Toyota RAV4 Forums banner

1 - 20 of 39 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
35 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
2020 RAV4 Limited Hybrid (AWD)
GTWR: 1,750 lb
Unbraked TWR: 1,000 lb


I have a trailer that does not have brakes and has a GVWR of 1,400 lb. I'd like to load it to near full capacity.

What I gather from the owner's manual is that the only real limitation here is braking power. I have several questions.

  1. Would it be possible/practical to upgrade the brakes on my car to be able to handle that extra weight without trailer brakes?
  2. Would it only be the pads and rotors that need to be upgraded?
  3. If I upgraded to brakes that are rated to improve braking power over the stock brakes by 40%, and I'm towing 40% more than the unbraked TWR, might that open me up to additional liabilities in the event of an accident?
However, there's also this:
Curb weight: 3,800 lb
GVWR: 4,920 lb
Payload: 1,120 lb


So the stock brakes are intended to handle a 1,120 lb payload inside the car + 1,000 lbs total trailer weight. Might that mean that I could tow a 1,400 lb trailer as long as I didn't load the car with more than 720 lbs (occupants included) - without upgrading the brakes?

Again, how risky is that in terms of insurance/liability?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
694 Posts
I doubt you will find any sort of specifically-uprated brakes for this vehicle.

Overall, though, it is not simply about brake strength, but also the inescapable physics of a 4000lb vehicle being able to control a >1000lb vehicle under emergency braking. I am not saying you are going to jackknife at the first stoplight with 1001lb on the trailer. However, the odds do go way up as you exceed that threshold.

My 2019 F250 could tow over 10,000 lbs, but is only rated for towing a 1500lb trailer without trailer brakes.

So, unfortunately, while I personally might be willing to limp the Rav home a mile or two from the hardware store with the trailer loaded to max, overall I dont think there is a way to safely achieve what you are wanting.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
35 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Overall, though, it is not simply about brake strength, but also the inescapable physics of a 4000lb vehicle being able to control a >1000lb vehicle under emergency braking. I am not saying you are going to jackknife at the first stoplight with 1001lb on the trailer. However, the odds do go way up as you exceed that threshold.
So you think braking power isn't the only variable at play here, and that it would change the handling/stability during an emergency braking situation if the trailer didn't have brakes?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
694 Posts
Absolutely. I think the issue is that an unbraked trailer will have a tendency to "push" past the tow vehicle when the tow vehicle is trying to stop hard. This will result in the trailer pushing the rear of the tow vehicle to one side of the other, causing a jackknife.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
35 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Absolutely. I think the issue is that an unbraked trailer will have a tendency to "push" past the tow vehicle when the tow vehicle is trying to stop hard. This will result in the trailer pushing the rear of the tow vehicle to one side of the other, causing a jackknife.
Well that's insightful, I didn't consider that.

Do you believe an anti-sway/weight distribution device would give more stability under emergency braking conditions?
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,597 Posts
Why not put brakes on the trailer? Call your insurance company and see what they say.. Or Toyota.
I certainly WOULD NOT say anything to my insurance company and Toyota is just going to quote the manual.
I certainly WOULD add trailer brakes.

I've towed a lot of trailers with and w/o brakes with vehicles from Honda Accords to F-250s and must say it's pretty scary when the trailer pushes you thru a red light at an intersection or the trailer starts swaying so bad that the car on it slides partially off.
In the first case there wasn't a crash (which wouldn't have been an "accident") and I changed the trailer axles to ones with brakes.
In the second case I used both lanes of the interstate and grabbing the manual override on the brake controller saved a wreck.

Anti-sway basically only helps when the trailer is loaded wrong. I NEVER use it. With any hint of sway I adjust the load and tire pressures.

Weight distribution is helpful if the tongue weight pushes the rear of the tow vehicle too low. It does make for a smoother ride but does little for stability.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
694 Posts
I certainly WOULD NOT say anything to my insurance company and Toyota is just going to quote the manual.
I certainly WOULD add trailer brakes.

I've towed a lot of trailers with and w/o brakes with vehicles from Honda Accords to F-250s and must say it's pretty scary when the trailer pushes you thru a red light at an intersection or the trailer starts swaying so bad that the car on it slides partially off.
In the first case there wasn't a crash (which wouldn't have been an "accident") and I changed the trailer axles to ones with brakes.
In the second case I used both lanes of the interstate and grabbing the manual override on the brake controller saved a wreck.

