Update on Tacoma Towing Capacity

Discussion in 'First Time & New Camper Owners' started by zinger60, Feb 19, 2009.

  1. zinger60

    zinger60 New Member

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    Sep 7, 2008
    Northern IN
    Well, my husband called Toyota and found out that even though the Tacoma is V6, 4x4 and is an SR5 with a TRD package (off-road package), it still is rated for towing at 3500 lbs because it does not have a towing package. All the towing numbers are so confusing to me. I thought if I listed what I know about our camper and our truck, maybe you guys could help me out. The weight of the truck empty is 3705, the weight of the camper empty is 2800 lbs, we figured probably around 700 pds for all passengers, gear, clothes etc. that we would be taking. Ok, so we can tow something that weighs 3500 lbs and the camper is 2800 plus probably 200-300 lbs extra loaded (not sure on that) so we have around 400-500 pds to spare. As for the combined weight of the truck and camper fully loaded, we would be around 7205 and the truck is rated at a max. of 7500. What do you think about all the numbers. Are we cutting it close at what we would be towing? Someone mentioned that we would not be towing in hills in Indiana but we would like to go somewhere like the Smoky Mts. so I don't know if that would be possible.
     
  2. Storm Trooper

    Storm Trooper New Member

    3,590
    5
    Feb 14, 2008
    Central Connecticut
    You'll be near the max capacity of your TV from what I can see of your figures.

    You won't be a happy camper. You'll find most pup members recommend not exceeding 80% of you TV capacity. That way when you overload the pup a bit or travel in a mountainous area, you'' get through it.

    I suggest you find out exactly what goes into the tow package. You may be able to add it easily to your Toyota. It might be just a transmission cooler(easy) or it might involve different gearing (not worth the expense on a 4x4). There are other items that could be involved as well.

    Lou

    32 days booked 09,<img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_camping.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Camping">49 nights camped 08
    07 Fleetwood Avalon (Great White) 03 Ford Expedition (Green Monstah)
     
  3. Snow

    Snow Well-Known Member

    8,507
    220
    Jul 19, 2007
    Ontario
    Ok..
    truck (empty) 3705
    pup (empty) 2800

    Pax, gear (in truck) 700
    loaded in pup (guesstimate) 300

    Added up , truck ready to go 4400 lbs
    pup loaded and ready to go 3100 lbs.

    Truck can tow 3500lbs (as is) - 3100lbs = 400lbs wiggle room on the tow rating.

    CGVR loaded truck 4400lbs + 3100lbs = 7500lbs which is the max cgvr. I would look at loosing some of the gear you think you need.

    Most people (DW, DS1) think they need enough clothes to last them a full week. I have been traveling since I was about 3 months, so I have learned how to pack everything I need for a week into a carry on (by current airline standards) suitcase. If I run out of clothes its time to do laundry.

    Each persons suitcase should weigh less then 20lbs for a weekend trip, and should be able to stay less the 40 for a week.

    Craig...

    <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_pu.gif border=0 align=middle alt="PopUp"> 2004 Palomino Mustang
    <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_suv.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Tow Vehicle"> 1992 GMC Ext. Cab
     
  4. zinger60

    zinger60 New Member

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    Sep 7, 2008
    Northern IN
    I figured 400 lbs in the truck and 200-300 in the camper for a total weight of passengers and everything at 700 lbs.
     
  5. dupreet

    dupreet New Member

    Zinger -

    400 in the truck is probably way too low. Thats two 'average sized' people and nothing else. This number is anything that goes in the truck, people, bags, gear, food, gas in the tank, etc.

    You are probably going to be just under the ratings....not a bad thing, with two caviots....your truck is probably not going to be too happy in mountainous terrain, and you will likely end up with some premature wear on the transmission, brakes, and such. You might also end up with a 'low rider' in that the truck's suspension will probably be loaded to its capacity.

