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 > First time tower - multiple questions

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Raife

Texas

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Posted: 07/21/20 10:01pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Good afternoon. I have read many posts regarding towing and am looking for some additional help. Sorry for the dissertation…

First – context:
Vehicle and weights:
- 2015 Durango, Citadel, V8 Hemi, factory installed tow package, technology group (not sure this matters)
- Curb Weight – 5770 pounds (measured on certified scales, full tank, minus my weight)
- Family weight – 610 pounds (me, wife, 3 kids, and dog)
“Remaining“ cargo weight – GVWR of 7,100 minus 5770 curb weight minus 610 family equals 720 pounds (which I imagine most will be taken up by tongue weight)

Trips – I am planning for 2 trips:
- Trial trip in prep for 2nd trip: long weekend locally (250 miles away here in central Texas) in the next couple of weeks
- Long trip over 2.5 weeks: drive from home to Albuquerque and pick up trailer there. Then poke through midwest/west attractions (Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon, onto California for quick visit with in-laws, then back through Zion, Bryce, Four Corners, drop off trailer in Albuquerque, and drive home)

So in looking through Outdoorsey and corresponding with several owners (i.e. asking for the trailers Gross Vehicle Weight Rating and Tongue Weight) I am norming around low-20 footers to rent.

However, I still have several questions:
1) Electronic brake controller: I understand I should use an electronic brake controller – the Tekonsha P3 showed up today and I plan on installing it this coming weekend (I have installed my hardwired dash/rear cam and I have watched the videos on installing the brake controller to the plug on the D, so I am comfortable doing it myself).
- Given I will be towing infrequently where should I mount it? I was thinking instead of using the screws or bracket, I might use some industrial Velcro and stick it in front of my right knee or on top of the dash to the left of the instrument hood. Has anyone done this? How did it work out? I would be working against central Texas summer heat in the car.

2) Tow weight: I have not gotten a good sense of how much I should/could actually tow. I have had some people say, 7,200 pounds is the tow limit so you can go to 7,200 pounds. I also read about an 80% guideline, etc.
- If I take the Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) of 13,100 pounds and subtract out the curb weight of the Durango (5770lbs), the family weight (610lbs), and the tongue weight (max 720lbs for calculation sake), I end up at 6,000 remaining pounds. To me (if I understand everything correctly) that would be the max Gross Trailer Weight (GTW) I can pull. I would assume it is better to stay under this. This assumes all our cargo (clothes, food, camp chairs, bikes, etc.) goes in the trailer since once I factor in the tongue weight, I don’t have any remaining cargo weight in the Durango.

3) Weight distributing hitch: I read several articles and several of the owners referenced a weight distributing hitch (the manual referenced this as mandatory for anything over 5,000 pounds). One owner alluded to the WDH as a way to go above the 720 pound tongue weight limit. That doesn’t seem right to me. I would assume the WDH provides greater safety and control, not a means to exceed the rated tongue weight.

4) Sway bars: I understand these can be integrated into the WDH, but do I need specific ones based on the trailer weight?

5) Tow mirrors: I am assuming the stock side mirrors are not going to be “out” far enough. I have read several posts that reference most add-on mirrors are junk (my words and maybe some of the poster’s words as well). What is a good option?

6) Trailer weight: I have asked all the owners of trailers I am considering the GVWR for their trailer. Most initially give a rough number or the dry weight. I then generally clarify that I want the actual GVWR and what is printed on the sticker. Is this the right number to ask for? I figure this would be the max the trailer would ever weigh.

Any help is greatly appreciated. I think I covered my questions for now.

Thank you in advance!

lane hog

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Posted: 07/22/20 03:19am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You didn't mention how long the trailer is, which might be an issue with the Durango. That's a relatively short wheelbase vehicle (120") and there's an unofficial calculation which says you should probably stick to something in the 24' range.

A good sway control hitch is essential -- not just weight distribution, but integrated sway control beyond a friction bar.



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Jebby14

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Posted: 07/22/20 04:28am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

you will want anti sway and weight distribution, knock another 100 lbs off your payload for that so tongue weight around 620 lbs. Means to have 15% on the tongue you are looking for a trailer with a gvwr of 4133 lbs. doable but wont be a lot of trailer. might to better with a hybrid or popup though there are several 20 foot travel trailers that will be ok. Expect limited carrying capacity on trailers that light, will likely need to keep your gear around 800 lbs. also doable.


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BurbMan

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Posted: 07/22/20 06:04am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

First off, welcome to the forum, and let me be the first to congratulate you on your research. Most of us who find this forum are doing these calculations after we already bought the big trailer [emoticon]

You are on the right track with everything you have posted above and I'll add a few comments here....

Your understanding of GCWR is absolutely correct and many folks fail to grasp this. The max tow rating for your truck is based on it being mostly empty. Simply stated, when you load the truck to max GVWR, you can't tow up to the max tow rating too.

