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Do you need a 4×4 to tow a travel trailer?

If you are going to tow a travel trailer for the first time, I know how much questions may be roaring in your head!! Yah that’s good.  

You should have to consider a lot of things before going out with a trailer hanging on your back.  

In this article I’m going to talk with you broadly on a few aspects of towing a travel trailer.

Really do you need a 4WD truck to tow a trailer ? Simply No!! You don’t need 4WD to tow a travel trailer. You can tow with a 2WD truck under it’s towing capacities.

But if you wish to tow your trailer in tough off road conditions like sand trails, muddy terrains and through snow, then undoubtedly you should tow with a 4WD truck.

Otherwise you will be stuck in the middle of nowhere. I put few trucks and there max towing capacities to take an idea of towing capacities .



Truck vs Max Towing Capacity

 Truck  Max Towing Capacity
 Chevrolet Colorado 3500 pounds
 Chevrolet Silverado 1500  9300 pounds
 Chevrolet Silverado   2500HD Diesel  18500 pounds
 Chevrolet Silverado   3500HD Diesel  20000 pounds
 Ford Ranger   7500 pounds
 Ford F-150  13200 pounds
 Ford F-250 20000 pounds
 Ford F-350  21200 pounds
 GMC Sierra 1500  12100 pounds
 Jeep Gladiator  7650 pounds
 Nissan Frontier   6700 pounds
 Toyota Tacoma 6800 pounds
 Ram 1500  12750 pounds


With those things in mind, in this article I’m going to cover the following things.

  1. Advantages of using a 2WD truck for towing a travel trailer
  2. Difference between using FWD and RWD vehicles for towing
  3. Advantages of using a 4WD truck for towing a travel trailer
  4. 2WD vs 4WD for towing a travel trailer 
  5. Other important things should be considered when towing in tough road conditions.



Advantages of using a 2WD truck for towing a travel trailer

Towing capacity

There is a rating on vehicles about capacity that can carry called GVWR.(Gross vehicle weight rating). This GVWR depends on the vehicle’s weight. 

If your vehicle’s weight is increased, the amount of weight that can be loaded to your vehicle is reduced. 

Think of two trucks in the same model, but one has 4WD and the other doesn’t have 4WD.  

The one with 4WD have a few hundred of pounds higher weight than the other because of extra equipment in 4WD like transfer cases and extra drive shafts. (100 – 300 lbs.)

Because of this higher weight maximum towing capacity is reduced in 4WD than a 2WD truck.  

So if you are trying to get the maximum use from your truck, when towing 2WD have more towing capacity than a 4WD truck.



MPG

It’s not a secret that 4WD vehicles burn more gas than 2WD vehicles.

Even 4WD not engaged, there may be more fuel consumption due to the higher weight than a 2WD vehicle.

So if you are highly concern about fuel consumption of your truck when towing a travel trailer, 2WD is the best option.



Difference between using FWD and RWD vehicles for towing

How front wheel drive(FWD) and rear wheel drive(RWD) affect the towing? 

When towing traction among your wheels and ground is an important fact.

For the better traction there must be a good contact between your tires and the ground. 

If your vehicle is a rear wheel driven vehicle, how is the weight divided among wheels when the travel trailer is attached? 

Tongue weight will transfer the rear axle of the vehicle through the tow ball.

That weight presses the rear wheels of the vehicle down. With that pressing down, traction gain by rear wheels increased.

With that extra traction, the vehicle can accelerate easily without spinning wheels unnecessarily on the ground.

Even when the vehicle towing in a uniform velocity, unnecessary slipping of driving wheels reduced.

But if your vehicle is driven by front wheels opposite of the above happens.

When the travel trailer is attached, your rear axle gets the weight and presses down back of the vehicle.

At the same time front wheels tend to rise from the ground with the leverage. 

Even if your front wheels touched the ground surface, they have a lesser traction than before attaching the trailer. 

So your wheels may tend to spin unnecessarily when accelerating. If the road conditions are not fair, slipping can happen easily.



Advantages of using a 4WD truck for towing travel trailer

This is bit tricky. Actually for the towing purpose you don’t need a 4WD truck.

If the capacities of your truck goes with your trailer you can tow with a 2WD truck as I mentioned earlier.

With using a 4WD truck for that purpose, you just reduce your maximum towing capacity.

But if you are towing your travel trailer through off roads or you are living in an area with snow falls you have to think about using a 4WD truck.

You may need 4WD mode frequently to tow your travel trailer through those conditions.

If your roads have few inches of ice when towing a travel trailer, you must need to engage 4WD mode to move forward.

If you are going for camping in a coastal area, you must need 4WD to tow your travel trailer on sand.

With a 2WD normally it’s impossible to tow a trailer on sand.

So that you have to think about your needs, if you are going to buy a vehicle for towing a travel trailer.

If you are running on tough road conditions or you wish to do off-roading with your vehicle you have to choose a 4WD truck. 

People buy a 4WD truck because towing is not the only thing they wish to do with it. So think what you’re going to do with your truck apart from towing also.

When using 4WD, MPG will be reduced than a 2WD. Maximum towing capacity will be reduced from a few hundred lbs.

Those are the main things that I see as disadvantages of using a 4WD truck.   

Apart from those things common disadvantages like wearing of wheels increases and repairing cost will increase in 4WD trucks than a 2WD truck.

So those are the advantages and disadvantages of using 2WD and 4WD for towing a travel trailer. 



Other important things should be considered when towing in tough road conditions.

When towing traction is a major fact. For the better traction you must use a good set of tires.

Especially if you are going to tow in tough road conditions like snowy roads, muddy roads, slippery hills and even on the beach you must need a suitable tire set for that. 

Especially if you live in an area with snow falls you may have the experience, how hard it is to get the necessary traction for your wheels.  

This increases a few times when you attach a travel trailer on the back of your truck. 

Even if your engine gives enough power for your wheels, they may be unable to keep the necessary traction if they are just normal street tires. This is just a example

This is common for other off-roading conditions that I mentioned above.

So try to get a good wheelset for your truck, if you are going to beat such terrains while towing your travel trailer.

Otherwise you will be stuck somewhere with your travel trailer, even if you bought a 4WD truck.

As I told at the start of this article here I had talked about very few aspects of towing.

If you are a newbie in towing, there are a lot of important things you should know before going out with your travel trailer hanging on your back.

I found a good article on consumer report on safely towing a travel trailer. I just put this article as a little help for you.

Do your research and be armed with the necessary knowledge before going out.

It will give you a headache free fun journey with your new travel trailer.

Finally if you find this article helpful, share with your off-roading pals. You just have to click a share button below.

Have fun and safe off-roading !!  

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