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Nature Recorder
07-01-2009, 11:33 PM
Things to consider before looking into any trailer purchase. The following is a brief overview about towing and what to look for. This post is to point out potential issues that need to be looked at when choosing to tow any trailer. All individuals must take their own responsibility for their choices made when deciding on a tow vehicle and trailer.

Tow Vehicle

Consider the tow vehicle (or TV) that you will be using to tow the trailer. Read your vehicle's owners manual! Keep in mind that, when towing a trailer, you will have slowed down your acceleration, increased your stopping distance, and reduced your maneuverability with the added weight and length you are now driving. You may need to look into Factory or aftermarket tow packages to be installed. These include, but are not limited to; Transmission cooler, heavy duty alternator, proper wiring, heavy duty brakes, improved suspension, just to name a few. This will be more important if you plan doing the following. It is one thing to get your trailer from the lot to home and can be a total nightmare trying to get from home to your favorite fishing spot on that high mountain stream if you do not properly evaluate your TV.
You need to consider the type of towing you are going to be doing. If you are one for heavy mountainous and back country towing, even with the comparative light weight of a TM, you will need a fairly heavy duty TV. Steep grades and altitude take its toll on a TV. Engine power is reduced the higher you go. Cooling becomes more difficult because of the thinner atmosphere. Braking on the long downhill slope can be very hard on your TV as well. That just covers a few.

Flat, level plains towing can allow for a lighter TV. Mild slopes an low altitude changes are not such a burden and can accommodate smaller TVs. Again, read your vehicle's owners manual!

Two additional pieces of important information are...

GCVW; Gross Combined Vehicular Weight

Most important is the total weight that a TV can manage as specified by the manufacturer. This implies total weight of the TV, including occupants, fuel, options, cargo and total weight of the trailer including cargo, options, water, etc. Weight does add up very quickly so you want to be generous with your guessing or very accurate with your values. This is not the area you want to be conservative and underestimate your weight.

Towing Capacity; Total weight a TV is designed to tow while not exceeding GCVW. Most specifications are marked with an asterisk. This more often means an empty TV, no occupants, cargo, fuel, etc. Read and understand what they are referencing this for when evaluating your TV!

When considering a trailer, do not look just at "Dry Weight". This is a completely empty trailer with no extra options. Rather look at the combined "Dry weight" and "Load Capacity" (by design, how much the trailer can safely carry). More often than not they list these values as approximates.

Example; A trailer with a dry weight of 2,748 lbs (approximate) and load capacity of 1,328 lbs, you need a towing capacity of more than 4,076 lbs but still not exceed your GCVW.

The above will help you determine if you need another vehicle first and help you understand your tow limits in choosing a trailer.

Trailer Hitch

Most use a WDH (weight Distribution Hitch) with a travel trailer. This helps distribute the tongue weight of the trailer across the front and rear axles of the TV. Without one, there is a risk that the front end will be too light to operate properly in a panic situation. This is due to the fact the front end controls your steering and manages 60-85% of the overall braking of the TV. Some of your larger TVs can support the smaller trailers without a WDH. Consider using one if your are anywhere near the upper towing capacity of your TV.

Brake Controller

TM Trailers come equipped with electric brakes so you will want to get a brake controller and have it installed. This allows the trailer to help with stopping when the brakes are applied. You can read elsewhere on the differences of the type of controllers available and make your choices as to which one to use. With this install you need to have a fully functional 7 position plug-in for your TM available. This is NOT a 4, 5, 6 position to 7 position adaptor!

This gives you operation over the brake/turn/running/backup lights as well as the brakes between your TV and TM. The 7 positions are; brake lights, trailer brake, left turn signal, right turn signal, running lights, back up lights, and Trailer battery charge.

rumbleweed
07-02-2009, 05:22 AM
Excellent compilation, You might add something about the TV having a factory installed Tow package and the key components. Many times people think adding a hitch and elect connector constitutes a tow package.

Bill
07-02-2009, 07:27 AM
Nature Recorder -

That is a very good post, and I'm glad you made it. I suspect that this will become a long thread.

Let me start by making a couple observations, or suggested changes.

In my opinion, the very first rule of choosing a tow vehicle should be "WHERE do you plan to tow your trailer?" If you are going to tool around the flatlands of Florida or Indiana, then you can think about a fairly lightweight tow vehicle. But if you plan to get into any mountains, including the Appalachians, then a more stringent set of contraints comes into play. And if you plan to get up around 10,000 feet in the Rockies or Sierras, for example, then the constraints become even more severe. This is true, not only because of the prolonged steep grades you will encounter, and because engine and transmission cooling are poor in the thin air, but also because for every 1000 feet of altitude, the engine loses more than 3% of its sea-level power. All these things are very hard on a car. So my first piece of advice is always "Figure out where you intend to tow before you even think about a tow vehicle". Or, if you are doing it in reverse, "Figure out where you intend to tow before you even think about choosing a trailer." Unfortunately, many people don't want to do this, because they don't like the answer.

