Let’s run some simple numbers.
Let’s say the SUV has a payload of 1,250
pounds. Guess what! That 6,000 pound trailer has
just used up half of your payload capacity because
the weight of the trailer on your tow hitch is
600 pounds (6,000 x 10%). You now have 650 pounds
left of payload capacity. Let’s say that
you weigh in at 180 pounds and of course you will
want to take your spouse / friend / crew, with
let’s see, the wife weighs in at 120 so
between you and the wife you have just used up
another 300 pounds of payload leaving 350 pounds.
Fortunately it’s an SUV so the tires that
wouldn’t fit in or on the trailer can be
hauled in the back. Hmm! I have four mounted rain
tires and four mounted spares at roughly 30 pounds
per totaling 240 pounds and that tool box loaded
with tools weighing in at 80 pounds, aluminum
floor jack 30 pounds, Air tank 10 pounds, 10x20
Easy Up 50 pounds, baggage for two for the weekend
weighing another 50 pounds… oops!
What we now have is an SUV that
is seriously overloaded and we haven’t even
loaded the four full 5 gallon gas cans needed
for the race car, food, additional crew member,
track box containing misc. items and all the things
that you don’t know about yet that you really
will need at the track on any given weekend.
At this point you have to ask yourself
if you really want to be towing to the race track,
sometimes long distances, with a truck that is
full beyond capacity? The answer to this is a
resounding “NO”! You don’t!
It might work for a while but sooner or later
you will be looking at some serious repair bills
let alone the risk of being stranded late at night
far from home.
The rule of thumb used to be never
tow with a 1⁄2 ton truck / SUV. Always buy
a 3⁄4 ton truck / SUV or greater. This rule
of thumb is slowly beginning to change as 1⁄2
ton trucks are beginning to blur the line between
1⁄2 ton and 3⁄4 ton. The current generation
(2007) Toyota Tundra is a good example of this
with Chevy and Ford hot on its heels in this hotly
contested and very profitable market segment.
In any case do your research and do the math before
you make your decision. A 3⁄4 ton truck
is a costly item but the towing capacity and,
more importantly, the payload is considerably
higher. It may make more sense to buy a quality,
low mileage, used 3⁄4 ton vehicle than a
brand new 1⁄2 ton vehicle.
If you decide you can make do with
a 1⁄2 ton vehicle make sure it has a factory
installed towing package that includes an auxiliary
oil cooler for the transmission. Also Diesel fuel
is arguably still the fuel of choice for a tow
vehicle for a couple of reasons. First, diesel
engines produce considerably more torque than
their gas burning counter parts (though this too
is beginning to change). Let’s be clear
about torque and towing. No matter what the question
is…torque is the answer! Secondly, even
though diesel is the more expensive fuel per gallon
you will get considerably better gas mileage when
towing with diesel. The difference is often enough
to make diesel the less expensive of the two;
sometimes by a large margin if there are long
distances to be traveled.
Something else to consider is the
size and weight of the tow vehicle itself in relation
to the size and weight of the trailer. This is
a case where size really does matter. Generally
the trailer will weigh more. But if it weighs
too much more it can start pushing the tow vehicle
around; kind of like the tail wagging the dog.
are products on the market that can aid with this
problem. There are load leveling bars that will
help transfer some of the trailer tongue weight
up and forward on the tow vehicle. This is good
as it will transfer back on to your front tires
some of the weight that was lifted off of them
when you hooked up your trailer. This makes for
better tow vehicle stability as well as better
steering and braking.
In addition to this there is a type
of trailer sway bar that connects the trailer
tongue and the vehicle tow hitch. This will help
dampen any tendency the trailer might have to
move back and forth behind the tow vehicle such
as might be experienced with a heavy cross wind,
rough roads, or under heavy braking. Though these
items are optional many people consider them a
necessity, myself included.
While you are at it, make sure that
the trailer hitch you are using is actually rated
for the amount of weight you are planning to tow.
Most trailer hitches are rated for 5,000 pounds
or less. If you are going to be towing more than
this you will need a hitch that is rated for 10,000
pounds or more.