I had a PM but am not sure if it referred to a thread or not, so I'll stick it here because it's of interest
Why not tow a '13? It weighs #1000, has trailer brakes
and is under the towing limit set by the manufacturer and DOT. As far as I'm concerned, a '13 is perfect for a smaller vehicle like an Element or any other light
car. The tranny cooler is a prudent option if you are going to trailer it in the mountains. As for overdrive, look in the Element owners manual and it explicitly states that in hilly terrain take it out of overdrive and continue towing. When I leave it in overdrive I have no problems, I'm just following the owners manual. So my question stands, "why not tow a '13?"
If a loaded 13' weighed only 1,000 lbs (dry) I might agree with you, but they don't and likely never did -- The Scamp
brochure weights are way off (read the Casita
specs on a 13') -- They put a 2,200 lb axle
under them for a reason -- You aren't going to be towing a dry trailer...
I have a 91S13' -- It has the foam icebox, not a refrigerator
-- It doesn't have a toilet (except my porta-potti), it doesn't have a hot water heater, it doesn't have gray or black tanks, it doesn't have oven (just range top), it doesn't have a converter and it only has a ten-pound LP tank instead of the usual 20-lb and it doesn't have air conditioning
or the regular RV furnace
. It does have a vent-free heater, a fantastical fan and a spare wheel/tire. That's a pretty basic unit.
The actual scale weight
, loaded for the road (IOW, what I really tow) is 1,750 lbs on the axle
and another 250 lbs tongue weight
and that was before I added the brakes
and brake drums to it.
The tongue label on my Scamp
says axle weight
is 950 lbs -- I don't for a moment believe that I have nearly doubled the weight of the trailer with food, LP, water and clothes.
Here's the way tow capacity is calculated -- The engineers set a total capacity weight, after consulting with the marketing guys, called the Gross Combined Weight Restriction (GCWR; which should be in your owner's manual) -- From that they subtract the curb weight (usually vehicle, driver and fuel -- Maybe some cargo), then subtract extras (like hitch receiver, trans cooler, other after-market, etc.), then subtract cargo and passengers and trailer tongue weight) and the remainder is available for trailer axle weight -- The max tow weight is often calculated using no passengers, no cargo, 10% of trailer for TW (sort of a circular figure) and minimal hitch weight.
Reportedly, for trucks the curb weight presumes no cargo, but passenger vehicles have greater allowance for passengers/cargo so that may need to be taken into account.
So, what YOU need to do, rather than listen to other folks who may be proud of their bravery and their experience so far and there brave-element or VW or whatever, and just haven't managed to get into the right situation at the wrong time, is find out your GCWR and take your Element to a scale and get the curb weight -- Then you can start subtracting for the cargo, passengers and hitch equipment and see what's left for actual trailer.
Based on my numbers, it looks like you will already have exceeded the stated tow capacity by 250 lbs even if the Element was empty and there was no tongue weight.
The reason I may seem harsh on this subject is that I had my Scamp
yank my half-ton full-size Dodge pickup all over a road in BC and I was darned lucky there was no one in the oncoming lane -- My truck was rated for 2,000 lbs TC.
There are three parts to towing, getting it moving (power and driveline), stopping it (brakes, relative weights of egg and TV) and steering (tow geometry -- Wheelbase, overhang, tongue length, trailer overhang, towing suspension, TV weight balance and correct tongue weight.
The above is why it may not be a good idea to tow a 13', much less a 16/17'.