Flat Towing A Lexus
Q: I recently made several calls to Lexus inquiring as to whether a Lexus SUV (LX, GX, RX) could be flat towed behind my motorhome. I was informed that Lexus did not recommend flat towing the vehicle and that it could possibly cause transmission damage. After several more questions, I realized that I couldn’t get a straight answer, and therefore gave up. No one would say yes or no to either point. I questioned the fact that the vehicles definitely do have a transfer case that will shift into neutral and thereby disengage the transmission. I am not a mechanic, but if that is the case, as Lexus claims, and the transmission is totally disengaged, how can towing the vehicle cause damage to the transmission? I am sure this question has come up before. The local Lexus dealer claims to get numerous inquiries on this topic. He agrees with my logic, but can’t answer the question any better. Your assistance in helping me to understand my options on these vehicles would be greatly appreciated.
Todd Brady, F255572S
Cut Off, Louisiana
A: Although you didn’t mention the model year of the vehicle in question, I checked our 2003 and 2004 list of vehicles that can be towed four wheels down, and no Lexus vehicles were included. Despite your reasoning, if the company indicates that a vehicle should not be towed four wheels down, you should follow that recommendation. A manufacturer warranties more components in a vehicle’s drivetrain than just the transmission. Perhaps the vehicle’s transfer case, the differential(s), or other parts may be damaged in a long flat tow. If you still wish to flat tow a Lexus, you should contact Remco (800-228-2481) and ask what equipment you’ll need to safely tow your Lexus.
Q: We’re wondering whether FMC maintains a list of towable pickup trucks. For example, can a Ford F-150 XLT be towed four wheels down? What about a Chevy S-10 or Silverado 1500?
Mike and Lillian Zonnefeld, F160922
A: The January 2004 issue of Family Motor Coaching magazine included an article about 2004-model-year vehicles that can be towed four wheels down without significant modifications. In it you will find that the four-wheel-drive Silverado is listed as being towable without modifications. The four-wheel-drive F-150 with a manual transfer case also is towable. To tow the F-150, the center disconnect must be locked out by capping off one of the front axle vacuum motor lines. The S-10 four-wheel-drive automatic was originally included on the towables list provided by Chevrolet. However, since the list was published in the January 2004 issue of the magazine, we have discovered that no S-10 trucks can be towed four wheels down.
FMCA members and FMC magazine subscribers can access the towed vehicle articles for 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 by logging on to www.fmca.com. Click on the “Motorhoming Guide” channel on the blue navigation bar and then click on “Towing” and then “Towing Four Wheels Down.” Links to the articles appear at the bottom of the page. FMC also published articles about the 1999 and 2000 vehicles that can be towed four wheels down, but these are not available on the Web site.
To obtain a photocopy of any of these articles, please feel free to send a self-addressed, stamped, business-size envelope along with your request to: Family Motor Coaching, 8291 Clough Pike, Cincinnati, OH 45244, Attn. Editorial Assistant.
Luxor Towing A Yukon
Q: We have a 1995 38-foot Luxor motorhome and recently bought a new 2004 GMC two-wheel-drive Yukon. At the time we were looking at the Yukon, some dealers told us we could haul it just fine with a disengager, but my husband read somewhere that the SUV would be too heavy to pull behind the motorhome. I checked other sources, which also indicated that it would be okay and not hurt the motorhome. I’ve noticed that you’ve said it is not wise to haul a Yukon without having a supplemental braking system. What is that? We have a device on the motorhome that is similar to a “Jake Brake.” Is that the same thing or is it different? Can you help me?
Shari Allen, F209775
A: I tested a new Luxor many years ago and really enjoyed the experience. As far as towing the Yukon behind your motorhome, there are several issues that first need to be addressed.
First, as you probably already know, the two-wheel-drive Yukon is not approved by the manufacturer for flat towing without modifications. You’ll need to use a trailer or dolly to pull it, or have a driveshaft disconnect installed to make it towable four wheels down. If you choose to flat tow the vehicle with the driveshaft disconnect, call Remco at (800) 228-2481 for more information.
Second is the weight issue. Since the 2004 two-wheel-drive Yukon has a curb weight of more than 5,000 pounds, you must be sure that your motorhome can handle the additional load. The first thing you should do is to weigh both vehicles separately. When weighing the motorhome, make sure that it is loaded as it would be for a normal trip (tools, full water, fuel, belongings, etc.).
Begin by comparing the total weight of the motorhome to the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) assigned to the motorhome by the manufacturer. This number can be found in the owners manual or on the data plate installed by the manufacturer. If the weight of the motorhome exceeds the GVWR, the motorhome is overloaded. If this is the case, you will need to remove some of the items you’re carrying so the weight will fall under the GVWR.
Once it’s determined you’re under the GVWR, add the weights of the motorhome and towed vehicle together and compare this number with the gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of the motorhome. (You also should find this rating listed in the owners manual or on the data plate.) The GCWR indicates the total weight that the manufacturer has approved for the coach’s power train and other components. If the combined weight does not exceed the coach’s GCWR, you may tow the Yukon. However, the GCWR figure does not take into account braking ability. The GVWR indicates the weight that the motorhome is capable of stopping.
Some motorhome manufacturers and chassis manufacturers recommend that supplemental brakes be used on any towed vehicle. With the Yukon’s weight, I strongly suggest that you use a supplemental braking system. The supplemental braking system provides stopping power for the towed vehicle. An engine brake, such as the Jake Brake, provides braking for the motorhome itself. As mentioned earlier, the motorhome is designed to stop a specific weight (GVWR); once you exceed that weight, you’re putting undue stress on the motorhome’s braking system and creating a safety issue.
I cannot recommend a specific brand of supplemental braking system, but I very strongly recommend not towing a vehicle as heavy as the Yukon without one. As is mentioned many times in the towing seminars I moderate at FMCA conventions, it’s much better to stop 10 feet in front of the brick wall (or another vehicle) than 10 feet behind it.
Please check the “Business Directory” in the June 2004 issue of FMC magazine under the listing for “Brakes and/or Equipment” for the commercial members that sell supplemental braking systems. Or, find these companies online at www.fmca.com/bd. Contact one or more of them before making up your mind on which system to use.
The July 2003 issue of FMC magazine contained an article about supplemental braking. This article is available online as well, or by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the FMCA national office, attention Editorial Assistant.