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Old 02-19-2017, 10:51 PM   #1
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Newbie question

Evening,

Experienced RVer with my first motorhome. I have had 3 different towables in the past, but need advice on how to find out about towing our SUV, if it's possible, if it's a good idea, etc.

I don't know where to start, I have read about BlueOx towing bars, brake controllers and the like. So first question: how do I find out if a 2016 Dodge Durango 2WD (reported weight 5300 pounds) can even be towed? What about those tow dolly's with all 4 wheels of the ground? Are there good resources I can lookup?

Thanks in advance,
wsgts
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Old 02-20-2017, 12:25 AM   #2
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Look in your owners manual, there should be a section on towing and it should say how and under what conditions your coach can be towed.
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Old 02-20-2017, 12:29 AM   #3
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Your owners manual for the Durango is the best source of information - but it is not likely that the 2WD version can be flat towed (4 down)...
Typically only 4WD with a transfer case neutral - or manual transmissions - can be flat towed.

If FWD - a tow dolly (2 up/2 down) is possible.
If RWD - likely only a trailer (4 up) is possible..

BUT... you said the Durango alone weighed 5300 pounds.

You didn't mention what motorhome... Many have a 5000 lb receiver - and even if higher - you may find yourself exceeding the max allowed weight of the MH chassis (GCWR - gross combined weight rating) towing it in any manner.
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Old 02-20-2017, 12:42 AM   #4
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Sorry Greg,

The coach is a 2017 Thor Freedom Elite 30FE. The max on the hitch says 8000 pounds, haven't looked at the GCWR of both yet.

thanks,
wsgts
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Old 02-20-2017, 01:45 AM   #5
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Sorry Greg,

The coach is a 2017 Thor Freedom Elite 30FE. The max on the hitch says 8000 pounds, haven't looked at the GCWR of both yet.

thanks,
wsgts
GCWR according to specs is 22,000 pounds, so if your 30FE isn't too heavy or loaded down, you may be able to tow on light trailer without exceeding GCWR. However, if you go the trailer route I think you'll probably run into tongue weight limitations. Your Durango on a trailer would likely be in the 7,500-pound range, if not heavier, which may result in too much tongue weight. Many of the 8,000-pound hitch receivers I've seen were limited to 500 pounds of tongue weight.

Just one more thing to check. In any case, using a trailer for such a heavy toad will be pushing limits.

First thing I'd do is weigh the motorhome as well as the Durango (separately).
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Old 02-20-2017, 09:54 AM   #6
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According to the 2016 FMCA Towing Guide only the All Wheel Drive Durango with 2 speed transfer case can be flat towed.
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Old 02-20-2017, 11:57 AM   #7
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GCWR according to specs is 22,000 pounds, so if your 30FE isn't too heavy or loaded down, you may be able to tow on light trailer without exceeding GCWR. However, if you go the trailer route I think you'll probably run into tongue weight limitations. Your Durango on a trailer would likely be in the 7,500-pound range, if not heavier, which may result in too much tongue weight. Many of the 8,000-pound hitch receivers I've seen were limited to 500 pounds of tongue weight.

Just one more thing to check. In any case, using a trailer for such a heavy toad will be pushing limits.

First thing I'd do is weigh the motorhome as well as the Durango (separately).
There are positives and negatives to towing a trailer. You can get all aluminum tandem axle trailers for hauling single vehicles but they are expensive. Benefit with them is that they won't rust and they are light weight.

It is a good suggestion to weigh your MH when it is loaded for travel/camping. However, IMHO it would be a waste of time to scale the toad because the owner's manual will give you an accurate number.

As far as tongue weight on a trailer. On most trailers this will depend on how you load your toad onto the trailer. You can load it further forward and add tongue weight or keep it further back to decrease tongue weight.

A lot to consider when deciding which towing method to use and what toad to stay with. IMHO there is no perfect option. We are currently only towing a Harley Trike on an aluminum trailer, but that option would not fit everyones needs. Good luck with your research and decision.
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Old 02-20-2017, 01:59 PM   #8
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Don't go by the owners manual weight, its more than likely a dry weight with no liquids, same as your rv, no fuel, water, propane. Best plan is to have them weighed at a scale that way you KNOW.
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Old 02-20-2017, 02:19 PM   #9
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Old 02-20-2017, 03:49 PM   #10
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Your owners manual for the Durango is the best source of information - but it is not likely that the 2WD version can be flat towed (4 down)...
Typically only 4WD with a transfer case neutral - or manual transmissions - can be flat towed.

