Originally Posted by K-Star
I hear all the time that dealers and manufacturers don't insure that the RV'er is within the weight limits of their vehicles. I just do not agree with that. Why would we think it is up to the maufacturer or the dealer to make sure the owner is driving safe? MOHO.
I agree with this in a way. "Ignorance of the law is no excuse" is a statement we here sometimes. But when it comes to someone buying a travel trailer for the first time and has had no exposure to weights and capacities, they have no clue that you should know about it.
The dealer never mentions anything about dry or actual weights and that you need to look at the payload capacity and other factors in the tow vehicle. They tell you nothing about WDH hitches and how to set them up. They don't tell you what pressure to keep the tires at.
The TT manufacturer publishes dry weights that are of little to no use. They put a sticker on your unit with the UVW on it that has no relationship to the weight of the unit when you pick it up on the dealer's lot. If you happen to read the GVWR and dry weight, there is no way of telling if the unit will be close to the GVWR before you even load your cargo into it. They don't tell you that the tongue weight can go up a lot and even dramatically in some cases and they do NOT tell you what the impact of weight and it's distribution is if towing with one or more full tanks. You will even read about things like an astute owner finding that the plant installed underrated axles and needed to be replaced. They don't tell you about tires and load ranges, sizes or types and the load carrying capacity.
Sometimes, dealers don't even know the answer to simple technical questions on things like weights and capacities related to a frame. I asked our dealer what the difference is between the standard load range C tires that comes on a TT and the upgrade the manufacturer offers to upgrade to GY Marathon tires. NO clue! I tried to discuss things related to frame strength with them and they also had no clue. Shameful. Dealers want sales. They don't want to have to tell you that your TV is too small. Some are brutally honest and won't let you hook up but most aren't.
And then we have manufacturers putting labels on TTs and 5th wheels that state "1/2 ton towable" or something like that when in actual fact if you look at payload capacities, GCWR and axle ratings, many 1/2 ton trucks cannot handle what they are saying can. An uninformed buyer would normally tend to trust the manufacturer. Sometimes we read about trailer owners that clearly have a way undersized 1/2 ton truck but insist it's okay because of the 1/2 ton towable label. One good case in point is KZ and their "1500" Durango line of 1/2 ton towable 5th wheels. They have 8 models in this lineup ranging from 9225 to 10,800 lbs GVWR. Knowing from personal experience how close their actual unit weights are to the GVWR, if you look at the one with a GVWR of 10,800 lbs and go with a 20% pin weight, that is 2160 lbs! I doubt that there are many, or even any 1/2 ton trucks capable of that high a pin weight. This 5-er is too big for even our 3/4 ton. For those that know enough about weights, on top of this high pin weight, the actual payload capacity of trucks is typically less than what the manufacturer says. So how can a manufacturer put a 1/2 ton towable label on a unit if it most likely cannot be towed with a 1/2 ton? There's no fine print that states that the owner should check their payload capacity, GCWR or axles ratings. There's gotta be a lot of overloaded trucks out there with these KZ 5th wheels.
To make it even worse, the KZ line of 1/2 ton towable 5th wheels was featured in the May issue of Trailer Life. Someone reading the manufacturer's specs and description plus the fact that it is in a reputable RV magazine would expect to have no problems towing a big/heavy 5th wheel with their 1/2 ton. No mention whatsoever in the article to check your truck's weights limits. This is deceptive advertising. If you destroyed your KZ 5-er in an accident, who would be responsible???
And when it comes to tow vehicles, manufacturers are all flogging "towing capacity". The higher the better in order to get more sales. So many TV owners brag about their towing capacity but know nothing about payload capacities, axle ratings, GCWR, tire capacities and hitch receiver ratings. The manufacturer does not provide any written material about weighing your TV or trailer and how to ensure that any limits/capacities are not exceeded. Neither does the dealer. Payload capacity stickers on door jambs can be far off what the actual payload capacity is which is a problem out there. Some swear by the door jamb figure because they think what the manufacturer says is the golden truth. With SUVs, even though they can be capable of towing a trailer, it can be very difficult to find all of the capacities. Try finding the GCWR of a 2010 Yukon for example.
If you go to a lumber yard and buy a load of lumber, the staff are not allowed to help you tie down the load because they can be held liable if you get in an accident. But we have dealers hooking trailers up to TVs all the time that are knowingly unsafe. If they are in doubt, do they tell anyone to go weight your TV and get all the weight capacities so they can unsure you are okay? No. If they are smart enough to realize that the KZ Durango 5th wheel is way too heavy for the buyer's 1/2 ton truck, are they going to say anything if it says "1/2 ton towable" on the unit? Unlikely. Would they complain to the factory? Probably not.
We were camping next to a couple of first time newbies recently in our home base campground who had a trailer towed with a small SUV. The TV was obviously too small and I could easily see that the WDH was not properly set up. It was hard not to say something so I politely suggested to the guy that the hitch setup did not seem to be right. He said the dealer did it. He looked at me like I had no business saying anything and walked away. Oh well, I did try to save someone from a potential catastrophe. I see some grossly overloaded TVs at our campground occasionally and you just can't save the world and go chasing after them. You just hope nobody ever gets hurt.
Where is the insurance industry on this? Where is the police or gov't agencies and the inspection and enforcement of weight restrictions? If you want to tow overloaded a little or a lot, all you have to do is hook up and go. There's almost nobody out there watching.
There is something clearly wrong with weights and capacities when it comes to towing travel trailers and 5th wheels. Most people tend to believe the data that is given to them by TV or trailer manufacturers and use it in their towing decisions. One thought is that someone should be publishing something along the lines of Trailer Life's Towing Guide that must be given to all trailer buyers. Maybe RVIA could be responsible for this or maybe joint with TV makers. Personally, I think what should be done is to have a driver's licence requirement for a towing exam and a special designation on their licence. Sometimes legislation is the only way to protect the general public.
When we bought our first TT, a 20' unit with 5000 lb GVWR, I had no idea about weight and capacities. We had a 1/2 ton V6 at the time. It was under the towing capacity by 500 lbs. We had no sway control because I had heard nothing about it at that point. It was a white knuckle experience at the best of times when there was wind gusts. It was just plain awful to pull that trailer even though we had a 1/2 ton truck and the trailer was on the smallish side. The dealer and the manufacturer had nothing to say on weights, capacities, WDH setup or sway control. We had the hitch installed by a shop that was included in our purchase price. The hitch shop said nothing. The hitch shop also installed the brake controller and said nothing about it. The ONLY way I have learned what I know today about weights and capacities on tow vehicles and trailers is from reading various RV forums. Lots and lots of RV owners never read RV forums so how would they ever learn about weights and capacities otherwise?
I could go on, but you get my drift.... You'll read lots of opinions on weights and capacities on the forums. I am one who thinks it is important to remain within the limits for our own safety and the safety of others. I also don't want to end up with something like premature frame cracks from an overloaded trailer or premature wear or damage to our truck from overloading it.