Please tell us your Motivation - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-27-2012, 07:14 AM   #1
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Please tell us your Motivation

I am starting this thread for one purpose only.

I am trying to understand clearly EXACTLY what is the motivation for towing beyond a vehicles rated towing numbers.

I am looking to learn what inspires this,how you determine it is safe and where you would draw the line and decide it is not OK?

We keep having these exchanges about this and they can get fairly heated without moving either side from their position I think and so I am really wondering about how and why this is, from the point of view that I do not understand?

I don't want this to be a place for arguing this point,I only want to hear from those towing at or beyond any rated range.

It would be ideal if there would be no social commentary about the conditions driving the ratings and whether ratings are legitimate or realistic or fair but I appreciate that this may be too much to ask.

Thanks in advance.

Ed
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Old 04-27-2012, 07:47 AM   #2
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OK, I'll go. I have an Escape hybird that is rated for a 1000 lb trailer. I tow a UHaul that is 1200 lb empty and probably closer to 1500 fully loaded. My rationale is that a V6 Escape is rated to tow 3500 lb, so I am convinced that the chassis and brakes are up to the task. I conferred with an former coworker whose job it is to set the towing ranges for electric and hybrid vehicles to determine how the 1000 lb limit was set. He told me that there is a requirement for a minimum acceleration up a certain % grade for a certain distance set by the manufacturer. The hybrid will initially meet this standard, but on a continued long grade, the battery cuts out and you are left with the power of the 4 cylinder engine. As a flat lander, this doesn't concern me.

So, my motivation was to not have to buy another larger tow vehicle for occasional RV towing and still enjoy good fuel economy in my daily driving.

This guy is crazier than me:
The Hybrid-Vehicle Towing Experience
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Old 04-27-2012, 07:54 AM   #3
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I've posted a few times on this topic without advocating one position or the other.

My interest in the topic is the desire to have a high mpg tow vehicle and to understand the discrepency between tow ratings published in US owners manuals and a) ratings for those same vehicles in the rest of the world and b) reports here and elsewhere of many thousands of trouble free miles of towing.

I'm a mechanical engineer with more than a decade of time in the US auto industry. The physics of towing is the same everywhere and I don't believe a vehicle with the same engine and trans in Europe is different in any way relevant to tow capability from the US model.

"I am looking to learn what inspires this,how you determine it is safe and where you would draw the line and decide it is not OK?" Exactly my question!
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Old 04-27-2012, 08:07 AM   #4
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I come from a different perspective, I have towed all my long life. I grew up on a farm, pulled most everything, pulled full size house trailers around the USA for years, bought a Kenworth and pulled 53 foot dry vans coast to coast for a million miles, have almost all my life owned a few trailers.
I pretty much ignore the manufacturers words, since I know they are not based on anything more than an opinion of someone who probably knows far less about towing than I do, and in no cases are the opinions based on actual experience with real world towing with that vehicle. I make my decision on what is SAFE, and if the rig is warning me it is about to control itself, I either fix the problem or stop the "experiment".
I bought a first year Saturn used, since everyone was pulling them around behind RV's. To my alarm I read the owners manual which clearly said DO NOT EVER TOW THIS CAR! I called the Saturn engineers as to why they said that. Their answer was, they needed to put something in there, so they just copied what had been printed in some other Chevrolet manual. The Saturn was perfectly suited for towing, another example of what I said earlier. Warranty and liability "scare" stuff don't have much effect on my decisions.
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Old 04-27-2012, 08:08 AM   #5
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Without joining any more in this question as a debate I will add that my main reason for this question is to try to combine all of the reasoning about this into one place.

Also I hope that without having to defend opposing views here (Dreaming maybe?) the ideas may be more clear and understandable.
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Old 04-27-2012, 08:26 AM   #6
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Surfing around on this topic I found the following publication from Volvo UK.

http://www.volvoclub.org.uk/pdf/Towi...flet_Jan08.pdf They describe how the tow ratings are derived from performance tests - implying that marketing and legal concerns are not part of the decision.

Comparing the XC70 with 6 spd auto trans and 3.2 l engine Volvo's US tow rating is 3300#, in the UK they state a "recommended" limmit of 3500# and a "max" limit 3950#. Not nearly so different as many other brands...