I think that GCVW refers to the total weight of the car, the trailer, and all options and all cargo in both - regardless of how you get there. The issue of "This usually implies an empty vehicle, no gas or driver/passenger(s)" usually refers to the vehicle's tow rating, as specified by the manufacturer. In other words, when the manufacturer says "This vehicle is rated to tow 3500 pounds", check the asterisk! There always is one. And it always means "3500 pounds when there are no passengers, no cargo, no factory options, no aftermarket options, and (often) no gas in the vehicle". This is where newcomers often go wrong, concluding that a 3500-pound-rated tow vehicle can actually tow 3500 pounds, even after they add 1000 pounds of passengers, cargo, and options to the vehicle. T'ain't so.

And finally (and believe me, I am not trying to nitpick your excellent post), I think that the statement "you want to have a 7 position plug-in for your TM" should be rephrased as "you MUST have a properly wired 7-position plug-in ...". Over the years we have had a couple forum members trying to get by with a 4-pin-to-7-pin adapter (or a 5-pin-to-7-pin or 6-pin-to-7-pin adapter). This will not work. It must be a properly-wired 7-pin socket.

Again, thanks for starting a good thread.

Bill

Nature Recorder
07-02-2009, 10:25 PM
Thanks all for the great feedback!

I have updated my post based on these inputs. I hope I have properly paraphrased these inputs. It is always helpful to have another set of eyes to review what I feel is a very important process to evaluate towing needs.

If you would be so kind as to review again, I will be looking forward to your feedback.

harveyrv
07-02-2009, 11:09 PM
Although I agree with Bill in theory....the reality of selecting ""WHERE do you plan to tow your trailer?" , may be a bit naive IMO........ How does the old saying go??...."The best laid plan of mice and men" or something like that.....:new_bdays.

I feel that the TV should be up to all challenges that it could possibly be challenged by. That is why vehicles are given ratings in the 1st place. You don't see "regional exceptions" on ratings.

I live in So Ca and I mostly tow along the coast, which could be considered, "Moderate" towing. However, there will ALWAYS be that "one special trip" to the mountains or wherever.

I truly feel that any responsible person should have a TV that is capable of towing a specific weight trailer that they have, under the most extreme circumstances. It is the very odd exception that someone would go out and buy a new TV because a particular trip presented itself (and trust me.....it always will).

When you are a camping enthusiast (as many of us are) or even if you're not, that scenario seems to always present itself.

When I say "the most extreme circumstances", I'm not suggesting that it is essential that one has a 1-ton pick-up to tow a TM. I'm merely suggesting that one should never compromise with the factory weight limits because they "Mainly" travel in flat lands. It only takes one incident to ruin a trip or even take a life.

Redhawk
07-03-2009, 07:46 AM
Along the same lines as being discussed here, you should also look at the full financial commitment when purchasing a TM. (as I'm finding out).
You need a towing package, the factory installed one is most desirable, a WDH hitch will likely be needed, increased maintenance of the TV over time, what does your used TM need to get it trail worthy and comfortable, license plates and taxes, what accessories do you need to make it work for you? covers? new tires? how about a tv or microwave? Generators? Storage fees? Batteries? Brakes? Solar panels? Propane tanks......
You get the idea, it starts adding up quickly and I assume it is on going to a certain extent. My point being, it would be wise to take a full inventory to get a good estimate of true costs.

robertkennel
07-03-2009, 09:49 PM
The 2007 Toyota Highlander states: Total load capacity means combined weight of occupants,cargo and luggage. Tongue load is included when trailer towing. Total load capacity with third seat is 1159 pounds. Towing capacity with 3.3 L V6 with towing package is 3500 pnds max. No asterick. page 310 of owners manual. The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating is 5,360 for my vehicle(on front driver's door jam).

On page 402 Towing capacity (trailer weight plus cargo weight) is 3500 pounds. There is an asterick here with foot notes 7,9 which state 3.3 L V6 engine and with tow package. Page 322 states the gross combination weight (sum of your vehicle weight plus its load and the total trailer weight) must not exceed the following 3.3 L V6 with towing package 8860 pounds. (GVWR 5,360 plus 3,500 Tow Capacity equals 8860)

It also notes if your vehicle will be towing a trailer, load from your trailer will be transferred to your vehicle. Consult this manual to determine how this reduces the available cargo and luggage load capacity of your vehicle.

