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Weight Distribution for a 2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser and 2015 Airstream 22FB Travel Trailer

Question:

Hello, I have a 2014 FJ Cruiser 4WD automatic, roof rack, factory tow receiver and just purchased a 2015 Airstream 22FB. The trailer is not here yet due in one week and I am concerned about safe towing. Did I screw up? Too much trailer? The Airstream has a published hitch weight of 393, base weight of 3,364 and GVWR of 4500. The Toyota manual says tow rating 4700. The Airstream dealer will install trailer brake system, sway control friction and weight distributing hitch. I am wondering if I should buy a specific system on my own for them to install. Thank you! Your sage advice will be greatly appreciated.

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Expert Reply:

First, as long as the gross trailer weight and hitch weight are within the capacities of your 2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser then it will be fine. Check your vehicle owners manual to make sure it is compatible with weight distribution.

I know that many trailer dealerships will sell and install some . . . lesser quality weight distribution systems. They work but they do not work as well as other systems. So to at least take a look at your options I can go over some different models with you.

First, since you are interested in sway control, there are basically 2 types: friction and dual-cam. The difference is that friction sway control works to stop sway and dual-cam prevents sway from starting. Based on this I would go with dual-cam.

To choose a weight distribution system you will need to go by the total tongue weight of the set up. This is calculated by taking the tongue weight of the trailer, when loaded and ready to tow, and adding to that the weight of anything loaded behind the rear axle of the tow vehicle.

Tongue weight is usually 10 to 15 percent of the gross trailer weight but could be more. Based on the dry weight of the trailer you have provided the tongue weight, unloaded (dry) is about 11.75 percent of the gross trailer weight. So basically the tongue weight range is from 393 pounds to 530 pounds.

Since you will certainly be adding weight to the trailer, I recommend a system that is rated for up to 600 pounds tongue weight. For a dual-cam system that fits this description I recommend Reese Strait-Line system # RP66082. It is rated for 200 to 600 pounds tongue weight and has dual-cam sway control. You would only need to add a ball; # A-90 for a 2 inch or # 19286 for a 2-5/16 inch.

If you wanted to explore friction sway control the Reese Steadi-Flex system, # RP66558, is an option. Again all you would need is one of the balls listed above.

The economical route would be to go with a Pro Series system such as # PS49901 rated for up to 550 pounds tongue weight. It uses a different type of sway control called a friction bar that has to be bolted to the side of the trailer frame.

I have included some helpful links on weight distribution and sway control and determining tongue weight for you to view.

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