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Old 08-18-2004, 04:27 PM   #1
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Le petite fem needs tow vehicle

After talking to stefrobts I'm starting to consider the idea of a van as my tow vehicle - even cargo vans. Let me explain why: I am only 4'11" and I have a tough time even getting into the bed of my Ford Ranger. The accessibility of a van is really appealing. Also, I want to bring a Vespa along (I'll be fulltiming) and using a ramp to get it in and out of a van also seems more do-able.

Does anyone else tow with a van...let's say a Ford E250? I know all the stuff about gross vehicle weights etc etc but I'd like to hear from people who have towed with a van...especially regarding comfort/reliability/ability. I have a 1975 25' Tradewind.

Also, I'm on a budget and a van seems to be more in my price range.

What do you think? (I have searched the forum but can't find threads that speak to specifically to vans. Feel free to point me in the right direction.)

Thanks.
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Old 08-18-2004, 06:01 PM   #2
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Hey Annette,
I tow with a Chevy 1500 van. ( My trailer dry weight is 2770 lbs.)
A few of my friends tow with 2500's and 3500's. I like the cargo space and conveniance. BUT......I have heard some reports that they are prone to rollovers. The state police say that rollovers are a great way to get dead, as our bodies don't fair well with that particular kind of stress. I would avoid
extended vans, because the hitch is too far from the rear wheels.
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Old 08-18-2004, 06:11 PM   #3
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We love our van

Hi Annette. We just bought a 94 1 ton Dodge Ram van from our local vanpool people. It was priced right (about 7000) and had about 80,000 miles. It is the short length model.... I've heard that there may be some stability problems with the long overhang in the rear models. There was plenty of space for my family of four + 1 visiting nephew from Germany for our 17 day trip up and down the west coast this summer. It pulled our 26 ft Argosy without problem, even up the I 5 by Mt. Shasta I was able to pass other RV's and trucks without straining. On those STEEP passes, 2 second gear, 45 - 50 mph with AC on, it never overheated, and as I said, I was faster than probably 90% of other trailer traffic. We have the 5.9 L V8. I wish I could tell you the rear end ratio, but I'm guessing it's either a 3.73 or 4.1. I've got 255/70/16 BFG load range D tires on it that make it very stable - they're wider and just slightly taller than the stock 225/75//16's that it came stock with.

Running boards are available to help lift you up (I'm 5' 5"). Visiability is great. It's just BIG..... but I got used to it quick!

We traded up from a Chevy Astro, and I really appreciate the increased braking availabilty and power from this new van. Remember, I have the Ram 350 (1 ton). The smaller rated ones may be different. Forum member Uve used to have the long 3500 version (I think). He seemed to like his too.
Good luck - vans seem to be cheaper than p/u's too.
Marc
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Old 08-18-2004, 06:13 PM   #4
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Rollovers - the reports that I've read point to the BIG extended versions being fully loaded (15 people) and being driven fast. The shorter length (i.e. non-extended - some of the extended vans look like they have 3 + feet past the rear wheel!) vans are not prone to rollovers.
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Old 08-18-2004, 06:20 PM   #5
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Thanks Marc and Dave.....I assume the rollover problems with the extended vans don't apply when they're attached to a trailer????? Oh man, that's a frightening image.

OK, so extended vans are out. Marc, I'm glad to hear that you pulled your Argosy over Shasta with no problem as I will certainly be facing that as I head south out of Portland. BTW, what are "vanpool people"?
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Old 08-18-2004, 06:33 PM   #6
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talk to norbert, he has a ford van. diesel i believe.

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Old 08-18-2004, 06:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by john hd
talk to norbert, he has a ford van. diesel i believe.

john
okie dokie....
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Old 08-18-2004, 07:07 PM   #8
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I have heard there are rollover risks with the long 15 passenger vans, in fact some gov agency recommends drivers have special training to drive them. Not just because the the vans are harder to control, but also because you can have up to 15 people involved in a single car accident. It's really more of a bus.

I saw a story on the news about rollovers in SUVs and towards the end of the story, after trying to convince you of how dangerous SUVs are, they mentioned that the majority of accidents, something like 70% involve the vehicle leaving the road and hitting something and then rolling over. Even then the majority of deaths were people not wearing seatbelts.

So drive sane, stay on the road, and wear your seatbelts.
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Old 08-18-2004, 07:42 PM   #9
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"I assume the rollover problems with the extended vans don't apply when they're attached to a trailer????? Oh man, that's a frightening image."

That is not a safe assumption to make. Actually having a trailer attached to your vehicle could make rollovers more likely to happen in some situations.
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Old 08-18-2004, 08:47 PM   #10
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"van pool people"

Answer - people with vans?

