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· 4WL TREK-er — so many trails, so little time
2016 JGC CRD 3.0 V6
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Tomorrow begins an experiment. It’ll be the most I’ve ever towed with my JGC. I’m renting a 29’ RV trailer for a long weekend with my wife and we’re going to a family reunion. The trailer weighs 5,300# dry. I’m picking it up tomorrow afternoon and on Friday morning we hit the road for a long weekend roadtrip — 4 nights and 1,000 miles.

Here’s what we’ll be renting:

Wheel Sky Vehicle Window Plant community




We’re going to test and see if we like traveling with an RV trailer. This is my first time trying this experience. My wife and I might never use an RV travel trailer again. Or we might enjoy the experience and rent them whenever we want. Or we might buy one for road tripping in our retirement. Who knows what the future may hold?

29’ and 5,300# is a pretty good size trailer. It’s likely much more than we’d ever want to buy. I wanted to try one that has more features, to see what features we like and which ones we could do without if we were to buy one.

Let the fun begin. Wish us luck!
 

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2019 Grand Cherokee Trailhawk
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That trailer is way too big for a Grand Cherokee. 5300 lbs dry means it will weigh closer to 6500 lbs once you have it loaded for a trip. And, tongue weight will likely cause you to go over your GVWR. Sure hope your route doesn't involve hills.

We had a 26' travel trailer that we towed with a Nissan Armada. The 26' was the total length of the trailer, including the tongue; the box was only about 22-23 feet long. That trailer was advertised as 4200 lbs dry. Loaded for a trip, I weighed it at 5400 lbs, no water, but full of propane, and all of our camping gear (I had it weighed right before we left on a 2 week trip, figuring that would be the heaviest we'd ever be, without any water or liquid in the holding tanks). When I did the calculations for GVWR, GCWR, and max towing, I was way under max towing (Armada had a tow rating of 8900 lbs), under GCWR, but I exceeded the GVWR of the Armada by about 150 lbs. This was because the tongue weight plus hitch weight plus stuff we had in the tow vehicle (people, snacks, the dog, etc) added up to more than the payload of the Armada. I'm going to guess you will have the same issue with your setup, but magnified because the tow rating / max tow weight on your GC is much lower than the Armada. By the way, the Armada towed that trailer just fine, although hills would cause speeds to drop quite a bit. A bit disconcerting to be running in 2nd gear at 4500 rpm @ 40-45 mph for multiple miles pulling up a long mountain grade. And get used to single digit fuel economy, and plenty of stops for fuel.

I'd highly recommend you reconsider this choice, and get a smaller trailer to rent, something better matched to a Grand Cherokee.

Keith
 
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2018 Grand Cherokee Overland (diesel)
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yep. Agree with Keith. Way to big. I haul a lightweight Lance TT 20' box and 23' with the tongue. I had had a JGC V8 gas but that didn't quite do it for us. Now hauling with a JGC Diesel . Plenty of power and I keep a very close eye on oil temp on hills.

I hope you are equipped with a brake controller and the trailer has a weight distribution hitch. You are past the edge with this long a trailer but are a danger to others without these two things. I encourage to you to rethink this as Keith suggested. It was reckless for the owner of this TT to rent it to you with this tow vehicle. Consider going to Enterprise Trucks and renting a proper tow vehicle for this rig.

and drive no faster than 55 mph and stay off interstates where passing semi's will throw you all over the place. and potentially send you into a "wag the dog" event.

Chris
 

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I don't know if I would trust that dry weight figure, especially if there is a slide-out. Sometimes the dry weight doesn't even include options like an awning or the air conditioner. With something that long you will need a high quality (expensive) sway controller. We used to have a 24' RV and that was pushing the edge of what I was comfortable towing.
 

· 4WL TREK-er — so many trails, so little time
2016 JGC CRD 3.0 V6
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1,893 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Wow guys, thanks for the feedback! First, I did install a trailer brake.

The rental owner guy, I spent about an hour on the phone with him over two calls and thoroughly discussed the JGC’s limits. And the fact that this is my first time. Although I have towed smaller trailers (not campers) many times. He assured me I was well within the limits. (But of course he isn’t exactly free of any conflict of interest!)

I will double check the dry weight figure. There are no slide outs with this trailer. We are not going to bring much gear at all. This is a quick down-and-back weekend and we’ll be spending most of our time with family, not hanging out at the trailer.

It might be too late to switch trailers but I will check. But if I cannot I will be extra super careful, especially with semi trucks. Yes it will be interstate highway driving. Most of it is flat but there will be one mountain climb up, from sea level to 4,400’. I’ll be sure to watch temps of oil and tranny.

For those familiar with the route, I’ll be driving from San Francisco to San Diego, down I-5, and over the mountain pass that we call “the grapevine”. The weather forecast is good, and fortunately this trip won’t be during the hot summer months.

I will see if I can switch to a smaller setup.

Thanks again you guys.
 

