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Towing travel trailer with Model Y

ecarfan

Well-Known Member
Sep 21, 2013
19,395
14,407
West Vancouver, British Columbia
Have you had any more range experience pulling the alto. I have a model y and considering ordering the alto r1723. Also consider the fixed f1743.
This is my analysis of the pros and cons of the R1723 vs the F1743 (which is the Alto I own).

The Y will tow an Alto just fine. Any trailer is going to significantly reduce your range, the Alto somewhat less than a more boxy trailer style. The issue is the long wait time to get one if you place your order now. But they are worth it.
 

Flybuddy

Member
Jul 12, 2020
345
358
Fort Myers FL
How did you get your hands on one of those? I had looked into one before, but they are sold out everywhere...
("will ship in 30 or more Business Days")
I waited more than a month for it to ship and then there were shipping delays. After it was built, I went to a local Northern tool to buy a spare and they had two of them in stock.
 

DigiCrazy

Member
Sep 9, 2021
5
0
Seattle
I have a Model Y on order, which is scheduled to arrive next month. But now I'm having second thoughts because of its towing capacity. We have Jay Feather EXP Series M-17 C trailer, which has weight well within 3,500 lbs limit. But the hitch weight is 480 lbs (that seems high, but that's what the specs say). Will this be a problem? Another issue is that our trailer is parked on a hill facing upward. So hooking it up and getting out of its spot is often a challenge. We currently use Toyota Highlander for towing. Model Y has less ground clearance than Highlander (I think about 2" difference). So I'm afraid the hitch ball, the hitch, or something else connected would hit the ground once the trailer is connected. Has anyone had this problem?

One solution I thought could be using a hitch raiser like this one. But that adds a bit of length and may not be as good as directly connecting to the car.

In short, I have two part question: (1) can the trailer we have be towed with Model Y? and (2) does anyone have a good solution for low ground clearance or uphill parking situation?

Thank you for reading and helping out. My wife and I are quite stressed out about this because the big reason we are getting Model Y is for towing and if we can't do that, it'd be a huge loss (not just money, but our family's love for camping). And we have may be just a few days to be able to cancel our order if this is a bad idea.
 

Level 1

Member
Aug 10, 2021
54
47
Earth
I have a Model Y on order, which is scheduled to arrive next month. But now I'm having second thoughts because of its towing capacity. We have Jay Feather EXP Series M-17 C trailer, which has weight well within 3,500 lbs limit. But the hitch weight is 480 lbs (that seems high, but that's what the specs say). Will this be a problem?

Base weight of 2935 lbs, cargo capacity of 565 lbs, tongue weight of 480 lbs...

By the specs, yes, that's definitely a problem because the tongue weight is 130 lbs (37%) over the maximum allowed. You could get a scale though and see how much weight is *actually* on the tongue (the specs don't say if that 480lbs is with the trailer loaded or not) to be sure - and you can do that before your Model Y arrives.

Be aware too that their are other limitations depending on which version of the Y you have, how many people are seated, how much your trunk luggage weighs, and which wheels you have. With 20" wheels and four passengers, the max trailer weight is only 2300 lbs. 21" wheels and six passengers, it's down to 1200 lbs. 20" wheels and six passengers, and towing isn't permitted at all.

You would also need to purchase and install an aftermarket trailer brake controller.
 

DigiCrazy

Member
Sep 9, 2021
5
0
Seattle
Base weight of 2935 lbs, cargo capacity of 565 lbs, tongue weight of 480 lbs...

By the specs, yes, that's definitely a problem because the tongue weight is 130 lbs (37%) over the maximum allowed. You could get a scale though and see how much weight is *actually* on the tongue (the specs don't say if that 480lbs is with the trailer loaded or not) to be sure - and you can do that before your Model Y arrives.

Be aware too that their are other limitations depending on which version of the Y you have, how many people are seated, how much your trunk luggage weighs, and which wheels you have. With 20" wheels and four passengers, the max trailer weight is only 2300 lbs. 21" wheels and six passengers, it's down to 1200 lbs. 20" wheels and six passengers, and towing isn't permitted at all.

You would also need to purchase and install an aftermarket trailer brake controller.
Thanks for your response. I don't know how to get the hitch part weighed separately. Any ideas? And we have ordered 19" gemini wheels.

Also, any pointers for that aftermarket trailer brake controller?
 

Flybuddy

Member
Jul 12, 2020
345
358
Fort Myers FL
Thanks for your response. I don't know how to get the hitch part weighed separately. Any ideas? And we have ordered 19" gemini wheels.

