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Towing travel trailer with Model Y

scho7623

New Member
Mar 9, 2021
2
1
Shoreline, WA
Hi folks,

I was wondering what kind of travel trailers people are towing with their Model Y. I am really interested in the Airstream's Basecamp (link), and the weight is only 2650 lbs, which is under the Model Y's towing capacity of 3500 lbs. But I noticed that the hitch weight of the Basecamp is 410 lbs, whereas the tongue weight capacity of Model Y is only 350 lbs. So I'm worried that the Basecamp might be too heavy for Model Y to tow. I looked into the weight distribution hitch, if this could help with distributing the hitch weight, but this is a controversial topic that the weight distribution hitch actually doesn't change the hitch weight of the trailer, and that the towing vehicle still has to bear the weight. So I'm curious what others are towing with their Model Y. Do you tow anything over the tongue weight capacity with the weight distribution hitch?

Thanks in advance!
 

specialgreen

Member
Jan 21, 2020
40
74
Minneapolis MN
If you remove any weight from near the trailer front, that lowers the tongue weight. And if you add weight behind the trailer axle, that also lowers tongue weight. So if you can move a 70lb deep cycle battery from the tongue to the rear of the trailer, you may reduce tongue weight by >100 lbs. Note that some trailers have flimsy frames, so I'd start with moving battery and propane to be over the axle. You may want to add a restraint so they don't go flying in an accident.

You can measure tongue weight with a bathroom scale, if you support the tongue with a horizontal 2x4 with 2 legs, and put the bathroom scale under one leg to measure half the weight. You want at-least 10% of trailer weight on the tongue; 15% is better, but your limit (350/2650 = 13%) should be OK if you don't tow at high speed.

Caveat: I don't tow with a Tesla yet; this is just general towing info.
 

Flybuddy

Member
Jul 12, 2020
277
268
Fort Myers FL
Hitch weights given are generally an unloaded hitch weight. This means no battery, empty propane tanks, no liquids or loads in storage area, etc. In most cases, real world hitch weights will tend to be higher. On the Basecamp, the axle is a bit farther back to accommodate the entry and layout. Taking weight off the front and moving it rearwood does NOT lower the hitch weight by the same amount. A weight distribution hitch will not solve your problem and a class 2 hitch is not approved to be used with weight distribution hitches.
I considered Airstream myself but the hitch weights limit our choices. I sold my existing trailer (when I purchased the Y) because I couldn't get the hitch weight low enough for normal towing. Purchased a Riverside Retro 135. It gives UVW of 2540 lbs and 210 hitch. I weighed it after normal load and the hitch weight is 250.
 

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Araman0

Member
Apr 18, 2018
272
405
Seattle
We have a Model Y and I've been researching this topic for months now. A couple weeks ago we finally purchased a Palomino SolAire eXpandable 147X for use with our Model Y.

1615926713561.jpeg


This trailer has a stated hitch weight of 315 pounds and a dry weight of around 3100 pounds. The two queen beds fold out from the trailer, so inside it's actually pretty spacious and functional with the beds sticking out. And the unit is smaller when folded up, which helps with towing.

From a power standpoint our Y was able to pull the trailer just fine from Portland to Seattle. (The only trip we've taken so far with the trailer). It feels like it's got plenty of power, and even the dealership owner was impressed when I let him test drive the car with trailer attached. We opted for a sway bar, but not the weight distribution system. (Remember, these things add to the tongue weight). There was no problem maintaining control of the trailer, at least for that one ~200 mile drive we've been able to do so far.

The hitch weight was a big concern for me. I really want to stay comfortably within the stated 350 pounds hitch weight that the tongue. So I got rid of one of the two propane tanks, and am looking for replacing the remaining 20 pound tank with an 11 pound tank. (We only take weekend trips so we don't need a very large amount of LP). Each tank weighs 40 pounds fully loaded, so going from 80 pounds to potentially 20 pounds really saves hitch weight capacity.

Next we got rid of the 65 pound lead acid trailer battery and replaced it with a 15 pound LiFePO4 battery. Even though on paper we lost half the battery capacity (going from 100Ah down to 50Ah), LiFePO4 batteries allow you to use 90% of the battery capacity before tapering whereas Lead Acid batteries only allow use of 50% before taper (and permanent damage) sets in. So I actually consider the battery capacity mostly a wash. And we saved 50 pounds of tongue weight there. After these two changes, our tongue weight is roughly 300 pounds, before adding on the hitch mount, ball, and sway bar, which combine to maybe 25 additional pounds. We don't load any cargo in the trailer with any real weight, so I feel confident about the hitch weight staying below (ever so slightly) the 350 pound limit.

