Tow Vehicle Weight Ratings

Towing Rigs, Hitches, Weight Distribution, Sway Control
Mark R. Obtinario
Posts: 28
Joined: Sun Oct 09, 2016 3:14 am

Tow Vehicle Weight Ratings

Post by Mark R. Obtinario » Fri Oct 21, 2016 6:16 pm

I read and post some stuff on the Airstream Addict Facebook page. At times I wonder why I bother.

For me, it is pretty simple. If the tow rating for a particular vehicle sold in the United States is 3,500 lbs. I don't really care what the same car sold in Europe has for a tow rating. Unless you are going to use that car in Europe it doesn't really matter. What matters is how that car is going to be used here in the States.

In my book, advocating the use of a tow vehicle well outside of the OEM's rated tow weight is not only irresponsible but reckless.

I realize most people who purchase their first trailer usually do so by considering what they can afford and what they like. If it happens to be too much trailer for their tow vehicle, much like Nicky and Tacey in "The Long, Long Trailer", you end up purchasing a different tow vehicle.

Unfortunately, many of those who purchase their first trailer are sold by the salesman who tend to say anything to sell their goods. Not knowing any better, if the salesman says you will be fine you will assume the salesman is an expert and knows what he is saying.

There is a certain Airstream dealer in Canada that as far as I am concerned is not only irresponsible but is reckless in his tow vehicle recommendations. In one video he is towing a 34' Airstream with a mini-van. As far as he is concerned, if you use the proper weight distribution hitch, sway control, and brake control you should be able to tow anything with anything.

As far as irresponsible is concerned, telling someone to use your tow vehicle in a way in which the OEM didn't recommend could possibly void any new vehicle warranty but could do some major damage to a vehicle.

As far as reckless is concerned, telling someone to use your tow vehicle in a way in which the OEM didn't recommend could possibly void any insurance coverage. If you were to be involved in an accident while towing something way beyond the tow rating would be a real good reason for an insurance company to not pay out on a claim.

I will be the first to admit that over the years I have put loads on trucks that were way beyond what the truck was rated to carry. I have also towed trailers that were a lot heavier than what the OEM rated the tow vehicle to tow. But I have also driven 100's of thousands of miles over the years driving all sorts of trucks, buses, and cars. I have a lot of experience driving when conditions are not ideal. But I will be the first to say do as I say and not do as I do. When I am pushing the envelope I am not in the hammer lane making time. I am in the slow lane getting there.

Last summer when we had to change to a 1/2-ton Suburban to tow our Avion 34V the last 1,100 miles home I was not very thrilled at the prospect. But the 1/2-ton was the ONLY tow vehicle available at anything close to the price we could afford. When you are faced with only one option you can't be very choosey. As a consequence, we traveled at a much lower average speed than we did with the 3/4-ton Suburban. When we came to the Cabbage Hill downgrade just to the east of Pendleton, OR I took very seriously the speed limits imposed on combinations. It said five or more axles had a speed limit of 37 MPH. My wife asked me why we were going so slow. And when we got to the bottom of the hill she wanted to know what smelled. Even with gearing down the brakes got warm enough to start to smell.

This may be a bit of rant and not all that coherent. But it really bothers me that someone in the industry purports to be an expert and promulgates such reckless and irresponsible advice.

Mark O.
Winlock, WA
1981 Avion 34V
1995 K1500 GMC Suburban

Rostam
Posts: 132
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2016 9:54 pm

Re: Tow Vehicle Weight Ratings

Post by Rostam » Fri Oct 21, 2016 9:43 pm

We think alike! I have posted on this topic at Airstream forum many times, and was viciously attacked by the fanboys. At times I, too, wonder why I bother.

First off, European vehicles are not necessarily the same as those in North America (NA). My Forester is rated to tow 2400# in NA and 4000# in Europe. However, the European Forester comes with a turbo diesel engine and self leveling rear suspension. Those options are not available in NA.

Even if we assume that the vehicles are the same, the trailers are definitely NOT the same. European trailers have a different design, where the axle(s) are more forward resulting in a very low tongue weight (max 250# to 300#). Since the tongue weight is so low, they do not use a weight distribution hitch in Europe, since neither the rear axle get overloaded, nor the front axle gets too light. Euro trailers are also narrower (less wind resistance), shorter (most are single axle), lighter, and are towed at a much slower speed compared to NA. Furthermore, Euro campers travel much shorter distances compared to NA campers (Texas alone is probably half the size of western Europe), and the terrain is also much more forgiving (no Rocky mountains or southwest deserts).

