Safe weight limits in mountains - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-13-2012, 06:23 AM   #1
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Safe weight limits in mountains

I've heard 80% of vehicle rating is a safe camper weight limit, but I've also been told not to exceed 60%. Can my Toyota Rav4 (3500lb tow rating) handle a 2800 lb trailer, or should 2100 lb be the limit for safely crossing the Rocky Mountains? Just wondering how much camper my car can tow.
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Old 06-13-2012, 07:47 AM   #2
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I'm sure others will chime in, but I believe these "rules-of-thumb" are intended to make up for certain expected shortcomings. A few things are a must.

1. Make sure the trailer weight you are using uis it's real-world weight, fully loaded, from a commercial scale; not what the brochure or the sticker inside the trailer says.

2. Make sure your tow setup is correct. By that I mean a level trailer, and a level tow vehicle. I have seen way too many trailers being towed with the hitch end way down, with significant added tongue weight, and in some cases, the tow veihicle's front tires barely on the ground. Also the reverse, hitch higher, almostno tongue weigth, resulting is significant trailer wander on the roads. Also ensure all tires, TV and Trailer, are properly inflated.

3. Weigh the trailer connected to the tow vehicle. Confirm the tongue weight is in the 10-15% range (subtract what got fortrailer axle weight here from what you got in #1 with the trailer disconnected from the TV). Also confirm that you are not exceeding any tow vehicle axle weight ratings (usually a sticker inside the driver's door) or exceding the tire weight ratings.

4. Finally, what route are you using through the Rockies? I can't speak for the US, but here in Canada, we have three possible main routes, Yellowhead, Trans-Canada, and Crowsnest. The first two are 4-lane highways and can easily be handled by any reasonably set up TV and trailer. The Crowsnest,especially through Manning Provincial Park in BC, is a two lane highway with many hair-pin turns. I've done it, and will do it again, but there I would make sure I'm not pushing any tow limits, total or tongue.

Vic
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Old 06-13-2012, 12:16 PM   #3
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Check your owners manual or the Toyota website for towing instructions - mine has instructions in it regarding road grades. Everyone has different opinions as to what is or is not safe and every vehicle is built different so it is best you follow the instructions as to what the people who built it say.
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Old 06-13-2012, 03:45 PM   #4
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The percentage of TV weight to what the trailer can weight that will be "comfortable" is influenced a lot by trailer brakes and a good controller.

Being pushed around by the trailer is not fun or safe.

Think of it this way, a big rig tractor trailer has a trailer that outweighs the tractor towing it by a lot but the trailer provides a lot of the braking capacity so the driver can safely control the combination.
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Old 06-13-2012, 06:05 PM   #5
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To echo what Rogerdat said, properly adjusted trailer brakes and a good brake controller eliminate the white knuckles. We tow a 1700 lb trailer with a 4500 lb pickup that has a tow capacity of 6300 lb. Going down hill, if my brakes are not adjusted correctly, the "little trailer" pushes the pickup down the hill. With the brakes set correctly, stopping with the trailer is no different than without. Raz
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Old 06-14-2012, 02:45 PM   #6
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Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions. I appreciate the info
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Old 07-03-2012, 10:18 PM   #7
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Well here is my 2 cents, we all set out for a trip with our trailers for a nice fun trip, if the tow vehicle is struggling or is close to capacity it generaly makes for a un-plesant trip and lots of white knuckling, And yes i have been there, having TOO much tow vehicle can never hurt and just takes the stress out of towing. I used to be anxious whenever there was any wind or big hills and after over killing the tow vehicle it is much more plesent and i get where ever we are going relaxed.
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Old 07-04-2012, 01:02 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by DMAC1 View Post
Well here is my 2 cents, we all set out for a trip with our trailers for a nice fun trip. If the tow vehicle is struggling or is close to capacity it generally makes for a unpleasant trip and lots of white knuckling, And yes I have been there, having TOO much tow vehicle can never hurt and just takes the stress out of towing. I used to be anxious whenever there was any wind or big hills and after over killing the tow vehicle it is much more pleasant and i get where ever we are going relaxed.
X2^

When choosing a tow vehicle I ALWAYS, without exception, stop to figure out what is the most efficient tug in terms of matching capacity to expected duty- and then get one at least twice as big. (and yes, it is also my daily driver)

It is relaxing to drive, and easily handles anything I throw at it

There just ain't no such thing as too big a tug!

Now in your case, you already have your tug - a RAV 4, and are looking for advice on what should be your upper limit of things that will push it uphill, etc.

There is no "hard & fast rule" of 50%, 60%, 80% etc.

