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Hi All, I'm looking at purchasing a new ZR2, but I want to use it for towing a travel trailer. I've found a good amount of data on towing with the Duramax, but can't seem to find a lot of info from people using a gasser.

If I was towing a travel trailer regularly through high elevation in the West, what should be the maximum trailer dry weight (other than the 5k lbs tow rating) I do not exceed? To be honest, I have no experience towing, so I have no idea how close to 5000lbs I should be getting. Would adding air bags or a WDH help me tow above 4500lbs more comfortably?

Thanks in advance.
 

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No, air bags won't help. An LT or Z71 would have higher tow ratings though--the ZR2 is limited by the suspension, not the engine, and I don't believe it's entirely a payload change. The Ford Raptor has the most powerful engine in an F-150, but the lowest tow rating (or close to it).

I've repeatedly call max tow ratings marketing BS. There are also other limitations such as tongue weight and payload to consider. This site can help you with some of those numbers.


As for engine you could watch this Ike Gauntlet test of the gas vs diesel. The gas is faster up the hill, but the diesel better overall (at least in their scoring).


Finally there are threads here that discuss this topic. Try searching for the word "towing" in the title.
 

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I appreciate the prompt response. I've read through a bunch of threads, including the "what are you towing" one. I just keep getting conflicting info. I've seen some guys with a ZR2 towing 6000lbs+, and then I've also heard about the 85% rule. It's hard to tell which one is better advice.
 

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. I've seen some guys with a ZR2 towing 6000lbs+, and then I've also heard about the 85% rule. It's hard to tell which one is better advice.
Well you also hear of some guys towing at 80 mph. :rolleyes:

I haven't heard of the 85% rule, but I would look more at the individual limits like payload, tongue weight and axle ratings, and not exceed any of those (and presumably doing that you'd also not be exceeding the max tow rating. But if I were going to set a percentage of max tow I'd like to be at no more than 66% of a max tow rating, just because I consider that one BS.

On another forum I saw someone planning on pulling a 4,200 dry weight trailer with a Subaru Ascent. Foolish in my eyes.
 

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there is a major cushion involved with factory tow ratings.

With a WDH I would tow what it says it can tow, with the load rating taken in consideration also.

The ZR2 is limited by it's suspension and nothing else, same as the Raptor.
 

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Ok, first piece of advice. Ignore dry weight. That is not the weight of the trailer with everything except water, that is the weight of the trailer without any dealer-installed accessories/options and often times without batteries or propane. So if you buy a trailer that lists a 5,000LB dry weight you'll already be exceeding the 5,000LB limit before you pull that trailer off the dealer's lot. Dry weights are largely useless and are not the reference number to go by when trying to decide if the trailer will be too heavy.

Without knowing the cargo/payload capacity of the trailer you're better off looking at the trailer GVWR, this is the maximum weight the trailer is rated to weigh when loaded. If you know the cargo capacity and it's thousands of pounds more than the dry weight of the trailer and you don't plan on loading it to capacity you can get a rough estimate of loaded weight by taking the dry weight, add 50LB per battery, 38LB per propane tank, 600LB for food, clothes, and gear, and then see what the approximate weight will be.

For example, a trailer may list a 4,200LB dry weight and 6,500LB GVWR with a 2,300LB cargo capacity. That 6,500LB GVWR is higher than your max tow rating (which is only one rating you need to be looking at, more on that later) but you may never get there. However, 4200 + 50 + 76 + 600 = 4,926LB and is under the max tow rating.

Now you need to consider trailer tongue weight. Open the driver's door of a ZR2 you're thinking about and look at the tire placard on the B-pillar, it will have a sticker that says the maximum weight of all occupants and cargo must never exceed XXXX LB. Let's say the payload sticker says 1,300LB max payload. Let's assume the above trailer has 12% of the weight on the tongue, so 591LB. Let's say you and your family add up to 625LB. 591 + 625 = 1,216LB. That's under the max payload, however that doesn't include the weight of the weight-distributing hitch or any non-factory "stuff" you have in the cab or bed of the truck. 84 more pounds and you'll be at the truck's GVWR. A lot of people only know about the max tow rating and don't know what the actual tow rating is or what impacts the actual tow rating. You need to know what your actual payload capacity is after the truck is loaded with everyone and everything that would be going along for the ride. Subtract that from the payload listed on the sticker. Divide that by 12% (.12). That will give you your actual max tow rating because most people are limited by payload capacity/hitch weight and not total trailer weight.

Sorry if this sounds complicated, but dealers won't take the time to explain weights and capacities properly and will either blindly tell you that you can tow whatever you're looking at or they will only look at the max tow rating the vehicle manufacturer claims and say you'll be fine because the dry weight is under the max tow rating. As a result, I'd say the vast majority of people towing travel trailers are overweight and don't realize it. A number of them end up paying the price because their tow vehicle/combination comes up short when they try and avoid an accident or are traveling in adverse conditions (high winds especially).

