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Old 06-09-2011, 01:11 AM   #1
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New and SOOO Confused!

I am planning on buying a tow trailer here in the next couple of months. I have been researching all the brands and what style will fit my needs best. But this towing capacity stuff has me so confused! I am hoping someone on here can help me out.

I have a 2000 Ford E-350 van with a V-10 engine. I think it is the extended version. Basically it is a 15 passenger van. I am trying to figure out how much of a trailer I can SAFELY pull. After much searching on the net, I am so confused as to what all the letters stand for and can't make heads or tails of the 'forms' that are suppose to figure it for you and tell you what is safe. Help!

On the sticker in my van door it says- GVWR 9300
Front GAWR 3550 Rear GAWR 6084

On my hitch it says Valley Industries 10000 max gross weight
1000 max tongue

And then there are the "extra" towing stuff, stabalizers and whatnots. I am afraid if I ask a salesman what I need, I will be sold a bunch of junk I don't need. So any info on that would be MUCH appreciated also.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 06-09-2011, 02:11 AM   #2
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Definitely never take an rv dealers word on it. They will often claim that your van can haul a certain trailer, when in reality it can't.
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Old 06-09-2011, 06:25 PM   #3
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The firs t thing you need to know is the GCWR - Gross Combined Weight Rating - of your van, You can tow the difference between what the van actually weighs (loaded with passengers and gear) and the GCWR number. However, that is subject to the limits of the hitch (10,000 lbs trailer weight, 1000 lbs tongue weight).

If you can't find a GCWR, you may find a maximum tow rating, which is essentially the GCWR minus the weight of an empty van. Besure to subtract the weight of anything elsecarried in the van, e.g. passengers and gear.

You can look up the vans tow rating here if you can't find the GCWR in the owner manual.

http://www.trailerlife.com/images/do...owingguide.pdf
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Old 06-10-2011, 03:39 AM   #4
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Welcome to the forum. Good luck on your search. Looks like you have gotten a lot good advice on towing.
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Old 06-10-2011, 10:13 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quiltingcove View Post
I have a 2000 Ford E-350 van with a V-10 engine. I think it is the extended version. Basically it is a 15 passenger van. I am trying to figure out how much of a trailer I can SAFELY pull.

On the sticker in my van door it says- GVWR 9300

On my hitch it says Valley Industries 10000 max gross weight
1000 max tongue
You should never exceed any of Ford's weight limits if you want to stay safe. There are a bunch of different weight limits, but the three you need to worry about are GVWR, GCWR, and receiver weight ratings. If you don't exceed any of those three, then you won't exceed any of the others, such as tire ratings, wheel ratings, axle ratings (front and rear GAWR), etc.

There are three limiters to the amount of weight you can safely tow. Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the tow vehicle, and hitch receiver weight ratings you posted above are two of them.

You're missing two other pieces of info - the GCWR (gross combined weight rating) of your van, and you also need to know the rear axle ratio of your van so you can determine the GCWR by looking it up in your Owner's Guide.

You need to understand the meaning of the alphabet soup terms GVWR and GCWR.

The gross combined weight rating (GCWR) is the maximum total weight of the wet and loaded van and trailer combined. So it may be the limiter of how much trailer you can tow. The GCWR should be in your Owner's Guide, but you'll need the axle ratio to determine what it is. If the ratio is 3.73, then your GCWR is 15,000 pounds. If the ratio is 4.10, then your GCWR is 18,500.

The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is the maximum weight that can be on the 4 van tires at the same time.

With the GVWR, GCWR, and receiver ratings, you can easily determine the max weight of any trailer you can tow without exceeding any of Ford's weight limits.

To do that, load the van with everything you'll have in it when towing - driver, passenger(s), pet(s), luggage, tools, extra fluids, cooler full of cool, and any other cargo you might haul in the van. Then go to a truckstop that has a certified automated truck (CAT) scale, fill up with gas, and weigh the wet and loaded van. Most truckstops charge around $7 to $10 to weigh your rig and print out a scale ticket for you.

Subtract the weight of the wet and loaded van from the GCWR and that gives you the limiter of max trailer weight you can tow without exceeding the GCWR of the tow vehicle.

Subtract the weight of the wet and loaded van from the GVWR of the van, and that gives you the max hitch weight you can have without exceeding the GVWR of the tow vehicle. A properly-loaded "bumper pull" RV trailer will have hitch weight of 10 to 12 percent of the gross trailer weight. To err on the side of safety, assume 12 percent. So divide the max hitch weight by 12 percent to get the max trailer weight you can have without exceeding the GVWR of the tow vehicle.