I don't see a problem towing up to 3500 pnds but the problem is the max 350 pound tongue weight for a 3.3 L V6 with tow package. Toyota says the trailer cargo load should be distributed so that the tongue load is 9 to 11% of the total trailer weight. Page 323

So the big disclaimer: CHECK YOUR OWN VEHICLES OWNERS MANUAL CAREFULLY AND NOT WHAT IS WRITTEN HERE.

Read carefully is the key, as you can see all this information is on many different pages. Performance also changes when any weight is changed so just because you are within limits doesn't mean it's going to stop or handle the same. Robert

freein05
07-03-2009, 10:37 PM
Good post I do not have much to add. I bought my TV before I bought my TM. I study the specs on the TM and the TV I eventually bought. I do think people tend to look at the dry weight of the TM and use that as the towing weight instead of the gross weight. The TM salesmen also tend to sale it on the idea it can be towed by almost any vehicle.

I also agree with harveyrv you should but a TV for the most demanding towing conditions.

rumbleweed
07-04-2009, 06:10 AM
As you can see from my equipment profile, I have what might be considered overkill, but when I had an unusual incident in front of me two weeks ago requiring an aggressive stop, it was certainly not overkill.

Redhawk
07-04-2009, 07:03 AM
I reviewed all the TV specs and did a lot of figuring before purchasing the TM, it all works and I have about 800lbs left over for gear in the car. I'd MUCH prefer to have overkill like Rumbleweed, but that can't happen right now. My Subaru is getting high mileage, so plans are being made for when it needs to be replaced.

If the Highlander #'s were aimed at me, they are all wrong for the '08 Highlander, different beast. But still appreciate the analysis.

Tango286
07-04-2009, 10:29 AM
Question about how to drive in or through our higher mountains:

If one's TrailManor, say a 3326K, when fully loaded for the road weighs in at about 5000 lbs, and one's truck, say a Ford F-150, has a towing rating of 7000 lbs. one would think there would be no problem towing in any elevation. Right? But I have heard that a 2000 lb. towing advantage may not be enough. The F-150 would slow down considerably towing the 3326 TrailManor in the mountains.

My question: under the scenario presented how should one tow, 1) let the truck slow down and try to enjoy the time of day and others passing you by, or 2) step on the gas (pedal to the metal) and force the truck to down shift and get the truck moving a bit faster?

How do you drive in the mountains?

Thanks.

Redhawk
07-04-2009, 12:39 PM
Hi Tango, I have not pulled the TM thru the mountains yet, but have towed other things like ATV's and such up and over some of the hardest passes.
I have found that it seems to be easier on the TV and my self if i get in the slow lane and try and keep the revs in that 3,000 - 4,000 range, otherwise, you may over heat your TV. If your are towing ANYTHING, everyone thinks they need to pass you no matter how fast you are going. So make it easy on everyone and everything....take it easy.

When you start going down the other side, just put it in neutral and let 'er roll. j/k.....of course you want to use engine braking (a lower gear) as much as possible going down. If you can't, do yourself a favor and find a pull out and let the brakes cool down. Sounds simple, but you wouldn't believe all the people that use their brakes all the way down....and you can smell them when they go by you. Very dangerous!

Take your time in the mountains....it's a lot safer.

Tango286
07-04-2009, 05:10 PM
Thanks much for the info you provided. Wonder is there is anyone else who would care to share their experience in driving in and over high mountains?

harveyrv
07-04-2009, 05:18 PM
Question about how to drive in or through our higher mountains:

If one's TrailManor, say a 3326K, when fully loaded for the road weighs in at about 5000 lbs, and one's truck, say a Ford F-150, has a towing rating of 7000 lbs. one would think there would be no problem towing in any elevation. Right? But I have heard that a 2000 lb. towing advantage may not be enough. The F-150 would slow down considerably towing the 3326 TrailManor in the mountains.

My question: under the scenario presented how should one tow, 1) let the truck slow down and try to enjoy the time of day and others passing you by, or 2) step on the gas (pedal to the metal) and force the truck to down shift and get the truck moving a bit faster?

How do you drive in the mountains?

Thanks.

Redhawk is right. You should look for a minimum of 60% of your engine's maximum RPM rating. Below that, horsepower and torque drop off dramatically. Try not to maintain over 80% of your max RPM over long periods of time. If your engine is downshifting, then up-shifting, lock it in the lower of the 2 gears. However, IMO the emphasis should be reversed (as I'm sure was his intent). Towing safety is 90% braking and 10% pulling. I don't think that very many people have ever been hurt by pulling up a mountain too slowly. It's all about coming down the other side.

