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Old 09-19-2008, 04:28 PM   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2008
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SUN #711
Kevin K
Advice on purchasing used travel trailer


I'm interested in purchasing a used Sunline trailer and looking for sound advice as this will be the first trailer my wife and I purchase. Couple of questions:

We drive a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee (4.0L) and per the OEM manual, I look to be able to tow upto 25 ft at 5000lbs max. Is this reasonable or can we go bigger? Or should we stay lower?

When looking for a Sunline, how old is too old? 10 years? 15 years?

Are there any models or model years that we should avoid due to manuf. issues (ie lemons)?

We live near Philly PA should that make a difference and we don't plan to use during winter. Otherwise we are hoping to use Spring/Summer/Fall.

I welcome any addtional advice or suggestions. Thanks in advance for the help!


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Old 09-20-2008, 02:23 PM   #2
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Re: Advice on purchasing used travel trailer

Originally Posted by Kevin K
When looking for a Sunline, how old is too old? 10 years? 15 years?

NO such thing, just kidding Sunlines are VERY well built and last a LOOOOOONG time (See Below)

1982 Model 19 1/2 SB
1999 GMC Sierra 1500- Black
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Old 09-21-2008, 09:03 AM   #3
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We drive a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee (4.0L) and per the OEM manual, I look to be able to tow upto 25 ft at 5000lbs max. Is this reasonable or can we go bigger? Or should we stay lower?
Kevin, while I'm a newbie here, I have towed utility trailers and popups for 10+ years with 6 and 8 cylinder engines both old and new. I will tell you what I discovered... you should make your own decision.

I'm sure you've already learned that vehicle towing capacities have to take into consideration things like wheel base, rear axle ratio, engine specs (torque & horsepower), braking capacity, cooling system and the frontal load created by pulling that big brick behind you.

And then there's the max combined vehicle weight rating. IIRC, that's the MAX total weight (tow vehicle and trailer, people and stuff) you can safely run down the road with.

I owned a 1/2 ton Chevy truck with a inline 6 (like yours) and a newer V6 1/2 ton Chevy truck, both with short wheel bases... like your Grand Cherokee. The max rated towing capacity for these trucks was 4400-4500 pounds. I added a really good tranny cooler & a heavy duty radiator to help reduce the heat load on the transmission and engine. I never needed a weight distributing hitch but I did add a sway control setup for the bigger trailers.

I waited until I got my V8 powered, longer wheel base truck to pull the bigger heavier trailers. Just my humble opinion...
Dave & Cindy
'99 Chevrolet 2500 ext. cab (2WD)
5.3 liter V8, 3.73LS, Prodigy, Hensley Arrow
2004 Sunline Solaris SE T-2499 #5527
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Old 09-21-2008, 12:24 PM   #4
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Kevin, let me add some more thoughts here.

First, forget trailer length in trying figure out what you can tow. What counts is GVWR of the trailer - that is Gross Vehicle Weight Rating which means the max the trailer can weigh including the trailer itself, and anything you load into it.

Then you should include some safety margin so that the max you are trying to tow is always somewhat less than the max that your TV is supposedly able to tow. For a smaller TV like your Jeep, I'd recommend a 15 to 20% margin. That works out to between 4,000# and 4,250#.

So now you're looking at the Jeep realistically being able to tow 4,250# max. That should get you pointed in the right ball park for picking a trailer. So the answer to your first question is that you need to stay well under 5K# for GVWR that you can tow.

Some brief thoughts about sway. First, sway is basically the tail wagging the dog. The smaller the dog, the worse the effects of the sway. Look at the tow vehicles that others here are using, and you'll quickly see that most of us are using full size pickups or SUV's, but we're towing bigger trailers.

If you pick a trailer that falls in the weight range that I think is appropriate for your TV, sway may or may not be an issue. There are two basic systems available for dealing with sway. One is designed to be integrated with the weight distribution towing system (and there are a bunch of choices on the market), and the other is friction sway control which can be used with or without weight distribution. In the weight range that you are looking at, friction sway control is highly effective and fairly low cost. If you look around, you'll see that the WD based sway controls are much more expensive.

Read back in this category and in the Towing and Tow Vehicles section, and you will find several discussion threads that go into this specific topic in much greater detail and will give you a much better understanding of matching a trailer to a tow vehicle. I encourage you to read them all before you make any purchasing decisions.

Just so you know where I am coming from, our other car is a '02 Grand Cherokee with the 4.0L inline 6. From personal experience, I would not try to tow more than 2,500# with our Jeep. As always, your mileage may vary.

'12 F250 4x4 Super Duty PowerStroke 6.7 diesel
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Old 09-22-2008, 06:14 AM   #5
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Kevin, definitely keep an eye out for ANY signs of water damage from a leaking roof. Every TT will eventually leak if proper maintenance isn't done. Of course, if the previous owner didn't maintain the roof seals, you might wonder what else was neglected? The first thing to pay attention to is what your nose can tell you. If you don't smell a mildew odor as soon as you enter the coach, poking aroud under beds, into storage compartments etc may be revealing. Check also for spongy floors, roof underlayment and loose wallpaper. Tapping on the undercover fabric may produce wet spots as the water seeps through pin holes in the fabric.
Wishing you a happy deal,
1992 T-2470 (now residing in South Carolina)
Current Sunline-2007 Solaris 2499
2018 Silverado 1500 w/Max Trailering pkg.
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Old 09-27-2008, 04:55 AM   #6
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I had a 2000 Jeep Cherokee Classic with the same engine that your Jeep has, and I towed a 1996 Sunline T-2053 without any issues. I added a tranny cooler and a set of removeable Mckesh towing mirrors and went on my merry way. The 4.0 makes plenty of touque to pull with vigor, and it will serve you well. The 2053 had a dry weight of 3,800 lbs, and a max weight of 5,000 lbs (If memory serves correctly).
All vehicle makers take into account a safety margin when they give your vehicle a tow weight rating. So if DaimlerChrysler says you can tow 5,000 lbs, you can tow 5,000 lbs safely. If you couldn't tow it safely they wouldn't tell you that you could. If I subtracted 20% of the tow rating of my one ton Dodge(14,000 lbs.) I'd only be able to tow 11,200 lbs. So I guess I'd need to buy a Freightliner to pull my F-304SR with a rating of 12,500 lbs. My Dodge doesn't even break a sweat towing the fiver, and it stops very well. Never have I thought I need more truck. If all else fails ask to take the trailer on a short test tow to ease your mind.

Lowell, Amanda, Marley, and Winnie
1996 T-2053 (First Sunline "Little One")
2001 T-295SR (Favorite Sunline)
2003 F-304SR (Last Sunline "The Big One")
1985 T-1650 (Current Sunline)
2004.5 Dodge Ram 3500 5.9 HO Cummins
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