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Author Topic: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer  (Read 2662 times)

OTW

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I'm hoping someone can help me with tow vehicle advice. 

I'm considering a 26-ft. Travel Trailer (no slides) with a GVWR of 7,000 lbs. and the UVW is about 4500 lbs. without freshwater or propane.  The trailer would be towed 2x/year between southern US and Southern Maine, and the reason I included UVW is that the TT's contents could be distributed partially into van for long haul travel, if that helps.   

The towing van would also serve as "my car" the rest of the time.  I do not need, or particularly want, seats in it other than driver's and passenger's because I would like it to be a van that I can eventually have someone insulate and panel, with a suitable floor, for VERY minimalist outfitting in order to take side camping trips without having to haul the 26-ft. trailer.  Wish list:  If it didn't hurt mileage or cost a ton more, one I could stand up in, but I think that's pushing my luck. 

There are passenger vans and cargo vans and I don't know whether one is better for hauling than the other.  In fact, I know next to nothing about them, only that a van would be my strongly preferred tow vehicle rather than a truck.  I also don't know beans about diesel vs. gas, only that I've heard that when emissions became an issue, diesels did not play well with the emissions modifications, and that repairs are expensive, and may not perform well in really cold weather (and I would be driving it there in December). But that's all I know or think I know. 

Can anyone suggest a particular van I should look at?  I would be looking for a used one, ideally under $20K (and if possible, as far under that as possible) but if not, then as close as I could stay to that number.  Reliability is very important to me. 

Thanks very much in advance to anyone who can give me guidance. 

« Last Edit: January 17, 2017, 10:11:21 AM by OTW »

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2017, 11:04:32 AM »
You need a van that has a Max Tow rating somewhat above 7000 lbs, preferably about 8000 or higher. That gives you capacity to tow the trailer and also have passengers and gear in the van - or the extra weight of your future modifications.

That's well into in the full size van or SUV territory, not a minivan or crossover type vehicle. Passenger vs cargo van is a layout and trim designation and not tow rating; you have to look at the capacity numbers for whatever particular model and configuration you like.

You should be looking at Chevy Express, Ford E350/E450, or Nissan NV.  I don't think any of the Ford Transit or RAM Promaster van configurations run to even 7000 lbs towing. Check the Ford, GM/Chevy, etc. Towing Guides for specifics on the configurations that would work for you.

http://www.fleet.ford.com/towing-guides/
http://www.gmc.com/trailering-towing.html

Trailer Life magazine also publishes a good towing guide: http://www.trailerlife.com/trailer-towing-guides/
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

OTW

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2017, 11:39:49 AM »
Thank you Gary.  I was also told a 2500 would work (GMC or whatever) but I'd like opinions on that if possible.  And also hoping to find some specific recommendations as to brand, type, year, etc. since some years one vehicle might be duddy, another year's model, another one might.  But this is a great place to start and I MUCH appreciate your including the links!  Thank you. 

scottydl

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2017, 02:10:47 PM »
Start browsing that Trailer Life tow guide that Gary posted, and you'll see what those van models "stack up" as far as towing capacities go.  Cargo vans (or larger 9-12 passenger vans) often have a slightly higher towing numbers than the luxury conversion vans, because they don't have as many options (nicer seats, trim, cabinets, entertainment, etc.) that all have weight to them.  The multi-passenger vans will have a bunch of bench seats (extra weight) that you don't need though, so it sounds like you are headed for a cargo van.  Then you can build it up (or not) however you want.

Terminology wise, 2500 (3/4 ton) or 3500 (1 ton) are the designations that Chevy/GMC and Dodge use for their truck chassis vehicles.  Ford uses 250 and 350 to mean the same thing... trucks are letter "F" (i.e. F-250 or F-350) and vans are letter "E" (E-250 or E-350).  Most trucks and vans you see on the road today are 1500's or 150's (1/2 ton), but you will likely need something heavier duty to tow 7000# or more.

I don't think you'd have any need for a diesel vehicle, to tow a trailer 2x per year.  Gas should be fine, and there will be more of them on the gently used market to choose from.

