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Old 08-19-2020, 11:13 PM   #1
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Towing weight calculation and safety question

Hello all!

I just got the new 154BH and want some advices and opinions from the experts like you! Please help!

These are some specs according to the manual. My tow vehicle is 2015 Toyota Sienna.

* 2015 Sienna XLE(FWD) - This comes with towing package from factory
Curb Weight : 4540lbs
GVWR : 5995lbs
GCWR : 8900lbs
Tow Rating : 3500lbs
Passenger : approx. 400lbs
Cargo : approx. 400lbs
Trailer Hitch(Installed) : 42lbs
Anderson Weight Distribution Hitch : 60lbs

* Tire rating
- Max Load : 1874lbs

* Trailer Spec
Shipping Weight : 2740lbs
Hitch Weight: 295lbs
GVWR : 3450lbs
I installed brake controller with P3, trailer hitch (TW:525lbs, GTW:3500lbs), and bought Anderson weight distribution hitch (60lbs)

I searched and tried to calculate based on these numbers, and it looks ok to tow this trailer safely, but want to hear your opinions if the numbers look ok, or it's pretty tight, or anything to add to drive more safe.

Many people recommended to install airbag(air lift), but the hitch installation shop doesn't recommend to install it with Anderson Weight distribution hitch, so didn't include here.

Please help!
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Old 08-20-2020, 02:11 AM   #2
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Towing

Welcome! We have the 154bh and love it! Been towing with a Ford escape with towing capacity of 3500 lbs. Trailer dry weight is 2650. Only extra is a sway bar. Pulls it pretty well but struggles a little up hills. Just bought a Nisson Pathfinder with towing capacity of 6000 lbs! Big difference, feels like Rv is not behind me.I been told trailer should not weight more than 80% of vehicle towing capacity. Just keep fresh water tank empty when towing and extras at minimum. Great little camper, you'll enjoy it.
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Old 08-20-2020, 07:00 AM   #3
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calace1111,

Welcome to JOF

Since you already have both the TV & TT, I would take your TV/TT combination under your typical "loaded" conditions (ready to camp) to a CAT scale for a weigh-in. The CAT will confirm all your weights, WDH adjustment, load distribution, TV squat, etc..

The CAT data is the most important part of the towing "safely" equation, especially since the results reflect your personal loading habits.

CAT Scale how-to:

https://www.jaycoowners.com/forums/f...v-tt-3871.html

Also, keep in mind that the RV dealer adjusted your WDH under "unloaded" conditions, the CAT will confirm if further adjustment is required. Having the WDH installation/adjustment instructions will come in handy. Reference your TV's owners manual "towing section" for any specifications for towing with a WDH.

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Old 08-20-2020, 08:40 AM   #4
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I live in a small town with a grain elevator. I asked in advance and since corn and beans won't come in till Sept. they were happy to accommodate me and weigh be several times at no charge. Plus they were just nice and liked to talk about towing, RVs and why I was doing it.

My Andersen returned all but 200 lbs to my front axle and it feels fine. Jeep 5180, 195RB 3480 loaded with water and black full, front axle 2480 loaded, 2680 no trailer attached.
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Old 08-20-2020, 03:03 PM   #5
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Thank you for the advices and sharing your experiences!

1 quick question! do I need to add hitch weight when I calculate tow weight or it's for calculating tongue weight?

And tire max load rating is only for tow vehicle's load, not for GVWR, combined weight, right?

So when I calculate based on this, tow vehicle loading weight would be 4540+400+400+42= 5382lbs, considering extra(like gas), it would be 5450lbs. (TV weight)

Now for trailer weight, if I don't fill anything but maybe some paper plates and blankets, it would be 2740+100 = 2840lbs (TT weight)

Correct tongue weight is 10~15% of trailer weight, so it's about 284~426lbs. And trailer hitch weight is 295lbs + Anderson WDH is 60lbs, so it would be 355lbs. which looks fine.

Does it sound correct or I'm missing something here?
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Old 08-20-2020, 06:40 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by calace1111 View Post
Hello all!

I just got the new 154BH and want some advices and opinions from the experts like you! Please help!

These are some specs according to the manual. My tow vehicle is 2015 Toyota Sienna.

