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How to Calculate Tongue Weight Capacity Reduction When Using A Hitch Extender On Toyota Rav 4

Question:

Im considering getting a Class II or III aftermarket hitch for an 04 Toyota RAV4 to accommodate a handmedown 1-1/4 hitchmount bike rack. At this point I dont know whether a given hitch/bike rack combination will accommodate my rear-mounted spare tire. An adapter or extender could solve that problem, but at what capacity cost? My cars tongue weight limit is 9-11 of 1500lb would an adapter or extender cut that in half too? A 35lb hitch plus 20lb rack could leave me a useless 20lb bike carrying capacity. How do I figure this?

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Expert Reply:

A hitch extender will reduce the tongue weight capacity of the hitch and the vehicle by 50 percent. You must abide by the capacities of the lowest rated component. For example if the tongue weight capacity of the hitch is 200 pounds, but the tongue weight capacity of the vehicle is 150 pounds, you must abide by 150. If you use a hitch extension, then your new tongue weight capacity is 75 pounds.

Since a hitch is bolted to the vehicle and essentially becomes part of the vehicle, it does not deduct from the tongue weight capacity of the vehicle.

Fortunately, if you select a proper sized bike rack, you will not need an extender to reach past the spare and you will retain full tongue weight capacity of the hitch and vehicle.

We always recommend using a 2 inch hitch when available as they have a higher capacity and there are many more accessories available for a 2 inch receiver than a 1-1/4. Since you are using a hand-me-down 1-1/4 inch bike rack, you will need a reducer sleeve. You would use hitch part # 75125 from Draw-Tite and the Brophy reducer sleeve HT02.

HT02 has tongue weight capacity of 300 pounds, since it is a reducer sleeve, not extension, it will not reduce tongue weight capacity by 50 percent. Now, you said that the tongue weight capacity of the RAV4 is 9-11 percent of 1500 pounds. Is that what was listed in the owner manual? Typically they do not list tongue weight capacities in that fashion. Regardless, if the tongue weight capacity is 11 percent of 1500 pounds, the tongue weight capacity would be 165 pounds since it is lower than the 300 pounds of the reducer.

There is a measurement you can take to ensure whether or not the bike rack will fit once you have the hitch installed. You can lay a dowel rod or yardstick against the spare and measure from the center of the hitch pin hole to the yard stick. When shopping for a rack, make sure to keep this measurement handy. If the measurement of the hitch pin to the rack upright is greater than the measurement you take, the rack will clear the spare.

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