Also, any pointers for that aftermarket trailer brake controller?
I had a Jayco 19XUD when I first got the Y. It only listed a 310 tongue weight. Because of how they measure tongue weight at factory (no options, no propane, no battery), the actual tongue weights are significantly higher. Mine was over 400 lbs when I actually weighed it. I removed propane, emptied front storage, bolted spare tire on rear bumper and got it down to 350. That was unrealistic for normal towing and I eventually sold that RV and got a Riverside Retro 135. If you'd like to check your tongue weight, place a board across 2 bathroom scales and lower the front jack onto the board. Add the 2 weights together. It'll probably be a fruitless endeavor given your tongue weight. There are no fixes either. Normally, you could use a weight distribution hitch BUT, a class 2 hitch is not engineered for weight distribution. Good luck.
 

dduffey

Member
Aug 26, 2015
358
283
Austin, TX
Base weight of 2935 lbs, cargo capacity of 565 lbs, tongue weight of 480 lbs...

By the specs, yes, that's definitely a problem because the tongue weight is 130 lbs (37%) over the maximum allowed. You could get a scale though and see how much weight is *actually* on the tongue (the specs don't say if that 480lbs is with the trailer loaded or not) to be sure - and you can do that before your Model Y arrives.

Be aware too that their are other limitations depending on which version of the Y you have, how many people are seated, how much your trunk luggage weighs, and which wheels you have. With 20" wheels and four passengers, the max trailer weight is only 2300 lbs. 21" wheels and six passengers, it's down to 1200 lbs. 20" wheels and six passengers, and towing isn't permitted at all.

You would also need to purchase and install an aftermarket trailer brake controller.

Sorry about the hitch weight :(

I bought a 1/2" drop ball mount and flipped it to create a 3/4" rise (within spec).

I also did a MPP raise kit (~2 inches)

Before I did all that I towels a 3000lbs trailer on very steep and hilly driveway and had no issues. Also handled in the mud like a dream.

Look into the prodigy p3, very happy with it and works well with regen (meaning it does not kick in with regen).
 

ecarfan

Well-Known Member
Sep 21, 2013
19,395
14,407
West Vancouver, British Columbia
One solution I thought could be using a hitch raiser like this one. But that adds a bit of length and may not be as good as directly connecting to the car.
That product page states: “The Lower receiver is used for towing, top receiver used for accessories only such as a bicycle rack or cargo tray while towing your trailer or camper without scraping anything in your setup”. So that product will not solve your issue.
 

Araman0

Member
Apr 18, 2018
302
493
Seattle
Another thing to keep in mind is that the ball mount, ball, sway bars, and any other towing hardware you plug into the hitch will also add weight. In our case our ball mount, ball, and sway bar weighs a combined 25 pounds. That leaves us with a trailer hitch weight max of just 325 pounds.

Unfortunately hitch weight looks like the biggest obstacle in your case. As much as it pains me to write, you may have to either cancel your Y order or consider a different camper. If a used Model X is an option, it has a 500 pound toungue weight limit which would work well for your use caese. In the next year or two there will be a bunch of EV trucks capable of towing your trailer such as the Rivian line, Ford 150 EV, and Cybertruck.
 

Maxters

Member
May 10, 2021
186
168
94565
I agree that the hitch weight may be your concern. We tow a 3000 travel trailer and the model Y is great. NO problems with power at all (you'll lose roughly half your range, but that happens in ICE vehicles)

There are plenty of youtube videos showing model y towing bigger items.

I towed with a Curt bluetooth brake controller because I didn't get the Model X dongle for the Y until two days before travelling. But the CURT works great.
Since we didn't want it to affect regen much, it was set very low.

But towing with MY is sooooo much easier than with an ICE, and we had a supercharger on the way to our destination that we could drive thru.

Just think safety, There are videos of people putting 1k lbs in the back of a Y, but I'm not breaking my car.
 
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ecarfan

Well-Known Member
Sep 21, 2013
19,395
14,407
West Vancouver, British Columbia
Last edited:

Araman0

Member
Apr 18, 2018
302
493
Seattle
^^^ Very very interesting.

For tongue weight is the hitch itself the limiting factor or is the car’s rear suspension and tires the limiting factor? If the latter, then a class 3 hitch wouldn’t help much.
 

