Trailer towing advice needed
March 30, 2008 5:53 PM   Subscribe

First time travel trailer tower question...

I have a 2006 4Runner V6 (2WD, automatic) with a towing capacity of 5,000 lbs. I am considering buying a 1995 travel trailer with a dry weight of 4,550 lbs. Is this cutting it to close? (Considering we will add more weight when we load our camping goodies). Would I be better off spending more for a 2006 trailer with a dry weight of 3,600 lbs?
posted by punkfloyd to Grab Bag (9 answers total)
It's too close. Not only do you have to add the weight of the gear in the camper, you need to add the weight of the tank in your gas pump, the weight of the passengers in the 4Runner, etc.
posted by COD at 6:02 PM on March 30, 2008

That should be the weight of the gas in your tank. Wow was that way off.
posted by COD at 6:07 PM on March 30, 2008

I came in here all excited about the time travel trailer. Ah well.

Yes, it's way too close, surely the weight of the gear is going to be more than 450lb? Theoretically there's quite a lot of extra weight that could be towed above the maximum listed capacity, but if you can keep the load and strain on the vehicle as low as possible, that's the best way to do it. It will be safer for you, and better for the vehicle.
posted by tomble at 7:38 PM on March 30, 2008

I wouldn't do it. I would likely not even do the 3,600lbs depending on where you plan to haul it and how it's set up.

I haul a lot and I strongly encourage new haulers to take a trailer driving class or at least read a couple books and watch an instructional video ~before~ purchasing a trailer. It is time and money well spent.

Weight is only one factor in the towing equation. Wheelbase on tow vehicle vs trailer, type of trailer brakes, tow vehicle construction (Are those 4-Runner unibody construction or built on a frame? do you have a tow package? brake box? extra cooling? do you need it?), trailer type, type of roads you plan to tow on etc are just as important. Remember: it's not about the going, it's about the stopping. And it's good to know what to do when your trailer fishtails on the highway at 60mph and begins to take your truck with it.

Also imho, you should NOT rely on the info the guys at the truck and trailer dealerships give you or the stated ratings. The basic salesstaff at a dealership are not trained in matters related to towing and often give people frighteningly bad info. If you need advice ask to speak to the commercial fleet reps or talk to someone who hauls a lot.
posted by fshgrl at 7:50 PM on March 30, 2008

Yes, the heavy trailer is too heavy, especially when you add drinking water, cooking gas, and other essentials to the trailer. Whatever trailer you choose, make sure to weigh the loaded truck/trailer combo to see how heavy things really are. Published weights are often optimistic, and people underestimate how much crap they pack.

Also, look into whether your 4Runner is set up well for towing -- does it have a transmission cooler? Trailer brake controller? (You are buying a trailer with a brake axle, right?) Older 4Runners often get saggy in the back -- would you be well-served by adding air-assist rear suspension, or stiffer springs?

There are certainly worse towing vehicles than the 4Runner, but it isn't the best, either, so make sure you are erring on the side of safety.
posted by Forktine at 8:51 PM on March 30, 2008

Dude, nobody is strong enough to throw a trailer. Just give up.
posted by tehloki at 12:50 AM on March 31, 2008

I'm an idiot.
posted by tehloki at 12:51 AM on March 31, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you all. You have helped me see through salesperson B.S. Not going to risk it.
posted by punkfloyd at 5:50 AM on March 31, 2008

Your Toyota, if set up properly, will safely and easily tow a 3,600 lb trailer. I towed my 3,600 lb trailer over 1,000 miles with a minivan two weeks ago. I also towed it 100 miles with my 2002 Toyota Tacoma 2WD with the 4 cylinder engine.

You will need to install a brake controller, which is very easy in your vehicle (it just clips in). You will want to get a weight distribution hitch, and a Class III hitch (since your tongue weight is likely to be more than 400 lbs). You will want to go slowly, but that's always the case when towing a heavy object.

You can do it safely with your vehicle. Contact a reputable RV store local to you and talk it through with them. Combine their advice with your own common sense, join one of the many RV forums that have lots of helpful people, and you will be off and towing in no time.
posted by Patapsco Mike at 6:56 AM on March 31, 2008

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