Worried about towing capacity and need some help fast!

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Gingerela

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Jul 8, 2012
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We are interested in buying a 2013 Ascend A231RBK.  It weighs 4365 lbs (dry weight with all options included) and has a hitch weight of 390.  We want to tow it with an FJ Cruiser that has a tow capacity of 5000 lbs. and a rated hitch weight of 500 lbs.  The propane tanks when full along with the weight of the battery would bring us close to the 500 lb. hitch weight max.  We were thinking of only filling one full tank of propane since we will be using the unit for short getaways close to home.  We also plan to travel light in order to keep the weight as low as possible.  The dealer would install a sway bar and a weight distribution hitch along with electronic brake controls.

Before we sign our lives away, and mainly because we've never owned an Rv before, we desperately need some feedback and advice from seasoned veterans like yourselves.

Can we tow this unit safely with the car that we have?
 

Mr Bojangles

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Hello Genferela:

I'm not an expert mind ya..., but I do not think it's a good idea (towing that trailer with that car).
The car is Too small. I pull a trailer lighter than yours, and can not see pulling it with that car.

Others will be chiming in soon and more than likely backing me up. I'm sure the SALESMAN said you would be all right.
Oh..., you can tow it for sure, but NOT safely!
See below reference: 2012 towing list 4700 Lbs. for the FJ Cruiser......
http://www.trailerlife.com/trailer-towing-guides/
 

donn

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Not a good match.  Dry weight is the base unit minus batteries, propane, water clothes, food etc,etc,etc.  it is a basically useless number used to sucker people into buying more trailer than they should.  What is the trailers GVWR?  That is the number you should be looking at.  On top OS the weight issue, your fI has a really short wheel base that is not conducive to towing much over a tent trailer.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Forget about the trailer dry weight unless you can somehow predict exactly how much weight of gear, food and water you will load into it. Without a quality weight total, use the trailer GVWR (the most it should ever weigh) as the likely loaded weight. I'll bet that exceeds the 5000 lb capacity of the FJ.  Remember, the FJ tow capacity assumes no passengers or gear in the FH either - just fuel and a 154 lb driver.

Plus, the 390 lb tongue weight is for the dry trailer. Once you load in your stuff, that weight is going to go way up. As you noted propane and battery alone will get you to 500, so you are definitely going to be over 500.  However, a WD hitch should cover the tongue weight issue - that's what WD is for.

Sorry, but you need a smaller/lighter trailer - this one is simply too large for your FJ.
 

warsw

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I had a trailer similar to the one you are looking at, maybe a little lighter, back in the late 90s. It weighed about 5K going down the road. I tried pulling it with a new, at the time, Toyota 4runner. The 4runner was rated to pull 5K lbs but it shouldn't have been. The motor had the power but the 4runner couldn't control the weight. Coming into a down hill corner it felt like the trailer was going to push the rear of the 4runner right on around. If I would have ever needed to brake hard in this situation I'm sure it would have. It was scary to say the least. I only pulled this trailer once with that truck. It was a trip of about 600 miles. I sold the 4runner when we got home and bought a larger truck.

I think whenever you are pulling to the max you are flirting with disaster. Personally I like to have a little room to spare.

I would seriously consider either a smaller trailer or a larger TV.
 

Lou Schneider

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We have an FJ Cruiser as one of our work vehicles, so I'm familiar with it.

In addition to all of the above, you have to be concerned about it's short wheelbase when towing a trailer.  Short wheelbase vehicles tend to be pushed around more by a trailer compared to vehicles with longer wheelbases  - it's just a matter of leverage.  RV trailers are tall and wide - compared to other types like horse, utility or boat trailers - so you have more wall area for wind to push against than the other types.  That's why a vehicle may struggle to tow a RV house trailer that's close to it's maximum tow rating but has no problem with a smaller trailer of the same weight.

The good news is Toyota is using the new SAE J2807 towing standard to rate their vehicles, which makes their tow ratings more realistic than what has been published in the past.

Even so, the FJ is a fine vehicle, but I wouldn't want to tow anything larger than a utility or small boat trailer with it.

