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Old 09-14-2013, 10:02 PM   #1
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Tow Vehicle Trailer combination questions....newbie:-)

Hi Everyone - We are new to this whole thing and have just started out on our first big trip. We drive a 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited, 4.7 L V8 engine and we tow a Fleetwood 180 FQ Pegasus Ultralite. On a good day we have been able to get about 10.5 MPG, traveling at approx. 60 MPH, @ roughly 2500 rpm. Today, driving across 20 in Idaho things were different. We had elevations of up to 5500 ft to deal with and winds...from the side and on the nose. These things whether combined, or not, seemed to create problems. We ended up only averaging 7 -7.5 MPG. We also noticed at times that the jeep was struggling to keep up to 60 MPH, having to run the rpm's up to 4000 just to maintain that speed. It sounded like we were killing the jeep with the engine revving at those rpm's. It didn't do it the entire trip, but enough that it makes us wonder...have we got the wrong tow vehicle/travel trailer combination? Who else out there is towing something like our Fleetwood with an SUV and what mpg's are you getting and in what conditions? Is it really just because it was so windy, and we are at a higher elevation or did we make some mistakes with our setup? Please advise!

Rhonda
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Old 09-14-2013, 10:48 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LandCruising View Post
Hi Everyone - We are new to this whole thing and have just started out on our first big trip. We drive a 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited, 4.7 L V8 engine and we tow a Fleetwood 180 FQ Pegasus Ultralite. On a good day we have been able to get about 10.5 MPG, traveling at approx. 60 MPH, @ roughly 2500 rpm. Today, driving across 20 in Idaho things were different. We had elevations of up to 5500 ft to deal with and winds...from the side and on the nose. These things whether combined, or not, seemed to create problems. We ended up only averaging 7 -7.5 MPG. We also noticed at times that the jeep was struggling to keep up to 60 MPH, having to run the rpm's up to 4000 just to maintain that speed. It sounded like we were killing the jeep with the engine revving at those rpm's. It didn't do it the entire trip, but enough that it makes us wonder...have we got the wrong tow vehicle/travel trailer combination? Who else out there is towing something like our Fleetwood with an SUV and what mpg's are you getting and in what conditions? Is it really just because it was so windy, and we are at a higher elevation or did we make some mistakes with our setup? Please advise!

Rhonda
You Jeep is rated at 6500#'s your trailer is 3500#. The TT loaded is at least 4500# so you are okay weight wise.

Your problem is you are towing to fast and way to fast on grades. Slow down to 25 or 30, put your flashers on and move to the right lane. Your rpm's will drop because you will be in a lower gear and you engine won't have to work harder.

On the highway, I never pull faster that 55 mph. I'm in no hurry, plus I don't strain my epuipment.
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Old 09-15-2013, 05:55 AM   #3
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I towed overweight with a 6 cylinder Ford Ranger for 3 years. Drove over 55mph most of the time. Stretched the manifold to exhaust bolts on the 1st 150 miles trip.
Installed an open muffler by Dynomax and never had any problems for about 40k miles of towing. Most large hills were climbed at 5500 RPM and past other trucks and left my friend behind. Did average 12 MPG though but hopping for 16, it never happened. My friend barely got 10mpg. All in us gallons.
But had a 5er they tow much easier in the wind. My friend had stronger engine in an Explorer and lighter TT and he could not believe me running 70mph on a 2000 miles trip to Florida. Had to in order to have enough to crest the hills at 55.
No matter the weight gas engines are not set up for towing hard and TTs are hard to pull in the wind. It's ok in a pinch. I find side wind is worst then head wind on my 39ft 5er.
My 05 F250 Diesel gives me better mileage towing the 39ft 5er then towing a 24ft 5er with the Ranger.
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Old 09-15-2013, 06:31 AM   #4
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Sounds like you are fine. RPM's do no hurt a gas engine. They actually have systems in place to stop you from over revving them. 4000rpm's is normal 2nd gear shifting. One thing I do not do while towing is check my fuel mileage. That would drive me nuts. There are too many variables towing to worry about fuel and little you can do about it other than keeping your speed 60-65mph on interstates.
If you calculate out the average fuel economy you are getting over the entire year,towing and not towing, you will find that it is better than any 1/2 ton truck or diesel that is available to buy. Plus if you factor in the costs of trading your current rig you will go behind. Now if you are planning on replacing it anyway than sure, go for a new 1/2 ton. Until then put the calculator away and enjoy camping.
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Old 09-15-2013, 09:51 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LandCruising View Post
We drive a 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited, 4.7 L V8 engine and we tow a Fleetwood 180 FQ Pegasus Ultralite. On a good day we have been able to get about 10.5 MPG, traveling at approx. 60 MPH, @ roughly 2500 rpm. Today, driving across 20 in Idaho things were different. We had elevations of up to 5500 ft to deal with and winds...from the side and on the nose. These things whether combined, or not, seemed to create problems. We ended up only averaging 7 -7.5 MPG.
Normal MPG for towing. And yep, altitude sucks the breath out of a non-turbo gas engine.

