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Old 12-22-2013, 12:29 PM   #1
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Tow Vehicle Peculiarites

This is my first post on any type forum. Apologies in advance for any mistakes.

We have recently placed an order for a 15B. This forum, particularly the generous advice of many members has been a big influence and a great help with our decision making. Many thanks to all of you.

So my tow vehicle stuff. It is a 2013 Audi Q5 - not that commonly seen in the RV world. It is a 2.0 Litre turbocharged 4 cylinder 210 HP and 256 ft/lbs of torque at 1500 RPMs. The vehicle has a very solid feel and is very responsive. Recommended maximum tow weight is 4400 lbs. This seems like a lot for a 4 cylinder small sized SUV. I don't have complete faith in the 4400 weight and that figures in our decision to go with the 15B which we hope to maximize at about 2800 to 3000 lbs fully equipped and provisioned weight. The unusual issue with the Audi is that the manufacturer prohibits the use of any WDH. I have checked many trailer towing forums and no indication of this type of restriction with any other auto maker. Also no adequate explanation from the Audi folks.

Does anyone have any experience with this restriction and why it might apply?

Any other thoughts on the trailer - TV combination? We plan on using sway control and will be very careful with weight distribution - minimum of 325 lbs tongue weight.

Looking forward to meeting some of you at an Escape event once we are up and going.

Andrew
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Old 12-22-2013, 12:41 PM   #2
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Welcome to out little Escape world, Andrew.
Couple of points. IMHO I think the n"No w/d" from Audi is due to either it is a front wheel or all wheel drive and w/d and these do not mix. An alternative to your sway control is a Andersen set up Andersen 'No-Sway' Weight Distribution Hitch
where this hitch is anti sway with some minimal w/d shifting. Ideally you may want to wait until pick up and then determine if you need anything at all other than a ball and stinger for your receiver.
A 4 cyl tow should be fine with the 15' Escape, I towed several trailers with a 4 cyl Jeep CDR Liberty without any issue. Invest in a Sherline tongue scale seen here Sherline Trailer Tongue Weight Scales and you can probably load the new Escape to keep your tug level.
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Old 12-22-2013, 12:45 PM   #3
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Hello and Welcome,

On a guess does your TV have an automatic suspension leveling system of some type similar to Jeep, Chevy and others? If so that may be why they tell you not to use one. On a friends Chevy Suburban there is a very specific way to set it up for towing, in his if the auto leveling system is left on it will be adjusting every bump, stop, start, turn etc.

Check with Audi and find out if that is the reason and is there a way to set the system to accept a WD hitch setup. Though, looking at Audi's site you could have an S-Line suspension or ADS which has Auto or Dynamic modes.

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Old 12-22-2013, 01:04 PM   #4
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[QUOTE=Andrew Stewart;40485]This is my first post on any type forum. Apologies in advance for any mistakes.

The unusual issue with the Audi is that the manufacturer prohibits the use of any WDH. I have checked many trailer towing forums and no indication of this type of restriction with any other auto maker. Also no adequate explanation from the Audi folks.

Does anyone have any experience with this restriction and why it might apply?

For what it's worth, my 1998 Toyota 4-Runner manual states "Toyota does not recommend using a weight distribution hitch". So the restriction is not new. I think it has something to do with limiting additional weight to the front axle, but don't know for sure.
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Old 12-22-2013, 01:08 PM   #5
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The following is from the 2009 Honda Ridgeline owner's manual:

A weight distributing hitch is not
recommended for use with your
vehicle, as an improperly adjusted
weight distributing hitch may reduce
handling, stability, and braking
performance.
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Old 12-22-2013, 01:11 PM   #6
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My RAV4 also "does not recommend". But the sentence is not highlighted in yellow like other warnings in the manual.
So, does the Audi manual actually say "prohibited"?
I think there may be issues with automated systems that determine how much power goes to which wheels.
In any event, I don't see how an Andersen WDH is somehow not a WDH for this application.
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Old 12-22-2013, 01:25 PM   #7
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Hi Andrew, and welcome to the fold.

Congrats on your purchase. The Audi should do you just great. If you are familiar with towing at all, I would recommend you give it a try without the WDH, as you might be just fine, and if desired you could add it later.

Hope to see you in Osoyoos.
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Old 12-22-2013, 01:58 PM   #8
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Andrew, welcome to the forum! Seems like there are forums for every possible interest. Have you tried the Audi forum? We may not be able to give you a definitive answer here at the Escape forum. AudiForums.com - Powered by vBulletin
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Old 12-22-2013, 02:03 PM   #9
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The Q5 is uncommon, but this size and type of vehicle is commonly used to tow small travel trailers; the RAV4s mentioned above are examples. The Honda CRV and Ford Escape are other similar vehicles commonly used to pull small trailers.

