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Old 01-27-2004, 01:14 PM   #1
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Default thinking of trailmanor. Need help!

We are looking at a trailmanor but not sure we can tow it. They said we needed a class three hitch but toyota doesn't make or recommend a class three for our SUV. We have a 2003 Highlander limited 3.ol V6 VVT-I eng 3-stage awd with the two prep pkg and converter maximum 3500 lbs. On the specs of the vehicle it says Capacities:
curb weight - 3880
fuel tank - 19.8
towing pkg with converter - 3500
GVWR - 4985
Payload - 1105

Do you think we can pull a trailmanor? do we really need a class three hitch? We are new at this and are really confused. Please HELP ???
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Old 01-27-2004, 03:04 PM   #2
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Default Re:thinking of trailmanor. Need help!

I understand your confusion, it brings back memories of when we first started. I spent thousands of dollars trying to make every thing safe and sound.

The basic question to start with is what is the maxium hitch weight your Highlander will hold. Then what is the highest weight the trailer will put on the hitch.

The breaking point is 500 lbs. If you can be sure that there will never be more than 500 lbs on the hitch you are ok there. (I don't think you can. . .will explain later)

In looking at your specks you list a payload of 1105. This is where the real problem come in. Start with the 500 lbs. that leaves you with a total of 605 lbs for everything else you carry including gas. Assuming you are small folks and there are just the two of you (he at 150 she at 125) that is down another 275 lbs giving us only 330 lbs we can carry minus the gas of a full tank. See where I'm going?
Camping means carting lots of stuff, you don't have the payload to do it.

Back to the trailer. What makes the TM so stable is that the wheels are set back a good deal from center which means that most of the weight you put in the trailer is going to end up split between the wheels of the trailer and the hitch. So even if you start with a hitch at or under the 500 lbs number when you add things in the trailer, like water, food, bedding, etc. you are increasing the weight you place on the hitch.

Now I really don't know what I'm doing but I think you would be asking for trouble down the road, when you least need or expect it, if you were to try to put these two together.

Anyone else see it differently?
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Old 01-27-2004, 04:43 PM   #3
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Default Re:thinking of trailmanor. Need help!

I tow with a Nissan Pathfinder rated at 5000 lbs and a 500 hitch weight. We added a class three hitch and a weight distribution hitch and it tows beautifully. We drive easily at 65 mph and the rpms hover around 3400, the same as if we were not towing and w/o overdrive. We have towed with this since last April several thousand miles. On mountains we were at 50 mph which I think is reasonable. Talk to several mechanics at the dealers and get a good feel from them.

I have to say that it is important not to be misled by the salesperson. He most likely will tell you want you want to hear. Good luck.
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Old 01-27-2004, 07:35 PM   #4
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Default Re:thinking of trailmanor. Need help!

I concur with previous comments, and add an example from aviation - regarding limitations.

Pilots are constantly taught that their planes can perform fine at a calculated max takeoff weight for elevation, temp, etc. They'll dutifully acknowledge the theory during instruction in the classroom and in the flight simulator. But, put a full load of passengers and baggage on the plane, raise the air temp so that the plane is AT max takeoff weight- and they start to sweat bullets. Theory meets reality. Even though the charts allow a takeoff, it doesn't "feel" right. What if an engine hiccupped at rotation. And so on.

Same process (w/out paying pax) applies when a trailer is towed at or a little above capacity. Stopping distances increase disproportionately due to brake energy needed. Transmission and engine wear increases, and so on. If the driver is aware of some, or all the effects, he/she can't help regularly worrying about something going wrong.

Which is exactly why I traded my Honda Odyssey (3500 lb tow limit) for a Toyota 4Runner. PEACE of MIND! It requires excess capacity from the tow vehicle to be a carefree camper. A tow limit of at least 5000 lbs will handle almost every TM made (3326 would be a stretch). The 4Runner (5000 lbs. tow limit) has set me free. Especially in the hills, on steep grades. No worries!

HTH - Denny_A
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Old 01-27-2004, 08:54 PM   #5
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Default Re:thinking of trailmanor. Need help!

I have to agree with the others. It's just too much for the Highlander to handle. You do need a Class III hitch because of tongue weight, which others have pointed out is a problem because of the low weight capacity of the Highlander. At one point I read about someone towing a TM with a Ford Escape. They soon traded up to a larger TV. Aside from the issue of rather or not you can tow the TM down the road, it just isn't going to be safe or pleasent.

