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How much difference does toad weight make?


TherapyBound
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We're looking at purchasing a 36' Class A (gas) and will be towing a small-ish car (ideally, 4-down). Right now we have a Mazda 6, which is within the towing weight of the rigs we're looking at (it's just over 3K, and the towing weight is 5K; however I can't find reliable info on whether or not it can be towed 4 down). The Mazda will be paid off by the time we hit the road, but we're thinking of downsizing the car and going for something lighter and smaller (it's just us two, plus a dog). 

How much difference will it make gas-wise and for ease of handling between our Mazda and, say, a Honda Civic or similar, which weighs in at about 700-1000lbs less. Do you think it's worth downsizing? I'm sure there are considerations I'm not thinking of, never having done this. 

Edited by Bigthinkers
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Every pound will make a difference but 1000 pounds is going to be hard to see. If it puts you close to your combined gross vehicle weight it may be more important. The cost of traiding vehicles may be much more than you will save in gas. I defiantly see a difference between a empty horse trailer and one with a 1000lb horse in it. But 2 1000lb horses dont feel twice as heavy.

On edit my 3500 Desiel gets 14 to15 empty 10 to 11 pulling 13k 12 to 13 pulling 9k. Gas might have a bigger difference.so my change is about 1 mpg per 3k so maybe 1/3 mpg for 1k. So if my math is ok and gas is 2.50 gal thats about $750. In 100k. Only one thing to think about.

Edited by Lance A Lott
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7 hours ago, Bigthinkers said:

however I can't find reliable info on whether or not it can be towed 4 down).

I suggest you visit the website of REMCO towing equipment as it will tell you if it can be towed or if it can be modified to tow it. You may be able to modify the Mazda as many cars can be.

7 hours ago, Bigthinkers said:

How much difference will it make gas-wise and for ease of handling between our Mazda and, say, a Honda Civic or similar, which weighs in at about 700-1000lbs less. Do you think it's worth downsizing?

The weight difference effect will be negligible as long as the weight does not exceed the hitch rating, the max. towing weight, or the gross combined weight ratings. If you are thinking of gas mileage of the RV while towing, less than 0.1 mpg and probably too little to detect. I towed 3 different vehicles with our motorhome and never was I able to detect a noticeable difference in fuel consumption or handling.

EDIT: Just to be sure you know, we were fulltime in a gas powered, 35' motorhome for 12 years.

Edited by Kirk W
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Thanks, Kirk W. I know you've been doing this for a very long time, so I appreciate your comments. From what I've found (so far), Mazda is rather non-committal on the question of towing. However, I just took a look at the link you've provided and it states the Mazda 6 must be towed on a tow dolly. 

If that's actually the case, is there a good argument to be made for getting something that can be towed 4-down? We'd probably buy used, so hopefully wouldn't have a car payment either way.

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10 hours ago, Bigthinkers said:

If that's actually the case, is there a good argument to be made for getting something that can be towed 4-down?

First part is that if a company who markets equipment to enable towing on the wheels can't do this and the owner's manual agrees, I would not try it. On the issue of which way is better, I have chosen to tow 4 down when we were on the road but I bought vehicles that were capable of towing on their wheels without modification except for adding the base-plate and towing equipment. We did that because we were fulltime and we only owned 1 vehicle but the dolly has the advantage of allowing you to tow any front wheel drive vehicle that will fit on your dolly. When we traded tow vehicles we had the expense of getting a base-plate added to the new vehicle and adding tow lights to it, but with a dolly that would not have been. If you buy high-quality towing equipment, the cost of equipment is about the same but you only need one set for multiple vehicles. I have towed both ways and I consider flat towing much easier to hook up and unhook. With a dolly, you have to find somewhere to put the dolly when you stop each location. 

I have observed many fulltimers who started on the road using a dolly and after a time changed to flat towing. Many change from dolly to flat towing, but only 1 that I know of has gone from flat towing to using a dolly. 

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That's what I was thinking, Kirk W. Less hassle is definitely a good thing, and since this is intended to be a 1-2 year adventure, I don't see us selling whatever car we end up with, so we wouldn't have to fit out two different cars for use with a dolly. Seems like trading our Mazda in for one that can be towed 4-down might be the answer. Thanks!

And thank you, jcussen, for sharing your experience. It does give food for thought!

Edited by Bigthinkers
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 2/13/2019 at 7:09 PM, Bigthinkers said:

From what I've found (so far), Mazda is rather non-committal on the question of towing. However, I just took a look at the link you've provided and it states the Mazda 6 must be towed on a tow dolly.

Is you car a manual or automatic transmission? 

I ask because I have a manual BMW (1999 M Coupe) and looked it up on the Remco website, and it says "Must be towed using a trailer."  BMW had no position I could find about towing behind an RV, but the manual said if it's towed (presumably by a tow truck), not to go over 50 mph and not for more than X minutes or something.

But we've been flat towing it for 15 years of fulltiming--just put it in neutral and turn the key to show the digital odometer, and then back just until the odometer disappears.  I'd guess it's been towed for 85,000 miles or so, at regular highway speeds for hours at a time.

Well, other than being beat to hell by 85,000 miles of being towed in addition to 200,000 miles of being driven.

Also, I noticed that the Remco site says this about 2017 and 2018 Subaru WRX STIs: "Towable as is with speed and/or distance restrictions. Please see Owner's Manual for confirmation and procedures."  But in 2016, Subaru stopped "allowing" flat towing, and took mention of it out of the manual.  The suspicion is that they did it so they wouldn't have to cover warranty claims relating to flat towing, because the car itself didn't change.

Especially if you're not concerned about warranty issues, I'd suggest that if you want to flat-tow your Miata, do some internet searching to see if other people are doing it with that exact car.  And of course decide whether you trust whoever says they're doing it.

And, if you do find people and hit them up for information, PLEASE respond to them if they provide it.  I can't count the number of times people have run across our website that says we flat-tow the M Coupe and asked for specifics, and we always reply, and they never even acknowledge the reply.

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It's an automatic, but it does seem it may not be ideal for towing 4-down. Not really a problem; we like the car, but we could like another car, too, and would prefer to be sure it's safe to tow 4-down. It would just be easier to keep the Mazda, since it will be paid off, but we don't really want the hassle of using a dolly. We'll be traveling full-time for a year or more, and that just sounds like work we could do without.

Thanks for the replies!

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My 2 cents; we had a 97 Jeep GC that weighed 4,800# when it was being towed 4-down. Changed to a Chevy Silverado that weighs 5,800#. Got 1/2 MPG reduction, considerably slower take-off,  obvious speed reduction on normal hills vs the Jeep.

Had to buy a new tow=bar since the old 6K one would have been operating at its maximum limit.

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