What to Know When it is Time to Tow
You’ve made the commitment, you’re going to realize your dream of owning an Airstream and touring the country at your leisure. Whether you’ve decided to acquire the ultra-luxurious Land Yacht or the efficient Sport, your number one concern should be having the right vehicle to tow your Airstream travel trailer.
Here are a few tips to help you make the best decision in towing vehicles.
The Gross Combination Weight Rating is the total allowable weight of the towing vehicle, trailer, cargo in both, hitch and accessories as well as the occupants, whereas the Maximum Tow Rating is the vehicle manufacturer’s weight limit for towed loads. These numbers are not “suggested guidelines” or estimates, they are hard limits for the vehicle. Make sure your vehicle has the capacity to tow your Airstream.
Generally, automatic transmissions are able to support larger tow loads than manual transmissions. On a heavier-duty vehicle, the difference may be a thousand pounds or less, but on light duty tow vehicles, the difference can be significant.
The extra energy needed to power a four or all wheel drive vehicle is that much more energy taken away from towing capacity. In addition, 4WD can add up to 400 pounds of extra weight to the tow vehicle.
If your vehicle manufacturer offers a factory “tow package,” by all means get it. Not only is a factory tow package figured in to total tow/weight limits, you can never replicate the parts and installation included in the package on an aftermarket basis; installing a tow package after the fact will simply cost you more, both in dollars and capacity.
Do Your Research
Before you purchase a tow vehicle, conduct a complete investigation into all aspects of the vehicle’s towing capacity. Take the detailed information available on your Airstream, and compare with the manufacturer’s specs, available online at the manufacturer’s website, or directly from the dealer.
Be especially diligent in scouring the fine print for the details, as often the towing capacity advertised “in general” by a vehicle manufacturer is only applicable to certain trims, engines, transmissions, and options.