The UVW of the trailer is a misleading figure, especially since you mentioned all the cargo would be moved to the van.  That cargo weight still counts as being "towed" inside the van, and subtracts just the same from the overall tow capacity.  The limitations are usually on the engine/transmission/cooling/brakes/wheels, and not on the bumper hitch itself... for a heavy duty vehicle already equipped with the appropriate hitch (Class 4 or 5), that is.  In other words, stick with the GVWR of the trailer unless you know the rig + your stuff will weigh substantially less.
Scott, wife, 3 boys... and the dog
- 2008 Forest River Wildwood 32BHDS
- 1995 Chevrolet Suburban C2500 tow vehicle
- 1994 Thor Residency motorhome... owned 2007-2012

OTW

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2017, 05:04:05 PM »
Thank you Scott-
I knew cargo in van counts against tow weight, and someone suggested looking for a tow capacity of closer to 10K pounds if the GVWR was 7K pounds (she said to assume I'd use the whole 7K pounds). 

I'm hoping to get opinions on preferences for GMC Savannah vs. Ford, and I'm still confused whether Chevy and GMC are the same by different names or two different vehicles by a parent/child company relationship or ??.  That person said she prefers Fords, my mechanic said they tend to be weaker built, etc. 

Thanks if you can shed light on those things, and I do understand it's opinion, but if you do have a preference, could you briefly include why you prefer one over the other?  All donated info is much appreciated.

I am going to go to that link in the morning when my brain is fresh, I appreciate that it was offered.  ;-)

ETA:  Just glanced at the tow guides and they look terrific, thanks again Gary!
« Last Edit: January 17, 2017, 05:31:51 PM by OTW »

grashley

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2017, 05:53:01 PM »
Welcome to the Forum!

Very good advise above.

The big difference between a 1500 series, 2500 series and 3500 series van is the heavier suspension, brakes, axles, tires, etc.  This increases the weight the van can carry, aka Payload.

For newer vans, 2009 and newer, there is a yellow label on the driver door B pillar which gives you the max capacity as configured as it left the factory.  This number must be large enough to cover all passengers and cargo in the van, plus 80# for a WD hitch plus the hitch weight of the camper - 10% - 12% of trailer GVWR.

The heavier vans will have higher payloads, thus can carry more TT.

Cargo in the van must be subtracted from the payload pound for pound.  Cargo properly distributed in the TT is carried 90% on the TT wheels and only 10% on the hitch.  You must stay below TT  GVWR, but you can increase capacity by filling the TT first.

If you get a passenger van and remove the seats (weight), this weight can be added to Payload.  When you get it finished inside, the weight of all additions must be subtracted from Payload.

The tow ratings Gary mentioned are usually of minimal value, but in your case, it can help.  This number assumes a BASE model, no options and (before 2015) no passengers.  I would still subtract 1000# from this number to estimate the max TT weight, but the use you describe lines up with this calculation.

Scott is right about a gas engine.  Diesel vans are hard to find, and certainly not needed for your application.

Continue getting educated and enjoy the search!
Preacher Gordon
09 Grand Junction 35 TMS - not yet received
2013 F350 Lariat LB SRW Supercab diesel 4X4
Nimrod Series 70 popup (sold)
It's not a dumb question if you do not know the answer.

scottydl

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2017, 05:54:35 PM »
The Ford vs. Chevy vs. Dodge (and add vs. Nissan vs. Toyota these days) is a neverending dispute... you ought to buy whichever one you (or your regular mechanic) are most comfortable with... or the one you can find in the best condition, for the best price!  Personally I'm a GM guy, but that's mostly because I've owned more of them over the years and am most familiar with them.  My motorhome was on a Ford chassis and I had no particular "Ford problems" with it... my brother-in-law prefers Fords, having been a longtime Mustang owner and owned two large Ford multi-passenger vans (the current one used to pull their RV trailer and horse trailers).  One of my grandpas was a "Chrysler man" because he thought Chrysler/Dodge were the best built vehicles.  So, go figure.  ;)

