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Old 02-14-2005, 11:09 AM   #1
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I subscribe to a magazine in Canada called RV Lifestyles, and they have a regular advice column called "Hitch Hints" In the latest issue they state that a Dodge Magnum/300 rated by Chrysler at 3800 lbs. towing capacity can safely tow a 28' Airstream rated at 8000 lbs. This goes against everything I have been taught about safely towing a trailer. You can read some of the article at this URL:

http://www.rvlifemag.com/file333/hitchhints333.html

I have been in touch with the writer, who claims that some manufactures are way off on the GVWR and that a lower centre of gravity and better tires and suspension would allow a vehicle like the Magnum/300 to tow this amount of weight. Is it just me or does this sound irresponsible?

My insurance company would crucify me if I got into an accident with a vehicle towing a trailer that was 4000 lbs. over the GVWR of that vehicle. Not to mention what it is doing to the tow vehicle in terms of wear and tear. There is an old adage that you can tow anything with any vehicle, but for how long is anyones guess.

I have emailed back to see if my 2001 Ford Supercrew 4 x 2 rated at 6600 lbs. would tow a trailer rated at 8000 lbs. safely. I have asked him for suggestions to improve my towing capacity. I have the 4.6 engine, 3.55 rear axle and the HD trailer package. I can't believe that anyone would condone this in an RV magazine.
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Old 02-14-2005, 11:50 AM   #2
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wakamicamper,

I cant believe that any reputable magazine or knowledgeable writter would condone towing anything that greatly exceeds the towing capacity of any vehicle. Sounds very irresponsible to me. As for your Ford, if it is rated a 6600 lbs, that is pretty much it. You can do all the modifications that you want but the tow capacity will not change. The number is set by the factory and based on a number of factors. If you want to increase your towing capacity, you need to go to a bigger truck.
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Old 02-14-2005, 12:32 PM   #3
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Thanks for your reply, this is totally unbelievable. I agree whole heartedly with you, I need a 3/4 ton truck at least. I am still waiting for a reply form the writer. I have a feeling that this post will return a lot of comments.
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Old 02-16-2005, 04:53 AM   #4
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I would be curious to see the whole article. I am very disturbed just reading the partial article listed that someone would even attempt to tow a 30' trailer with a Dodge Intrpid. I find it hard to believe you could even tow that trailer up a mountain pass with an Intrepid. To me this raises a lot of questions about this magazine and the author.
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Old 02-17-2005, 12:57 PM   #5
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I saw Rick A's posting wanting to see the entire article. I have typed it out for those who want to read it from the Magazine. I want to add that Chrysler rates the 300 at 2000 lbs towing capacity, which makes this claim 6000 lbs overweight when towing the 34 foot Airstream. Here is the article with some of the comments removed that had no bearing on the test.

Chrysler 300C and Dodge Magnum

One of the most popular tow vehicles for the last 10 years around our store has been the Chrysler Intrepid. It was reasonably priced, handled well, got great fuel mileage and the 234 hp 3.5 litres V6 delivered excellent performance. We put hitches on a few hundred of them since 1993, when they were introduced. The Intrepid is no more, however, and has been replaced by a radically different series of cars, the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Magnum. The only carry-over is the 3.5 litre engine and the 4 speed automatic transmission. What has everyone excited is the optional 5.7 litre Hemi with 390 pounds feet of torque and 340 hp.
What had us excited when we saw this car was its 120 inch wheelbase, which is a full 6 inches longer than the Intrepid and with a slightly shorter rear overhang. Although it is rear wheel drive, it has an independent rear suspension, a first on a full size sedan that is not high in price. Everything pointed to this car being about the best handling tow vehicle we had yet to get our hands on.
Since the 3.5 litre is about $10,000 less than the Hemi, We ordered one for our own use as we thought this is where most of the actual sales volume would be. But we got so many exited calls from people asking about the Hemi that we subsequently changed the order. Besides, we already have a good track record with the 3.5 litre and 4 speed. Though we didn't have any doubt that the 5.7 would tow, we wondered a bit about how the rest of the drive train would stand up to all the torque. The 5 speed transmission and rear axle is a Mercedes design built in North America. Though not yet proven we feel pretty confident that the drive train is overbuilt as they are going to put even more powerful engines on it soon.
We did manage to get our hands on a Magnum with the 3.5 for a few days to try it out. It was not quite what we expected it to be. We knew performance would not be as good as the Intrepid because while the axle ratio was the same 3.67:1 the tires had grown considerably from 215/60x6 to 215/65Rx17, which effectively changed the axle ratio to 3.40:1. Still the engine was boosted to 250 hp; 0 60 mph acceleration with a 28 foot Airstream increased from 24 to 27 seconds. What surprised us was the ride and handling of the Magnum. It has very aggressive styling so we expected an aggressive suspension, but it actually rides very smoothly and the suspension has a lot of travel, so it soaks up just about any bump in the road with ease. The tires have fairly soft sidewalls and the shocks, as well are geared to provide more of a supple ride. It is one of the smoothest riding tow vehicles we have ever used. Don't get us wrong, handling is still quite good, and it may have the best combination of ride and handling you are likely to encounter. It is just not the all-out handling machine we were expecting. We think a set of 55 series 17 inch tires and some variable rate slightly stiffer shocks would make it just about perfect, while lower profile tires would improve the performance back to where the Intrepid was.
Just after we returned the 3.5 Magnum our 300C with the Hemi arrived. If ever a car had attitude, this one does. When you catch up to lesser vehicles in the left lane they quickly move over to their rightful place in the slow traffic. It is a machine that could be a real ticket collector if you are not careful, so thank goodness for cruise control. We have never towed with a vehicle that attracted so much attention.

