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Another towing question


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Guys,

I know the topic of towing capacities has been discussed in other threads – I’ve read through a bunch of them so far, and will keep reading after this post.

In the meantime, I have a general question about towing:

How accurate are the manufacturers’ towing capacity ratings for most vehicles?

We live about 2 miles from a lake, all in-town driving (30 mph), all level ground with no hills and limited stops & starts.

We own an ’08 Buick Enclave with the towing package. Buick says the max capacity for towing is 4,500. Could we get away with towing a 23 LSV with it, or are we going to do serious harm to our vehicle?

You hear some people say the towing capacities are pretty accurate and you hear others say they’re generally overly conservative. Just wondering what you guys think.

Thanks again for putting up with my basic questions and novice posts.

Brian

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The average that I had always read was to not exceed the 80% of your tow capacity w/ the tow vehicle, this provides capacity for gear, boat gas, people etc. Keep in mind that the trailer weight is approx. another 1k. The tow ratings are taken from the stripped down models and don't include any of the options. In your case that vehicle would only tow 3600 Lbs using that ratio. The stopping distance is would be issue more so than the pulling ability. This vehicle can be used for SHORT trips but keep in mind you would be severely overloading it and if an accident were to occur you could be held at fault..... Having said that your Enclave “could” tow the boat for VERY short trips, but I would be very cautious.

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I've actually found the tongue weight to often times be the limiting factor. For instance....on our Chevy HD, it had a towing rate that was much higher than we needed, but the tongue weight allowed on the receiver hitch was only something like 750 lbs. That's quite a bit, but not that far off from what our VLX & trailer are (close to 6000 lbs total, 600 lbs tongue).

I think that what a lot of people don't realize about these boats is how under-rated they are in terms of weight. The specs that are given on Malibu's site as well as what we have in the tech section are dry, without a trailer & differ greatly from reality. Example....according to specs, our boat should weigh 3600 lbs. When we weighed it on the cat scales, she weighed in at 5800+. That's a big difference, & in many cases can be the deal-breaker depending on your tow rig. If you think that you're close, then you should weigh the boat/trailer to be sure. It sounds to me like you'll be way over the tow rating for that vehicle. Just something to think about.

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You would have issues pulling it up an incline, ie boat ramp when wet. You dont have the towing capacity for teh weight, and are going to overstress the vehicle. As another has said, if they choose to pull you over, or you get in an accident your in big trouble, and liable for an unsafe vehicle. Can it pull it, sure. Can it stop it, maybe/maybe not. Is it safe, nope. If you can afford that big of a boat you can afford to by a truck. Even a beat up old used truck for the short trip is going to be better than the small crossover suv.

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Keep in mind also that there is a towing capacity as well as a total combined vehicle weight rating. this combined rating is the vehicle, all of the gear and people inside it, and the boat and trailer and everything inside it. it adds up fast.

My experience is not so much the problem with towing a heavy load (you can almost always get moving), but stopping and controlling that weight. And, as someone else said, the time you need the towing capacity and power is on the ramp. And i have seen a few vehicles slide backwards into the water when they could not get the loaded trailer moving.

if it is a short trip, look for an older 4 x 4 pickup and use it for just this. Right now, they are pretty cheap!

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I too weighed my VLX this summer and it is about the same as wakegirls weight. 5780 lbs ready to hit the lake.

I would be afraid of legal actions even if the accident was not my fault. If the other party found out I was way over capacity that my rig was rated for it probably could be said it was partially my fault. Not worth the risk.

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That's quite a bit, but not that far off from what our VLX & trailer are (close to 6000 lbs total, 600 lbs tongue).

Really? did you weigh the tongue or are you just going by the 10% rule? As I understand it boats on trailers don't usually have as much tongue weight as a typical trailer.. usually 6-7% vs. 10%ish. Just curious if used a scale to measure your actual tongue weight. I have always wanted to measure mine but haven't had the right tool to do so... so really curious what the typical malibu tongue % is. If you did measure it.. what did you use to do so?

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Recently we sold our truck, so we're between tow rigs right now. Slider had thought that it would be fine to use the Explorer to move the boat out to the shop once it was winterized. Now, keep in mind that the Explorer has a tow rating of 5600 lbs, so we're only exceeding that by about 200 lbs. In reality though, that poor Explorer probably had about 10k miles taken off of the clutch by that experiment, & we only had to move the boat a total of less than 100 yards on relatively flat ground. Even in 4x4-low, I don't think that it could have pulled the boat out of the water, on any ramp. I wouldn't even consider trying to tow it 2 miles down the road.

My point? Even if the rig will do it (& that may be a pretty big "if"), you're going to be putting some serious abuse on the rig.