Gearing of the vehicle means a lot. If the gears are too high, it's hard to get enough RPM out of the engine to have adequate power to pull mountains. When going down a gear, it often slows the vehicle to a point that getting enough air through the radiator, to accommodate the cooling required for the work that the engine is doing, becomes a problem. With most V6 engines, a 3.73 - 4.10 final drive gear ratio may be required for mountain driving. 3.42 may cause lugging and 3.08 is simply inadequate unless you have a BIG honking V-8.

Frankly, I feel that My S-10 PU may be over-rated for towing capacity because of down-hill grades. The tow rating (6400#) is nearly twice the dry weight of the vehicle (3221#). The truck has good size tires and some pretty hefty brakes. I'm not concerned about brake fading (the most dangerous aspect of towing). However, I am concerned that the vehicle may not be able to make an emergency stop going down a grade with a trailer pushing it due to the lack of weight of the TV.

There are so many things to be considered (even beyond manufacturers ratings). However, knowing the short-comings of your TV and letting that effect your driving habits can go a long way. A lot can be over-come (but not everything) by the way that you drive. Manufacturer's maximum ratings should be our MINIMUM requirements and only a starting point at looking at the entire towing experience.

lnussbau
07-05-2009, 06:25 AM
As mentioned in the above posts, there are two aspects to towing (or even just driving) in the mountains, especially those in the western U.S.: climbing and descending. Many of the factors apply equally to the eastern mountains, such as steep grades up and down, but the higher altitudes of the western mountains rob your engine of power and rob the air of its cooling power, that is, the air is thinner so cannot extract as much heat from cooling devices.

Wayne did a marvelous job of covering the uphill portion, especially talking about gearing, etc. One other item I'd like to mention is something I've only encountered once. My TV used to be an Explorer Sport Trac with the big V-6. On one road headed from Denver up to the Golden Gate State Park there was a very steep grade (well over 6%) on this narrow two lane road, and due to traffic I had to stop on this grade. Unfortunately, I couldn't get started again from the spot where I stopped -- there just wasn't enough oomph in the Sport Trac to do the job -- so I wound up backing down the hill a bit (thankfully not much over a hundred feet) to a bit more level spot where I could get rolling again. That's part of why I now have an F-150.

Both Wayne and John also have some good things to say about the downhill leg, but I'd add a little: the trailer pushes you. "let 'er roll" isn't always a good idea, except on the shallower slopes, since your speed may soon get out of hand, either exceeding what is safe for the tires/vehicle or what is safe for the curves(or both). In these cases, you may want to get slow enough to downshift (maybe more than one gear, depending on steepness, vehicle, road conditions, traffic, etc) to let engine braking reduce your braking needs to a few moments every little while, rather than almost continuous. You don't want the brakes to fade and you don't want them to catch fire.

Note that engine braking in a given gear won't be nearly as effective with the TM attached as it is without it, since the TM pushes hard going downhill. Do not let your vehicle build up a head of steam on the descent -- you may not be able to overcome it on the steeper slopes, especially those which have curves (nearly all of them). Be aware, too, that on many occasions the downhill grades may continue for several miles.

Finally, when there are warnings about steep grades for truckers, consider that those warnings also apply to you, if not quite to the same extent. That TM, combined with gravity, puts quite a load on your TV.

rumbleweed
07-05-2009, 08:08 AM
What is the combined TV / TM weight? Does it exceed the specs ( remember the TV weight is dry weight also so add in the passengers, and all the stuff in the bed. I have a 3/4 ton PU and a smaller trailer and when I had to make a sudden stop a few weeks ago, it was OK but certainly not as easy as I would have liked. If you get a spot with no traffic, try a stop so you know what to expect when you don't have a choice.

Bluegrass
07-05-2009, 09:08 AM
I concur with the above posts. I try to keep RPMs in the 3000-4000 range going up hill.

Going downhill, I get over to the right, keep plenty of space between me and the vehicle ahead, watch my speed very carefully, downshift on any steep grades and use my brakes sparingly.

Many years ago I lost my brakes to fade on a F-150 while taking my boat down a very long downgrade. Fortunately we were near the bottom but that was a scary experience. Never again!!!

harveyrv
07-05-2009, 11:30 AM
The reason that I used the 60%/80% formula in my post is so that those with the high RPM DOHC engines don't use the 3000-4000RPM figure.

