Torque...what does it really mean? - Fiberglass RV
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Old 09-26-2012, 03:26 PM   #1
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Torque...what does it really mean?

Have read that the amount of torque is important in towing these wee trailers but can't seem to find a recommended number. For example: a 2012 Kia Sportage 2WD 4dr LX is listed as SAE Net HP @ RPM 176 @ 6000 / Torque @ RPM 168 @ 4000 and a 2012 Honda CR-V as SAE Net HP @ RMP 185 @ 7000 / Torque @ RPM 163/4400 whilst the 2012 NIssan Juke 5dr Wgn CVT S AWD is SAE Net HP @ RPM 188 @ 5600 / Torque @ RPM 177 @ 2000 - 5200 (seems to depent upon the model but the review I read noted all Juke models direct-injection turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine 188 horsepower 177 lb-ft of torque).

So would all of these and other vehicles with similar specs be able to tow a 13' fiberglass trailer uphill? Can anyone suggest somewhere I can read about 'torque' in simplistic layman's terms?


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Old 09-26-2012, 04:58 PM   #2
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First, Forget about all that crap. Just about anything can pull a 13ft fiberglass trailer up a hill.

Look in the owners manual and it will tell you how many pounds (Weight) the tow vehicle is rated to tow.
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Old 09-26-2012, 05:14 PM   #3
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Yea, people get a little carried away with what it takes to tow a 13 footer. Check the vehicle towing specifications.
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Old 09-26-2012, 05:23 PM   #4
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While driving through Grease I saw a WWII VW Kublewagen pulling a bigger than 13ft European Fiberglass camper up a mountain. I was driving a 1974 VW Thing that was a takeoff of the Kubelwagen and we waved at each other when I passed him. Yes, he was going really slow because he more than likely had less than 50 HP and being in low gear just enough torque to do the job.
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Old 09-26-2012, 06:00 PM   #5
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While driving through Grease...
Bet that was a mess!
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Old 09-26-2012, 06:02 PM   #6
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Bet that was a mess!
Slippery!
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Old 09-26-2012, 06:05 PM   #7
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As others have said, it is not too important with such a small, light trailer. I used to tow my Scamp with a Scion xD that had about 120 pounds of torque.

Possibly more important than how much torque you have is when you have it. How much torque do you have in top gear at highway speed. Your car/truck might have lots of torque at 5,000 RPM, but you've got do downshift a few times before you can use it. That's why a lot of people tow with diesels -- they have lots of torque at low RPM. For instance, my diesel van has max torque from 1,600 to 2,400 pounds. In top gear (5th) at 60 MPH, it is turning just about 2,000 RPM. So, it does not need to downshift at all to use max torque.
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Old 09-26-2012, 06:07 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Bonnie and Claude View Post
Have read that the amount of torque is important in towing these wee trailers but can't seem to find a recommended number. For example: a 2012 Kia Sportage 2WD 4dr LX is listed as SAE Net HP @ RPM 176 @ 6000 / Torque @ RPM 168 @ 4000 and a 2012 Honda CR-V as SAE Net HP @ RMP 185 @ 7000 / Torque @ RPM 163/4400 whilst the 2012 NIssan Juke 5dr Wgn CVT S AWD is SAE Net HP @ RPM 188 @ 5600 / Torque @ RPM 177 @ 2000 - 5200 (seems to depent upon the model but the review I read noted all Juke models direct-injection turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine 188 horsepower 177 lb-ft of torque).

So would all of these and other vehicles with similar specs be able to tow a 13' fiberglass trailer uphill? Can anyone suggest somewhere I can read about 'torque' in simplistic layman's terms?


Knowing only the torque that the engine is capable of is only telling you part of the equation. You would also need to know what the ratios are for the gears in the transmission and also the final drive (differential).

Probably a good place to start is to post to the forum and ask for owners of specific tow vehicles what they are towing and what their experiences are with their combo of tow vehicle and trailer. The reason I say that is because you stated you wanted and explaination in simple lay terms. It's actually a fairly complex subject with a number of variables, so it's unlikely you could arrive at a useful conclusion from simplistic answers.

