Renting a travel trailer is a terrific and cost-effective way to enjoy an RV vacation, but careful consideration must be given to your tow vehicle to ensure it is properly equipped to safely tow the rental trailer.
If you plan to rent a travel trailer from Open Road RVs, it is important that you understand and follow the guidelines below. Failure to do so could endanger the safety of everyone in your vehicle.
NOTE: If you are renting a travel trailer, we strongly recommend that you have your brake controller and 7-pin connector tested at least a week or two prior to your rental date. This will help avoid unpleasant surprises when you come to pick up your travel trailer rental. If you stop by our lot, we will be happy to test these for you at no charge.
Selecting a travel trailer to rent – Tow Vehicle Capacities
All vehicles that are equipped to tow a trailer are given a Maximum Towing Capacity rating by the manufacturer. This number represents the maximum trailer weight that your vehicle will safely tow in ideal conditions. As a general rule, you should limit your trailer weight to 80% of the Maximum Towing Capacity in order to have an adequate safety margin. Thus if your max towing capacity is 10,000#, you should rent a travel trailer that weighs no more than 8000#.
While it is important not to exceed your vehicle’s Maximum Towing Capacity, there are other important weight limits that should never be exceeded while towing, including:
- Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) – This represents the maximum weight your vehicle can carry, including passengers, cargo, fuel and the vehicle itself.
- Gross combined weight rating (GCWR) – This represents the maximum weight of your loaded tow vehicle and your loaded trailer combined.
- Gross axle weight ratings (GAWR) on both the vehicle and trailer, which represent the maximum amount of weight a particular axle can carry.
- Hitch weight rating – This is the maximum weight your hitch is designed to safely carry. Tongue weight should be between 10-15 percent of the total loaded trailer weight for travel trailers.
Exceeding even one of those ratings while towing a rental trailer could not only cause damage to your vehicle, but also endanger yourself, your passengers and others.
Ensuring your tow vehicle is properly equipped
Before renting a travel trailer, you need to ensure your tow vehicle has the necessary equipment to safely tow. In addition to having the appropriate towing capacities, your tow vehicle will require a hitch receiver, electrical connection and an electronic brake controller. Read on to see what the specific requirements are.
Hitch Receiver – Most of our rental trailers use a weight-distributing hitch, which is included in the rental. These hitches fit into the standard 2’ hitch receiver on your tow vehicle. See the picture below for an example of a hitch receiver.
Electrical Connector – In order to power the electric brakes, turn signals, brake lights etc. and to charge the trailer battery while in tow, our rental trailers all have a standard 7-prong round electrical connector. See the picture below, this is what your tow-vehicle connector should look like with the hinged cover in the open position.
Electronic Brake Controller – When you apply the brakes on your tow vehicle, an electronic brake controller sends an electrical signal through the electrical connector on the back of your vehicle to the trailer brakes, causing them to activate. Without an Electronic Brake Controller, your trailer brakes will not work.
Some vehicles have a brake controller built-in from the factory. If so, they will usually look similar to the picture below, with + and – buttons to increase or decrease the braking effectiveness of the trailer, and a slider switch with which to manually apply the trailer brakes when manual activation is needed.
If your tow vehicle does not have a built-in brake controller, then an aftermarket brake controller will be required. If you do not already have one, it can be installed by most RV and trailer sales or service businesses. Tekonsha makes a number of quality brake controllers that can be installed as seen in the image below.
Some of our RV Rental customers wish to tow a trailer behind their rental RV. We do allow towing, with certain limitations. Read on to see how it works:
In most cases our RVs have a maximum towing capacity of 5000#. We do allow towing, but require you to limit the loaded trailer to no more than 4000#. Also, due to the increased wear on the RV drivetrain, there is an additional fee of $.10 per mile for all miles if you wish to tow a trailer in our RV.
Please coordinate ahead of time if you wish to tow so that we can provide the required brake controller and remove the locking pin from the hitch receiver.