* 2015 Sienna XLE(FWD) - This comes with towing package from factory
Curb Weight : 4540lbs
GVWR : 5995lbs
GCWR : 8900lbs
Tow Rating : 3500lbs
Passenger : approx. 400lbs
Cargo : approx. 400lbs
Trailer Hitch(Installed) : 42lbs
Anderson Weight Distribution Hitch : 60lbs

* Tire rating
- Max Load : 1874lbs

* Trailer Spec
Shipping Weight : 2740lbs
Hitch Weight: 295lbs
GVWR : 3450lbs
I installed brake controller with P3, trailer hitch (TW:525lbs, GTW:3500lbs), and bought Anderson weight distribution hitch (60lbs)

I searched and tried to calculate based on these numbers, and it looks ok to tow this trailer safely, but want to hear your opinions if the numbers look ok, or it's pretty tight, or anything to add to drive more safe.

Many people recommended to install airbag(air lift), but the hitch installation shop doesn't recommend to install it with Anderson Weight distribution hitch, so didn't include here.

Please help!
What is the max hitch weight allowed for your Sienna? My 154BH Baja Edition weighs 368 lbs on the hitch with a full 30lb propane tank and battery, and with only a few things loaded in front of the axle - most of the load is behind the axle. The weight of the trailer as I load it is around 3,000lbs, which is 250lbs below the GVWR of the trailer. And remember, the hitch weight needs to be factored in with the cargo weight of the tow vehicle, not the trailer. I have towed it over 5,000 miles behind my Subaru Ascent in the western US.
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Old 08-21-2020, 11:24 AM   #7
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What is the max hitch weight allowed for your Sienna? My 154BH Baja Edition weighs 368 lbs on the hitch with a full 30lb propane tank and battery, and with only a few things loaded in front of the axle - most of the load is behind the axle. The weight of the trailer as I load it is around 3,000lbs, which is 250lbs below the GVWR of the trailer. And remember, the hitch weight needs to be factored in with the cargo weight of the tow vehicle, not the trailer. I have towed it over 5,000 miles behind my Subaru Ascent in the western US.
@AnacortesArmyGuy, trailer hitch tongue weight rating is 525lbs, and trailer hitch weight is 295lbs, If I install WDH, it adds 60lbs, so it will be 355lbs.

Do I need to add all the weight that I'm going to put in the Sienna trunk in tongue weight because it's behind the rear axle? In that case, it would be better idea to put the bikes on the roof of the tow vehicle and put the things inside the trailer? I was thinking to put the bikes on top of the hitch, but it will add more weight on the hitch..
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Old 08-21-2020, 12:04 PM   #8
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I assume you have verified in your owner's manual the max hitch/tongue weight for the Sienna. A quick search on the internet shows it only to be 350 lbs, which would correspond with your max tow weight of 3500 lbs, and not 525 lbs. The 295 lbs tongue weight for the 154BH is most likely its dry weight. Mine was 315 lbs, but after I added the battery and filled the propane tank, it jumped to 368 lbs. Does Toyota say it's okay to use a WDH on the Sienna? If you put one on because that's what the RV salesperson said to do, I would definitely check with Toyota. On my Ascent it was expressly prohibited by Subaru. My point on the loading was that the tongue weight of the trailer needs to be factored in with your car's cargo limit. Between people, luggage, any accessories you have added like a luggage rack, car seats, etc., the hitch, and the trailer's tongue weight, you are very likely to approach you maximum weight limits with little to no margin for error.
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Old 08-21-2020, 01:03 PM   #9
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I assume you have verified in your owner's manual the max hitch/tongue weight for the Sienna. A quick search on the internet shows it only to be 350 lbs, which would correspond with your max tow weight of 3500 lbs, and not 525 lbs. The 295 lbs tongue weight for the 154BH is most likely its dry weight. Mine was 315 lbs, but after I added the battery and filled the propane tank, it jumped to 368 lbs. Does Toyota say it's okay to use a WDH on the Sienna? If you put one on because that's what the RV salesperson said to do, I would definitely check with Toyota. On my Ascent it was expressly prohibited by Subaru. My point on the loading was that the tongue weight of the trailer needs to be factored in with your car's cargo limit. Between people, luggage, any accessories you have added like a luggage rack, car seats, etc., the hitch, and the trailer's tongue weight, you are very likely to approach you maximum weight limits with little to no margin for error.
@AnacortesArmyGuy Sienna dodesn't come with the trailer hitch, so I installed this hitch which has the spec of 525/3, 500 lbs. (Tw/GTW) weight carrying (WC) and 525/3, 500 lbs. (Tw/GTW) weight distributing (WD) - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MYMSG2I..._P8aqFb48HTNNY

