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Discussion Starter #1
Greetings all,

I wish I had more time to surf the site and contribute more often, but this issue has been parsed quite a bit, herein, and now that I have some experience with the issue, I felt it a good bit of information for those seeking to tow a camper with their FJ. That being said, my apologies if any of this is redundant.

My FJ is an '07 with about 254HP (via CAI and AFE exhaust). The wheels are 17's and tires are just big enough to fit under the slight wheel-well increase from the OME suspension so they don't rub anywhere. This created a bit of power loss respective of towing. I don't claim to be any type of a wrench so pardon me if my choice of words are - well - non-technical...

I've been towing a 21 ft Winnebago Minnie. With hitch (load dist. hitch), cargo, and empty water tank, it's coming in around 4,600 pounds. I also have added one anti-sway bar.

Here's the scoop per my experience...

The cons: Best MPG has been 11 and the worst has been 9.5. She struggles a bit over hill and dale. I try not to push her beyond 2,500 rpm over the mountains which has dragged me down to a bottom of about 45 mph at times.

The pros: No sway on the interstates so long as the sway bar is tight enough. There's a tiny bit when a semi passes (sometimes). However, much less than anticipated. The hitch set up does the job. Also, she runs on "gentle" interstate grades at around 60 to 63 MPH at 2,500 RPM's in 4th (auto trans/wish it was a standard). In 5th she does better with lower RPM's and will stay above 60 on the "gentle" grades if I hit them at 70 (I know - that's too fast!). Note: this practice is questionable because of towing in 5th and the speed required to maintain 60. Any gear searching is stopped by just putting her in 4th.

Suspension question: I remember how she handled when new and the suspension was stock. I couldn't imagine towing that about of weight with stock suspension. My FJ keeps the original 1 inch rake when hitched up. She does not squat at all.

Notes:

I also have a Warn winch bumper and 8,000 pound winch that adds weight to the front end. That, in addition to the added weight from the increased tire size, as well as the weight dist. hitch and anti-sway bar, I feel, makes travel quite stable and manageable. I also have OME shocks, struts and springs all around. The tires are Bridgestone Revos (285's I think). I also have the TRD CAO and an AFE high flow exhaust, which barely gives enough power for such a heavy camper (respectively). The dry weight is 3,900 pounds and one must consider hitch, propane tanks, cargo, etc.


Parting thoughts: Two more cylinders would be nice! The tranny cooler mod is a must and was the first thing I did when I bought the camper. All things considered, she does OKAY. Time will tell how the motor and tranny holds up. I've done all the scheduled maintenance on both and have run full synthetic in the motor from day one - currently running Amsoil. Hope this helps for anyone considering towing near or at the manufacturer's stated capacity. Ultimately, I wouldn't consider this unless adequate mods are made to both the suspension and engine.

Happy trails...
 

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Towing anything always worries me, and I have been doing it for years. Towing at or near the capacity of my tow vehicle would not suit me at all. Not trying to be Debbie Downer, but if you are ever in an accident and there is a lawsuit (your fault or not), you can bet the first set of questions from the other guy's lawyer will go something like this:
1. what is the GCVR and GVWR of your vehicle and what were the actual numbers
2. what is the dry and wet weights of your trailer
3. what is the rated and actual tongue weight
4. what tires are on the tow vehicle
etc

I just dont think towing at "capacity" (which involves ALOT more than just the tow rating- see above) is a good idea, and bear in mind that the maximum tow capacity is usually determined based upon a completely empty tow vehicle (plus only a 150 lb driver). For this reason, most knowledgeable rv shops suggest staying well under the GVWR and at no more than 80% of the tow rating.

I think you might want to consider a 1/2 ton truck or a different camper ....
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Luk4mud - I appreciate the input... I'm well aware of all that you expressed. Not a downer, just reality... My insurance company approved the setup. Paying that I never have to hear those ugly questions. I was around heavy equipment for nearly a decade in the military as a combat engineer, and I'm also well aware of issues like load distribution, stopping distance, etc... She really does handle and track well. She stops well also (w/ trailer brakes OUDOORBOY).

Love your setup Gary. Nothing like camping in comfort.

Crazywolf - On the highway I was getting 16.5 consistently.

