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Old 06-15-2013, 01:23 PM   #1
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Caravan as a tow vehicle

Ok folks here is my dilemma. I have sold my diesel and travel trailer and have gone to a Motorhome, with this change we have decided to use our 2009 caravan 3.3l to pull our 2600lb boat 20 miles to the lake. The transmission has just been rebuilt ( previous to pulling anything ) and had as many parts upgraded as warranty would allow, an extra large trans cooler has been installed and the trailer is equipped with well functioning surge brakes. I know there is alot of nay sayers that will tell me that just because its a mini van, that complete implosion is unavoidable, but when you look at the European market people are pulling 24ft trailers with VW Jettas and with research Can Am RV is setting up airstreams behind Caravans, Jettas and even Jaguars and I believe this place is based in Indiana. Is it society and the oil companies telling us we need these huge hp trucks to pull our trailers 10% of the time we are actually driving them? When we can go a little slower with a properly brake equipped trailer and still reach our destination. Pardon my rant, is there anyone else out there towing with their minivan an what kind of Negative experiences have you encountered?
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Old 06-15-2013, 01:43 PM   #2
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Our 2003 Kia Sedona minivan, with a 3.5L engine and 5-speed automatic, is rated to pull 3500 pounds. I would expect the Dodge to have a similar rating. Interestingly, in the UK, the identical Sedona is rated to tow 3000 Kg.

My guess is that the much lower limits on vehicles in the US is the manufacturers' fear of lawsuits. Check your Dodge's owner's manual for its rated towing capacity.

I remember being on vacation near Southampton with my parents back in the mid-1950s. We had towed a 20' TT with a 1938 Austin 12, which had a 1.5 liter L-head engine that developed maybe 35 horsepower. A young couple came into the campground pulling a 32-foot mobile home behind a 1949 Morris Minor (also an L-head motor, but only 990 ccs). They'd towed that monster all the way from the North coast of Scotland. It was their home, and they were moving to a new job.
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Old 06-15-2013, 08:39 PM   #3
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I remember being on vacation near Southampton with my parents back in the mid-1950s. We had towed a 20' TT with a 1938 Austin 12, which had a 1.5 liter L-head engine that developed maybe 35 horsepower. A young couple came into the campground pulling a 32-foot mobile home behind a 1949 Morris Minor (also an L-head motor, but only 990 ccs). They'd towed that monster all the way from the North coast of Scotland. It was their home, and they were moving to a new job.
I have similar childhood memories. My parents rented a caravan (Britspeak for Travel Trailer) which came with a tow bar that was temporarily attached to the family car with U bolts. The car was a 1950's Austin A35 with a 996cc engine. There was seemingly no thought about towing capacities or anything like that. My dad drove it to the west coast of Scotland including climbing a hill called the "Rest And Be Thankful" because that's what you did when you got to the top.
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Old 06-15-2013, 10:55 PM   #4
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Is it society and the oil companies telling us we need these huge hp trucks to pull our trailers 10% of the time we are actually driving them?
No, it's the chassis engineers that are doing their level best to keep folks from killing themselves and others around them by towing overloaded.

Your Dodge has two weight ratings that are meaningful. GVWR tells how much weight can be on the suspension of the Dodge without being overloaded. GCWR tells how much weight you can pull without burning up something in the drivetrain when climbing hills and mountain passes, and without being the slowpoke holding up traffic on hills and mountain passes.

Your Dodge probably has a "tow rating" of 3,500 pounds. That's the GCWR minus the weight of the empty minivan. But since nobody drives with an empty minivan, your real-world tow rating is probably less than 3,500 pounds. Maybe it's enough to tow your 2600 pound boat without being overloaded.

But if the GCWR of your Dodge minus the actual wet and loaded weight of the Dodge is more than 2,600 pounds, that's only half of the equation. The other half is the GVWR minus the actual wet and loaded weight of the Dodge must leave enough unused payload to handle the hitch weight of your boat. The hitch weight should be a minimum of 10 percent of the gross trailer weight.

