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Old 07-31-2012, 11:28 AM   #1
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Towing question: More confused after research

Hi there,

First post, first time Tacoma owner (had it for 3 years), first time towing. We are looking at purchasing a small TT... I have been conducting a bunch of research over the past week and while I have learned much (towing bible... awesome) and have a general comfort with weight limits, WD hitches, brake controllers, sway controllers etc, I still feel a bit gun shy with respect to purchasing. I think the reasoning behind this is that a majority of the threads I have read on towing go something like this:

OP: I want to tow a trailer that weighs N pounds dry and has a tongue weight of M#.
Replier 1: Sure! I do this with no problem.
Replier 2: Umm, no. That is likely the most dangerous thing I have ever heard in my life.
Replier 1: I do this hundreds of times a year and it's totally safe.
Replier 2: Well... I'm just glad we live in different states because I don't want you killing my dog.

This leads me to the conclusion that there really is no definitive answer to towing with the Tacoma (assuming these threads all discuss weight options below manufacturer ratings). There seems to exist this big gray area between "within manufacturer spec" and "reality / safety".

Let me take a minute to describe my situations and wants:

- My tacoma has a factory towing package (nothing additional)
- I have no towing experience, but need to have something that will hold 2 adults and 2 kids (or there's not much point)
- We would like a small / medium self-contained TT (~18 to 20 ft)
- We are also ok with Popups, but they don't seem much lighter than the light weight TTs
- We will mostly stay local (< 60 miles) on pretty flat areas... small hills, no mountains.
- I live in Texas so I need to have my AC on or I will die

Some threads show people carrying 5000 to 5500 lbs loaded / wet and saying that everything is fine. Some folks try to stay at 3000 lbs loaded and say that they have trouble with anything higher than this.

Do you have any recommendations more tailored to my situation?

Thanks for your help,
Ken
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Old 07-31-2012, 11:59 AM   #2
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Assuming you have a 2nd gen with tow pkg, An 18-20' TT wet will most likely be under the max tow ratings. I have a small 17' TT and have taken it to a lot of places, climbing 7-8k feet in elevation multiple times. And I pretty much tow with half to full water and a bunch of stiff in the truck bed. I know the taco can handle more, just a matter of taking your time on the steep inclines and around sharp turns.
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Old 07-31-2012, 12:10 PM   #3
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2011 Taco 4x4 6cyl and I pull a 15' pop up camper all around with 2 adults, 2 kids and a ton of gear. Like MJ said take it easy, maybe consider trailer brakes and you'll be fine.

One thing I don't do is haul water. We're usually somewhere with a water hookup and I don't like drinking from the tanks anyway so why burn fuel to haul something I can get anywhere...my .02.
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Old 07-31-2012, 12:23 PM   #4
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Astropoverty,

The towing capacities are what they are (640lbs tongue, 6500 trailer for my 2012 Tacoma Baja), as are the specs on the trailer you intend to buy (500lbs tongue, 3,575lbs empty for mine). I wouldnt condone going over the rated towing capacity of the truck. All that said... let me tell you what we do.

We have a 19' Airstream Bambi International 75th Anniv. Perfect for 2 adults and 2 kids. It is hitched to our Tacoma (and occasionally to our 2006 4 Runner) with a weight distributing anti-sway hitch (6,000lb Equal-i-zer). We also have a Tekonsha Prodigy 2 Brake Control. We generally only put about 10 gallons of water in the trailer for normal trips to an RV park, just enough for bathroom breaks along the way. We fill the 31 gallons for boondocking. We also stock the fridge and put all our clothes, laptops, etc back there.

The weight distributing hitch distributes the weight of the trailer across the entire frame of the truck, important so that the truck handles the way it is supposed to. The anti-sway does just that, keeps it from swaying because of breezes, passing 18 wheelers, etc. The brake controller syncronizes the truck and trailer brakes (vitally important). Without the brake controller, a panic stop becomes a lot more than just a panic. But with it properly installed and adjusted, it stops beautifully.

We have towed as far as 2000 miles and taken numerous shorter trips. The truck never breaks a sweat, nor do I. You literally forget it is back there until you hit a big hill, at which point you can feel it, but the truck has never dropped below 60 MPH. Not saying that a really big hill wont pull it down slower, but I havent hit one yet.

Take those pointers above and go get you a travel trailer. Make sure you do regular maintenance on the truck and trailer, give yourself some extra room all around, get you some good snap on towing mirrors, and take your time and enjoy the trip. The Tacoma is a great tow vehicle.

As a side note, 11 MPG.... thats about what you can expect with a trailer behind you.

If you have ANY questions at all, send em' or PM me.