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Old 09-26-2012, 06:13 PM   #9
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As others have suggested first look to see which one has the actual manufactures towing capacity to pull your trailer. Then if power is your concern then look at the specs closer. If a 4 cyl is your preference you may want to add the Subaru Forester AWD to your list as well its a pretty popular tow for 13' trailers here. It has a 2400lb tow cap and a 2.5 liter engine - with the turbo option the power specs are:
Power: 224 hp @ 5200 rpm Torque: 226 lb-ft @ 2800 rpm

BTW have you actually been able to find out what the Juke is actually rated to tow? I just looked and there is no tow capacity listed on the Nissan web site under its specs and Consumers Reports reads "The Juke has a NR towing capacity. " Hummmmmm
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Old 09-26-2012, 07:35 PM   #10
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English (UK) towing sites often provide useful information on torque by showing what grade hill one can pull a trailer up a hill from a dead stop in first gear. The following link shows the amount of data available on this UK site.

What TowCar.com - All about Tow Cars and Towing Caravans

A year or so ago Can-Am RV defined how much torque a tow vehicle should have at the tire and how to calculate it for any vehicle. I'll try to find that article and publish the info.

However, I'm sure any of the vehicles you listed could tow a Scamp 13. We easily tow a 2400 lb Scamp 16 with our 2004 Honda CRV. As well according to the Can Am formula we have adequate torque to tow it.
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Old 09-26-2012, 07:50 PM   #11
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Can-Am RV Torque Info

Airstream / Intrepid - Page 6 - Airstream Forums

Scroll down to post #77 by Andy. Beyond Torque info there's all kind of good info on tow vehicles.

Basically he wants no more than 7 lbs of weight per ft-lb of torque at the wheel.

Here's the section on the torque calculation in case you don't want to read the whole post..


"Step 1) Is torque for initial acceleration and steep hill climbing. This is a relatively simple calculation where you multiply the engineís torque by the first and final drive ratios and then divide by the tire radius. This tells you how much torque you can lay on the road. We divide the weight by this number and we would like to come out less than 7 lbs per foot lb available. If I lived in a very hilly area and was constantly pulling steep grades I might want this down around 5 lbs."
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Old 09-26-2012, 08:06 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by honda03842 View Post
English (UK) towing sites often provide useful information on torque by showing what grade hill one can pull a trailer up a hill from a dead stop in first gear. The following link shows the amount of data available on this UK site.

What TowCar.com - All about Tow Cars and Towing Caravans
It should be noted to the original poster that the link that Honda03842 provided above showing the towing capability for the Honda CR-V III - 2.0 sold in Europe has little relationship to the capability of the Honda CRV sold in North America. Very different animals with very different manufactures tow capacities as well..
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Old 09-27-2012, 02:21 AM   #13
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Smile Torque

Torque is the ability of an engine to provide X amount of Ft-Lbs twisting motion at a specified RPM. Why is this important? Have you ever driven a shift car and experienced slowing down going up a hill in a higher gear? That lack of oomph from the engine means it is out of its torque range. Since torque, like horsepower, is a function of engine speed, is why you may have to downshift going up hill. Automatic transmissions do this, well, automatically.

Torque - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Probably more important than being able to get the load moving, is being able to stop it and control it around corners or in curves. This is why your TVs suspension is probably more important than the raw horsepower of the engine.

As is evident in your statistics, engine power and engine torque do not always occur at the same place on the engine's rpm range.
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Old 09-27-2012, 05:34 AM   #14
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The challenge is that many of the newer vehicles do not state in their specs found in online brochures, etc what the towing capacity is. And as Carol noted, some(like the Juke) have no rating at all and having seen 'torque' referred to often in these pages I wondered if towing capacity told the whole story.

Our Dodge Caravan is fine for pulling the Boler but it's over 6 years old and now that we are no longer hauling five of our six grandkids on trips (they've grown a bit too fast) were considering a smaller, more fuel efficient vehicle. Thought we should start narrowing the field (we rarely just jump into the purchase of big ticket items).

In a past life I drove a standard VW 411 wagon in Quebec City which has lots of hills so Jesse's analogy to driving uphill with a standard made the explanation very clear. I have, naturally, read a lot of the posts regarding the Honda.

