Got a new travel Trailer? We are answering your Questions.
America has to decided to explore it’s majesty this summer. RV rentals are reported to be up 650%. RV and travel trailer sales are also experiencing a boom as Americans plan to stay firmly on the ground this summer. So what does this mean for experiential marketing? Not much really, unless you have a program that needs an Airstream. If you do have a program in need of an Airstream you might expect to pay up a little. But what this does mean for a specialty transport company is that we are getting a lot of questions from friends and neighbors about their newly purchased campers as they prep for the their summer adventures.
We are taking a break this week to answer questions from new Airstreams and travel trailer owners.
The first message we received was quite jarring. As you can see in the photo the hitch was nearly ripped completely off the tow vehicle. Luckily this occurred on the on ramp and the driver felt and heard the hitch coming apart. Being on an on ramp at such a slow speed they could get to the side of the road and stop with no damage to trailer or vehicle (aside from the hitch which is toast ).
So what happened here? Why did this trailer hitch detach? Trailer overweight or incorrectly installed?
The failure occurred on the trip home after the driver acquired a used Airstream. The driver said the trailer weighs around 7000 and the truck is rated for 7700 and sent us a link from google verifying the truck was in spec. To which we replied, “great” but what does the sticker on the hitch say? Specifically what does it say about tongue weight?
To the driver’s shock the hitch was rated at 5000 pounds. This was a factory hitch on a SUV that boasts a towing capacity of 7700 pounds. Not only was the hitch underrated the owner discovered that Chevy didn’t make a hitch for that SUV capable of towing the rated capacity… ever. (the SUV is an older model)
The takeaway here, never trust online sources for weight ratings. Vehicles, trailers and hitches come in too many variations. The good news is each component comes with a sticker. You just have to read the stickers. When scheduling a trailer move for a unit we are unfamiliar with we typically try to get a photograph of the VIN plate so we can see the GVWR and model number to do our own research. Then we arrive ready for whatever curve ball may be thrown at us. With vintage trailers there is always something. An antique electrical connection, an upgraded connection wired improperly, locked brakes, excessive tongue weight. It’s always something in experiential marketing and that’s the challenge with custom trailers.
More interesting is the way the hitch separated. The bolts didn’t fail. It looks like the nuts pulled through. Were the washers missing? Also there are 3 mounting holes per side and only 2 bolts. The 2 bolts are not through the holes we would expect. Lots of questions on the factory mounting of this hitch.
Regardless of the cause Curt makes the hitch the driver needs and it was shipped quickly from Etrailer and everyone and everything made it home safely.
On a lighter note the next questions was on preventative maintenance, specifically tires. Preventative maintenance is our favorite form of maintenance and why we don’t miss shows. A lot of companies operate under a “run it till it breaks” philosophy. Also known as a “don’t deal with it till you have to.” We prefer a fix it before it breaks. It costs a little more but takes risk off the table.
Here are the questions from the owner of a new camper;
Easy answer here is to buy a converter. You can probably find something local or go to Etrailer.
We have found Etrailer shipping to be quick and the online documentation is outstanding. We have ordered everything from basic wiring kits to specialty spindles and bearing packs and had no issues.
The long answer. 4 pin flat to 7 blade. The vehicle is the 4 pin flat which only powers your basic lights. 7 blade can receive signals for trailer brakes, battery charging and more. So if your trailer requires brakes the converter may not power them and will certainly not charge the house battery. In this specific case we are talking about a 1500 pound camping trailer that does not require brakes and the owners are not concerned with the house battery so a converter got them home with the new trailer.
Hey tires on this camper say max load 1045 lbs but trailer is 1500. 2000 loaded. That gonna be an issue? 😬
Good question, the max load is per tire and so with 2 tires the max load is 2090 (1045 x 2). So these tires are in spec for the trailer however not by much. If the tires were in good condition they would be fine.
Not a question but photos of the tires so the implied question, “Are these tires ok”?
The first tire is worn in the center. On trailers of this size that typically indicates an over inflated tire. Since the tire is worn flat in the center it needs to be replaced. The second tire is not so bad but definitely getting there. Both tires look a little old and were run improperly in the past. We would replace both tires and actually go up a rating if possible so that instead of a capacity of 2090 pounds and operating near max (2000 of 2090 pounds) we would try to get a 2500 pound or more combined rating to give us a bigger margin.
(A note: at 2090 pound weight rating for both tires with a trailer weight of 2000 loaded seems pretty close to max. It’s actually not. Remember 5-10% of the weight will go on the trailer hitch (tongue). So the weight on the tires at speed is going to be 1800-1900 pounds. That means you have a margin of 190-290 pounds which it plenty. So why do we suggest going up a rating?
Driving with family in the summer is not a time to take chances. A trailer tire blowing at speed is a safety concern. Changing a tire on the side of the road is also a safety issue. We always try to limp off the highway to change a tire but it is frequently not possible. This means you are changing a tire feet from 70 mph traffic. We recommend doing everything possible to avoid this scenario.