Smitty
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Old 07-31-2012, 12:25 PM   #5
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Just so you know, a pop-up trailer will tow much nicer than a travel trailer of similar weight. They carry their weight much lower and have a lot less wind resistance.
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Old 07-31-2012, 12:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pugga View Post
Just so you know, a pop-up trailer will tow much nicer than a travel trailer of similar weight. They carry their weight much lower and have a lot less wind resistance.
Also a good point!
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Old 07-31-2012, 03:27 PM   #7
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Take a look at Hi-Lo towlie exspanable trailers, hardsided with no canvas. They did go out of production in 2010, but the company started in 1957. The custom parts it uses for the lifting system are easy to come by. Repair or mainance parts are the same for most travel trailers. But one note, make sure you buy a 2001 or newer model. This when they switched to alumium framing. The older wood framing models had dry rot problems ( just like any other travel trailer).
I'm towing an '06 22ft Hi-Lo towlite, at 4,000lbs. loaded it's under the max wieght for the tacoma and the rig handles like a sports car through the mountains with no loss in power climbing hills. I do get 14 miles per gallon! A WDH and brake controller are important, but a good set of towing mirrors is a safety factor you don't want to go cheap on. The strap-on towing mirrors vibrate to much.
I installed Powervisionmirrors.com from a 98 chevy (since they don't make a high quality towing mirrors for tacoma). I have such a good field of vision, I can see both my trailer awning arms (down the full length of the trailer).
Picture of my rig; #1075 & #1077 at; http://www.tacomaworld.com/forum/tow...you-tow-54.htm
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Old 07-31-2012, 03:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pugga View Post
Just so you know, a pop-up trailer will tow much nicer than a travel trailer of similar weight. They carry their weight much lower and have a lot less wind resistance.
If I was in the market for a popup, look at the Starcraft RT13.Slideout dinette gives you more room. And yes, will tow easier.
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Old 07-31-2012, 03:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gooch14 View Post
. Like MJ said take it easy, maybe consider trailer brakes and you'll be fine.
WARNING, i am not being a dick!

Maybe? From my experience anything over 1500#s should (<-- my opinion) have brakes if you are towing it with your taco, not saying you can't do it, it just makes the drive safer. My cargo trailer is about 1000#s dry, plus gear, 15 gals of gas for toys, dirtbike and quad, 10 gals of water and i was pulling around 2-2500#s, not to mention cab weight. My truck is fairly new at 25000 miles, but i must tell you i was almost at the limit on my brakes. I dont know what kind of roads your towing on, but if it involves any sort of hills for more than say 4-5 miles, you will toast your brakes, engine braking only goes "so" far, and you will have the security when u need a panic stop. Also the manual says anything over 1000# should be braked, not that i follow that thing to a T. Also, air ride makes things a bit better if you don't have the tsb springs, look into firestone's ride rite, I love mine.

BTW, my trailer does not have brakes.... working on that one

AGAIN, I'm NOT BEING A DICK!
have a nice day
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Old 07-31-2012, 05:59 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the help advice... much appreciated. As far as TT options, we are looking at a Mountain View / Skyline Retro Model 186. It's 20 ft; dry weight is at 2725 lbs and can be loaded to 3850 lbs. It has brakes and we would tow with WD hitch and sway control. Dry hitch weight is 325 lbs (and comes with 1 LP tank).

Am I going off a ravine with this? Am I am out of my league for a first time trailer?

Thanks,
Ken
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Old 07-31-2012, 06:22 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astropoverty View Post
Thanks for all the help advice... much appreciated. As far as TT options, we are looking at a Mountain View / Skyline Retro Model 186. It's 20 ft; dry weight is at 2725 lbs and can be loaded to 3850 lbs. It has brakes and we would tow with WD hitch and sway control. Dry hitch weight is 325 lbs (and comes with 1 LP tank).

Am I going off a ravine with this? Am I am out of my league for a first time trailer?

Thanks,
Ken
Sounds like that'd be a good trailer for you. Well within the truck's limits and comes setup with brakes.
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Old 07-31-2012, 10:13 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pugga View Post
Sounds like that'd be a good trailer for you. Well within the truck's limits and comes setup with brakes.
x2

And to address the earlier comment, pretty much every TT you get will have brakes, and buying a brake controller is pretty much automatic. I have a tekonsha podigy myself, and swear by it. Also look into the WD hitch like mentioned above, the Reese dual cam is prob the best. Oh and get some extended mirrors
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Old 08-01-2012, 07:55 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MJonAgs32 View Post
x2

And to address the earlier comment, pretty much every TT you get will have brakes, and buying a brake controller is pretty much automatic. I have a tekonsha podigy myself, and swear by it. Also look into the WD hitch like mentioned above, the Reese dual cam is prob the best. Oh and get some extended mirrors
X3

I think you're going to be just fine with this set up. Again, just allow for extra time and drive easy and you will be good to go.
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Old 08-01-2012, 10:02 PM   #14
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Thanks everyone. We are excited and will probably pull the trigger in the next couple weeks (figuring out storage and all that stuff).

One more question regarding the WD hitch and sway control. I think we would like to go with the equalizer (equal-i-zer). My question is around helping us decide which one to get. Our target TT is 3800 lbs loaded and ~12% at the hitch... I have been reading some posts concerning WD hitch selection and I get the impression that you need a pretty good match because getting one with too little spring resistance will be ineffective and getting one too high of spring resistance will be equally problematic in a different way (too stiff?).

The equalizer hitches come in two varieties:
1.) No shank (need to buy it separately for about $100)
2.) Normal hitch (with shank)

The "No shank" versions are rated like this:
600/6,000 lb
1000/10,000 lb
1200/12,000 lb

And the normal WD hitches are rated like this:
4000#
6000#
10000#
12000#
14000#

Would you be so kind as to help me understand and move toward selecting one of these? I believe both of these models include the 4 point sway control.

Regards,
Ken
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Old 08-02-2012, 06:27 AM   #15
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Ken, our tow weights are not that far off from one another and I have the 600/6000 which works perfectly. Personally I would be nervous about going with the 4K and getting that close to your tow weight. It doesnt take much to add 200lbs. All that said, when in doubt, call Equalizer and ask them. I am sure they will steer you in the right direction.

-Smitty
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