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atomicfriday

Towing with a small vehicle

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I am in the market for a new vehicle, and I am leaning heavily towards a chevy tracker. It has everything I'm looking for; great mileage, easy to drive, roomy for my big dogs, excellent reliability and above par off-road capabilities. Plus they are cheap (a few grand) even with low miles, and in great condition. Only thing it is lacking is towing capacity, which at a max is rated at 1500 lbs. I do not want to do anything to feel unsafe, or burn up my new to me SUV. I want a 16 ft aluminum hull with about a 30 horse motor, I'm not sure exactly how much all that plus a trailer and loaded down with supplies would weigh but I gather it's close?

I have the means to upgrade the truck, it will already be equipped with 4x4 and a 6 cylinder engine but I also planned to install a trans cooler, premium brakes, and a weight distributing hitch. Is this feasible? I don't want to tear up my truck or worse, end up in he water at the ramp! I live in Florida where it is flat but go to Alabama quite a bit where the ramps can be very steep. 

I am looking for honest opinions, if it's just not right then let me know. 

Thank you! :D

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I wouldn't feel comfortable towing with that vehicle.  Do you have the model/specs for your boat?

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I don't have a boat yet, but I wanted to buy one after I bought a vehicle. My mom has a 14 ft Sea Nymph with a 20 on it and I love it except I'd like a little more space as it's kind of crowded for my dogs. Not too too bad just be more comfortable in a 16.

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As an example, a Tracker Pro 16 with a 40 HP has a package weight of just over 1400 lbs.  With fuel and gear you're easily at 1500 so, you're at the limit of the Tracker's towing capacity.  While many would discourage you from using the Tracker at its limit, I feel if you do all the upgrades you talk about, you could get away with it for short hauls in Florida.

You could also look at a small SUV with a better towing rating.  I have a 2014 Ford Escape with the factory towing package.  Believe it or not, it has a factory rating of 3500 lbs with this package.  I trailer my Nitro Sport with a 150 on a factory trailer that comes in at over 3200 lbs and it does fine.  It's been all over Central Florida.  I even trailer-ed the rig back from northern Alabama to Florida after buying it (over 650 miles) and it did fine.  Has over 50,000 miles on it now and no problems yet.

Another SUV to consider is the Jeep Cherokee or the Honda CRV.  I believe they are rated for 2000 lbs.

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If you are going to tow with a small vehicle, get on good terms with your auto mechanic. You'll be seeing him regularly. 

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3 minutes ago, Scott F said:

If you are going to tow with a small vehicle, get on good terms with your auto mechanic. You'll be seeing him regularly. 

Pretty "all the time" statement without any factual info as backup. How many small vehicles have you trailer-ed with and what kind of problems have you had?  I have trailer-ed Three 3000+ lb rigs over the past 20 years with 3 separate vehicles (Tacoma, Mercury, Ford Escape) with zero trailering related problems.  All had either factory towing packages or heavy duty items added for towing. :)

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Do the Escapes have a 4x4 trim? One of the main reasons I was attracted to the tracker over similar vehicles was its offroad capabilities. I know Jeeps come prepared but I have not once had a positive experience with one, plus they typically are more expensive. Perhaps I should start looking at other options, or if I do go with the tracker just accept it won't be towing anything.

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1 minute ago, atomicfriday said:

Do the Escapes have a 4x4 trim? One of the main reasons I was attracted to the tracker over similar vehicles was its offroad capabilities. I know Jeeps come prepared but I have not once had a positive experience with one, plus they typically are more expensive. Perhaps I should start looking at other options, or if I do go with the tracker just accept it won't be towing anything.

If you mean switchable 4 wheel drive and high ride attitude, no.  The escape has optional all-wheel drive.  It does ride higher than a sedan but, not meant for off-road.

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51 minutes ago, Ray K said:

Pretty "all the time" statement without any factual info as backup. How many small vehicles have you trailer-ed with and what kind of problems have you had?  I have trailer-ed Three 3000+ lb rigs over the past 20 years with 3 separate vehicles (Tacoma, Mercury, Ford Escape) with zero trailering related problems.  All had either factory towing packages or heavy duty items added for towing. :)

I've never had problems towing my boat because I've always had a powerful tow vehicle. My friend who always has towed his boats with smaller cars and minivans constantly has transmission and brake problems. Granted, he bought used cars that were not upgraded with towing packages. 

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I too have seen several guys in my club chew up their V-6 Explorer/Blazer/Durango/Jeep whatever midsize SUVs, towing heavy bass rigs at their towing limits.

