1 2
Blaise
Blaise Reader
12/7/17 8:41 a.m.

It's funny - I seem to see two distinct camps when I see loaded up trucks or tow rigs.

1) Dangerous. Insane tongue weight, no weight distribution or anti-sway system. Bad shocks, bad inflation, etc etc you name it.

2) Overkill. Think 3500 Dually Diesel towing an open trailer or a smaller enclosed one.

Am I the only person towing a normal load (~4500lb) with a normal truck (~6500 rating)?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltraDork
12/7/17 8:42 a.m.

In reply to Blaise :

Nope, that's me too.  1998 Yukon, open trailer.

rslifkin
rslifkin SuperDork
12/7/17 8:46 a.m.

In reply to Blaise :

Nope, I've pulled plenty of reasonable loads with the Jeep (rated for 6500).  It's dragged a friend's small horse trailer around a few times (4500-ish lbs with 1 horse in it, probably 500 or a little more on the tongue).  Pulled great, although a WD system would have been nice.  Compared to the same trailer behind an F-150, however, the Jeep is like pulling it around with a tractor.  It drives well, but the trailer seems significant, rather than seeming like it's just following you around.  

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
12/7/17 9:05 a.m.

That's a good article, but I really take exception to the "forward/ backward" thing.

There is no "forward" or "backward".  It's always about proper weight distribution.

A Fiero usually wants to be loaded "backwards" to put the engine weight forward of the trailer axle.  Same with all rear engined cars.

But it also has to do with the trailer length, axle location, and what else is loaded in the trailer.  If there is a heavy toolbox in front of the car, it changes things.  If there is a spare engine behind the car, it changes things. 

gearheadmb
gearheadmb Dork
12/7/17 9:22 a.m.

When I worked for a shop that had a towing service I was taught that you always try to strap the car down by something unsprung, i.e. axle housing, control arms, etc. The reason being that if you strap it by the body when you hit a bump and the suspension compresses the straps are loose and give them the opportunity to come unhooked. If you can remove the suspension movement as stated above by putting blocks under the frame or whatever then it should be fine, but when it comes to towing a car I definitely go by the "better safe than sorry" mantra. Having a car fall off a trailer while going down the interstate is definitely a nightmare scenario. So I strap unsprung, and usually add a chain from the body to the front of the trailer in case it does find a way to become unstrapped it can't freely roll off the back of the trailer.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
12/7/17 10:06 a.m.
Blaise said:

It's funny - I seem to see two distinct camps when I see loaded up trucks or tow rigs.

1) Dangerous. Insane tongue weight, no weight distribution or anti-sway system. Bad shocks, bad inflation, etc etc you name it.

2) Overkill. Think 3500 Dually Diesel towing an open trailer or a smaller enclosed one.

Am I the only person towing a normal load (~4500lb) with a normal truck (~6500 rating)?

Of course not. You just don't notice everything, you only notice the ones that grab your attention. If you saw my rig on the road, you wouldn't think twice about it. Of course, I'm pulling a bigger than "normal" load (11,500 lbs) with a bigger than "normal" truck (13,350 lbs), but those are your definitions of normal, not mine.

Curtis
Curtis PowerDork
12/7/17 11:23 a.m.
fidelity101 said:

so whats the hives opinion on strapping a car down to a car hauler/trailer?

 

I use straps to the tow points on my car because it was shipped here on a boat there is one on each corner. I am loading the suspension a bit but I see people who just strap down the wheels. Which method is correct?

 

Straps to the frame or hold the wheels to the trailer?

Truth is, I just tie it down however is easiest, but I much prefer strapping the tires.

Factory tie downs are almost a necessity for initial auto transport on a truck.  They compress the suspension so you can fit more cars on the top level of a car carrier under the max height allowed without an oversize load permit.  They work because of the keyhole design and because they pull the car down to almost the bumpstops so motion is limited.  When you have a lower-level car that is 4 inches from the car above it, you need to lock it down and prevent bouncing.