When you get the Hemi on either the Magnum or 300, 18" wheels with 225/60x18 tires come as part of the package. They have considerably less sidewall roll than the 17s and handle quite well. Although the suspension tuning is still slanted towards a smooth ride, it is tighter. We took the 300 and a 34 foot Airstream on a 1000 mile trip to Kentucky and back for its first long trip. At 60 mph it was a very stable in crosswinds, and trucks passing were barely perceptible. With conventional trailer of any substantial size we would still consider a Hensley Hitch, however. The body structure is very solid which also improves handling. There are several very solid attachment points to connect the hitch to which also improves the ride.
The drive train is a real powerhouse. A Porsche Cayenne would likely stay with it, but that is about the only vehicle that we have towed with that could. Part of it is the engine; part of it is having 5 gears. It tows in forth quite easily at 60 mph turning 2100 rpm. Should you need to climb a big hill or accelerate into traffic, it kicks into third at 3200 rpm. At this rpm, we think that in third gear it would climb anything you put in front of it. A 5% grade was just effortless and it could easily accelerate while climbing. In first and 2nd gear, acceleration is very quick. The Hemi accelerates 8000 lbs of Airstream to 60 mph in just 21 seconds - the quickest time we have ever recorded while towing a 34 footer.
Our biggest concern with the Hemi was what the fuel mileage would be like. This engine runs on four cylinders when it is under a low load, and that does seem to help. Mileage around town is about par with the Intrepid. If you keep it down to 60 mph on the highway, it will turn out about 31 mpg. If you speed up to 80 mph all eight cylinders engage and the mileage drops to 26. It is quite respectable when towing a 34 foot Airstream at 60 mph it turned in 15.1 mpg. Not bad, when you consider how much power the engine has.
Combine the outrageous performance with a very quiet comfortable interior and you have a pretty cool tow vehicle. Between now and the end of this summer we will get lots of towing with it under our belts. Certainly the 3.5 litre is more than adequate for any of the more aerodynamic trailers out there.
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Old 02-21-2005, 05:42 AM   #6
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Hi everyone,
I am new to this forum and until I get to know many of you better my comments won't carry much weight. However, I must comment on this thread. I personally know the author of that article quite well. Andrew Thomson is concerned with safety above ALL else. He has been working in the industry all his life and would never make a suggestion regarding towing without extensive knowledge and testing. He is Canada's pre-eminent towing specialist. His points throughout many of his articles is that tow ratings are not always a legitimate number. For example the ford f150 with the 4.6l engine and the crown vic. with the same engine. The only difference really is the rear end ratio. So why does the crown vic. have a tow rating more than 4000lbs less. Why did the crown vic. before ford put in the 4.6 engine in the crown have a 5000lbs tow rating with an inferior engine and drive train. His agruements go on to explain that there are many other factors that contribute to a good tow vehicle not just an arbitrary posted tow rating. Tire size, rear over-hang, available torque at given rpm, independent suspension (or not) all contrbute to whether or not a vehicle is good for use as a tow vehicle. I have towed many many miles myself and one of the worst experience's I had was towing with a Ford Expedition(I work at a ford store!). Currently I have a Windstar and I tow 26 -28 foot bunk models everywhere- all the time! Yet the Windstar has a rating of 3500lbs. Funny though that when the Windstar was 1st introduced the only hitch engineered to fit was a class 2 rated at ----3500lbs, coincedence? No, planning.
Also, another point Andrew makes is related to the towed vehicle. Is it aerodynamic? How does the trailer handle? And finally, hitching.Most hitch's are not set-up properly. People use the wrong bars, they don't set the hitch head angle properly the dont adjust the hitch for differnt load capacities etc.
Sorry, I've gone on so long here. I certainly don't mean to speak for Andrew. He is more than happy to discuss towing with anybody. Call hm anytime during business hours and he'll talk till you say stop!:-)If any wishes to contact him please PM me and I'll provide you with his email and/or phone number.
Thanx,
Greg
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Old 02-21-2005, 07:48 AM   #7
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I have been an avid reader of articles put out by Andy for several years. I have always respected his expertise. I met him in person at a trailer show several years back. I don't question his expertise, what I question his disreguard for the stated manufacturers towing capacity on this vehicle. The towing capacity is made up of several features on a vehicle, on the frame, engine, suspension, transmission, axle ratio,tires,and both the front and rear axle. Usually the weakest link is the spring rating, or the tires. As most RVers know, the weakest link is the component that has a capacity that is lower than all the rest. You could have an rear axle rating of 5000 lbs. but it the springs are only rated at 4000 lbs. then that is all you can carry. I would be interested to know if an insurance carrier would allow a client to tow with a vehicle that was overloaded by 6000 lbs. as is the case with the Chrysler 300C towing a 34' Airstream rated at 8000 lbs. The Chrysler 300C from the Chrysler web site is NOT RECOMMENDED for towing, but they do give it a 2000 lbs. Rating. Following his logic, my own vehicle that is rated at 6600 lbs. towing capacity would be able to tow a trailer rated at 12,600 lbs. (8000 lbs. overweight). We have all seen this type of problem on the highways and it quite frankly scares the **** out of me. I believe that my insurance company would tell me I was on my own it I got into an accident and they traced it back to my being over the towing capacity of my truck. This reminds me of the stunts that advertisers use in most commercials, in small print at the bottom of the screen "Professional driver on a closed circut, DON'T try this at home". I just think that if he is going to do this type of thing, that he should first check with the manufacturer to see if they agree or not. If I bought a 300C with the Hemi and towed an 8000 lb trailer, and had transmission trouble and the dealer told me "Sorry, we don't recommend any weight over 2000 lbs." I would be looking a a huge bill outside of Warranty, and the dealer would be making a notation on the computer stating that I had exceeded the recommended specs. on my vehicle and that my Warranty was null and void. That is my concern about this article, the poor guy who buys a $40,000 vehicle expecting to be able to tow an 8000 lb trailer and damaging his car. Hopefully he doesn't injure or hurt either himself or someone else.

