How suitable is an Element as a tow vehicle? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-02-2006, 01:07 PM   #1
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From what I have seen looking through the messages on this site I should pose my question to Gina.

I too drive an Element and am currently considering the purchase of a fibreglass T@B trailer to tow behind the Element. Not being experienced in the area of towing I would appreciate any pertinent feedback from site members.

As for you Gina, did you make any mods to the Element? is it capable in all conditions? anything you would warn me about.

The trailer I am looking at can be seen at the following site www.tab-rv.com

Looking forward to hearing from you all.

Ken D.



(moderator....sorry for the duplication...put this in a more suitable thread)
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Old 01-02-2006, 01:19 PM   #2
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Hi Ken
Welcome to our site.
This site is mainly for moulded fiberglass trailers but The T@Bs i have looked at would be very towable behind the Element.I think it would be a good combination.The fiberglass T@B is not moulded but in my eyes is pretty nice unit.
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Old 01-02-2006, 01:48 PM   #3
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Hi Ken, welcome to FiberglassRV, we're glad you found us!

There's a duplicate post going on and I'm going to delete the "other" one.

I know Gina loves her Element and it does very well pulling her 13' Burro. She'll pop in when she can, she's probably trying to keep from floating away (or struggling with wind problems) right at the moment.

Personally, I like the T@B, but as Ches mentioned it's not molded fiberglass. Prior to losing a bunch of our posts to a hacker we discuss the T@B in depth. I believe the consensus, is for the $$ a person could have a true molded fiberglass trailer (used) or dang close in money for new one. I only mention this, in case you weren't aware of that fact.

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Old 01-02-2006, 02:13 PM   #4
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Honda Element tow capacity is 1500lbs. max, including payload (water, food, propane tank, kitchen, bedding and personal gear can add several hundred pounds). The T@B weighs more than that without any options and dead empty. And manufacturers tend to post weights on the low side of reality! Total trailer weight should be below the tug's max towing capacity for safety, so I would definitely not recommend towing one with an Element.

For all its weight, the T@B offers only 5'9 interior headroom. It is lower, longer and heavier than most of our 13 foot FGRVs, and much more expensive. In sum, my iimpression of the T@B: overweight, overpriced and undersized - but it's sure cute to look at!
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Old 01-02-2006, 02:38 PM   #5
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Ken, you really should talk to Brenda Novakovski. She's an active member on this forum. She and her husband own a molded fiberglass trailer rental business and are located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. I don't have a clue if that's close to you or not.

I can't find Brenda's website either, but here's a bit of information about the rental business. http://www.rvwest.com/features/nov_05/trillium.htm

I'm thinking it could be one of those things you may want to check out further, rather than be disappointed by purchasing something that you can't tow comfortably, etc.
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Old 01-02-2006, 02:50 PM   #6
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From the T@B website:

"Want to know if your car can tow a T@B?

Check your owner's manual: if you have a tow rating of 2000 lbs or more, you're ready to go!"


'Nuff said!
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Old 01-02-2006, 05:07 PM   #7
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Quote:
Hi Ken
Welcome to our site.
This site is mainly for moulded fiberglass trailers but The T@Bs i have looked at would be very towable behind the Element.I think it would be a good combination.The fiberglass T@B is not moulded but in my eyes is pretty nice unit.

I forgot about the weight thing.Jack is right if you want to be in compliance.
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Old 01-02-2006, 05:35 PM   #8
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The Element, in general, is a perfect match of function and economy for a 13 footer.

A tab is indeed a bit too heavy for it, even if there is some debate about the Es towing capacity being under rated for legal reasons (Go to the Element Owners Club website.. there is MUCH discussion about that there) Others here are towing fully equipped Scamps with one.

I have just towed my 13 footer 2500 miles in a round trip up and down the west coast. I went over every major pass on I-5 and the 101 in No. Cal without incident or sturggle. In some pretty hairy weather conditions. This includes the Grapevine AND Siskiyou Summit, with all the Oregon passes in between Portland and California..

I am sitting on TOP of Tehachapi pass right now, unable to budge due to high high winds Gusts up to 70 mph. The Element will pull thru the pass and UP it fine, but I fear it just does not have enough bulk to tow safely in those kinds of gusts. I took it, without the trailer, out onto hiway 58 this morning to check it out and was getting whipped pretty bad.

