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Old 11-12-2010, 07:19 PM   #1
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Like many, I starting with tenting out of a vehicle trunk, then onto PUP, then small TT, then large TT. Now, we do seasonal site camping (tired of towing the many prevous years) but still do pull 2 x different size utility trailers - when needed. Thus, keeping my towing skills current.

IMO, many "towing packages" are factory installed items that allows BASE build to haul / pull more weight. For my current mini-VAN, we purposely bought it without a factory towing backage. After research (before buying), I quickly discovered its factory towing items are over priced "junk". Thus, I installed my own 3rd party towing items - which are much better then factory items. For example, AUX ATF cooler rated for attached 5,000 lbs trailer (instead of factory 3,500 lbs cooler), installed my own Brake Controller (instead of NO factory Brake Controller), installed my own Timbren SES units (instead of factory air shocks) and I installed my own 7 pin plug. For my mini-van, their towing package didn't even include a hitch. Why call it a factory towing package "upgrade" and they don't even supply a hitch with it? Anyway.... In the end, my 3rd party Towing Upgrades are much better then "bundled" factory items. And, did it at 1/3 the cost of "factory" upgrade cost. Sounds like your 3rd Party Air Bags are better then factory setup as well... Thus, don't under estimate the strength of the 3rd party items you installed yourself. They could be better then your vechicle's factory items.

I find that many folks fail to read the "fine print" within their vehicle's manual. Especially FWD mini-van manuals. Within their manual, it probably states "2,000 without Towing Package upgrade and 3,500 lbs WITH towing package". They go out, buy a 3,000 lbs trailer, load up their mini-van with people / internal cargo and drive. Yet, within their manual's fine print, it probably clearly states, MAX 3,500 lbs with only 150 lbs driver and no cargo in their vehicle. They might have 4 other peope (180 lbs each) and 200 lbs of rear vehicle cargo. Thats 4 x 180 + 200 = 920 lbs of internal stuff. 3,000 lbs trailer + 920 lbs and one can tell, they have "over loaded" their combo. But, in their minds, they still think their trailer weight is still "under the MAX". To be postive of vehicle's "real world" weights, always Scale Weight the combo. That's the only way to confirm if their combo is under or over the max allowed weights.

I also find that many people fail to take driving / towing conditions into account as well. For example, steep hills, strong head winds, perhaps stopping / starting on hills, city stop/go driving conditions. These "extra stress" drividing conditions do over work the Vehicle. If you know your travels will include steep hills + stress + stress (etc - etc) then perhaps one's real MAX towing weight is 3,000 lbs (instead of listed 3,500 lbs). Thus, previous example loaded vehicle weight would be "way over" the vehicle's real world max weights. If wondering, I used to tow a max weights. Faught a strong head wind during one trip and a few days later, my vehicle's transmission blew. My transmisison specialist tore my vehicle's transmission apart and said someone "over stressed it". He can tell from its internal damage. Today, I now only pull MAX 3,000 lbs - even though my vehicle's MAX towing weight is 3,500 lbs.

Another area that people fail to understand is brakes. Often, they think of one's local laws before using basic math. Within my region, any trailer over 3,000 lbs needs brakes. Thus, loaded trailer (including its own weight) at 2,998 lbs does NOT need brakes. My mini-van has a rear cargo capacity of 1,500 lbs. This also means its factory brakes are "sized" for its own empty weight PLUS this 1,500 lbs (internal cargo capacity) as well. Let's say I connect a 2,998 lbs trailer to my empty mini-van. Take 2,998 lbs - 1500 lbs = 1,500 lbs. This means my vehicle's brake must stop an additonal 1,500 lbs (for this brakeless trailer). To me, any trailer connected to my Vehicle over 1,500 lbs (its rear cargo capacity weight) must have its own brakes. Many mini-vans have simular numbers. Yet, my local law states a 2,998 lbs brakeless trailer behind my mini-van is ok. Forget local weight laws... If your attached trailer is OVER vehcile's cargo capactity weight (re: 1,500 lbs), get brakes on that trailer. My 6x10 utility trailer now has its own brakes. Before and after stopping power is amazing. I now understand why CA, USA region has their towing laws at 1,500 lbs. re: Any loaded trailer over 1,500 lbs needs it own brakes (behind the average mini-van). Having brakes on one's trailer is amazing. And, it will save lives as well....

These are the towing items I now follow - regardless if towing with a mini-van or pickups. Good luck with your towing combo...


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Old 11-13-2010, 10:18 AM   #2
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Like many folks, I've towed under 3,000 lbs trailer without and WITH brakes. After upgrading my 6x10 utility trailer with brakes, I now realize how foolish I was. re: Previously using that over 1,500 lbs trailer without its own brakes. The "braking power" of my combo from before and after my upgrade is amazing. Today, I'm a firm beliver of brakes on trailers. Especially when attached trailer is over the weight of vehicle's internal cargo capacity. re: Average 1500 lbs limit.

