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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi folks, we are towing a ~2,000# pop up with 225# tongue weight (probably closer to 300 w/2 propane tanks, battery, etc). We just had the suspension on our 2011HL inspected regarding towing and had a sway bushing replaced, dealer said everything else was fine. Took our first trip and we are still squatting big time. We are using a dealer-installed a ClassIII draw tite hitch. What kind of weight distribution hitch are you guys using? I’ve heard conflicting info about whether unibody SUVs can use WDHs. I should add that we have the tow package and are well within the 5,000 cap. Our issue is more with suspension. TIA
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I should add that we have the tow package and are well within the 5,000 cap. Our issue is more with suspension.
 

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2010 Camry, 2010 Highlander
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I'm using an equalizer. It's rated for 1,000 lb tongue weight, which is overkill for my 3,300 GVWR trailer (not to mention the Highlander's 500 lb tongue weight limit). But it's what the RV dealer was able to get his hands on. They do make one that is rated for 600 lbs. So far I've been happy with it (after a few 1/2 day to full day trips). It eliminates the rise in the front end, and I've experienced no sway.

With a unibody vehicle, you need to use some common sense. Don't over-correct, and don't go over big dips or abrupt changes in grade with the bars engaged. The draw tite receiver is rated for weight distribution, so you should be good there.
 

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Someone here on the forum said they installed Sumostruts in the rear and it has helped with the helped with the rear not squatting as much as before. Was it Sweeney?
 

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The fact they don't make equalizing hitches for 500 pound loads should tell us something. As for the comment, "don't go over big dips" is rather impractical, you going to stop and undo your equalizing hitch as you get off a ferry, or out of your drive. Those equalizing hitches put an extreme load on the frame.. or what is intended to be a frame.
Lots of users get away without damage.. but the risk is there.
 

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Is the vehicle loaded up as well in the photo. I tow a Side by Side style ATV and it doesn't go down that much even though the back appears sagged without anything. Springs have weakened i believe. You're likely as well or super soft.

Added a photo but not full side but you can see the back. This is likely over 2000lbs total with a good tongue weight I am sure.
 

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The fact they don't make equalizing hitches for 500 pound loads should tell us something. As for the comment, "don't go over big dips" is rather impractical, you going to stop and undo your equalizing hitch as you get off a ferry, or out of your drive. Those equalizing hitches put an extreme load on the frame.. or what is intended to be a frame.
Lots of users get away without damage.. but the risk is there.
The Equalizer manual says to disengage the bars for big dips, abrupt changes in grade, and rough roads. And that's for all vehicles, unibody or not. Yes, I disengage the bars when entering and exiting my steep drive that connects to a flat street. Though I have to admit that I'm probably not going to stop and disengage the bars for a railroad crossing. But I might try to find a way to avoid the crossing.
 

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There could be a lot of irregularities on a drive, entering and existing a construction zone where road repair is going on. Dug out areas which aren't filled level, on and on. Doesn't sound like something to use, especially when adjusted for a fairly heavy transfer of weight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Good to know, we also have a steep entrance driveway.
The Equalizer manual says to disengage the bars for big dips, abrupt changes in grade, and rough roads. And that's for all vehicles, unibody or not. Yes, I disengage the bars when entering and exiting my steep drive that connects to a flat street. Though I have to admit that I'm probably not going to stop and disengage the bars for a railroad crossing. But I might try to find a way to avoid the crossing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Is the vehicle loaded up as well in the photo. I tow a Side by Side style ATV and it doesn't go down that much even though the back appears sagged without anything. Springs have weakened i believe. You're likely as well or super soft.

Added a photo but not full side but you can see the back. This is likely over 2000lbs total with a good tongue weight I am sure.
Well, that’s the thing. When we took it to the dealer to have the suspension inspected specifically for towing (also b/c it’s 10 years old). I would hope they would have checked the springs. The only repair they said was necessary was to replace the sway bushing. Yes in my photo we were fully loaded, exiting the campsite. We packed light, this was the way home so it’s even a little lighter due to cooler being almost empty and no more groceries. I expect to be loaded up more on longer trips.
 

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If you do a LOT of towing, you may consider installing stiffer springs on your rear struts. I found a company called "Coil Spring Specialties" in St. Mary's Kansas can custom make coil springs for towing needs like this. I chatted with their rep last week about the design process and sizing. We have the same problem when towing our boat trailer, since the tongue weight is approaching 500 lbs.

