Seeking advice on towing and buying - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-24-2013, 01:33 PM   #15
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Trailer: 22' Airstream Formerly 16' Scamp
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Welcome Brenda! As you can see you will get lots of opinions here regarding what your vehicle can or cant tow and some may not even agree with what the manufacture claims it can either - some may suggest more some may suggest less.

Suggest you start by reading your manual carefully and see what it indicates for not only tow cap but the tongue weight limit as well. Think you will find that "most" of us agree (but not all) on one thing and thats a trailer with a 10% tongue weight or more is a good thing safety wise vs one that is less. Also take a look if the vehicle's manufacture requires brakes on any trailer the car tows over x so many pounds - thats pretty common. It will be up to you to determine what condition your older vehicle is actually in and if its up to towing at the limits set out for it when it was a much younger vehicle.

The second place to start to look once you know what your weight limits are is the thread Trailer Weights in the Real World. This list may quickly help you narrow your search down as it clearly lays out what you can expect each brand and size of trailer to actually weigh. You will see lots of claims by owners and manufactures that the trailer only weight x so many pounds. The list on the thread is what you should in reality expect what ever size and brand to weigh once you load it with your stuff - but dont count on it weighing much if any less than what is shown. Its hard to say how much stuff people had in their trailers at the time of weighing but they were all mostly weighed at arrival at a 3 day fiberglass trailer meet.

Have fun looking at all your options.
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Old 04-24-2013, 07:07 PM   #16
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Again (and lastly) : While the specs in a 13 year old owners manual are a good starting point for a new veicle, don't underestimate the need to investigate and understand the current condition and capability of your tow vehicle "At it's current age, condition and mileage"..

Jim Thorpe had geat specs in his prime, in 1912, but no one expected that performance 40 years later
Jim Thorpe - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

And despite what some have observed, I have seen many, many an older vehicle make the trip from "broken down beside the road" dirctly to the junque yard because repairs were either more than the car was worth, or more than the owner could afford on the road. The garages at Barstow, Blyth, Needles and Baker CA are full of them.
(And near Rodgers Pass as well for you up north)

Makes it hard to get your trailer home, much less the rest of the family.

And, somehow, I don't think that the o.p. is writing is an experience mechanic.

No Pollyanna here.....
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Old 04-24-2013, 08:08 PM   #17
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Age is less important than actual condition of tow vehicle, especially sytems or parts that work harder when towing. Transmission, brakes, cooling, tires, wheel bearings, and the suspension are all impacted by towing. A good honest mechanic that is experienced with your make of car is the best resource after the owners manual. From experience they know what fails in your make and model, and under what usage.

Distance and terrain matter too. I see your from Fla. lots of places you could go on short 100 - 150 mile trips without hitting anything like the terrain you get in the mountains out west. Heat would be more of an issue in your area, as you go north you can hit some long rolling hills and mountains that will put more strain on the auto systems mentioned above. A 1000 - 1500 mile trip is an entirely different animal especially if it consists of driving all day for 2 or 3 days each way.

Camper is more convenient than packing and unpacking tent gear by far. If you can leave the camper packed with the camping "stuff", replace the bug spray and paper towels in the spring and only need to load food and clothes.... what's not to love about that?

Slowing down makes a big difference in how hard your car works to tow a trailer. Trailer brakes with a good brake controller can take on a lot of the braking load and increase safety alot.

The hitch or tongue weight under 10 or 12 percent means the trailer is tail heavy and really prone to swaying, easy to get the "wiggles" and have the trailer shove the car around to the point where control is lost.

As to comfort camping, less stuff is more comfortable. Room is at a premium in a small camper. If you can't put it away it will be in the way. Especially if rain forces four of you inside for the day. And 100 lbs of gear left behind is that much less work for the car or loading and unloading.

You might want to check the Rallies, Get-togethers, Molded Meets (Upcoming) - Fiberglass RV Find something in your area so you can look at models the trailer weights in the real world indicates you can tow. My Scamp 13 ft sleeps 4 but our two teenage grandsons are NOT going to fit in those bunk beds.
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Old 04-25-2013, 10:30 AM   #18
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Bob
It's amazing that a Mercedes Diesel can't successfully tow a popup.
I doubt it had to do with the towing. Probably a bad trans getting ready to go anyway. I towed with a diesel Benz that I bought with 200,000 miles on it. I added a custom tow hitch and towed a popup, cargo trailer, and other Mercedes cars with it. I sold that car at 410,000 miles with the original engine and trans going strong. That car now has over 600,000 miles on it and the engine has just developed a knock. The trans is still good, though.
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Old 04-25-2013, 10:37 AM   #19
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Jesse, I was hoping that Mercedes diesel transmission problem was an aberation.
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Old 04-25-2013, 12:14 PM   #20
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As I mentioned, I was teaching a "Diesel Fundamentals" class at a community college at the time and heard from several others in my classes that had similar experiences with 80's MB Transmissions from towing.