Actually, our local transit dept. has a HUGE "vanpool" program. They "rent" low cost vans to businesses that may have a large number of people coming from the same neighborhood. It's a large carpool program, and they sell these fleet maintained vans at fairly good prices after they've been used. Mostly low miles, good shape.
Marc
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Old 08-19-2004, 12:14 AM   #11
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Le petite fem needs tow vehicle

Greetings Annette!

Quote:
Originally Posted by nettepdx
After talking to stefrobts I'm starting to consider the idea of a van as my tow vehicle - even cargo vans. Let me explain why: I am only 4'11" and I have a tough time even getting into the bed of my Ford Ranger. The accessibility of a van is really appealing. Also, I want to bring a Vespa along (I'll be fulltiming) and using a ramp to get it in and out of a van also seems more do-able.

Does anyone else tow with a van...let's say a Ford E250? I know all the stuff about gross vehicle weights etc etc but I'd like to hear from people who have towed with a van...especially regarding comfort/reliability/ability. I have a 1975 25' Tradewind.

Also, I'm on a budget and a van seems to be more in my price range.

What do you think? (I have searched the forum but can't find threads that speak to specifically to vans. Feel free to point me in the right direction.)

Thanks.
My experience towing with a van is quite limited (1983-1985). There are a few things to consider about a van - - especially if you happen to consider a "conversion van". Often, these conversion vans have very little capacity for towing after subtracting what can be the substantial additional weight of the conversion package. My GMC G20 (3/4 ton) standard wheelbase VanDura conversion was at it GCVWR with a 19' 3,500 pound Nomad trailer - - this was with the factory heavy duty trailering package and the small block V8 and 3.73 gearing.

When towing, the usual concern about general stability of the extended 15 passenger vans typically isn't so much of a concern as it the distance from the rear axle center point to the ball mount (this distance is often also increased by the extended drawbars that are often used to clear the rear door mounted spare tire carriers. With the standard 3/4 ton van platforms, you often have among the shortest of rear overhangs with less distance from the axle center line to the hitch ball than on many pickups.

It was my experience that a van is a subject of very great personal preference. I thought that I was going to love the van, but even after more than two years and nearly 50,000 miles I never really grew to like driving the van. Both the driving position and the numerous blind spots were a constant torment for me - - I don't know whether a standard window van would have been much different (my conversion had the standard side windows in the slider door on the curbside and picture windows on the streetside). The killer, for me, however was the additional maintenance cost - - since I have my regular dealer performs nearly all service and maintenance, the additional charges involved in removing and replacing the "doghouse" engine cover at every service call became an issue (about an additional hour of labor for each service as it had to be removed to check condition of air and fuel filters). I generally keep my vehicles for at least 200,000 miles, but the GMC G20 Van Dura (1983) and the Chevrolet K1500 Z-71 Club Cab Pickup (1995) are the only two tow vehicles that I traded off at 50,000 miles - - my current K2500 Suburban currently has 131,000 miles.

Good luck with your research!

Kevin
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Old 08-19-2004, 06:25 AM   #12
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Don't forget that most older model vans or pickups aren't going to have adjustable pedals. My mother is 4'9 and my wife 5'0--they love the fact that they don't have hug the steering wheel in order to reach the pedals. As well, the Eddie Bauer version of the Expeditions will kneel down an extra inch or two on its air suspension just so that little ladies can climb in without jumping...Sorry, but it doesn't solve the Vespa problem and has a rather heavy and high rear door for pettite fems. What about a pickup with an E-Z Lift Tailgate?
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Old 08-19-2004, 07:58 AM   #13
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jcanavera has a 3/4 ton van an tows a 30' slide out Classic. If the van is properly equipped, I can't see why it could not tow a 25' tradewind.
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Old 08-19-2004, 10:38 AM   #14
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I'm glad to know that vanpool people aren't from outer space or something. Maybe there are some around here...I'll look.

I can barely reach the clutch in my Ranger so whatever I end up with, I will probably bite the bullet and get pedal extensions. If a vehicle is equipped with airbags, it's better to be as far away from the steering wheel as possible.

In the middle of the night (yep, this whole thing is keeping me awake), I decided that I definitely need rear windows - I want to keep a close eye on the trailer and the windows will be helpful for hitching up. The blind spots are a concern so the more windows the better.

What I'll do is go sit in some vans this weekend and see how they feel. I'll also climb in and out of trucks. If there's anything else I should be aware of, let me know. You know, I wish I could pull with a Honda Element....my idea of a perfect vehicle
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