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Old 10-31-2014, 10:23 AM   #1
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Minivan Towing

I was told there are folks here towing with Minivans, but the search feature on this forum returns some odd results so I'm starting a new thread.

My plan is (was) to go for the 16' Sport (or something with equivalent weight ratings) as my first Airstream. It suits my needs well and would be paired with my 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan R/T with tow package (bigger brakes, upgraded rear shocks etc.).

While the tow ratings for what I can pull and tongue weight work out I ran into a snag...the GCWR of my van is 7000lbs

Curb Weight of van is 4510 + Base weight of Bambi 2810 = 7310

There's nothing left for payload.

I get people using reinforced hitches but how does that overcome the GCWR ratings of these 'smaller' vehicles? I've been looking into what people are towing with and the numbers don't add up.

I'm not buying a truck.

I'm looking for feedback and suggestions. Is what I want to do possible with an Airstream? I'll be pulling mostly up and down the east coast with the occasional jaunt over to the midwest.


Thanks a bunch!
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Old 10-31-2014, 10:30 AM   #2
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There are people on here towing with a Toyota Sienna and a Honda Odyssey.
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Old 10-31-2014, 10:39 AM   #3
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There's a lot of folks towing with vans and doing well. Here's the Airstream dealer who specializes in combinations of this type, contact them:

Can-Am RV :: T & C Van towing 28 Airstream

There will always be a lot of people telling you why you can't do it but you may be more interested in those telling you how you might. Do the research, then you can decide for yourself.

You can't just hook up and go, it takes a specialized setup by those few who know what they are doing.
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Old 10-31-2014, 11:11 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wild Robot View Post
Curb Weight of van is 4510 + Base weight of Bambi 2810 = 7310

There's nothing left for payload.

I get people using reinforced hitches but how does that overcome the GCWR ratings of these 'smaller' vehicles? I've been looking into what people are towing with and the numbers don't add up.

Thanks a bunch!
Yes, there are people doing it, and successfully. They are mostly in Canada and set up by the dealer in London, Ontario.

But to try and answer your question of how does the hitch reinforcement overcome the GCWR ratings, I think if you dig deep enough, and ask those who do it, they will tell you either that the engineers that determined that spec know nothing so therefore the spec means nothing, or, some of the most honest ones will tell you they simply ignore it.

Good luck with your setup, and I personally believe you will have no trouble towing a 16 footer with that vehicle, and that is based on some of the things I've seen people do on this forum.
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Old 10-31-2014, 11:15 AM   #5
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There is a fellow on this forum whose screen name is MrUKToad who tows a 25 or 27' AS with a minivan. I suggest you contact him directly in case he is not monitoring the forum. He lives in Ontario and I suspect got his setup at CanAm.
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Old 10-31-2014, 12:05 PM   #6
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Unless I missed it, what engine in the van?
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Old 10-31-2014, 12:41 PM   #7
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No problem

You'll be fine.


Not long ago, a thread including this subject was closed because it became ugly. Evidently towing with a mini-van infuriates the faction that approves only of towing with Big Butt crew cab Diesel Dually or a minimum ton and/or pro-pride/hensley. It was stated that the only way that you can tow with a mini-van is to have it "dusted by a Fairy".


My Fairy was sorry to see that thread closed, as she had dusted our '07 Dodge Caravan about four years ago, and We've been towing thousands of comfortable miles without incident.


Among other things, she dusted Our mini-van with a set of Michelin LTXs, tossed the back seats, and added a Reese class three hitch and Reese mini-lite 350 anti-sway/weight distribution.


My service manual says not to exceed 40sf of trailer frontal area. It does not assign that frontal area to any particular speed, which makes that figure appear somewhat arbitrary. Fairy says that puts all the towing spec's in question, and to trust her... Most 200 horsepower 4000 pound American cars can be set up to safely tow a 3000 pound trailer.


Hitched up, in camp-able condition, we cross the scales at 6,900 pounds. Travelin' light... and it handles as well as my old 1LE Camaro.