    Good Luck,

    Todd

    Wife, 3 Kids, 2 Dogs, 2 Cats
    '88 Palomino TXL hardsider
    '93 Ford E-350 Van
     
  6. bpike

    bpike New Member

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    Sep 15, 2008
    Austin, Texas
    I have the same Tacoma but with the towing package.
    I REALLY wish I would've tried to pull the pup before I bought the truck. Of course all the salesman said it'd pull it with no problem but it is a struggle.
    My pup has a gross weight of 4500 lbs. One of the best things to do is to replace the 3:73 rear end with a 4:10. That plus a tow package and you'll be just fine.

    Here's a problem though. Finding someone to put in the rear end can be tough. Toyota also makes a surpercharger for the Tacoma but it's costly.

    Me-70, DW-69, DS-98, DD-03, 4 dogs
    '08 Tacoma with an '08 Fleetwood E3
     
  7. Storm Trooper

    Storm Trooper New Member

    3,590
    5
    Feb 14, 2008
    Central Connecticut
    bpike,

    Except that he has to do two axles with a 4x4. That gets really expensive.

    Lou

    32 days booked 09,<img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_camping.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Camping">49 nights camped 08
    07 Fleetwood Avalon (Great White) 03 Ford Expedition (Green Monstah)
     
  8. zinger60

    zinger60 New Member

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    Sep 7, 2008
    Northern IN
    How do you think we would do if we added tranny cooler, bigger fan clutch, synthetic oil and a heavy duty alternator? These are the items that Toyota said come with the towing package. One other person mentioned installing a heavy-duty radiator also. Would that be necessary also?
     
  9. bpike

    bpike New Member

    244
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    Sep 15, 2008
    Austin, Texas
    DOH! I didn't see the 4x4 part. Sorry...

    Me-70, DW-69, DS-98, DD-03, 4 dogs
    '08 Tacoma with an '08 Fleetwood E3
     
  10. Luv2ridebikes

    Luv2ridebikes New Member

    1,949
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    Apr 17, 2005
    Granger, IN
    Hopefully you will get qualified mechanics to respond. Storm Trooper gave some good advice already. Towing adds to wear and tear on an engine even when you are well with in margins. A tranny cooler seems like good insurance to protect the transmission.

    Towing also changes safety factors. Heavy duty brakes may be a nice plus. A reliable brake controller for the trailer is important.
    BUT - don't try to compensate by setting your trailer brakes high. Trailer brakes should supplement your tow vehicle brakes and insure a nice straight stop with no sway. Best way to set them is in an empty parking lot. Let your TV coast slowly and with out touching the TV brakes, use the manual brake button on the controller. You should feel drag and gradual slowing. Setting too high makes the trailer brakes chatter and wear out faster.

    Keep plugging on this. I still think a little investment in your Tacoma and careful loading will create a safe tow for your camper.

    Steve & Deb (boys are grown & gone)
    Aspen & Riley (the 4 legged children)
    05 Fleetwood Sequoia & lot's of bikes! <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_bike.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Bicycle"><img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_bike.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Bicycle">
     
  11. Snow

    Snow Well-Known Member

    8,507
    220
    Jul 19, 2007
    Ontario
    Zinger, you have a couple problems.
    1) Even with adding a tranny cooler, heavy-duty alternator, larger rad. You still have the problem of the differential gearing.

    2)The cost of having your "non" tow packaged truck upgraded to a "tow" packaged truck will cost lots, more then I would be willing to spend. For the amount of $$ needed you could sell your current truck and put both monies together and buy something that could tow your trailer.

    I would either buy another truck that can tow your trailer or buy another lighter trailer. Mind you me nor anyone else on here can force you to do either. But for safety sakes, if not for your safety then for the safety of those whom you share the road with seriously consider one of the two sugestions.

    Craig...

    <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_pu.gif border=0 align=middle alt="PopUp"> 2004 Palomino Mustang
    <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_suv.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Tow Vehicle"> 1992 GMC Ext. Cab
     
  12. sunsetlanding

    sunsetlanding New Member

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    Oct 29, 2007
    Also, keep in mind that making everything go is only half the equation. The other half is making it STOP.