Quote:
We also noticed at times that the jeep was struggling to keep up to 60 MPH, having to run the rpm's up to 4000 just to maintain that speed.
The struggling is because of the altitude plus the long legs of the rear axle ratio in your Jeep. One fix would be to replace your long legs with a set of ring gears and pinions with a shorter (higher numerically) ratio. For example, if your Jeep has 3.23 ratio, then replace the ring gears and pinions (front and rear) with 4.10 ratio. Plan on that costing about $1,000 or more.

But do you really need to cruise at 60 MPH? Allow the rig to slow down to 45 or 55 MPH when climbing grades, and the engine won't scream as much.

Quote:
It sounded like we were killing the jeep with the engine revving at those rpm's.
Nah, that engine can stand 4k RPM all day long, if necessary - if you don't allow the engine or tranny to overheat. That's why they make gauges. You probably already have a good engine (coolant temp) gauge. Know what's normal temp and what's too hot on that gauge, then don't allow it to get too hot. Tranny temp is probably your biggest worry. You never want your tranny sump temp to exceed 225 F., but you probably don't have a tranny temp gauge. I wouldn't leave home without a good tranny temp gauge with the sender mounted to give me sump temp. I had to add that gauge to my previous pickup, but the new one includes it from the factory.

Quote:
It didn't do it the entire trip, but enough that it makes us wonder...have we got the wrong tow vehicle/travel trailer combination?
Not a bad combo. If the "tow rating" for your Jeep is 6,500 pounds, and your trailer grosses less than 5,000 pounds, then you can "made do" with it. You can make it better by increasing engine and tranny cooling capacity. (Bigger radiator, bigger oil-to-air tranny cooler). And as already mentioned, be sure you have good coolant and ATF temp gauges, and pay attention to the gauges when the engine is struggling.

Replacing the ring gears and pinions is expensive, and I wouldn't do it unless I planned to spend a lot of time towing in hills, mountains, and at altitude over about 4,000 feet.

Some things you can to next time to lower the trailer weight:

Travel with empty holding tanks. We dump the black and grey water tanks before we get on the road, and haul only a few gallons of fresh water so we can flush the pottie when on the road.

Leave the heavy china and glassware and cookware at home. Use "picnic" plastic or paper plates, bowls, and cultrey. Carry only light-weight thin aluminum pots and pans. I love my cast iron skillets, but they don't go in the camper.

Don't stock up on drinks and canned goods until after you arrive at your destination. Don't haul cokes and beer and canned goods across the country.

Weigh the wet and loaded rig on a CAT scale. Compare the weight on the front and rear Jeep axles to the GVWR of the Jeep. Compare the gross weight on all the axles of the rig to the GCWR of the Jeep. SUVs are notorious for being overloaded over the GVWR when towing. You can either haul a family and all your stuff in the Jeep, or tow a heavy trailer, but not both at the same time without exceeding the GVWR of the Jeep.
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Old 09-15-2013, 04:02 PM   #6
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Thanks everyone for the helpful suggestions and comments. We are planning to head into West Yellowstone and explore the park for a few days...then head out from there...need to make sure we have everything in good working order before we do this!
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