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Old 01-02-2016, 04:58 PM   #1
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Airstream 2 Go Experience

My husband and I are thinking about buying an Airstream in the next couple of years. We decided to rent through Airstream 2 Go to see if we liked the RV experience before investing $$$. I have been reading this forum for months and have really enjoyed all the information and comraderie that exists here.

We just returned from an 11 day trip to Zion Natl Park, Page AZ and the Grand Canyon. We had the 2016 28 International with a 2015 Tahoe.

What we liked:
The Airstream was furnished very nicely. We literally only need to bring our clothes and groceries.
The 2 hour orientation was very thorough. We practiced hitching and unhitching the AS from the Tahoe.
iPad was provided with manual and videos in case we forgot how to do something.
Limo pickup/dropoff from Airport/Hotel convenient.

We did not like the "custom-matched" Chevrolet Tahoe. The vehicle was underpowered and possibly the hitch stuff was not adjusted well. My husband, who ended up doing all the driving, said it felt like the trailer was pulling/pushing the Tahoe. The Tahoe struggled at 45 mph going up hill. We used low gear going downhill, but the trailer seemed to be pushing the Tahoe. Buses and 18 wheelers passing us seemed to suck us in. Basically, it was a very stressful driving experience. He has hauled trailers (non RV) before and was not a total novice.

I've always read that AS are supposed to be easy to tow, but this was not our experience. Was it the tow vehicle, the hitching stuff or both that could have contributed to this situation? It was only my husband and myself in the TV. We only added our clothes to the Airstream, so we didn't alter the weight that much.

We loved our visits to the National Parks and it was definitely better than sleeping in a tent, but the towing has us concerned.

I would appreciate your comments.
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Old 01-02-2016, 05:05 PM   #2
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Welcome to the Airforums !

My first thought is that a Tahoe is a bit short,a longer truck would handle better.

I would also guess the hitch was not set up correctly.

And maybe your trailer brakes were not working or not adjusted correctly.
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Old 01-02-2016, 05:34 PM   #3
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IMHO the Tahoe is not a good match for the 28' and marginal for the 25' because the wheelbase is to short for the combo. They should have used the Suburban instead.

Now if you decide to go with an Airstream 25' - 28' look for a longer wheelbase vehicle.

I have a '69 25' Airstream that weighs a mere 4700# loaded for travel.
I also have a '98 2 door Tahoe that I used to drag it home on the ball when I purchased it.
It has 470# on the tongue just like our 17' Casita that only weighs 3250# loaded for travel.

The Tahoe pulled the Casita , my car trailer, my cargo trailer, several other trailers on the ball only and did a great job doing it.
But the Airstream seemed it bit much for it, so I bought a Tundra double cab short bed. It has way more power and much longer wheelbase along with a 6 speed auto trans and 4.30 gears. I tow on the ball only and this combo works great. No wiggle, plenty of power for the steepest grades, plenty of brakes to stop the Airstream with out trailer brakes should they fail.

Now bear in mind the new Airstreams weigh a lot more then mine so keep that in mind when selecting a tow vehicle . Use the gross weight of the Airstream as a guide for selecting a tow vehicle and add at least 2000# for the bear minimum vehicle tow rating .
The bigger the gap between the trailer weight and the TV tow rating the less the TV has to work to get the job done and the less stress on you.

Note the distance from the rear axle the the trailer axle and the wheelbase difference of the Tahoe & Tundra and the relationship to the rear axle to trailer axle 'wheelbase' . This would be even better with a w crew cab long bed.
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Old 01-02-2016, 05:42 PM   #4
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Sounds like you would prefer a stronger engine and there are plenty to choose from, turbo-charged V6 gas or diesel, and 3/4 ton and up with larger gas V8 or diesel.

The Airstream pushes any truck on steep downhill grades. Lower gears combined with well-adjusted trailer brakes should control it fine. Some prefer larger pickups with diesel exhaust braking.

