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Old 03-19-2013, 03:24 PM   #1
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Towing w/a Toyota 4Runner

I am a newbie to this forum and to towing large campers, but not to camping. I'd like input on my situation. Last year, I purchased a 2012 Forest River Grey Wolf 28' travel trailer to pull with my 2005 Toyota 4Runner Limited V8 w/tow package. The camper is ~5400 lbs dry and the truck is rated at 7000 lbs. Having never towed a large trailer (31' tongue to bumper) this weight scared me. But I have a load leveling-hitch and the truck and camper have been properly matched (everything tows level). I was QUITE surprised with how well my truck handled this load last year. We had the camper out 3 times with no problems--even on small hills. My dilemma? At some point, I want to take the camper to destinations beyond mountains and I think that would be pushing it. My truck now has 150K miles, even though it is very well maintained. I'm wondering whether I should be considering upgrading to a heavier vehicle, or just keep my Toyota in tip-top shape. Even if I bought another truck, I'm considering not buying new. I think there are plenty of decent used trucks out there that could handle the job. If you think i should switch, any suggestions? By the way, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my Grey Wolf and have had minimal problems which were resolved by my dealer. Any thoughts?

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Old 03-19-2013, 05:33 PM   #2
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Have you ever weighed your trailer wet? You are probably near or over the weight limit. Make sure you have a transmission cooler.

The issue with towing with a SUV is usually the weight that it can carry. The hitch weight plus people, stuff, and fuel will max it out. Make sure the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. There should be numbers inside the door jam.
Try to find out how much weight you can carry and try to stay under that number.

Since you already have the 4Runner I would keep it. It might run ok for a long time. But if your rig gets squirrelly you should get a bigger tow vehicle.

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Old 03-19-2013, 05:35 PM   #3
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Old 03-19-2013, 05:52 PM   #4
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Thanks for the responses.

1. How/where would I weigh my trailer wet?
2. Will ensure trans cooler was with tow package. Getting trans service before season starts.
3. Please define "hitch weight".
4. Have all new tires properly inflated.
5. Please clarify "rig gets squirrelly".

Again, thanks!
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Old 03-19-2013, 06:07 PM   #5
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I would buy a F250 range (Ford, Chevy, or Chrysler) pickup with a diesel engine. You would be much happier and is much safer, IMO.

Good luck!
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Old 03-19-2013, 06:19 PM   #6
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Most truck stops have a weigh station. You need to go thru it twice or two different times. One time with just the 4Runner fully packed and full fuel. Next time with 4Runner and trailer. There will be a cost to get weighed. $15 or so.

Squirrelly - when a semi-truck passes, you have to make a lot of steering corrections or you have to continually make steering corrections just going straight.

A transmission cooler is usually part of a towing package...so hope you already have one.

How far are you planning to travel? So far I have traveled 1,000 miles and back. Finding a 'good' place to stay is not easy. I think I will try to stay in a campground my next long trip.
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Old 03-19-2013, 06:30 PM   #7
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srh - I agree. I will never tow agian unless I am in a minimun 3/4 ton diesel truck. It is a world of difference when towing.

But here the 4Runner is already set-up and has been used for towing. If the weight limits are kept in check it should be ok.

I towed a 5,200 lb trailer with a Honda Ridgeline. I was overweigh and towing was white knuckled. After 2 tows, there and back, I bought a bigger truck.
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Old 03-24-2013, 08:07 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by GEBERRY View Post
2012 Forest River Grey Wolf 28' travel trailer to pull with my 2005 Toyota 4Runner Limited V8 w/tow package. The camper is ~5400 lbs dry and the truck is rated at 7000 lbs.
Dry trailer weight is a useless number. When loaded for the road you'll be way above the dry weight. Use the GVWR of the trailer for estimated wet and loaded weight. GVWR of the Grey Wolf model 28BHKS is 7,752. You're probably towing around 7,000 pounds when on the road. Figure 12.5% tongue weight, or about 875 to 900 pounds tongue weight (hitch weight).

Tow rating for your truck assumes nothing is in the truck but a skinny driver. No passengers, tools, spares, nothing. So you cannot tow anywhere near the 7,000 pounds tow rating without being overloaded when the family is in he truck.

1. How/where would I weigh my trailer wet?
Most big truckstops near the interstate highways have a CAT (certified automated truck) scale. The scale has a least three pads- one for the front axle, one for the drive axle, and one for the trailer axles.

