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Old 03-09-2011, 09:08 AM   #1
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Default 80 % tow capacity guideline ????

My van has a 3500 pound low limit. (80 % is 2800 pounds) Trailer being considered has a unloaded weight of 2525 and a tongue weight of 205 equalling 2730 pounds.
We would keep all items etc. in the van.
Potential travel through the eastern states, hills etc.
Question:
From what I understand the 80% guideline is for having a safe margin to allow for hilly terrain etc. and ??????
Comments on this question and would this be a safe tow.
Thank-you in advance
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Old 03-09-2011, 04:48 PM   #2
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Well... You don't state what type of van, engine, etc, or what kind of trailer, but, here goes

The 80% rule is one of those "myths" that doesn't go away. In the "good old days", when hitches were cruder or just plain hazardous (clamp on bumper styles ) that 80% figure was to give people a false sense of safety. I've never seen any scientific basis for an 80% rule other than a "feel good" psychological sense of well being. A manufacturer builds a vehicle, then tests it to come up with a "factory backed, warranty supported" towing limit. If the factory says, and warranties, that you can tow to 3500 lbs, then 3500 is the upper limit. Anything under that doesn't mean that it is inherently safer or more reliable. Vehicle wear and tear, of course, goes down with declining tow weight, but, even that is deceiving. Sail area also has to be taken into account and manufacturers usually give a maximum specification for that along with their towing limits. A 3500 lb trailer with a full width front will be much harder to tow than the utility trailer that weighs 3500 lbs. Most towing limits, btw, are done with utility type trailers and the actual towing capacity for any given vehicle usually decreases as the sail area increases.

With a 3500 weight limit, I'm going to guess, at most a small V6 engine with an automatic...4 spd? Mini-van? At any rate, that 3500 lbs is aimed, primarily, at a utility trailer or, possibly, a small pup-up type TT. More than likely you have got a Class III hitch which severely limits your tongue weight, which, btw, is not added back to your trailer weight, but, must be added to your TV weight, along with gear, options and passengers. You don't mention how many folks, but, a real concern is going to be overloading your "van" if you aim to carry what most of us pack in the travel trailer inside your van. You'll also need to add the weight of the hitch/anti-sway assembly to your vehicle load and you'll also need to add that figure to the tongue weight of the trailer to get a "true tongue weight" and then look to see that your Class III hitch can support it without separating from your van...

You also don't mention what type of trailer, but, since this is a CruiserRv (now) forum, I'll have to assume you are talking about a full size travel trailer and not a pop-up. Beware the published empty weight figures and the published tongue weight figures. Those figures are based on an empty and un-optioned travel trailer. The true tongue weight will go up as you add the 12v battery (required for the break away switch) and the weight of the LPG tank and gas. Any "options", such as awning, microwave, television, etc. will add to the published empty weight. You may find that your "advertised" empty weight is not 2525 lbs, but, closer to 2900 lbs and your tongue weight for a safe tow is going to need to be 12-13% of that or roughly 340 to 380 lbs...

More information would help, but, with what you've given in your post, I don't see how you are going to manage safely and without severe vehicle wear and tear or outright damage from overloading the vehicles frame, suspension and powertrain.



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Old 03-12-2011, 06:24 AM   #3
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Default type of van is important

I don't want to get into a discussion of towing necessities, but a van can be more than capable of towing what he is describing. Been towing with our 05 sienna for 4 years. live in western Canada and we camp in the rockies. Never had a problem blowing past struggling pickups towing massive trailers in the passes. Have a 189FDS. My hitch is rated 5000lbs/500lb with WD. The van is rated 3500/525 with weight distribution. my actual, scale weighed axles are:

Front 1140kg actual. gross 1290kg = 150kg remaining(330lbs).
Rear 1200kg actual. gross 1290kg = 90kg remaining (200lbs).
Trailer axles together 1380kg actual. gross axle 2500kg = 1120kg remaining(2464lbs).

With a gross combined weight rating of 8700lbs, i generally still have 800lbs of capacity left inside the van for people and stuff when towing the trailer.

As far as engines/transmissions, the same engine and transmission is rated to tow 5000lbs in the highlander, has been in use for 10 years by toyota (U150E 5speed transmission) and is known to be robust.

The van has a 119"wheelbase and lower center of gravity than the majority of tow vehicles. Very stable.
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Old 03-12-2011, 04:14 PM   #4
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Many vans are capable... I towed frequently with a Grand Caravan for years. I'm not one of those that feels that you need a 3/4 ton and up to tow safely.

However, not knowing what kind of van nor what kind of hitch (he says 3500 lb rating; most 3500 lb hitches are Class II or III and not rated for a WD hitch) he is using, I stand by my advice.

Now if he wants to respond with "I'm towing with a Grand Caravan, heavy duty towing package, Class IV hitch rated for WD hitches, 3.8 V6" then the story would change, but, he could also be trying to tow with a Honda Odessey socker-mom mobile that was never intended to tow anything more than a Class II bicycle rack... I would not want him to load himself, mom, and 4 kids into that van towing a TT with the "dry weights" he gave. Given the limited information provided, I'm erring on the safe side.



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Old 03-12-2011, 07:14 PM   #5
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I think the '80% rule' (actually my recollection is 75%) was nothing more than a quick & dirty way to make an estimate without actually going through the calculations. The idea being that the difference of 25% between towing capacity and trailer weight would accomodate the extra weight of all the add-ons. But it's still nothing more than a SWAG (simple wild a$$ guess) and given the wide number of variables could be OK, or could be way off. To be sure, you really need to go through the excercise of a finding the actual towed weight, tongue weight, GVWR, etc. to be sure your vehicle can tow the rig safely. Anything else is just a guess & when it comes safety, guessing can be risky.
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Old 03-20-2011, 12:19 PM   #6
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Default 80 % rule

Many thanks to all who answered. Sorry to be so tardy in replying.
Relatives smack in the middle of that disaster in Japan. All are safe but several have lost homes businesses. Now nothing to go back to. Very sad. Just happy all are safe.
My van is a Chev venture rated at 3500 pounds towing. It has 3.04 V6
I am using a frame mounted Type 2 hitch. No problems with my large Pop-up. Want to go up to a hard side with a dry weight and hitch of 2552 pounds. (80 % is 2800 pounds) So I don't have much room for stuff.
We camp at RV parks State/ Prov. parks etc. so don't carry liquids. Only two of us and small dog so don't carry much and that mostly would be in the back of the van. (all rear seats removed)
I just wanted opinions on the 80% rule and worried that I may be too close to the max. Any suggestions ??
Thank-you in advance
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Old 03-21-2011, 04:57 PM   #7
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All the numbers work, but, you are going to be real close to the limit if not slightly over. My concern would be the "true" rolling weight of your TT and its associated tongue weight. I've never yet seen a TT come in at "advertised weight". I would hazard that your TT will come in at another 10% of what you are quoting (if that is from a website, brochure or dealer). Figure 2800-2900 lbs. at least; tongue weight should be 11-13% of TT weight or 308-377 lbs on the tongue. You also need to figure the weight of your hitch on top of that.... Your Class II hitch has a tongue weight limit of "up to 300 lbs.", meaning less is better. If you have actual weight specs on the trailer "as it rolls on a trip" and it is truly 2552 lbs, then you are right on the edge.

A pop-up or utility trailer was what that Class II was designed for, IMHO, not a "full face" (sail area) travel trailer.

If you go that route, I wouldn't go far, often or fast

Glad to hear your relatives are OK...rebuilding will take a long time with that magnitude of disaster, but, life and limb being sound is a blessing in that area...



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