Despite all this, some folks are hell bent on using the discrepancy between SOME vehicles in NA and Europe as PROOF that towing specifications are meaningless and can be safely ignored. Based on what I've read at Airstream forum, I can tell you the majority of folks who rave about their modified underrated vehicle switch to a properly rated vehicle after a short while. They do that quietly and most never bother to discuss their failed experiment. As far as I'm concerned, a modified underrated vehicle MAY work for short while if you live in a cool, flat area, travel infrequently and locally, and are fine with having poor towing performance. Most people get tired of an under-powered, under-braked, under-chassis'ed vehicle quickly.
1978 Avion 26-H (Rear twin beds, center bath, front dinette)
2012 Mercedes Benz GL 350 Bluetec, 3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel, 3.45 Axle Ratio

Avionstream
Posts: 65
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2016 6:38 pm

Re: Tow Vehicle Weight Ratings

Post by Avionstream » Fri Oct 21, 2016 10:19 pm

I was on the airstream addicts page for a while. I found the administrator very one sided politically and narrow minded on a lot of other trailer related items. I left. The dealer in Canada is treated like a god on the Airforums. Just because one has his ideas published doesn't mean they are valid. A lot of his towing videos are set up to prove his point rather than being objective.

nralifer
Moderator
Posts: 511
Joined: Fri Sep 30, 2016 11:42 pm

Re: Tow Vehicle Weight Ratings

Post by nralifer » Fri Oct 21, 2016 11:17 pm

I agree with everything stated here. 1000% agree (is that possible?) that said expert/god to our north creates a lot of accidents waiting to happen. I have commented the same when it comes up on AirForums. I get the feeling like I'm a pariah there because I don't hesitate speaking my mind, especially when the subject of tow vehicles, Avion's, 3/4-ton pickups, my love of diesel, or some of today's social nonsense comes up.

Oh, well. Hopefully someone or maybe several someones will benefit from all of our input when it comes to common sense tow vehicles.
nra1ifer
1987 Avion 34W
Every day is a good day..... some are just better than others!

Mark R. Obtinario
Posts: 28
Joined: Sun Oct 09, 2016 3:14 am

Re: Tow Vehicle Weight Ratings

Post by Mark R. Obtinario » Sat Oct 22, 2016 2:22 am

I can't tell you how much I appreciate your comments!

At times I feel as if I am the lone voice crying out in the wilderness.

What makes me so very angry is I don't understand what the guy in Canada is trying to prove.

I have been in vehicle sales. I always wanted my customers to purchase the right vehicle for them and not just what I had on the floor at the time. Sure I tried to sell the floor models but I only tried to sell them to people who could use them the way in which they were designed and built. You don't sell a 1-ton dually to someone who only really needs a mini-van. But you sure don't try to sell a mini-van to someone who really needs a 1-ton dually.

I once towed a trailer that almost got away from me. I was going down a hill and the trailer wanted to go first. Speeding up while going downhill is so counter intuitive but it was the only way I could pull the string tight again. Needless to say, I started to all of the other hills much slower on the top. But that wasn't my first time towing a trailer. I can't imagine what could happen to a newbie towing a trailer that is too big and not knowing what to do.

Again, thank you for your comments.

Avionstream
Posts: 65
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2016 6:38 pm

Re: Tow Vehicle Weight Ratings

Post by Avionstream » Sat Oct 22, 2016 6:13 am

The dealer up north gets tons of free advertising on the forums.thats one thing he has to gain.

Rostam
Posts: 132
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2016 9:54 pm

Re: Tow Vehicle Weight Ratings

Post by Rostam » Sat Oct 22, 2016 7:32 am

There was this new Airforums member who kept posting about the "dangers" of towing with a pickup truck (he had his SUV "setup" up north). He talked about pickup's high center of gravity, its propensity to rollover, its poor handling/cornering, its unacceptable braking, all the deaths caused by pickup rollover in his state, and salvage yard photos that "proved" his point of view. He raved how his small SUV could run circles around any pickup and how it has a much shorter stopping distance. Then, out of the blue, he posted about switching to a 1 ton HD pickup! I mean, seriously?!?

Most folks at Airforums are completely fine sending a newbie to Canada to setup his/her underrated sedan/minivan. They themselves prefer to tow with monster trucks even though they have a sedan/minivan at home. And they don't see the irony.

I have seen some of the most condescending, delusional folks I have ever seen at Airforums.
1978 Avion 26-H (Rear twin beds, center bath, front dinette)
2012 Mercedes Benz GL 350 Bluetec, 3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel, 3.45 Axle Ratio

Avionstream
Posts: 65
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2016 6:38 pm

Re: Tow Vehicle Weight Ratings

Post by Avionstream » Sat Oct 22, 2016 7:44 am

Yup!

KYAvion
Site Admin
Posts: 465
Joined: Sun Sep 18, 2016 12:04 am

Re: Tow Vehicle Weight Ratings

Post by KYAvion » Sat Oct 22, 2016 10:39 am

Mark R. Obtinario wrote: I once towed a trailer that almost got away from me. I was going down a hill and the trailer wanted to go first. Speeding up while going downhill is so counter intuitive but it was the only way I could pull the string tight again. Needless to say, I started to all of the other hills much slower on the top. But that wasn't my first time towing a trailer. I can't imagine what could happen to a newbie towing a trailer that is too big and not knowing what to do.
.
This is where the Propride 3P or Hensley really excels.
KYAvion
1984 Avion 30R

KYAvion
Site Admin
Posts: 465
Joined: Sun Sep 18, 2016 12:04 am

Re: Tow Vehicle Weight Ratings

Post by KYAvion » Sat Oct 22, 2016 10:48 am

Some valid points here. Moving to the Tow Vehicles forum so future readers can find it easier.
KYAvion
1984 Avion 30R

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