    Our '99 Tacoma Prerunner (PreRunners are built like a 4x4 but with no drive to the front wheels) two-wheel drive with the larger four cylinder engine is rated to tow 3,500 pounds stock. It does not have a factory tow package. The hitch, wiring harness, and brake controller were added aftermarket. No additional oil cooler. I've heard that the larger alternator is intended for charging the trailer batteries and we don't use batteries.

    We tow a Quicksilver 10 ( http://www.livinlite.com/10.0-overview.php ) which comes in around 1,500 pounds when loaded with the air conditioner, food, clothing, bedding, etc. We also carry sports gear, coolers, tools, two recumbent bicycles, and two kayaks.

    All of this junk starts to add up to a fair amount of weight. Throw in our two standard size bodies and a full tank of gas and we're quite a load.

    The Taco tows it all just fine but we went for the optional electric brakes on the trailer to help bring everything safely to a stop and we are glad we did. The brakes provide a great sense of security when a quick stop is needed or when taking long downhill grades.

    BTW the Tacoma just had its 90,000 mile check-up and showed no signs of undue wear from towing. The Taco with the 3RZ-FE engine is a tough little truck.

    Also BTW, our Taco is an automatic so it's important to turn off the overdrive and put the ECT (Electronically Controlled Transmission) into power mode rather than economy mode. Hurts the gas mileage but much easier on the engine. Gas is always less expensive than a new engine.

    Dan Jones

    Edited by - sunsetlanding on February 19 2009 17:25:42
     
  13. becasunshine

    becasunshine New Member

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    Feb 17, 2008
    Zinger, we started our PUP adventure about one year ago with a 2000 4 cylinder Tacoma 4x4 and a Fleetwood Rio PUP with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 2300 lbs.

    The Tacoma had a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 5100 lbs., a Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) of 7400 lbs., and a towing capacity of 3500 lbs.

    The rule of thumb for matching up a tow vehicle and a trailer:

    GVWR tow vehicle + GVWR trailer < GCWR tow vehicle

    Interpretation:

    Added together, the sum of the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the tow vehicle plus the trailer should be less than the Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) of the tow vehicle.

    How much less? This depends on where you tow, how you tow, and believe it or not, what you tow.

    Given the above rule of thumb equation, we were at the top of the Tacoma's capacity:

    5100 lbs. Tacoma GVWR + 2300 lbs. GVWR Rio = 7400 lbs., which exactly equaled the Tacoma's GCWR of 7400 lbs.

    When we were working our way through this problem we relied on the CAT scales, available at major truck stops.

    We loaded up the Tacoma and the Rio to the max- everything we thought we'd need for a week plus vacation including two full propane tanks, two bikes, two duffel bags of clothes and a cooler full of ice, drinks and a typical assortment of food- and we went to the CAT scales.

    All the way to the CAT scales we just knew we were way overweight. We'd never felt the Tacoma work so hard. Granted, it was a 4 cylinder, but we'd never worked that truck so hard before that trip.

    The truck didn't handle as usual, either. Our little sure-footed Tacoma felt sloppy in the front end.

    On another vehicle a weight distributing hitch may have helped with the sloppy steering, but as I recall, our owner's manual said that weight distributing hitches were not to be used on the Tacoma. Please double check that fact behind me; it's been a year and I'm not sure that I remember every fact correctly.

    At the CAT scales we found that the Tacoma weighed 4160 lbs., the Rio weighed 2140 lbs., and the entire rig weighed 6300 lbs.- a full 1100 lbs. below the GCWR.

    We just didn't like the way the Tacoma felt trying to pull that load on level ground at sea level.

    We planned to tow in the mountains and we knew on the way home from the CAT scales that night that we could not effectively use the Tacoma for that purpose.

    We decided on the way home to trade the Tacoma for a tow vehicle with more capacity.

    We traded the Tacoma for a 2004 V6 Toyota 4Runner: 5000 lbs. towing capacity, a GVWR of 5570 lbs. and a GCWR of 9600 lbs.

    The Rio's GVWR was a full 2700 lbs. below the 4Runner's towing capacity. The Rio's GVWR of 2300 lbs. + the 4Runner's GVWR of 5570 lbs. = 7870 lbs., which was 1730 lbs. below the 4Runner's GCWR.

