TT towing - reached point of total confusion

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hartcons

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Joined
Jul 18, 2006
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2
Hello everyone. My husband and I are thinking of joining the fun by purchasing a small travel trailer. We've read over the various marketing materials, scoured our vehicle manual, done calculations...and have reached the point where none of the numbers make sense anymore.

What we have: 2002 Mazda Tribute with towing package, can tow 3500 (according to the manual and the tables). Combined weight limit of 7,000. Weighed it yesterday at a truck stop: SUV plus full tank of gas plus me and DH + 75lbs of cat litter (thinking that would equal typical suitcases etc.) was 4100. Neither DH or I are scrawny.

What we're looking at: 2006 Bantam Flier F17 (w/o optional queen popout). PDF says dry weight of 2262, sticker in the model we looked at (had AC. etc.) said 2467. GVWR of 3193.

When I add 4100 + 2467 = 6567. That leaves me with 433 for water, propane, tanks, etc. I'm thinking realistically we only have about 50 lbs for food, bedding, books, dishes, etc before going over the 7000 rating, and I'm just not sure I want to walk that fine a line. Yes, the 3193 number fits within our 3500 limit, and even with the hitch weight (193) added on that leaves us with 114 under the 3500 limit, but that total 7000 lb limit just feels too close to me.

DH is very torn -- keeps saying "we won't fill the water tanks up all the way" and thinks since we're only doing single nights (can't be away from home any longer) and planning to only stay where there is full electrical and sewer we'll be fine. I'm thinking his brain got baked looking at the trailers in the 100 degree heat.

Is my math right or did I miss something?

The Bantam is here in town, and there are both used and new models on the lot. We like the general layout, but if anyone has recommendations for other (lighter weight) trailers we could look for we'd love to hear them. Our only real requirement is for air conditioning (so no tent trailers).

Thanks in advance for your insights....

--Tamra Hart
(in sunny Salem Oregon)
 

Carl L

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Mar 14, 2005
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west Los Angeles
I generally recommend going with the GVWR of a trailer for trailer weight.  It is a real number, unlike dry weight,  and prevents playing mind games  like, "we won't fill the water tanks up all the way".  Trailers have a way of accumulating load both during trip getting away and slowly over the year. 

We also recommend allowing a 10% safety factor in tow ratings to allow for truck aging and condition.  Traveling in the mountain or Pacfiic West need a factor of 20% to allow for high altitudes and long, long 6-8% grades.

However the real clue is here:

What we have: 2002 Mazda Tribute with towing package, can tow 3500 (according to the manual and the tables). Combined weight limit of 7,000. Weighed it yesterday at a truck stop: SUV plus full tank of gas plus me and DH + 75lbs of cat litter (thinking that would equal typical suitcases etc.) was 4100. Neither DH or I are scrawny.

Subtract that 4100 lb weight from the 7000-lb GCVWR, and you have a tow 2900 lbs to start with, not 3500 lbs.  Discount the 2900 10% and you have  a rating of 2610 lbs.  (2080 lbs in the West).  Your target Bantam GVWR of 3193 blows all those numbers out of the water.  Even the dry weight pushes the Florida tow rating and exceeds the Colorado-Utah rating.  Go lighter.

Small SUVs are not good for towing anything much more than a boat trailer or maybe  a tent trailer.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Feb 2, 2005
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At our Silver Springs FL home
Hi Tamra,
I'm with Carl - the trailer is way to big for your Tribute.

The 3500 lb is the maximum it could possibly tow, if the Tribute itself were empty and had no options installed.  The actual tow capacity for your particular Tribute is the 7000 lb combined limit minus the actal weight of your Tribute and everything you carry in it, including the hitch itself.  If I have your numbers right, that's 7000-4100-193 (hitch**) = 2707 lbs.  The Bantam is 2467 dry (with options) and propane will add another 40 lbs to that, so you have a tad under 200 lbs for everything else you carry, wheher in car or trailer.  You will hit that in the twinkling of an eye - food, drinks, clothes, maybe a BBQ grill or charcoal, a couple lawn chairs, mabe a fishing rod, etc, etc.

A Tribute is a short wheelbase vehicle  and can easily be pushed around by a 17 foot trailer. I know - we have a small SUV ourelves, a Chevy Tracker.  You want to stay well under its limits, which means well under 2707 lbs.  You should be thinking of a pop-up or Hi-Lo in the 2000 lb range.  Or of trading the Tribute for a more capable SUV.  By the way, you can have air conditioning in pop-ups - I see them all the time.