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It might be too late to switch trailers but I will check. But if I cannot I will be extra super careful, especially with semi trucks. Yes it will be interstate highway driving. Most of it is flat but there will be one mountain climb up, from sea level to 4,400’. I’ll be sure to watch temps of oil and tranny.

For those familiar with the route, I’ll be driving from San Francisco to San Diego, down I-5, and over the mountain pass that we call “the grapevine”. The weather forecast is good, and fortunately this trip won’t be during the hot summer months.

I will see if I can switch to a smaller setup.

Thanks again you guys.
I've driven that route many times, as I live in the Los Angeles area. The mountain pass that you refer to is one of the 40 mph slogs in 2nd gear at 4500 rpm I mentioned in my post. That is a very steep hill, particularly the north side of the pass, out of Bakersfield. What makes it worse is the traffic you will encounter going up and down, and the number of semi trucks that you will be interacting with. I'd actually be more fearful of the drive down the pass going north, since you'll be needing to keep your speed down (taxing your breaks) as well as navigate around the rest of the traffic that will be going 80+ mph down that hill.

Find out from the renter what kind of weight distribution hitch he is providing and post back here what he says. You will also need sway control for that trailer. Some WD hitches have integrated sway control, which is better than an add-on friction sway control. If he isn't providing one, then either be prepared to drop $800+ to buy one, or you won't be able to tow this much.

Again, highly recommend you back out of this arrangement. That trailer is WAY to big for a smaller SUV like the GC. It would be a stretch to tow that with a full-size (Suburban, Expedition XL, etc) SUV, and marginal with a Tahoe / Armada / Expedition / Sequoia. That tow is going to be white knuckled the entire time, and you won't enjoy it at all, and that's the best scenario. The worst scenario is that something bad happens.

Just an idea, have you looked into renting a trailer in San Diego, then paying someone to deliver it to your campsite / RV park? Then all you need to do is drive down, without having to deal with towing it down yourself. This way you'll still get to spend the time you want with the trailer to decide if RV life is for you. I know there are folks that do just that (deliver rented RVs), and it isn't that much money. They set it up / tear it down for you as well.

Keith
 

· 4WL TREK-er — so many trails, so little time
2016 JGC CRD 3.0 V6
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1,893 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hey Keith, and all…

Yes I’m familiar with The Grapevine. I run it several times a year. Totally agree with it being more dangerous going down the long steep grade (northbound) into Grapevine CA, and fortunately going north after the weekend we’re taking 101 to Santa Barbara and bypassing The Grapevine. On that road (101) there is the Camarillo Grade, and I’m familiar with that and it’s nowhere near as bad as The Grapevine.

For this trip, basically it’s like a sea trial, and I know the roads pretty well.

Going south over The Grapevine (tomorrow) there is a long downhill stretch heading into Castaic. I’ll be going super slow down that hill with the semis in the far right lane — where their speed limit is, if memory serves, 35 mph. I will be super cautious.

So… when I showed up tonight there was no way I could trade to a smaller trailer. It was either the 29’ one, or nothing. I seriously considered that — nothing. But he has the WD hitch and the additional antisway setup.

This rental outfit isn’t a fly-by-night operation. The guy I met personally owns the RV trailers and I could tell he’s not simply after the money. These things are his babies and he pays cash for them. He has no debt and from what I’ve read from reviews and information, his operation is a quality outfit. I think he was scrutinizing me more than I was scrutinizing the setup, given all the warnings and cautionary notes from you guys in this thread.

I videoed his entire walkthrough and explanation, setup and teardown and hookups and lights and heater and AC and stove and toilet, etc. He spent an hour, maybe more, in going through everything.

He helped me to dial in the electronic brakes, since it was a new installation, first time in use, and me being a first time user. All told, he spent about 90 minutes with us, knowing I’m a first-timer. We (my wife was there too, she’s the brains of this operation) appreciated his explanations and patience with our questions.

It’s 45 miles from the rental place back to home, and all 45 miles are interstate highway. I kept it to 55, especially to get the feel of the whole setup and how passing semis and large trucks affected the wind with us.

I filled the gas tank, and jeez but maneuvering in that gas station helped me on how to plan approaches and exits from tight spaces. I’m the end we did fine.

I feel pretty comfortable with going ahead with the plan. I’m really grateful to all you guys in pointing out what to be wary of. I’m familiar with physics and harmonic resonance, as it applies to trailer sway initiating, and know how to respond if it starts to say.

If anyone is familiar with motorcycling, an equivalent situation includes what bikers call a ‘tank slapper’. I’ve experienced that once in all my riding years, but it never got really bad because as soon as I sensed it starting, I rolled off the throttle and the resonance dissipated immediately.

We’re not going to be doing any cooking in the trailer. We won’t be hanging out in it or around it in our camp space. So we’re really not bringing much extra gear. Only bed sheets and blankets (1 queen and 3 full beds), and towels for showers. That’s pretty much it.