So tongue weight is affected anything behind rear axle, right? do I need to add passengers who are not sitting behind rear axle as well? It's confusing
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Old 08-21-2020, 01:29 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by calace1111 View Post
@AnacortesArmyGuy Sienna dodesn't come with the trailer hitch, so I installed this hitch which has the spec of 525/3, 500 lbs. (Tw/GTW) weight carrying (WC) and 525/3, 500 lbs. (Tw/GTW) weight distributing (WD) - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MYMSG2I..._P8aqFb48HTNNY

So tongue weight is affected anything behind rear axle, right? do I need to add passengers who are not sitting behind rear axle as well? It's confusing
Max trailer weight that's towable for your vehicle and the max allowable tongue weight is determined by the tow vehicle specifications, not the max rating for whatever hitch you might put on. Therefore, though the hitch you had installed might be rated for a tongue weight of up to 525 lbs, your Sienna is only rated for 350 lbs - that's the max tongue weight you can go with, and not the 525 lbs. in answer to your question, when selecting a properly sized WDH, my understanding is that you must first calculate what's called the gross tongue weight which include the trailer's tongue weight, plus anything you might carry behind the tow vehicle's rear axle. You aren't going to want to hear this, but I don't think your Sienna is going to be able to safely pull this trailer. I say this for several reasons: once loaded your trailer's tongue weight is going to very likely exceed the 350 lbs Sienna limit; and I'm unconvinced the Sienna can use a WDH, but you need to check with Toyota, but I'd first look at your manual. From my experience at RV dealerships, the default position for the sale people is that all tow vehicles need a WDH, with no consideration given to what the manufacturer of the tow vehicle says. Many unitized body vehicles, like your Sienna and my Subaru, don't have a body on frame design that WDHs are designed to work with. I can't state categorically there aren't some unitized body vehicles out there that can use one, but if I were you I would definitely be asking that question of Toyota, after first looking in your owners manual. This was the case when shopping for a trailer to tow with my 2019 Subaru Ascent that is capable of towing 5000 lbs with up to a 500 lb tongue weight. My vehicle also has a transmission cooler, which is key to enable the car to tow up to the manufacturer's stated limits, and it's all listed in the owners manual, to include some key safety warnings like not exceeding 45 mph on long uphill grades, etc. If you aren't a member of an online Sienna forum I suggest you join and ask other owners about their towing experiences.
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Old 08-21-2020, 01:47 PM   #11
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The limitation on the hitch is also limited by the vehicle. There may be a structural reason that Toyota limits tongue weight to 350#. Almost always factory hitches have a higher tongue capacity than is listed for the vehicle in the manual.

Tongue weight is affected by what is on the front of the trailer or packed inside near the front. Just for sake of argument, let's pretend your trailer is packed for camping and has a 350# tongue weight.

No one has discussed your payload. Payload is the max weight your vehicle can carry. It's on a sticker in your driver side door jamb. Let's say your pay payload is 1300#. It does not matter where you pack things in the vehicles, behind the rear wheels or elsewhere, everything carried in or on the van is counted against the payload, including tongue weight and weight of the WDH. Payload usually assumes the weight of the driver and a full tank of gas. Your van's manual should specify how this is calculated.

Here's some hypothetical numbers.
350 tongue weight
50 Anderson hitch
100 for "stuff"
70 for bikes on roof
50 dog
250 family
Total 870#
1300-870=430

