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Cactus
Cactus New Reader
2/22/16 12:17 p.m.

I want to tow my track cars (every car is a track car if you don't mind buying tires and bleeding brakes) instead of driving 4 hours+ on 500#/" springs. I also want to be able to go fetch non-running projects, and move things without current registrations. I'd probably prefer an enclosed trailer to an open one, but I'm not sure, hence this post asking about it. That necessitates a bigger truck, which I know very little about.

I've got a budget of "whatever I can get for my 2007 BMW 335i 6 speed sedan". Will that be enough for a truck and trailer? Should I be looking to add money or go a little cheaper? I know only enough to be dangerous (and how to back up a 4 wheel trailer, which is irrelevant for on-road vehicles). My heaviest track cars are a Z4 M coupe, or an E28 M5, both of which are ~3400#.

Any advice would be graciously accepted.

NordicSaab
NordicSaab Reader
2/22/16 12:46 p.m.

Enclosed trailers have a huge towing MPG penalty vs open trailers

3400# of car + 500# gear +1200# of (open)trailer is only 5100# lbs to tow. You could tow this with a reasonable sized SUV

For me this comes down to a question of how much tow vehicle can you tolerate? an open trailer can be pulled capably by most any V8 SUV. Any enclosed car trailer will require a F150 or similar (at minimum) and you will always wish you had more truck.

docwyte
docwyte Dork
2/22/16 12:48 p.m.

I'm using my '06 Cayenne Turbo S to tow with, it has a 7700lb tow rating. It tows my Featherlight trailer/951 like its not even there...

Cactus
Cactus New Reader
2/22/16 1:00 p.m.

I've got a 951, about the only way you can get it to move is with a trailer. Or a push. Or a hill.

Apexcarver
Apexcarver PowerDork
2/22/16 1:08 p.m.

A few points..

What terrain are you looking to tow over? If you are going over mountains there is reason to have more tow vehicle than you might have for flat terrain.

Closed trailer will need more tow vehicle than open. There is a lot more aero drag for an enclosed trailer. (so also worse MPG)

How often do you mean to tow with it? Is it going to be very often, or will it be more infrequent? Diesel vs gas comes into play some here. Diesel tows better, but can be a bigger PITA if infrequently used.

What criteria outside of towing your stuff are you looking to fill with the vehicle? Basically there are three ways to go. Truck, Van(think big cargo van like E350), or SUV. Each have their merits. If you purely want to race tow, the van is well worth considering as you could also make it at-track camping quarters.

ultraclyde
ultraclyde UltraDork
2/22/16 1:16 p.m.

The longer the distance, the higher the speeds, and the steeper the terrain - the further you need to be OVER your actual load on towing capacity to be comfortable. IE, you can tow something that meets or exceeds tow capacity for short, flat distances and be okay. Towing near capacity for 4 hours on the interstate over the mountains - you're going to want more "excess" towing capacity to be comfortable, especially if you don't have a ton of experience. Having the extra stability and load-management of a stronger TV is a real plus when it's late, you're tired from tracking all weekend, and it's a long drive home. Also, longer wheel base TV usually means more stable and better manners, even for similar capacity.

I don't tow a car yet but I've been considering moving up to it. I have a 3500lb Mustang, and I'm guessing a cheap open trailer in my price range would go 1500lbs. Add another 500-1000lbs of tools, spares, folding chairs, etc, and we're talking an easy 5500-6000 lbs. How much stuff can I put in the truck on a weekend trip? How much do I and the occupants of the truck weigh? I realized that I wouldn't be comfortable with my Explorer that close to the limit of 6800lbs for hours on the interstate, especially at high miles.

If I were just getting into it I'd start with an open trailer. They're cheaper to pick up used and (as mentioned) provide a lot less wind resistance. You can spend a little more on a tow rig that way and if you decide you like doing it an enclosed trailer is a good upgrade. Given the price of the box trailers, it also gives you some experience to decide what you really need and perhaps buy the right one the first time.

imgon
imgon Reader
2/22/16 1:24 p.m.

Enclosed trailers are nice if you are going to use them frequently and have a decent size tow rig. For a truck, you will likely want a longer wheelbase SUV or PU. My choice would be a quad cab 3/4 ton PU with all the bells and whistles. Typically tracks are hours away from home and towing is stressful, its nice to have a comfortable place to sit for hours on end. I have a Suburban that I use to tow an RX7 on an open trailer and the truck barely breaks a sweat. I also have a 12' enclosed trailer for work that is probably about 6k fully loaded and the truck can pull it no problem but it is definitely working harder. Feels like you are pulling a parachute. I would like to get an enclosed trailer due to the fact that I go to 6 or so events a year and it would be great to leave all my gear in the trailer. Right now I spend and hour unloading all my work gear and loading race gear before and after every race, major PITA. I'm thinking that a 20' enclosed trailer is about at the Sububan's limits (only a 1/2 ton). Another thing to consider is storage and versatility, my open trailer has a wood deck and is frequently borrowed for hauling all sorts of stuff that might not fit inside an enclosed trailer. Although they are about the same foot print and enclosed trailer is substantially more noticeable. As for cost, a used open trailer about $1500-$2500 depending on condition, enclosed $3500-$6000. For a truck, around $10k for a decent PU, $10-$15k for a uuuuused SUV, add another $10k for slightly used, they are stupid money. I lucked out that the Suburban is my work truck, I could never afford one otherwise. If you are picking up non runners, add in the price for a good winch, another $300- $500, come-a-longs are a lot of work.