Another issue which hasn't been brought up is wheelbase. I'm not sure what the wheelbase of the Highlander is, but I expect it to be small. Longer wheelbase makes the combo more stable. Do a search on the board for wheelbase, going back about a year. RockyMtnRay has some excellent posts on the subject. If you can't find them post back and I or someone else will explain why wheelbase is important.

I tow a 1991 M-26 which is equivalent to today's 3023 with a Ford Ranger rated at 5660#. I wouldn't want to tow much more with it. It goes great, but when we lost the brakes on the TM coming down Wolf Creek Pass in Colorado I had to depend on the truck brakes to stop us. The summer after that we were nearly hit by a impatient driver who tried to sneak up on the right between us and a semi at an entrance ramp merge. Guess they couldn't wait to get on the highway to pass that semi. If it hadn't been for an empty left lane, a stable TV/TM combo and WDH hitch w/sway control I think that there would have been some bent metal that day. Those are the reasons on which I base my judgement of tow vehicles on. There are some who argue that even my Ranger is too little for a 3023.

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Old 01-28-2004, 06:09 AM   #6
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Default Re:thinking of trailmanor. Need help!


Agree with all said so far. The Highlander is a great vehicle -- but it's not much of a tow vehicle. Toyota never intended it to be. It is essentially a Camry with a SUV body. The frame is essentially a uni-body Camry frame. As you no doubt already know -- this is one super comfortable vehicle when you travel on long trips. It is quiet and fairly fuel efficient. It's "4 wheel drive" setup is near flawless and works great in situations that the bulk of us "SUVer's" encounter -- normally snow, mud, and standing water on highways. It isn't much of an off-road, rock climbing, "conquer Killimanjaro" truck -- but again, that's not what or who it was designed for. It rides well because it's suspension is that of a car and not a truck. All those qualities make it an attractive "SUV" without all the ugly-SUV baggage. It is also why it's not very good for towing.

As everyone has already pointed out to you, the hitch weight (basically the downward force that the trailer will exert on your tow vehicle's hitch receiver) is the factor you need to worry about most. A TM (even the smallest 2619) when fully loaded (including propane in the tanks, maybe water, and all the "essentials&quot will easily climb to 600 lbs or more. That weight will put you into the Class III requirement. COULD you tow with a lower class hitch? Well yes, but the real question is SHOULD you. You could tow with a hitch ball wired to the rear bumper with a coat hangar, but the real question is SHOULD you. The consideration is how safe do you want to be -- for you, your family, and anyone else on the road.

You'll also see a lot of discussion here about weight-distributing hitches versus weight carrying hitches. The W/D hitch basically has bars that act as cantilevers and allow you to transfer (or distribute, hence the name) the hitch load more evenly among the tow vehicles rear axle, front axle, and trailer axle. I know you've seen cars (usually a Ford Escort) going down the road with a U-Haul hitch bolted to the rear bumper pulling the largest U-Haul trailer that can be rented. If it's night time, the Escort's headlights are pointed at the top of the trees searching for owls because the butt end of the car is about .2 millimeters above the road surface. This is what a W/D hitch prevents. When properly adjusted, the longitudinal axes of both the towed trailer and tow vehicle are near level. I don't think you'll be able to use a W/D hitch with the Highlander because the hitch receiver will not be attached to the frame in such a way that the hitch can transfer the loads. This is because the Highlander is a uni-body construction and does not possess a beam type frame like you'll find on a truck. Because of the excellent design of the TM (already described to you), there are many folks on this site who only use a weight carrying hitch and have no problems. I won't "dis" any of them, but for me, a W/D is the only way to go for more added safety and piece of mind (I'm a suspenders and belt kind of guy anyway).

You're question is the first question that almost all of us asked when considering a TM for the first time. We all want reassurrance that the first thing we need NOT have to do when considering buying the TM is to also buy a new tow vehicle. If you are looking at a new TM & a new TV, you are looking at lightening your wallet to the tune of $50K (or more).

