Towing over your limit, insurance, liability - Page 3 - Fiberglass RV

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Old 11-18-2008, 11:01 AM   #29
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Careful, Pete. I read this award as a result of mediation (last line). I think it's an out of court settlement and that the retailer settled because he assumed he would lose a court case.
Of course it was negotiation as a result of extended mediation, not a court or jury settlement. However, they brought suit and walked away with a lot of money, so in my book they won....

Ken, if you look in the fine print of the Air Bag advertisements, you will find that they specifically say that they won't change the Gross ratings of a vehicle.

Some vehicle manufacturers do list necessary equipment required to achieve the stated rating, like Tow Package, WDH, trailer brakes, etc., but none to my knowledge state that ratings can be exceeded by adding equipment.

Ford, a company that pays a lot of attention to towing, says "The vehicle's brakes are designed to stop the GVWR, not the GCWR". Ford also says "Reduce tow capacity by 2% for every 1,000 ft of altitude".d

As Roger H said, putting on the extra equipment might be a mitigating factor, however, if I were opposing attorney, I would offer the same thing as proof that the operator KNEW he was exceeding limits...

I HAVE towed overweight. when I knew a lot less than I do now, and I'll never do it again -- It is just too risky! It is incredible how quickly a seemingly safe tow can turn into a beast!! And all the Can Do Attitude in the world won't trump the physics...

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Old 11-18-2008, 11:09 AM   #30
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I've given this some additional thought... and just to illustrate how murky an area this is, I presume that we know all what is normally required to tow safely. So, picture yourself on a jury for a moment... hearing a civil case on gross negligence. Remember that the bar is "what a reasonable and prudent person would do" in similar circumstances.

A trailer and tow vehicle came uncoupled and there was damage done to a third party.

The coupler spoon on the trailer was defective and the owner knew it. So he...

1) did nothing and towed it anyway.

2) tied the coupler to the hitch with one wrap of sewing thread to keep it on the hitch ball.

3) wrapped a half-inch of coban sticky tape around the coupler and hitch to keep it on the hitch ball.

4) tied it down with some stout rope to keep the coupler on the hitch ball.

5) used a length of chain wrapped around the coupler and hitch to keep the coupler on the hitch ball

6) replaced the spoon and mechanism, but the nut worked itself off, and the assembly came apart

7) replaced the entire coupler with a new one welded on, but the welds failed.

Seven scenarios all leading to the same ending. If you were on a jury, which scenarios would you hold the owner/driver responsible for civil damages on? Some of them? All of them? None of them?

Therein lies the problem with the murkiness of civil liability cases. It boils down to who knew how much and for how long about the problem, and what precautions were undertaken and when they were undertaken to mitigate the problem before someone was damaged. It's all gray.


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Old 11-18-2008, 12:18 PM   #31
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Logically, different trailer allowances doesn't equal equal performance. Just different "idiot proofing" tolerances.
At the risk of seeming rude, I think this is the main reason for the difference between US and Euro tow ratings. Europeans expect to tow with about half the hitch weight considered safe in the US, to drive below the speed of other vehicles and to drive with a great deal of care (including passing a supplementary towing test for some drivers).

Incidentally, the lower hitch weight percentages and the higher trailer weight ratings in Europe just about cancel each other out - the maximum hitch weight is about the same. Maybe it's hitch weight, not trailer weight, that sets the upper limit on tow ratings.

Two other factors that I think are significant are:
- 1,000 miles is a [b]very long journey in Europe, so wearing out vehicles by towing isn't such a big issue;
- in the US, each manufacturer has bigger and more profitable vehicles in its line-up, so why give a good tow rating to the smaller ones? For comparison, a CR-V is the largest Honda on sale in Europe!

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Old 11-18-2008, 02:19 PM   #32
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... - in the US, each manufacturer has bigger and more profitable vehicles in its line-up, so why give a good tow rating to the smaller ones?...
Advertising. They will advertise the most they can tow with the smallest vehicle because it's a sales feature and it's bragging rights. That is, the most they can tow and not see the vehicle come back for warranty work.
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Old 11-18-2008, 06:53 PM   #33
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There's possibly another factor in Euro vs US/CA trailer recommendations -- If the tongue is longer on Euro, that would lead to lower tongue weights and they would be a lower percentage of the total weights. I haven't tried out any numbers so this is merely a theory to try and explain why those fundamental differences exist.

Another theory of mine is that the TW and percentage are much more important as the trailer size/weight goes up (can be 13,000 or so pounds!) and the US/CA rule of thumb is One-Size-Fitz-All -- In fact, it may be less important on smaller trailers. Also, the heavier Bulgemobile trailers tend to have less tongue length out in front of the trailer itself making the TW and percentage higher.

I don't know why the towing limits differ on what appears to be the same vehicles -- I once did a comparsion of one of the popular models between US and AU models and found a lot of little differences that indicated (not proved!) that there were some questions about the same equipment.

Without a statement from the manufacturer, we won't really know, and it's unlikely we'll get a statement because it might undermine the ratings... Anything else is a guess on our part -- I personally don't want to defend myself by saying "This is how they do it Somewhere Else" -- That line very often doesn't even work from state to state very often, much less Overseas.

I do know, from talking to a Truck Manager at my local Ford store, that several years back, Ford downrated the towing capacity of all its trucks with manual transmissions because of too many problems with customers over burnt clutches.
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Old 11-20-2008, 11:38 AM   #34
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I used to tow a 20' sailboat with a 1970 Toyota Crown SW using a self installed hitch from J C Whitney. The hitch said 1500#. It was not frame mounted, just bolted to a cross member of the car. The sailboat literature said it was 1700# and I figured the trailer for 300#. I added camping gear and family and had no problem towing. No trailer brakes.

However, coming down a hill into Sturgeon Bay, WI, an idiot jumped in front of me from a side street. I locked all four wheels and left a skid mark at least 50' long. I always drove under the speed limit, and I think that saved me then. (I didn't hit him) I still wonder what that guy was thinking. The Crown was red and the boat was blue and white.

Wisconsin didn't require licensing trailers and it wasn't until moving to Washington that I had to license the trailer and in the process have it weighed, empty. It was 800#! I don't know what the towing capacity was of the Crown, it had a 2.2 liter six.

I do think that auto mfgrs rate towing capacity so that the TV doesn't lose performance when towing. I know I have been going the speed limit and been passed by persons pulling all types of things, mainly boats.


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