Also found a safe towing guide published by the UK government stating the weight of a braked trailer be less than 85% of the unladen TV weight and that tongue weight be 7% of total trailer weight. Volvo's "recommended" limit is exactly the 85% number.
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Old 04-27-2012, 02:17 PM   #7
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I think the biggest motivation for towing beyond the ratings is to allow picking a vehicle that costs less and will be fuel-efficient for the remainder of the year, while it's not towing, i.e. the majority of the time. People would rather stretch the vehicle's ability during their few camping trips than stretch their budget for the entire year. And when money is involved, the theories on second-guessing the tow ratings, which are never explained to us and often don't seem to make much sense, become virtually endless. People can't afford to follow safety guidelines that feel "made up" and rarely seem to be enforced in any official way anyway.

However - I've been in both camps, and my own motivation for NOT towing with an underpowered vehicle is that fuel economy was NOT better while towing, due to the smaller engine working much harder, plus the driving experience was much less of a vacation. An adequate tow vehicle is definitely much better, but this makes sense in the "fuel economy" context only if you own two vehicles.

My biggest concerns in that matter have always been with newbies motivating their decisions based on 1) hearsay or other people's recommendations as opposed to their own experience and 2) widespread misinformation and/or wishful thinking about the real weight of what they are pulling.
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Old 04-27-2012, 03:35 PM   #8
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We have two vehicles. One is a Chrysler minivan with the 3.8 liter engine. It does not have a tow package so have no idea if it even has a tow limit but we have had a hitch receiver and brake controller installed, have towed our Egg Camper (GVWR of 2500#) satisfactorily with it. We also have a Chevy pickup with the 5.3 liter V8. The truck has a tow capacity of around 7500# with the factory tow package. We now tow our Egg Camper exclusively with the Chevy. We started towing with the truck because the seats are way more comfortable than those in the Chrysler. As a bonus towing with the Chevy is that towing mpg can be as much as 5 mpg BETTER than with the V6 minivan. Bigger engine has to work much less hard than the smaller. I have no commentary about towing over the limit except to say that it may possibly accelerate wear & tear on an overloaded tow vehicle (obviously grossly overloaded would be a bad idea) but immediate failure of some component is highly unlikely.
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Old 04-27-2012, 04:00 PM   #9
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Motivation

My original motivation was wanting to drive across Labrador, a two month trip. I knew my Motorhome would not like a 1000 mile dirt road. My plan was to purchase a used trailer for two months, make the trip and then sell it. Because of the 2 month trip duration I had no desire to spend $20-30,000 on a new tow vehicle.

We owned a 2004 Honda CRV and knew it had a reasonable rating in Europe. We learned that virtually every car sold in both Europe and North America was derated or not rated for towing in the N.A. market. This was insulting to me as a North American so we bought a 2200 pound stick built trailer and drove across Labrador where there were more severe grades than anywhere we have traveled.

It turned out we liked the small trailer and continued on beyond the 2 months for a total of 10 months completing a loop of the USA, crossing the Rockies twice. We learned that our 4 cylinder Honda easily towed our 2200 lb stick built trailer. We towed that trailer for another year without issue. Sway was never a problem and there was no grade we could not handle.

During our travels, we had one occasion when we had to make an emergency stop when some one blocked both lanes of travel with their brand new exteded cab long bed. I slammed on the brakes, smoked six tires but every thing stayed perfectly straight and we survived.

Following that we towed a Casita 16 and now a Scamp 16. Though the Casita and Scamp were both heavier than the stick built trailer, they towed better. With the stick built we got 20 mg and the fiberglass trailers between 22 and 23 mpg. Shape does count.

We continue to tow with the Honda because it's within it's European design rating where governments are usually stricter and more intrusive than in the USA. After 4 years we have certainly learned it's more than adequate.

The Honda has been extremely reliable, cost effective tow vehicle. The Honda's brake wear seems to be the same as not towing, implying that the trailer brakes do work.

As to how far would we go.... We had the opportunity to purchase a 2005 Casita 17 in good condition for $6500 in a FL campground where we were staying. We turned it down because it would have exceeded our Honda's European rated ability and we bought a Scamp instead. (I know I should have bought the Casita and resold it.)