Many ways to improve trailer push and sway from sidewinds and semi's, a properly set up weight distribution hitch is essential. The most effective is a Hensley/ProPride style hitch which eliminates it.

Yes Airstreams are easier to tow, but a tow vehicle has to be matched to both the Airstream and the owner's needs and level of satisfaction.
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Old 01-02-2016, 06:06 PM   #5
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We pull our 30' classic with a RAM 2500 equipped with a Cummings diesel, air suspension and ProPride hitch. It's got plenty of power and I can easily keep up with traffic even on steep uphill grades. The engine includes exhaust braking which we use in dry weather when there's good road traction.

Like Doug says, you'll need to match the tow vehicle to the trailer. In the case of Airstream 2 Go they appear to be undersizing the TV. A few months ago there was a posting about an Airstream 2 Go that lost control on the downhill grade from Pismo beach in CA and wound up in a ditch. Luckily no one was injured but it spooked me having taken the same route only a few hours later.

Do your research, ask the folks on this forum, and I'm sure you'll get a clear idea of what is a comfortable configuration within your budget.
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Old 01-02-2016, 09:45 PM   #6
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We have a 2013 International Signature 28', very similar to your Airstream2go trailer. We also have the 16" Michelin tires as do the A2G rigs that I've looked at (we live only a couple of blocks from the A2G location in Bozeman so I've checked out how they are equipped pretty closely).

We are having no problems towing up and down mountain passes and highways at speeds that I won't mention on Airforums. We are towing with an 2013 F150 with the ecoboast 6 cylinder turbo. It is a crew cab with short box so kind of middle of the road as far as wheelbase. We are using a Propride hitch that I feel was very well setup by our dealer. It has been rock solid in heavy cross winds and again we do lots of mountain driving and have no complaints about power or stability. The transmission in the F150 does a good job holding it back to an appropriate gear coming down mountain passes.

It sounds like the Tahoe just does not have adequate power for your expectations nor is the hitch up to speed. I can't comment on whether it is the hitch itself or how it was set up. Don't give up on the Airstream idea but start reading up on tow vehicle and hitches. Both can make towing a nonstressfull event.

Before we bought our trailer, I assumed that I would be much happier once we got to a destination and be able to unhitch. Now that I'm very use to driving while towing, I rather have the trailer with me for the conveniences and hate taking long road trips without it.

Good luck and don't give up on your Airstream thoughts.
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Old 01-03-2016, 11:50 AM   #7
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Good to here that you still enjoyed you AS2Go experience. We are planning basically the same route you followed in a couple of months. The heads up on the Yukon is good to know just to limit the surprises on the trip. Did SA2Go have much to say regarding your observations?
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Old 01-03-2016, 12:19 PM   #8
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you are not mistaken re the Tahoe being under-powered for a camper that size. I have a 2012 Tahoe with the standard 5.3L engine, and I would not want to haul anything bigger than my little 20ft FC Daisy...nor would I want anything bigger pushing this vehicle downhill. Having read these forums for the past several years I'm always at the many discussions re how low can I go with my TV. The capacity to pull is only one part, to me safety is the much bigger part. Don't let that experience discourage you. jon
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Old 01-03-2016, 12:41 PM   #9
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

First off, welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

The downside of your recent experience with the rental Airstream and tow vehicle is definitely the result of an insufficient tow vehicle coupled with a poorly set up hitch.

A 28 foot Airstream is probably a little too much for a half ton tow vehicle unless it is hitched and set up with great care.

If an Airstream of this size is your preference, a suitable tow vehicle will make a world of difference.

Good luck in your pursuit.