Regarding your manufacturer "order" question, GM (General Motors) is the parent company.  GMC and Chevrolet are like sisters... different name, same otherwise.  For instance:
- Chevrolet Silverado is the same truck as a GMC Sierra
- Chevrolet Suburban is the same big SUV as a GMC Yukon XL
- Chevrolet Traverse = GMC Acadia = Buick Enclave = Saturn Outlook
- And there are just as many examples among GM's smaller car markets

There may be trim and feature differences between those models, but they all fall under the General Motors umbrella.  Ford and Dodge are completely separate companies.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2017, 06:38:48 PM by scottydl »
Scott, wife, 3 boys... and the dog
- 2008 Forest River Wildwood 32BHDS
- 1995 Chevrolet Suburban C2500 tow vehicle
- 1994 Thor Residency motorhome... owned 2007-2012

grashley

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2017, 05:55:37 PM »
Forgot to mention most all Chevy / GMC models are twins or first cousins.  They have different names, but usually come off the same assembly line, and have identical option packages and specs.
Preacher Gordon
09 Grand Junction 35 TMS - not yet received
2013 F350 Lariat LB SRW Supercab diesel 4X4
Nimrod Series 70 popup (sold)
It's not a dumb question if you do not know the answer.

robertusa123

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2017, 09:11:40 PM »
About the only van left on the market we the tow capacity you want is the GMC or chevey express 3500.    They have a 10,000 tow capacity.   The 2500 maxes out at 6,500 to 7,500 depending on option.     I go with the 3500.  You can also get it with a diesail motor
1996  26ft. 3 kids 2 dog and the wife too

OTW

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2017, 03:58:48 AM »
Wow!  The last few posts sure clear up some confusion, thank you all soooo much!  Both the mechanics that I take my current minivan to seemed to lean more toward GMC vs. Ford.  But I thought the Ford E350 was rated to 10K pounds (only looked at the GMC Trailer Life tow ratings so far - I'm currently somewhat boggled with tons of new info re FT RVing, trailers vs. Class C or A -- all at once).  Gaa!!

Grashley, there was one thing you wrote that I didn't understand -- the underlined part:
"Cargo in the van must be subtracted from the payload pound for pound.  Cargo properly distributed in the TT is carried 90% on the TT wheels and only 10% on the hitch.  You must stay below TT  GVWR, but you can increase capacity by filling the TT first."
 

What did you mean you can increase capacity?  You mean weight?  (Confused.)

And forgetting what dealers will say because GMC itself doesn't publish mileage, what kind of mileage would you GUESS that a GMC 3500 cargo van would get with, say an 8-8.5 thousand pound payload whether it's in the TT or some of it is carried in the van?  And then also what kind of mileage would it get NOT towing -- in-town driving and highway?  Because it would be my only vehicle.




OTW

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2017, 04:55:01 AM »
Okay, I've spent I don't know how long on the GMC website, and it keeps taking me around in circles.  I click on Commercial vehicles, then cargo van, and in one place it tells me a 2500 can tow 10K pounds and once I do "build-a-price" in order to see the details, it tells me 8400 lbs.  I clicked on "convenience package" (power windows/locks) and then it won't let me remove the checkmark again.  I click on build-a-price, and it takes me back to a price for a truck, not a van.  Also I might add, I did call GMC yesterday and the woman who answered the new vehicle inquiry line gave me starting prices for the 2500 and 3500 Savanah cargo van, and they were of course different.  I asked her what the difference is between the two because she said they both tow 10K pounds, and she said "there isn't any difference."  I told her to check with someone else and after a 10-minute wait, she came back and said there was an error in their brochure, there is a difference but no one seems to know what it is.  (?????)  For some reason I'm leaning toward GMC but based on trying to get info via phone or their website.... kerplunk. 

