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Old 01-10-2012, 10:13 PM   #1
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2011 Dodge Caravan....any business towing a camper?

Seems I'm in a predicament. We bought a 2011 Dodge Caravan many months ago. Now we desire to buy a decent used pop-up camper for family vacations/fun. For the time being, it's just my wife, 2 yr old son, and me. I was thinking a smaller pop-up. Anyhow, now I kick myself for not opting for the towing package when we bought the van. It seems most pop-up campers are not compatible with a weight distributing hitch, so that pretty much limits a maximum trailer weight of around 1400-1500lbs after luggage and passengers in the van are factored in. It seems to me that even with a lighter unit, we'll be right around that mark. While 1500 isn't much weight at all for a truck, I'm concerned about a FWD mini-van pulling it. The dealer claims all warranties will still be good as long as we have a mechanic install "factory" parts (he mentioned a weight distributing hitch).

I'd definitely have a tranny cooler installed, along with a class III hitch (if we ever do need a WD hitch).

Would a Timbren suspension kit be a good idea to keep the rear end from squatting? Would this help keep weight on the front of the vehicle?

Or is this all just a bad idea?

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Old 01-11-2012, 04:58 AM   #2
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Hello! I'm not sure you should be too worried. You have touched on a couple things you should be concerned about. One is the GVW of the vehicle fully loaded with the weight of the trailer hitch. You need to be under that weight limit. Then there's the GCVWR...gross combined vehicle weight rating of the van. That's fully loaded on the scale...van, people, gear, trailer and its traveling contents. Your rear axle on the van may also have a weight rating you need to be under. Air bags in the rear MIGHT help, but I wouldn't invest in that before doing all the weight rating stuff, and see how it sits with the trailer attached. Good luck!

2004 Tiffin Allegro 27.5 ft. P32 18,000 lb GVW. 8.1 liter. Workhorse chassis built May 2002. 21,000 miles. 2012 Jeep Liberty Toad. RVi2 brake unit.
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Old 01-11-2012, 10:57 AM   #3
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I pulled 2,000 pounds of trailer with a Chevy Lumina for a few years,

Go to the manufacturer's web page and find the support for your vehicle, (Dodge.com?) check out the specs, or if you have the manual look in it for yoru towing capacity.

I did add Air-Lift brand air bags to my Lumina, they did help with keeping it level while towing. But so long as it's a feather weight (under 1 ton) trailer, and your ride can tow at least a ton... I see no issues you have not addressed (Tranny cooler)

I had a problem one time.. It was hot, and I mean HOT out, and I was on one of the longest tows I've done (All the way across the state of Michigan, full 200 mile length of I-96 and then some) and the Exhaust Gas Recirculation valve froze from the heat,, Engine cooled and all was well.
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Old 01-29-2012, 01:43 PM   #4
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Well, here's the situation now. Picked up two different pop ups within three days. I've been keeping an eye on craigslist for months and had not seen any 8' box units. Then one was listed not too far from me, a 1997 Rockwood 1640 (I believe). No thrills, just a sink and stove. Ice box was removed some time ago. All-in-all it was in good shape for it's age. I paid $1400 for it.

The following day a 2006 Starcraft 1701 was listed for $2600. Oversized A/C, battery, 3-way fridge, 10 gallon water tank vs the 5 on the Rockwood.
The owner needed money b/c of a recent divorce. The guy babied this camper. I couldn't pass it up.

I loved the weight of the first one, right around 1000lbs - easily towable! However, we're keeping the Starcraft and selling the Rockwood. The weight of the Starcraft I figure is more around 1500lbs once the AC and such are factored in.

Curb weight of van 4010lbs
GVWR 6050lbs
This leaves 2040lbs for passengers/luggage/and tongue weight

GCWR 6900lbs
CW Van 4010lbs
This leaves 2890lbs for everything else
So if the trailer weighs in at 1500lbs, this would leave me with 1390 lbs now for passengers/luggage/and whatever else.

It certainly seems doable, but the GCW would be above the 80% threshold I've read is recommended to be below. I still plan to invest in a tranny cooler. I would prefer electric brakes on the trailer as well.

I realize I haven't even accounted for the axle weight ratings yet, besides that it'd take a scale and all to make sure it's all right...