A few years ago, I remember reading a story on a different RV forum about a mini-van and PUP that got into an accident. They were on the main road, driving thru a 4 way intersection and the feeder roads had the stop signs (since he was on the main road). The vehicle on his right didn't see "his" stop sign and drove through it. As this speeding vehicle was approaching their Tow Vehicle / Trailer combo (on the main road), the combo driver seen the other guy was going to blow through his legal stop sign. This combo driver immediatly slammed on his brakes (that had a brakeless trailer connected to his vehicle). The other guy T-boned the Tow Vehicle's passenger door and the inocent guy's wife (in the passenger seat) was killed. Cops, insurance, air flight, etc. etc. Big investigation and the other guy got charged - for failing to stop at a stop sign. The camper's combo was under invetigation (re: insurance, lawyers, etc.) for 6 months. Was the combo's weight over loaded, was their braking power within the law, etc. etc? To make a long story short, no "legal" fault on the combo driver's area. His wife was dead and in the end, insurance stepped up to the plate. But... The guy always felt that if his trailer had its own brakes, he could have stopped in time. Perhaps the other guy would have missed his vehicle (because he panic stopped in much shorter ground distance) or perhaps the other guy would have only nailed the front right of his Tow Vehicle - instead of passenger's door (that killed his loving wife). I will always remember this true story. A true story about "one's regional laws vs. one using SAFE Towing math numbers".

To install brakes on a trailer, either install Brake Hubs (if existing axle has the brake flange) or install a new axle (that has its own brake hubs). For my 6x10 utility trailer, I installed a brand new axle (actually, went from 3.200 lbs to 3,500 lbs replacement axle - to make it better then before) and installed my own own 10 gauge duplex brake wiring (in a STAR Design configuration). Installed a 7-pin connector and motion sensor (NOT a Timed) brake controller inside the vehicle. Very low cost $200 - $400 upgrade. Well worth it. Especially if your current attached trailer is pushing your Tow Vehicle during panic stops.

Good luck in your upgrades. Glad I installed brakes on my 6x10 utility trailer. Its before and after stopping power really is amazing...


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Old 11-13-2010, 10:25 AM   #3
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To learn more about STAR Design brake wire configuriaton and better wire support at each wheel hub (on my previous 19ft TT and 6x10 utility trailer), surf my post within:


If wondering, installing new axle and brake wiring (on trailer and one's Tow Vehicle) is a DIY project. Just "take your time" and clone ideas from others. Works great for me.

Hope this helps as well...

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Old 08-25-2013, 07:31 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Spike99 View Post
. Forget local weight laws... If your attached trailer is OVER vehcile's cargo capactity weight (re: 1,500 lbs), get brakes on that trailer.


WHAT !!!????

I have some REALLY BETTER advice......


If your vehicle says 3500 pounds, then the TOTAL weight should not exceed that amount no matter the laws OR whether you have trailer brakes.

Overloading your tow vehicle places YOUR life, your family's lives, and the lives of others in DANGER.

If I could drive and take pictures, I would show you the MANY times I pass WRECKS with a larger trailer behind some small TV that has wiped out and been DESTROYED.

Many times it is a 20+ foot travel trailer behind a 1/2 ton TV that I see mangled all over the highway.

Even my 29bhs is TOO BIG for a 1500 pickup to safely tow at highway speeds on FLAT ground.
Too small TV is too small... and DANGEROUS.
And no amount of weight distributing whizbang hitches changes that FACT.

WEIGH YOUR SETUP and be POSITIVE you are not overloaded.

Just so noone thinks I'm picking on them, here is a couple readily found examples of what I am talking about.......

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Old 08-25-2013, 08:14 AM   #5
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Point well made MedicineMan.

But I think Spike99s intentions were misunderstood. Referring to the consideration of installing brakes on a TT, I understood his point as...

For braking safety, don't just consider dry TT weight, TV towing capacity and the letter of the law as the benchmark for safety, but also consider your vehicles specified PAYLOAD capacity. Keep in mind the context is minivans and pop-ups....

i.e. = TV Towing Capacity = 3,500#, TT weight = 1,500# (under law requirements for brakes and well under vehicle towing capacity ready to camp)

In the above scenario, if your TV PAYLOAD capacity is 1,500#....then the combination of added TT weight, TV Payload (passengers, etc) and TT Payload (camping gear, supplies, etc.) has probably put you WELL over the TVs designed braking system capacity (without assistance from a TT braking supplement)
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Old 09-06-2013, 12:37 AM   #6
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bottom line….

My mini-van has a rear cargo capacity of 1,500 lbs. My mini-van has a max towing power of 3,200 lbs. Both numbers are for different areas. My local law states any trailer > 3,000 lbs connected to a Tow Vehicle must have brakes (on the trailer). For my mini-van (Tow Vehicle). I don't agree with my local laws. IMO, any trailer > 1,500 lbs connected to my Tow Vehicle needs brakes (on the trailer). Trailer could be boat, utility, Pup or TT. I've towed above 2,000 lbs and 2,800 lbs (re: like my boat) and there's a huge stopping distance when attached > 1,500 lbs trailer has its own brakes. For the folks who pull trailer's above their vehicle's rear cargo capacity (like pickups - that have 2,500 lbs), do install brakes on the trailer. Before and with trailer brakes stopping power / stopping distance comparison is amazing. For my region, wish they would change the trailer braking laws to 1,500+ lbs number (like in California). After all, its smarter / Safer towing….

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