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Thread: Towing a big(ish) boat with a small(ish) vehicle. What do you use?

  1. #36
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    Default Re: Towing a big(ish) boat with a small(ish) vehicle. What do you use?

    WOW!!!

    this subject pops up on justabout every forum i follow on a regular basis

    folks will offer up a huge amount of "i heard" "so n so said" "i read" n "i think" in every instance

    one of the all time ongoing pop ups is GET A RAV-4 on a forum focusing on towing large plastique off shore fishing boats

    above most of the real issues surrounding this OP are mentioned

    the absolutely most important issue is being the stopping ability of the entire rig

    yes many of the smaller vehicles on the road CAN tow the boat n trailer in question

    yes there are trailer brakes available for virtually any trailer you can think up

    once dunked in salt water ALL trailer brakes become questionable even the "stainless steel" ones because some of the internal components/moving parts are not all stainless and they begin to corrode quickly after the first dunking in salt water and one never knows how long it will be before they quit working(usually when most needed)

    electric/hydraulic/surge no matter ... the salt worms make no distinction

    when towing anything/anywhere load balance is critical

    little cars pulling little trailers all the way up to the big rigs pulling huge loads the laws of physics are the same

    for this old man who has towed small trailers w/ small cars all the way up to the big rigs from coast to coast and even up across our northern border being able to stop my rig safely is my number one concern

    in the event of an incident ... any incident where a child is injured/killed no matter who's fault the lawyers begin swarming looking for anything out of order

    and they WILL find it

    strongy suggest anyone towing anything/anywhere to make sure all of the particulars remain within manufacturer's specs for that entire rig

    if a glitch causes a school bus loaded with children to go off the road the ramifications of my example grows exponentially

    make sure your tow vehicle is spec'd to tow whatever you hook it up to

    that's this old man's 2 worth this morning

    sw
    "we are the people, our parents warned us about" (jb)

    steve

  2. #37
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    810

    Default Re: Towing a big(ish) boat with a small(ish) vehicle. What do you use?

    I haven't read the whole thread carefully so some of this may be redundant or useless: My first issue is that the current US testing standard for advertised towing capacity is overly optimistic. (it's typical lobby-leveraged US government-sanctioned BS) I have a Toyota Highlander, 2015, which I chose for the advertised 5000# towing capacity. It does in fact tow my boat but even on the relatively gentle grades of the interstate between Chicago and Maine the car in cruise control will downshift and wind up over 5000 rpm which doesn't seem like a good thing for the vehicle. There are internet threads about this car and this towing issue which corroborate that the tow capacity is baloney. I manually nurse the gas pedal whenever there is ANY kind of hill. I average 12 miles to the gallon at 60mph, it goes down further when I go any faster. I am now in Washington state and I have chosen to leave the boat in the midwest for the winter because I can't imagine my car towing my boat over the mountains. I went to a truck scale and got a certified weight, later weighed the tongue load with a strain gauge, and the boat plus trailer is just under #5000. Short version: you want a #7000 or more advertised towing capacity to tow #5000. Undoubtedly this pattern continues to smaller and larger rigs. I have a used trailer, but I removed the drum brakes which were only on one axle, and went with two axle surge-type disk brakes. FWIW Don't use "Sub Trailer Inc" in the Chicago suburbs, nothing but problems and promises. One other issue: if you have a two axle trailer and have a parking situation that requires tight backing turns, the torque on the wheels and bearings is extreme and leaves a lot of rubber on the road from the wheels being asked to go sideways.. I think this was a factor in a failed wheel-bearing which then flamed out on the interstate, (literally, flame out of the hub and having to buy and install a new axle)) Then there's the inherent problem of submerging all your wheel bearings, brakes, lights, etc, etc every so often, but that's another story...

    Ken

    Saga-Tow.jpg

  3. #38
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    Default Re: Towing a big(ish) boat with a small(ish) vehicle. What do you use?

    As above, one of the problems is gearing on normal cars. Land Rovers have very low gearing, so can pull huge loads for their basic weight. Way back, before the regs kicked in, we used to tow with a three gear Bedford van and on a very long and steep hill, just about ran out of puff. Two of actually jumped out and added a bit of push, which made the difference.... After that, it was swopped for a four gear version.

    Nowdays, over here, it is well regulated and that includes the tow bar for the car. It has to be specific for the model and carries a load plate. Some small cars are not homologated for towing, so nothing to do.

    My diesel Kangoo is rated at about 900kg for towing, but that is from a Gross Train Weight of 2.6 tonnes. The car weighs about 1.5 t, so one is limited by the load in the car too.
    Looking at the mo for a small braked flat bed trailer and will carry the boat on a dolly for launching, keeping the trailer out of the water. Weight of boat about 500kg I will be under the 750kg un-braked limit, but don't fancy doing without.

    Used to build all my own trailers, up to 3.5 tonnes, but that is 'out' now here. Has to be homologated and that is too expensive for a one off. Still OK in UK, as they have a single vehicale test system, also for kit cars. I am curious how Frank's friend built one in Holland? Thought it was the same as here.

    Allways been curious about what big cars people think they need to tow with in the US.

  4. #39
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    Somewhere in South Central PA
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    3,668

    Default Re: Towing a big(ish) boat with a small(ish) vehicle. What do you use?