The trailer itself weighs closer to 3350 pounds (instead of the stated dry weight of 3100 pounds) even we we have it empty. I'm not sure why that is. But nevertheless it's still below the 3500 pound towing capacity of the Model Y, so we're meeting that requirement.

The rear of the car does sag noticeably when the trailer is attached. That's probably my biggest concern honestly. We have everything within the Y's stated capacity ranges, so I'm not too worried, but it would suck to suddenly have a tire blow on the highway or something. One thing to consider is that if you're adding 300 pounds of trailer tongue weight to the car, that also adds to the car's payload capacity of 800-900 pounds. So that means that there's only a little over 500 pounds remaining that can be added to the car with humans, suitcases, etc when the trailer is attached. We may end up going slightly over this amount when going camping, but not too much - maybe 100 pounds over the stated payload limit of the car. If we bring anything really heavy with us (metal objects, coolers, etc) we may try loading it in the frunk to not put any more weight on the rear axle.

Finally the biggest hit we've noticed is to our range. Our car is stated to get about 326 miles ordinarily on a charge. However going at about 60mph (in winter and wet weather in the Seattle area) we only got about 100 miles of range. It seemed like we might be able to get slightly over 100 miles if we went 55mph, but that's about the slowest I was willing to go on I-5. This is fine as long as your region is very well covered with superchargers and/or Chademo chargers. We're pretty spoiled here and that isn't really as much of a problem for us, other than having to stop much more frequently to charge. In both cases we were able to pull in and charge without dismounting the trailer, which was nice. The first spot we pulled in to a trailer charge spot, and the second location was empty, so we drove along side the bank of Sperchargers and just charged that way. I believe in the spring and Summer (where weather is 55-80 degrees) our range will improve.

I hope this was helpful to you and anyone else looking to pull a camper with their model Y. Like I said, we've only been on that one long trip so far. As we do more trips over the next season I'll update this thread with additional findings.
 

scho7623

New Member
Mar 9, 2021
2
1
Shoreline, WA
We have a Model Y and I've been researching this topic for months now. A couple weeks ago we finally purchased a Palomino SolAire eXpandable 147X for use with our Model Y.

View attachment 645058

This trailer has a stated hitch weight of 315 pounds and a dry weight of around 3100 pounds. The two queen beds fold out from the trailer, so inside it's actually pretty spacious and functional with the beds sticking out. And the unit is smaller when folded up, which helps with towing.

From a power standpoint our Y was able to pull the trailer just fine from Portland to Seattle. (The only trip we've taken so far with the trailer). It feels like it's got plenty of power, and even the dealership owner was impressed when I let him test drive the car with trailer attached. We opted for a sway bar, but not the weight distribution system. (Remember, these things add to the tongue weight). There was no problem maintaining control of the trailer, at least for that one ~200 mile drive we've been able to do so far.

The hitch weight was a big concern for me. I really want to stay comfortably within the stated 350 pounds hitch weight that the tongue. So I got rid of one of the two propane tanks, and am looking for replacing the remaining 20 pound tank with an 11 pound tank. (We only take weekend trips so we don't need a very large amount of LP). Each tank weighs 40 pounds fully loaded, so going from 80 pounds to potentially 20 pounds really saves hitch weight capacity.

Next we got rid of the 65 pound lead acid trailer battery and replaced it with a 15 pound LiFePO4 battery. Even though on paper we lost half the battery capacity (going from 100Ah down to 50Ah), LiFePO4 batteries allow you to use 90% of the battery capacity before tapering whereas Lead Acid batteries only allow use of 50% before taper (and permanent damage) sets in. So I actually consider the battery capacity mostly a wash. And we saved 50 pounds of tongue weight there. After these two changes, our tongue weight is roughly 300 pounds, before adding on the hitch mount, ball, and sway bar, which combine to maybe 25 additional pounds. We don't load any cargo in the trailer with any real weight, so I feel confident about the hitch weight staying below (ever so slightly) the 350 pound limit.