That's our story.... I will say if it didn't work well I would not do it. This is year 5 of towing with the Honda, now with 170,000 miles. People are continually surprised and envious of our mileage and probably our reliability....
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Old 04-27-2012, 04:36 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed Harris View Post
I am trying to understand clearly EXACTLY what is the motivation for towing beyond a vehicles rated towing numbers.

Ed
I think a better way of wording the question would be. "Is towing beyond a vehicles rated towing numbers unsafe or does the vehicle in question, with a competent overview, have safe towing capabilities beyond the numbers", assuming you are talking about the tow rating number.

It is fairly obvious that tow ratings in North America are all over the map. The tow rating on some vehicles are too high while others are ridiculously low.
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Old 04-27-2012, 05:30 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by honda03842 View Post
We learned that our 4 cylinder Honda easily towed our 2200 lb stick built trailer.

hmmmm, we plan to tow our 1200lb playpac with our 2000 Ford F150.....
My manual 5 speed 2006 Scion Xa, manual says no towing!! Its loves the hills....feels like there should be a 6th gear running down the highway......I have seen aftermarket tow packages for them......I wonder.............. if your 4 cylinder honda can......why cant my toyota?
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Old 04-27-2012, 05:40 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MC1 View Post
I think a better way of wording the question would be. "Is towing beyond a vehicles rated towing numbers unsafe or does the vehicle in question, with a competent overview, have safe towing capabilities beyond the numbers", assuming you are talking about the tow rating number.

It is fairly obvious that tow ratings in North America are all over the map. The tow rating on some vehicles are too high while others are ridiculously low.
You are welcome to interpret my question any way you need to,Ironic isn't it?

I worded it exactly as I intended as I am not asking the question you think I guess.
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Old 04-27-2012, 05:57 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MCDenny View Post
I've posted a few times on this topic without advocating one position or the other.

My interest in the topic is the desire to have a high mpg tow vehicle and to understand the discrepency between tow ratings published in US owners manuals and a) ratings for those same vehicles in the rest of the world and b) reports here and elsewhere of many thousands of trouble free miles of towing.

I'm a mechanical engineer with more than a decade of time in the US auto industry. The physics of towing is the same everywhere and I don't believe a vehicle with the same engine and trans in Europe is different in any way relevant to tow capability from the US model.

"I am looking to learn what inspires this,how you determine it is safe and where you would draw the line and decide it is not OK?" Exactly my question!
The problem is just that. If you're looking a say Ford Focus in the US and one in the UK they're not the same. In fact anything is UK is most likely different than any US vehicle. For one thing they're all diesel, very few gasoline engines in the UK.

The other considerations is the roads. From my experience in the UK a couple years ago, the roads are more windy and narrower. The speeds are slower. I know speed does figure in the towing dynamics, whether it's taken into account in towing capacity or not, I don't know.
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Old 04-27-2012, 06:28 PM   #14
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I tow a Trillium 4500 with a Savana 1500, with air bags on my rear suspension. Clearly I am not over loaded.

I am only an observer to the question of over loading the tow vehicle, but if someone were over the North American limit, but under the European limit, I would not consider them reckless.

I was considering overloading my trailer though. When I purchased it, it was rated for 2000 lb. Since the folks at Trillium RV claim a dry weight of 1700 lb for their equivalent of the 4500, (1500). It is my understanding that this weight typically does not include the weight of the appliances. With the weight of batteries, propane tank, food, luggage, bikes, water, generator, and whatever else we decide to take with us, the trailer would likely be closer to 3000 lb. I had the frame modified at Outback / Trillium with a 3500 lb axle and 2" coupler. The also re-welded some poor factory welds on the cross members.

Then when I was towing it home, about half a mile, I went over a bumpy rail crossing and in my rear view mirror I saw my trailer bounce violently up and to the side. When I got home, I inspected the trailer. It was obvious from the dead bugs and dust everywhere that it had been badly shook. But worst of all the dinette table, which was set up as a bed at the time, was broken. The leaf in the table had the dowels ripped down and out. Of course the trailer was empty, and I am sure it will ride smoother when loaded. But, I really think that I fell into the better safe then sorry trap. While a 34 year old axle needs to be replaced. I think a 2500 lb axle would be a better fit, even if I am overloading it by a couple of hundred pounds.
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