Buying a tow vehicle - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-21-2008, 07:57 PM   #15
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You may have to do some sleuthing on vehicles you like, but you can find that info.

Roger
I should add this question; "Is there any vehicle I should avoid?" "Or specific years of certain vehicles?"
I know this is going to be a learning process. Hopefully not a painful learning process.
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Old 11-21-2008, 07:58 PM   #16
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I question the advantage of a "factory tow package". My hitch and wiring were done at the Toyota dealer by a third party. For one, Toyota's factory hitch was class 2 and I wanted a class 3 for the equalizer. That's why the dealer went outside. Reace also wanted the wiring upgraded to 10 amps. I paid $25 for heavier wire.
And, the upgraded hitch and wiring cost about 2/3 the cost of the "factory" hitch, and that included installing the Prodigy brake controller that I provided.


So look around. That factory package may be way overpriced and inadequate too.

baglo

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Old 11-21-2008, 09:37 PM   #17
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I question the advantage of a "factory tow package". My hitch and wiring were done at the Toyota dealer by a third party. For one, Toyota's factory hitch was class 2 and I wanted a class 3 for the equalizer. That's why the dealer went outside. Reace also wanted the wiring upgraded to 10 amps. I paid $25 for heavier wire.
And, the upgraded hitch and wiring cost about 2/3 the cost of the "factory" hitch, and that included installing the Prodigy brake controller that I provided.


So look around. That factory package may be way overpriced and inadequate too.

baglo
Cathy, in most of the towing world, a factory tow package makes the vehicle "tow ready" from the factory. In the case of my Nissan Titan, it includes extra oil and transmission coolers, different transmission shift points activated by a switch, brake controller and trailer pre-wiring, a Class IV hitch, a transmission cooler gauge, lower gearing, and towing mirrors. It boosts the capacity of the Titan from 6300 lbs with an aftermarket class III or class IV hitch to a 9500 lb rated capacity. That's outrageously high for a small block 1/2 ton truck, but that's what Nissan rates it at. The factory tow package wiring harness makes the Prodigy installation plug and play.

In the case of a RAV 4, a class III hitch carries a 5,000 lb tow capacity, but the vehicle probably has only a 3500 lb rating. I put a class III hitch with a 5,000 lb rating on a Toyota compact truck that only had a 3500 lb tow rating. It does allow for using the more universally available 2" draw bars and accessories, but it doesn't increase the tow rating of the truck.

After towing travel trailers for over twenty five years with a host of tow vehicles, I'm a fan of the factory tow packages. You don't have to worry about mix-n-match, and they work as designed.

Roger
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Old 11-21-2008, 11:33 PM   #18
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Cathy, in most of the towing world, a factory tow package makes the vehicle "tow ready" from the factory. In the case of my Nissan Titan, it includes extra oil and transmission coolers, different transmission shift points activated by a switch, brake controller and trailer pre-wiring, a Class IV hitch, a transmission cooler gauge, lower gearing, and towing mirrors. It boosts the capacity of the Titan from 6300 lbs with an aftermarket class III or class IV hitch to a 9500 lb rated capacity. That's outrageously high for a small block 1/2 ton truck, but that's what Nissan rates it at. The factory tow package wiring harness makes the Prodigy installation plug and play.

In the case of a RAV 4, a class III hitch carries a 5,000 lb tow capacity, but the vehicle probably has only a 3500 lb rating. I put a class III hitch with a 5,000 lb rating on a Toyota compact truck that only had a 3500 lb tow rating. It does allow for using the more universally available 2" draw bars and accessories, but it doesn't increase the tow rating of the truck.

After towing travel trailers for over twenty five years with a host of tow vehicles, I'm a fan of the factory tow packages. You don't have to worry about mix-n-match, and they work as designed.

Roger

I got the transmission cooler and other items included in the "factory" tow package and the Toyota dealer stands behind the install, even though they used a third party to do the work. So does Hidden Hitch. I got the Class 3 hitch because Escape recommends an equalizer hitch if you have front wheel drive. The RAV is 4 wheel drive, but it only kicks in when required. The Toyota manual says "Toyota does not recommend an equalizer hitch", but I've investigated and it appears that comment in the manual is simply to cover any potential liability. Same as any 4X4 manufacturer saying they don't recommend you take it off road.

