Check the Weight Before You Buy a Trailer
Towing too heavy is expensive (and dangerous!)
Last week, I got a message from someone on Instagram. I’ve been way behind on social media messages since going back to school, but this one happened to come in during a slowdown at work and caught my eye.
This person also had an FJ Cruiser and had bought an overlanding trailer for an upcoming trip. There was only one problem: it weighed over 3,800 lbs.
When he sent me a picture of the trailer, I couldn’t believe how tiny it was for the weight.
It was an uncovered utility trailer with no amenities. While an FJ can certainly tow it, it wasn’t worth the MPG it would cost him.
“Are you sure it weighs that much??” I asked in disbelief.
He assured me it definitely did.
“I have a whole house for that weight!” I pointed out. “Kitchen, bathroom, bedroom…”
“I know,” he admitted.
He was leaving for his trip soon, so it was too late to sell it.
There was no point wallowing, so we shifted the conversation to solutions. I explained the modifications I had made to my FJ Cruiser for towing, and he told me what he had done as well. I also shared towing strategies and told him what he could expect for MPG.
This might sound bizarre to you, but before you judge, let me tell you: it happens all the time.
This guy is no stranger to adventuring. He’s an experienced overlander with a tricked-out FJ that makes Samson look like a stock pavement princess. But towing is a whole new ball game.
He’s also not the first person to send me this message. Several people — including other FJ owners — have reached out before or after buying a trailer heavier than they intended (or should).
This overlander at least had a perfectly towable trailer. Mine weighs 200 lbs more than his does.
I once received another message from one person dead-set on towing over their 5,000 max limit. I told him point-blank that he should sell the trailer.
He told me I was wrong about it being too heavy for the FJ Cruiser and that he would be just fine.
“What was the point of asking me for advice if you didn’t want the truth?” I replied. “What you’re doing is dangerous, and I don’t recommend it to anyone.”
So, what can you do to prevent this from happening to you?
Always check and double-check the weight of your travel trailer. Review every detail. For example, while the 2018 model of my trailer is light enough to tow, the newer ones are heavier and weigh more than I would choose for my FJ Cruiser.
You should also consult with your mechanic. Never ask anyone at the dealership. They’re there to sell trailers, not keep you safe.
I’ve also written on this topic quite a few times, so feel free to check these out:
Can You Tow a Travel Trailer With a V6? (Free Substack)
How To Tow Your Travel Trailer With a V6 (Paid Substack)
How To Find the Right-Sized Trailer for Your Needs (Paid Substack)
How to Reduce the Weight of Your RV (Paid Substack)
How to Pick the Right Tow Vehicle for Your Rig (TAXA Outdoors)
Camper's Guide to Electric Vehicle Towing Capacity (TAXA Outdoors)
Alexis Chateau | Free Ramen is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber. Paid subscriptions help me pay for college!