In this case you'd have quite a bit of wiggle room (430#), and of course these are not real numbers but I hope this helps you understand what you need to calculate.
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Old 08-21-2020, 03:21 PM   #12
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Max trailer weight that's towable for your vehicle and the max allowable tongue weight is determined by the tow vehicle specifications, not the max rating for whatever hitch you might put on. Therefore, though the hitch you had installed might be rated for a tongue weight of up to 525 lbs, your Sienna is only rated for 350 lbs - that's the max tongue weight you can go with, and not the 525 lbs. in answer to your question, when selecting a properly sized WDH, my understanding is that you must first calculate what's called the gross tongue weight which include the trailer's tongue weight, plus anything you might carry behind the tow vehicle's rear axle. You aren't going to want to hear this, but I don't think your Sienna is going to be able to safely pull this trailer. I say this for several reasons: once loaded your trailer's tongue weight is going to very likely exceed the 350 lbs Sienna limit; and I'm unconvinced the Sienna can use a WDH, but you need to check with Toyota, but I'd first look at your manual. From my experience at RV dealerships, the default position for the sale people is that all tow vehicles need a WDH, with no consideration given to what the manufacturer of the tow vehicle says. Many unitized body vehicles, like your Sienna and my Subaru, don't have a body on frame design that WDHs are designed to work with. I can't state categorically there aren't some unitized body vehicles out there that can use one, but if I were you I would definitely be asking that question of Toyota, after first looking in your owners manual. This was the case when shopping for a trailer to tow with my 2019 Subaru Ascent that is capable of towing 5000 lbs with up to a 500 lb tongue weight. My vehicle also has a transmission cooler, which is key to enable the car to tow up to the manufacturer's stated limits, and it's all listed in the owners manual, to include some key safety warnings like not exceeding 45 mph on long uphill grades, etc. If you aren't a member of an online Sienna forum I suggest you join and ask other owners about their towing experiences.
@AnacortesArmyGuy Really appreciated for details. I didn't know there is max tongue weight rating. I searched Sienna forum, and almost everyone recommends putting WDH, so I assume I can install it on Sienna. Sienna comes with engine oil cooler, heavy-duty radiator and fan according to the manual.
Is installing WDH going to make Sienna be towing vehicle? I'm going to use Anderson WDH which is rated up to 1400lbs

@DocBrown Thanks for reminding payload, I see mat paylod is 1290lbs. I'll keep that in mind for the payload
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Old 08-21-2020, 03:48 PM   #13
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@AnacortesArmyGuy Really appreciated for details. I didn't know there is max tongue weight rating. I searched Sienna forum, and almost everyone recommends putting WDH, so I assume I can install it on Sienna. Sienna comes with engine oil cooler, heavy-duty radiator and fan according to the manual.
Is installing WDH going to make Sienna be towing vehicle? I'm going to use Anderson WDH which is rated up to 1400lbs

@DocBrown Thanks for reminding payload, I see mat paylod is 1290lbs. I'll keep that in mind for the payload
What does the towing section of your Sienna owners manual say? As long as your manual doesn't prohibit the use of a WDH than you should be okay, but you still can't exceed the vehicle's towing limits, which are 3500 lbs for the trailer, 350 lbs for the tongue, and whatever the GCWR is listed on the driver's side sticker. You should weigh the loaded vehicle and trailer to get accurate weights, to include calculating your tongue weight to ensure you're not exceeding the max limits.
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Old 08-22-2020, 09:52 PM   #14
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If you don't have the trailer yet I would go and weigh your van just to see where you are. Load up all the people and stuff you will be carrying. Sometimes this is a rude awakening.
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Old 08-30-2020, 05:31 PM   #15
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The one thing that will help stability if you're getting close to max tow weight is LT tires, they have a stiffer side wall and are designed for heavier weight than standard p or passenger car tires.
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Old 09-05-2020, 02:18 PM   #16
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I second looking up the max tongue weight of your Sienna in the manual. I think you're over your limit especially with a WD system added to the mix.

Also check to see if the hitch you installed is rated for use with weight distribution systems.

I had a KIA Sorento which is rated to tow up to 3500 lbs (or 5000 lbs with the V6). I thought my Sorento was rated up to 500 lbs tongue weight because that's what I had seen online. The hitch I installed was rated for up to 5000 lbs tow and 500 lbs tongue which might have also reinforced my thinking. But then one day I noticed someone on a KIA forum say theirs was only rated for 350 lbs tongue weight. Sure enough, that's what my KIA manual said for mine.

I also found in the same forum that none of the hitches available were rated for use with WD systems. Sure enough when I looked it showed N/A next to WD, in the specs for my Curt hitch. This is apparently common on unibody vehicles.

So, I was almost at the max tongue weight without any cargo in the trailer, and adding a WD system into the mix would have put me over the max, and isn't supported anyway. I wish I had just looked for my max tongue weight in the manual in the first place.

The vehicle had too much sag for my liking and I was worried that if I had too much cargo I might stress the body of the vehicle where the hitch was mounted. If I added a WD system then there could be even more stress as the hitch is then being twisted forward to level the load.

I ended up trading in my beloved Sorento for a new Ford Ranger. Heh
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