Help me understand trailer and towing weights

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Old 06-25-17, 06:40 AM
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Help me understand trailer and towing weights

I need to make sure I understand the weights and towing information. I'm considering a new vehicle and want to make sure I provide all the right info to prospective dealers. My current vehicle is marginal, but does the job.

here is my trailer info and UTV info

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The certificate of origin for the UTV shows the shipping weight of 1600 lbs and the GVWR of 3300 lbs. The shipping weight is what will be on the trailer.

I'll be towing the UTV about 4 x's a year along with other items. So lets say at any given time I may have a trailer load that weights 2000 lbs total.

Here's my confusion. The trailer has a GVWR/PNBE of 2900 Lb. The GAWR/PNBE each axle is 3500 lb. So do I use the 3500 or the 2900 rating as a max amount to carry or tow?

Also how to I figure the tongue weight for the vehicle that will be doing the towing?
 
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Old 06-25-17, 07:40 AM
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You use the 2900lbs for the max weight the vehicle will be pulling. If you look at the label on the trailer it also says max cargo of 2015 lbs. That means the trailer alone is about 885 lbs. The 3500 lbs axle rating is just how much the axle can carry.

What vehicle are you using now?

Tongue weight will depend on how that trailer is loaded. If the UTV is loaded more to the front of the trailer, there will be more weight on the tongue. However, if you load the UTV too far back on the trailer, the trailer will float around behind the vehicle and not trailer right.
 
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Old 06-25-17, 07:57 AM
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I was just going to post, and see that he was ahead of me, so will just add that I agree with TI; the gross weight of the trailer, which means the trailer and contents, is 2,900 lbs. There is not an infinite range of axle capacities, so they are using a 3,500 lb. capacity axle in this case, but that pertains only to the axle; the designed capacity of the trailer is 2,900 lbs. And ideally you would want to center the weight over the axles as evenly as possible. An ideal tongue weight is around 10% of the gross weight of the trailer, so say you have a trailer weight of 2,900 lbs., your ideal tongue weight is going to be in the vicinity of 290 lbs. You also want to have your trailer as level as possible when hooked to the vehicle, which is the reason that you see ball inserts with varying steps heights.
 
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Old 06-25-17, 10:15 AM
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Thanks guys. My original thinking is pretty much as you both say. I was instructed by Cabela's to load the UTV up front of the trailer so that the front tires actually touch the front bars. But as pedro indicates would it be better over the axle?

My current vehicle is a 2005 GMC Safari (same as the Chevy Astro) with towing package (AWD). Like I said marginal or maybe even undersized, but so far it's handling the 60 mile drive quite well. Speed is kept at 55 MPH or below. First half of the trek is on paved highway with a 65 mph limit. The second half is country roads, some of which are very poor. However, both halves are very hilly. The trailer sits pretty level, even when fully loaded. Right now its in the shop for what I think is a nearly seized belt pulley (either the alternator or the A/C). I hate to get rid of this vehicle, this model has served me well since it first came out in '85 and since the last model in 2005. I have had several in between ever since. Have not seen anything close that I like. It has the best of cargo, passenger and flexibility of any vehicle around. With this vehicle I have never had to rent or borrow a truck and carried everything you can imagine, beds, sofas, chests, riding lawn mowers, and some pretty good sized animals, you name it I've probably carried it.

I'm partial to Ford products, so I'll look at what they have to offer first. Then I'll look at GMC. However, some of the foreign models might be something I should consider,
 
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Old 06-25-17, 11:41 AM
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According to the inter-web, towing capacity of a 2005 GMC safari is 4,700 to 5,300 lbs depending on equipment. Your UTV and trailer is half that so I would say your ok to keep using the Safari.

I try to keep the loads center sightly forward of the axle(s). This will depend on the load and the center of gravity. If your UTV's motor is in the back, loading it to the front of the trailer is a good plan. Sometimes it takes trial and error to find the sweet spot.
 
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Old 06-25-17, 11:54 AM
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load the UTV up front of the trailer so that the front tires actually touch the front bars
I agree with TI in post 2. The trailer rides better with the weight towards the front, even though you're increasing the tongue weight. Your weight will be in the front and over the axle, so you should be perfect.
 
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Old 06-25-17, 01:27 PM
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Tolyn, Brian,

Thanks for the look up for me. I must have look at the wrong thing when I checked it. Yes I found the 4700 lb capacity. I guess I'm OK. Maybe I don't need to spend that $35000 on a new vehicle.

