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Newbee Question

3653 Views 6 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  artmart
Ok Guys,

I may have put the cart before the horse on this. What the deal is I have purchased a 1989 31’ Holiday Rambler Aluma-Lite camper. What I have in mind to put this thing about is a 1998 K1500 Chevy Tahoe with 4WD. The truck has the factory Receiver Hitch # 15724874 (According to the windows sticker “Heavy Duty Trailering Equipment”), a 3.73 locking diff, HD AUX Transmission cooling system (both again according to the windows sticker), Vortec 5.7 liter engine, the Equal-i-zer 90-00-1000 Weight Distributing & Sway Control system riding on half worn Goodyear Wrangler HT tires.

The camper’s title states that the GVR is 6250 lbs. I figure with food and water I would be at approx. 7000 lbs.

From what reading I have done is the truck with the factory receiver hitch is capable (using the standard config of the ball) can handle a tongue weight of 500 lbs. and a trailer weight of 5000. It is my understanding that the weight distribution system effectively doubles the capacity and adds sway control. Is this correct?

To say the least I am somewhat confused about if this system will be adequate and SAFE to use.

Any and all advice is welcome.

Thanks for your time,
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Unfortunately you are misinterpreting quite a few items. Here they are:

1. There is no such thing as GVR of the trailer, so I think the sticker states GVWR (or GTWR for trailers) or the "gross vehicle weight rating". This is the MAXIMUM weight the trailer is allowed to weigh with all the gear, propane, AND any tanks that are full. The trailer should never be allowed to weigh more than the GVWR. This limitation is calculated based on the frame, suspension, axles, wheels, tires, brakes and shocks (if included). Any food, water, dishes, luggage, clothing, pots, pans, games, coolers, EVERYTHING you put in there must be included in this maximum weight! What you do is put all the gear in the trailer, have it weighed (along with the truck) and hopefully the GVW (gross vehicle weight) of the trailer is LESS than the GVWR (GVW Rating) to stay within this rating (limit). Hopefully the other numbers look good too. If you don't know what numbers I'm talking about, please ask!

2. The WDH does NOT increase the GVWR of the Tahoe! It only helps shift some of the weight of the towed item (trailer in your case) to be carried by the vehicle's frame and front axle, instead of ALL the tongue weight on the rear axle thereby making for an unsafe ride. If the Tahoe's hitch only has a rating of 500 lbs, then the maximum the truck can tow is a 5,000 lb trailer assuming that 10% of that weight is carried on the ball (or 500 lbs). The trailer you describe is too heavy for the Tahoe since it will have 625 lbs (or more, depending on how the trailer is loaded).

3. Sway control is not standard with a WDH. You must buy a WDH that has one, or you add a sway control to a WDH that does not have one. This is a conscious decision on which option you seek. The integrated WDH/Sway control hitch system is more expensive than a WDH with a separate and additional Sway control bar that needs some installation. I bought my hitch for about $200, and the sway bar for $80. These are pretty good prices because I got them from the dealer because I bought the trailer from them too. The dealer included installation and adjustment for free which tells me I paid too high a price for my trailer (ahem).

4. Just because the tires are worn does not mean they are bad. If the trailer's tires are more than 5 years old, you should replace them because their lack of use increases the chances of tire rot which you CANNOT see until it's almost too late even it there's still a lot of tread. Most vehicle tires are used so much they rarely go beyond the 5 years and get replaced more than likely from wear and tear than sitting for weeks or months at a time like on a trailer. For a trailer, do the "head of the coin" test or check the DOT code (ask for help it you don't know about this) for more than 5 years old. The Tahoe is probably okay and probably only needs the "head of the coin" test. Just remember, tires that sit for long periods of time will dry rot and this shortens their life significantly.

5. The Chevy Tahoe may have a higher tow rating than the 5,000/500 limits of the hitch. If was not unusual for dealers to make a vehicle "tow ready" and not put all the best stuff in it. I'll see it I can find the tow ratings for your vehicle, then see if the truck was not "short-changed" will lesser rated stuff. For example, I had a late model Ford Expedition with an 8,500 lbs tow rating and Class IV receiver. But when I bought my 8,000 lb trailer, even though I ended up with a 9,000 lb WDH, I still could only tow a maximum of 8,500 lbs because it was other components of the truck that was limited.

6. You must also know the Combined Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (CGVWR) for the Tahoe. This is the weight of BOTH the Tahoe and the trailer combined. This covers not loading the truck up to the max, then loading up the trailer to its max, too and expect to tow, drive and stop all this weight up and down hills, and at speed.

7. FYI - The maximum a truck can tow is limited by something that you may not know about. DO NOT do what so many have done - bigger tires and wheels, air bags, beefier hitch and thinking now you can tow more. The thing you beef up may not be the ONLY item that is limiting the weight rating. Other items will include: engine, transmission, drive shaft, U-joints, wheels, tires, differential, brakes, shocks, springs, suspension parts, frame, and so many other things.