If one has an engine that red-lines at 7000RPM they will want to keep a minimum RPM around 4000-4500 and a max sustained RPM around 5000 when climbing hills. This may even require grabbing a lower gear on some vehicles.

The reason that I mention this is that the torque ratings on a 7000RPM DOHC engine are drastically reduced at 3000-4000RPM and the driver will probably not be able to maintain speed. That engine should be able to be run in a lower gear and allowed to turn at a substantially higher RPM without concern of damaging the engine. DOHC engines develop most of their HP and torque at the higher end of the RPM curve.

Here's an interesting article on Torque/Hp:
http://auto.howstuffworks.com/horsepower1.htm

Here's a curve chart on a 7000RPM engine that describes what I was mentioning, the thing that must be recognized here is that this chart is on a racing engine. The torque curve on your engine will be a lot less in the lower RPM range, starting at closer to zero with a smooth curve, just above the HP curve then crossing over in about the same place:
http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/horsepower2.gif

On the other hand, if one has a diesel, they develop torque quite early and it may be best to keep them at a between 2500 and 3500RPM.

It's a good idea to look up the torque/HP curve chart on your TV so that you have a better understanding how what RPM range YOUR vehicle runs most efficiently at. Every engine model is designed with a different HP/torque curve. If you drive mountains, this information could be valuable to you.

One other tip on towing engines. Be sure to use synthetic oil in your engine and transmission. Synthetic oil disperses heat far better than petrol oils. This reduces heat build up and wear & tear on your engine. It's almost like adding a larger radiator to your vehicle.

When you are pulling a grade and you see the temp gage start to climb, that means that the engine is not releasing heat at a fast enough rate. As the moving parts of your engine heat up, they expand which causes more friction and less available HP. Think of your temp gage as a HP reduction gage. This means, the hotter that your engine gets, the more fuel that you have to give it (increased throttle) which, in turn, increases the heat even more. If the engine gets hot enough, it will actually "Seize", which means it will abruptly stop and may never turn again.

When mountain driving, keep an eye on the temp gage and don't let it get anywhere near the Red zone. If the gage is close, pull over, open the hood and let the engine cool down. If you haven't lost water, it's OK to leave it at idle for a few minutes before turning it off. NEVER open the radiator cap on a hot engine EVER. If you do, make sure that you are close to hospital a burn center because you may need it. This is very serious stuff. There have been cases where people have lost their entire face and/or received 3rd degree burns over their upper body. The Steam released from that radiator can be as high as 600 degrees. When the radiator cap is removed the entire cooling system may "Explode" all over you. That's roughly 3 gallons of boiling water and a huge amount of vaporous gas (steam), all released with a second or 2. That's not something to be messed with. The radiator cap should be cool enough to remove without using a rag for burn protection. If it isn't, leave it alone.

If you are using synthetic oil in your engine and trans, a 30 minute rest may be adequate. If you are using petrol based oil, the cooling process will be far longer, up to 2 hours. Never poor water on a hot engine. Although a spray bottle that delivers a mist can be very helpful. As the mist touches the hot surface, steam will be produces and the evaporation encourages heat release. This must be done with care because the steam can cause severe burns. If you have a 12V fan, that may help a lot. Don't run your battery down. If you can, use the battery from the camper. The thing that retains heat the longest is petrol based oils.

ED-n-KEL
07-06-2009, 02:51 PM
Although I agree with Bill in theory....the reality of selecting ""WHERE do you plan to tow your trailer?" , may be a bit naive IMO........ How does the old saying go??...."The best laid plan of mice and men" or something like that.....:new_bdays.

I feel that the TV should be up to all challenges that it could possibly be challenged by. That is why vehicles are given ratings in the 1st place. You don't see "regional exceptions" on ratings.

Wayne, I fully understand what you're trying to say, and actually agree somewhat, but there is very valid point to Bill's comment about "where you plan to tow". I agree that if you are going out specifically to buy a TV for a TM, that you should "buy as big as you can afford", but "region" does come in to play, especially if you are like most and have a budget.

For example, it's at least a two day drive in any direction from New Orleans before you hit anything close to a "hill" much less a mountain. My wife and I could camp for years and never go over 200ft above sea level.
Do we eventually want to go to places like Yellowstone, Yosemite, etc,??... sure, but I can guarantee it won't be for at least 5-7yrs. We could use up a TV in that time, and then buy a larger one later when we do plan on more challenging trips.
There are also many who use RV's to simply get away on the weekends and rarely go more than a few hundred miles from home. If home is a place like Louisiana, then "grunt" is rarely needed, thus "region" does come into play.