So, loaded trailer weight under max tow rating and load trailer tongue weight under remaining payload capacity once all people and gear has been accounted for. If you stay under those weights then you should be just fine. The 85% rule...meh. It doesn't guarantee anything because everyone's loads are different. You can still be overweight if you stick to 85% of max published ratings because that's just an arbitrary number based on nothing in particular.
 

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Just for info

Good advice above. A general rule I've usually went is 13% of a travel trailer weight on the tongue plus most people I've seen recommend a WDH for above a 500lb tongue weight which adds 100lbs on to the truck.
Even before trailer shopping you could weigh what you plan to pack on a scale at home and have that number with you plus propane and battery for the trailer.
Packing is also a balancing game, every 100lbs you can keep out of the truck and in the trailer lets you tow another 770 lbs trailer weight until you max out the payload (which will be what usually always limits what a truck can tow)
I wouldnt hesitate to max out the towing on the truck. Theres so much safety factor in the mechanics of the truck and then the safety factor of assuming people drive like idiots for more margin.
 

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there is a major cushion involved with factory tow ratings.
I disagree. There almost undoubtedly is cushion with the payload, axel and tongue weight limits, but the tow rating is pure fantasy designed to aid sales.

Also, it is somewhat dependent on type of trailer, which is something the max tow rating doesn't tell you.
 

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If I was towing a travel trailer regularly through high elevation in the West,
You should really consider the diesel option. NA engines lose 2-3% of their power for every 1,000' in elevation gain. A turbo diesel is much more efficient than that, and makes nearly 100% of it's power at any elevation. Towing at high altitude is where the diesel really shines, and just about the only situation where it really makes good sense.

You will also get much better fuel mileage. And with diesel being cheaper than gas, that's a bonus.

The diesel option adds about $5K or so. But that also includes the heavy duty tow package, which you were going to buy anyway.

The diesel option will not increase your tow rating. As said above, that's dependent on the suspension, which doesn't change.
 

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You should really consider the diesel option. NA engines lose 2-3% of their power for every 1,000' in elevation gain. A turbo diesel is much more efficient than that, and makes nearly 100% of it's power at any elevation. Towing at high altitude is where the diesel really shines, and just about the only situation where it really makes good sense.

You will also get much better fuel mileage. And with diesel being cheaper than gas, that's a bonus.
Okay, when ever someone says diesel is more expensive than gas I chime in with that is regional. So in fairness I'll do it here where someone claims it's cheaper. It really does depend on where you are. Around here it also depends on the station. I ran past one the other day that had diesel for about $1.50 more than Costco. I can't imagine they sell to much of the stuff. But another station that a year ago was one of those outrageous price places was almost the same as Costco. I still continue to believe these outlier stations price based on when they got their last fill, rather than market.

As to V6 gas v. I4 diesel for towing, I think another factor is engine RPMs. With the gas owners will worry their engine is revving too high, with diesel owners will worry their engine is lugging.
 

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From personal experience, I'd suggest staying under 4K if you're going to be doing much driving in the mountains. I've pulled a Scamp 19' camper that grossed out around 3.5K for over fifteen years. First with 05 and 12 Tacoma TRD double cab autos and the past year with a ZR2 gasser four door. This camper uses a ball mount bumper style hitch that mounts to fifth wheel rails and towers in the truck bed (sound clutzy but works great in practice).

The eighty five percent figure of gross trailer weight is a generally accepted number in the RV towing world for tongue weight. I have no idea as to how scientific that value is - only that its been around for a long time.

In 2018, we visited WY and I'd swear several bikers and maybe even a couple of hikers passed me as we were trying to get over Teton Pass, Red lining the tach in low gear for five miles with few places to pull over was not fun. We haven't had the Colorado out there yet but its done much better than the Tacos when towing here in the Smokies, Gas mileage on a recent 1,000 mile trip to and around western NC with about sixty percent towing was around 18 overall. The Tacomas would have been in the 12-13 mpg range for the same trip. Note: Scamps are of molded fiberglass construction with a rounded nose making them about as aerodynamic as any trailer out there.

When towing, I'm well under the 5K max towing spec but pretty close to the 10.3K GCWR limit as my truck has the Bison package (skids weight) and a 9.5 winch plus I carry a genset, 73 qt cooler, three Scepter five gallon cans (two fuel and one water), extra 20 lb propane tank, recovery gear, tools, spare parts etc. Pin weight of the trailer is around 400 lbs.

Our camping style is to find a base camp on public lands (Nat Parks, USFS, BLM, COE etc.) and spend several days there while using the truck to explore trails and backroads. The ZR2 and 19' Scamp make a pretty good combo for this.
 

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I disagree. There almost undoubtedly is cushion with the payload, axel and tongue weight limits, but the tow rating is pure fantasy designed to aid sales.

Also, it is somewhat dependent on type of trailer, which is something the max tow rating doesn't tell you.
so what is the actual tow rating on the ZR2, not what GM says but the actual tow rating?
Not what you think it is, but documented by NHTSA
 

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so what is the actual tow rating on the ZR2, not what GM says but the actual tow rating?
Not what you think it is, but documented by NHTSA
I have no idea, or even know if you're now talking about the same tow rating that is published (the SAE rating).