That's quite a bit, but not that far off from what our VLX & trailer are (close to 6000 lbs total, 600 lbs tongue).

Really? did you weigh the tongue or are you just going by the 10% rule? As I understand it boats on trailers don't usually have as much tongue weight as a typical trailer.. usually 6-7% vs. 10%ish. Just curious if used a scale to measure your actual tongue weight. I have always wanted to measure mine but haven't had the right tool to do so... so really curious what the typical malibu tongue % is. If you did measure it.. what did you use to do so?

The tongue weight is an educated guess, based on the way that the trailer rides. So yes, that's using the 10% rule. The whole package is so much heavier than we were originally guessing that I'd be really surprised if it was much lighter than that 10%.

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Recently we sold our truck, so we're between tow rigs right now. Slider had thought that it would be fine to use the Explorer to move the boat out to the shop once it was winterized. Now, keep in mind that the Explorer has a tow rating of 5600 lbs, so we're only exceeding that by about 200 lbs. In reality though, that poor Explorer probably had about 10k miles taken off of the clutch by that experiment, & we only had to move the boat a total of less than 100 yards on relatively flat ground. Even in 4x4-low, I don't think that it could have pulled the boat out of the water, on any ramp. I wouldn't even consider trying to tow it 2 miles down the road.

My point? Even if the rig will do it (& that may be a pretty big "if"), you're going to be putting some serious abuse on the rig.

That's quite a bit, but not that far off from what our VLX & trailer are (close to 6000 lbs total, 600 lbs tongue).

Really? did you weigh the tongue or are you just going by the 10% rule? As I understand it boats on trailers don't usually have as much tongue weight as a typical trailer.. usually 6-7% vs. 10%ish. Just curious if used a scale to measure your actual tongue weight. I have always wanted to measure mine but haven't had the right tool to do so... so really curious what the typical malibu tongue % is. If you did measure it.. what did you use to do so?

The tongue weight is an educated guess, based on the way that the trailer rides. So yes, that's using the 10% rule. The whole package is so much heavier than we were originally guessing that I'd be really surprised if it was much lighter than that 10%.

Say it ain't so. That truck was bad @$$!!!

We towed our old boat (much lighter then yours) with my sister's Explorer one time and we couldn't get it back up the driveway. Had to wait until the Tahoe was back in town and the boat spent a day or two in the street.

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In Oregon, I have weighed all my rigs and trailers on the Oregon Department Of Transportation scales that are along our highways. They are often closed. I've found that the stated weight for my truck, travel trailer and boat are understated by the manufacturer. Further the tongue weight from the factory my be less than 10% of the total. I moved my axle back on my boat trailer to increase the tongue weight for much better control but I tow with a GMC Duramax that is rated for 9200# Gross Vehicle Weight.

BTW the wieght of that rig with no trailer but a fibreglass canopy is 6760 # with driver and fuel. You can weigh each axle separately so that you know what your rear axle weight is unloaded. Then next trip with the boat weigh the rear axle again and get an approx tongue weight.

If you have two ladders you can place a 2x10 between the two and then place two bathroom scales on the 2x10. Then place a short 2x4 on top of the scales so that the tongue coupler will rest on the 2x4. Lower the tongue dolly until all the weight is on the 2x4. If each scale says 200# then you have a 400# tongue weight, etc.

What works best:

I have the best tow rig of our 3 main waterski guys. I do all of the towing because Dennis has a really nice Prostar 197 and Rick has a Malibu Sunsetter that works better if we have 5 or more that want to go. My boat is nice but small. So, bottom line cultivate a friend that wants lake time and already has a 3/4 ton pickup. Plus it is really nice to let the other guy drop you in the lake and find trailer parking.

An Enclave might be okay for a response with no tower but is not enough for a wakeboard boat.

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The tongue weight on my boat is 275 lbs. That was taken with a leveled T/A trailer. Boat had nothing in it and about 10 gallons of fuel in the tank. Boats dry wieght is 2900, trailer 1100 (as per Boatmate), then you can add oil and gas. Engine was dry at the time.

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Say it ain't so. That truck was bad @$$!!!

We towed our old boat (much lighter then yours) with my sister's Explorer one time and we couldn't get it back up the driveway. Had to wait until the Tahoe was back in town and the boat spent a day or two in the street.

Yup, we're in a downsizing mode right now with slider back in school. I'll probably sell my car in favor of a Tahoe or Expedition, & we may very well sell the rv in the spring.

After the experience with the Expoder, I wouldn't even consider trying to tow a boat of that size with anything less than a 1/2 ton chassis-ed vehicle. That 23 has got to weigh in at 62-6300 lbs.