Ford website is pretty clear, it appears their 2500 is only rated to 7600 lbs. towing (pretty sure that was the number) but I'd like to know from GMC's numbers why it says I could tow 10K with their 2500.  It would seem gas mileage would be better, and though I don't understand yet the differences on the rest of the specs for a cargo van, I'd at least like to compare the numbers just to see how big of a spread there is and in what areas.  Does anyone know of another website that might compare a GMC 2500 to a GMC 3500 cargo vans in relation to towing?  (Sorry to be such a pain but I think I was probably on their website for an hour.  I don't THINK that I'm getting early Alzheimer's, anyway, lol.)

markbarendt

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2017, 06:11:46 AM »
Thank you Scott-
I knew cargo in van counts against tow weight, and someone suggested looking for a tow capacity of closer to 10K pounds if the GVWR was 7K pounds (she said to assume I'd use the whole 7K pounds). 

I'm hoping to get opinions on preferences for GMC Savannah vs. Ford, and I'm still confused whether Chevy and GMC are the same by different names or two different vehicles by a parent/child company relationship or ??.  That person said she prefers Fords, my mechanic said they tend to be weaker built, etc. 

Thanks if you can shed light on those things, and I do understand it's opinion, but if you do have a preference, could you briefly include why you prefer one over the other?  All donated info is much appreciated.

I am going to go to that link in the morning when my brain is fresh, I appreciate that it was offered.  ;-)

ETA:  Just glanced at the tow guides and they look terrific, thanks again Gary!
Actually cargo in the van counts against gross combined weight and tongue weight.

A 7000# trailer should put about 700# on the ball, 10%. That 700# essentially counts as cargo in the van and on the rear axle.

Let's say the van weighs 6700# empty and the GVW is 8500#
Fuel adds 180#
Tongue weight 700#
2 people 400#
Your minimalist camping upgrade 500#
Luggage if in van 100#
=1880#
+6700#
=8580# which means you are overloaded

Your numbers will vary but that's the kinda math you need to do.

IME most people underestimate the weight of what they are really carrying because the vehicle may look nearly empty.

Keeping as much weight as possible in the trailer is IME a better plan.

OTW

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2017, 07:30:59 AM »
Very helpful Mark, thank you much!  I did not know tongue weight had to be added to gross combined weight, I thought whatever weight causes the tongue weight would be already counted.  So if I pulled into a weigh station, weighed tow vehicle and travel trailer, would I add that 700 pounds of tongue weight to whatever the scale says?    ???  The rest of what you wrote is how I was thinking.  And I'm sure you are very right on that most people underestimate what they're putting in the TT.

Another question, I had read that you want your tow vehicle to have weight in it so that the TT isn't the boss.  That's why I had thought it would be smart to move a lot of contents normally in the TT into the van, in order to lighten what I'm towing and beef up the weight of the TV.  No?

kdbgoat

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2017, 07:37:12 AM »
Tongue weight is payload added to to tow vehicle and counts against the tow vehicle's GVWR, not added to the GCWR of tow vehicle and trailer. In your example, you would not add 700# to the scale reading.
I know you believe you understand what you think I said,
But I am not sure you realize what you heard is not what I meant


2016 Leprechaun 319DS

OTW

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2017, 08:53:59 AM »
Ahh, okay, I get it now.  Thanks!   

I'm still curious about the benefit of not moving stuff from the TT into the TV to make the TV heavier and the TT lighter.  It seemed logical to want to have the TV a bit heavier and the TT lighter so the TT doesn't overpower the TV but that might be another case of not thinking about it in the correct way.  :)

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #15 on: January 18, 2017, 08:57:20 AM »
You can't just look at "2500" or 3500" for tow ratings. You have to consider the individual truck/van configuration, e.g. engine & tranny, rear axle ratio, suspension options, and trim level. The reason a passenger van typically has a lower rating than a cargo van is the difference in the weight of the interior trim and possibly fewer standard features as well. They started out mechanically the same, but a passenger van carries extra weight in the form of seating, maybe a plusher interior, and probably a higher option level too.

The brochures and ads will advertise the vehicle's highest possible tow rating, meaning configured to maximize that number. When you do a Build & Price, you almost always add optional features (more weight) and may possible NOT include some feature that was required to get the max tow capacity. That's why the tow rating is usually less than the advertised max.