Trailers need a minimum 10% tongue weight for stability, most of the ones on the market today are around 11-12%. So if you work backwards from your 720 lbs of available cargo capacity, and use 12% as an estimated tongue weight, 720/.12 = 6000 lbs total trailer weight, which coincidentally would bring you to max GCWR also.

The average family will 1000-1200 lbs of gear to a trailer, not including fresh water. This sounds like a lot but pots/pans, dishes, bedding, BBQ, it all adds up. Our 34' Terry was 6900 empty but 8500 at the scales with 1/2 full water tank.

So 6000 loaded is about a 5000 lb dry trailer, which should put you in the 24-28 ft. range depending on manufacturer and features. Vehicle ratings are mostly conservative, so if you set the rig up to be under GVWR and GCWR you should expect a comfortable towing experience. The 5.7 will be working but not enough to hurt it.

As noted you should get a good hitch. Yes, weight distributing is a must at these weights. Look for a hitch with built-in sway control like the Reese Strait Line. Top of the line is the Hensley Arrow or ProPride P3, but they are also $$$.

Speaking of P3, the Tekonsha is probably the best unit you can get. The critical factor in mounting is your ability to reach it quickly in an emergency. The Tekonsha has a manual lever on it to activate the trailer brakes, and that's the primary method to stop a swaying trailer. I would suggest experimenting with it in the mounting locations you are considering...try to reach for it and activate the brakes in the blink of an eye (sometimes that's all you get). Doesn't matter if the controller is above or below the dash, in the dash, whatever, as long as you can get to it. There is also a display the shows you what it's set at, you'll want to able to see that as well.

As far as mirrors go, the best are the extendable ones like these, but they are also $$$. If you plan to tow less frequently, the slip ons are OK, better are the McKesh mirrors.

Have a great trip and post some pics along the way!


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MFL

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Posted: 07/22/20 06:51am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Very good advice above. Yes, the OP has done his research, understands limitations, etc.

Jerry





Raife

Texas

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Posted: 07/22/20 07:07am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thank you!

I had not read anything around trailer length and wheel base...I will need to look into that more.

We are set to rent a 20' in a couple weeks with a GVWR of 3,840 - so starting on the lighter side. The owner is providing a WDH w/ sway control.

For the longer trip I would like to rent something a bit bigger.

Thank you for the perspective on trailer weight and cargo. Again, I read over on a Durango forum that people are pulling 30' trailers that weight 7,000 lbs.
Glad I'm not off my rocker for calculating out 6,000 lbs.

I'll have to figure out what I want to do for mirrors. For the first trip I may go cheap to get a sense of what to look for on the longer trip.

Thank you again...I will likely have some basic noob questions as things move along.

BarabooBob

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Posted: 07/22/20 07:10am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I am happy to see someone do their research before they go out and buy a really big TT because they want to haul everything including the backyard pool.
I purchased CIPA mirrors from etrailer that slide over and screw onto my stock mirrors. They were much cheaper than switching out the factory mirrors and they work really good with a lot of vibration. They do not move when attached but they are easy to attach and remove.
Stay in touch with this forum. Almost everyone is very helpful. If you get a troll that tries to rain on your parade, just ignore them. They are just bored or enjoy irritating everyone.


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Sjm9911

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Posted: 07/22/20 07:16am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Ok my 2 cents, probably worth like half that. When you get the WDH follie the instrutions carefully. Its needed for best preformance. Also, as they said with the break controller, set that up and make sure it works before you set off. And learn how to use it to controll sway. If you start swaying , hit the trailor break and speed up the tv a bit , this should pull the trailor stright. Some times just a touch of the trailor break will work. But you need to learn how to use it. Tow mirrores even if crappy will help you. Some get a back up camra also. I gind i never used mine to back up but do use it to change lanes etc. It helps see behind you. Only other bit of advice is to check all your hook ups, chains etc. Twice before heading out. And make sure your tires are up to pressure. I do a walk around before i leave to make sure i didnt forget something, leave a door open or a tool on the ground. Good luck! Have fun.


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Jebby14

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Posted: 07/22/20 07:21am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

for a single trip with a short trailer you might get buy with adjust your factory mirrors. if not a cheap set of bull horns would be my choice. My first setup (grand cherokee pulling 19 footter) i had snap ons that i used once. never bothered again. My current setup doesnt need them.

out of curiosity what is a rental costing. I'm all for renting but if its going to become a regular thing id think looking for an affordable used setup would be a better use of funds.

Mickeyfan0805

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Posted: 07/22/20 08:01am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Generally good advice above - but there is one missing element. The 720 you list does not account for other items in the truck nor the WD hitch itself. Any food, snacks, books, etc. that you and your kids have along for entertainment are part of your weight. It's a small number, but it's there. More importantly, the WD hitch is likely to weigh upwards of 100 pounds on its own. Thus, I'd suggest your max tongue weight is closer to 600, not 720.

This would suggest a LOADED trailer weight of 4,500-5,000, max. That means you are looking for something sub 4,000 dry. At that weight you are likely looking at a teardrop, A-frame, pop-up, small hybrid, or a box trailer under 20'.

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