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Towing a travel trailer

I hope someone out there can help me or give me some suggestions as to what to do. I recently bought a 2010 Trail Lite travel trailer (22’ long, weight approx. 2800 lbs.) When I was in the process of buying it, I asked the salesman (and other dealer personnel) repeatedly if they were sure my 2006 Ford Escape could tow it. They assured me it could. Well, guess what?? When I set out on my first trip I could barely get it on the highway and with every little (and I mean LITTLE!!) incline my truck would rev to 4,000 rpms. I couldn’t get the speed to maintain at 60-65 without the revving kicking in. (By the way, I did NOT have it in overdrive.) Now I’m stuck with trying to sell it–the dealer’s only suggestion is “get a bigger truck.” I’m retired and can not afford a new vehicle.



Shouldn’t the dealer be responsible to actually KNOW what vehicles can tow what trailers? All they say is, “That’s what the book says.” Well, I can read the book!! Since this is what they do for a living, I (foolishly) expected that they actually KNEW what they were talking about!



Has anyone had a similar experience or have any suggestions or comments?



Thanks.

YOU should have read your owner’s manual. It contains information about the towing capacity of your vehicle.

The travel trailer dealer sold a trailer. That’s their job. It’s your job to know whether or not your vehicle can tow it.

I can’t imaging trying to tow something that big with an Escape. Seems like an accident waiting to happen.

You are likely not going to like my response, but here goes–

Of course, your vehicle “can” tow this travel trailer!
If your vehicle is able to move the trailer at all, that means that it “can” tow the trailer.
On the other hand, then there is the question of whether it is advisable, or practical to tow a 2,800 lb trailer with your vehicle. Based on your experience, it is clearly not advisable or practical, but you “can” do it.

Should the vendor of this trailer have been more upfront and honest with you? Of course.
Should you have verified the salesman’s statements by doing some research on your own?
Again, yes.

How difficult is this research that I mentioned? It involves opening your glove compartment, taking out the Owner’s Manual, and reading what Ford’s engineers and designers had to say on the topic of towing. I think that it would be very instructive for all of us if you were to post the exact wording of what is stated in the Owner’s Manual on this topic.

It is too late for you to turn back the hands of the clock on this purchase, but at least you can learn from the process, and hopefully that learning process will include the importance of utilizing the manual that came with the vehicle.

For your Escape to tow the trailer you have to get used to and comfortable with putting some major rpm’s on the motor. The power curve on that motor falls off dramatically at rpm below 3,000. It’s sweet spot for power is from 4,000 to 5,000 rpm. On some big hills the transmission may have to shift down to 2nd gear just to keep up with 45 mph.

Yes, your Escape can tow your trailer but you are at the very limit of its capacity. When towing make sure your cooling system is working properly, and use a full synthetic motor oil. Then put your foot down and keep it there and just let the engine rev away. You will need to use the momentum you build up going downhill to help you maintain speed going up hill. There are times you’ll have to use your 4 way flashers and go up hills at 45 mph.

When you are ready to replace the Escape then you can buy something with more power and towing capacity. While your trailer is built to keep the weight down it still is very aerodynamically inefficient. That means you need a bunch of power just to deal with the air you have to push out of the way.

You need a bigger SUV or truck to tow this trailer comfortably. In the meantime just run the heck out your Escape’s motor. Plan on frequent fluid changes of the transmission and differentials too.

Ditto what mcparadise said. Also the tow rating is more than just the ability to pull a load. Unless your trailer has brakes, it might shove your Explorer across an intersection even if you are standing on the brake pedal and the tires are leaving rubber on the pavement.

I did check the manual and it said the towing capacity was 3500 lbs. I assumed (wrongly, I guess) that the dealer had first-hand knowledge that my Escape could, in fact, tow this trailer. All they said was, “that’s what the manual says.” It just seems to me that they should have more actual knowledge if this is what they do for a living.

I did check the manual and it said the towing capacity was 3500 lbs. I assumed (wrongly, I guess) that the dealer had first-hand knowledge that my Escape could, in fact, tow this trailer. All they said was, “that’s what the manual says.” It just seems to me that they should have more actual knowledge if this is what they do for a living.

I did check the manual and it said the towing capacity was 3500 lbs. I assumed (wrongly, I guess) that the dealer had first-hand knowledge that my Escape could, in fact, tow this trailer. All they said was, “that’s what the manual says.” It just seems to me that they should have more actual knowledge if this is what they do for a living.

I can’t afford to “run the heck” out of my Escape’s motor. I don’t have that kind of dough. This has been a painful lesson but one well-learned. I at least hope my experience will help someone to not be taken in by anything an RV dealer tells you–they’re just like car salesmen: anything to make that commission and no integrity. A sad state of affairs, I’m afraid.

Here is my advice:

  1. Check the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) of the trailer. It should be printed on a metal plate mounted somewhere on the trailer, usually in the front left, but might be on the inside of one of the doors. This number will be higher than the trailer’s empty weight, but this number more realistically reflects the loaded weight.

  2. Check your Ford Escape owner’s manual to find the towing capacity. If it is lower than the GVWR of the trailer, you will need a new tow vehicle, or you will need to sell the trailer.

  3. Make sure you are disabling the overdrive.

  4. Consider purchasing a weight distribution towing hitch setup with a sway control bar.

I have towed one of these things with a Toyota Sienna minivan, so you might be able to tow it with your Escape, but it will require you to spend some money on the proper towing equipment to make sure it is safe, and it will require careful driving, that is IF you follow all of the above advice.

