TTs and something to pull them.

Hi folks. It's the ignorant menace in the straw hat again...

This is an area I hadn't explored until now as I'm wary about towing. But I've been impressed with the argument that if something goes wrong with a rig, if you've got a car and a trailor, it only effects half your rig.

So. Knowing nothing about American motors, I'd like to find out what I should be looking at to tow a trailor. If I had in mind getting something like this Starcraft 24' trailor, what would I need to make a decent job of towing it? I can't see a figure for the trailor weight, and I gather the 'dry weight' is not much to go on anyway. Where do I go for resources on this?



Senior Member
Re: TTs and something to pull them.

The manufacturer's site ought to have the GVWR, which is the maximum the trailer can weigh. It is the safest value to use when matching a trailer and a tow vehicle.

There are 2 types of trailers, 'Travel Trailers' (TT) and 'Fifth Wheels' (5ver). The TT is usually lower and the floor plan is all on one level. They are less stable to tow and harder to hook up. The 5ver usually is higher (with corresponding higher headroom and wind resistance), with more storage, and are much easier to tow and hook up. The front part of the floor plan is up a steep flite of stairs and often has low headroom. The major problem with any trailer is 'leveling' it side to side. This involves having a hump of something (pieces of wood or plastic blocks) and driving the tires on one side of the trailer up onto the hump. If you have a power jack (TT) or power landing legs (5ver), leveling front to back is not too bad.

The TT can be towed by any vehicle with an appropriate hitch and which is rated to tow the trailer weight. The 5ver can only be towed by a pickup truck with a 5th wheel hitch in the bed (which greatly reduces what you can carry in the bed). Long bed trucks are better; short bed trucks can be used with appropriate hitch (sliding) and/or extended King pin to prevent the trailer 'kissing' the cab during a tight turn.

To overcome the more problematic towing capabilities of the TT, you will need an anti-sway hitch, possibly with weight distribution. There are also some very expensive hitches which overcome most of the limitations of TT towing without these 'gadgets'.

The trailer should have its own brakes, powered by the internal battery. So you will need a brake controller in the tow vehicle.

Once you know the weight of a possible trailer, you can look for the appropriate vehicle to tow it. The most important criteria is the 'towing capacity'. But take this value with several grains of salt. This rating is with no accessories installed in the vehicle, no passengers, no cargo. Just a 150 pound driver and a bit of gas. Also, the rating is for a flat bed trailer with 'no' wind resistance.

To find the weight of the trailer, check with the manufacturer. You will need the GVWR and the 'pin weight'. The dry weight is only of use in figuring out your cargo carrying capacity, and should not be relied on unless you are getting the trailer directly from the manufacturer, since it does not include any changes made by previous owners or dealers.

From the tow vehicle manufacturer, you can find the towing capacity (subject to the limitations mentioned above) and the GAWR for the rear axel, to insure that the pin weight of the trailer does not cause you to exceed this maximum rear axel weight. In short, you need to be concerned that you stay under the GVWR of the truck, the GVWR of the trailer, the towing weight of the hitch, the pin weight of the hitch, the GAWR of the front and rear axels of the tow vehicle and the GCWR of the truck (the maximum of the truck and anything it is pulling.

Math is good, but the only way to make sure that you are under all these values is to visit a scale before you hit the road.
Re: TTs and something to pull them.

A fully loaded 24' Starcraft weighs in at around 6,000lbs. This means you would need something the size and tow rating of a Chevy Trailblazer. This model comes with 2 available engines the 4.2l I-6 and a 5.3l v8. They both have identical EPA gas mileage (15-20MPG). The v8 model may even do a little better than the 6cyl in a real world towing scenario because it shuts down some of it's 8 cylinders when not needed. You'll probably be lucky to get that lower figure when towing a 24' TT in hilly terrain. Of course just about any v8 powered pickup, or full sized SUV would be more than enough to git-r-done. A Hi-Lo or a TrailManor will give you a lot better mileage (and tow easier, using a smaller TV) because of less aerodymanic drag, but they come at a premium price, which probably won't be offset in only one year of towing.
Re: TTs and something to pull them.

Thanks again for the info sushidog. I think I'm beginning to get a good picture of the pros and cons of the various types of RVs available now. The most appealing thing about the car+trailor option is the flexibility. TO not have to be driving the full rig around at all times really has its advantages.

We went to a UK motorhome site today to get a real physical feel of what its like to be inside motorhomes and trailors. There are quite a few differences between European RVs and US ones, but enough similarities to get a good idea.

One thing that several of the European class As and Cs had is a 'garage'. A large storage space behind the rear wheels, big enough to put a small motorbike in. Or a couple of pushbikes. Do any US RVs feature these? I hadn't seen any mention.