Granted, I wouldn't pull ANY single axle trailer in this, regardless of tug, and others with 2 and 3 axles have pulled over and littered the side roads here. But if I was in an emergency "have to go" situation, I would have left the trailer somewhere and continued on without it, returning later to pick it up.

I weighed the egg in Bandon, at an Oregon scale there, and it came in at 1500 loaded, and I was comfortable with that. That is the heaviest I have ever had it, but still just 50 lbs over "normal".

You won't be going down mud or snowy roads, or anyplace that you would normally think a ruff and ready truck is needed. I can live with that.

And through all the trials and tribulations of this unusually dificult tugging expedition, it averaged 20 mpg. I can live with that too.
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Old 01-02-2006, 07:32 PM   #9
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Thanks for the input. Even though in some ways it has me more confused.

I did hitch up to a T@B just before christmas and hauled it for a bit in nasty snowy and icy conditions and I hardly felt it behind the Element. But Gina I will look for the Element owners club to which you refer.

Gina, do you know what your 13' weighs in at dry? How much "stuff" do most of you carry in the trailer when it is being towed? and another question....if the additional weight is in the tug rather than the trailer does that count against you in the same way that trailer weight does?

The material I have looked at indicates that the T@B dry weight is 1320lbs and as has been pointed out, the Element is rated for 1500lbs max.

I have been a tent camper until now and am used to carrying my "stuff" inside the Element while traveling (fishing gear and mountain bikes included) I really thought that besides the basic trailer weight I would need some water, propane, a little food and some bedding.

So since you are all more experienced in this regard, what percentage of the tug max towing rating would you believe to be safe, and based on that what other trailer recommendations might anyone have.

By the way, I thought the Element should be as capable as a Subaru Imprezza, and read a blog by a guy that towed a T@B 11,000miles in 7 or 8 weeks from the mainland USA to Alaska (east west across Canada in the process) and back again, all the while praising the trailer.

Now my last question about weight ratings....does anyone know the factors that contibute to the rating? For example I can not find ANY tow rating for the subaru. Is the weight concern regarding the ability of the vehicle to get the load moving and keep it moving regardless of up or down hills, or is it a function of the ability of the unit to a safe stop, or is there something else that goes into the equation.

By the way thanks for the replies, I am finding that they help me to consider things that I may not have considered.

Ken
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Old 01-02-2006, 07:44 PM   #10
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The T@B and the 13 foot new Scamp we have are very similar in weight. We too thought of getting the T@B. We got the 13 foot Scamp because it was the best for our needs. We did however get it without the refer, without air conditioner, and without water to keep the weight down. I believe when we weighed our bare bones Scamp it was around 1,500 lbs.

If you want to tow with the Element just keep in mind that there could be a liability issue if you are in and accident and your trailer weighs more than is recommended for the Element.

Whatever you pull you will want to keep things as light as possible. Don't carry a 20 lb propane tank, leave water behind, etc. Do you have to deduct your interior car weight (gear and passengers) from that 1500 pounds? Be sure to read your owners manual. Our Honda Odyssey tow weight goes down depending on the number of passengers in our van.

I can well believe the people who have 13 foot fiberglass fully loaded saying their rigs are around 2,000 pounds.

We have friends with a T@B, too bad we didn't hit a weigh station when we were in the same place on the road west. I'll bet we were pretty equal.

Good luck with what you decide to do.

Nancy in Minnesota
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Old 01-02-2006, 07:55 PM   #11
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More thoughts. Before buying a T@B (or anything) ask to take it to a weigh station to verify the weight. I believe the "fiberglass" unit weighs a bit less (has smaller wheels, etc?) I think the posted weight in the literature is before anything is put in. The Cool Cat (sp?) and refer will up the weight, as well as a full propane tank.

Our friends have the fiberglass model. They are happy with it. They do not have the Cool Cat and just have the ice box, but I don't think they had their unit weighed.

Did you read your owners manual to see if they mention cargo weight in the vehicle as it pertains to how much you can tow?