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Say it ain't so. That truck was bad @$$!!!

We towed our old boat (much lighter then yours) with my sister's Explorer one time and we couldn't get it back up the driveway. Had to wait until the Tahoe was back in town and the boat spent a day or two in the street.

Yup, we're in a downsizing mode right now with slider back in school. I'll probably sell my car in favor of a Tahoe or Expedition, & we may very well sell the rv in the spring.

After the experience with the Expoder, I wouldn't even consider trying to tow a boat of that size with anything less than a 1/2 ton chassis-ed vehicle. That 23 has got to weigh in at 62-6300 lbs.

Tracie - Do you have an older Explorer with the V6? I'm currently in the market for a used Explorer Sport Trac with the V8, rated at 6800 lbs of towing, and assumed I would be fine for towing any 21' boat. Now you've got me worried.

Ken

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Say it ain't so. That truck was bad @$$!!!

We towed our old boat (much lighter then yours) with my sister's Explorer one time and we couldn't get it back up the driveway. Had to wait until the Tahoe was back in town and the boat spent a day or two in the street.

Yup, we're in a downsizing mode right now with slider back in school. I'll probably sell my car in favor of a Tahoe or Expedition, & we may very well sell the rv in the spring.

After the experience with the Expoder, I wouldn't even consider trying to tow a boat of that size with anything less than a 1/2 ton chassis-ed vehicle. That 23 has got to weigh in at 62-6300 lbs.

Tracie - Do you have an older Explorer with the V6? I'm currently in the market for a used Explorer Sport Trac with the V8, rated at 6800 lbs of towing, and assumed I would be fine for towing any 21' boat. Now you've got me worried.

Ken

I have been towing my Sunscape 21 with an 04 Explorer Sport Trac with the V6 (rated to tow 5000 lbs). We tow: 1. to the lake and back every three weeks (I moor and I pull the boat every three weeks to clean the bottom and let the gel coat dry - want to be sure to avoid blistering), 2. On vacation in NH ~ 200 mi each way, and 3. on vacation in NY ~220 mi each way. It works fine but it makes me a bit nervous (the way the truck moves whenever we go over an uneven area on the highway). I am in the process of moving up in tow vehicle size but this is for reasons which include getting more passenger and cargo space in the tow vehicle.

I think you would be fine with the newer Sport Trac but a larger vehicle would certainly tow more confortably. I do want to point out that one advantage to a smaller tow vehicle is moving around in tight spaces. I was thinking of going to a 4-door F-150. Then while we were on vacation this summer in a new place we found overselves in a spot where the dirt road we were on suddenly ended and I had to find a way to get turned around while needing to back up a fairly steep hill. My V6 Sport Trac handled the backing up the hill just fine and I found a spot where I could put the boat into the woods far enough that after several stabs I got the rig turned around. When I completed this trick and we were headed back the other way, my wife commented that I would have had a much tougher time doing that if I had a full size truck. After thinking about it I concluded that she was right. It is more common that I find myself in a tight space where a smaller turning circle makes for an easier time. I have settled on buying a used Ford Expedition. I'll get a utility trailer to make up for the loss of the truck bed.

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Guys,

I know the topic of towing capacities has been discussed in other threads – I’ve read through a bunch of them so far, and will keep reading after this post.

In the meantime, I have a general question about towing:

How accurate are the manufacturers’ towing capacity ratings for most vehicles?

We live about 2 miles from a lake, all in-town driving (30 mph), all level ground with no hills and limited stops & starts.

We own an ’08 Buick Enclave with the towing package. Buick says the max capacity for towing is 4,500. Could we get away with towing a 23 LSV with it, or are we going to do serious harm to our vehicle?

You hear some people say the towing capacities are pretty accurate and you hear others say they’re generally overly conservative. Just wondering what you guys think.

Thanks again for putting up with my basic questions and novice posts.

Brian

We have an 08 23LSV and I tow it behind my 02 Nissan Pathfinder. It's limit is 5000lbs,which matches the theoretical weight of the boat and trailer (Magic Tilt aluminum - 900lbs). I've towed it 3 hrs on the highway a few times, but generally just use it to pull the boat out of the water now and then (we have a dock at the house). It ain't real comfortable and I'm sure I'm shortening the life of the Nissan in the process...After reading here about how inaccurate the boat weights are, now I'm really concerned! I'd swap the Buick for a comparably priced used 4x4.

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I tow my '96 Sunsetter LX with a '97 4Runner V6. The 4Runner has a 5000lb capacity and I'm sure I'm close to that if not over. It definitely feels underpowered when going up hills. Otherwise, it tows my boat comfortably. I drop the 4Runner into 4-wheel-drive when launching/retreiving and I've had zero problems on the ramp. I know that in an emergency stopping situation I'm pretty much screwed, so I drive slowly and carefully. But I only tow the boat a couple miles from storage to the lake. If I bring the boat home, then it's about a 10 mile trip.