** I see that 193 lbs is the hitch (tongue) weight of the Bantam flyer. You do not count that as part of the Tribute's weight because it is already counted as part of the trailer weight. Howver, you do have to count the weight of the receiver and ball hitch that you have installed on the Tribute to tow the traler. That's probably 100-150 lbs, depending on type used.
 

hartcons

New member
Joined
Jul 18, 2006
Posts
2
Thanks for all the advice!

DH and I ended up going truck shopping last night after talking about how it would be nice to know we're safe, rather than trying to figure out how to pack only 5lbs of total "stuff" for an entire weekend. A neighbor is selling his Ford F150 (he's moving to Germany) so we're considering that, but we also checked out both the Dodge and Ford dealers here in town. Reading through the brochures and picking the brains of the sales guys is fun -- thanks to this forum we know just enough to really annoy them with questions about towing.  :p  Looks like just about everything but the small "sporty" toy trucks pulls more than our Mazda, so now we're scouring the ads looking at prices for slightly used trucks, mostly in the F150-type range since that would even allow us a larger TT than the 16-17' Bantams and Cikiras we were looking at. But we're still thinking "small" since it's our first TT and we still have to learn how to drive pulling it behind us!

BTW, salesguy at dealer #1 said "pick out your trailer, then come here and we'll get you into a truck that's enough but not too much for that trailer." Salesguy at dealer #2 said "the guys at the RV places prefer it if you have your truck already, so buy your truck then go find the trailer you want." I believe you folks have emphasized the first route as being better, right?

Thanks again for the clarity....it's *much* appreciated.
 

Carl L

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Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Posts
7,239
Location
west Los Angeles
BTW, salesguy at dealer #1 said "pick out your trailer, then come here and we'll get you into a truck that's enough but not too much for that trailer." Salesguy at dealer #2 said "the guys at the RV places prefer it if you have your truck already, so buy your truck then go find the trailer you want." I believe you folks have emphasized the first route as being better, right?

The way I recommend is to shop both.? Check your priorities with truck and trailer.? You may have truck priorities such as van/suv for hauling passengers, 4WD and short wheel base for off road exploring, or a stylish vehicle for in-city exploration (eg.? Land Rover or Hummer).? ?You may have trailer priorities in floor plan, appliances, storage capacity, full-time durability, and so forth.? ?Decide on the match of truck and trailer by deciding what governs.? ?Short wheel base 4WD is going to want a smallish, light, TT or hybrid as would the desire to use USFS and other public CGs.? ?On the other hand a luxury trailer, umpteen slide-outs, and a chandelier in the dining area and exclusive 'camping' in RV resorts with greens priveledges going to mean a super duty pickup or a medium duty truck.

Settle on both truck and trailer criteria simultaneously and buy in the same way.? ?I like to nail the truck first just to have sometihing to haul the trailer away with.? ?The installation of hitching systems, ball and receiver type or 5th wheel, is best handled by the RV dealer's service unit even tho the reciever itself is usually a truck option.

There is no such thing as a truck that is too much for a trailer.? There may be combinations that look silly like a medium duty Peterbilt truck and a Casitas 17-footer.? However, there are plenty of trucks that are too little for the trailer they haul under the range of conditions they haul them.? ?Those don't look silly, they are just plain dangerous.? ? Always buy a bit more capacity than you really need.? That is why we recommend those 10 and 20% safety factors in tow ratings.

Finally, be careful of trucks in the F150 category.  They have limited tow capacity compared to the F250s and 350s.  Be religious about tow ratings, trailer GVWRs, and safety factors.  F150s can tow TTs, I have the equivalent of a bobtailed F150 wth my Bronco.  But I kept the trailer light and the hitch mechanism good.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
73,525
Location
At our Silver Springs FL home
Carl's right (as usual) - you really have to shop both together.  Familiarize yourself with the tow ratings of the various vehicles you would be willing to buy, then go look at the trailers that can reasonably be towed with it. Decide if you need to change your tow vehicle priorities or if it is OK as is.  Once you know there are acceptable trailers within the limits of  a tow vehicle you like and can afford, it doesn't make too much differfence which you buy first.

If there is an overriding consideration on the tow vehicle, e.g. it has to be a minivan, then you can buy the tow vehicle first and simply force your trailer choice to be one that fits.    If you are totally flexible on the tow vehicle (including size and cost), you can buy the trailer first and then go get a truck large enough to handle it.  But most people don't have that much freedom of choice.
 
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