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Discussion Starter #1
I picked up a 20' Vnose double axle Carmate trailer and wanted to get some opinions on how to tow properly/safely. My truck is a '08 5.7L Tundra, tow package and full TRD suspension. It sits about 2" lower than stock. Loaded up my guess is I'll be towing close to 6K lbs or so with the racecar. I plan on adding a brake controller (prodigy, P3) but then I got to reading about weight distribution hitches, air bags for the springs, etc.

Are any of those necessary on a small 20' trailer and a truck like a Tundra? I was told you can change how the trailer acts by moving the car forward or back in the trailer. Any tips or ideas are appreciated.

thx





 

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I towed a Porsche 993 C4S on a similar open 20ft trailer with my 07 DC about 2000 miles earlier this year. I did not feel I needed the WDH for that but the trailer brakes are a requirement. However since yours is enclosed you may find you want a WDH and especially sway control (friction style should be good enough). As you mention moving the car forward or backwards change the tongue weight and generally speaking most people think 15% of the trailer's weight should be on the tongue or your get bad sway. Unless you have an easier way to measure things, I would check your car's forum to see where they generally load it relative to the axles on a trailer and then fine tune by trail and error. Be prepared to move it until you get it right then mark that spot on the trailer for future reference.

EDIT: with your TTE SE-R, you will probably have it farther back on the trailer than a full street version of the car.
 

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WDH helps distribute the weight of the trailer forward to the front axle. Depending on tongue weight and payload once the trailer is loaded you may find this helpful. Other than cost, I can't think of a downside to using a WDH. (Better to have it and not need it ...)
Sway control will help control the trailer sway especially in high winds and around big rigs.
Brake Controller is a must!
No need for airbags unless loaded the truck really starts to sag.
Upgrading to E Rated tires is also recommended.

6K is an easy pull for the Tundra. I've pulled about the same without sway or WDH and it handled just fine. (and I still have P-Metric tires) One of the trailers I pull weighs in around 9K that trailer does have a WDH and sway control and it needs it 24 ft enclosed box. I pulled it 1,000 miles not long ago and other than the big rigs having their way with me in Arizona(They can go 75 in Arizona!), it handled great.

Definitely experiment with loading your trailer to find the best balance. If you know someone with a tongue weight scale that can help too. Tongue weight should be within 10%-15% of gross trailer weight. Tongue weight scales can be purchased for under $200.

Take it to a full vehicle scale fully loaded as well. You would be surprised to find out how far your estimate is off. All the little things add up: tools, water, clothes, various and sundry other things, it all counts as weight.

Once you have it where you like it, mark the floor of the trailer where the car and heavy items go. Also take pictures fully loaded so you know where to put stuff in the future (and to share here).

Last but not least, once you have everything hooked up and out on the road, slow down and plan ahead. The truck takes longer to stop and is more challenging to maneuver especially in traffic. Enjoy the ride and the truck's power, but take your time and get to your race and back in one piece.

Enjoy!!
 

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Joe, I tow a similar 22 ft car hauler, but without the TRD suspension (do have the sways).

I did a writeup as I was getting started linked below that might be helpful
http://www.tundrasolutions.com/forums/towing/167252-towing-newb-daves-learning-tow-blog/

Mine does fine without the bags, but do have a WDH which makes a big difference. Have had buddies pull my trailer with the hitch compared to theirs w/o and they've all commented about going out to get one.

No issues on power at all, the only concern is how much gas gets consumed at highway speeds. A significant part of the drive up to VIR is 70 mph and unless you want to go under the speed limit that gets me under 10 mpg average. With the small tank on the Tundra that's a pain if you drive longer distances.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the helpful information. Dave, I read through your post and picked up many useful ideas that hadnt crossed my mind. Some as simple as e-rated tires and others like disconnecting the sways before turning in your culdesac. I'm going to do what Terry suggests and perform several dry runs around the city/highway before taking it on a trip. I have a set of race car scales and ramps but that wont help with calculating the tongue weight only total laden weight of the trailer. I suppose it could help with the loading and weight distribution, position of the car. My SE-R is about 2,510lbs, plus 400-500lbs in tires, gear, tools. etc. I bought the prodigy from a NASA member and picked up the tundra specific wiring harness for $15.

The trailer is located in Allentown and I plan on deadheading up there on the 25th from Atlanta. My guess is towing it back with just the prodigy and no WDH would be ok, unladen. If anyone thinks otherwise, let me know and at the least I'll get a wdh. Also, I'm not sure the rating of the Michellins that came on the 20" BBS from Toyota. I'll check that tonight. As far as the TRD suspension, the truck came with the full kit from Sparks from the previous owner. TRD leaf springs, sways, shocks, everything. I would highly suggest not spending money on it. Yes, it looks cool with the BBS wheels and it handles like no other truck I've driven, but on the highway, over expansion joints (ala HWY 16 to Roebling) its just impossible with the constant jolts over each bump. I assume the leaf springs are a higher rate but like Bee suggested, I need to check the rating. I will say, I towed a 20' unladen enclosed this past week and the rear had very little droop, maybe an 1". I wanted to get a feel for a 20' before buying one. Currently I tow the race car with a dolly (and get 16mpg).