 

Gingerela

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Thank you soooooo very much for your thoughtful and prompt responses.  We were going to sign the contract this morning but as it stands now, this won't be happening.  We were really looking to buy a class A but the initial out of pocket expense for the deposit in this unstable economy had us looking at less expensive options.  We were really hoping to buy a travel trailer that would fit our family so that we could still enjoy RVing on the weekends and occasional vacations. 

I read about folks getting great deals on repos and used units, but quite frankly, I've yet to find one that is affordable or in decent enough shape.  Not knowing much about RVs and their mechanical workings, I have quite the disadvantage when buying used.  I even considered buying something older that was in my itty bitty price range and remodeling the interior.  I'm sure that can't be cheap either, but the issue remains that I have no clue what we'd be buying.  Additionally, the bank would require that a used unit be no older than 10 years.  That rules out anything 2003 (given that we are at the end of the year) and older.

Thank you again to each and every one of you for keeping us from a potentially dangerous situation that would have cost us $25K.
 

warsw

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One thought Gingerela,

Have you given any thought to a tent trailer? When they are open they have lots of room and are really very nice inside. When folded down they are relatively small and are light enough to tow with your FJ. The newer ones are easy to set up and if most of your camping is summer time they might be worth looking at.

Another thought might be a hybrid. I don't know much about them but they seem like they might be a good alternative if lightweight is needed.
 

Gingerela

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Warsw, we looked at some of these but the lack of insulation and noise factor was an issue.  When tent camping, we were kept up until the wee hours of the morning (only to be woken up again by the earlier risers) by the folks around us.  We are light sleepers.  We also prefer to camp in the fall.  I have also noticed that the materials on those units don't last very long.  Thanks for your suggestion, though.  I appreciate it.
 

Mopar1973Man

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Gingerela said:
Thank you soooooo very much for your thoughtful and prompt responses.  We were going to sign the contract this morning but as it stands now, this won't be happening.  We were really looking to buy a class A but the initial out of pocket expense for the deposit in this unstable economy had us looking at less expensive options.  We were really hoping to buy a travel trailer that would fit our family so that we could still enjoy RVing on the weekends and occasional vacations. 

I read about folks getting great deals on repos and used units, but quite frankly, I've yet to find one that is affordable or in decent enough shape.  Not knowing much about RVs and their mechanical workings, I have quite the disadvantage when buying used.  I even considered buying something older that was in my itty bitty price range and remodeling the interior.  I'm sure that can't be cheap either, but the issue remains that I have no clue what we'd be buying.  Additionally, the bank would require that a used unit be no older than 10 years.  That rules out anything 2003 (given that we are at the end of the year) and older.

Thank you again to each and every one of you for keeping us from a potentially dangerous situation that would have cost us $25K.

Nothing wrong with buying a older RV. Like myself I opted for a used RV. I got a 2000 Jayco Eagle. Buying a used RV is like buying a previously owned house. I would just consider that used RV in the same fashion. There is lots of used RV's out there with little to no use on them even after 10 years of age but you just got to be patient and look around I'm sure you'll find one that will fit your tow vehicle and your budget. Just might not fit the age limit.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Look at used trailers and motorhomes, as Mopar1973 said. It's a house moreso than a vehicle.

Consider something like a Hi-Lo trailer, solid roof and sides but still lowers for travel. Should be a bit lighter and also have less problems with the short wheel base on the FJ.

http://www.rvtrader.com/listing/2009-Hi-Lo-22-Tow-Lite-103022730
 

warsw

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Gingerela said:
Warsw, we looked at some of these but the lack of insulation and noise factor was an issue.  When tent camping, we were kept up until the wee hours of the morning (only to be woken up again by the earlier risers) by the folks around us.  We are light sleepers.  We also prefer to camp in the fall.  I have also noticed that the materials on those units don't last very long.  Thanks for your suggestion, though.  I appreciate it.
I can totally understand. It was the winter camping that moved us to a hard sided trailer and the fact that we wanted a mobile restroom while we were traveling. The tent trailer didn't cater to that very well. LOL
 

Gingerela

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Jul 8, 2012
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If anyone knows of a class A that is 2004 or newer for under $25K and it's close to Maryland, let me know.
 
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