Tow weight vs vehicle weight - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-18-2007, 04:17 PM   #1
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I now have a new-old 1987 13' Casita that I'll pick up end of July. I'm trying to get all my ducks in a row but the one thing I can't wrap my head around is weight distribution.

So, let's say I've loaded my camper to the hilt and hit my 1500 tow weight limit. I still have the "kitchen sink" to throw in the camper but that would put me over. My Honda Element still has plenty of room since it's just me and the dog. So in it goes.

How will that weight mess with the engine and transmission if it is simply moved from one place to another. The car still has to move that weight even though it's not in the camper, right?

so confusing, that's why I went to art school...

Paula
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Old 06-18-2007, 04:25 PM   #2
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I beleive Gina D one of our moderators here can help.Gina had a similar set up.
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Old 06-18-2007, 04:37 PM   #3
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Your tow limit is 1500. Your payload is 600.

I am still not clear as to whether the tow limit is combined with the payload (What is in the car) or seperate.

My 13 foot Burro was 1450 fully loaded. I am guestimating I had 350-400 in the car with me and 2 dogs + junk.

I did OK with a tranny cooler and brakes.

Go to The Element owners Club for all kinds of heated debated questions like these in the towing threads.
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Old 06-18-2007, 04:44 PM   #4
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Didn't think about the Element Owners Club. Thanks, I'm on my way there now...
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Old 06-18-2007, 06:53 PM   #5
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Didn't think about the Element Owners Club. Thanks, I'm on my way there now...
The number you're looking for is the Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating (GCVWR). That's the limit for the total weight of both vehicles. For my Ford, it's right in the owner's manual.
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Old 06-18-2007, 06:55 PM   #6
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How will that weight mess with the engine and transmission if it is simply moved from one place to another. The car still has to move that weight even though it's not in the camper, right?
Yes, exactly. That's why each vehicle has a Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR), for the tug and trailer combined, in addition to the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR, for the tug with payload only); it is the GCWR which relates to drivetrain durability.

The advertised towing capacity of pickup trucks is usually calculated by assuming there is nothing in the truck except the driver (usually a svelte 150 lb, at that...), and that the rest of the capacity is used for the trailer (including the load in the trailer). Every pound added to the truck (up to the payload capacity) is one less pound that the trailer can weigh. Lot of people don't realize this, but once you do, it's straightforward.

The problem with many passenger-oriented vehicles like the Element, as Gina explained, is that they do not clearly indicate their GCWR, but instead list a towing capacity without explanation. My Sienna's GCWR is clearly stated in the owner's manual, but does not appear on the placard on the door jamb which shows the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. I tried finding the GCWR for a Toyota Matrix, and could only infer it from a note in the Pontiac Vibe (same car, different badge...) owner's manual!

This is an entirely reasonable question, and I would toss it at Honda's customer assistance people.
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Old 06-19-2007, 11:23 AM   #7
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and that the rest of the capacity is used for the trailer (including the load in the trailer). Every pound added to the truck (up to the payload capacity) is one less pound that the trailer can weigh. Lot of people don't realize this, but once you do, it's straightforward.
I'm not sure Honda gave me the right info. After quite some time on hold she said that if I add the gross vehicle weight of the tug plus the tow weight I get the GCWR.

So, that said, GCVW - tow weight - curb weight = 924# in the car (then minus me and all my stuff)
I'm not telling you how much my dog and I weigh. All my search and rescue gear do add up. Maybe the snowshoes can go for the season...

Paula
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Old 06-19-2007, 05:41 PM   #8
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I'm not sure Honda gave me the right info. After quite some time on hold she said that if I add the gross vehicle weight of the tug plus the tow weight I get the GCWR...
This would mean that the Element can be loaded right up to its GVWR and still have excess capacity to GCWR for the whole 1500 lb trailer - the opposite of the typical truck calculation, and (for instance) the Vibe.

The Sienna (my tug) is close... it can be loaded with a large part of its max payload (GVWR - curb weight) and still have capacity for the rated 3500 lb trailer.

If an Element's curb weight is about 3500 lb (varies by trim level), the payload is about 900 lb (for the sake of round numbers), then the GVWR is 4400 lb. If the Honda statement is correct, the GCWR is 4400 + 1500 = 5900 lb... with a 2.4 L passenger-car engine and light-duty transaxle; this is the conclusion in the one thread I found in the Element Owners Club forum which referred explicitly to "GCWR". Maybe...
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Old 06-19-2007, 07:00 PM   #9
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I got a copy of the title today which listed the Casita (87) with a shipping weight of 950lbs. It included a air conditioner which my Dad (Dad has the camper in Arkansas) took out for me. Which IF the shipping weight is correct that will give me closer to 900lbs dry wt. So between the cars available weight room that's left and the campers 500-600 I should have plenty of leeway for excess stuff and still not overload it.

Thanks for the lesson! Now, what's more important, wine or chocolate? Beer? hmmm. Decisions on what to pack...

Paula (Golightly) Bindrich
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Old 06-19-2007, 07:07 PM   #10
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And for Morgan, if I answer the speed of dark question right do I get a prize?

The speed of dark is nothing since dark doesn't exist. It's simply the lack of light.

What do I win?!

paula
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Old 06-19-2007, 07:35 PM   #11
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And for Morgan, if I answer the speed of dark question right do I get a prize?

The speed of dark is nothing since dark doesn't exist. It's simply the lack of light.

What do I win?!

paula
That was a excellent answere Paula.I will bug Morgan on this one.Heck we should all PM Morgan.
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Old 06-19-2007, 08:15 PM   #12
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Old 06-20-2007, 08:46 AM   #13
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The bottom line is that your Element will tow that Casita like a breeze, speaking from 26,000 miles of Element towing experience.
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Old 06-20-2007, 08:57 AM   #14
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But you are naughty, so it doesn't count.
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