I could have spent $999 for a Toyota factory install. Instead I spent about $650 for a superior hitch and wiring and for them to plug in my Prodigy.

I never assumed that putting a Class 3 hitch on the RAV would somehow increase the towing capacity from 3,500 to 5,000 lbs.

baglo
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Old 11-22-2008, 12:24 AM   #19
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Cathy,
Lots of excellent advice here! Since you are not looking for new, try to find a truck with a shell or cap for the bed. Often there is no difference in price between a truck with and a truck without the topper. Things like a bar-b-que, lawn chairs, outdoor carpet & maybe an X-pen for your dog, etc. can be kept under lock and key and out of sight.
Have you asked Tammy and Reece for their thoughts about tugs? Armed with your list, they may add additional info.

Similar to selecting your TT, part of the fun (and sometimes confusion) is in the search for the wisest choice, enjoy...!
Kurt & Ann K.
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Old 11-22-2008, 12:44 AM   #20
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baglo,
Not all "factory" tow packages are the same. To some (maybe even only certain dealers or sales persons) it is the basic wiring and hitch. As Roger points out it can include other items. Some you can see, some you can't. Suspension components and brake systems come to mind. One could also add better cooling systems and charging systems in addition to what Roger says.

Cathy,
If you are unfamiliar with pick ups, one thing they never tell you is that the back bed is only water resistant with a tonneau or cap. If you want water tight look towards something that more waterproof. I understand there is a little more rain out there in the PNW than we get here, but my Ranger with a Roll Top tonneau keeps most the water out. It does not matter how good a seal you get over the top, water still comes up through the gaps in the tailgate. Good enough for me, but I pack accordingly.
We also have a large breed dog and found it very cumbersum to be lugging around a metal crate. We found a soft sided crate used by many people with show/working dogs called "It's a breeze" to be better suited to our needs. Found a foam pad that fits the bottom exactly and the dog is happy.
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Old 11-22-2008, 06:19 AM   #21
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I got the transmission cooler and other items included in the "factory" tow package and the Toyota dealer stands behind the install, even though they used a third party to do the work. So does Hidden Hitch. I got the Class 3 hitch because Escape recommends an equalizer hitch if you have front wheel drive. The RAV is 4 wheel drive, but it only kicks in when required. The Toyota manual says "Toyota does not recommend an equalizer hitch", but I've investigated and it appears that comment in the manual is simply to cover any potential liability. Same as any 4X4 manufacturer saying they don't recommend you take it off road.

I could have spent $999 for a Toyota factory install. Instead I spent about $650 for a superior hitch and wiring and for them to plug in my Prodigy.

I never assumed that putting a Class 3 hitch on the RAV would somehow increase the towing capacity from 3,500 to 5,000 lbs.

baglo
Glenn, thanks for clarifying that. It sounds like the issue is that your tow vehicle is underrated for the load you're towing with it, even though it may be rated for the weight.
The problem with your advice without disclaimers, Glenn, is that other folks can and DO assume that adding a class III hitch to a vehicle that isn't so recommended by the manufacturer DOES increase the towing capacity. Further, you're towing outside the recommendations of Toyota by using an equalizer hitch with your Escape and RAV4 and making assumptions about facts not in evidence about them.

If YOU choose do that, it's your choice... but it's not a good idea to recommend it to others. If you have to tow with what you've got, then you do what yo need to do, but if you're buying a new vehicle to tow with, and you know what you have to tow... my advice still stands, Cathy. Buy enough tow vehicle for your trailer, and get the factory tow package.

Roger
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Old 11-22-2008, 11:45 AM   #22
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Glenn, thanks for clarifying that. It sounds like the issue is that your tow vehicle is underrated for the load you're towing with it, even though it may be rated for the weight.
The problem with your advice without disclaimers, Glenn, is that other folks can and DO assume that adding a class III hitch to a vehicle that isn't so recommended by the manufacturer DOES increase the towing capacity. Further, you're towing outside the recommendations of Toyota by using an equalizer hitch with your Escape and RAV4 and making assumptions about facts not in evidence about them.