All one has to do is visit the MB sites that are similar to this one for multiple sources of advice from literally 1000's of MB diesel owners. The general consensus, and there are some exceptions, is that adding a trailer isn't a good idea with the automatic diesel.

Certainly my negative experience doesn't make a rule nor does a positive one do likewise.

But , then again, if my 240D's transmission was already about to fail with only 80,000 miles on it, that wouldn't speak well for them either.

Bottom line, I ruled out a 300TD as a TV, unless a standard transmission was installed.
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Old 04-25-2013, 12:18 PM   #21
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Old fashioned myself, always choosing a manual over an automtic but more difficult to do these days.
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Old 04-25-2013, 01:01 PM   #22
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Old fashioned myself, always choosing a manual over an automtic but more difficult to do these days.

I spent a year looking for a manual trans X-Terra. I probably have the only one in West Texas.. (-:}

Towing has an issue though. They have a real tall reverse gear and unless you want to burn clutches, you have to use 4-low to back up on anything other than flat concrete.
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Old 04-25-2013, 01:14 PM   #23
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As I mentioned, I was teaching a "Diesel Fundamentals" class at a community college at the time and heard from several others in my classes that had similar experiences with 80's MB Transmissions from towing.

All one has to do is visit the MB sites that are similar to this one for multiple sources of advice from literally 1000's of MB diesel owners. The general consensus, and there are some exceptions, is that adding a trailer isn't a good idea with the automatic diesel.

Certainly my negative experience doesn't make a rule nor does a positive one do likewise.

But , then again, if my 240D's transmission was already about to fail with only 80,000 miles on it, that wouldn't speak well for them either.

Bottom line, I ruled out a 300TD as a TV, unless a standard transmission was installed.
I have owned seven W123 Mercedes and worked on countless others. My father is a Mercedes mechanic and still works on them. It sounds like your trans was a fluke if it failed that early. Happens to every make once in a while. Those transmissions usually fail because someone neglected the filter. Once the filter plugs, trans fluid breaks through the filter material and sends it all through the trans, which destroys it almost immediately.
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Old 04-26-2013, 07:05 AM   #24
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Name: Brenda
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Thanks for all the replies. I will investigate the links suggested in each of them.

Have a 2000 volvo s70 gtl. It is a is a 5 cyclinder and has 3500 lbs curb weight. I have owned it since 2002 and do not plan on getting other car soon (I have only owned 4 cars in the last 30 years.) I am posting here to get advice for my current tow vehicle and situation. Yes the future might change, but for now this is what I have.

I am extremely safety cautious so will get anything that is needed to protect my family or car and will not overload or get more than want is suggested. But I need the knowledge and suggestions of this group - that is why I am here.

Owner's manual says ... recommended hitch tongue load is 110 lbs for trailer weights below 2,650 lbs and 165 lbs for trailer weights above 2,650 lbs. for trailer weighs between 2,650 - 3,300 lbs a top speed of 50 mph should never be exceeded. maximum weight recommended for trailers without brakes is 1100 lbs. Maximum weight recommended for trailers with braes is 2" ball 3300 lbs and 1 7/8" ball is 2000 lbs.

My hitch is a draw-tite part number 36262, class II, 1 /14" receiver, rated up to 3,500 lbs GTW.

So when we go camping there are 3 of us, average 150 lbs each person. we carry quite a bit of stuff. Usually have a bag on the top of the car. We live in florida so there are no hills. Don't anticipate going through any hills soon. My girl is 9 years old and cannot imagine taking her on a more than 4 hour trip.

Looking for suggestions and advice for safety and ease of towing regarding weight of trailer that would be acceptable and if a pop up (low profile) or camper (scamp or similar) would be a better tow. Thanks
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Old 04-26-2013, 08:28 AM   #25
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Hmmmm.... It sounds like Volvo is more concerned wih tongue weight than trailer weight. Hereabouts you will find that the generally accepted rule for tongue weight is 10-12% of trailer weight. Only 165 lbs of tongue weight for a 3000 lb.+ trailer sounds like an accident about to happen as the trailer will try to wag the car.

As my profile shows, we also have a Starcraft pop-up and it is a lot easier to tow than either the Ll' Bigfoot or even the smaller Hunter Compact-II.
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Old 04-26-2013, 08:01 PM   #26
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Hmmmm.... It sounds like Volvo is more concerned wih tongue weight than trailer weight. Hereabouts you will find that the generally accepted rule for tongue weight is 10-12% of trailer weight. Only 165 lbs of tongue weight for a 3000 lb.+ trailer sounds like an accident about to happen as the trailer will try to wag the car.

As my profile shows, we also have a Starcraft pop-up and it is a lot easier to tow than either the Ll' Bigfoot or even the smaller Hunter Compact-II.
Very common in Europe. They usually have 4-5% tongue weight. Remember, these are cars, not trucks. Also, in Europe, people typically tow around 60 MPH. There are different speed limits when towing in many Euro countries, and the police enforce it.

My Subaru recommends as low as 4% tongue weight. It is perfectly safe as long as you maintain reasonable speeds.
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