Nancy in MN
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Old 01-02-2006, 08:45 PM   #12
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Ken, I lied (But not on purpose, I just forgot.. happens at my age..)

I hydroplaned once on the way up. I felt the trailer getting away from me. A tap on the panic button on my brake controller brought trailer and element back in line. As I mentioned in another thread, that split second was worth every penny it took to get the electric brakes up to snuff and working.

That is a consideration. The Tab comes with surge brakes, and you wouldn't have that kind of control.

I don't know what this ways dry (Call me in a couple weeks when it actually GETS dry ) I have all the options except air and water heater. No bathroom. I usually travel with stuff for me and two small dogs. NEVER with any water except a gallon for drinking in a jug and what might be in the porta potti. Tank is ALWAYS drained before I take off. Mine also has an aluminium frame (Love/Hate relationship) so it is lighter dry than most Burros. The carpet on the cieling and floor are gone, replaced with lighter weight materials. I am guessing it is around 1k dry.

The Element has been turned into a dog kennel when traveling, so storage for goods is limited.

TOWNG is one thing. I "towed" a friends pop up at well over 2k pounds on the flat once and didn't notice it. I was only moving it for him a few miles, and not traveling with it. I also towed another big stickie (A Shasta) a block to get it moved, also on the flat.

Tugging up hills, in the wind, stopping etc are different beasts. The Element is not the incredible hulk.

I missed one of your questions.. I did nothing out of the ordinary to get it ready. Installed tranny cooler, hitch and wiring, and tugged with just that for over a year. Then I did the brakes. I will avoid ever towing without them again. That thing alone make the E more stable.

Your owners manual has the weight rating, loaded car etc. I don't remember off the top of my head. The "question" of the ratings is based on what the same chassis and drive train on the CRV is rated at, which is 2k. So far, no expert has come up with a mechanical reason why they would be different. The guess, and it's just a guess, at this point, is liability.

I will echo what others have said here. Having been in Tabs both owned and in use at campgrounds, and on the lot, you would get a much better value And more room!) with a new Scamp or Casita.

The Tabs have a cool factor the eggs don't tho.. but I could not see doing what I have been doing for the past two weeks in one. Just not enough floor space!
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Old 01-02-2006, 09:10 PM   #13
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I also forgot to mention...

We have MANY Element owners here. Lauren has a Burro almost idential to mine. She does not have fridge or heater. There is a fully equipped Scamp or two as well. Patrick has one and has drug it across the US.

Hopefully, they will chime in with tips.
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Old 01-02-2006, 09:35 PM   #14
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Ken,

Your door jamb certification label should have a front GAWR (the most the front axle should weigh) a rear GAWR and a GVWR (the most the whole vehicle should weigh). The front and rear ratings totaled usually doesn’t equal the GVWR.

Somewhere in your owner’s guide should have a maximum trailer weight and a GCWR, or Gross Combined Weight Rating which is what tow and trailer should not exceed.

Imagine a weight scale under each axle (1 each for the tow front and rear axle and one for the trailer for the GAWRs) and a huge one under the whole combined thing (for the GCWR).

Transferring stuff from trailer to tow won’t change the combined weight but will reduce the trailer weight. It may also increase the weight over the tow’s rear axle. It’s a balancing act.

Remember that dry weight doesn’t include the battery, fresh water, waste water, food, clothes, dishes, sleeping gear, propane etc. Practically nothing. When you check dry weights with the manufacturer, you need to know which, if any, options are included. Gina is estimating that she’s carrying about 500 pounds in the trailer and more in the tow. And I think she’s traveling lighter than most of us in the trailer. I’m carrying 700 pounds of stuff in my 16’ Casita. I must carry another 200-300 pounds in the tow (not counting my weight). The T@b’s brochure talking about 2,000 pounds may be close in travel trim.

Plus, you have to ask yourself if Gina’s towing style matches yours. For example, she nearly forgot about the hydroplaning incident suggesting a comfort level or experience level you may or may not share. Is your tow is in the same mechanical shape as hers. Pehaps her tires have less tread than yours.

There’s big differences between older and newer models of the same make trailer. I think you’re confused because there’s no good way to answer your question.
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