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Wisconsin RV Sales & Supply
Towing a Travel Trailer
Towing a Travel Trailer Rental is Easy with Practice             A travel trailer rental is one of the most cost efficient and exciting ways to take an RV vacation. Renting a travel trailer RV camper allows for comfortable lodging plus a convenient vehicle to explore the offbeat nooks and crannies of your destination.  A travel trailer rental is also great for camping at local events like music festivals and auto races.  Towing a travel trailer rental however, can be slightly more involved than driving a motorhome rental and requires careful attention to technical detail. It’s something that you can learn to do properly by studying the instructions in the manual for your tow vehicle, talking to your auto dealer or manufacturer and asking your RV rental dealer questions about the weight and weight limits of the travel trailer.
Know Your Weight Limits and Don’t Exceed Them It is critical for personal safety and to prevent damages to the tow vehicle and RV rental that the tow vehicle and the RV weight allowances be properly matched.  Stated another way, improperly towing an over-weighted camper is dangerous and could result in injury or death.  It could also damage the camper and your engine and/or transmission, resulting in costly charges and voided warranty. RV renters must know the Maximum Tow Rating (MTR), of their specific vehicle, usually a truck or SUV. They must also know the traveling weight of the camper with all its contents. Furthermore, to stay within the recommended limits of different weight and towing ratings, renters must also consider additional factors like cargo, fuel, water, and passenger weights. Failing to include these variables can put both passengers and your equipment at great risk!
Despite many vehicles reporting a MTR, these numbers rarely consider any additional weight that has been added to the towing vehicle in the form of fuel, passengers, or cargo. Calculating the true allowable trailer weight from the towing vehicle’s specifications includes subtracting the combined weights of the vehicle, fuel, hitch, passengers, and any cargo on board from the GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating – or the maximum total weight of vehicle, trailer, and all contents). The remaining number represents the maximum weight the vehicle can safely tow (i.e., the travel trailer, cargo, water, fuel, etc.) an amount which may be less than the MTR.
It is also important to factor in if and how much weight is added to the towing vehicle when a trailer is hitched. This is usually a percentage of the trailer’s total weight (with cargo and full fuel tanks and water reservoirs). Always ensure that the Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) is high enough to support the load of the trailer and its contents. Although features like towing packages, axle ratios, drive systems and additional rear wheels might sound like added benefits that will boost a vehicle’s overall towing capabilities, these components have already been considered when calculating specs like GCWR, GAWR, GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating), and MTR. The manufacturer of the travel trailer will also publish a GVWR, UVW (Unloaded Vehicle Weight) and CCC (Cargo Carrying Capacity) that will factor into the load capacity of the travel trailer and ultimately the towing capacity. Typically, you can find a manufacturer’s sticker on the travel trailer rental unit with these weights listed.  There may also be some dealer add-ons in which you would need to include those weights in your calculation. There are many items of equipment that may either be required or assist in pulling a travel trailer rental. These include towing packages, weight distributing hitches, sway bars and breaking system controllers. These add to safety and make the RV rental vehicle easier to drive.  These items may be already installed on your vehicle, provided by the rental dealer or you may need to get them, as necessary. Some ultra-light travel trailer rentals can be pulled without these add-ons making them a popular rent camper choice.  Nevertheless, most travel trailers on the market can be pulled with a ½ pickup while some heaver campers will require a ¾ ton truck or larger.
A Few Pointers on Towing an RV Rental Once you have established a safe and realistic towing capacity for your vehicle, it is equally important to pay attention to the hitching up and your driving habits when operating this extended rig. For example: • Know the towing limits and never exceed them. • Pay close attention to details and take your time. • Practice the routine. Check and double check. • Keep a safe distance from other cars on the road and allow for additional time and space when slowing down or breaking. • Install additional equipment like weight distributing hitches, sway bars and brake controllers, as needed. • Install extensions to your side mirrors so you have a better view behind and around the trailer. •Conduct a thorough safety check before departing. This includes making sure the hitch is on the ball and latched with a safety pin, verifying that safety chains have been attached properly and all lights on the trailer are in working order. Check and double check. • Stay alert and make wise maneuvering decisions when turning, merging, and switching lanes. • Enlist the help of someone else to assist with safe backing and efficient hitching of your trailer. • Never drink and drive. Never text and drive. Never drive tired. By taking the time to verify and calculate an appropriate tow weight as well as paying close attention to safety standards while driving, you and your family will avoid unwanted hassles or damage to your automobile and RV rental equipment.
Additional Resources
Guide to Towing Guide to Towing Understanding RV Weights Understanding RV Weights Trailer Weight Calculator Trailer Weight Calculator RV Tow Check RV Tow Check
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