Anti-sway basically only helps when the trailer is loaded wrong. I NEVER use it. With any hint of sway I adjust the load and tire pressures.

Weight distribution is helpful if the tongue weight pushes the rear of the tow vehicle too low. It does make for a smoother ride but does little for stability.
Well said. Indeed, anti-sway is more of a last-ditch crutch for a properly-loaded and balanced trailer.

I'd say be prepared to look into swapping to braked axles. Even momentum-driven mechanical brakes, while kindof annoying and inefficient to drive, would probably be sufficient to keep you safe for occasional short-trips to the hardware store or whatever.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
837 Posts
I certainly WOULD NOT say anything to my insurance company and Toyota is just going to quote the manual.
I certainly WOULD add trailer brakes.

I've towed a lot of trailers with and w/o brakes with vehicles from Honda Accords to F-250s and must say it's pretty scary when the trailer pushes you thru a red light at an intersection or the trailer starts swaying so bad that the car on it slides partially off.
In the first case there wasn't a crash (which wouldn't have been an "accident") and I changed the trailer axles to ones with brakes.
In the second case I used both lanes of the interstate and grabbing the manual override on the brake controller saved a wreck.

Anti-sway basically only helps when the trailer is loaded wrong. I NEVER use it. With any hint of sway I adjust the load and tire pressures.

Weight distribution is helpful if the tongue weight pushes the rear of the tow vehicle too low. It does make for a smoother ride but does little for stability.
What he said. Trailer brakes will be a way cheaper upgrade, and make things much safer overall. I haven't done it but you should be able to replace the trailer axle with one that has brakes, and add a brake controller and some wiring. Your trailer will be pulling the vehicle to a stop, not trying to push it or spin you out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
851 Posts
Did you even bother to read some documentation about how a hybrid works? The regenerating braking system is part of the drivetrain, and cannot (should not?) be altered.
If you want to move heavy stuff you really need to think before you even attach such a trailer to such a vehicle.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
694 Posts
Did you even bother to read some documentation about how a hybrid works? The regenerating braking system is part of the drive train, and cannot (should not?) be altered.
If you want to move heavy stuff you really need to think before you even attach such a trailer to such a vehicle.
The hybrid motors do provide some of the braking force, but they have a limit, and everything else is provided by the brakes. Hybrid Ravs still have disc brakes which, fundamentally, could be upgraded for more stopping power or, more accurately, better heat resistance. In fact, it was smart of him to actually read and understand the manual to realize that "tows 1750 pounds!" had caveats that would have put him at significant risk had he not worked to clarify them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
35 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
There would be a number of challenges to add brakes to this trailer.

After much research, I've decided I'm just going to try it out without brakes. I'm going to load the trailer to capacity and do some brake testing in an empty parking lot. If it feels unsafe, I'll see if I can get brakes installed on it. I've never towed anything before, so I have very little to go on first-hand when it comes to trailer handling.

What I do know, though, is this:
  • Legal standards that base trailer brake requirements on "percent of tow vehicle weight" are 40% and up. My trailer will be less than 33% of my tow vehicle's weight.
  • The consensus on the "safety" side of things for percent of tow vehicle weight when you should have trailer brakes, from what I see, is 40-60%. Sometimes as high as >100%, which seems extreme.
  • The UK model for the 2020 RAV4 Hybrid is nearly identical in every way to the US model, and has the same braked trailer tow capacity. However, the unbraked TWR for the UK model is 1,650 lb instead of 1,000 lb. This makes me believe the US model's 1,000 lb rating is more conservative for [legal/liability?] purposes, rather than structural limits or safety.
What this all tells me (again from a perspective of zero towing experience) is this:
  • It will probably call for more careful/anticipatory driving to tow 1,400 lbs unbraked with my RAV4, but
  • It should be reasonably within the realm of safe to do so
My insurance company said they'll insure me normally regardless of whether or not I'm overloaded.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
694 Posts
Well, at least you asked and have set yourself up to make better-informed decisions!

I have towed overweight trailers before. Hell, I drove my Rav home a couple miles with 450lb on the roof several weeks ago. I am not telling you it is safe, but you are correct that risks can be mitigated (to some extent). However, I posted it here and it really upset a few people, so make sure you have your flame suit on!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
851 Posts
Where did you read the 1000lb and 1650lb difference?
The 1650lb is for the UNBRAKED trailer on a AWD hybrid, the 1000lb for the UNBREAKED trailer on a FWD AFAIK...
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,597 Posts
There would be a number of challenges to add brakes to this trailer.