I'm just saying that tow rating number is not something someone can go by when picking out a trailer/truck combination, and that salespeople will get people to buy bad combinations based on just referring to that number. So no, I would not tow a travel trailer weighing 5,000 pounds behind a Subaru Ascent. I would not tow a 7,600 pound travel trailer behind my truck. I look more specifically at tongue weight and payload limits, as well as axel weights. The max tow rating is useless, because those other numbers will typically be exceeded long before you hit max tow, at least with travel trailers.
 

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Goodspike "I disagree. the tow rating is pure fantasy designed to aid sales.

Hunter62 "what is the actual tow rating on the ZR2, not what GM says but the actual tow rating?
Not what you think it is, but documented by NHTSA "

I have no idea, or even know if you're now talking about the same tow rating that is published (the SAE rating).

I'm just saying that tow rating number is not something someone can go by when picking out a trailer/truck combination, and that salespeople will get people to buy bad combinations based on just referring to that number. So no, I would not tow a travel trailer weighing 5,000 pounds behind a Subaru Ascent. I would not tow a 7,600 pound travel trailer behind my truck. I look more specifically at tongue weight and payload limits, as well as axel weights. The max tow rating is useless, because those other numbers will typically be exceeded long before you hit max tow, at least with travel trailers.

so another words, you have no facts no proof no clue to back up what you type.
 

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Goodspike "I disagree. the tow rating is pure fantasy designed to aid sales.

Hunter62 "what is the actual tow rating on the ZR2, not what GM says but the actual tow rating?
Not what you think it is, but documented by NHTSA "




so another words, you have no facts no proof no clue to back up what you type.
No, that's not what he said. Perhaps I can clarify...

The max tow rating published by the manufacturer is generally based on GCWR minus truck curb weight with a ~180LB driver and a full tank of fuel.

My Denali weighed 4,981LB from the factory with a full tank of fuel. The GCWR is 12,700LB. The max tow rating for my particular truck with me driving and nothing else in the truck and nobody else going with me would actually be 12700 - 4981 - 215 = 7,504LB and not the 7,550LB max tow rating GM claims for the CCLB Duramax trucks.

So now I want to take my family (wife and kids). 12700 - 4981 - 660 = 7,059LB max tow.

But wait, there's more!

My factory payload capacity is 1,219LB. Most trailers have 10-12% on the tongue. I still want to take my family...

1219 - 660 = 559 / .12 = 4,658LB max tow. WHAT?! As @Goodspike said, payload is often the limit people reach first and not GCWR. Maybe I get lucky and can get only 10% on the tongue, that's still only a 5,590LB trailer that I can tow, not a 7,000+LB trailer.

As was said, the MAX tow rating claimed by manufacturers is just that, the MAX possible trailer weight possible which is based on only one occupant and a truck with few options. The ACTUAL tow rating depends on the individual truck, how many people in the truck (their combined weight), any gear in the truck, etc, and then not exceeding GVWR, GCWR, or any GAWRs.

There is no singular tow rating for every truck published by the manufacturers, only the max possible. It's up to each owner/driver to figure out their actual max tow capacity based on their actual truck weights loaded and ready to go without the trailer being hitched up. Know the axle weights vs certified ratings on the certified weight sticker on the truck and you can figure out your true max tow rating.

Expecting a dealer or the manufacturer to know what you're going to carry in the truck and how many people you're going to take so they can give you a real tow rating is ridiculous.

So...the max tow ratings published by manufacturers are not actual tow ratings for every truck.
 
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so another words, you have no facts no proof no clue to back up what you type.
So in other words [whatever words I want to insert here that have absolutely nothing to do what what you have said].

Out of curiosity, how long have you been functionally illiterate. :rolleyes:
 

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Here are some actual numbers from my truck.

Curb weight 4753
GVWR 6200
Available Payload 1447
Less Accessories -200 (T-cover, side-bars and mirrors)
Less Passengers -340
Less Cargo in bed -200
Less tongue weight -550
Less hitch -70

Remaining payload with a 4,500 pound trailer: 87 pounds.
Max tow rating on my truck 7,600.

But yeah, the max tow rating is really useful.
 

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Here are some actual numbers from my truck.

Curb weight 4753
GVWR 6200
Available Payload 1447
Less Accessories -200 (T-cover, side-bars and mirrors)
Less Passengers -340
Less Cargo in bed -200
Less tongue weight -550
Less hitch -70

Remaining payload with a 4,500 pound trailer: 87 pounds.
Max tow rating on my truck 7,600.

But yeah, the max tow rating is really useful.
Are you using a GCWR of 10,700 for your calculation?
 

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Are you using a GCWR of 10,700 for your calculation?
10,700 is the GCWR for the ZR2 diesel, for the ZR2 V6 it's 10,300. Just FYI. GCWR didn't even enter into the above calculation because it was demonstrating that GVWR/payload is the limit being reached first for him, not GCWR/tow weight.
 
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