If you are a real Toyota fan, you really need to consider moving to at least a 4-Runner (if a SUV is your preference). A V-8 would be ideal; however, this year's 4-Runner went to a new V-6 and friends I know that have one are plenty happy with it as a TV. As you consider your decision, try to stay focused on a TV that is based on a truck frame with tow capacities no lower than 5000 lb, Type III hitch receiver, capable of using a W/D hitch, transmission cooler, heavy duty battery as towing minimums.

These are just my opinions, and there will be others on this site who will offer their's. The frequent contributers to this site are towing with (smallest TVs) 4-Runners, Sequias, Grand Cherekees, Tahoes, Explorers, Excursions, Durangos, Pilots, Odysseys, F-150s, Chevy 1500, Tundras as an example. Lots have bigger vehicles, and if you wander over to some of the other RV forums you'll get the RV "purist's" opinions that the minimum you need is a dual-wheeled, 10000 hp Cummins diesel, $3500 Blue Ox hitch, etc. Search this TM site and look at what real TM owners are using. You'll find lots of really good advice and help here. We all have our personal preferences but you'll notice most TM owners use vehicles that are at or above 5000lb/500lb hitch weights. I'll repeat myself -- the issue is safety. and when it comes to safety -- more is better.

Good luck and let us know what you decide. And if you have any other questions, this site is the place to come.

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Old 02-28-2004, 07:54 AM   #7
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Default Re:thinking of trailmanor. Need help!

Thanks Chris. I also own a Nissan Pathfinder 2000 model which does not have the larger engine of the current Pathfinder. I am glad to know that you can go through the mountains. I wasn't so sure if I could. I don't have a stabalizer bar. Does this really help?
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Old 02-29-2004, 05:41 AM   #8
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Default Re:thinking of trailmanor. Need help!

If you are referring to the WDH (weight distribution hitch) yes. I would not go anywhere without it. I bought mine when I was towing with my pickup and now with the Pathfinder. It makes a world of difference in handling and stability.

I'm looking at a new Pathfinder now ;D.
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Old 02-29-2004, 06:54 AM   #9
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Default Re:thinking of trailmanor. Need help!

[quote author=ccc6588 link=board=23;threadid=1636;start=msg12099#msg1209 9 date=1077980099]
I don't have a stabalizer bar. Does this really help?


As Chris says, a Weight Distributing Hitch is a necessity for smaller SUVs. A sway stabilizer bar on the WDH is not needed with a TM. Here's why:

Most travel trailers have their wheels fairly close to their center of gravity...this substantially reduces their tongue weight (a necessity since most such trailers are very heavy)...but it also causes them to readily want to pivot over those centered wheels (kind of like a top). That pivoting tendency...which manifests itself as made worse by the tall slab sides of a conventional trailer. Cross winds or the bow waves off of semi-trucks can make towing a conventional trailer a white knuckle experience. To help combat this nasty sway, a stabilizer bar is absolutely needed on the hitch.

By contrast, the wheels on a TM are substantially more toward the rear of the trailer. That rearward wheel location reduces the pivoting tendancy and puts a greater percentage of the trailer's weight on the tongue (feasible since TMs are so lightweight). Futhermore the low towing profile of a TM means there's not much side area for wind/truck bow waves to push on. The combination of these factors causes TMs to be inheritantly very sway resistant.

So not only is a stabilizer bar not needed, but TM actually recommends NOT using one because stabilizers can mask problems. For instance, you can destabilize a TM by lightly loading the front and heavily loading the back...say by hanging 4 heavy bicycles well behind the rear bumper. People who have done this kind of improper loading have reported they experienced some sway. This is the kind of problem that should be fixed by better distribution of load in/on the trailer rather than by trying to mask the sway with a stabilizer.

For two seasons I towed a 2720SL with a very short wheelbase Jeep Cherokee (only 103 inch WB). I did not use a stabilizer and not once ever felt the trailer sway...even in strong cross winds while meeting semis on a narrow two lane road.

Bottom line: you should not need a stabilizer bar to tow with your Pathfinder. A weight distributing hitch, yes; a stablizer no.

Did this answer your question?
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Old 07-31-2004, 05:06 PM   #10
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Default Re:thinking of trailmanor. Need help!

HELP!! Just recently bought a 2004 Highlander with tow package and just bought a 2619 TM 2 hours ago after being assured that it could be towed by a Highlander! Is there anything I can add or do... or should I cancel the purchase of the TM? I can't buy another TV.
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