The max tongue (hitch) weight limit of your receiver is another limiter. Your max hitch weight limit of your receiver (with a weight-distributing hitch) is 1,000 pounds, so with 12 percent hitch weight, the max trailer weight you can tow without busting that limit is 8,333 pounds.

Examples:

Assumption: Your wet and loaded van weighs 8,500 pounds per the CAT scale, and you have the 4.10 axle ratio that results in GCWR of 18,500 pounds.

18,500 GCWR minus 8,500 leaves 10,000 pounds for max trailer weight.

9,300 GVWR minus 8,500 leaves 800 pounds for max hitch weight. 800 divided by 0.12 = 6,667 pounds for max trailer weight.

Because your receiver is limited to 1,000 pounds hitch weight, but the GVWR limits your hitch weight to 800 pounds, then the receiver is not a limiter.

So what do we have? If your wet and loaded van weighs 8,500 pounds and you have a 4.10 axle ratio, then your limiter is the GVWR of the van. So the max weight of any wet and loaded trailer you tie onto should not exceed 6,667 pounds

Of course, changes to the max weight of the wet and loaded van will change those numbers. Remove most of the seats, and limit the number of passengers you haul while towing, and the max trailer weight goes up dramatically. Your van can haul 15 passengers or tow up to 10,000 pounds trailer weight, but not both at the same time

So if the max weight of any trailer you can tow is 6,667 pounds, then look for a trailer with a GVWR of less than 6,667.

Quote:
And then there are the "extra" towing stuff, stabalizers and whatnots.
The big extra is the hitch. Not the receiver you already have, but the rest of the hitch between the receiver on the van and the tongue on the trailer. There are three ways to go.

One way is with a simple drawbar with a ball. That is called a weight-carrying (WC) hitch. That's fine for trailers that gross less than 5,000 pounds and have minimum frontal area, such as a utility trailer. Both the drawbar (ball mount) and the ball must be rated for at least as much weight as the max weight of the trailer.

Next up in cost is an ordinary weight-distributing (WD) hitch, rated for the max hitch weight of your trailer. Those cost around $500 to $800 with the needed sway control. They are made by Reese, Draw-Tite, Curt, Equal-I-Zer, and others. That is the minimum hitch you need for a travel trailer (TT).

The top of the line in hitches is the Hensley Arrow or ProPride. They cost about three times as much as the ordinary WD hitches. If you want maximum safety, then that's what you want. If I were planning to drag a TT, then I'd insist on a ProPride hitch.
Trailer Sway Control Hitch Guaranteed to Eliminate Trailer Sway - ProPride 3P

As to other items you might need, probably nothing. Maybe a rear anti-sway bar, and maybe airbags in the rear suspension. I wouldn't worry about either until after your first towing trip. If the van tends to lean way over on sharp curves, and your van doesn't already have them, then maybe add anti-sway bars. The most popular is Helwig.
Products | Hellwig Products

After you have properly adjusted your WD hitch, if your headlights still aim at the stars and blind oncoming drivers while towing, then you need airbags to compensate for the hitch weight and raise the rear end of the van back up to level. The most popular are Firestone RideRite.
Firestone Industrial Products Co. ~RIDE-RITE™ Air Helper Spring
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Old 06-10-2011, 10:19 AM   #6
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I had an E-350 extended van and I thought it would roll over with a load in the back. I don't think I would want to tow anything with it. Got rid of it and have a E-350 standard van with the Diesel. Never would I own a Ford extended van again. Scary on wet pavement.
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Old 06-10-2011, 10:45 AM   #7
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Thanks so much for the info. I will sit down and try to figure this out. I am getting ready to go to my daughters for a week, so I will have the van loaded and can get it weighed then.

I have taken the seats out and made a platform across the entire back. I go to dog shows so it is set up to carry stuff under the platform and I have my crates on the platform along with some storage drawers and a bed. This has been my mini RV for the past 4 years! I am sure it doesn't weigh as much as all the seats did, so it will be interesting to find out just how much it does weigh.

Thanks so much for the hitch info, I am going to check out the link you sugested. All this technical stuff is just blowing my mind right now and I know that a salesman will be giving me the old 2 step if I don't educate myself first. So off to school I go!

Thanks again!
Kim and the sheltie gang
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