Last year I picked up a combo rearview mirror, IR sensors and backup camera via the screen in the mirror. The sensors communicate the distance to an object on the screen, albiet in meters. I'll install the camera on the tailgate latch like dave did. It would be nice to have a secondary camera behind the trailer but thats a project so far off in the future its not on the list.

Here is the trailer I bought for $8,000. It was $2K more than I wanted to spend, but it will probably be the last trailer I buy. I like the 5x6' escape window, screen door and hard coated floor, walls and nice storage. The full front diamond plate is nice since the bugs wont stick and mar the paint or pick up chips from the road.

I do have one question tho, is it better to load heavier gear like tires in the bed of the truck or in the trailer?





 

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My old camper was 27ft around 5500lbs loaded. I did not use my WDH with it and it towed fine. However, on windy days I might get a bit of sway and I did not own just a sway bar without WDH. I would buy a simple sway bar and start towing if I were you.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
In the trailer it will go. Just read (unconfirmed) the TRD lowering kit drops the tow rating to 5K? Ugh.. that cant be right.
 

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That is an awesome trailer! Towing it empty without the WDH should be no problem, but you'll definitely want the brake controller.

We've since added a tire rack to our trailer and have towed with it loaded w/ 6 wheels with no issues. You'll likely be adding it on the top passenger side (for easier exit from the car) so it does put the weight up high which isn't as good as if you find a space somewhere else... it's most common location from what we've seen in other trailers though and preserves more floorspace for other stuff, can fold up when not in use, etc.

My wife found that her car was so low she can't quite open her car door with the trailer wheel well (has to crawl out through window), will be interested if you can on yours. I think I just figured out a cheap solution though, but need to test it.

I suspect you could find someone who would trade a stock suspension for the TRD setup (possibly with + cash to you) if you found it was a limiting factor in towing capacity.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for the compliments on the trailer. The previous owner had it custom built by Carmate. The escape door was dropped as low as possible and worked well for his track EVO. Dave, your bimmer may need some 12" planks to raise it up.

I've read the TRD lowering kit instructions and searched everywhere but I couldnt back up the 5K towing claim. Can someone confirm before I swap out the suspension?
 

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Thanks for the helpful information. Dave, I read through your post and picked up many useful ideas that hadnt crossed my mind. Some as simple as e-rated tires and others like disconnecting the sways before turning in your culdesac. I'm going to do what Terry suggests and perform several dry runs around the city/highway before taking it on a trip. I have a set of race car scales and ramps but that wont help with calculating the tongue weight only total laden weight of the trailer. I suppose it could help with the loading and weight distribution, position of the car. My SE-R is about 2,510lbs, plus 400-500lbs in tires, gear, tools. etc. I bought the prodigy from a NASA member and picked up the tundra specific wiring harness for $15.

The trailer is located in Allentown and I plan on deadheading up there on the 25th from Atlanta. My guess is towing it back with just the prodigy and no WDH would be ok, unladen. If anyone thinks otherwise, let me know and at the least I'll get a wdh. Also, I'm not sure the rating of the Michellins that came on the 20" BBS from Toyota. I'll check that tonight. As far as the TRD suspension, the truck came with the full kit from Sparks from the previous owner. TRD leaf springs, sways, shocks, everything. I would highly suggest not spending money on it. Yes, it looks cool with the BBS wheels and it handles like no other truck I've driven, but on the highway, over expansion joints (ala HWY 16 to Roebling) its just impossible with the constant jolts over each bump. I assume the leaf springs are a higher rate but like Bee suggested, I need to check the rating. I will say, I towed a 20' unladen enclosed this past week and the rear had very little droop, maybe an 1". I wanted to get a feel for a 20' before buying one. Currently I tow the race car with a dolly (and get 16mpg).

Last year I picked up a combo rearview mirror, IR sensors and backup camera via the screen in the mirror. The sensors communicate the distance to an object on the screen, albiet in meters. I'll install the camera on the tailgate latch like dave did. It would be nice to have a secondary camera behind the trailer but thats a project so far off in the future its not on the list.

Here is the trailer I bought for $8,000. It was $2K more than I wanted to spend, but it will probably be the last trailer I buy. I like the 5x6' escape window, screen door and hard coated floor, walls and nice storage. The full front diamond plate is nice since the bugs wont stick and mar the paint or pick up chips from the road.

