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Old 03-24-2016, 12:03 PM   #1
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Tow bar or Trailer?

Here is my situation and what I'm trying to figure out will work best for us.

We were pulling a honda oddyssey on a tow dolly. the Van broke the timing belt and ruined the heads. We purchased a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited as my wife wanted AWD/4WD and it's also her daily driver. So here is the problem. the Jeep can't be pulled on the dolly we have, but can be flat towed.

We are also looking to get a 4 person Side by Side (in the future) and will need a trailer for it.

here are my options,

Option 1:
Buy a trailer that I can use for both the Jeep GC and the side by side, this works well for the towing needs, but what do I do with a 20ft trailer when I'm in a campground or RV park? Anyone pulling on a trailer and if so have you had issues with finding a place to park it?

This option would also mean I would need to get a 10K or 12K trailer to support the weight of the Jeep and not be running at max capacity with it. I'd rather lean towards safety and get something more Heavy Duty, this also means spending more on a trailer. ($4,500-$4,900)

Option 2:
Buy a Towbar & Baseplate setup (Leaning towards the Readybrute elite) to use for the Jeep GC and flat tow it. Then when I buy a side by side later I can buy a lighter duty trailer for it. this would also mean when I take the Jeep I don't need to worry about parking a long trailer. the ease factor when at RV park is much better obviously, but there would be more wear on the Jeep/tires/etc. (towbar setup $1,700-$2,000 or so and Lighter Duty Trailer $2,000) Overall Cost is about $4,000

When taking the side by side that means the sand dunes or mountain camping and there is more room to put the trailer so that wouldn't be an issue.

I'm kinda of leaning more towards Option 2 at this point but I would like some opinions Pros or Cons for both options.

Anyone pulling their Toads on Trailers? Pros and Cons?

thanks for your opinions. Decisions, Decisions
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Old 03-24-2016, 01:32 PM   #2
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I would really go for option 2 as well.
Trying to find a place to put a 20ft trailer in some state/national campgrounds could be an issue. Private campgrounds (unless a real long pull through) would probably require you to park the trailer in a designated area. All this means more hassel when setting up and leaving.
You know, pull in and stop somewhere on the road, unload the Jeep, unhook the trailer from the MH, move the trailer behind the Jeep, hook it up, take it to a designated spot, come back, park the MH. Just the opposite when leaving. I think you get the point.


My tow bar take 5 minutes or less to hook/unhook and I'd be enjoying my first cold one long before you.

Chris
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Old 03-24-2016, 01:59 PM   #3
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We've been towing our '05 Ody four down for years now with no troubles. In Jan I paid some $2,700 to do the 105,000 mile service which includes a new timing belt.
Did yo not have the timing belt replaced as required?
I've also towed a '97 GC four down with no troubles. And no, they can't be towed on a dolly.
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Old 03-24-2016, 02:13 PM   #4
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I would take option 2. Flat towing is so easy to hook and unhook. Takes me maybe 5 minutes or less. Then if you run into a situation where you need to unload (like state or national park back in spaces) you are good to go. Good luck with what ever you decide!
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Old 03-24-2016, 02:13 PM   #5
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I am a great observer of what the "masses" are doing--IMHO, the vast majority of RVs who pull towed vehicles, do it 4-wheels down. Rarely do you see a trailer, except in the case of a unique auto [eg, a cherry 1963 Corvette]. There are some issues with "wear and tear" on towed vehicles [eg, front tire wear] but that seems minimal when compared to upkeep on a trailer, and the hassle of hooking/unhooking and storing a special purpose trailer--but only you can decide what works for you.
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Old 03-24-2016, 02:17 PM   #6
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Don't forget to add a supplemental braking system to your tow bar equation. I'm still mulling my choices for that, which is why I still use my tow dolly on my CRV.

WHere do you camp usually? Are they private sites where you can store a large trailer? Is keeping the trailer a problem at home?
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Old 03-24-2016, 02:22 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr_D View Post
We've been towing our '05 Ody four down for years now with no troubles. In Jan I paid some $2,700 to do the 105,000 mile service which includes a new timing belt.
Did yo not have the timing belt replaced as required?
I've also towed a '97 GC four down with no troubles. And no, they can't be towed on a dolly.
it was a 2002, we changed out the belt one time (at the 100k). we were closing in on the second change actually but it broke before we were to change it again we were close to 170K when it let go on the highway..