Add the weights on the front and rear axles and compare to the GVWR of the tow vehicle. Add the weights on all the axles and compare to the GCWR of the tow vehicle. Compare the trailer axle weight to the combined GAWR of the trailer.

Most CAT scales will give you the second weighing free if done within an hour or so. So drop the trailer in the parking log and re-weigh the tow vehicle. Add the front and rear axle weights and subtract from the front and rear axle weights with the trailer tied on. The difference is hitch weight, or tongue weight of the trailer

3. Please define "hitch weight".
Tongue weight, or the weight the trailer tongue adds to the weight on the tow vehicle. You can determine the tongue weight as noted above, or you can weigh the tongue with a tongue scale. I carry a tongue scale with me all the time, so I can double check on my tongue weight. Here's mine:

Sherline Trailer Tongue Weight Scale - 2,000-lb Capacity Sherline Tools 5780

5. Please clarify "rig gets squirrelly".
Commonly called sway. A travel trailer can go into an uncontrollable sway condition when a gust of wind hits that huge wind sail you call a trailer. You can somewhat control sway with a weight-distributing (WD) hitch that includes sway control. And you can stop sway completely with an expensive WD hitch such as the ProPride:
Trailer Sway Control Hitch Guaranteed to Eliminate Trailer Sway - ProPride 3P

If you've ever experienced uncontrollable trailer sway, you'll pay a lot of money to be certain it never happens again. That's why I'm saving my sheckles for a ProPride hitch.
Grumpy ole man with over 50 years towing experience. Now my heaviest trailer is a 7,000-pound enclosed cargo trailer, RV is a 5,600 pound Skyline Nomad Joey 196S, and my tow vehicle is a 2012 F-150 3.5L EcoBoost SuperCrew.
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Old 03-24-2013, 02:39 PM   #9
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SUV / Trailer sway gone bad:

That being said, we have a Toytota 4-Runner limited 4 wheel drive that we bought to pull a trailer then ended up with a motorhome but I have pulled a motorcycle trailer with our two bikes which weigh 3,000 total and you know it's back there...dont know if I'd want to pull 7,000 pounds with it but if you are careful, drive slowly when in doubt, park it if real bad side winds, and drive very straight, it would likely work fine.
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Toad: Honda Element, Ready Brute integrated tow bar and braking system, Protect-a-Tow
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Old 03-25-2013, 03:03 PM   #10
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You already know more than anyone else about your truck as you have been using it without any problems. The 4Runner is very different than most SUV's and all other small SUV's in having a full ladder frame. It is derived from the Toyota 1/2 ton trucks and not a sedan as with most SUV's on the road.

I have put thousands of miles on half ton pickups pulling horse trailers and even with this live load which shifts in turns and when stopping I have never had cause for concern. I have spent more time than I care to remember on my back under various trucks over the years and when under a Toyota I am struck by how much better built they are than any American truck I have owned (Willys, Dodge, Chevy, Ford). There is a reason why for the last 5 consecutive years the Toyota trucks have been ranked number one in reliability.

What is often overlooked is the amount of towing that will be done. If you are towing the trailer 200 plus days of the year the wear and tear on the engine and drivetrain is going to be considerably greater than if you have it on the road 20 days during the year. Pretty obvious when you think about it.

My current truck is a 3/4 ton diesel but I bought it for the torque of the diesel and the advantages of an exhaust brake when traveling through the mountains. For pulling a 5,000 lb. trailer it would be overkill in the extreme.

CAT scales are all over the place as truckers need to know exactly what their loaded rigs weigh before heading to their destination. In California I pay $9.50 and the entire process takes 10 minutes. They can provide you with the weight of your truck at its axles as well as the separate weight of the trailer on its axle(s).

150,000 miles on a Toyota would not worry me. With the 4 Toyota 4WD trucks I owned I made it a practice to replace the clutch and related components at 80K intervals and at 60K I would replace the water pump and timing belt. Never had a breakdown with more than 500K miles both on and off roads and that was what was important to me and my passengers. My brother has more than 300,000 miles on his 1989 V-6 powered Toyota.

With a trailer in tow it is even more important to minimize the odds of a breakdown. I would also be inclined to replace the U-joints at 100k miles and not wait for them to seize up on the highway. Same with fan belts and radiator hoses which I prefer to replace before they fail. Saves on motel bills while traveling.

The sales tax alone on a new truck is going to cost you more than the cost of repairs over the next 50k miles if you are proactive with replacing key parts before they fail.

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