On a flat trailer, this is impractical and unnecessary.   There is no need to place additional load on the suspension and tires if you don't have to.  I have also encountered issues when attaching to the frame of the car.  There is a possibility that when the car bounces, a hook can come unhooked.  Even if it doesn't come unhooked, it puts high shock loads on the tie downs.

Strapping down the tires/wheels IMO is the best option.  This allows the vehicle to naturally move on its own which does two things: reduces squishy stress on the car's suspension bits, and also reduces stress on the trailer suspension.  If the entire weight of the car is held firmly to the deck, all of the motion must come from the trailer suspension and tires.  Letting the car "float" on its suspension means that the trailer can transmit some of that shock load to the vehicle's suspension.  This can have huge benefits in trailer tire life.

I only tie down a frame if I have to.  If you tie down the frame, try to go as horizontal as possible so any up/down motion of the car doesn't translate directly to a tensile shock to the tie downs.

Curtis
Curtis PowerDork
12/7/17 11:38 a.m.

I think the level of overkill also has to do with distance you're towing.

I towed 10k with a 66 Bonneville across town and it was neat.  I towed 10k with an F250 cross-country and it was taxing.  As the miles of your trip go up, the chances of a crosswind, panic stop, or emergency maneuver do as well.  The F250 was more than enough as far as engine, transmission, and braking, but (because it was a travel trailer) it was a non-stop correction for every crosswind or passing truck.  After 3000 miles and 4 days, that gets old fast.

The tow rating on a vehicle is a carefully-calculated, engineered number that uses a few million data points that include frame torsional strength, brake heat loads, engine heat capacities, transmission torque ratings, factory tire choices, suspension rates and bushing materials, axle load ratings, and so much more.  What it means is you come up with a number that is almost completely pointless given the millions of real-world variables.  For instance, I would tow 10k on a flatbed with a newer F150.  Its rated for it, its up to the task, and it does pretty well.  But if that were a travel trailer (read: big billboard/sail) I wouldn't even get close to the rated weight before its length and physical size limited where I was comfortable.

My friends had a Range Rover rated to tow something like 6500 lbs.  So they went and bought a travel trailer with a GVW of 6500.  It was an ultralight 28' trailer.  What a nightmare.  Anything over 45 mph was darn near death.  Sure, that Rover can tow 6500 lbs of equipment through the mud without overheating, but how it translates to real-world variables makes the number completely useless.

Blaise
Blaise Reader
12/7/17 11:41 a.m.
Keith Tanner said:

True. Lots easier to notice overkill or danger.

PT_SHO
PT_SHO New Reader
12/7/17 1:53 p.m.

In reply to accordionfolder :

That link is awwwwwesome. yes Though it looks like a video of a video done with a phone.  It should be mandatory for everyone pulling a trailer, like watching Red Asphalt was for us kids when we took basic Driver's Ed.

codrus
codrus UltraDork
12/7/17 3:00 p.m.
Curtis said:

Factory tie downs are almost a necessity for initial auto transport on a truck.  They compress the suspension so you can fit more cars on the top level of a car carrier under the max height allowed without an oversize load permit.  They work because of the keyhole design and because they pull the car down to almost the bumpstops so motion is limited.  When you have a lower-level car that is 4 inches from the car above it, you need to lock it down and prevent bouncing.

 

Many (all?) cars are in "transport mode" when being shipped from the manufacturer, with spacers stuck between the springs.

 

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler UberDork
12/7/17 3:23 p.m.
Curtis said:

My friends had a Range Rover rated to tow something like 6500 lbs.  So they went and bought a travel trailer with a GVW of 6500.  It was an ultralight 28' trailer.  What a nightmare.  Anything over 45 mph was darn near death.  Sure, that Rover can tow 6500 lbs of equipment through the mud without overheating, but how it translates to real-world variables makes the number completely useless.

Not to go all "internet towing expert" on you (or your friends), but one thing that people tend to forget with factory tow ratings is that you need to subtract the weight of the passengers and gear in the tow vehicle from it.  So, if there's 1000 lbs of people and stuff in that Range Rover, you shouldn't try to tow more than 5500 lbs with it.  Gross Combined Weight is really the more important number than tow rating, but tow ratings are easier to market and explain to people.  