Now if I was retired and going out today to buy that ultimate TV for the next 10yrs, and money is no object, then I would say to plan for the unexpected and buy a beast. I know I would.

Bill
07-07-2009, 08:13 AM
That is why vehicles are given ratings in the 1st place. You don't see "regional exceptions" on ratings.That's exactly the problem I was trying to lay out, Wayne. In my opinion, there SHOULD be regional exceptions (or at least regional advisories) on tow vehicle tow ratings. It doesn't take much thought to realize to realize that a single one-size-fits-all number cannot possibly cover all situations. But that is what the manufacturers give you. Again in my opinion, the tow vehicle manufacturers quote the best possible number (that is, the sea-level flatland number) because it maximizes their chance of selling you a vehicle. It is up to the buyer to realize that the flatland number won't apply when you are not in the flatlands.

I can guarantee you that a 3500-pound rated vehicle will not be adequate going up 8% grades at 8,000 feet as you approach a campground in Yosemite National Park in the high Sierras - or a campground at 10,000 feet in Colorado. I have gone both places with my TM and Explorer (rated 6800 pounds), and it was a long slow slog. [Full disclosure - I am unwilling to run the engine near red line for prolonged periods of time.] In spite of the fact that I had more than 2-to-1 margin (according to Ford), there were moments when I wasn't sure I was going to make it. Again in my opinion, there should be a regional advisiory, but since there is not, it is up to the owner to be smart about it.

Bill

harveyrv
07-07-2009, 10:05 AM
That's exactly the problem I was trying to lay out, Wayne. In my opinion, there SHOULD be regional exceptions (or at least regional advisories) on tow vehicle tow ratings. It doesn't take much thought to realize to realize that a single one-size-fits-all number cannot possibly cover all situations. But that is what the manufacturers give you. Again in my opinion, the tow vehicle manufacturers quote the best possible number (that is, the sea-level flatland number) because it maximizes their chance of selling you a vehicle. It is up to the buyer to realize that the flatland number won't apply when you are not in the flatlands.

I can guarantee you that a 3500-pound rated vehicle will not be adequate going up 8% grades at 8,000 feet as you approach a campground in Yosemite National Park in the high Sierras - or a campground at 10,000 feet in Colorado. I have gone both places with my TM and Explorer (rated 6800 pounds), and it was a long slow slog. [Full disclosure - I am unwilling to run the engine near red line for prolonged periods of time.] In spite of the fact that I had more than 2-to-1 margin (according to Ford), there were moments when I wasn't sure I was going to make it. Again in my opinion, there should be a regional advisiory, but since there is not, it is up to the owner to be smart about it.

Bill

Point well taken. The problem is, most consumers will still purchase a tow vehicle that will tow the maximum trailer with the minimum TV in most cases.

I would like to see people do as much research as possible to know EXACTLY what they have and what the limitations are.

It's really encouraging when we have discussions like this because it puts out a lot of information and opinions on towing the TMs. My fear is that someone, sooner or later, will not be able to stop one of these things going back down that 10,000' mountain that you mentioned.

Going up the mountain slowly offers little danger. The dangerous aspect is having a TV that can slow and stop that load going down those grades.

PopBeavers
07-07-2009, 10:12 AM
[QUOTE=harveyrv;60864
Going up the mountain slowly offers little danger. The dangerous aspect is having a TV that can slow and stop that load going down those grades.[/QUOTE]

Many years ago I saw a class C come within a few hundred yards of Sonora Summit. He was unable to climb any higher. He had to back down a narrow two lane road.

An undersized TV towing a trailer in that situation would have had a much more difficult time backing down that road.

There is a sign much lower down the mountain that states that it is not advisable to tow a trailer over that summit, but I am pretty sure I could.

I think I can, I think I can...

FotoCEO
07-07-2009, 01:14 PM
When you are pulling a grade and you see the temp gage start to climb, that means that the engine is not releasing heat at a fast enough rate. As the moving parts of your engine heat up, they expand which causes more friction and less available HP. Think of your temp gage as a HP reduction gage. This means, the hotter that your engine gets, the more fuel that you have to give it (increased throttle) which, in turn, increases the heat even more. If the engine gets hot enough, it will actually "Seize", which means it will abruptly stop and may never turn again.