 

Personally, I towed a 17' Sea Nymph deep-V/50 hp Merc,  with a 2.8l V-6 Jeep Cherokee Chief without issue, but that boat was very light.  I think it was less than 1000 lbs.  It really depends on how finished the interior is.  Mine had a flat floor, long livewell, and a couple of seats, that's it.

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27 minutes ago, J Francho said:

I too have seen several guys in my club chew up their V-6 Explorer/Blazer/Durango/Jeep whatever midsize SUVs, towing heavy bass rigs at their towing limits.

 

Personally, I towed a 17' Sea Nymph deep-V/50 hp Merc,  with a 2.8l V-6 Jeep Cherokee Chief without issue, but that boat was very light.  I think it was less than 1000 lbs.  It really depends on how finished the interior is.  Mine had a flat floor, long livewell, and a couple of seats, that's it.

The 17" basic Sea Nymph weighs in the 700 lb range.  Add to that about 300 lbs for the motor and fuel and about 400-500 lbs for a trailer and you probably were towing a little less than 1500 lbs.  Your Jeep probably didn't object to that load at all.

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Maybe I missed it, but a must have for towing is a transmission cooler.  It doesn't matter how big the tow rig and how small the boat (within reason) a cooler will add years to the life of a transmission.

When I'm towing, I frequently check the transmission temps, and tire pressures.  Gotta love the modern electronics in vehicles.

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I have a 1995 ford bronco that's really a pretty good rig for towing lighter rigs. 

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I think you'd be better off with an older Wrangler rather than the Tracker for a tow vehicle. You'd have a ton more upgrade options and the straight 6 is pretty bulletproof.

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First off I would like to thank you. You are at least trying to do things in the right order. My buddy bought a 30 thousand dollar boat with no way to tow it. The only way he could use it was when me or my buddies would take our trucks and take him fishing. To think if he would have just bought a 10 thousand dollar boat and 20 thousand dollar boat he could have fished whenever he wanted.

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Thank you everyone for your insight! After much deliberation, though the tracker ticks off everything but towing capacity, for me it kind of defeats the purpose of having a truck. That being said, I decided instead to look for a chevy Colorado. They have a tow rating of 7,000 lbs, which I feel MUCH better about! Even if the trackers capacity was twice what it is at 3,000 I still wouldn't feel as confident towing close to the max. 

Ive done some backward things in my day, trying to do it right this time hehe. If I had a thirty grand budget... I'd spend twenty on my truck and ten on the boat, you can find nasty boats for 10gs all day here. I'm working with about 15 all way around but I have utmost confidence I will get what I want, need, and happily be out on the water every chance I get :)

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On 11/8/2016 at 1:04 PM, Ray K said:

You could also look at a small SUV with a better towing rating.  I have a 2014 Ford Escape with the factory towing package.  Believe it or not, it has a factory rating of 3500 lbs with this package.  I trailer my Nitro Sport with a 150 on a factory trailer that comes in at over 3200 lbs and it does fine.  It's been all over Central Florida.  I even trailer-ed the rig back from northern Alabama to Florida after buying it (over 650 miles) and it did fine.  Has over 50,000 miles on it now and no problems yet.

I tow a Crestliner CMV 1850 with the same vehicle.  Zero problems, zero issues.  Boat/full gas tank/trailer/gear maxes out around 2,800 lbs.

Have towed it to Canada and back three times ~1,000 round trip.  At least another 1,000 miles a year with local and regional trips.

I live in NW WI, so while I'm certainly not in mountains, it's not flat around here either.  Pulls fine @ 70 MPH on the highway, 60 MPH on state and county roads.  Plenty of torque, stops just fine, has built in anti-sway int he factory trailering package.

I tend towards being cautious - I never exceed 90% of a vehicle's tow rating.  I'm well under that with my current set up

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I tow and cartop with a small 1993 RAM Charger SUV.

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I have a Ranger RT178 with a 75 merc 4-stroke and a transom mount talon.  I initially towed it earlier this season with a 2008 Escape which is equipped with a 3.0L V6.  It did fine but I really noticed was how much it would labor all the time and burn up so much fuel.  Long trips were pretty intolerable.  So that vehicle got upgraded to an F-150 equipped with a 5.0L V8.  What a difference!  I should have made that upgrade months ago.  The truck just doesn't have to work nearly as hard to tow the boat, plus the fuel tank is like 3 times the size so I only have to fill up about once a month.

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