But you're absolutely right about all the variables.  Last summer I towed our 30' travel trailer from Michigan to Nevada and back over the course of a little less than two weeks with our Expedition.  It's the long-wheelbase model with the factory tow package, built-in brake controller, tow/haul mode with engine braking, active stability control, load leveling suspension, and all that jazz.  Honestly, it did great, other than a copious appetite for fuel.  We have a good load-leveling hitch (Equalizer) that was set up correctly by our dealer, and we really didn't have any problems.  That's not to say that I didn't have to be extra careful at times in the Rockies or when crossing Nebraska with high crosswinds, but I never felt unsafe at all.  For what it's worth, the trailer is 6000 lbs empty, probably had 1000 lbs of stuff in it.  The Expedition had 4 adult-sized humans and two medium sized dogs.  It's GCWR is a tick over 15k lbs.  I'm sure we were under the limit, but I bet we weren't too far off.

rslifkin
rslifkin SuperDork
12/7/17 4:50 p.m.

In reply to Tom_Spangler :

You don't always need to subtract.  It depends on the tow rig and what you've got in it (and where it's positioned in the rig).  In some cases, you can have 3 people in the rig and still pull at the max trailer weight without exceeding any limits. 

You'll generally be limited by one of 5 things:

  • Max tow rating
  • Max tongue weight rating
  • Rear axle weight rating
  • Gross combined weight rating
  • Gross vehicle weight rating (rarely limiting)

Using my Jeep as an example, it's got a GVWR of 5500, rear axle GAWR of 3500, GCWR of 11k, tow rating of 6500, tongue weight limit of 750.  With me in the driver's seat and a full tank of gas, it's about 4500 lbs with around 2000 - 2100 lbs of that on the rear axle.  So I can pull the rated 6500 lb trailer at the max 750 lb tongue weight limit and just be right up against the GCWR and under the other limits.  Adding more weight to the Jeep would have to lighten the trailer to stay under the GCWR. 

With a pickup, towing a gooseneck will often leave you limited by rear axle GAWR unless the truck is a dually.  With an F-250 or bigger, any bumper pull trailer will likely hit the trailer weight limit before you hit GCWR or any of the truck limits and leave room for a decent bit of weight in the truck left over. 

Streetwiseguy
Streetwiseguy UltimaDork
12/7/17 5:36 p.m.
Curtis said:
fidelity101 said:

so whats the hives opinion on strapping a car down to a car hauler/trailer?

 

I use straps to the tow points on my car because it was shipped here on a boat there is one on each corner. I am loading the suspension a bit but I see people who just strap down the wheels. Which method is correct?

 

Straps to the frame or hold the wheels to the trailer?

Truth is, I just tie it down however is easiest, but I much prefer strapping the tires.

Factory tie downs are almost a necessity for initial auto transport on a truck.  They compress the suspension so you can fit more cars on the top level of a car carrier under the max height allowed without an oversize load permit.  They work because of the keyhole design and because they pull the car down to almost the bumpstops so motion is limited.  When you have a lower-level car that is 4 inches from the car above it, you need to lock it down and prevent bouncing.

On a flat trailer, this is impractical and unnecessary.   There is no need to place additional load on the suspension and tires if you don't have to.  I have also encountered issues when attaching to the frame of the car.  There is a possibility that when the car bounces, a hook can come unhooked.  Even if it doesn't come unhooked, it puts high shock loads on the tie downs.

Strapping down the tires/wheels IMO is the best option.  This allows the vehicle to naturally move on its own which does two things: reduces squishy stress on the car's suspension bits, and also reduces stress on the trailer suspension.  If the entire weight of the car is held firmly to the deck, all of the motion must come from the trailer suspension and tires.  Letting the car "float" on its suspension means that the trailer can transmit some of that shock load to the vehicle's suspension.  This can have huge benefits in trailer tire life.