When mountain driving, keep an eye on the temp gage and don't let it get anywhere near the Red zone. If the gage is close, pull over, open the hood and let the engine cool down. If you haven't lost water, it's OK to leave it at idle for a few minutes before turning it off. NEVER open the radiator cap on a hot engine EVER. If you do, make sure that you are close to hospital a burn center because you may need it. This is very serious stuff. There have been cases where people have lost their entire face and/or received 3rd degree burns over their upper body. The Steam released from that radiator can be as high as 600 degrees. When the radiator cap is removed the entire cooling system may "Explode" all over you. That's roughly 3 gallons of boiling water and a huge amount of vaporous gas (steam), all released with a second or 2. That's not something to be messed with. The radiator cap should be cool enough to remove without using a rag for burn protection. If it isn't, leave it alone.

If you are using synthetic oil in your engine and trans, a 30 minute rest may be adequate. If you are using petrol based oil, the cooling process will be far longer, up to 2 hours. Never poor water on a hot engine. Although a spray bottle that delivers a mist can be very helpful. As the mist touches the hot surface, steam will be produces and the evaporation encourages heat release. This must be done with care because the steam can cause severe burns. If you have a 12V fan, that may help a lot. Don't run your battery down. If you can, use the battery from the camper. The thing that retains heat the longest is petrol based oils.

Great information, thank you. My question now is, "how do I figure out if I need to install a transmission cooler?"

Are there general guidelines for figuring that out as well?

And if someone wants to help me, specifically, figure out if I need one, my TV is a 2006 Toyota Sequoia and I'll be towing a 2720. I don't want to mess with minimums, I'd rather figure everything out at the maximum weight I may have so that I don't have to think about it every time. I'm not the type to try to figure out what I can get away with - I want to be safe at all times and have more than I need (hp, torque, stopping power, etc.). For example, I'll be installing a Prodigy before picking up the trailer next week, even though one dealer I talked to said that was way more controller than I would need.

ShrimpBurrito
07-07-2009, 01:24 PM
I also lean towards over-equipping vs. the bare minimum. For reference, I have a 2005 Sequoia with the factory towing package, which included an auxiliary tranny cooler. It would be easy to tell if you have one -- it looks like a small radiator, is roughly 6-8 inches tall and 3-4 inches wide, has 2 rubber hoses connected to it at the bottom, and sits directly in front of the A/C condenser, which is directly in front of the radiator. If you can't tell, I'll take a picture. If you don't have one, get one. They are very cheap insurance ($50-$100) for your several thousand dollar tranny. If you're at all handy, you can install it yourself. It's pretty easy.

Other than adding a Prodigy P3 brake controller (which was very easy as it was factory pre-wired), I did nothing to equip the vehicle to tow our 2720SL.

Dave

Bill
07-07-2009, 02:27 PM
Great information, thank you. My question now is, "how do I figure out if I need to install a transmission cooler?"Good question. As a general rule, I think the answer is "Unless you have a moose of a tow vehicle, you need one." And I think Wayne is the only one of us who comes close to moose-dom. Look at it this way. Every car with an automatic transmission has a transmission cooler. The tow vehicle manufacturer puts in a cooler that is adequate to the needs of the vehicle - but no more. Why not? A bigger cooler would cost more, raising the price of the vehicle. And the manufacturer doesn't want that, of course.

So now, you put a trailer on the back of the tow vehicle - a trailer that weighs as much as the vehicle itself. (Both about 4000 pounds.) Now the transmission has to handle twice the load. Do you want to bet your tranny that the stock cooler will handle double the load that the mfr intended? Maybe not.

Another way to answer the question is to do some research on your vehicle, and see what goes into the factory-installed optional towing package. It is not always easy to find out, since some manufacturers are pretty coy. But if you can find out, I think you will find that it consists of a Class III hitch receiver, a 7-pin electrical connector, and an aux transmission cooler. There may be other things, but this is the core of the package. And from that, you can conclude that the manufacturer thinks you need it.

Hope this helps.

Bill

Bill
07-07-2009, 02:37 PM
The problem is, most consumers will still purchase a tow vehicle that will tow the maximum trailer with the minimum TV in most cases. I would like to see people do as much research as possible to know EXACTLY what they have and what the limitations are. It's really encouraging when we have discussions like this because it puts out a lot of information and opinions on towing the TMs.Wayne, we are in exact agreement on this! One of the purposes of the entire TMO board is to help TM owners understand what is involved in towing a TM, and to truly understand it - not just accept unsubstantiated advice from someone's cousin's brother-in-law. As part of this, we want to help with the research on what all the ratings mean and don't mean, and your inputs to the process are great. And at the end, we all hope that TM owners will be a little more knowledgeable and a little better equipped than other trailer owners.

[soapbox mode OFF]

Bill

ShrimpBurrito
07-07-2009, 03:40 PM
And I think Wayne is the only one of us who comes close to moose-dom. Look at it this way. Every car with an automatic transmission has a transmission cooler.