If FWD - a tow dolly (2 up/2 down) is possible.
If RWD - likely only a trailer (4 up) is possible..

BUT... you said the Durango alone weighed 5300 pounds.

You didn't mention what motorhome... Many have a 5000 lb receiver - and even if higher - you may find yourself exceeding the max allowed weight of the MH chassis (GCWR - gross combined weight rating) towing it in any manner.
gmc,
This towing info is not true. I tow my 2006 Honda Element 2WD with a manual transmission. The key is the transmission.

Then 2016 Dodge Durango R/T AWD 5.7-L V-8 can be towed according to the 2016 Guide to Dinghy Towing.
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Old 02-21-2017, 01:13 AM   #11
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Back to part of the original question, flat towing is the most expensive way to setup to tow a towable vehicle. We tow a very light Miata, four down. It only takes a few minutes to hook it up or unhook, and we don't have a trailer or dolly to deal with on the road or in storage, or the extra weight to drag around. You see many Saturns, CRVs, and Jeeps being towed four down, for some good reasons.

There are other alternatives, many RVers go without a tow, and some rent a car when they need one. A search on this forum will show you several threads on this topic.
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Old 02-21-2017, 03:00 AM   #12
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gmc,
This towing info is not true. I tow my 2006 Honda Element 2WD with a manual transmission. The key is the transmission.

Then 2016 Dodge Durango R/T AWD 5.7-L V-8 can be towed according to the 2016 Guide to Dinghy Towing.
hmmm... what's not true?? First I said the owners manual is the best source of info...

Then "Typically only 4WD with a transfer case neutral - or manual transmissions - can be flat towed."
You have a manual transmission - and your owners manual says you can - great... Typically you need either a transfer case with neutral - or a manual transmission - but even those alone don't mean the manufacturer will recommend flat towing... back to the owners manual...

And the OP said his Durango was 2WD - and not 4WD/AWD... Yes - the AWD with transfer case can be flat towed - the 2WD cannot.
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Old 02-21-2017, 09:32 AM   #13
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gmc,
This towing info is not true. I tow my 2006 Honda Element 2WD with a manual transmission. The key is the transmission.

Then 2016 Dodge Durango R/T AWD 5.7-L V-8 can be towed according to the 2016 Guide to Dinghy Towing.
As I mentioned in this or another thread, last year Subaru announced that they do not recommend flat towing any of their cars regardless of transmission. They recommend trailer or rollback wrecker towing only. All Subaru vehicles have been removed from the FMCA towing guides, even those with manual transmissions.

Only the AWD Durango can be flat towed and they have the caveat that the AWD must be equipped with the 2 speed transfer case. Just because the Durago is AWD doesn't mean it can be flat towed.
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Old 02-21-2017, 12:33 PM   #14
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Don't go by the owners manual weight, its more than likely a dry weight with no liquids, same as your rv, no fuel, water, propane. Best plan is to have them weighed at a scale that way you KNOW.
When figuring weights of MH's, large enclosed trailers, or fivers, you should always have them packed and run them over the scale. I totally agree that you should not go by the owners manual for these type of vehicles. In our last 39' fiver we ended up with over 1,200 pounds of personal property and almost 500 pounds of added equipment, so scaling it was a must, and while traveling as full timers we did just that at least once every year.

When it comes to cars the listed manual weight will put you within 150 to 200 pounds unless you are filling them with all kinds of stuff.
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Old 02-21-2017, 12:49 PM   #15
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The 30FE is a large Class C at over 32 feet in length, and has two slides that add even more weight. Even for the E-450 chassis that's a lot of motorhome.

I personally would weigh it not only to get total weight, but also front and rear axle weights. With a motorhome that long, any trailer tongue weight could result in too much load at rear axle. The 30FE should have about 11 feet of rear overhang, so any trailer tongue weight will show up much higher at rear axle (over 50% higher).

If the receiver hitch is limited to 500 pounds, that's going to make towing a Durango on a trailer impractical in my opinion. Joe is correct that the car can be moved back on trailer to decrease tongue weight, but in practice if tongue weight drops below around 10% of total, the trailer may become unstable at speed. For that reason I think a trailer isn't going to work at all unless the receiver has a weight rating of close to 1,000 pounds, and I seriously doubt it does.