Brian
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Old 01-03-2016, 01:29 PM   #10
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We tow our AS FC 27 with a Ram 2500 diesel and a Blue Ox anti-sway, and that combination really works for us; I have no problem driving it 500-600 miles/day at 60-65 mph up and down hills --- it's like the trailer's not even there (except for the extra weight, which the Ram handles uneventfully).
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Old 01-03-2016, 01:30 PM   #11
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Carefully shop for your next tow vehicle. Many people do not leave a sufficient safety margin and, experience just what you report with the Tahoe (an accident waiting to happen). Federal law requires manufacturers of vehicles intended for towing, to publish a printed Towing Guide (sales brochures and general information handouts don't give the entire story). Sadly, many dealers try to keep this resource hidden and, the law only requires said Towing Guide be made available during the model year. It will be next to impossible to find a Towing Guide for previous years' models. The Towing Guide will contain all the pertinent data as determined by the manufacturer's engineers. Salesmen will tell you anything to make the sale. The Towing Guide will have the actual facts. Changing almost anything (wheelbase, number of doors, bed, axle ratio etc, etc) is very likely to affect a vehicle's TRUE towing capacity (often lowers the tow capacity). The Towing Guide is the best way to know what the engineers have designed a given vehicle to do. The math can be confusing so, take your time, double check everything and, remember to leave a GOOD safety margin.
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Old 01-03-2016, 01:52 PM   #12
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The Texas Highland Lakes Airstream club has a number of members who live in the Woodlands. I suggest you contact them and they should be happy to help and advise you. You might also visit one of their rallies or their monthly lunch. They are a great group.

Their link from WBCCI is:
http://wbcci.org/regions-units/regio...highland-lakes

There is also a forum discussion on them as well:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f42/...nit-74556.html
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Old 01-03-2016, 02:23 PM   #13
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Think about this little known fact when you consider tow vehicles and safety margins: the new SAE J2807 tow standards say that a TV has adequate acceleration if it can go from 0 to 60 in 30 seconds.

No car made in the past sixty years is that slow -- an 70's VW bug convertible with an automatic transmission could do it in 23 seconds. If you accept the standard used by the truck-selling industry you will be the slowest thing on the road!

How many freeway entrance ramps will give you enough distance to get up to speed at that pathetic rate of acceleration? How about trying to enter or cross a 55mph road from a standing stop?
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Old 01-03-2016, 02:59 PM   #14
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Think about this little known fact when you consider tow vehicles and safety margins: the new SAE J2807 tow standards say that a TV has adequate acceleration if it can go from 0 to 60 in 30 seconds.

No car made in the past sixty years is that slow -- an 70's VW bug convertible with an automatic transmission could do it in 23 seconds. If you accept the standard used by the truck-selling industry you will be the slowest thing on the road!

How many freeway entrance ramps will give you enough distance to get up to speed at that pathetic rate of acceleration? How about trying to enter or cross a 55mph road from a standing stop?
I believe that is with the trailer in tow. For instance, if a manufacturer claims a vehicle can tow 7500#, the vehicle must be able to do a 0 to 60 in less than 30 seconds while pulling a 7500# trailer. Many vehicles do the 0 to 60 with the trailer in tow in less time -- 30 seconds is the max.

BTW, J2807 is not for trucks only. Toyota was the first manufacturer to adopt the standard, and its SUVs (4Runner, Sequoia, Land Cruiser) are all J2807 compliant. J2807 tests the pulling/stopping power, handling, cooling systems, and hitch strength among other things. It prevents the manufacturers from pulling a number out of a hat and slapping it on vehicles. A standardized test allows for comparison of different vehicles by different manufacturers, which is great.

Here is a short article on J2807: What Is SAE J2807? What Does It Really Mean For Your Pickup Truck?
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Old 01-03-2016, 03:38 PM   #15
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I'm not sure what kind of trailers your husband pulled before. If they were boat trailers or utility trailers, then it is quite a jump from that to a 28' AS. A year or two of experience towing will increase both your comfort levels significantly, so you should probably focus more now on whether you enjoyed the experience of living for an extended period of time away from home in a trailer, and if that's something you would like to do often enough to justify owning one yourself.

