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Old 05-25-2015, 05:50 PM   #1
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Toad - effects of vehicle weight on MH mileage

Hi! I'm a total newbie here but figured this was the best place to start asking questions....

DH and I are hoping to start FT in a couple years. We are currently looking at a Tiffin Allegro 36LA, but that may change.

With regard to our tow along.... we currently own a 2002 Nissan Xterra. It's paid off, only has 85K miles, is completely reliable and we love it. However, it's 13 years old, only gets (at best) 16/22 MPG and weighs almost 4000 pounds. From what I've found so far, we CAN tow it 4 wheels down, but the question is, should we?

We could get a lighter, more fuel efficient car, but it would have to be used (very used) to stay within our budget.

Question for the experienced: does having a heavier tow vehicle make a HUGE difference in overall MH gas mileage or not so much in the grand scheme of things? Are we talking a difference of hundreds per year or thousands or many thousands? I know it depends on how much we drive, but I'm just trying got get an idea.

Also, does anyone have any qualitative sense on how much the weight of the Nissan will limit us with respect to what we can carry on the MH?

I expect we'll be parked at various places for a week at a time and doing lots of sight seeing in between. We're used the Xterra's cruddy gas mileage, and realize we'll be spending even more when we're running around, but the bigger question for us right now is how much the extra weight will affect the MH gas mileage when we move between campgrounds.

In an ideal world, we'd love to hold onto the Xterra and not take on the added worry of an unknown used car, but if it's going to seriously impact our bottom line, we want to know.

Thanks in advance!!
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Old 05-25-2015, 05:55 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum. I don't think you'll notice a big difference in a lighter tow vehicle. Not enough to make a change since you're happy with it.
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Old 05-25-2015, 06:06 PM   #3
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We went the first year with no Toad then bought a 2013 Soul and a tow dolly for a total of 3200 pounds of added weight. Did not see any significant overall mileage change. That was with a 1996 Pace Arrow 33L with an F53 chassis.
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Old 05-25-2015, 06:12 PM   #4
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Never really noticed it, besides, if we would have it wouldn't have mattered. We needed transportation so we towed one, especially now with the bigger rig!
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Old 05-25-2015, 06:14 PM   #5
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Own a 2002 Windsor that is heavy. When we didn't have a toad we got ~8.5mpg. We now pull a 2005 Jeep GC that is heavy and average about ~7.5 mpg. The Jeep gets about 14/18 mpg

I would say the difference in mpg with weight difference between heavy and light toad would be minimal. If you plan using the toad a lot you'd probably save enough in fuel to make it worth the change.
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Old 05-25-2015, 06:17 PM   #6
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On my Kountry Star Gasser, I would notice 1 mpg difference towing it. I knew it was back there on the hills.
My Horizon i have to remember its back there, not enough difference to matter. We tow a 2003 Caravan SE.
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Old 05-26-2015, 12:40 AM   #7
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acagreene,
In all reality, based on the coach you're intending on purchasing, you would experience very little gas mileage difference in the coach in towing a heavier toad vs a lighter one. Now towing ANY toad vs NO TOAD AT ALL, will make a fair difference but, not one enough to warrant the circumstances that could happen if, your coach would break down and you have no way of transportation to ANYWHERE from Nowhere. Another words, if you break down, and you're in the middle of nowhere, you'd have no way of getting to help or the next town or,, where ever you'd like to be, while your coach is being repaired.

But, we've towed a 4400 lb. Jeep Rubicon and got 7-8 mpg. We've towed a 3700 lb. Honda CRV and, got 7-8 mpg. We're now towing an '11 GMC Sierra, 1500 Extended Cab 4x4 and get, 7-8 mpg. So, you see, no real difference. Use your present vehicle. You'll be happy.
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Old 05-26-2015, 12:47 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clifftall View Post
Welcome to the forum. I don't think you'll notice a big difference in a lighter tow vehicle. Not enough to make a change since you're happy with it.
Cliff

Agree
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Old 05-26-2015, 12:54 AM   #9
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X2 tow the Nissan , you'll be fine. As long as the car can handle it. Tranny, suspension, how easy to unlock the steering wheel but not run down the battery. The car will need a few mods. Base plate, diodes , lights, some form of braking.
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Old 05-26-2015, 11:25 AM   #10
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My wife and I just had our first big trip towing a dinghy. We bought a 2003 Honda Element that was already tow-equipped and are quite happy with it.

I kept pretty close tabs on RV gas mileage throughout the 3,600+ mile trip and found it to be comparable to before. My rig, a Ford gasoline V-10, gets varying mileage based on wind, speed, towing, terrain, etc, but seems to fall within the 6.5-7.5 MPG range in general. The overall trip mileage with the toad was about the same. Checking at each fuel stop, we most often saw the high 6s or low 7s; the lowest recorded mileage was 6.3 on one leg; the highest was 9.5 but that was downhill, leaving the Rockies eastbound with a tailwind.

Your diesel Tiffin will be rated to tow a heavier vehicle than my gasser. My Damon is rated at 5,000# so the Element's 3,500# is within its capability. I certainly noticed the extra weight - and length - on this trip but it was never a problem. Except perhaps when we crossed the Berthoud Pass in the central Colorado Rockies - twice. The Ford was working very hard to maintain good headway at 11,300' and got the job done, but 38 MPH was all it could offer up the last steep grade. In fairness, the limited traffic was moving about the same speed on the twisty mountain road, so that was acceptable performance even if it was literally at the rig's limit. Descending from the pass also required extra attention with lots of engine braking and frequent help from the brakes to keep the speed safely within limits.

In the flatlands, there's much less drama.

As plasma800 points out, the Nissan will need some items to make it ready to go. The stuff will cost about $2,500-3,000 if you have it professionally installed. The same is true for a new vehicle, so just consider that a fixed cost.

I'd hate to expose a new car to the potential wear and tear of being towed (although I can see no evidence of damage following our trip), so a 13 year old used car works fine for us.
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Old 05-26-2015, 11:45 AM   #11
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>>Also, does anyone have any qualitative sense on how much the weight of the Nissan will limit us with respect to what we can carry on the MH? <<

Just noticed this extra question.

Your rig will have several specifications to consider.

There is a maximum gross weight for the rig itself, a maximum towing weight (and tongue weight which can be ignored for towing a vehicle using a towbar) and a maximum combined vehicle weight which is the sum of the fully loaded coach and the toad.

With our Challenger, these are relatively modest numbers but we have no problem at all remaining within limits.

Once you get your coach and have it equipped with all the stuff you want to take with you, go to a truck stop and get it weighed. Do the same with the toad and then do the math. I suspect you'll find that you have lots of headroom.

Good luck! And enjoy the new experiences!
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Old 05-26-2015, 02:23 PM   #12
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I agree. Keep the Nissan. It's paid for. I tow a Grand Cherokee and I don't really notice a difference when it's behind me, except for steep hill climbs.

Good luck and Happy Trails!!
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Old 05-26-2015, 04:05 PM   #13
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First be sure your Xteras can be towed without modification. I have looked at Xteras in the past and as I recall the only ones that could be towed without modification where equipped with 4 wheel drive and a manual transmission. I currently tow a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited beyond a diesel pusher, I find there is very little difference in fuel mileage when towing.
Xteras are good cars in a modern car that has been properly cared for 85,000 miles is just broken in.
Good Luck
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Old 05-26-2015, 07:52 PM   #14
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Wow, so much great information. You guys are awesome! Thank you for your help!
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