Yes, but Wayne also carries 10,000 gallons of water/soda/beer, 2 motorbikes, a generator, 26 people, a lawnmower, snowblower, and hay baler. Ok, maybe the baler is a bit of an exaggeration. But point being, even Wayne needs a big tranny cooler. :D

Dave

harveyrv
07-07-2009, 04:04 PM
When it comes to trans coolers, bigger is generally better. In the case of the Sequoia, I think that I might consider getting one with an electric fan. They don't cost that much more and it looks to me like the front of that Sequoia doesn't give you a lot of air flow.

I love the Sequoia and have considered looking into one. They have a lot of capacity and options.

ShrimpBurrito
07-07-2009, 04:18 PM
In the case of the Sequoia, I think that I might consider getting one with an electric fan.

Our Sequoia came with an electric fan. So does our Jeep Cherokee for that matter.

Dave

harveyrv
07-07-2009, 04:39 PM
Our Sequoia came with an electric fan. So does our Jeep Cherokee for that matter.

Dave

Are you talking about the electric engine fan or does it have 2 separate fans? Just curious......

For an add-on cooler, I like this one:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/REMOTE-TRANSMISSION-OIL-COOLER-SPAL-SANDRAIL-DUNEBUGGY_W0QQcmdZViewItemQQ_trkparmsZ65Q3a12Q7c66 Q3a2Q7c39Q3a1Q7c72Q3a1171Q7c293Q3a1Q7c294Q3a50QQ_t rksidZp3286Q2ec0Q2em14QQhashZitem56330939bbQQitemZ 370223430075QQptZMotorsQ5fCarQ5fTruckQ5fPartsQ5fAc cessories

ShrimpBurrito
07-07-2009, 05:33 PM
Are you talking about the electric engine fan or does it have 2 separate fans? Just curious......

The Sequoia has a total of 2 engine fans. One belt driven behind the radiator, and one electric in front of the A/C condensor, adjacent to the aux tranny cooler.

I believe both the belt and electric fans in the Jeep are adjacent to each other, behind the radiator.

Dave

harveyrv
07-07-2009, 05:37 PM
Let's drop the subject.....I don't want to go out and buy another vehicle right now.......I shoulda bought a Sequoia when I had the chance...:rolleyes:

ShrimpBurrito
07-07-2009, 05:55 PM
Haha...when I tell people about the good deal we got on our TM, I often neglect to mention that the purchase inspired the additional purchase of the TV. Ooops. :D

Dave

robertkennel
07-07-2009, 09:34 PM
Well tow ratings and trans coolers have been covered but lubrication could use some more coverage. Transfer case,engine oil, differential oil, transmission oil, and even power steering oil should also be considered when using a vehicle for towing. My boss told me about a web site that is a forum on lubrication. This is an EXCELLENT site. The first time I spent two hours on it. www.bobistheoilguy.com
If your into maintenance you'll love this site. Robert

Redhawk
07-07-2009, 09:55 PM
Let's drop the subject.....I don't want to go out and buy another vehicle right now.......I shoulda bought a Sequoia when I had the chance...:rolleyes:

You must have been reading my mind......I was thinking the exact same.

freein05
07-07-2009, 10:40 PM
A little off subject. What PopBeavers said is worth noting. Today we were coming back from a hike on Ebbetts Pass Hwy 4 in California. Driving our little car and a couple driving a 30 foot or more class A motor home was just starting up the pass. I doubt he made it. The road is only a lane and half wide. No center line. There are grades exceeding I would guess 10% with hair pin curves. The peak of the pass is 8,500 feet. It is a lot worse than Sonora Pass.

It is always a good idea to check with locals before you attempt a high mountain pass that you are not familiar with and that is not a major highway.

B_and_D
07-07-2009, 10:49 PM
We just got back from a trip going from sea level to over 7000 feet and back, and let me tell you all, I was glad to have been towing with our Chevy 1500 on this trip. I feel so safe towing the TM both up and down the mountains with this truck. On the way home, I slipped it down into 2nd gear and hardly had to use the brakes (it wasn't that steep, just a long, long downward descent).

Living where we do, just about every year we have to climb that high up and descend that far down to go where we want to camp. I can't even imagine towing our 2720 on our trips without our truck. Even just crossing over Highway 17 between here and San Jose, it's a steep climb.

The worst part is going downhill. I never feel like I have "the tail wagging the dog".

California is full of mountains. That's where we like to go, and I don't think we'd feel safe without our tow vehicle being as big and powerful as it is (and it's really not that big, compared to some others).