From reading these posts over the past few years since I started out with very little experience myself, I get the idea that there are two schools of thought on tow vehicles: one school wants performance that is as close as possible to what you would get if you were not pulling a trailer; the other school wants the smallest capacity tow vehicle that can do the job. People tend to hang their own moral values on these positions, which I tend to ignore, but it really comes down to what you can afford and what makes you happy.

I had a small block V8 Tundra when I bought my 23' Airstream, and it certainly meets all the minimum requirements to pull it. But I was never happy with that setup, and as soon as I figured out what I really wanted, I traded it in on an F250 turbo diesel, which I have been thrilled with. There are plenty of other people who are thrilled pulling a 23' AS with vehicles much less powerful than my Tundra, who never even dream of getting it up to 45 mph going uphill and could care less.

Trailer brakes are another matter, and they should function well regardless of tow vehicle. Demonstrating trailer brakes and how to adjust them should be a required part of any orientation. You should be able to demonstrate for yourself anytime you want that your trailer brakes are functioning by letting off the gas and moving the lever that manually controls them without putting on the tv brakes. If you're ever unsatisfied that they're working properly, you should be able to drive slowly down a road where there is no traffic or in a vacant parking lot and set them to a high enough level that they lock the trailer brakes so the trailer wheels skid before you come to a complete halt. Then you should be able to back them off a little so they don't lock up before you stop.
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Old 01-03-2016, 04:22 PM   #16
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We worry little about "standards" because after towing across country many times we know what our truck can and can't do. Some vehicles are substandard and some are exceptional. Same with trailers, Airstreams are an exceptional tow. Same with hitches and hitch setup.

Most experienced owners know what they have and what they can do, and their level of satisfaction. "Standards" are only a starting point. Study the things that really matter.
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Old 01-03-2016, 04:28 PM   #17
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Like a previous poster here mentioned; we also have a 20 foot FC and tow it with a 2008 Tahoe with 4 speeds and 3:73 rear end. Living in So Calif and in the summers having to drive up either the Grapevine or Cajon pass in over 100f outside temperatures to go on vacation, I wouldn't tow anything larger than what we have. I am surprised that AS2G is now using them instead of the Denali's they used to have in their fleets.
I find it interesting that everyone here agrees that you need a more powerful tow vehicle in that size trailer when on the east coast and Canada they use Mini vans to tow this size trailer and larger and claim they have more power than needed.
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Old 01-03-2016, 04:34 PM   #18
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Towing and backing up were definitely our own stress points before buying our Airstream. We have since learned that a properly set up rig makes all the difference, and takes the worry out of towing.

We tow our 34' with a Hensley hitch, completely eliminating all sway even in very challenging conditions. Additionally, we had our vehicle set up by an expert in the field.
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Old 01-03-2016, 05:04 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RBDavid View Post
Good to here that you still enjoyed you AS2Go experience. We are planning basically the same route you followed in a couple of months. The heads up on the Yukon is good to know just to limit the surprises on the trip. Did SA2Go have much to say regarding your observations?
I am writing them a letter expressing my concerns. The assistant manager was not onsite when we returned the trailer. We did tell the customer relations person that we were not happy with the tow. We asked about the "brake gain" setting at 6.5. We weren't sure if the brake setting was causing some of the issues. He said they had an "expert" come and adjust their settings. He said that they were previously set at 5.5 and they were adjusted to 6.5. He said at 6.5 it might feel like you were being pulled by the trailer at lower speeds. So I guess we should have just driven faster.
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Old 01-03-2016, 06:03 PM   #20
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I can't comment on your driving experience. I have a Bambi towed with a 2013 2500 Suburban. I can welcome you. I hope you enjoyed the parks you went to. I hope to get out that way again. I was there in 69'. I think it was really proactive for you to rent and try, too bad they did not get you help on the road so your trip could have been less stressful.
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