As I mentioned above, I respect Andy's expertise, I just don't think this is in the best interests of the general public. It is very misleading.
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Old 02-21-2005, 10:33 AM   #8
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Your point is understood and well taken. However, Andy always has said this is what they have done. He gives as much info as he can and the readers can make up there own mind. His thoughts on the matter stem from extensive product knowledge and testing as well as the realistic belief that car makers don't build tow vehicles. When they give large tow ratings to vehicles that handle trailers like lumber wagons his points are somewhat valid. I do believe if you were question him regarding a 8000lb trailer with a conventional build he will give a much different opinion on the handling and towing characteristics. This article however focus's on the airstream as the towed vehicle. They are a dog of different colour when it comes to aerodynamic drag. His point was that this combination worked very well.
The Dodge Intrepid worked very for them as well as many othr people. I have travelled extensively with them and that particular tow vehicle. I was with them the very first time they did test tows with the Windstar. All things that have proven track records. I trust the conclusions that Andy comes to more than I trust arrbitrary weight limits posted by car makers on vehicles not marketed as tow vehicles and high weight ratings on vehicles marketed as tow vehicles that handle poorly.
Your comment that based on the math that your truck can tow over 12ooo lbs while pointed and understood is not the idea Andy tries to get across. He is suggesting that some vehicles are underrated. Your truck is not. High centre of gravity, high profile tires and the weight distribution of the truck is not great either and usually a long distance from the axle centre-line to the hitch point.
All in all- its not just the weight rating that makes or breaks a tow vehicle.
Thanx,
Greg
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Old 02-26-2005, 04:29 PM   #9
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Someone should have a talk with that guy, IMOP.

The Magnum and 300 are based on the Mercedes E platform. I suspect towing was near the bottom of the priority list when they designed them.