What this all tells me (again from a perspective of zero towing experience) is this:
  • It will probably call for more careful/anticipatory driving to tow 1,400 lbs unbraked with my RAV4, but
  • It should be reasonably within the realm of safe to do so
I think you're taking a very reasonable approach. It's not like you're going to be towing long distances on a regular basis and you seem to have a cautious attitude.
Your first learning experience should be backing up the trailer. Practice that unloaded until you gain confidence.
Then try the loaded mode. A parking lot is good but higher speeds are the most unsafe. Leave plenty of stopping room and keep speed down.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,597 Posts
My insurance company said they'll insure me normally regardless of whether or not I'm overloaded.
This is VERY ENLIGHTENING information!
Almost every time the subject of hauling or towing possibly overweight loads has come up on these forums someone invariably mentions the possibility of the driver's insurance company denying coverage on the basis of being overweight or overloaded. This may explain why when that accusation is challenged no one can point to a court case an insurance company won against the driver.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,105 Posts
This is VERY ENLIGHTENING information!
Almost every time the subject of hauling or towing possibly overweight loads has come up on these forums someone invariably mentions the possibility of the driver's insurance company denying coverage on the basis of being overweight or overloaded. This may explain why when that accusation is challenged no one can point to a court case an insurance company won.
Perhaps true but you are still exposing yourself to greater liability for negligence for towing beyond your vehicle’s maximum capacity. Same with loading 450 pounds of lumber on a RAV4 roof. Sure, your insurance may still defend you but if someone gets seriously injured or killed is that what really matters? I realize that some people care about such things and some do not.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
694 Posts
It is 100% BS that an insurance company would not cover you when driving with an overloaded trailer.

I did hours and hours of research about this when I bought my F250 to tow an Airstream. Literally the only confirmed instance was when a fatal accident was caused by guy doing 80mph with a trailer roughly 150% of the weight rating, in a pickup truck that was lifted ~12 inches. His insurance paid out, and he was not held criminally accountable, but he was successfully sued in civil court because he was being grossly negligent.

Again, this was a super extreme case. Even all the instances of people getting randomly stopped and ticketed for exceeding trailering limits were very obviously overloaded trailers, driving too fast for conditions, or both.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
35 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
It's not like you're going to be towing long distances on a regular basis
Actually, that's not the case. This is for a "life on the road" lifestyle, where I will pretty much exclusively be towing long distances on a regular basis. So I definitely want to make sure I'm comfortable and confident with the safety of it before I head out. Worst case scenario, I'll load it only up to 1,000 lbs total, or get brakes for it (if it's even possible in this case).

Where did you read the 1000lb and 1650lb difference?
The 1650lb is for the UNBRAKED trailer on a AWD hybrid, the 1000lb for the UNBREAKED trailer on a FWD AFAIK...
That might be true. Either way, I have the AWD hybrid.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
35 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Where did you read the 1000lb and 1650lb difference?
The 1650lb is for the UNBRAKED trailer on a AWD hybrid, the 1000lb for the UNBREAKED trailer on a FWD AFAIK...
151214

151215

151216
151217



All of the above are for my vehicle, the US model 2020 RAV4 Limited Hybrid. The owner's manual is conflicting with the specs, as well as with other parts of the manual. Payload 1,120 lb, payload 900 lb. Tow capacity 1,750 lb, tow capacity 1,500 lb. GCWR 6,420 lb, GCWR 6,200 lb. Seems like a lot of it was copy/pasted from standard non-hybrid RAV4 models, which do apparently have a tow capacity of 1,500 lb. It is indeed the manual for the hybrid model, though.

Toyota's logistics on this model were kind of a mess to begin with. They didn't even have a tow hitch designed for it (Limited models w/ kick sensor) a few months ago, despite advertising a 1,750 lb tow capacity. Their answer to having a tow hitch installed on it, up until now, was "we don't endorse that" / "can't be done". They designed a tow hitch for it at my request and released it about a month ago at the time I'm writing this, and refunded all of my lease payments made up to that point. At least they handled it adequately.

The following is the UK model specs (in the owner's manual):

151218

151219
 
1 - 20 of 39 Posts
Top