I do have one question tho, is it better to load heavier gear like tires in the bed of the truck or in the trailer?
Heavier stuff in the trailer. Again trial and error to find the right balance point. Once you find the right load pattern. Take pictures, draw a diagram, mark your trailer, whatever it takes to remind you of the load pattern. I take pictures as I load the trailer in layers from front to back, (Fully loaded you can't see what is loaded in the front :eek:) print them and tape them on the inside of the trailer at each layer where I took the photos. This way I have a reference for future loading. I also mark the floor with tape for some items so I get the orientation correct.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for all the good info. I did end up buying a Reese Pro RC WDH/Sway. It uses a similar setup as brake pads to control the sway, not bad for $240 shipped. I'll post some pictures when I get the trailer from PA.

Wish me luck (26hrs of driving!)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Wanted to give an update on the trailer. I picked up a WDH and trunion (sp) bars with sway control from Reese. Its their new PRO Series that uses brake pads to control sway. Most folks gave it a good review and for $240 shipped for everything (WDH, sways, trunion) its fairly cheap. It came with 1400# bars, which is more than what I need. I set up the WDH about 1.5" higher than the trailer receiver (at level) to allow for some droop. Not having the trailer here I got the height from the owner and set up the hitch before leaving. I didnt bother to take the sway setup on the road since I would be towing empty and the v-nose should keep the trailer fairly stable.

I installed the prodigy I picked up from a NASA member and headed off to PA. 12hrs later we got everthing hooked up. My Tundra came with a TRD lowering kit installed by the previous owner (which I think is garbage). It lowers the tow rating by 5,000lbs. Anyway, after averaging 21mpg on the way up.. I averaged 10.1 on the way down to Atlanta. My God thats disappointing. I could go about 225miles before running the tank empty. Aside from that the truck pulled it beautifully. Very little droop on the hitch and next to no sway. All in all I'm very happy with it - thanks again for the help!

 

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Great looking rig!!

Ditch the lowering kit though if you're gonna load that trailer.

"averaging 21mpg on the way up.. I averaged 10.1 on the way down to Atlanta."

That's actually not too bad for a trailer that tall. There's a lot of air to push out of the way. How fast were you travelling? The faster you go the worse your mileage gets.

I usually tow at 55 MPH with an 8,000 pound (approx) loaded box trailer. Depending on terrain and weather (headwind/tailwind) I get anywhere from 8 - 12 MPG. I Estimate 10 MPG for planning purposes. 200 Miles of driving is usually enough for me at one stretch and I need a break anyways so stopping for fuel isn't too bad. There are times where I'll put a couple of 5 Gal jugs in the bed though just to make sure i have enough. Like a 250 Mile round trip and I don't want to stop for fuel. At midpoint just add the contents of the jugs to the tank and bring it on home.

Good luck on your new rig.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks for the kudos on the trailer. The first real pull is this weekend up to VIR (about 9hrs). I'll have the sways hooked up for that haul. I agree the lowering kit needs to be ditched, and maybe I can find someone to swap with. I will say, I didnt feel any bottoming of the suspension on the way down, and some of the roads where suspect. The sways and leveling bars should help. I'll give it another go with the lowering kit and report back.

Does anyone run a higher octane when towing? I ran 87 for this trip, and although I got 10mpg on the way back, most of the ride was through the blue ridge mountains. My speed was between 65-70mph. So I was wondering if the higher octane helps. FYI - I added a can of Sea Foam on the way up and averaged 21mpg, about 2 better than normal, and cruised at 75mph.
 

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I've pulled once on 93 (by accident, didn't notice until I had the tank half full) and did not notice any difference in MPG or performance. The biggest difference is mph. If you do 70, your MPG is going to suck... I do try to draft off of a semi when I can which will add a mpg or two if done well.

The first real pull is this weekend up to VIR (about 9hrs).
We'll be at VIR this weekend as well at the BMWCCA event -wife is doing the club race school.

Edit - I see Chin is coming up Mon / Tuesday after we leave... have fun!
 

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I've pulled once on 93 (by accident, didn't notice until I had the tank half full) and did not notice any difference in MPG or performance. The biggest difference is mph. If you do 70, your MPG is going to suck... I do try to draft off of a semi when I can which will add a mpg or two if done well.



We'll be at VIR this weekend as well at the BMWCCA event -wife is doing the club race school.
X2 what Dave said. Higher octane will not help unless your engine is programmed to take higher octane. I tried it when we went to Florida just in case...no difference. Speed makes all the difference...once I drove 250mi at 55mph on the interstate just to see...got 13mpg.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thats good to know about the higher octane. I'll keep the coin in my pocket. And I just dont know if I can 55, thats almost painfully slow but maybe I'll get used to driving around 60-65. I was told the mpg doesnt change much with a unloaded v loaded trailer.

One last question before I report back on the tow up to VIR (yes, with Chin.. I'm practicing for the UTCC). The trunion bars I received are 1400#, I'll probably tow about 7-8K. I know the rating is overkill but will there be any adverse effects of the higher rated bars?

Thx
 
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