Another option may be a driveshaft disconnect coupling so the Durango can be towed 4 down. I know very little about those devices, and additionally don't like modifying drivetrains, so can't recommend them. Just mentioning that may be another option to investigate.
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Old 02-23-2017, 12:42 PM   #16
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Not to beat this dead horse, but reading my newest MotorHome magazine last night reminded me a little of this thread -- and many other threads that discuss importance of weighing a motorhome.

A large Class C with two slides built on Ford E-450 was weighed as part of their review, with water and propane but no passengers or cargo, and the rear axle weight was over Ford chassis rating.

Furthermore, the large motorhome was built with lots of storage but was within 580 pounds of its 14,500-pound Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. What good is all that space if you can't carry anything?

The scary part is that if this MH is purchased without first weighing it, which I'd bet most buyers don't do before closing a deal, the owner would end up extremely dissatisfied and frustrated since a "fix" for overweight would not be available.

I find it amazing that major manufacturers (it's not a Thor) can be this careless with design, and that they would build it anyway without first weighing the prototypes.
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Old 04-02-2017, 08:51 AM   #17
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Figured I'd chime in here as I'm in your boat. My current car is a 2012 Dodge Durango RWD. Now you can get a driveshaft disconnect kit from Drive Shaft King (around $2,000 installed) and flat tow it. But the real kicker here and the reason I'm on the hunt for a different car is the weight of the Durango. I've run the numbers on my (future) setup and to safely tow the Durango I'd have between 1100-1300 pounds to spare. That means me, the wife, dogs, all our stuff and any water on board has to be less than that. As much as I love the durango gotta find something lighter. Or go on a diet and I'm not suggesting that to the wife.
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Old 04-09-2017, 12:39 AM   #18
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hmmm... what's not true?? First I said the owners manual is the best source of info...

Then "Typically only 4WD with a transfer case neutral - or manual transmissions - can be flat towed."
You have a manual transmission - and your owners manual says you can - great... Typically you need either a transfer case with neutral - or a manual transmission - but even those alone don't mean the manufacturer will recommend flat towing... back to the owners manual...

And the OP said his Durango was 2WD - and not 4WD/AWD... Yes - the AWD with transfer case can be flat towed - the 2WD cannot.
What you said used to be gospel, but now-a-days there are a lot of automatics that can be flat towed as well without being 4WD with a transfer case.
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Old 05-05-2017, 10:57 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Chance View Post
The 30FE is a large Class C at over 32 feet in length, and has two slides that add even more weight. Even for the E-450 chassis that's a lot of motorhome.

I personally would weigh it not only to get total weight, but also front and rear axle weights. With a motorhome that long, any trailer tongue weight could result in too much load at rear axle. The 30FE should have about 11 feet of rear overhang, so any trailer tongue weight will show up much higher at rear axle (over 50% higher).

If the receiver hitch is limited to 500 pounds, that's going to make towing a Durango on a trailer impractical in my opinion. Joe is correct that the car can be moved back on trailer to decrease tongue weight, but in practice if tongue weight drops below around 10% of total, the trailer may become unstable at speed. For that reason I think a trailer isn't going to work at all unless the receiver has a weight rating of close to 1,000 pounds, and I seriously doubt it does.


Another option may be a driveshaft disconnect coupling so the Durango can be towed 4 down. I know very little about those devices, and additionally don't like modifying drivetrains, so can't recommend them. Just mentioning that may be another option to investigate.

Using a weight distribution hitch system will allow more tongue weight, it does just what it says, it distributes the weight, putting more on the trailer and coach axles.
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Old 05-05-2017, 01:29 PM   #20
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Using a weight distribution hitch system will allow more tongue weight, it does just what it says, it distributes the weight, putting more on the trailer and coach axles.
Yes, as long as the motorhome's receiver and frame extension is designed for the loads the weight distribution will add beyond just vertical tongue weight. That's the part that's not clear because labeling on many motorhome receivers doesn't address it.

By the way, total weight on trailer and coach axles still has to add to the same. You can shift it around but it has to end up supported by axles at some location. A highly loaded motorhome towing a heavy trailer is something I would personally not want to do.
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