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Say it ain't so. That truck was bad @$$!!!

We towed our old boat (much lighter then yours) with my sister's Explorer one time and we couldn't get it back up the driveway. Had to wait until the Tahoe was back in town and the boat spent a day or two in the street.

Yup, we're in a downsizing mode right now with slider back in school. I'll probably sell my car in favor of a Tahoe or Expedition, & we may very well sell the rv in the spring.

After the experience with the Expoder, I wouldn't even consider trying to tow a boat of that size with anything less than a 1/2 ton chassis-ed vehicle. That 23 has got to weigh in at 62-6300 lbs.

Tracie - Do you have an older Explorer with the V6? I'm currently in the market for a used Explorer Sport Trac with the V8, rated at 6800 lbs of towing, and assumed I would be fine for towing any 21' boat. Now you've got me worried.

Ken

This has been covered before in several threads....I used to tow my Sunsetter LXi with a V-8 Explorer a few years ago. It certainly had the power to pull the boat and I never had any problem launching or retrieving it. However, towing on curvy mountain roads upset the Explorer a bit. The boat tended to push the tow rig around a bit more than I was comfortable with especially on curves or cresting hills. I would never pull my 247 with the Explorer, even though the it is rated for it.

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Google "uhaul & ford explorer" sometime & you might find out some towing issues with the truck....... I expect these are with the smaller version. It has been enough reason for me to not bother with that line of vehicle at all.

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/uhaul_ford.html

Say it ain't so. That truck was bad @$$!!!

We towed our old boat (much lighter then yours) with my sister's Explorer one time and we couldn't get it back up the driveway. Had to wait until the Tahoe was back in town and the boat spent a day or two in the street.

Yup, we're in a downsizing mode right now with slider back in school. I'll probably sell my car in favor of a Tahoe or Expedition, & we may very well sell the rv in the spring.

After the experience with the Expoder, I wouldn't even consider trying to tow a boat of that size with anything less than a 1/2 ton chassis-ed vehicle. That 23 has got to weigh in at 62-6300 lbs.

Tracie - Do you have an older Explorer with the V6? I'm currently in the market for a used Explorer Sport Trac with the V8, rated at 6800 lbs of towing, and assumed I would be fine for towing any 21' boat. Now you've got me worried.

Ken

This has been covered before in several threads....I used to tow my Sunsetter LXi with a V-8 Explorer a few years ago. It certainly had the power to pull the boat and I never had any problem launching or retrieving it. However, towing on curvy mountain roads upset the Explorer a bit. The boat tended to push the tow rig around a bit more than I was comfortable with especially on curves or cresting hills. I would never pull my 247 with the Explorer, even though the it is rated for it.

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We tow with our 06 V8 Explorer all the time. Now we are only towing a Vtx but in saying that it tows much better than my 1999 Ford F-250. Both in ride and in handling. We did find a problem in our brakes on the boat trailer, after fixing the issue it made a huge difference. I did read the post above that Bill was talking about, and a lot of these towing issues are caused by the people "overdriving" their own abilities or the vehicles. Nothing pisses me off more when I get passed on the highway by someone pulling a large load at speeds exceeding 75 mph. Sure it seems fine in a stright line but if they have to do any kind of emergency avoidance they are in trouble.

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I just had a customer drop off his sunscape 23 towing it with a honda pilot? the lil suv. He towed it down from lake almanor. After seeing that you can tow with anything?? lol Thumbup.gif

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So. Are you saying I'm a little crazy?

Havasu_0004.jpg

Havasu_0018.jpg

No problems towing with this set up. I am at or slightly above the tow limit. The highest I get it up on the highway is 60 MPH. Handling is fine. Brakes are fine. Upgraded the transmission cooler, oil cooler and rear suspension. I did my homework.

Engineers always include a factor of safety in their capacity ratings(bridges, dams, buildings, cars, etc.)[i used to be one myself] Generally they use a factor of 1.5. This factor usually takes into account the liability. I know this doesn't give me the green light to tow a stupidly heavy boat but I feel confident that my rig can handle the boat.

FLAME ON!!!

Edited by Clutch-n-Throttle
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I just had a customer drop off his sunscape 23 towing it with a honda pilot? the lil suv. He towed it down from lake almanor. After seeing that you can tow with anything?? lol Thumbup.gif

Hey. I remember someone posting a pic with a Honda S2000 towing a Malibu Response. Anybody else remember seeing that pic?

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