If your next summer adventure involves trailering a boat, camper or ATV, you'll need a vehicle with enough power and weight to tow it. Ram sales expert Javan Kennedy has plenty of tips to get you headed in the right direction.
Kennedy works at a Ram dealership, where he helps customers of all ages turn their work and recreation plans into a reality. "Most of the people who come in want a 2500 truck to trailer a camper and tour the country." But he asserts that there are a few basic things to think about first. Ideally, people should have a game plan before they buy a truck. "Pick out what you want to tow. Then get the truck," he says.
You have to think about the logistics of what you want to tow. "Anytime you're going to pull something with a trailer, the first question is, How much does what you want to pull weigh?" Once customers know what they want to tow, Kennedy uses a chart with engine, suspension and transmission options to narrow down the right vehicle for each customer. He helps them figure out the trailer size, the size and type of engine, cabin size, gear ratio, fuel options and two- and four-wheel drive.
Every feature of the car must be considered: "Do you really need four-wheel drive for your vehicle? You may, depending on conditions, such as needing to lower a boat down a muddy lake launch. But your (maximum) towable weight actually goes down with four-wheel drive."
After you cover the basics, you can decide on the vehicle options that affect the quality of your ride and how the car handles: "The more money you want to spend the better your ride. Take suspension, for example. Air-ride suspension provides a smoother ride when pulling a heavy load. You can also select coilover and leaf-spring suspension."
And there are, of course, some helpful cosmetic options: "Some trucks come with bed lights that shine on the trailer hitch, which is nice when you have to hook up your trailer at night. Having an electrical hookup next to the license plate makes connections easier. Back-up cameras can be installed at the top of the cab or at the back of the bed by the taillight."
If you'd rather not buy a new truck and you think your current vehicle can handle the job, Kennedy emphasizes the importance of knowing your vehicle's exact towing capacity: "Don't exceed the towing capacity because you'll damage the life span of your vehicle. Towing is already harder on the engine. If you try to pull more than your engine is capable of, you can shorten your vehicle's life and may void your warranty."
If you don't know what towing capacity means, search "how much weight can my car tow?" on the web and you'll see several results. LoveToKnow describes towing capacity as "the maximum amount of weight it can pull without damaging your car or impairing your ability to handle it." The site echoes Kennedy's warning, too: "Towing too much weight can make it harder to stop your car or avoid road obstacles. It can also damage your wheel bearings, brakes, transmission, engine and axle."
To find out your tow rating, check your owners manual or the certificate of compliance on the inside door panel on the driver's side. For detailed charts, terms, calculations and examples, visit the Towing Resource Guide on the CURT towing manufacturer website or the Ford Guide to Towing online.
Once you know this information, it's time to visit a trailer dealer. You'll discuss cargo and utility styles, number of axles needed, trailer brakes, ramps, a side entrance, warranties and more. There is a perfect choice for everyone! Planning ahead for your trailer-travel trip will save you time, money and frustration.