How to Pull a Trailer With a Toyota RAV4

by Bob White
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camping,trailer image by Greg Pickens from

The Toyota RAV4 is a compact SUV, first produced in 1994 to accommodate the needs of customers wanting SUV capabilities with compact car fuel economy. Towing a trailer with this vehicle will be limited by the manufacturer-determined towing capacity. It is important the you stay within these guidelines because towing a trailer affects the braking and handling of a vehicle.

Step 1

Record the trailer's gross trailer weight from its data plate under GTW. If this information in unavailable you can use a local vehicle scale to make this determination. Calculate the trailer's tongue weight which is roughly estimated at 15% of the GTW.

Step 2

Record the trailer towing capabilities of the RAV4 from the owner's manual. This number will vary according to the model type and engine size. Toyota rates the 2010 RAV4 at 1500 lbs. for the 4-cylinder engine and 2000 lbs. for the 6-cylinder engine.

Step 3

Record the trailer hitch's towing capacity. Trailer hitches come in several classes: Class I (up to 2000 lbs.), Class II (up to 3500 lbs.), Class III (up to 5000 lbs.) and Class IV (up to 10,000 lbs.). If your RAV4 is not equipped with a trailer hitch, you will need to have a mechanic install one.

Step 4

Using the recorded information, calculate to determine if the RAV4 can safely tow the trailer. Both the RAV4 and the hitch capacity must be greater than the GTW and tongue weight of the trailer.

Step 5

Connect the trailer tongue to the hitch. Lower the tongue onto the hitch and lock the latch in place with a hitch pin. Attach the trailer chains to the vehicle making sure to cross them under the trailer tongue. Connect the trailer's electrical system to the vehicle.

Step 6

Walk around the vehicle and trailer to double check that the vehicle and trailer are connected properly. Test the trailer for working signals, brake and marker lights. Repair as necessary.

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