Towing Capacity - small midsize car towing 1500lb PUP

Discussion in 'Beginning RVing' started by Ian10965, Jan 20, 2009.

  1. Ian10965

    Ian10965 New Member

    I am going to be buying a 2005-2007 used 4dr sedan car and 8ft 1500lb tent trailer in the near future. I think that the low mfrs stated towing capacities helps them push pricey SUVs, covers themselves for liability, and lets them wash their hands of warranty claims for TV use. There seems to be a very short list of cars that on paper are capable of towing a 1500lb trailer. I am trying to compromise between towing ability vs cost and fuel during the rest of year.

    I am looking for advice and information. I am 50+, and there will be two passengers traveling relatively light. The trailer will have (or get) electric brakes, and I will haul it as empty and light as possible, with half full gas tank. The car will get an add-on transmission cooler. My power and acceleration expectations are low. I never kick down into passing gear. I do not plan any mountain or high altitude trips.

    Anecdotally I hear that all sorts of different medium or small cars tow a tent trailer just fine. With a 1000lb max stated towing capacity, most of these folks must be exceeding this limit. I understand that towing capacity is not as “hard” a limit as GCWR, GVWR, or axle weights.

    I live in eastern Canada. A New Brunswick commercial vehicle enforcement officer told me that he doubted that there would be many Canadian jurisdictions that enforce either passenger car / trailer axle weights , “Towing capacity”, or GCWR. NB doesn’t. My insurance company says that towing capacity vs trailer weight is not an issue for them.

    The Federal Transport Canada regulations do not mention GCWR. The “safety compliance labels” on the door pillar contain only GVWR and GAWR. Most vehicles on my short list do not have GCWR #s stated by the manufacturer. With two passengers, relatively light cargo, and 15% of 1500lb= 225lb tongue weight, I don’t think the GVWR or rear axle weights should pose a problem.


    1) I know that you can’t assume a vehicle’s towing capacity based on the weight limits of available hitches, but it at least gives me a starting point for sensibly pushing the published towing capacities. Many of the “1000 lb max” vehicles have 2000lb Class I Reese hitches available. Does Reese know something that the manufacturers don’t?

    2) I see that Class I hitches are only rated for 200lb tongue weight, so this implies a max of 13%, not 15% of trailer weight. Strictly from a hitch perspective, does a class I hitch, good to 2000lb, provide sufficient safety margins towing a 1500lb 8 ft tent trailer?

    3) Can I load suitcases or other cargo at the back of the trailer to offset the extra tongue weight of the batteries or propane tank

    4) Ratio of TV weight to trailer weight. Does 2500lb seem reasonable as minimum TV curb weight? This is 1000 lb more than the trailer.

    5) In Canada, legally speaking, the concepts of GCWR and “Towing Capacity” do not seem to exist. Therefore, common sense and good engineering practice ought to prevail.
    It seems that the following are factors in deciding just how much I could ‘push” the stated towing capacities. Am I missing anything?

    6) How much engine hp is needed? Again, no mountains, no heavy high speed traffic. A tent trailer has much less frontal area and wind resistance than an enclosed “toy trailer” or travel trailer

    7) Sensible operation: Use of electric trailer brakes. Addition of extra transmission cooler. Addition and monitoring of transmission and engine temp gauges. Will these overcome the “hedge factor” that the manufacturers build into towing capacity?

    8) My prime candidate right now is the 6 cyl base engine pre 2008 Ford Taurus (not the renamed 500), There is a class II hitch available. Towing capacity is 1250lb. I know that they require frequent tranny fluid and filter changes to prevent failures. The sedan has McPherson struts in the rear, and aftermarket booster springs do not seem to be available. Are there better candidates in this vehicle (and price!) category? Has anyone used this vehicle, and what has your experience been?

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