Happy Camping to you! Russ and Lori would like to answer some email questions we have received with regard to tow vehicles and trailer weights or lengths. Most questions applied to the towing of a travel trailer, yet the question of towing boats or vehicles behind a motorhome also was of concern to some.
The dynamics of trailer towing have not changed much over the years but the dynamics of tow-vehicles and travel trailers has over the past several years. Tow vehicles of today are computer controlled wonders of horsepower and gear selection with automatic transmissions. With that in mind, proper loading and size of the tow vehicle is critical to staying safe.
An overloaded trailer or towing with a vehicle that has exceeded its tow or weight ratings is extremely dangerous. It is not just the stated weight of the vehicle and trailer. Those figures are generally for an ‘unloaded vehicle’. This includes the weight of passengers, water, propane, holding tanks, and all gear stored aboard. For example; four adults in the vehicle can easily weigh a combined 600 pounds or more. 50 gallons of water in the rig is another 400 pounds. You are already at 1000 pounds of extra weight and we have not put an ounce of gear, food, or supplies in the rig yet. When we add up the combined weight of everything you are taking with you, it is not unusual to find that we have 500 or more pounds to think about. A few cases of water or soda give you an idea of how weight adds up. Russ and Lori want you to stay safe.
There is an expert in the High Desert with regard to tow vehicles, travel trailers, motorhomes, you name it. Timm over at I-15 RV in Hesperia has been around as long as Russ and Lori. He has a history and knowledge to assist you with any RV questions. I spoke with him and he is more than happy for you to visit or call. His expertise is what has Russ and Lori set-up nicely with a great travel trailer-tow vehicle combo.
We tow what is in length a 34 foot Vibe travel trailer. Interestingly enough, towing is quite nice with our RAM half-ton truck. The RAM has a Hemi engine and 3.92 differential. That gives our truck about a 10,500 pound tow rating. The Vibe Extreme Lite trailer is about 6,700 pounds unloaded. We tow with only 5 gallons of water in the trailer tank. Even then, I am looking at a good 700 pounds more when we consider our two little generators, full RV propane tanks, gas can, bottled water, food, clothes, firewood, etc. Put Lori and Russ in the truck cab and there is another 300 pounds. Russ and Lori agree on the 300 pounds yet are still in discussion about that weight distribution. Our pre-load 6,700 pounds is now about 7,700 pounds.
Always try to stay between 70 percent and no more than 80 percent of your vehicle’s tow ratings. Three terms you need to know are GVWR, RGAWR, and GCWR. GVWR is the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. This is the weight that the vehicle should never ever exceed. This rating is the ‘most’ that your vehicle should ever weigh. Again, give yourself a margin. Never max-out a vehicle. You would never do that to a horse, right? Treat your vehicle like a good person treats a horse and it will give you many years of enjoyment.
RGAWR is the Rear Gross Axle Weight Rating. This is the maximum weight that the tow vehicle’s rear axle should carry. This is where hitch weight of the trailer can make a difference.
GCWR is the Gross Combination Weight Rating. This is the combined gross tow vehicle weight and gross trailer weight that should never be exceeded.
One more deal here is the hitch rating on your tow vehicle. The hitch rating is the absolute most weight that the hitch can support. Stay within a safe margin. The vehicle tow receiver may have a different rating number than the hitch, depending on manufacture or different ratings. Always go with the lower number.
You can search some online weight calculators for RV and travel trailer use. We use this for comparison only and do not rely on these numbers. Only the actual ratings for your particular rig matter.
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