    We stopped at the CAT scales a couple of different times when loaded for travel: once with a summer payload and once with a winter payload.

    Our average combined weight, 4Runner + Rio, was 7300 lbs., 2300 lbs. below the 4Runner's GCWR of 9600 lbs.

    This added capacity made all the difference in the world in the quality of our towing experience.

    We recently traded the Rio for a Westlake, GVWR 3000 lbs. The 4Runner still had the towing capacity and there was still room in the 4Runner's GCWR, but we felt that the Westlake's additional tongue weight (don't forget about tongue weight!) ate up too much of the 4Runner's GVWR and payload.

    So we traded the 4Runner for a 2006 Dodge Durango with a greater towing capacity, greater GCWR, bigger payload and bigger GVWR. Remember, the tongue weight of the camper will count against your tow vehicle's GVWR and payload when the camper is hitched up to the tow vehicle!

    Yes, I am darned sick of trading tow vehicles but here's hoping that we are settled for a bit. <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Smile">

    Another factor to keep in mind: wheel base.

    The length of the tow vehicle's wheel base vs. the length of the camper is important also. The longer the tow vehicle's wheel base vs. the camper's length, the more stable the towing experience will be. Think of it in terms of a dog and his tail: you want the dog wagging the tail, not the tail wagging the dog.

    There are formulas out there for calculating wheel base vs. trailer length- I'd have to go look them up.

    We were OK with the 4Runner/Rio combination but I wanted a longer wheel base for the Westlake, and the Durango provides that for us.

    As far as what you tow:

    So far we have only towed PUPs, which when folded down for towing are shorter than the tow vehicle.

    We've not yet towed a hard-sided camper that is as tall or taller than our tow vehicle so we do not speak from first hand experience.

    From what we've heard and read, towing an upright flat surface behind a tow vehicle is a completely different experience.

    We've read that given a PUP and a light weight hard sided camper that both weigh exactly the same, the tow vehicle will pull the PUP with less effort because of the reduced wind resistance.

    While all of this may seem overwhelming- and if you are like us, the thought of giving up your beloved Tacoma is a sad thing indeed- the good new is, if you decide to trade in the Tacoma for more capacity you have a great vehicle to trade.

    We received very nice trade in values for both the Tacoma and the 4Runner.

    Also, this was simply our experience, we are still towing newbies and we are by no means experts. Your mileage may vary.


    Him/Her Late Boomer Vintage
    Two Wonderful Sons, Grown and Out!
    One Non-Camping Cat <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_cat.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Cat">
    2008 Fleetwood Westlake <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_pu.gif border=0 align=middle alt="PopUp">
    2006 Dodge Durango <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_suv.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Tow Vehicle">

    Edited by - becasunshine on February 20 2009 00:21:01
     
  14. dirtyboy

    dirtyboy New Member

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    Dec 11, 2008
    I tow with my 99 runner all the time (11 foot box).....it does fine...

    although I live in missouri and we just have hills...no real mountains



    and sorry becasunshine...trading a new runner for a do-wrong-o was a bad trade!

    Try it in a Toyota!
    '74 Coleman Yorktown under construction......
    Tow Rigs =99 Toyota 4runner and 93 Pickup (Rockcrawler)
     
  15. dirtyboy

    dirtyboy New Member

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    Dec 11, 2008
    The V6 TRD should be able to handle quite a load....... just make sure you add a tranny cooler

    Try it in a Toyota!
    '74 Coleman Yorktown under construction......
    Tow Rigs =99 Toyota 4runner and 93 Pickup (Rockcrawler)
     
  16. becasunshine

    becasunshine New Member

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    Feb 17, 2008
    Dirtyboy, it was a sad day. <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_sad.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Sad"> <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_sad.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Sad"> We are still in mourning. Be gentle with us.

    The Westlake's GVWR is 3000 lbs. and we do tow in the mountains, albeit the Blue Ridge/Appalachian/Allegheny mountains not the Rockies, but we do tow to respectable altitudes.