8. DO NOT allow a salesman to sell you what you think you need. Half the time they are wrong about what they are selling and don't even know it. I was told by a Ford service person, a Ford Sales person and by a suspension shop technician that air bags would solve a weight problem. This is NOT true. They thought that because the air bags removed the vehicle's back end sag, this means I could tow more weight. But this is NOT true. Look at the fine print of the owner's guides of these aftermarket parts and they will state this is NOT so.

I hope I provided enough to start with. You might not be in weight trouble yet unless you stop immediately, then start checking, confirming, weighing and researching what you have and what you need. If ANY part of your tow vehicle and trailer are over the weight ratings, then the rig combination is overweight, period! You WILL be liable for any mishap if other property or lives are affected.
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Thanks for the reply... I can't tell you how much that helps me understand what I have got to work with.

According to some other posts and the manufactures site (Equal-i-zer Hitch - The “American Original” with 4-Point Sway Control and Weight Distribution ) the "Equal-i-zer" WD hitch system is a WD hitch with sway control, both combined into one.

With some more research I have discovered that the towing capacity is 6500 lbs and that the hitch itself has a weight distributing capacity of 10000 lbs. I know that this hitch was used on trucks all the way up to the 3500 (1 Ton) chevy.

Long question short, If I don't pull it too far (The lake is about 4 miles from where I park it) and don't add any additional weight to the truck or trailer, is it safe to pull it?
excellent reply from artmart.

with a towing capacity of 6,500 pounds and the trailer weighs 6250 that leaves you 250 pounds. the WDH might weigh 150 pounds leaving you with 100 pounds.

the weight rating is for the trailer, hitch passengers and any gear so what I am saying is the trailer (even towed empty) at 6,250, WDH, yourself, wife, 2 kids and the family pet you are already overweight.

4 miles or 400 miles you are taking a big risk.
I didn't research that WDH, so it's nice that it has an integrated sway system. If you don't mind the expense and the weight of the hitch, there's nothing wrong with getting a beefier hitch. Just know that the weight of the hitch itself must be considered in the weight calculations and will show up at the scales, too. It also DOES NOT increase the weight ratings of the Tahoe. Don't tow 10,000 lbs just because the hitch can handle it because the truck cannot.

The purpose of a weight rating is that it is the MAXIMUM weight rating. This allows for rough roads, bumps, potholes, wind, unexpected swerving, running over debris, emergency braking, and many other events that happen when you are moving. Standing still is not the concern, it's when you are moving and there are many factors that will turn that weight into something heavier.

Have you gotten on scale that shows true weight (not the digital kind that has a delay)? I weigh 175 lbs (okay, currently at 179lbs), but when I jump up and down on the scale the needle goes way over that! I have proven that even knowing my weight, there are conditions that will cause an increase with my body.

Now let's talk about tons of weight. For example, you are driving along with the road with a 6,500 lb trailer and you hit a bump, now that load increases with the gravity of that bump to say something over that and the truck is designed to take it since there is some margin designed into the rating. But if you carry 7,000 lbs and now hit a bump, the weight will increase to WAY over the specified rating and now something might break. The weight also increases as you drive faster. This is why exceeding ANY rating means it's exceeded and something might break. Things break under normal operating conditions, why chance it.

This is what PhilnJill is getting at!!! The only way to know if you are safe is to weigh your rig (truck and trailer) to ensure what your numbers are!

ON EDIT: You still might want to check the receiver on the Tahoe. It's not unusual for a dealer to put any old receiver on the truck just to satisfy the "tow ready" accesory/option. Make sure it's the right receiver rated for 6,500 lb load. After all, you originally stated you read 5,000/500 somewhere. What I'm saying is that the truck at the factory may state it has a tow rating of 6,500 lbs, but was the correct receiver installed to satisfy it?
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Thanks PhillnJill and Art,

I appreciate your advice and has taught me a great deal. I Looks like between now and spring I am looking for a 3/4 ton truck.

Thanks again,
Glad we could help.

If your truck is rated for 6,500 lbs, and the trailer weighs a max of 6250, you use that WDH/Sway Bar hitch and you can verify the receiver is of the correct rating, and the weight of the truck and trailer combination is under the max ratings you would not need a new truck. However, the only thing you might not like is the ride and the mpgs (since it is a gasser not diesel). The uphills and downhills will give you fits if you keep in mind a load at its maximum means the truck works hard but you should be okay.

It was not our goal to "trash" your rig. Our goal was to give you the information to determine you are safe and compliant and why.

Now that "we're" going shopping...

A 3/4 ton truck will probably have higher numbers, even higher with a diesel power train but it will also have maximums. It is safe to say you'll probably have better performance and margin with this trailer, which is always good. Be forewarned of "creeping elegance" which is the increase of trailer and truck that you need and want as you become more and more comfortable with the sizes and weight increases over time.

This forum is riddled with members who have done just that, including me. Just keep is safe at all times.
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