I questioned her about the missing six hubcaps, and got a dissertation on un-sprung weight and brake cooling... I suspect that she may have stolen them and spent the money on dust.


Love her anyway...
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Old 10-31-2014, 12:55 PM   #8
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As close as that is to the posted limit of your van, I would not say "don't", but I would say "with some exceptions." Definitely talk to the CanAm folks. My main suggestions are (and I bet CanAm will say this also)..... get a good hitch setup, and make sure you have VERY good cooling for your transmission. I'm sure there are larger coolers that can be added to your van, from non-fan-cooled to fan-cooled. If a fan-cooled version is available, I would go with that one if it means more heat capacity. Then, keep up with your transmission fluid/filter changes. Don't hesitate to change it before the owner's manual says it's needed. That is cheap insurance as far as I'm concerned. Then, keep in mind that you are on the high side of your limits, pack accordingly, then ENJOY YOUR AIRSTREAM!

(You might even consider some sort of heavier-duty cooling for the engine, from the radiator to maybe even an oil cooler. Some might think it's overkill, but HEAT is a big killer of engines and transmissions.)
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Old 10-31-2014, 05:45 PM   #9
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I towed a 3,200 lb popup all over the western US with a 1989 Grand Caravan (140 hp), and all without any weigh distribution and full load in the van. Didn't know any better and never had a problem.
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Old 10-31-2014, 06:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wild Robot View Post
My plan is (was) to go for the 16' Sport (or something with equivalent weight ratings) as my first Airstream. It suits my needs well and would be paired with my 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan R/T with tow package (bigger brakes, upgraded rear shocks etc.).

While the tow ratings for what I can pull and tongue weight work out I ran into a snag...the GCWR of my van is 7000lbs

Curb Weight of van is 4510 + Base weight of Bambi 2810 = 7310

There's nothing left for payload.
It didn't make sense to me that the GCWR you quote was so low. So I looked up the 2012 Grand Caravan, and found the same 4510 lb curb weight you note, but the Chrysler document stated that the GCWR is 8750 lbs. Where did you get the 7000 lb figure from? Are there different figures published for with and without trailer brakes?

I got the owner's manual with the 8750 lb figure here:

My Dodge: Dodge Owners Service Manuals - Dodge Cars, Minivans, SUVs

Jeff
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Old 10-31-2014, 07:34 PM   #11
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Yes- it can be done safely. We tow our as yet unfinished Bambi II with a 2004 Ford Freestar with a 4.2 and weight distribution hitch. We were set up in London, Ontario.

We are very happy so far.
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Old 10-31-2014, 08:22 PM   #12
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Properly Equipped you can tow the Bambi 16' with an high output 4-cylinder car. You may not win any drag races passing past 65MPH though.

With the minivan and or car with somewhat recent V6, many more options open up.

Talk to Andy.
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Old 10-31-2014, 11:51 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zigzagguzzi View Post
Unless I missed it, what engine in the van?
3.6L V-6 283 HP engine
260 lb.-ft torque
3.16 ratio
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Old 11-01-2014, 12:05 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcl View Post
It didn't make sense to me that the GCWR you quote was so low. So I looked up the 2012 Grand Caravan, and found the same 4510 lb curb weight you note, but the Chrysler document stated that the GCWR is 8750 lbs. Where did you get the 7000 lb figure from? Are there different figures published for with and without trailer brakes?

I got the owner's manual with the 8750 lb figure here:

My Dodge: Dodge Owners Service Manuals - Dodge Cars, Minivans, SUVs

Jeff
Well a big THANKS to you sir. You are exactly right. I was using Cars.com and Edmunds for my research specs. I intended to get the manual but I live alone and I'm recovering from recent surgery so couldn't walk to elevator and then garage in my building.

Anyway, thank you for pointing that out to me. It certainly changes the math.

With a GCWR of 8750

Curb Weight of van 4510 + Base weight of Bambi 2810 = 7320

1430lbs of combined payload works for me so my plan is still on track....but think I'll take a gander at a capable SUV just for the fun of it anyway.

Thanks again.
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