So if the GVWR minus the actual wet and loaded weight of the Dodge is at least 260 pounds, and the GCWR of your Dodge minus the actual wet and loaded weight of the Dodge is more than 2,600 pounds, then you should have no problem towing your boat without being overloaded.
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Old 06-15-2013, 11:22 PM   #5
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I assume you have the 4 speed ,A-604 trans. If so always follow the instructions in the owners manual.
Always tow with the trans in drive ( 3rd as top gear ) the overdrive will not tolerate the added load of a trailer.
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Old 07-02-2013, 02:43 PM   #6
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we used our 2001 dodge caravan and pulled our loaded 1406 Jayco pop-up all acrossed Michigan at highway speeds.

No issues. we just turned over 200,000 miles on the van. It has had a trailer hitch on it most of it's life.
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Old 07-02-2013, 02:54 PM   #7
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We had our boat out this weekend and had no issues what so ever the Van felt very stable at highway speed even pulled the boat out of the water on a slippery ramp with minimal wheel spin, I truly feel that it's the manufacturer that puts the scare tactics into us to buy bigger vehicles, I now have no regrets selling my diesel, it was total overkill
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Old 07-02-2013, 04:54 PM   #8
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slippery ramp with minimal wheel spin, I
I'm still assuming that you have an A-604,4spd. in your mini van ; and can tell you that wheel spin puts these transmissions at the point where they are most fragile . The spider gear pin in the differential , is prone to break in a wheel spin situation, the broken piece comes out of the differential carrier and as it rotates through , turns the whole trans into 150lbs of scrap metal. Average winter we would replace a couple of transmissions a month because of this . Happened so often that someone was attempting to get a class action lawsuit going against Chrysler, for not installing retainers on the pin to keep it from happening.
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Old 07-02-2013, 05:02 PM   #9
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I understand what your saying but were talking about a front wheel drive vehicle, towing the boat or not 2-3 revolutions of a spinning tire had better not make a transmission fail isn't this why they put a traction control feature on the vehicle ? If someone is being careless and spinning one tire at 4000rpm I can see it happening not a couple free spins of the tire
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Old 07-02-2013, 08:23 PM   #10
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I used to pull a trailer with a 3000 lb. tractor and gear to remove snow in the winter and it worked great. Just don't push the van too hard as it may heat up (transmission) and cause problems. Good luck
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Old 07-22-2013, 06:37 PM   #11
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I dont know why everyone always put down minivans as tow vehicles because I think they do great. I use a 2010 T&C to pull a 4000lbs trailer and it has been doing great now for 3 years as setup by Can am rv. I am easily within my GVWR and GAWR and as far as my manafactured tow rating goes... whipp dee doo! I dont want to drive a 3/4ton truck everyday just to pull a trailer a few times a year....makes no sense. Yes, it is transport truck slow accelerating however once at speed, very stable, stops and turns perfectly and gets 17-18L/100km on the highway.
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Old 07-22-2013, 07:05 PM   #12
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I know I'm gonna get roasted for this, but " thank you!!" Finally someone who has faith in their van like I do!! Tow on buddy, Tow on!!!
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Old 07-22-2013, 08:57 PM   #13
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Yes, it is transport truck slow accelerating however once at speed, very stable, stops and turns perfectly and gets 17-18L/100km on the highway.
shep13.
And for our American members 18L/100kms = 12.6 MPG. US gallon.
I have no problem with anyone towing with a mini van; if they know the limits. Weight & frontal area, of the trailer, as per the manufacturers recommendations; occasional use.
The A-604 or, by it's later designation 41TE Chrysler mini van trans , can be problematic when pushed to it's limit; and Mitchyb has already had a trans o'haul in normal service.
Just want to make sure you know these transmissions are not grenade proof.
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Old 07-22-2013, 10:16 PM   #14
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thanks Skip426.
I think a good tow vehicle is more than just the rated tow capacity set by the warranty and marketing guys. Wheelbase, payload, rear overhang, low center of gravity, suspension etc. I use to have a Ford explorer with the tow package (6400lbs tow rating) and i can honestly tell you the van feels way more planted and solid going down the road but unless you have tried them back to back, one would have never of guessed that. My minivan has a custom reinforced hitch, engine oil cooler and upgraded shocks and thats it.
Everyone usually just recomends big tall bouncy 4x4 SUV's as a tv because thats what they been told is good or that is what they use. I understand my van has a weak crappy drivetrain in it (so far so good) but i still have 2 years of warranty remaining which means to me I still have 2 years of towing in it, lol.
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