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Towing (well, launching) midsized aluminum boat with Rav 4?

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  • Towing (well, launching) midsized aluminum boat with Rav 4?

    Hello,

    I have an old starcraft islander 22 so it's 1950 pounds. I keep it in dry storage, and the launch ramp is exactly .4 miles away from the lot. I use the boat maybe 3-5 times a year.

    I currently use a 1994 f150 to pull it out and tow it down, but since my truck is ancient now and I have kids, I really only use it to pull my boat in or out and launch it. Then, a few weeks ago, I was trying to pull my boat out and the ramp was extra slimy for some reason, and I couldn't get it out as my truck is RWD. I was looking pretty stuck when this fellow came along in a 4-cylinder CRV and hooked himself up to my truck and, despite the slime, was able to pull my truck and my boat out simply because he had 4WD.

    I've been thinking about a new vehicle, and I don't want to spend a ton on a 4wd truck that I'll never really use. My buddy is selling an old Rav4. It has a 2000 pound towing limit and almost 250k miles on it. I'm considering just buying that and using it exclusively as a boat-launcher vehicle because it has 4wd.

    My question is, given that the towing capacity of a rav 4 is exactly the weight of the boat... is this a problem? I mean, if I ever had to go further than the .4 mile to the ramp, I would rent a truck, but that would be such a rare occurrence (last time it went further away than the ramp on a trailer was about 15 years ago) that I'm not really expecting that to happen basically ever. But if I have an old junker car, is there anything unsafe about using it to pull and launch a boat maybe 3-5 times a year? Is a rav4 with 4 wheel drive enough to get a 2000 pound boat out of the water? If I two it for a total of about 5 miles a year, will that cause significant damage to the rav4 to where it'll only last a year instead of the maybe 4-5 years that it should have left in it?

    Again, I would never use the rav4 to haul this boat anywhere past the ramp, so .4 miles at a time every few months. Once the boat is up the ramp, it's flat with exactly one stop sign, and while I don't want to ruin the rav4, I'm also not super concerned with doing things that would normally be considered "bad" for a transmission or whatever.

    Just looking for input—thanks!

  • #2
    Is that weight just the boat? Or does it include the trailer,fuel and all misc gear? If it does not include the trailer and supplies and fuel it will be overweight. I would not choose a rav 4 to pull something as big as your boat.

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    • #3
      Scott is right, you likely aren't adding everything up. Example my boat is ~2500 lbs but with trailer,gas and gear I am about ~3600 lbs

      If you are looking for a good cheap SUV to tow your boat with I'd suggest a '08-12 they can tow 3500 lbs and I believe you can get AWD with them included in the tow package. I'd double check that though. I towed a boat weighing ~1500 lbs with 1000 lbs of trailer/gas/gear so about 2500 lbs total and it pulled it pretty good. I had the FWD version and never felt like I was fighting to get up the ramp even on slippery ones. I frequented a ramp at the time I owned that boat/SUV combo that I could not safely walk on the ramp itself and no issues so I doubt you will have issues with an AWD one
      2018 Glastron GT 185 | Mercury 4.5L 200HP
      1977 Crestliner Crusader 550 | 1977 Mercury 850 [SOLD to my father]
      1962 Scott unknown model | 1977 Mercury 50 HP [SOLD]

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      • #4
        Originally posted by timnfletcher View Post
        Hello,

        4-cylinder CRV and hooked himself up to my truck and, despite the slime, was able to pull my truck and my boat out simply because he had 4WD.
        he only had to pull you a bit with about 300 or 400# of force to get you moving. dont confuse the additional force needed you to assist getting you rolling with the total tow force needed

        Originally posted by timnfletcher View Post
        Is a rav4 with 4 wheel drive enough to get a 2000 pound boat out of the water?
        in short..... no

        boat dry weight 1950#
        trailer 1200#
        fuel, gear, etc. 1000#

        total towed weight 4150#

        while it may do it once or twice, realistically if you dont blow the trans, one slight slip and your rav 4 will be pulled back into the water by the boat.
        Cheesehead boating the Gulf Coast of FLA 27.51° N, 82.53° W

        1988 Cruisers Rogue 2420 -VP 290 DP now powered by custom 468 - https://forums.iboats.com/forum/owner...988-rogue-2420

        Past Boats
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        • #5
          Many years ago, my dad pulled his 21' Chieftan miles and miles hooked to a 1993 Nissan hardbody pickup. Was 2wd and 4cyl. The truck was technically legal to tow 3,000 lbs and according to the scales, the boat/ trailer was under that, but that was dry weight, empty with half the interior missing at that time. Fun times.
          1961 Custom Craft Sea Ray- 1964 Mercury 650. In family since new.

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          • #6
            I believe the 4 cyl Ravs are CVT. Meaning a variable pitch friction chain drive. Snowmobile drive. Not good for high torque applications like towing.

            If you're looking for a low cost towing only vehicle, there are plenty of old 4WD 4 door pickups and SUVs available. I sold my '99 5.2L Durango at a family discount for $1000. Rough on the outside, solid engine and drive train. The key is knowing what you are buying. Good guts are more important than looks.

            Take you current rig to a scale and get an accurate weight. Two times on the scale. Total rig, then truck only. I'd think any V6 4WD would be good enough, but research the towing rating.
            '96 Larson 174 SEI BR. 4.3LX 4 bbl Weber s/n 0F786604. Alpha One Gen II s/n 0F709315

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            • #7
              The CRV pulled you out because he added to your overall tractive effort. You had (6) wheels between his vehicle and yours moving the trailer up the ramp.