If it hadn't destroyed the engine we would still have it and still be using it, it was a great van.
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Old 03-24-2016, 02:28 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jondrew View Post
Don't forget to add a supplemental braking system to your tow bar equation. I'm still mulling my choices for that, which is why I still use my tow dolly on my CRV.

WHere do you camp usually? Are they private sites where you can store a large trailer? Is keeping the trailer a problem at home?
the braking system is built into the Ready Brute Elite towbar setup, it works as a surge brake, a little more on the install but I'll be doing that myself when I install the Blue Ox base plates if I go this route.

We do a bit of mixed camping mostly here in Utah in the surrounding states. there are campgrounds that it wouldn't be a problem parking the trailer as they are more just open areas in the trees and lots of space, other would be at the sand dunes etc and no real problem with space. On the other hand we do also stay in RV parks, this is where I can see having the trailer as an issue in parking it.
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Old 03-24-2016, 04:35 PM   #9
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I take my Jeep offroad and have used a 16ft trailer for the last 3-years, I find it a lot of 'bother' and have decided to try the towbar route and am in the process of setting it up at the moment.


Trailer:
Pros. No wear and tear on the vehicle. Can always get home if I break anything.
Cons. Storage, I pay to store it (roughly $400/yr, plus the $400/yr for the Motorhome). Finding a place to keep it at the campground, if you're lakeside, they sometimes have boat trailer storage, but I've been places where they had to let me use an unused campsite (lucky they didn't charge me, but they could have). Time to load/unload, probably 30min if I'm honest. Wear/tear and servicing another vehicle (trailer).

TowBar (unused at the moment, so these are just opinion):
Pros. Lighter (trailer weighs something like 1000 lbs). Hookup speed, should be 5-min tops, I reckon.
Cons. Costs as much as a trailer. Have to modify the vehicle for the brake and lights, I bought the Readbrute Elite because I like the mechanical surge brake, but I still need to install this and find a way to keep it waterproof when offroad. Additional wear+tear on the vehicle, especially putting miles on the expensive tires (compared to trailer tires).

I'm going to try it for a year before selling the trailer. The trailer is good when offroading, just less worry if something goes wrong, but we take lots of trips where the Jeeps just a fun way to get around at our destination and I think the towbar will win in the end.

Steve
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Old 03-24-2016, 08:17 PM   #10
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With Option 1 will your hitch handle the weight or will your coach handle it GCWR.
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Old 03-24-2016, 08:31 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by briankstan View Post
it was a 2002, we changed out the belt one time (at the 100k). we were closing in on the second change actually but it broke before we were to change it again we were close to 170K when it let go on the highway..

If it hadn't destroyed the engine we would still have it and still be using it, it was a great van.
Yep, they are good vehicles, we've had a '95 and now the '05, towed the '95 on a dolly and the '05 some on a dolly till we went four down.
Wonder why the timing belt broke so soon? Should not have done that as there are more than one Honda out there with 200,000 miles and never had the belt changed at all!
Wanted to go to a CR-V but since they went to the CVT trans I guess It'll be another Jeep GC in the future.
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Old 03-24-2016, 10:54 PM   #12
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As stated good and bad with ether setup

4 down is the easiest as others have stated. Nothing extra to park either at home or at a camping area. But obviously you are limited to what you can bring.

I would add a 3rd option, jeep 4 down then get a lift in the back of your DP to bring the extra toys . Best of all worlds
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Old 03-25-2016, 07:33 AM   #13
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Quote:
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Yep, they are good vehicles, we've had a '95 and now the '05, towed the '95 on a dolly and the '05 some on a dolly till we went four down.
Wonder why the timing belt broke so soon? Should not have done that as there are more than one Honda out there with 200,000 miles and never had the belt changed at all!
Wanted to go to a CR-V but since they went to the CVT trans I guess It'll be another Jeep GC in the future.
I inspected the belt when the mechanic changed it out after, what happened was that there was a failure in the belt, the belt was in good condition and no cracking. what happened was that a few of the "teeth" simply came off the belt. there was enough head damage that I didn't want spend the money on a 13 year old vehicle.
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Old 03-25-2016, 07:35 AM   #14
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As stated good and bad with ether setup

4 down is the easiest as others have stated. Nothing extra to park either at home or at a camping area. But obviously you are limited to what you can bring.

I would add a 3rd option, jeep 4 down then get a lift in the back of your DP to bring the extra toys . Best of all worlds
I think Option 3 is out of my current budget
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