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 ).

factory trailer hitch fails

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; 

Yo- how do I connect this trailer plug to this car plug… 

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.

Truck: 4 pin flat connector

4 pin flat trailer lights connector

Trailer: 7 pin “blade” connector

7 pin blade trailer lights connector
over inflated trailer tire
irregular trailer tire wear
spare trailer tire