    Quote Originally Posted by kbowen View Post
    I haven't read the whole thread carefully so some of this may be redundant or useless: My first issue is that the current US testing standard for advertised towing capacity is overly optimistic. (it's typical lobby-leveraged US government-sanctioned BS) I have a Toyota Highlander, 2015, which I chose for the advertised 5000# towing capacity. It does in fact tow my boat but even on the relatively gentle grades of the interstate between Chicago and Maine the car in cruise control will downshift and wind up over 5000 rpm which doesn't seem like a good thing for the vehicle. There are internet threads about this car and this towing issue which corroborate that the tow capacity is baloney. I manually nurse the gas pedal whenever there is ANY kind of hill. I average 12 miles to the gallon at 60mph, it goes down further when I go any faster. I am now in Washington state and I have chosen to leave the boat in the midwest for the winter because I can't imagine my car towing my boat over the mountains. I went to a truck scale and got a certified weight, later weighed the tongue load with a strain gauge, and the boat plus trailer is just under #5000. Short version: you want a #7000 or more advertised towing capacity to tow #5000. Undoubtedly this pattern continues to smaller and larger rigs. I have a used trailer, but I removed the drum brakes which were only on one axle, and went with two axle surge-type disk brakes. FWIW Don't use "Sub Trailer Inc" in the Chicago suburbs, nothing but problems and promises. One other issue: if you have a two axle trailer and have a parking situation that requires tight backing turns, the torque on the wheels and bearings is extreme and leaves a lot of rubber on the road from the wheels being asked to go sideways.. I think this was a factor in a failed wheel-bearing which then flamed out on the interstate, (literally, flame out of the hub and having to buy and install a new axle)) Then there's the inherent problem of submerging all your wheel bearings, brakes, lights, etc, etc every so often, but that's another story...

    Ken
    I have a 2012 Sienna, which has a similar sized 3.5 liter V6 engine (it might even be the same engine) and it is rated at towing only 3500 pounds. I've towed a 2000 lb boat and trailer with a similar sized vehicle and I would never think of towing 5,000 lbs with a light vehicle. The Highlander is basically the Sienna with a different body.

  5. #40
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    Chicago
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    810

    Default Re: Towing a big(ish) boat with a small(ish) vehicle. What do you use?

    quote: "Has to be homologated and that is too expensive for a one off." I have never heard this word in the US, so thank you for one thing I looked up and learned today!! I might note that getting approval for anything or looking after safety is a more rare occurrence on this side of the pond...

    Ken

  6. #41
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    Colorado
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    Default Re: Towing a big(ish) boat with a small(ish) vehicle. What do you use?

    Here in Colorado we often need to tow a boat for a long distance to a desired lake. I have about a 3000 pound boat and trailer setup which I tow with no trailer brakes. On a previous rig (Ford Explorer), I added surge brakes but question whether they were really needed. I towed with the Ford Explorer; then switched to a Dodge Durango, and now am using a Lincoln Nautilus (same as Ford Edge Sport). All three of these vehicles had factory towing packages with the more powerful engine choices.
    My experience has been that I hardly notice the trailer behind us. I have been careful to get the tongue weight just right: not too heavy but no trailer sway. Speed limits can be up to 80 mph on western highways, and we have towed to lakes more than a thousand miles distant. Traffic is usually light and I never tailgate. I check the tires frequently and make sure the bearings have grease. We have had no problems.

  7. #42
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    Default Re: Towing a big(ish) boat with a small(ish) vehicle. What do you use?

    While I realize one can get by without brakes on a big load, it's the panic stop that's a problem. I was towing my flatbed trailer with tractor on it behind my HD 1/2 ton pickup. 6k truck, 7.5K trailer & load. I was traveling on a 50MPH road and came around a corner to find a tractor trailer parked taking up my entire lane & cars coming the other way. I had to really hit the brakes hard & because I had 4 wheels on the trailer braking as well as the truck, I was able to stop in time. If the trailer had not had brakes, it would've pushed the truck sideways into oncoming traffic & probably killed some people.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  8. #43
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    Default Re: Towing a big(ish) boat with a small(ish) vehicle. What do you use?

    So Bruce...did you get your Chewbacco, or is all this discussion just a lot of rehashing? Photos, please?

  9. #44
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Ballard
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    8,639

    Default Re: Towing a big(ish) boat with a small(ish) vehicle. What do you use?

    Bruce definitely owes us an explanation for all this trouble.

    Edited to add - the title of this thread speaks to the primary issue. It's upside down. You gotta right-size the tool for the job.

    Also, because I like my current set up...

    IMG_5457.jpg

    IMG_0514.jpg

    2009 Tacoma 4x4, manual transmission, 44k miles, but most important - there's no extended king cab. It's just a regular cab. Built for one guy and one dog (or passenger, I suppose). The short wheelbase makes it super easy to park in Seattle. Also has a full 6 foot bed, which makes for a great bunk on road trips. Tow capacity is 3500 lbs. Basically enough for a Chebacco, smallish runabout, or travel trailer.
    Last edited by Yeadon; 10-15-2021 at 12:10 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    Yeadon is right, of course.

  10. #45
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    Seattle, WA
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    Default Re: Towing a big(ish) boat with a small(ish) vehicle. What do you use?

    ^^^ It's almost like a pickup truck, except the bed is too small. And it's almost like an SUV except that you can only fit one passenger in it. Or a dog... Seems just inconvenient enough to be perfect for the sail and oar crowd!
    - Chris

    Life is short. Go boating now!

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