Over the past several years I've put in about $2500 to $3500 for various repairs. The body is in good shape and all accessories work including the rear wiper. Those repairs sure beat a car payment.

I need to re-think my situation.

Again thanks for the information and help.
 
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Old 06-25-17, 01:35 PM
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Here is an interesting demonstration of what the effect can be when a trailer is loaded heavy towards the rear of the trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jk9H5AB4lM
 
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Old 06-25-17, 01:45 PM
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I think I loaded this video recently on another thread. But yes it's very good and shows the reason to load properly.
 
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Old 06-25-17, 04:40 PM
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That's a great video Wirepuller! Thanks!

Norm, when I am pulling a heavy trailer/load with my 2000 Silverado 1500 I will use Tow/Haul mode or even shift into drive rather then overdrive. Fuel mileage will drop, but the RPM's will stay in the power curve better.
 
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Old 06-25-17, 08:27 PM
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My first time hauling the UTV, I forgot about the tow/haul mode. Everything was OK the trip to, but on the trip back my check engine light came on. I did put it into tow mode but it was too late. The light stayed on for a day and a half. I got scared and took it in to be diagnosed. Fortunately no real harm was done. My mechanic told me I over heated the transmission. But all was OK. And yes, mileage takes a real hit. I don't have a tach on this van so I can't see the RPM's. But if I had I would've noticed right from the get go. I could not tell by the sound.
 
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Old 06-26-17, 03:49 AM
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One advantage to bringing the UTV tires all the way forward is it makes it easier to secure it to the trailer. That is how I'd load it unless it trailered funky, then I'd adjust it.

You might want to consider adding a tranny cooler. You could drive an old truck like mine, I get 11 mpg loaded or empty and pulling a trailer doesn't seem to make any difference ...... unless you get on the interstate - then the mpg drops a little
 
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Old 06-26-17, 06:31 AM
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I mentioned trying to center the weight over the axle(s) as much as possible, and still subscribe to that, in theory, but the load is almost never going to be that exact, so definitely agree with the others in keeping the weight forward if anything, never rearward. I've seen mockups similar to the one that Wirepuller posted, but worse recall being behind at least two out of control vehicles with trailers that I am sure was caused by that very thing, too much weight toward the rear of the trailer. In regard to using tow/haul and/or taking it out of overdrive, definitely. Obtaining and maintaining motion with minimal wear on the tow vehicle is the first part of the equation, and safely stopping is the second part. There's no substitute for a high rear gear ratio behind a high compression diesel to help slow down a load, but while not as obvious, third or fourth gear in any vehicle is going to start slowing down a whole lot more when you let off of the gas pedal than it will in overdrive.
 
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Old 06-26-17, 07:17 AM
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By the way, Norm, I forgot (old age I guess), but meant to thank you for starting this thread. It's the latest of at least a couple recent ones regarding trailers and towing, and something finally clicked on my end. I've checked in the past, and the mechanical scissors jack that has been on a shelf under one of my benches for years works great with all three of my trailers, but thankfully I have never needed it (knock on wood). Problem was that it wasn't going to do me much good setting on the shelf collecting dust. So yesterday I got it out, cleaned the sawdust and whatnot off of it, oiled the screw and joints, and it's now on the opposite side of the shop with my hitch inserts, straps, etc., so that I will remember to take it with me. And, since I usually have a cordless drill in the truck anyway, I even made an adapter for it so I can use a drill to run it up and down. I'm not sure if the drill will operate it under load, but figured that even if I use it to get it up to the height of the frame anything to speed it up is good alongside the road. Anyway, sometimes it's the little things that jog the thought process, and this discussion did that.
 
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Old 06-26-17, 05:54 PM
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Glad to be of service.

My saga continues. I thought I was getting away without having to buy a new vehicle. Well today I'm backing thinking I should re-consider. That seized pulley I mentioned earlier in the thread, turned out to be a $550 bill. It turned out to be a power brake booster! And that's a used one. A new one would've cost me twice that amount.

So now I'm thinking maybe a new vehicle would be in my best interest. If not for anything but reliability. Although the van is in good shape and everything seems to be OK, tomorrow it might be a wheel bearing, or maybe next week my radiator, or front end linkage or muffler or alternator or any number of things that you can't guess at. Runs good now, nice and smooth, but hit that one bump. And it is 12 years old with nearly 100000 miles on it. If it were not the fact that I might get stranded towing that trailer and UTV I would take a chance and keep it.

I think I'll look at the Ford Transit and the GMC Acadia for openers.
 
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