A 427 Cobra or Corvette has plenty of power to tow an 8000lb trailer. Would anyone here like to try it?
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Old 02-26-2005, 10:23 PM   #10
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Andy's stuff never fails to get people's knickers in a bunch. Firstly, I am a big fan of towing conservatively and under all ratings.

However, there are a couple of things nobody mentioned. Andy's team has a test course where they can "wring" out the combination and see what it does. They found that the Intrepid combination performed well. While the factory said no, the team's real world testing showed otherwise. As noted, they sold a lot of the Intrepid/Airstream combinations. Does anybody really think they'd still be in business if the combination was as dangerous or underperforming as some readers here would have you believe?

Nobody has mentioned that the Intrepid combination was ONLY for Airstreams and ONLY with the Hensley Arrow hitch system. I realize that there are many who remain unconvinced of the Hensley's ability to eliminate sway, despite scores of posts indicating stellar performance. Whether one wants to "believe" or not, the simple fact is that the HA does work and when the Intrepid is hooked to an Airstream using the HA, it apparently handles slalom courses, emergency stops, acceleration and other tests that I suspect few people have done on this forum. I know I haven't slalomed my rig and have never heard of anyone who has.

Look, I don't want one of these things either. I prefer the "big iron" F-350 approach. However, before anymore posters sit back in their easy chairs and take pot shots, they should find out EXACTLY what the Andy team is selling and what they aren't. It is important to note that they only sold the Intrepids as a package with the entire thing set up so that they KNEW it worked. Few, or maybe no, other dealers take the time to completely test a particular combination to ensure it is functioning properly before it leaves. The typical dealer might check the brake lights for you.

The article is too generalized to see what may be going on now, but if the team follows the same procedures as before, I would gladly get behind the wheel of one of their rigs before I got behind the wheel of some totally unfamiliar setup.

Lastly, I don't see that they are advising anyone to do anything. Is it unsafe to get a particular prospective tow vehicle and test it out using a design philosophy that is unconventional but proven? Nope. If you don't want one, don't buy it. But nobody needs to "talk to him." They are pursuing a logical philosophy that has worked for them in the past.
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Old 02-27-2005, 02:41 AM   #11
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One thing that I don't see mentioned here is liability and legality. As a 16 year peace officer with some experience in License and Weight enforcement I would like to offer a different perspective. Can they physically do what they're doing? Obviously, yes....Should they do it? I don't think so....here's why.
Weight enforcement is based on several factors...GVWR, GCVWR, tire weight limit, axel weight rating....NONE OF WHICH MAY LEGALLY BE EXCEEDED. Are you, a non-commercial vehicle, apt to be stopped and weighed? No. But what if you were towing and involved in a wreck. The weight overages will certainly come into play especially if someone is hurt or killed. Then there's civil liability and law suits. A good lawyer can easily show negligence in a case like this where the TV's limits were grossly exceeded or a TV was not recommended by the manufacture to be utilized as a tow vehicle. Obviously it can be done but do you want to risk it...I wouldn't.
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Old 02-27-2005, 08:51 AM   #12
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Quote:
NONE OF WHICH MAY LEGALLY BE EXCEEDED
OK... I am in law enforement too. I have not, in several years of looking, found a single statute, state or federal, that says a private individual cannot exceed a manufacturer's weight limit. You have to keep the tax people happy by paying enough for license fees, but that's a different issue.

You would have a tough time trying to cite someone. The only statute in my state is a little used statute that is a sort of "fall back" statute. It says something about "being in generally unsafe condition." I have looked at all the states on the computer database and found nothing directly applicable.

Canada has a couple of provincial statutes, but you won't find anything in the US directly applicable to private citizens. Truckers, yes.

I hear the flame throwers warming up out there, so let me say that I don't think it is smart to exceed any ratings. However, I push my equipment pretty hard on occasion. If someone was just an interstate crusier...mebbe.
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Old 02-27-2005, 09:21 AM   #13
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ATVr: What you stated has been my understanding. All the laws I have seen relate to load vs tire surface area and are enforced to prevent damage to the roads. There is no way to load up a pick-up truck with enough weight to exceed those weights. Colorado and Arizona do not set license fees based on requested weights, only the model of the truck. I understand that some states will register the vehicle above the GVWR as long as the owner pays an additional fee. My registration makes no reference to any weight ratings.

I also agree that's it's not wise to overload.
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Old 02-27-2005, 04:01 PM   #14
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This is the law in BC. We all know there are people towing over their tow rating with no problems, but four times their tow rating?
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