codrus
codrus Dork
2/22/16 1:25 p.m.

Definitely start with an open trailer. They're cheap, lighter than an enclosed trailer, and useful for hauling all kinds of other stuff as well. As far as tow vehicle is concerned, a late-90s Suburban 2500 can be had for around $5K, and will give you lockable storage (useful with an open trailer) and more towing capacity than anything below a crew cab diesel.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Dork
2/22/16 1:25 p.m.

To piggyback on this, I've been using uhaul trailers for years and would kind of like to pick up my own open trailer- what can one expect to pay for one? It seems like the price floor for a functional trailer with brakes and slide-in ramps is $2k around here, which seems like WAY too much to me.

Paul_VR6
Paul_VR6 Dork
2/22/16 1:41 p.m.

Expect to pay about 2K for a decent but not great 18' open trailer with single axle brakes. Near here we're spoiled with Econotrailer which sells new in the 2200-2500 range, but big name brands are going to be 500-1k more.

I jumped on a basket case 14' with no brakes, no ramps and a ratty deck recently for $900 but it had new tires and bearings and I can re-do the deck and wiring relatively easily.

Trailers are not cheap, and if the car atop them isn't.. spend money.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Dork
2/22/16 1:48 p.m.

In reply to Paul_VR6:

Dude, I'm sorta "near here" Is Econotrailer garbage, because their prices are not bad at all for a new trailer, and I'm within their 300 mile free delivery envelope...

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler UltraDork
2/22/16 2:01 p.m.

I went from an open trailer to an enclosed one back to an open one. Open is just more versatile and easier to tow.

JBasham
JBasham New Reader
2/22/16 3:09 p.m.

Just my experience, so it's not worth much. But I have towed a 4,600 pound double-axle surge braked open trailer/track car combo a handful of times with a Jeep ZJ 4 liter. It is tolerable for 2 hours or less, but just barely. The problem is not a lack of power (there is a lack of power, but there's still enough to keep highway speeds in the hills of DistMarVa). The ZJ is sufficiently short and light that the trailer is hard to control very well. I don't think it's dangerous, but it's tiresome.

I won't go more than an hour or two on this combo.

One time I did 5,500 combined bringing home a Foxbody from a local purchase transaction. Fortunately it was just 15 miles or so, but I'm never doing that again.

codrus
codrus Dork
2/22/16 3:19 p.m.
Paul_VR6 wrote: Expect to pay about 2K for a decent but not great 18' open trailer with single axle brakes. Near here we're spoiled with Econotrailer which sells new in the 2200-2500 range, but big name brands are going to be 500-1k more.

Yeah, in my experience most trailers that are substantially less than $2K have enough stuff wrong with them that you'll pay $2K by the time you fix them.

codrus
codrus Dork
2/22/16 3:21 p.m.
JBasham wrote: Just my experience, so it's not worth much. But I have towed a 4,600 pound double-axle surge braked open trailer/track car combo a handful of times with a Jeep ZJ 4 liter.

I would stay away from surge brakes. This isn't a boat trailer that's going to get dunked in water, electric brakes are the right answer.

And yeah, you want a longer wheelbase on the tow vehicle. Suburban 2500. :)

rslifkin
rslifkin Reader
2/22/16 3:27 p.m.

Surge brakes are basically no brakes. Stay away from them. And yeah, longer wheelbase is good for a tow rig. Although, I've towed a ZJ behind a ZJ before Trailer weight was ~6300 lbs loaded, ~11k combined (pretty much right up to the limits). Mind you, the ZJ doing the towing had a bit stiffer suspension than stock, so it was more stable than a stock one would be. It's not a rig I'd want to plan on using regularly, but it did surprisingly well cruising 55 - 60 on the highway (with the cruise set for most of the trip, as the 5.9 had plenty of power to hold speed on hills without dropping a gear, just spinning along in 3rd at 2600rpm / 60 mph).

Cactus
Cactus New Reader
2/22/16 3:46 p.m.

