How to Choose the Right Vehicle for Towing Your RV

Selecting the right tow vehicle to tow your RV, especially one that is that is agreeable as a daily driver, can be a very difficult decision. And even if you begged, most dealers would not allow you to actually hook up your RV and test the combination out. Much of what you have to go by has to depend on the vehicle’s specifications, its towing capacity, and your driving impressions. Whether you have your heart set on a particular vehicle or not, there are still many choices to be made about the engine, transmission, suspension, brakes, comfort and luxury features, and whether you want two or four-wheel drive.

Here are some important steps you should take when considering buying a vehicle to tow your RV.

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1) Trailer weight: Know the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and the actual weight of your RV. You can find the GCWR of the RV on the weight placard. Never use the “dry” weight rating typically found in a brochure, as this is the weight of the RV with no options or any of your stuff loaded in to it.

To find the weight of your RV, visit a public scale and have it weighed. See the Related Article section below for instructions on how to do this.

2) Vehicle loading: Consider the weight to be carried in your vehicle. Every vehicle has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). This is the maximum permissible weight of everything on board your vehicle, including the vehicle itself plus passengers, cargo, and fuel. Estimate the weight of all your camping gear, passengers, and luggage that is going to be in the vehicle, then add up the weights. You must also include the tongue or pin weight of your RV. This can add substantially to the vehicle’s total weight and put many vehicles over the permissible GVWR.

If you’ll be carrying close to the maximum GVWR while towing near the maximum towing weight, you should forget about that particular vehicle and go to something with more load and towing capacity.

3) Vehicle type: For comfortable, no-nonsense hauling, heavy duty trucks with towing packages and big diesel engines cannot be beat for towing the big 5th wheel. But for towing a smaller travel trailer or a pop-up camping trailer on the weekends, you don’t necessarily need a truck. You might be able to get by with a passenger vehicle, like an SUV or large sedan.

Check the vehicle’s manual for tow ratings. Be aware though, that seemingly similar vehicles (in power, size, and weight) can have quite different towing capacities, and some vehicles don’t allow towing at all.

4) Frame type: There are two type of frames in today’s vehicles: full-frame and unit-body. Full-frame vehicles and traditional trucks are the better choice for hauling very heavy loads because the tow hitch can be attached directly to the frame with trucks and full-frame SUVs, minimizing the strain placed on the body of the vehicle.

With a unit-body vehicle, there is not a traditional rail frame. The body and the chassis share the load together. The tow hitch is attached to the body or bumper in a unit-body vehicle. If you tow heavy loads regularly in a unit-body vehicle, you’re likely to find more creaks, rattles, and body integrity issues. If you just tow occasionally on weekends, it’s nothing to worry about.

5) Drive train: The undisputed choice for serious towing is rear-wheel drive. It offers better traction and stability compared to front-wheel drive. Truck-style four-wheel drive is not advised, as it should never be used while towing, unless you are in an emergency situation. All-wheel-drive systems are a mixed bag: some aid in towing, while others have a reduced towing capacity and are vulnerable to added wear or damage from towing.

If you’re thinking about the all-wheel-drive model, check that the towing capacity for the all-wheel-drive model is similar to the two-wheel-drive version. Some of the more sophisticated all-wheel-drive systems will change the proportion of torque going to the front and rear to compensate for any change in stability due to the RV. These systems are typically available on the car-like SUVs that are otherwise front-wheel drive.

6) Transmission: An automatic transmission is usually the best choice for towing. A manual is OK only for experienced, careful shifters. With an automatic, just remember a few precautions: make sure your vehicle has a transmission cooler, and remember to always disable overdrive to prevent excessive wear.

7) Engine type: Think torque rather than horsepower for towing. If the terrain permits, see how confident the vehicle can accelerate from a stop up a steep hill. Torque is what gets the load moving so in general, the more you have the better.

Modern turbo-diesels really excel in towing, and they’re a great choice when available due to their better mileage and long-term durability. They also maintain their power at higher altitudes where gas engines tend to lose power, as much as 3% power per 1000 feet of altitude. This assumes the gas engine is not turbo or supercharged.

Be aware that if you choose a smaller engine for economy, it might be so strained that it actually uses more fuel than the larger engine, not to mention all the extra engine wear.

8) Brakes: Most modern vehicles have assisted braking, known as ABS. Ensure that the vehicle you choose has ABS. It can really help in a panic situation, especially towing a large RV.

Some vehicles have an electronic trailer brake option which is incorporated into the vehicles braking system. This feature controls the brakes on the RV in relation to how much you are braking the vehicle. If the vehicle you are looking at has this option, get it!

9) Towing packages: Make sure you get a vehicle with the special towing package if it’s available. If it’s not, look at another vehicle.

The towing package should include an oil cooler, transmission fluid cooler, heavy-duty alternator and battery, higher-capacity rear springs, and possibly a stabilizer bar (or larger one than standard).

Trucks might also get a lower final drive ratio (a higher number means lower gearing which is desirable for towing), and heavy-duty differential. Don’t get a stripped-down version of the vehicle you want thinking to add all of these things as needed. It will be cost-prohibitive and likely void your warranty.

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Tips & Warnings

Along with the vehicles GVWR is another important specification: the GCWR, or Gross Combined Weight Rating. This is the maximum combined weight the tow vehicle and the RV can weigh legally. Exceeding this can not only damage the tow vehicle, but may have insurance implications in the event of an accident.

When selecting your tow vehicle, make absolutely certain that you consider the tongue or pin weight of your RV when determining the payload you need. For example, if you have a vehicle that can carry 1500 lbs., 750 lbs. may be tongue weight from the RV, leaving 750 lbs. for cargo, including people, fuel, bikes, coolers, chairs, wood, generator, etc. This might not be enough reserve payload capacity for your needs.

CLICK ON THE BRAND NAME to Check out the TOWING CAPACITY on a CHRYSLERDODGE, JEEP or RAM Vehicle!

As read on: http://www.ehow.com/how_2094697_choose-right-vehicle-towing-rv.html#ixzz1yobcFwCi

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