Roger's explanation is similar to an article I read yesterday, stated "An engine produces POWER by providing a ROTATING SHAFT which can exert a given amount of TORQUE on a load at a given RPM. The amount of TORQUE the engine can exert usually varies with RPM." If I understood correctly, the longer the drive shaft the greater torque (based on one pound-foot) it creates so I would guess that means that vehicle with a longer body would likely procude more torque. And then it gets very confusing. Admittedly until yesterday I didn't realize that HP = torque x rpm. But we never bought a car with towing in mind before so the parameters have changed.

Perhaps the best 'solution' is to follow Tom's advice and forget about torque and do as George suggested and ask folks who are driving vehicles similar to the ones we are considering what their experience is.

The article Norm referred to is interesting althought Andy's simple calculation (Airstream Forums post 77) is beyond me as you have to understand and know the drive rations, etc. I can, however, relate to widened stance, lengthened wheelbase and reduced rear overhang. I'm going to pass the link on to my DH.

And on that note, thank you all of you for trying to explain what I now realise is not a subject with no simplistic one-size-fits-all answer.
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Old 09-27-2012, 06:04 AM   #15
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B&C,

If the manufacturer provides no towing rating, the vehicle is not recommended as a tow vehicle. Period.

I'd caution against buying a new vehicle just to get one more fuel efficient without doing an objective analysis of your total, overall costs. A six year old vehicle is not old unless you have driven the wheels off from it and the depreciation is going to be a hefty expense if you buy a new vehicle to replace it. You can buy a lot of gasoline for the price of that depreciation.

Of course, it all depends on how much you can afford and your individual tastes, but a minivan can be an extremely versatile and practical vehicle.
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Old 09-27-2012, 06:29 AM   #16
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Thanks, Tom. That is exactly why we vacillate. It seems every Spring new car fever (or should I say 'newer') hits and the menfolk in our family seem as mad as a March hare for a short spell. Generally sanity prevails but just in case it doesn't I like to have all the information I need at hand.
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Old 09-27-2012, 06:38 AM   #17
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Thoughts on auto costs

I agree about the depreciation factor. It takes a while to recover new car costs.

We've towed for 5 years, probably some 60,000 miles, assuming about 21 mpg with various trailers. We spent at today's prices some $12,000 for gas.

With a 12-15 mpg tow vehicle we would have spent $16-20,000, a $4-8,000 difference. Now that's not a trivial amount of savings however it's not enough to get a new tow vehicle if you have one that works.

To justify a new vehicle in gas savings alone, you need to do a lot of traveling. In our case our tow vehicle is our only vehicle, gets good mileage around town as well as when towing and like many modern vehicles has been very reliable. We view reliability as an important factor.

Another important factor for us is the ability to drive moderate dirt roads. The on demand 4 wheel drive has allowed this for us however it is no Jeep or even Subaru.

The last factor is the unknown future price of gas. In the last four years the price of gas has doubled and many have clearly stated that they want gas prices to double again. Significant price increases can make a more fuel efficient vehicle purchase wise.

Lastly our style of RVing reduces the cost of fuel on a per day basis compared to a weekend camper who may drive 500 miles on a weekend. On a daily basis we drive about 70 miles a day, less than we drove when we worked.
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Old 09-27-2012, 06:44 AM   #18
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Archimedes said "Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world." That's torque.

For researching vehicles, new and used, I have found Edmunds has lots of information including in most cases tow ratings. Raz

New Cars, Used Cars, Car Reviews and Pricing - Edmunds.com
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Old 09-27-2012, 07:21 AM   #19
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From high school science work is defined as force times distance. If the force is in pounds and the distance is in feet, the result is foot-pounds or pounds-feet which is how torque is stated. Moving the trailer is work so you need torque to do that. Also from high school science is that horsepower is force applied over a time period. Acceleration. Or, the more hp, the faster you can apply the torque. Probably over simplified. Several of the above posts mention the engine speed where the torque is at the maximum for that engine. When you run out of oomph, either downshift or the automatic will do it for you.
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Old 09-27-2012, 08:48 AM   #20
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Once you master torque you will now have to find out what Octane and Cetain means and their numbers and so on. Once you find that out you will have to find out what your on board computer is set at for the various numbers you found out above then research to find a product you can connect to your On Board computer connection to change the variables (Shift patterns, air to fuel mix) and so on and all that is just going to take all the fun out of camping.
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