To determine the actual towing capacity, a through reading of the owners manual and examination of the operating weight ratings is required. It is possible (although not necessarily true) that the 4400 pound trailer weight (a nice round 2000 kg) is only allowed if there is little if any passenger or cargo load in the Audi.

Also check the hitch weight rating. Typical Euopean practice includes lower tongue weight than the same size of trailer would use here.

The Escape 15 Foot is so much lighter than the Q5's maximum trailer weight rating that it's likely no problem at all, but something like an Escape 19 Foot probably wouldn't have worked out.

Two points about weight distribution (WD):
  1. It is common for WD use to be banned or at least not recommended by the vehicle manufacturer, perhaps due to the dangers of poorly adjusted systems, or the tendency for owners to use WD to enable them to overload the tow vehicle without the rear end visibly sagging.
  2. WD is not only compatible with front wheel drive, where it serves to increase drive traction; it is required in some cases (such as my Sienna) to reach the maximum allowable hitch weight capacity.

Sounds like a good tug.
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Old 12-22-2013, 02:22 PM   #10
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Andrew,

Your targets for total weight and tongue weight are realistic. If you get dual batteries and propane tanks you will have to watch the tongue weight. Other 15B owners advise using the fresh water tank to balance off too much tongue weight. My Honda Pilot is not recommended for a wdh. My experience so far is that it isn't needed, although I don't doubt that those who have wdh's like them.
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Old 12-22-2013, 02:31 PM   #11
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One of the previous posts suggested using an Anderson hitch as an alternative to a WDH. Although not a conventional WDH with bars and chains, the Anderson is a WDH! If you choose not to use a WDH in accordance with the manufacturers recommendations, this would also rule out using the Anderson hitch. If you do decide that you wish to use a WDH, then the Anderson or a conventional WDH could be considered.
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Old 12-22-2013, 02:48 PM   #12
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Go to: Weight Distribution with Sway Control for Audi Q5 with OEM 2 inch Receiver Towing A Scamp Trailer | etrailer.com

for discussion of use of WDH on 2012 Q5. It doesn't really answer your question. It appears only Audi can do that, and they're not talking.
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Old 12-22-2013, 03:39 PM   #13
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I understood that a WDH is prohibited on some vehicles because of unibody construction.

It is no longer not recommended for the 4Runner that I have seen probably because it is now a very different vehicle from many years ago.

You need to look at your numbers to see where you are. That includes GCWR and GVWR for the vehicle and max for the trailer.
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Old 12-22-2013, 03:48 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Floating Cloud View Post
I understood that a WDH is prohibited on some vehicles because of unibody construction.
Not sure you could find a small or medium SUV that isn't unibody construction these days.
There is a big difference between "prohibited" and "not recommended". You can probably find a section in your 4-Runner manual that says it's not recommended that you drive it off-road.
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Old 12-22-2013, 07:31 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaglo View Post
There is a big difference between "prohibited" and "not recommended". You can probably find a section in your 4-Runner manual that says it's not recommended that you drive it off-road.
Yes, "prohibited" is probably not used. More likely "not recommended."

Don't confuse Toyota with those other car companies!
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Old 12-22-2013, 08:07 PM   #16
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Here's an article from Truck Trend magazine that lists the dwindling number of body-on-frame SUVs available new in 2013.

Toyota still makes four (4Runner, Sequoia, FJ Cruiser, and Land Cruiser), but might be discontinuing the FJ Cruiser entirely.

2013 Body-On-Frame SUVs - Truck Trend
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Old 12-22-2013, 08:53 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catchlight View Post
...Toyota still makes four (4Runner, Sequoia, FJ Cruiser, and Land Cruiser), but might be discontinuing the FJ Cruiser entirely....
I have heard that 2014 will be the last production year for the FJ.
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Old 12-23-2013, 01:14 AM   #18
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Subaru also does not recommend any weight distribution system.
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Old 12-23-2013, 10:36 AM   #19
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Andrew, I have a Volkswagen Touareg and my Escape 21 is scheduled for completion in March 2014. As you know, VW and Audi share a lot of engineering. The Touareg is a little more capable tow vehicle with a 3500kg/7700lbs rating, but the same issue exists regarding WD hitches. The manual states "Never install a 'weight distributing' or 'load equalizing' trailer hitch on your vehicle. The vehicle is not designed for this kind of trailer hitch".

I've spent a lot of time researching this topic on the net. Everyone who uses the Andersen hitch with the Touareg comments favourably on the combination. However, there are a lot of naysayers (who have never actually used the hitch) out there too. I finally gave up on reading forums and asked Andersen directly. I didn't bother with contacting VW since everyone who's asked gets a typical non-answer and I wouldn't expect my experience to be any different.