    We were all about the tow rating/GVWR/GCWR/payload in a reasonably priced vehicle and Dodge gave us what we needed in a concise, affordable package.

    Plus we buy used vehicles so we had to choose from the used vehicles available in our market.

    At first we thought we'd buy an Expedition but believe it or not, low mileage Expeditions were hard to find here. We thought that given the recent run up in gas prices that we'd have our pick of gently used Expeditions at a competitive price point. We were surprised to find that it wasn't so easy.

    We sort of fell backwards into this Durango when we started concentrating on the capacity numbers rather than brand names or models.

    This Durango has the 5.7L HEMI MDS engine, which is kinda nice because it will drop to 4 cylinders when it's not working hard (i.e. accelerating and/or towing on an incline.)

    It has the tow/haul feature that disengages overdrive but if I'm reading the owner's manual correctly (and I am not yet fully familiar with this vehicle, so I could be wrong) the engineers don't mind if we tow with the overdrive engaged as long as we aren't on hilly terrain and the transmission isn't hunting for gears. If so, then we need to turn the OD off.

    Bonus round this Durango came equipped with the factory tow package.

    We gave up some towing capacity and some GCWR because it has the 3.55 axle ratio as opposed to the 3.92 axle ratio, but that's OK for us, we really don't need that capacity with our PUP. As I understand it the 3.55 gives us better gas mileage so that makes up for having additional towing capacity we really don't need right now.

    Should the perfect Airstream fall into our laps we'd need to get a bigger tow vehicle anyway, so peace.

    Him/Her Late Boomer Vintage
    Two Wonderful Sons, Grown and Out!
    One Non-Camping Cat <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_cat.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Cat">
    2008 Fleetwood Westlake <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_pu.gif border=0 align=middle alt="PopUp">
    2006 Dodge Durango <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_suv.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Tow Vehicle">
     
  17. dirtyboy

    dirtyboy New Member

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    Dec 11, 2008
    There is more to diff gearing selection than just the size of the gears.....you must also take into account available engine power and most importantly...tire size. These both very from vehicle to vehicle or even model to model....

    As far as I know overdrive should be used selectively on every type of vehicle. It's just up to the user to actually know how to use it properly.

    Try it in a Toyota!
    '74 Coleman Yorktown under construction......
    Tow Rigs =99 Toyota 4runner and 93 Pickup (Rockcrawler)

    Edited by - dirtyboy on February 20 2009 01:01:23
     
  18. xxxapache

    xxxapache Well-Known Member

    1,853
    225
    Jul 30, 2008
    Zinger,

    I'd tow that camper your truck and not worry about it a bit. We have a '01 truck like that in my family. It does just fine towing. Add a tranny cooler if it makes your feel good. Ours doesn't have one. The dash has a tranny temp light that will come on if it gets hot. However, I have never seen ours come on.


    Toyotas are some tough trucks. My regular TV is a 1994 ExtraCab with the anemic 114hp four cylinder. At 153k miles, it has seen plenty of towing. My boat weighs a good deal more than my PUP. The truck pulls one or the other nearly every week of warm weather. It handles the weight just fine as far as handling and braking goes. It's a little slow on the hills...it's a manual. I just shove it in third and let the engine scream. It will still maintain 60 on even the steepest of grades and not get hot. I've been driving it like that since new and it still runs great.
     
  19. Snow

    Snow Well-Known Member

    8,507
    220
    Jul 19, 2007
    Ontario
    Keep in mind, when that idiot light comes on its too late. You have to stop then, not a couple miles down the road when its safe.

    Any vehicle you tow with should have an aux. tranny cooler installed, it is cheap insurance and peace of mind.

    Craig...

    <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_pu.gif border=0 align=middle alt="PopUp"> 2004 Palomino Mustang
    <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_suv.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Tow Vehicle"> 1992 GMC Ext. Cab
     
  20. bigalpha

    bigalpha New Member

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    Feb 16, 2009
    ^ exactly.

    Excess heat is the #1 killer of transmissions. I know for my Jeep, installing an aux tranny cooler is a quick, simple and cheap mod.
     

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