I only tie down a frame if I have to.  If you tie down the frame, try to go as horizontal as possible so any up/down motion of the car doesn't translate directly to a tensile shock to the tie downs.

My boss in the 80's buckled the rear quarter panels on his Volvo 244 rally car by tying it down at the rear of the frame rails.

iceracer
iceracer UltimaDork
12/7/17 6:01 p.m.

whether to load frontwards or backwards is easy.    You should know tha app. CG of the car and locate it over the trailer axle or the center of the dual axles.

Don't know the cg of your car.  Rule of thumb,  rwd will have 52% weight on the front wheels,  fwd will have 60% on the front, and rear engine 60% on the REAR wheels.  So a little math and knowing the wheel base will tell you where your car should be on the trailer.   QED.

 

 

djsilver
djsilver Reader
12/7/17 6:02 p.m.

How about a non-car towing story?  My father did construction work and I grew up in a series of mobile homes.  Construction didn't pay as well back then and Dad had several different "trailer-toter" trucks to supplement his income by moving mobile homes.  My favorite was an early 60's IH B-180.  One day I saw him installing new safety chains on the truck (that's how they are on mobile homes).  After installing some massive chains with snatch-hooks on the end, I watched him take a hacksaw and cut halfway through one link on each side.  When I asked why, he said "if a trailer I'm pulling ever comes off the hitch, I don't want it connected to my truck!" 

 

Cotton
Cotton PowerDork
12/7/17 7:13 p.m.
Blaise said:

It's funny - I seem to see two distinct camps when I see loaded up trucks or tow rigs.

1) Dangerous. Insane tongue weight, no weight distribution or anti-sway system. Bad shocks, bad inflation, etc etc you name it.

2) Overkill. Think 3500 Dually Diesel towing an open trailer or a smaller enclosed one.

Am I the only person towing a normal load (~4500lb) with a normal truck (~6500 rating)?

#2 would be me in some cases,  but a lot of guys with these trucks are like me and have all kinds of trailers.  You might see a little 5x8 behind my dually or you might see a 2/3 car gooseneck.

StuntmanMike
StuntmanMike New Reader
12/8/17 8:54 a.m.

Great article and very amusing!

So what about taking a standard SUV and since we always make everything better, engine swap, installing heavy duty springs and shocks, bigger swaybars, upgraded brakes, etc and maxing out the tow capabilities, if not going over just a hair.

Curtis
Curtis PowerDork
12/8/17 10:04 a.m.
Tom_Spangler said:

Not to go all "internet towing expert" on you (or your friends), but one thing that people tend to forget with factory tow ratings is that you need to subtract the weight of the passengers and gear in the tow vehicle from it.  So, if there's 1000 lbs of people and stuff in that Range Rover, you shouldn't try to tow more than 5500 lbs with it.  Gross Combined Weight is really the more important number than tow rating, but tow ratings are easier to market and explain to people.  

You are correct, however this was just me.  They bought the RV a few hundred miles away and since I was their "RV guru" I took their Rover to go pick it up, so it was a completely empty, dry trailer and just me and some beef jerky in the Rover.  (I mean, seriously... what is a road trip without beef jerky?)

I wasn't enough of an RV guru to be able to talk them out of buying a 28' TT for their short wheelbase deathtrap though... despite by best efforts.

I won't toot my own horn, but I grew up living about 1/3 of my life in an RV, and I full-timed in an RV for almost a decade.  I won't say "internet towing expert" but I sure have logged a LOT of miles towing everything from 1000-lb jon boats up to 20,000 lb goosenecks and 5ers

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
12/10/17 3:42 p.m.

I was thinking of this thread after I saw the trailer holding my new 1700lb car jump across a lane and whipsaw the crew cab Tacoma that was towing it.

 

Not overloaded in the least, in other words.  No crosswind, no big bump, not ven any throttle required beyond maintenance throttle on a flat road.

 

 

1 2
Our Preferred Partners
EQkLsJvbnsThO5bBFKoxTNkMNvb0XQJr