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Seeking Real-world tow capacity anecdotes

Discussion in 'Towing' started by DanKearney, Dec 10, 2010.

  1. Dec 10, 2010 at 8:01 AM
    #1
    DanKearney

    DanKearney [OP] Member

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    Greetings All,

    Newbie member here. I read the excellent towing FAQ and did a search of the archived messages, but I couldn't find the info I was looking for.

    I have a 2000 Tacoma 4x4 Xtracab TRD w/manual transmission. I've been pulling a 1,000lb. pop-up camper with it for the past 10 years. Now I want to move up to a standard travel trailer. I am aware of my Tacoma's supposed 5,000lb. towing capacity.

    I live in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado at 9,200' and will be towing around the mountains and the high deserts of UT and NM mostly.

    I intend to find a travel trailer that will weigh between 2,000 and 3,000lbs. I figure that will give me enough leeway to actually carry the crap I need in it and not go over the towing capacity/GVCWR of the truck.

    What I would like to know, from other Tacoma owners who own the same generation Tacoma as I and who have actually pulled trailers in this weight range, how well the Tacoma really pulls this kind of weight. My gut tells me that I'd be really straining the truck if I try to pull near what the specs say it can do.

    Thanks,

    Dan K.
    Black Hawk, CO
     
  2. Dec 12, 2010 at 6:58 AM
    #2
    DanKearney

    DanKearney [OP] Member

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    Anybody? Anybody? Bueller?

    :confused:

    Dan K.
     
  3. Dec 12, 2010 at 5:15 PM
    #3
    Yamaha Dave

    Yamaha Dave Well-Known Member

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    Sure I live in the hill country of Texas just outside of Austin. I pull a 1,000 pound full size boat trailer with a 3,000 pound Wellcraft Eclipse boat. I usually leave with a full tank of gas, gear, cooler, and about 3 or 4 people so all in all when I leave my house I usually have about 4,700-5,000 lbs. As far as the truck it is a 2003 3.4 V6 DC Tacoma, Auto.

    Now as far as how it performs, it has no problem pulling this load on straight flat roads, especially when it starts getting some rolling momentum.

    HOWEVER, my personal opinion is that when pulling this much weight on a steep grade hill like the ones around my house, it's downright scary and dangerous. The Tacoma is severely underpowered for pulling this kind of load up a steep grade hill. The truck strains, and slows to under 10 mph in the hills around here. At one point I almost didnt think I was going to make it up one of the hills and I had my entire family in the truck. I know now that if I ever get a bigger boat, the first thing to go will be the Tacoma. In my opinion it should be rated for 5,000 lbs.
     
  4. Dec 13, 2010 at 7:54 AM
    #4
    DanKearney

    DanKearney [OP] Member

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    Dave,

    Thanks for the input. That's just the information I am looking for, even though it's not the experience I was hoping other folks might be having.

    I might have to scale back my expectations.

    Thanks,

    Dan K.
     
  5. Dec 14, 2010 at 12:00 AM
    #5
    Doug2000

    Doug2000 Well-Known Member

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    I have a 08 Taco 4x4 4.0, and I won't tow a travel trailer. My last tent trailer was a full 14' tent trailer at 3200 lbs and that was enough when I got into the hills. If I wanted a travel trailer, I would definitely buy a full size. Buy a light 12' tent trailer.
     
  6. Dec 14, 2010 at 5:13 PM
    #6
    meafordmike

    meafordmike Well-Known Member

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    Devil Horns, Wet Okoles, WeatherTechs, Radflo Coilovers, OME Dakar's, FJC Gun metal rims, 265/75/16 BFG All Terrain TA/KO, Rear Diff breather Mod,
    I pull a 4500lb travel trailer with my 08 Tacoma sport (tow package 6500lbs) I also have the 6 speed manual. Once packed I am pulling about 5000lb and have little problems. I drove 4000km last year out east pulling it, no problems on highways keeping up 120km (75mph) but hills do kill me.
    I work the gears and can keep up. I live nowhere near the elevations your looking at. I think the weights your looking at are reasonable to pull with no problems.
    edit: I get about 13 mpg pulling the trailer.
    [​IMG]
     