My Question:
I'm purchasing an Escape 21 RV (21 Foot Escape) to tow behind our 2012 VW Touareg. Escape offers your hitch as one of their two weight distribution packages. I'm just trying to make sense of VW's strange towing recommendations and whether I can/should get your WD hitch for towing my RV.

VW's specs are for 3,500 kg max trailer weight and 280 kg max tongue weight (7,700 lbs / 616 lbs). The manual states "Never install a 'weight distributing' or 'load equalizing' trailer hitch on your vehicle. The vehicle is not designed for this kind of trailer hitch". I know that the Touareg's braking system performs some anti-sway control and I think that they don't want a lot of weight distribution because of the unibody construction. I still think that your hitch would provide for less sway and that combined with the braking system would be a good combination. As for the weight distribution, my impression is that the amount of weight distribution is controlled by how tight the chains are set, correct? If I keep the weight distribution on the low side, I'm thinking this should be ok?

If this should work, The other odd VW spec is the dimensions for the ball mount:

A. The drop height from the center of the ball to the center of the hole for the securing pin on the ball mount must be at least 1.25" and at most 2.875" inches. Will the 4" drop kit do this (doesn't look like it) or will I need the 8"drop?

B. The pin-to-ball distance from the center of the ball to the center of the hole for the securing pin on the ball mount must be no more than 6.125". I'm guessing here, but your distance looks to be more than 6.125". Can another hole be drilled or a custom shank be made?

I look forward to your reply. Users on both the Escape trailer forums and Club Touareg forums rave about your WD hitch so I'm hoping that this will work out. Ultimately I just want what's safest for my family and other road users.

Their Reply:
Thank you very much for contacting us in regards to towing your travel trailer with a VW Touareg. We have had many customers with this vehicle domestic and internationally use our hitch now with an enjoyable towing experience. Our hitch is a true ride control hitch which is so much more than a Weight Distribution Hitch. I will try to go through your questions and concerns and if I confuse you in the process I apologize and feel free to call or email with any clarification you need.

VW really does not want the added stress to the frame of the vehicle and the attachment points of their receiver hitch to the frame is why they mention never installing a Weight Distribution hitch. Most WD Hitches add a huge amount of stress to the frame of the tow vehicle enough you can lift the rear tires off of the ground of certain vehicles. Our hitch is adjustable in in the amount of weight you decide to distribute and by design can not fully distribute all of the tongue weight to a negative tongue weight situation like spring bars can.

You are correct you control the amount of Weight Distributing you are doing by simply adjusting the nut behind the red spring. Some people engage the red spring by one full turn and all that does is control the bounce control and control the sway and if an owner manual states "Never install a 'weight distributing' or 'load equalizing' trailer hitch on your vehicle" we recommend you do not damage your vehicle by fully engaging our weight distribution which is up to 6 full revolutions on the red spring.

The drop and the distance specs are wild to say the least. In order to tow safe the trailer MUST be level and that is why so many ball mounts and adjustable ball mounts exist. The mfr. recommending only the drop they did means that you technically need to customize your trailer to make sure when level the coupler is the height they recommend. Our 4" drop will fall within the range listed but I hope the trailer is not nose too low or nose too high at that level.

The center of ball to receiver pin distance is 10-1/2" on our hitch and to get to the 6.125" could be accomplished by drilling a hole where you need it. It appears if we drill a hole at that distance the shank will not go far enough into your receiver to be pinned so the best bet would probably be install our hitch into your receiver and push it in as far as the vertical U-channel piece will allow you and mark where the pin belongs. You will be further than 6.125" from center to center but you will be as close as you can get.

At the end of the day safety is more important than anything else and the following insures safe towing:

1 - Level towing....keep the tow vehicle and the trailer as level to the ground as possible.
2 - Make sure everything is well within weight ratings especially the safety chains.
3 - Control bounce, our hitch is phenomenal at making sure once your trailer begins to bounce it eliminates it immediately.
4 - Control the sway, speed, wind and passing vehicles causes this and to control it using our Anti-Sway hitch solves it.

I appreciate you reaching out to us and I wish we had the perfect hitch for your setup but it seems VW has made it so we have a little bit of grey area with the center of the receiver pin to the center of the ball distance. Obviously they want the least amount of leverage affecting the vehicle's structure.

Keep me posted as I will assist in any way.

My Decision
Ultimately I decided to opt for safety first and will be getting the Andersen hitch. I like the fact that it will provide sway control and I can dial-in only a little weight-distribution.

I hope this helps.
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Old 12-23-2013, 10:48 AM   #20
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Just for the record, you can adjust the amount of weight distributed with a standard spring bar hitch by changing the number of free chain links and/or adjusting the hitch tilt.
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