Max trailer weight

Discussion in 'Talkback' started by Swede, Dec 11, 2002.

  1. Swede

    Swede New Member

    I have a general question regarding trailer towing. I have a Chevy Tahoe and GM recommends a maximum trailer weight of 7600 pounds. I am quite sure that you don’t want to tow a vehicle that approaches the maximum weight limit. I live in upstate New York, but will be spending a lot of time in the Rocky Mountain West and will have to traverse mountain passes. I want to select a trailer, based on loaded weight, that will easily tow in the West and hopefully be able to maintain highway speeds. Is there a rule of thumb for determining a realistic maximum tow capacity for any tow vehicle? Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. hertig

    hertig Senior Member

    Max trailer weight

    Well, my trailer is about 6500 pounds and my truck is supposed to be able to pull 11000 pounds. It did fine on flat highway, but shifted down and was not able to maintain highway speed on any up grade (mild ones so far). So even though you'd think 60% of maximum would be fine, in this case I don't know if I'd want my rig anywhere near a 'mountain pass'. So the factor you are looking for appears to be dependant on the engine in your Tahoe. In the 6L class (350 to 380 ci), 60% seems like it would be problematical in mountainous terrain (at highway speeds, of course - at slow speeds you usually get rather more torque). If you have a good diesel engine or a much bigger gas engine (454 ci class), the factor would probably be significantly higher. I don't know as going over 90% would be wise even if you did not plan to go anywhere near mountains...

    Engine torque and gear ratio are what determine if a truck can drag a trailer up any particular grade. You want to not only be able to do it, but not have the truck self destruct while doing it or shortly afterwards. Automatic transmissions are usually the weakest link in the drivetrain and tend to fail catastrophically. Therefore, unless you have a manual transmission, I'd make sure I had a transmission temperature guage and external cooler (heat is the usual cause of most transmission problems). An external filter could be useful as well (the unit I got contained a filter and temperature sensor in the same unit).
     
  3. C Nash

    C Nash Senior Member

    Max trailer weight

    Agree with the info that John gave you Swede. Remember that you have to include all the weight in the Tahoe. Amazing what we can add with all we think we must have when we go rving. Sometimes I think we would be better off with a double wide!! Expectations have a lot to do with it. If you expect to go over the rockies and not even know it's back there you are going to be dissapointed. I know, there are some that gain speed all the way up those steep grades but, most of them also get 20 miles to the gallon!! ;) . Try to figure out all you will be carrying in both vehicles to get total weight. Airstreams are hard to beat when it comes to ease of towing. (AJMO)Good luck
     
  4. hertig

    hertig Senior Member

    Max trailer weight

    Hmmm, where can I get one of those rigs which gain speed up steep grades and get 20 mile per gallon? :)
     
  5. C Nash

    C Nash Senior Member

    Max trailer weight

    John, go to bed and dream :) :)
     
  6. Swede

    Swede New Member

    Max trailer weight

    Thanks to you all - My dealer is telling me that if I can keep the trailer weight 500 lbs below manufacturers max, I will be Ok. I have some doubts and it looks like I want to keep the trailer weight as low as I can. I am looking at both Sunline and Sunnybrook about 27 - 28 ft., with slide(s)and it looks like the unloaded vehicle weights will be somewhere between 4700 & 5500 lbs this should bring the loaded weight up to around 5500 to 6500 lbs or 72% - 85% of the rated tow capacity of 7600 lbs.
     
  7. hertig

    hertig Senior Member

    Max trailer weight

    OK means it probably won't be unsafe or break. It doesn't mean you won't be going 20 mph up a hill rated at 70 MPH. It doesn't mean your gas mileage won't drop by a factor of 2/3. It doesn't mean you won't overheat.

    Well, there is always experimentation. Perhaps you could rent a trailer or buy an old used one, load it up to 6500 pounds (or whatever value you feel comfortable with), and take it on a sample trip, including pulling it over the worse pass you are likely to encounter. There are Mountain Grade Directories which describe the serious grades in the country, and Good Sam's routing service shows the Grade IDs on their itineraries.

    This will tell you 'for real' whether 6500 lbs (or whatever you used) is right for you. If not, you could make a guess based on how unhappy you were with that weight and then either run a new experiment at this new weight, or go for it and hope for the best.
     
  8. C Nash

    C Nash Senior Member

    Max trailer weight

    Swede, I think you will find the dry weight to be at least at the 5500 lb and when you fully load you will be very close to your max. If your were not planning on driving in the mountains you may be ok but, don't think you are going to be pleased with the performance. What engine and rear axle ratio do you have? Did it come with the factory tow package? Not talking about just the hitch. Some salepeople will tell you it has the tow package just because it has the hitch! :eek:
     

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