The trailer itself weighs closer to 3350 pounds (instead of the stated dry weight of 3100 pounds) even we we have it empty. I'm not sure why that is. But nevertheless it's still below the 3500 pound towing capacity of the Model Y, so we're meeting that requirement.

The rear of the car does sag noticeably when the trailer is attached. That's probably my biggest concern honestly. We have everything within the Y's stated capacity ranges, so I'm not too worried, but it would suck to suddenly have a tire blow on the highway or something. One thing to consider is that if you're adding 300 pounds of trailer tongue weight to the car, that also adds to the car's payload capacity of 800-900 pounds. So that means that there's only a little over 500 pounds remaining that can be added to the car with humans, suitcases, etc when the trailer is attached. We may end up going slightly over this amount when going camping, but not too much - maybe 100 pounds over the stated payload limit of the car. If we bring anything really heavy with us (metal objects, coolers, etc) we may try loading it in the frunk to not put any more weight on the rear axle.

Finally the biggest hit we've noticed is to our range. Our car is stated to get about 326 miles ordinarily on a charge. However going at about 60mph (in winter and wet weather in the Seattle area) we only got about 100 miles of range. It seemed like we might be able to get slightly over 100 miles if we went 55mph, but that's about the slowest I was willing to go on I-5. This is fine as long as your region is very well covered with superchargers and/or Chademo chargers. We're pretty spoiled here and that isn't really as much of a problem for us, other than having to stop much more frequently to charge. In both cases we were able to pull in and charge without dismounting the trailer, which was nice. The first spot we pulled in to a trailer charge spot, and the second location was empty, so we drove along side the bank of Sperchargers and just charged that way. I believe in the spring and Summer (where weather is 55-80 degrees) our range will improve.

I hope this was helpful to you and anyone else looking to pull a camper with their model Y. Like I said, we've only been on that one long trip so far. As we do more trips over the next season I'll update this thread with additional findings.
Thanks Araman0, it's super helpful!
 
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MYLR

New Member
Oct 14, 2020
1
1
Montreal
Hi folks,

I was wondering what kind of travel trailers people are towing with their Model Y. I am really interested in the Airstream's Basecamp (link), and the weight is only 2650 lbs, which is under the Model Y's towing capacity of 3500 lbs. But I noticed that the hitch weight of the Basecamp is 410 lbs, whereas the tongue weight capacity of Model Y is only 350 lbs. So I'm worried that the Basecamp might be too heavy for Model Y to tow. I looked into the weight distribution hitch, if this could help with distributing the hitch weight, but this is a controversial topic that the weight distribution hitch actually doesn't change the hitch weight of the trailer, and that the towing vehicle still has to bear the weight. So I'm curious what others are towing with their Model Y. Do you tow anything over the tongue weight capacity with the weight distribution hitch?

Thanks in advance!
Hi
I went trough the same thoughts a little while ago.Good to notice that the 350# is with Y with five on board,but you are right the base camp is on the heavyside.Also it has a wet bath and a minuscule fridge, I finally bought a KZ Escape Hatch 14 that I made road test with but living up north Quebec Canada waiting a couple of weeks to really try it.It is less sexy,but has a dry bathroom with big shower and great 12 v fridge.It is 2600,3500 and 320# on hitch dry ,without the x package.I have a lttle film of if it towed by my Model Y but for some reason I can’t copy it here
 

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Araman0

Member
Apr 18, 2018
272
405
Seattle
That’s a beautiful trailer and setup MYLR. Here’s the Palomino Solaire 147x I spoke about earlier in the thread. We’ve put over 600 miles on this setup already, including a trip over the I90 Cascades pass and back. So far so good.

(In the picture the jack is suspended about an inch over the wood block, which means the full weight of the hitch is being supported by the car, so you can see the effect the trailer has on sagging the back of the car - which in my opinion is very minimal. We don't have a weight distribution system, but do normally use a sway bar that is not installed in this photo.)
94164AC1-CDC3-43C2-95EE-E3E64D9A39EC.jpeg
 

Misterbee

Member
Apr 2, 2016
182
250
Los Angeles
With the big boxy campers 100 miles of range has been the norm. I'm curious what your range is with that. I bet it's a lot better.
Not quite the same thing, but I tow a [email protected] teardrop with my Lr M3. If we drive conservatively, we get 200 miles of range. My takeaway is that in terms of range, aerodynamics matters more than weight. I have seen those Alto trailers in person, and it looks like a great fit for for a Model Y.
 
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