              I'd be looking at a mid-sized SUV or a mid-sized pickup with 4x4 or AWD. So Durango/Dakota, Highlander/Tacoma, Traverse/Colorado/S10, etc. Heck you might find a deal on an older Tahoe or Burb...provided some teenager hasn't gotten ahold of it and pimped it out.

              A RAV4 is a short wheelbase vehicle...in my opinion, good for a snowmobile or jetski. A boat your size I wouldn't try.
              2017 Chaparral 19 H2O Ski & Fish w./4.3L 180HP Merc Alpha
              2005 Four Winns 200Le x/5.0L Volvo SX-M (270HP - FI) - ordered new, traded in on Chaparral
              1999 Bayliner Capri 1800LS w/2000 Honda 115HP - ordered new, traded in on Four Winns
              1956 MFG 15' w/matching Evinrude Big Twin 30HP - presumed to be a sandbox somewhere


              Tow Vehicle:
              2017 Toyota 4Runner SR5 Premium 4x4
              2019 Ram 1500 Classic 4x4

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              • #8
                For what you are talking about, I would ask around at the storage facility to see if there's an employee that would be willing to launch or retrieve your boat for a slight fee.

                My bet is that slight fee, paid as often as you use your boat, would be much less than buying and maintaining a vehicle that would be used for nothing but that purpose.

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                • #9
                  Personally, I'd be worried about braking quickly in something the size of a RAV4 with several thousand pounds of boat and trailer behind me.
                  Location: West Central Illinois, USA 1997 Larson 186 SEi Bowrider I/O Mercruiser 350 #0F747565 Mag Alpha One Gen II #1A270120 Transom and Deck Restoration Project on my '97 Larson Bowrider

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                  • #10
                    Another option is to carry a couple pieces of old scrap carpet with you. I've done it for years, luckily never had to use it myself but saved a few other people that were spinning their tires in the slime. I carry two pieces approx. 2' by 6'. Place them in front of the rear tires if they start to spin, it helps if someone is standing on them and you have instant traction.

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                    • #11
                      I wouldn't suggest using any suv with a towing capacity under 5000 lbs for traction sake. I use a mountaineer rated for 7500 lb towing and it gets questionable sometimes with my 25' pontoon. Another thing to look at is the distance from rear tire to hitch on a suv is shorter than a truck, meaning it has to back farther down the ramp, and the shorter wheelbase means occasionally the front tires are in the slime on the ramp. Also DO NOT use a Durango for this, their front Axel (at least from '98-'04) is a different gear ratio, crawl, solely for getting un stuck. If you use it with traction on all tires you will BLOW the front differential. Not sure what other vehicles are built this way but have seen it happen to 3 different Durango owners.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by harringtondav View Post
                        I believe the 4 cyl Ravs are CVT. Meaning a variable pitch friction chain drive. Snowmobile drive. Not good for high torque applications like towing.
                        Although I don't have personal knowledge of Rav's CVT, i've done some moderate towing my my Subaru with a CVT. It is sort of a snowmobile drive, but the difference is there is no slipping, ever. The belt is a chain, and there is 4 tons of pressure on the pulleys driving against the pins of the chain. (standard torque converter in front of the CVT) Very few moving parts compared to a regular auto. The computer is constantly monitoring torque, it generally won't let the trans get past its safety envelope, it will just downshift and rev the engine.

                        Like any other vehicle/transmission, don't abuse it or use it past its specs, and it will most likely last.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Maped View Post
                          . Also DO NOT use a Durango for this, their front Axel (at least from '98-'04) is a different gear ratio, crawl, solely for getting un stuck. If you use it with traction on all tires you will BLOW the front differential. Not sure what other vehicles are built this way but have seen it happen to 3 different Durango owners.
                          Durango's (most dodges of that era) used vacuum actuated front locking hubs, which ironically are also used on Kia Sportages of that timeframe. (full size pickup sharing parts with a mini-suv, first mistake) Second problem is those vacuum hubs often developed leaks where the hubs would randomly kick in and out, especially in low-vacuum situations (high throttle) You can imagine the damage if it decides to kick out when you hit the gas in 4x4, and then randomly engages again. Goodbye hubs, axle, or diff.

                          (owned a kia sportage with vacuum hubs, replaced with Warn manual lockers)

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Maped View Post
                            I wouldn't suggest using any suv with a towing capacity under 5000 lbs for traction sake. I use a mountaineer rated for 7500 lb towing and it gets questionable sometimes with my 25' pontoon. Another thing to look at is the distance from rear tire to hitch on a suv is shorter than a truck, meaning it has to back farther down the ramp, and the shorter wheelbase means occasionally the front tires are in the slime on the ramp. Also DO NOT use a Durango for this, their front Axel (at least from '98-'04) is a different gear ratio, crawl, solely for getting un stuck. If you use it with traction on all tires you will BLOW the front differential. Not sure what other vehicles are built this way but have seen it happen to 3 different Durango owners.
                            read above. The ratio is the same. Hubs are garbage. Ford's of that time also had Vac hubs but GM opted for an electronically shifted differential to do the same thing
                            1961 Custom Craft Sea Ray- 1964 Mercury 650. In family since new.

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                            • #15
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                              Vacuum hubs have been around for a long time. Certainly longer than "electronic".
                              Can't peak for Durango's but most use vacuum to both engage and disengage the actuator.
                              A loss of vacuum should not cause them to disengage.
                              All of my Toyota's have been vacuum.
                              1980 Sylvan Aluminum 18' Sportster I/O - Mercruiser 140, Honda 7.5 Kicker, Bennett M120 Tabs
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