In the end, you might need to upgrade your tow vehicle. The dealer didn’t lie to you. He or she told you the weight of the vehicle, which is usually a far cry from the GVWR. I think the GVWR is probably 3,800 pounds. If that is the case, you will be out of luck.

If you want to go RVing with your Escape, you will be better off getting a pop-up camper trailer than something that large.

I am willing to be this trailer has electric brakes or surge brakes, so if you don’t have a brake controller installed in your Escape, that might also be necessary.

The motor is designed to handle high rpm’s. The tach has a “red line” and there is a rev limiter built into the car’s computer engine management system. If your cooling system is OK and the temp guage is near the middle then you NEED the high rpm’s for the motor to generate the power needed to pull the load. The motor is working hard but it can handle the rpm’s. What is really getting a work out is the transmission and differential. That’s why they need more frequent service when you use the vehicle for towing. Don’t worry you won’t blow up your motor. You need to get OK with hearing all the noise the motor makes at high rpm. The red line should be 5,000 to 6,000 rpm on your SUV. Don’t worry about pushing the motor beyond 4,000 rpm.

I have a large SUV (Toyota Sequoia) with a good sized V8 and 6,500 lbs of towing capacity and sometimes my SUV needs to rev beyond 4,000 rpm going up hills pulling my boat, or 2 horse trailer.

Part of RV’ing is getting used to manueveruing a big thing behind you, needing lots of room to pull into the road and letting your motor rev up to 5,000 rpm before it shifts to the next gear when you need to build up speed.

In effect you are now driving a “truck” but you don’t have the advantage of the massive torque desiel motors generate at low rpm. You have to use the gears and rev the motor or you aren’t going anywhere very fast.

You say ‘approximately 2800 lbs.’ - have you confirmed that? It might be much closer to your 3500 max than you think.

Guys. He wrote:

When I was in the process of buying it, I asked the salesman (and other dealer personnel) repeatedly if they were sure my 2006 Ford Escape could tow it. They assured me it could.

He asked the question and he should not have been assured it would be suitable. Yea, he should have looked in the owner’s manual, but he did not. Clearly the dealer’s advice was dead wrong and they should (may have) known their advice was wrong.

That said, I doubt if there is any legal response that is going to get the dealer to make amends.

Taken, you might contact a local lawyer, but I fear it will not give you any relief.

Should the vendor of this trailer have been more upfront and honest with you?

I don't think I would have said [i] "more upfront and honest" [/i]  The dealer was not honest or upfront at all.  It sounds like the dealer has a few quick oil change places on the side.

Dry weight is 2847 with a cargo weight of 3034. There was no way I had even 500 lbs. of stuff in that trailer. The gross weight is listed at 5881. I had everything on that trailer: good electric braking system, sway bars, stabilizer bar–I went all out. I guess they really saw me coming. :frowning:

Thanks, Joseph. You’re about the only one who isn’t making me feel like a total idiot. I did check the manual before I got the trailer and it lists the Escape is capable of towing 3500 lbs. I didn’t think I’d have to call Ford directly to verify this or interrogate Ford technicians. I actually thought I could trust someone to tell me the truth–silly me!

Well…if the Escape manual says up to 3500, and the trailer’s 2800, then what did the dealer do wrong?

PS - here’s what’s listed for the Escape:
4-cyl Manual: 1000 lbs (454 kg)
V6 Automatic: 2000 lbs (907 kg)
V6 with Towing Pkg.: 3500 lbs (1588 kg)

Do you have the V6 with factory towing package?

The only way your Escape will tow 3500 pounds is if it’s the V6 model with the towing package. The 4 cylinders will struggle with anything more than 1500 pounds or so. As you found out the Escape is not an especially good towing vehicle, it’s front wheel drive and unibody, neither of which is desirable in a tow vehicle. I think you simply have too much trailer for your vehicle and/or not enough vehicle for your trailer.

I was looking around Trail Life’s website and it seems that their 22 foot trailers, weigh closer to 3000 pounds dry and go up from there. When you’re talking about towing with a vehicle with limited towing capacity every extra bit of weight is noticeable. So even if you do have the V6 Escape with the factory towing package, you’re probably close to the limit, if you have the 4 banger, then you are probably over the limit.

You need a bigger truck or a smaller trailer.

If the GVWR is 5,881, you need to sell this trailer and get one with a GVWR that will work with your Escape. The good news is you already have all this equipment for when you buy a trailer that it can tow. Even if you never load it with any cargo, water, or propane, the fact that its GVWR exceeds your towing capacity tells me you should not tow it.

Maybe you can shame this dealer into taking it back. I don’t care what the trailer weighs, its GVWR exceeds your towing capacity. They should allow you to return it for a full refund and sell you something else that you can tow safely.

texases, the dealer should have disclosed the GVWR, not the actual weight. The actual unloaded weight is irrelevant for safety purposes.

Taken for a ride, your owner’s manual should mention the GVWR of the trailer, not the unloaded weight. I hope I didn’t make you feel like an idiot, but there is a difference between empty weight and GVWR.

Agreed, they should have disclosed GVWR, so I do think OP has a (small) leg to stand on, if he wants to fight this. But OP should have spent some more time (bought a $15 book, etc) before jumping into this. I would trust RV salesmen just as much as I trust car (used or new) salesmen…