If you already have the vehicle you plan to tow with, you need to find a trailer that is within the weight range of your vehicle. This was a common problem that I ran into during my days as an RV Sales Manager. Customers would come to buy a travel trailer only to find that their tow vehicle did not have a very good towing rating. It can be extremely frustrating to go out and find the perfect travel trailer or fifth wheel and then be told you can’t tow it. On the other hand, it can be worse if you go to a lesser reputable RV dealer and the seller tells you they can tow it. This happens every day, and that is why you need to be armed with the correct information before buying.
It is not my intention to upset any RV dealership, but if you go to a dealership and they don’t ask for information about the tow vehicle, it would be wise to go elsewhere. The first question my salespeople had to ask was whether I already had a tow vehicle. If so, they will search our towing book and identify the towing capacity of your particular vehicle. Then we will inform you of your options. We lost a lot of sales because the customer could not safely pull the caravan he wanted, but we did not allow him to endanger himself or his family.
If you don’t have the tow vehicle yet, it is a good idea to first find the camper you want and then purchase a vehicle that is capable of towing it safely. I’ll warn you again, be careful if you listen to the salesperson at the car dealership. They are only interested in selling you a vehicle and a large percentage of sellers do not understand vehicle towing qualifications. Call a reputable RV dealer and ask them to verify the vehicle’s trailer rating before purchasing.
I once had a client who found the caravan he was looking for and went to buy a new truck. The seller told him that the truck could tow 10,000 pounds. He went on to show my client where 10,000 pounds was stamped on the hitch receiver in the rear of the truck. The 10,000 pounds stamped on the receiver is what the receiver is rated for. It has absolutely nothing to do with the towing capacity of the truck. My client bought the truck and brought it to us so that we could do the checking of the brakes and the wiring. I looked up the truck in my book and it was rated to tow 5,400 pounds. The caravan weighed 6,000 pounds. I could write a book about stories like this, but our goal is to prevent this from happening to you.
There are many things to consider before purchasing a towing vehicle. How often do you plan to tow? Where are you planning to tow? Will this vehicle be used strictly for towing or will you also use it for daily driving? Are you interested in a pop-up window, a travel trailer, or a fifth wheel? How much does the caravan you want weigh? Once you’ve answered these questions, you can start looking for that perfect tow vehicle.
The manufacturer determines the trailer rating of a vehicle. It is the maximum amount of weight that the vehicle can safely tow. The manufacturer takes many factors into account when determining a trailer rating. They look at the size of the vehicle’s engine, transmission, axle ratio, chassis, suspension, brakes, tires, cooling capacity, and many other things. Now this may all sound complicated but the bottom line is how much the vehicle can safely tow. Don’t assume that just because you’re buying a truck you can tow a lot of weight. Most manufacturers offer vehicles with trailer packages. A trailer package improves the vehicle’s suspension, brakes, tires, and cooling system. They also add items like engine and transmission oil coolers to protect major vehicle components when towing.
Copyright 2006 by Mark J. Polk Owner of RV Education 101