actually flying the blessed airplane, or words to that effect.
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Old 10-27-2020, 10:21 PM   #136
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Brian's post virtually sums it up.

It is virtually impossible to assess how a rig will behave in (say) an emergency swerve by how it 'feels' in normal driving.

The attempts of some people (posting on this form) to attempt to make fundamentally unstable rigs 'safe' is disturbing.

Much of that required is a tow vehicle that, when laden, is at least as heavy as the laden trailer; the right tow vehicle rear tire pressures (about 7-10 psi higher when towing) and about 10% tow ball mass. And above all - not exceeding 62 mph (100 km/h).

You all have what is arguably the world's best trailer - they need and deserve an adequately heavy tow vehicle.

Collyn
IMO it is possible to test, for example, an emergency swerve maneuver. That is what a slalom test is getting at. The SAE towing test standard, for all its limitations, uses an emergency swerve as well. How the combination feels going straight down a smooth road doesn't mean much at all to me (well, perhaps for comfort, but this isn't about comfort)

As to the speed issue, I use 100 km/hr as a target limit. It feels safer to me. But I have been told by Brian that it is unnaturally slow and not appropriate for travel in North America. I don't agree.
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Old 10-28-2020, 06:01 AM   #137
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I personally own(ed) a 2020 X5 M, 2020 f-150, 2020 F-350, and I towed a 2021 FC 23fb with all of them. So this is my own limited experience.

X5 (891 payload) towed fine, it was the most planted in the turns, but was the least stable in the wind. The air suspension and the WD hitch seemed to always be working against one and other, any undulation in the roads lead to severe porpoising. It was also clearly obvious that you were towing. The weight of the trailer had a significant effect on the X5. I am confident this could workout long term for some people, but it wasn't for me.

The F-150 (1850 payload) was the worst of the three in my opinion . It was a max tow model, but on the road it was really bouncy. I received a lot of recommendations how to enhance the suspension, Road Master helper springs, air bags, different shocks. The F-150 was an improvement over the X5 from a capacity perspective, having the bed was great to load with gear and equipment, but the stability impacts over non-smooth highway roads wasn't acceptable. I am confident this could also workout long term for some people, but it wasn't for me either.

I finally threw in the towel and got an F-350 diesel. I won't go back to a smaller truck. The available power alone was enough to sway me but the towing was a night and day difference. Frankly the trailer disappears, the trailer imparts no significant impact on the stability of the truck and no matter how I load it there's no appreciable impact. I have a larger trailer now, still tows great. I won't go back to a smaller truck.

I think I would break it down like this. While the X5 and the F-150 can tow, their suspension design is unhitched ride quality and performance first, and the F-350 is hitched ride quality and performance first. The F-350 is a very rough ride when it's not hooked up, it actually improves when it's loaded.

my $0.02...
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Old 10-28-2020, 06:30 AM   #138
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My wife owns an AMG GLA 45 Mercedes that has a top speed of 170 mph. It is full time 4WD. It handles superbly and has much same performance as a hot Porche. Certainly no stability issues!

Collyn

I would like to hear more about this **after** towing a 27' or larger RV and running into an emergency situation. Sure the GLA45 is a great vehicle in and of itself, but with a roughly 107" wheelbase and a GVWR of near 4000lbs, as nimble as it may be flying solo, we are talking towing here. A 19 or 20 footer perhaps, but much larger than that, AMG or not, tail will wag the dog.
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Old 10-28-2020, 06:36 AM   #139
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Iíve had many flatheads. Valvoline 10-40 without additives is 100 times better than what Ford put in them when they were new. Never had a problem.

You and Bob are talkin' my language. I realize this is off topic, but really 10w40 without zinc additive? Never thought of that. Then again, up until maybe 5-6 years ago I also never considered zinc additives either....
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Old 10-28-2020, 06:38 AM   #140
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Matthewk, I think your comments are spot on. All the tow combinations work. It becomes a “ease of use” argument. All require common sense to pull safely. I’ve put close to 100,000 miles on my TV since purchased, less than 30,000 have been used for pulling. If I full timed, or even got near 50% towing, I’d put up with the hassles of a 3/4 or 1 ton. Until then I’ll just be very careful. I’m under on weight limits, but I’m alway aware of my trailer. New shocks, 10 ply tires, heavier springs added, and sway bar added, all for improved safety. Maybe someday I’ll consider a PP hitch, but sway hasn’t reared its ugly head with my present tow combination under any circumstances.
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