The drive home tonight with the trailer went well, for those 45 miles. I felt relaxed and comfortable, even in the dark of the early night. So I think we are all systems Go for tomorrow and the weekend.

Perhaps a little more about me — I’ve towed many times with all the UHaul trailer sizes, including a car on their car transports a few times. Once, it was San Francisco to Palm Springs. And in the Marines I had a 5-ton truck license, and also a HummVee license. I drove the old Jeeps, the M151s. I was in artillery and our unit towed the M198 medium howitzer with those 5-ton trucks, in the desert and in the snow. I also had a forklift license. And I’ve driven a big (ish) truck across the USA. AndI used to be an instructor with the MSF — motorcycle safety foundation. So while these aren’t all directly equivalent experiences, they are skills that contribute to helping with this situation.

I will be super extra cautious. What I’m looking for with this trial run is to start learning to tow trailers as big as this one.

Again you guys, many thanks for your words of wisdom. I really am very grateful. I’ll circle back here with how it goes this weekend, be it good or bad news.
 

· 4WL TREK-er — so many trails, so little time
2016 JGC CRD 3.0 V6
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Here are a couple of pictures from tonight at the gas station.

Tire Automotive parking light Wheel Vehicle Automotive lighting


Automotive parking light Tire Wheel Land vehicle Car
 

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Lot easier to get renewable diesel with Union 76 selling renewable diesel.
 

· 4WL TREK-er — so many trails, so little time
2016 JGC CRD 3.0 V6
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1,893 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Lot easier to get renewable diesel with Union 76 selling renewable diesel.
I love their diesel and have almost exclusively used renewable diesel for the last 100,000 miles. It’s a good product.
 

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I'm at 90K miles of renewable diesel use motor runs better than new without any problems. Burning lot cleaner really helps the EGR valve and DFF system.
Have Storyteller class B that also loves renewable diesel without any problems.
 

· 4WL TREK-er — so many trails, so little time
2016 JGC CRD 3.0 V6
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
We’re back and the trip went pretty well. 950 miles, at 10 MPG overall for the entire trip (hand calculated). The dashboard was reporting 11 MPG but I trust my hand calculations more since I add the actual gallons I fill up with and divide that into the miles driven. And I only used that U76 renewable diesel. Well, it’s 95% renewable.

I’m impressed with this Jeep, and with this diesel engine. My 2016 has 133,000 miles and it pulled that trailer effectively. I was able to cruise at 75 mph on I-5, which is straight and flat for much of the way. And then when climbing up The Grapevine, the mountain pass that climbs up to 4,144’, my speeds dropped to 55-60 mph which was better than I expected. The worst climb was coming home on US-101. Just north of San Luis Obispo the climb up Cuesta Grade goes only up to 1,522’ but I guess it’s a steeper road because the best I could do was only 45 mph. But it wasn’t for long.

I returned the trailer at the rental place a couple of hours ago.

I doubt I’ll ever pull anything that big and heavy, because you guys were absolutely right. It’s a bit much for the small Grand Cherokee. Again, thank you all for your inputs. Your information was really helpful.
 

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Nice. BTW - what wheel/tire package are you running on the Jeep?
 

· 4WL TREK-er — so many trails, so little time
2016 JGC CRD 3.0 V6
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I posted it here, with a couple of pictures:

 

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Glad your trip went well!

One thing I wanted to mention that I didn't see here is that there is a frontal area limit for trailers, this is called out in the manual. I think it's 52 sq ft or thereabouts. It's not just about trailer weight and tongue weight. That trailer exceeded the frontal area limit set by Jeep, this is because aerodynamic drag is like adding weight and it makes the vehicle work much harder at highway speed.
 

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My manual says max frontal area is 55 sq ft. Since most RVs are 8 feet wide, good luck finding one that isn't more than 7 feet high.

Glad your trip went well!

One thing I wanted to mention that I didn't see here is that there is a frontal area limit for trailers, this is called out in the manual. I think it's 52 sq ft or thereabouts. It's not just about trailer weight and tongue weight. That trailer exceeded the frontal area limit set by Jeep, this is because aerodynamic drag is like adding weight and it makes the vehicle work much harder at highway speed.
 

· 4WL TREK-er — so many trails, so little time
2016 JGC CRD 3.0 V6
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Glad your trip went well!

One thing I wanted to mention that I didn't see here is that there is a frontal area limit for trailers, this is called out in the manual. I think it's 52 sq ft or thereabouts. It's not just about trailer weight and tongue weight. That trailer exceeded the frontal area limit set by Jeep, this is because aerodynamic drag is like adding weight and it makes the vehicle work much harder at highway speed.
Whoa, I never realized there’s a frontal area limit. Makes a ton of sense though. Aerodynamic drag can be considerable and it increases with the square of your speed.

Funny but several towing threads I read did not mention that. Thanks for pointing that out!
 
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