Of course, a stiffer spring will impact your ride quality when you aren't towing so you'll have to weigh the benefit.

I replaced all 4 struts and coil springs last fall with brand new KYB assemblies, so I'm doubting I have worn springs in ours.
 

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What’s the tongue weight of the trailer?
How much stuff is in that poor car?

I’d be tempted to go find a catscale fully loaded ready for a trip, then drop the trailer and re weigh.
your issue may be too much weight in the Hi or nose weight on the trailer or Both
 

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If you're planning to use a weight distribution hitch system on these unibody Highlanders, I'd recommend the following.
  • Install a hitch with the highest capacity tongue weight rating. I like the Draw Tite Model 75726, since it's rated for 750 lb tongue weight and has 9 total bolts attaching it to the vehicle, verses 6 or 7 bolts for other hitch brands. The Draw Tite also has vertical mounting plates on both sides of the hitch for extra reinforcement and other brands only have these on 1 side.
  • Measure your actual tongue weight. You can use a common bathroom scale and some lumber, if the expected weight will be more than the scale capacity. eTrailer.com has good instructions here for using a bathroom scale, especially if the tongue weight will exceed the capacity of the bathroom scale. https://www.etrailer.com/faq-how-to-determine-trailer-tongue-weight.aspx
  • Install a weight distribution system with the rating as close to the tongue weight as possible. Using too stiff of weight distribution system will put excessive stress on the vehicle and hitch.
 

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5000 pound Towing weight is max at sea-level with a perfect engine no hills. Anyone and anything in or on the vehicle besides the driver deducts from that 5000. I cannot see your pop up but I guarantee it's not two thousand pounds unless it's an 8-foot box and it's completely empty. You are probably going by the "dry weight" which doesn't exist. You need to go by the GVWR for the pop-up which is probably 3500 lbs. The dry weight is what RV dealerships used to sell trailers but it doesn't include anything like awnings propane batteries your stuff inside spare tire air conditioner xcetera... I certainly hope you have electric brakes with a decent brake controller. Check out the RVSEF (RV Safety & Education Foundation) website video on trailer weights and truck matching. They are the experts on the subject and they have discovered that over 50% of all trailers on the road are overweight in some spec. They have weighed thousands. Definitely get to a cat scale and it will shock you. Try to find your GCVWR Gross combined vehicle weight rating... the maximum weight your vehicle and your trailer can be and I would be surprised if you were not already totally maxed. If you do not have electric ot surge trailer brakes you need them. No question.
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
5000 pound Towing weight is max at sea-level with a perfect engine no hills. Anyone and anything in or on the vehicle besides the driver deducts from that 5000. I cannot see your pop up but I guarantee it's not two thousand pounds unless it's an 8-foot box and it's completely empty. You are probably going by the "dry weight" which doesn't exist. You need to go by the GVWR for the pop-up which is probably 3500 lbs. The dry weight is what RV dealerships used to sell trailers but it doesn't include anything like awnings propane batteries your stuff inside spare tire air conditioner xcetera... I certainly hope you have electric brakes with a decent brake controller. Check out the RVSEF (RV Safety & Education Foundation) website video on trailer weights and truck matching. They are the experts on the subject and they have discovered that over 50% of all trailers on the road are overweight in some spec. They have weighed thousands. Definitely get to a cat scale and it will shock you. Try to find your GCVWR Gross combined vehicle weight rating... the maximum weight your vehicle and your trailer can be and I would be surprised if you were not already totally maxed. If you do not have electric ot surge trailer brakes you need them. No question.
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Yes, we definitely have electric brakes and the controller, that was nonnegotiable. GVWR on the camper is 3225. There are 2 propane tanks which seems unnecessary for our needs much of the time so I’m going take one off the reduce the tongue weight. And get one of the WDH’s suggested here. Thanks everyone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
What’s the tongue weight of the trailer?
How much stuff is in that poor car?

I’d be tempted to go find a catscale fully loaded ready for a trip, then drop the trailer and re weigh.
your issue may be too much weight in the Hi or nose weight on the trailer or Both
Tongue weight is supposedly 225. I’m going to take one of the propane tanks off, I think. I can’t imagine I would need both anytime soon. There was just camping stuff in the car, luggage, a cooler, etc. 2 lanky teens. We were actually loaded pretty light because it was a short trip and very warm.
 

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Just make sure the tongue weight is at minimum 10% of the loaded trailer weight. Here is a better picture of my setup. Besides using the WDH, everything else is standard suspension on the Highlander.
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