Is the only way to distribute weight from the rear of the vehicle to the front with a weight distributing hitch? I assume all timbrens would do is to keep the rear from sagging due to weight..??

(kid fussing, gotta split...)
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Old 02-06-2012, 04:31 AM   #5
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Welcome to the forum. Glad you joined us. I'll leave the experts to resolving your situation though. You'll find plenty of great people here with a wealth of knowledge. Good luck with your project and hope all turns out to the positive. Enjoy your travels, be safe and Happy Motoring!!!!
Steve & Sally / HiTee & Hudson Our Little Poms / Heidi & Houston Forever in our Hearts
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Old 02-06-2012, 10:07 AM   #6
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Compared to how folks tow things in Europe, you'll be fine. In a recent issue, the UK "Caravanning" magazine had its list of the best towing cars for 2011. For a 2700 lb. tow, they picked the Ford Focus with the 1600cc engine, for a 3500 lb tow it was the VW Passat TDI Wagon. They reckoned a Land Rover Discovery should handle a 6000 pound trailer!
Frank Damp -Anacortes, WA,(DW- Eileen)
ex-pat Brits (1968) and now ex-RVers, as of 08 Dec 14.
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Old 02-16-2012, 05:28 AM   #7
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I own a 2006 Grand Caravan 3.3 with almost 80,000 miles. No tow package but did have a tranny cooler installed last summer. Had a class II hitch put on. I pull a Jayco Eagle 12' popup with no issues at all. The dry weight is around 1800. I removed the propane tanks and battery from the tongue as I don't use them. Dropped 80lbs off the tongue so its around 220 now. The class II is rated at 350lb tongue weight.

I've pulled it in severe heat, through hills and distances up to 160 miles at 65 mph with no issues at all. It tows quite well without any sway. Just have to make sure to keep it in 3rd gear through hills to prevent the transmission from shifting often. I was told that was a big reason why the tranny's would go out.

Sounds like your camper is a bit larger than mine so you may need electric brakes and a WDH of some sort. Definitely get the tranny cooler. Thats the key component.
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Old 02-16-2012, 07:17 AM   #8
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That is a great price for the Starcraft. When I Googled "2006 Starcraft 1701" I see that it weighs 1442 lbs. with a real light hitch weight of 162. You just might be OK....

A friend of ours loved the older Caravan's especially the 4 cylinder ones. He was pulling a pop-up with it. Because of the hitch weight it sat real close to the ground in the rear. As long as you got the V-6 and watch how much how much you load it up, you might just pull it off. I would say do a test run and see how low it drops once you hitch it up.
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Old 06-06-2012, 03:15 PM   #9
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I have a 07 Grand Caravan with the 3.3, and tow a an older 10 foot pop up with it. I've never had any issues. We have the trailer loaded, van loaded with gear, 2 kids, my wife and I, and the dog. I wouldn't worry at all.
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Old 07-09-2012, 01:44 PM   #10
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Towed 3360 pound trailer with 2011 Dodge Caravan - no factory tow package

Hi there,

I read your thread some time ago and thought I would update you and the readers on my experience. I bought a 2011 Caravan without the tow package and now I want to tow with it.

I installed a Curt class III hitch and had the 7 pin wiring installed plus a break controller. I also had the hitch reinforced at Can-am RV in London Ontario.

I picked up my trailer on the weekend and towed it 150 KM From Barrie Ontario to Cambridge Ontario. It towed like a dream. When we hooked it up the Van only dropped a couple of inches at most.

The trailer is a KZ Spree Escape e21FKT - Its 3360 pounds with 460 pounds of tongue weight.

It had good power towing and I had no problems.

More details are at my blog hespelerrvnewbie.blogspot.ca
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Old 07-10-2012, 09:40 AM   #11
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A class THREE hitch for a 1500 pound trailer is .... OVERKILL big time, I am surprised they put a class 3 on a class two max tow vehicle.

However that said, With a 1500 pound trailer.. I anticipate you will have exactly ZERO problems.
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Old 07-10-2012, 08:55 PM   #12
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Pulled a 8' about 1500 loaded with a '90 3.3,it did overheat climbing the Grapevine (I-5 to LA).outside of that hot day,it was fine.

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