What I'd be looking at: 12ish tows of any consequential distance per year, mostly flat great lakes states (but there are mountains between here and VIR, Road Atlanta, Summit point)

The economics of an open trailer certainly appeal, but having an enclosed workshop at the track is pretty appealing too. Though a cargo van could handle that. I'm seeing vans with 10k towing capacity for pretty cheap. Hmmm.

logdog
logdog SuperDork
2/22/16 4:12 p.m.
codrus wrote:
Paul_VR6 wrote: Expect to pay about 2K for a decent but not great 18' open trailer with single axle brakes. Near here we're spoiled with Econotrailer which sells new in the 2200-2500 range, but big name brands are going to be 500-1k more.
Yeah, in my experience most trailers that are substantially less than $2K have enough stuff wrong with them that you'll pay $2K by the time you fix them.

This +a billion!

I've been down this road more than once because I am stupid and dont learn.* Once you start adding a new deck, good tires, refresh the brakes and fix the wiring held together by wire nuts, that 1200 buck trailer gets expensive.

*Im sure there are tons of people who got a like new trailer for 50 dollars that was only driven to church on Sundays by a little old lady. She likely even threw in 2 brand new spares and a tank of gas. It never worked out like that for me

logdog
logdog SuperDork
2/22/16 4:16 p.m.
Cactus wrote: The economics of an open trailer certainly appeal, but having an enclosed workshop at the track is pretty appealing too.

Spending a couple hours with a red flag for rain at a chump race while huddled under an EZup made my wife request an enclosed trailer.

Remember, a dry wife is a happy wife.

DeadSkunk
DeadSkunk UltraDork
2/22/16 4:20 p.m.

I towed my open deck trailer with a Chev Astro and the trailer had surge brakes. It would roll along nicely at 70 MPH and the brakes worked fine if they were properly adjusted and the surge coupling was greased.It depended on where the load was placed and having air bag rear suspension assist on the van though. I blew a tire on the trailer once and didn't know it until some folks got all bent in the next lane and started frantically arm waving.

dyintorace
dyintorace UberDork
2/22/16 4:22 p.m.
Cactus wrote: ...a Z4 M coupe, or an E28 M5...

Plus a 335i and a 951? I like your style!

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
2/22/16 4:26 p.m.
Paul_VR6 wrote: Expect to pay about 2K for a decent but not great 18' open trailer with single axle brakes. Near here we're spoiled with Econotrailer which sells new in the 2200-2500 range, but big name brands are going to be 500-1k more. I jumped on a basket case 14' with no brakes, no ramps and a ratty deck recently for $900 but it had new tires and bearings and I can re-do the deck and wiring relatively easily. Trailers are not cheap, and if the car atop them isn't.. spend money.

It's too bad the guy who made my trailer stopped shortly after making mine.

Mine is a 14' 700lb dual axle (with brakes) aluminum trailer. Mine's rated to 2500lb, but he made them to 3000lb. Being that my cars were 2400lb, it is still perfect for me. Short, but loaded correctly, it's a dream to pull. I bought it new (unassembled) for $1500.

And for a few years, I pulled it for thousands and thousands of miles a year. Including multiple trips to Florida. Once with a 3.0l Ranger that was only rated to 5000lb.

I'm a minimalist puller, and am happy to have a 2.0l GTDI Escape that's rated for 3500lb. Worked great. Better than the 3.0l Ranger rated for more.

kevlarcorolla
kevlarcorolla HalfDork
2/22/16 5:22 p.m.

I towed with an open for yrs(still do for the ice racer)but switched to an enclosed for a couple reasons.I very much prefer the locked up outa sight for overnight trips,I built a shelf across the trailer above the hood of the car so I can store the stuff that goes everywhere the car does even when not on the road and I use it for a portable shed.

I simply leave the car in it between events unless it needs some love'n,I store my E30 street car in if for the winter while working on the summer racer...I have a single car shop so its better than kicking the car outside to sit in the snow.

I don't see myself going back to an open trailer,I'll take the hit on mileage as its worth it to me.

jimbbski
jimbbski Dork
2/22/16 5:39 p.m.

I've had an open trailer since the early 90's. I first towed with a Ranger PU. Then when I went with a heavier race car I upgraded to a Suburban. For the past 14 years I've towed with a 1988 Ford E250 extended van. A van will tow fine if your using an open trailer. They will even tow fine with an enclosed trailer if you have the power to pull it. In the case of a Ford either the V10 or a diesel. They can be had in a pass. version or cargo version. Depends on what you need? With a van you don't really need an enclosed trailer unless the car you plan on towing is something you don't want other people to see when you park it somewhere or you want to protect it from the elements.

petegossett
petegossett PowerDork
2/22/16 6:49 p.m.

In reply to Cactus:

I towed my Miata on an open trailer with a '98 1-ton Chevy cargo van, and it towed/drove WAY better than my previous 1/2-Chevy pickup did. If you're more concerned with hauling stuff and/or having a place to rest at the track definitely consider a van.

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