  7. Dec 14, 2010 at 6:14 PM
    #7
    Isthatahemi

    Isthatahemi Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]

    There is not a snowball's chance in hell you are getting 13 mpg at 75 mph with 5000 of brick behind you.
    Actual numbers are around 9 mpg at 75mph, 10 mpg @ 70mph.
    That's straight off the scangauge, and I have a smaller susnset trails 17' hybrid, which is smaller and lighter.
    Heck at 75, these trucks only get around 18 mpg!
     
  8. Dec 14, 2010 at 7:14 PM
    #8
    skytower

    skytower Well-Known Member

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    I get 15mpg at 55 mph hauling max load behind my 4cyl regular cab from Ohio to Virginia. Maybe you need to recrunch those mileage numbers:)
     
  9. Dec 16, 2010 at 7:15 AM
    #9
    meafordmike

    meafordmike Well-Known Member

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    Ok Ok
    maybe my 13mpg was over stating it.
    I also have a scangauge but am scared to look at it while towing.
    sorry.
     
  10. Dec 19, 2010 at 9:26 AM
    #10
    rednecktaco

    rednecktaco Well-Known Member

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    i got 13mpg towing a 3000lbs truck on a 1800lbs duel axle trailor from charlotte to wv. all up hill,
    i was in 4th (auto) and never let it down shift, set cruise at 65mph on flatter parts, and on one hill in beckley, wv i slowed to 50 mph, mainly cause of traffic...it used almost a tank for 250 miles.


    found my entry in to my fuel log.
    199.8 miles 15.002 gallons of gas. 13.3 mpg

    to op if u have a v6 u will be ok.
    i towed about 3k on my 3rz a few times, 5th was useless, but it did ok..
     
  11. Dec 19, 2010 at 9:50 AM
    #11
    Isthatahemi

    Isthatahemi Well-Known Member

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    Wow! another miracle truck!
     
  12. Dec 19, 2010 at 11:03 AM
    #12
    rednecktaco

    rednecktaco Well-Known Member

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  13. Dec 26, 2010 at 11:26 PM
    #13
    taco206

    taco206 Well-Known Member

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    My uncle owned a 1999 tacoma 3.4L 5-speed for some time. He made numerous trips from Spokane to Denver to pick up cars with his tow dolly. As you can imagine, that is some tough driving, big hills, not easy. He always said that the gas mileage was horrible, even with just the dolly, now imagine a Civic or Accord on it. A car on a dolly is going to be fairly aerodynamic too, a travel trailer is way worse. He said the truck was really underpowered and went very slow up hills. He started making the trips on an old blazer 4.3L instead. He said it pulled much better and got better gas mileage. Towing a big, heavy travel trailer in steep grades is not what the 3.4L Tacoma was made to do.
     
  14. Dec 26, 2010 at 11:37 PM
    #14
    sandboxpirate

    sandboxpirate Well-Known Member

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    I love my 2002 3.4 but it is not a towing vehicle...I pulled a pig cooker up to Lake Gaston this fall and in the hills and on the interstates I could tell it was back there. Also just pulling a 16ft flatbed trailer with furniture on it when I moved this spring really decreased performance and handling and mpg was horrible...I can only imagine in your conditions what you will encounter with a trailer that size. From my experiences the weight ratings of any vehicle are in normal conditions and where you live and will be towing is not normal perse'. Personally I would recommend a larger vehicle based on where you live. Here on the East coast in the flat areas it might work but I would be down right scared to pull that with a 1st gen in the mountains.
     
  15. Dec 29, 2010 at 6:50 PM
    #15
    DanKearney

    DanKearney [OP] Member

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    Thanks everyone for the replies, the information was helpful and lead me to stop considering buying a travel trailer in the 2500-3200 lb. range. Subsequently, I picked up a new 14' travel trailer that weighs 1995 lbs. dry.