We also recommend a minimum of one spare (we often carry 2 or more). In the case of this camper the included spare actually looks pretty good. Recommend confirm it is properly inflated before headed out. Spares will slowly lose air sitting. It’s a real bummer when you pull out a spare only to find it’s nearly flat.
One last note on tires, specifically tire pressure. PSI is actually based on weight. If you are running near the max load then you should run the max PSI. This means when the tire is cold it should be at the max PSI written on the side of the tire or on the trailer sticker. This should cover most campers and travel trailers.
Now slow down and take your time. Happy trails this summer.
Have a question about towing your new or used travel trailer? Let us know in the comments and we will try to answer it for you.
I have a 2018 dodge ram 1500 quad cab 5.7 lit with tow hitch and want to pull a 2021 Alpha wolf DBH1 37.5 ft so is it safe to tow with electric brake and sway hitch?
There are a lot of Alpha Wolf variations out there. What is the curb weight or if you don’t have that what’s the GVWR? On the trailer? Guess is that the trailer is around 7500 and your truck if properly equipped is in the 10-12k pound capacity range. That’s a lot of trailer for the size of truck even if in spec. The concern would be how bad it throws you around (body roll / porpoising). Also if your doing high miles the truck might suffer over time. Also, verify your tongue weight is in spec for your draw bar and hitch.
I have a 2016 Q5 2.0 premium with an aftermarket hitch that’s rated for 750lb tongue weight and 5000 lbs. towing capacity. Audi says the max tongue weight is 10% of the towing capacity (4400 lbs.) or 440 lbs. but I have read that you can safely go up to 15% (or 660 lbs.) tongue weight. I want to buy a motorcycle carrier (not a trailer) that attaches to the hitch where the bike sits horizontally on the carrier off the back of the SUV. The total weight of the bike plus carrier will be about 580 lbs. which is lower than the hitch tongue weight capacity but higher than Audi’s stated 10% of towing capacity tongue weight limit. If I am not pulling a trailer would the Q5 be able to handle this weight all on the hitch tongue? Would I need some rear suspension enhancement and if so what should I get or is this setup just to heavy for the Q5 to handle?
That’s a tough one and I would recommend talking to the aftermarket hitch maker and Audi first. Based on towing experience I think you are ok on weight, if the aftermarket hitch states 750 lbs I would expect it to handle it. That said I don’t think the Audi suspension will. I think you might be dragging the back bumper. I see this a lot on full size GM vehicles. They max out the trailer rating but the suspension is completely compressed. The safe bet is the trailer. Switching up the suspension might help but that could have other implications that are above my pay grade. Another consideration, are you going a few miles to the track, or hundreds of miles to BLM? Does the Audi have adjustable suspension?
can i tow a 2017 keystone passport 175bh with a 2007 toyota tacoma trd off road extra cab
With a Tacoma TRD I think you are going to be in the 6500 towing range if you have the V6. If you have the smaller engine you are capped at 3500 pounds so no way to tow the Passport. Assuming you have the the higher end towing capability your travel trailer should max out around 4500 pounds so based on our internet research this should work. NEVER trust the internet. Confirm your trucks towing capacity, confirm the hitch capacity and confirm the ball and mount to make sure they are all rated properly (especially on a used truck). A word of caution, off road vehicles have soft suspension and that is bad for towing. We towed a 4500 lbs container with the Jeep Gladiator and it terrified the driver (and overheated the transmission going over the mountains). So take it slow and if the truck’s behind is dragging look into a weight distribution hitch. If you live in the rockies or other mountains consider a bigger truck. If you’re just heading to the lake on the weekends it should be fine.
Hi there. We are new to pulling a trailer. Just bought a 37 ft starcraft that has a dry weight of 7325. We drive a Nissan Titan 5.6 V8 tow capacity of 9480. We have the tow mode and brake assist installed and got the sway control on the trailer. Just wondering are we good pulling this with this truck. Numbers say yes im just wanting a second opinion.
Sorry 36 ft
It would appear that you are with in specifications for the vehicle however we would point out that you are towing at 75% capacity (potentially more once loaded) so use caution. (Hoping brake assist mean an electric trailer brake.) In our business we run into the most issues with tongue weight. Make sure your hitch and ball mount have ratings higher than your tongue weight (like to see these over 1000 lbs). Once packed your trailer should have a tongue weight of around 400 to 750 pounds. Travel trailer manufacturers are pretty good at balancing trailers so unless your pack is nose heavy the trailer tongue weight should fall inside the range. Here is an article on how to check tongue weight if interested Calculating Trailer Tongue Weight. Also, that’s a HUGE trailer so be careful in high wind areas and if you experience a lot of body roll or feel thrown around consider a 3/4 ton truck which would be heavier and more stable. Let us know how it goes and happy camping!