If YOU choose do that, it's your choice... but it's not a good idea to recommend it to others. If you have to tow with what you've got, then you do what yo need to do, but if you're buying a new vehicle to tow with, and you know what you have to tow... my advice still stands, Cathy. Buy enough tow vehicle for your trailer, and get the factory tow package.

Roger
I posted on another thread the results of my investigation into the issue of Toyota's recommendation. Anything that would affect the warranty is highlighted in yellow in the RAV owners manual. These are warnings. The recommendation regarding the equalizer hitch is not highlighted, just a statement. I tried, without success to get Toyota to explain the reason for their recommendation.
Eventually I spoke to a technical guy at HitchCo ( they didn't do the install ) and he looked up the hitch I have ( Hidden Hitch ) and found the specs for it. Hidden Hitch makes one hitch for the RAV and does rate it well over 3,500 lbs.

The dry weight of the Escape is 1,900 lbs, tow capacity of the RAV is 3,500 lbs, so I think I have a safety margin and a better hitch.

RAV comes with a transmission cooler and a warning light should there be a problem.

So, I think any tow package needs to be checked out. Your "factory" package contains certain items and the "factory" package for the RAV is different. I don't think that a blanket recommendation for a factory package is any more valid given the differences in packages by manufacturers.

baglo
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Old 11-22-2008, 01:16 PM   #23
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To clarify further, I called my Toyota dealer and their "factory" towing package consists of the hitch and wiring. That's it. The transmission cooler and warning light are standard items. So, you really have to ask what the "factory" package consists of. In my case it would be inferior hitch and wiring and a higher price.

baglo
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Old 11-22-2008, 02:24 PM   #24
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For those who don't do off-roading but would like a little more capability out of their vehicle, I highly recommend installing one of the many types of limited-slip or posi-traction lockers for the rear axle on a two-wheel drive. They make your essentially one-wheel drive vehicle into two-driven wheels.
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Old 11-22-2008, 07:24 PM   #25
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To clarify further, I called my Toyota dealer and their "factory" towing package consists of the hitch and wiring. That's it. The transmission cooler and warning light are standard items. So, you really have to ask what the "factory" package consists of. In my case it would be inferior hitch and wiring and a higher price.

baglo
baglo,
I was a little surprised at what you said so I did a little searching. Seems that Toyota offers 2 tow packages. A tow [b]Prep package and the tow package. From the Toyota site for the 2009 Rav4 model:
[b]Tow Prep Package (V6 models only) with 3500-lb. towing capacity -- includes upgraded radiator, fan coupling and alternator
and this from a review of the 2008 model:
a towing package for the V6 ($160) that includes a heavy-duty radiator and fan, transmission oil cooler, and 150-amp alternator . The tow package increases the RAV4's pulling capacity from 2,000 to 3,500 pounds.
I'd be interested in hearing what your dealer has to say about the "tow prep package". I'm thinking you just got the answer for the tow package. Sometimes one has to ask the right questions.
Then again, I've been known to be wrong and do suffer from a chronic case of foot in mouth disease.
Roy
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Old 11-22-2008, 08:13 PM   #26
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Oops,

My apologies baglo ...

Maybe I should take one or both feet out of my mouth.

This link says all Canadian models come with the tow prep package and goes on to describe how to tell if you have it. The linked page has other links such as this one for the OEM hitch install with pictures for anyone that is interested.

I assume the info I was looking at was for the US market.

Roy
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Old 11-22-2008, 08:14 PM   #27
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I'm thinking you just got the answer for the tow package. Sometimes one has to ask the right questions.

Roy
I'm digging out the invoice and I'm going to go to them with these questions.

Many, many thanks.

I understood I was getting the tow package with an upgrade to the hitch and the wiring.

We'll see.

baglo
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Old 11-22-2008, 08:24 PM   #28
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Name: Glenn ( second 'n' is silent )
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Oops,

My apologies baglo ...

Maybe I should take one or both feet out of my mouth.

This link says all Canadian models come with the tow prep package and goes on to describe how to tell if you have it. The linked page has other links such as this one for the OEM hitch install with pictures for anyone that is interested.

I assume the info I was looking at was for the US market.

Roy
Apologies be damned. Thanks for the alert and for all the research, and most of all, thanks for the resulting information. I didn't know I had all that "factory" stuff.

baglo
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