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Old 05-10-2011, 01:47 AM   #1
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Electric brakes?

Just browsing through the forums about the Tacoma towing capacity and had a few questions..

How much weight (in trailer form) can a Tacoma pull before needing electric brakes to safely tow? For instance my Tacoma is 2005 V6 auto, double cab, non-tow package. If you were to rig up a hitch to it, at what trailer weight do you need electric brakes for safe towing? Of course, I then have to buy extra stuff to even make the electric brakes work...

Also, if the tongue weight capacity of a hitch is 500lbs, does that mean the Tacoma can handle the tongue weight too (as long as it doesn't push the payload capacity over its weight limit)?

I never thought towing was so complicated. Just looked in here out of curiosity and my mind has been blown. It seems like just adding an open 5'x8' trailer (close to 1000lbs on its own?) will take up most of the payload and towing capabilities all on its own, so you're left with very little to work with. Once things get that heavy though I really don't have a good guess of what you could safely add to it. It's hard for me to tell when something weighs 300lbs vs 600lbs etc. It seems like a trailer full of furniture would be easy to handle, but motorcycles, lumber, landscaping equipment? Interesting stuff.... I'd guess 80% of towing people don't take all the safety precautions of calculating this stuff out.
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Old 05-10-2011, 08:27 PM   #2
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Thank you for the detailed response. That is very helpful and clears it up for me. I was just shocked on my first impression of those numbers but I guess it actually is manageable.
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Old 05-11-2011, 10:31 PM   #3
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Weights are funny sometimes. A fairly small pallet of floor tiles, 4' by 4' by 2' high could weigh 1000 lbs and it's 'just some tiles' but then a whole car, if it's a Miata, might only be 2300 lbs.

A 5x8 open single axle trailer should be pretty light, probably no more than 800lbs while the 6x14 enclosed tandem with brakes I often tow is 1700 lbs dry. A 5x8 will be on a 3000 lb or 3500 lb axle so you'll have a payload of about 2200 - 2700 lbs. The truck will be able to handle the weight no problem. You will want a proper hitch though, not the bumper. As far as braking you won't need brakes on a trailer like that, nor will it probably come with them. If you get the loaded trailer weight much over about 2000 lbs though you will need to be extra careful with stopping and following distances and for sure keep the speed down.
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Old 05-12-2011, 06:43 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dhk View Post
I don't understand why everybody here is so scared of towing with the bumper. The bumper *is* a trailer hitch, rated for 3500 pounds. Its perfectly good for that.
Because bumpers these days aren't like the old steel ones they used to put on trucks. Plus, probably more importantly, the hitch is a lower towing point and allows you to add a hitch to raise or lower the ball to the proper height for the trailer you're towing.

Technically, you're correct on the 3,500 lb rating of a non-tow package Tacoma. If you put a reliable class 3 hitch, rated at 5,000 lbs, you'd be fine towing over the 3,500 lbs. Legally, you can not change your GVWR, regardless of what the hitch capacity is so keep that in mind.

Brakes will help regardless of the trailer weight, although you could get away without them for lighter loads (around 2,500 lbs I'd start wanting brakes personally). You really have to be careful hauling heavier loads without brakes, it will significantly increase your stopping distance and make the truck react differently if you need to slam on the brakes (lots of momentum trying to push the back around).
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Old 05-12-2011, 07:36 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dhk View Post
Not all that important on a single axle trailer. Tongue height only becomes a major issue when you're dealing with tandem.
Keeping the trailer level is still important with a single axle to a degree. The trailer will track better if it's level and properly loaded (60% of the weight in front of the trailer axle). You're right, the tongue height isn't as important with a single axle but the trailer should sit level. It makes loading and securing loads easier, otherwise you're tying to strap things on an uphill and need to make sure nothing can slide downhill off the back of the trailer.
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Old 05-13-2011, 02:48 AM   #6
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Your truck cargo capacity is the cut off point for needing brakes on a trailer. My manual(08 AC 4.0) says use trailer brakes with a trailer greater then 1000#. Brakes on the truck are the greatest limiting factor when engineers figure the cargo weight ratings for the vehicle. The manufacturer is also covering their ass. That being said, in most states the legal limit for trailer brakes is 2000# and up. Here is a chart .

The bottom line is to be prudent and decide what you are comfortable with, what the truck can realistically handle and safety of everyone including your passengers and others on the road.

Happy towing.
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Old 05-13-2011, 09:02 AM   #7
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I know you can tow smaller loads on the bumper but a proper trailer hitch really is better. It's not like we're talking about a $1000 upgrade either. A hitch is $150-$180 plus a reciever, a ball you'd have to buy anyways, so call it $200 or less, then you get a proper setup with a big safety margin, a proper place to hook up chains, an easy way to swap ball sizes and heights, and a place to put accessories like a bike rack, cargo shelf, recovery shackle, etc.

If you need to tow a little borrowed trailer once to get some bark mulch for your garden by all means put a ball on the bumper but if you're going to buy a trailer or tow regularly you're much better off getting a receiver hitch. It's easier to hook up with a receiver hitch too, you can get lined up then gently back into the trailer and it will hit tend to hit on the receiver and not damage anything. Do that with a bumper ball and you crinkle your license plate all up.

Another benefit of a real hitch is you can keep your bumper step open, which is a big plus if you have a canopy/shell and roof rack or you wash your truck. Also, when you're not towing the greasy hitch ball isn't hanging out back there waiting to wreck a pair of pants.

Like DHK said too, towing is a good way to pick out even more morons on the road, but if you really want an eye opener do a ride along in a 100,000 lb semi. It's amazing there aren't more horrific accidents.
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