Luk4mud - back to your observations, I would love to have a Tundra but want to wear out the FJ first. It is sure that many factors come into play when setting up to tow. Not claiming to be an expert, here. Just putting out my experience for perspective. I was quite a bit nervous about the purchase but now that I've got some miles on it, I'm comfortable with the set up, operating and hauling within the limits (and stopping distance). As far as getting sued - I have been deposed on 3 different occasions because of my profession. All three times the claims were frivolous. It sucks... However, while I won't throw caution to the wind, I also refuse to let "litigaphobia" spoil my fun with the FJ...
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Actual figures from a certified weigh master when I was on my way home from camping. He came out with his portable scales for me.

My actual weight that I was drafting at the time was 9475 (my fat ass included).

Here is how it weighed out:

Front axle FJ: 2,525 pounds
Rear axle FJ: 2,625 pounds

Front axle trailer: 1,950 pounds
Rear axle Trailer: 2,225 pounds

Many factors make it impossible to contribute exact weight proportions. I had my small dog, 5 gallons of gas and some tools in the FJ (about 100 pounds total). I also have heavier tires than stock, a Warn bumper and winch as well. The trailer was loaded light, as I drank most of the beer and all the holding tanks were empty.

My final impressions:

I get almost Zero sway from semi-trucks or the camper in mild winds. I'm sure there will be more in moderate winds but the anti-sway bar on the hitch does the trick. I also have OME springs and shocks, which are about 30% stiffer (springs) that stock. This is a key element to the combination. In retrospect, I feel the heavy bumper and heavier tires help hold the FJ down a bit more, which adds to stability.

The weigh master's official opinions was that I was legal. All things considered, towing with any additional weight would put me at capacity and is NOT advisable. Having hauled it now on several trips, and knowing how soft the ride was before the suspension build up, I would not advise trying this with a stock FJ and no experience towing. On performance, it stops well, respective of what it takes to stop almost 5 tons. Pulling grades up to 6% saw only about 45 to 50 mph in 4th gear at 2,500 rpms. I refuse to rev it beyond the high 2,000's.

PS: The dog weighs 37 pounds soaking wet!
 

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Minnie is right at 5000 lbs loaded. I pull with 07 FJC 5spd (EBC, WDH, aux. cooler) a few times a year between Portland, OR and Pismo, CA and it does pretty well. I get between 8 and 11mpg using 4th gear. I keep it around 2500 rpm on flat lands and will bump up to 3rd/3500 on steep grades and passes. 62mph is the 'sweet spot' for fuel economy. Any significant headwind cuts the fuel mileage significantly and cross-winds introduce sway when large profile vehicles pass. Keeping the sway control adjusted is key. Too light and it sways in the breeze. Too tight and the stability control complains on tight corners. At maximum capacity, everything is a fine balance but the setup works well. Been drooling over DieselToys retrofits but I can't justify the cost yet. Maybe a supercharger one day? Any thoughts on airbags?
Had to replace the front crankshaft seal recently at a cost of $25 and an hour of my time to solve an oil leak at high rpm's. I blame the sustained long hauls and heavy foot in the mountains as I occasionally pop down into 2nd/4500 to get past the line of semi trucks on steep grades without slowing down regular traffic.
I do not baby my rig, but I make sure to stay impeccable with maintenance. I monitor AT/TC temps using Torque Pro on long hill climbs. Did a total WS-ATF fluid exchange 70k miles ago, I plan on doing so again after my next trip down and back.
1119724

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Might I suggest...

 

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Might I suggest...

This. A brake upgrade is definitely a good idea when towing. I went through a couple sets of OEM rotors before I decided to put on a set of Powerstop Extreme Z36 Truck&Tows. They're awesome!
 

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Remember the towing capacity has been revised to 4,700 lbs.
True. Toyota started publishing TWR at 4,700 beginning with model year 2012. Truth be told, I avoid towing long distances with a full fresh water tank, I load just enough to flush and maybe a quick shower during an overnight boondock on a multi-day drive. That gets me a couple hundred under the 5k from the user's manual even if it adds a few cantilever pounds to the tongue weight. 900 miles is a long haul with an FJ towing this much of a load but is certainly doable, just drive like a sane person and don't be in a hurry. When I get to my destination and drive unhooked the difference is...well, it feels like I'm driving a race car all of the sudden LOL. The wind resistance is the killer. A brick towing a brick!
 
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