The vehicle picture above is towing a camper that is both too long AND too heavy for their tow vehicle. It would only take mere seconds for the trailer to quickly overpower the vehicle and the resulting accident could be devastating.
The vehicle above was towing a camper that was too heavy for his vehicle to safely tow. As a result he was unable to control his camper resulting in the accident seen above. I bet he wishes he had seen this blog before he bought that camper!
If you are pulling a camper that is too heavy for your vehicle you are slowly causing damage to your tow vehicle. But, more importantly, you are running the risk of getting into a towing situation where you are simply unable to control your camper because your vehicle is not rated for the load it is pulling. Most towing accidents could be avoided by simply pulling within your SAFE towing capacity.
So, if someone tries to tell you that the weight of the camper is "close enough" to your towing capacity...think again. The MAXIMUM Tow Capacity is NOT the same as the Maximum Allowable Trailer Weight...that must be determined using the formula below.
Below is a guide to calculating your true towing capacity.
STEP 1 -- Determine the TOWING CAPACITY of your vehicle...this is usually stated in your owner's manual or you can find it here: 1999-2008 Vehicles 2009 2010 2011
(Example: 2009 Ford F-150 Supercab....7800 pounds MAX Tow Rating)
STEP 2 -- Subtract 10% as a safety margin. Most vehicle tow ratings have been embellished and were also calculated without passengers, fuel and cargo....Edmunds.com recommends subtracting 10% from the maximum tow rating to compensate for this. (Example: Subract 780 pounds)
STEP 3 -- Subtract any gear or camping equipment that you plan to take with you..this includes any water, food, chairs, etc. This also includes your weight distribution hitch if you have one.
(Example: 80 pounds Weight Distribution hitch + 60 pounds Propane + 250 pounds Fresh Water + 500 pounds Average weight of food & gear for weekend camp trip for family of four = 890 pounds)
STEP 4 -- The number that you are left with is the MAXIMUM trailer weight that is recommended for your vehicle to safely tow. (Example: 7800-780-890= 6130 pounds)
So, in this example...a 2009 Ford F-150 Supercab with a Maximum Tow Rating of 7800 pounds has a Maximum Allowable Trailer Weight of 6130 pounds (trailer DRY weight or UVW).
Now...ask yourself..is your camper too heavy for your tow vehicle? Remember...bigger isn't always better, especially when it comes to towing. Staying within your Maximum Allowable Trailer Weight is the only SAFE way to tow.