    I drove out to eastern Iowa from Colorado on Monday/Tuesday, picked up the trailer and turned around tuesday afternoon, arriving home (about 40 miles west of Denver) at about 3:30p today.

    I took it easy at 65mph all the way to Iowa and got between 19.2 and 20.5mpg over the three tanks of gas it took to drive the ~870 miles.

    On the drive home I put the cruise control at 55mph. Driving across Iowa where I80 goes through rolling hill country the whole way I got between 11.5 and 13mpg. Across eastern and central Nebraska I got about 13.2mpg, and when I got back on I76 in western Nebraska and Colorado, I got 15.3mpg on the last tank of gas.

    I can't account for the wide range. Weather was good and there was no wind. I think some of the differences can be the result of differing levels of alcohol in the gas in the different states. Nebraska was pretty confusing in the grades and amounts of alcohol in the gas. There was no clear labeling on any of the pumps there. :confused:

    One thing I did learn is that the owner's manual "rating" of 5,000lbs towing capacity is very optimistic. Yeah, I guess the 3.4l v6 can pull 5,000lbs, but that's got to be on a completely level road with no wind of any kind.

    In the real world my Taco pulled my 1,000lb pop-up camper like there was nothing there. Doubling that with my new 1,995lb trailer is a whole different story. On pretty much every hill, the cruise was able to hold it at 55mph in 4th gear (manual trans), with some making it drop down to 51-52mph. Driving up the steep winding canyon for the last 23 miles that lead to my house had me down to 2nd gear and 30mph in places.

    Luckily, I'm usually in no particular rush when I am towing a camper, so I guess I'll just deal with it.

    Cheers,

    Dan K.
     
  16. Dec 30, 2010 at 3:24 PM
    #16
    Isthatahemi

    Isthatahemi Well-Known Member

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    Glad to hear it worked out!
    I think the explanation for the mileage difference is simply the elevation change. There is a good chance you were going down for much of the drive to Iowa. Just a thought.
    Interesting that 2 posters above you managed to better you're mileage while towing 5000#, while going faster, with much larger units behind them, it's a miracle!!:D:rolleyes:
    Describe your trailer....
     
  17. Dec 30, 2010 at 8:50 PM
    #17
    DanKearney

    DanKearney [OP] Member

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    Well, I usually get between 19 and 21 mpg in daily driving/commuting. Elevation change is of course a factor, but confused me as I got better gas mileage the closer I got to home driving "uphill" all the way. Go figure. . .

    The trailer is a 2011 Skyline (Nomad, Weekender, Layton - take your pick of manufacturer names--Why do manufacturers sell so many identical trailers under different names :confused:) "Retro" model 140. The box is 14', I think 17' overall and the dry weight is 1995 lbs. Trailer sleeps 2 adults and one hobbit and has the basic amenities: Furnace, hot water, Shower, Toilet, stove, microwave, and air conditioner.

    I searched CraigsList for the pasts 6 weeks trying to find a good, used lightweight but found that most people's idea of "excellent" condition is a lot lower than my expectations. I came across this trailer advertised by the dealer on eBay. $7,999 out the door. So far, I'm thinking it was a steal.

    I got back to Colorado just in time. It started snowing this morning and is expected to continue through the night. . .

    Cheers,

    Dan K.
     
  18. Dec 30, 2010 at 9:45 PM
    #18
    skytower

    skytower Well-Known Member

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    Max towing capacity is what the truck can handle. It does not mean you'll get stellar gas mileage or be able to maintain highway speeds through the mountains. It's what your truck will be able to tow in all conditions when properly equipped.
     
  19. Dec 31, 2010 at 7:31 PM
    #19
    Isthatahemi

    Isthatahemi Well-Known Member

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    Very good post, well put.
     
  20. Jan 1, 2011 at 4:10 PM
    #20
    skytower

    skytower Well-Known Member

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    Thanks! I have my moments:D
     
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