How is it set up? Automatic? Stick? 4X4 or 2 WD?

How is your trailer set up? How good are the trailer brakes? How good are its tires? How is it loaded? How is it balanced? Does it sit level when hitched on?
What are your tire inflation pressures on the trailer AND on the RAV 4?

How experienced are you at mountain driving (without towing?) How experienced are you at towing? How sensitive are you to the subtle messages (feedback) that the car provides to the driver?
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Old 07-04-2012, 01:38 AM   #9
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I think you will do fine as long as your not in a rush.
Transmission oil change, coolant change, may be a slow climb on grades but many have done it.
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Old 07-04-2012, 06:39 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by esgonza View Post
I've heard 80% of vehicle rating is a safe camper weight limit, but I've also been told not to exceed 60%. Can my Toyota Rav4 (3500lb tow rating) handle a 2800 lb trailer, or should 2100 lb be the limit for safely crossing the Rocky Mountains? Just wondering how much camper my car can tow.
So many variables to consider it is impossible to throw out a blanked % number. We know that some vehicles would stuggle towing through the Rockies with a trailer 50% of it's TR.

On the other side of the coin we know of TV's that have easily/safely towed through the Rockies at 100%+ ........ well you get the idea.
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Old 07-04-2012, 09:19 AM   #11
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If everything with the trailer and the tow vehicle is set up proper, and in good running condition, there is no need to worry about going up to the rated towing capacity.

One does have to keep in mind the loading of the tow vehicle too, something sometimes overlooked. DO NOT exceed the GCWR (combined weight of everything) of the tow. As well, the GVWR (combined weight of vehicle, fuel, passengers, cargo, and hitch weight of a trailer) of the tow should not be exceeded either, even if the trailer is fairly light.

I think one of the biggest things not attended to, are proper set up brakes. Not only should the brakes be set up properly so they are just short of starting to grab, the brake controller needs to be set up according to manufacture specs, and not backed off because you don't like that grabby feeling that can occur.

Steep hills will slow you down too, but should not be too bad, and these places have passing lanes.

That said, I do prefer to be no more than the 80% mark, just to give me that little bit better performance.
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Old 07-04-2012, 09:29 AM   #12
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A question that should be asked first before hand is, How many occupants will be traveling in the Rav? Recommending to go for it, before knowing that question is crazy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


For every occupant in the Rav, your tow capacity goes down. So if you will be traveling with 3 or 4 occupants, then NO, your Rav won't tow a 2800 pound trailer very well even on flat land. Not saying it won't pull it, just saying it wouldn't be a easy tow nor a safe towing adventure! Your Rav's owners manual has info on how much the tow cap reduces per occupant.


You have to consider everything you put in the trailer from, ice chest full of pop, beer, ice etc, to your camping gear, personal items. You certainly couldn't travel with full tanks.......... As Victor pointed out, make sure it's real world weight. Don't go by anyone's opinion on the weight of a trailer your interested in. Take it to be weighted! Know what it weights! You want a certificate of the weight. It's the best investment you can make when purchasing a trailer. $8 to $15. More than worth it!

I know someone who purchased a new stickie travel trailer and was given a weight by the dealer. The dealer telling him his truck would tow it! One trip, his first with their new travel trailer and guess what, the trailer was so much heavier than presented by the dealer. It got parked until they could afford a new tow vehicle. So know before you buy, not after! By the way, I told him before they purchased that it wasn't a good towing fit! Oh but don't listen to a women!


So how many occupanst will be in the Rav?









Quote:
Originally Posted by RogerDat View Post
Being pushed around by the trailer is not fun or safe.

.
Thats a understatment!
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Old 07-04-2012, 10:03 AM   #13
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Having too much Tow vehicle can certainly hurt. In fact it negates the whole idea of small molded fiberglass trailers. Here are just some of the negatives...
Initial purchase cost.
The unpleasant chore of driving and parking an oversized vehicle.
Fuel cost taking more of the trip budget.
Scheduled Maintenance costs such as the higher cost of tires,etc.

"Right size" your Tow Vehicle... Like sized 14 boots or an 8" bicycle, the wrong sized Tow Vehicle can get to be a real pain and a burden.
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Old 07-04-2012, 11:05 AM   #14
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Having too much Tow vehicle can certainly hurt. In fact it negates the whole idea of small molded fiberglass trailers.

If the only reason you purchase a "small molded fiberglass trailer" is because you want to keep cost down, not have to park a mega truck, etc.

That is not the reason I bought and I am sure some people purchased for other reasons as well. Agree with you that for people who want to stay within parameters of that thinking, than the "right" size vehicle is a good choice!
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