Airstream Travel Trailer International 2023 Tow Vehicle User Manual

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Airstream Travel Trailer International 2023 Tow Vehicle User Manual

Tow Vehicle

When buying a new vehicle to tow your trailer, we suggest including towing options offered by most tow vehicle manufacturers. These include such things as a heavy-duty alternator and radiator, heavy-duty springs and shock absorbers, transmission cooler, heavy-duty fan and flasher unit, etc., for the make of the vehicle.

Springs that are too stiff can hinder the action of the weight-equalizing hitch and prevent the transfer of weight to the front of the vehicle.

Only use springs heavy enough to support your loaded vehicle (not including the trailer). Having a too-harsh spring rate on your tow vehicle will only shorten the life of the tow vehicle and trailer, and will cause your trips to be less enjoyable.

Transmissions may be manual or automatic, but an automatic transmission may prolong your tow vehicle’s life and generally does a better job of controlling engine loads than does the average driver using a manual shift. Having adequate power is very important when considering the purchase of a new vehicle or the trailer-towing capability of your present one. Auto dealers are provided with guidelines to use when helping a customer decide on a tow vehicle. Guidelines are not determined solely by the power output of the engine. The gear ratio of the differential is also a very important part of the guideline.
Inspect the tow vehicle’s hitch regularly for loose bolts or nuts, cracked welds, loose ball mounts, worn parts, etc.
New trailers often carry more food and other supplies than really needed. Remember that every item you take along is one more thing to stow and adds weight to the total load you must pull. Consolidate items in shelves, lockers, and in the refrigerator. It is better
to have one full and one empty locker, than two half empty ones. Special care must be taken not to overload the front and rear ends of the trailer.


All trailers are equipped with Dexter Nev-R-Adjust brakes. Please follow all maintenance procedures in the Dexter user’s manual provided in the owner’s packet.

Electronic Brake Controller

The trailer brakes are operated by a 12-volt current from your tow vehicle and must be hooked up so that you have an integrated system with your tow vehicle brakes. To prevent problems and ensure satisfactory braking action, install an electronic controller in line with the brakes in your tow vehicle.
An electronic controller will synchronize the trailer brakes with your tow vehicle brakes. It is designed to apply the trailer brakes with your tow vehicle brakes. Your brake controller should be adjusted to provide for a slight lead of the trailer brakes over the tow vehicle brakes.

Study all material provided with your particular brake control. If you do not understand the information, have the installer explain the information to you or call the manufacturer of the controller.

Proper Electric Brake Use
Proper synchronization of the tow vehicles to trailer braking can only be accomplished by road testing. Brake lockup, grab, or harshness is quite often due to lack of synchronization between the tow vehicle and the trailer being towed, a too-high threshold voltage (over 2 volts), or under-adjusted brakes.

Never use your tow vehicle or trailer brakes alone to stop the combined load.

The braking system should be checked and serviced by qualified, certified technicians only. Failure to do so could result in loss of control of your vehicle or the trailer, causing damage to property, injury, and/or death.

Breakaway Switch

In the event of an accidental separation of the tow vehicle and the trailer, the breakaway switch will set and lock the trailer brakes for a sufficient length of time to stop the trailer. The switch is activated when the wire attached to it and to the tow vehicle pulls out the small pin in the front of the unit.
When the trailer is connected to the tow vehicle, the breakaway switch loop should be attached to the permanent frame of your hitch. When disconnecting the trailer from the tow vehicle, remove the wire loop from the frame. Do not remove the pin from the switch because this will apply the trailer brakes.

Do not use the breakaway switch as a parking brake. If the battery should go dead, the trailer parking brake would no longer be applied. Failure to comply could cause damage to property, injury, and/or death.


When towing a trailer, you are subject to new and different challenges on the highway than you may have previously encountered. Towing a trailer is no small responsibility and should be undertaken with great care and safety first in mind. An accident with a tow vehicle and trailer can have much greater consequences than carelessness with a small car. Like an airline pilot who is responsible for expensive equipment and many lives, you should take your responsibilities as a tow vehicle driver very seriously and learn all you can about doing the job safely and well. Balancing the load and preparing the trailer and tow vehicle are critical to safe handling.

One of the most critical aspects of safely towing a trailer is knowing the weights involved and where they are placed. The first thing to determine is how much is being towed and confirming that it is within the capacities of the equipment being used. Determining where the load is placed is critical to the way your rig will handle on the road. Know what your trailer weighs loaded. Load your trailer including water, propane, etc. and take it to a public scales. Weigh each axle of your vehicle. Refer to your axle weight and tire limits to see if you are within a safe range. Total all axle weights, ensuring you are below the GVWR.
Make sure your load is balanced. Do not load too much on one side. A balanced load is much easier to tow or drive. Front-to-back balance is also important. Step back and look at your trailer, making sure there is not too much weight on the hitch, or on the rear of the trailer. Secure all items, as loose items can cause damage and become a safety issue. The Cargo Carrying Capacity tag shown below is installed on every trailer and can be found on the inside of the screen door on your trailer.Airstream Travel Trailer International 2023 Tow Vehicle User Manual 01

Airstream weighs the trailer as finished to arrive at the trailer’s weight. That number is subtracted from the GVWR of the trailer and listed under THE WEIGHT OF CARGO SHOULD NEVER EXCEED on the tag. The total weight of any and all cargo, including dealer modifications or additions, water, and propane should never exceed the number listed. As cargo is added, removed, or shifts in location, the weight on the axle(s) and hitch will change. Also, the hitch and axle weights will change as a consequence of the weight of the LP tank(s) diminishing from the use of propane, and/or the transfer of weight as a consequence of water in the freshwater tank being used and transferred to the grey and black tanks. In shorter units, rear bath models especially, when the LP tanks are empty and freshwater has been transferred to the grey and black holding tanks, the reduction in hitch weight may be significant. For this reason, we recommend that the grey and black tanks be emptied before traveling.

When loading the trailer, keep the following in mind:

  • GVWR
  • GAWR
  • Tire Weight Rating
  • Cargo

Never exceed these ratings. Your safety depends on not overloading the trailer, axles, and tires. Refer to Section 4 – Floor Plan and Specifications for the rating list.

Reference Links

View Full User Guide: Airstream Travel Trailer International 2023 User Manual

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