Koolio46

Member
Aug 26, 2020
500
212
Boston, MA
Thx, the frame was from Northern tools (40x48 inch) aluminum. Only had about $600 in it including aluminum ramp, MC chock, plywood and hardware. I considered the Trailer in the bag also as the simple, trailer is a ramp, concept makes for less drag. Was the 350 wh/mi speed related? Headwind?
Thanks for your trailer details. If I need to do another, your setup may be what I copy. 🙂

I’d say it was mostly speed related for my high wh/mi, drove around 75mph while towing. There was some elevation change but not too much.
 

Level 1

Member
Aug 10, 2021
54
47
Earth

For tongue weight is the hitch itself the limiting factor or is the car’s rear suspension and tires the limiting factor? If the latter, then a class 3 hitch wouldn’t help much.

The Draw-Tite hitch isn't the solution.

It says right in the instructions:
"DO NOT exceed lower of towing vehicle manufacturer’s rating or: Max Gross: 3500 lbs, Max Tongue: 525 lbs"
(https://www.towingproducts.net/Application/support/instructions/N76430.pdf)

So Tesla's 3500 lbs / 350 lbs is the limit, even with the Draw-Tite hitch installed.


Draw-Tite Hitch Rating.png
 

ecarfan

Well-Known Member
Sep 21, 2013
19,395
14,407
West Vancouver, British Columbia
The Draw-Tite hitch isn't the solution.

It says right in the instructions:
"DO NOT exceed lower of towing vehicle manufacturer’s rating or: Max Gross: 3500 lbs, Max Tongue: 525 lbs"
(https://www.towingproducts.net/Application/support/instructions/N76430.pdf)

So Tesla's 3500 lbs / 350 lbs is the limit, even with the Draw-Tite hitch installed.
You are quite right, and thanks for the correction! 👍

So back to the OPs original question, quote: “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.”

The GVWR is 3500 lbs. Perhaps a tongue weight of less than 350 lbs could be achieved by not loading the trailer to capacity and balancing the load with the heaviest items well to the rear of the axle? @specialgreen suggested as much in his post, #2 in this thread. And then @Flybuddy noted that “Hitch weights given are generally an unloaded hitch weight” and how the design of the Basecamp suggested that the actual tongue weight may be much more than the specified 410 lbs.

On my 17 ft Alto F1743 trailer, after making some customizations that involved removing the factory battery from the tongue, adding two heavier LiFePO batteries about two feet to the rear of the factory battery location, removing the factory steel propane tank on the tongue and replacing it with a larger but lighter Viking fiberglass tank, and adding a steel storage box to the tongue, I had to add about 50 lbs worth of steel plates inside the storage box to increase the measured tongue weight to the recommended 10-15% range.

But what I went through to achieve a safe tongue weight is likely much simpler than what would be required to achieve a 350 lbs or less tongue weight in a Basecamp. Which is too bad because it’s a nice little trailer in many respects.
 
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Fraslin

Member
May 24, 2021
27
10
Pacifica
But what I went through to achieve a safe tongue weight is likely much simpler than what would be required to achieve a 350 lbs or less tongue weight in a Basecamp. Which is too bad because it’s a nice little trailer in many respects.
So I live in the Bay area and talked to the Airstream dealer who had dealt with this a lot as you might expect. We have a Bambi 16RB on order. To reduce the weight we are:
1. Getting Lithium batteries and moving at least one to the rear storage area
2. Only using one Propane tank - we are not planning on long boondocking in the winter and if we ran out of propane we could do an exchange as it uses standard sizes
3. Do not drive with the freshwater tanks filled. We got this advice from another customer who works at Tesla and he carries the water in the car in 5 gallon collapsible jugs when boondocking to reduce the weight.

All of that drops the tongue weight down so it will work. So a lot of the similar things you mentioned and it should be workable.
 

DayTrippin

Member
Apr 30, 2021
723
709
Jax
So I live in the Bay area and talked to the Airstream dealer who had dealt with this a lot as you might expect. We have a Bambi 16RB on order. To reduce the weight we are:
1. Getting Lithium batteries and moving at least one to the rear storage area
2. Only using one Propane tank - we are not planning on long boondocking in the winter and if we ran out of propane we could do an exchange as it uses standard sizes
3. Do not drive with the freshwater tanks filled. We got this advice from another customer who works at Tesla and he carries the water in the car in 5 gallon collapsible jugs when boondocking to reduce the weight.

All of that drops the tongue weight down so it will work. So a lot of the similar things you mentioned and it should be workable.
Make sure you aren't overloading the rear wheels by putting the weight in the car while reducing tongue weight. I believe the 19" wheels have the most load capacity while the 20's are the least. So might be worth putting water in the front to improve the weight distribution if you are close to overloading the rear.
 
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