Please look in the RVForum Glossary (button on menu bar) for terms like GVWR, GVWR, GCWR, Cargo Capacity, etc. They are simple enough, but you need to study them a bit to get them straight in your mind. Hard to digest when they get thrown at you piecemeal in a blog.

You do not double count pin weight or add it to any rating. It is part of the actual total trailer weight, but when the trailer is hitched to the tow vehicle it becomes "cargo", so must be considered when evaluating the effect of cargo on other capacities.

A convenient rule of thumb is that the trailer GVWR should be only 80%-90% of the max tow rating. That makes sure the tow vehicle still has enough tow capacity after passengers and gear are loaded into it. The 80% figure is intended for rigs that will frequently travel through steep mountain regions; other wise 90% is OK. The suggested tow rating in my first post was about 87%..
Gary
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Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #16 on: January 18, 2017, 09:02:52 AM »
Quote
I'm still curious about the benefit of not moving stuff from the TT into the TV to make the TV heavier and the TT lighter.  It seemed logical to want to have the TV a bit heavier and the TT lighter so the TT doesn't overpower the TV but that might be another case of not thinking about it in the correct way.

More likely you are over-thinking it. Realistically you can only move a few hundred lbs at most and that rarely has much effect on "overpowering the TV". If some weight is near the max rating, you can maybe compensate by moving weight from TV to TT or vice versa, but that's fine tuning.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

markbarendt

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #17 on: January 18, 2017, 09:22:04 AM »
Ahh, okay, I get it now.  Thanks!   

I'm still curious about the benefit of not moving stuff from the TT into the TV to make the TV heavier and the TT lighter.  It seemed logical to want to have the TV a bit heavier and the TT lighter so the TT doesn't overpower the TV but that might be another case of not thinking about it in the correct way.  :)
So people that apply for commercial drivers licenses actually have to answer a question that asks:

Does a fully loaded truck and trailer or an empty truck and trailer stop faster?

The fully loaded vehicle stops faster.

Empty trailers tend to skid the tires which makes it harder to stop.

Over loading a vehicle is a different problem, the tires don't skid, instead the brakes overheat and fail.

OTW

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #18 on: January 18, 2017, 04:13:36 PM »
Gary, I actually understood all of what you wrote.  I did learn what GVWR and GVCR were but I will look at the glossary because more's better.  ;-)

I was looking at GMC cargo van specs, and one thing that does confuse me (not likely in glossary) is... here's a cut/paste:
•Dead Weight Hitch - Max Trailer Wt. (lbs) : 5000
•Dead Weight Hitch - Max Tongue Wt. (lbs) : 500
•Wt Distributing Hitch - Max Trailer Wt. (lbs) : 7400
•Wt Distributing Hitch - Max Tongue Wt. (lbs) : 740
•Maximum Trailering Capacity (lbs) : 10000

So to check myself, with a wt. dist. hitch, I would add the 740 tongue wt. to the 7400 allowed trailer weight PLUS extra passengers, gear, etc., yes?  And what about the 10,000?  I take it from this that the trailer itself better max out at or under 7400 in poundage, the tongue weight not to exceed 740, and then whatever additional that you put in the van itself plus the preceding total cannot exceed 10K lbs., am I right?

And from what I understand you to be saying, one should consider those numbers to be really absolute maximums because the companies are willing to publish outside maximums for brag purposes, and not the conservative maximums that "use by" dates on canned goods include because they figure people will cheat a bit.  So do I have it somewhere around correct now? 
« Last Edit: January 18, 2017, 04:17:48 PM by OTW »

grashley

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #19 on: January 18, 2017, 06:55:48 PM »
Dead wt hitch = a ball and a coupler. Period.  Think small utility trailer.

WD Hitch is self explanatory.  With your example, with a WD hitch,  the max TT  GVWR is 7400# with a 740# (10%) hitch wt.

The total weight of the trailer is not to exceed 7400#, including hitch wt.  Think weight of unhitched TT.

GCWR is weight of van and TT.  Think hitched on scale together.  If you weigh just the van when hitched, you will get the accurate weight the van is carrying, including hitch wt.  If you weigh just the trailer when hitched you will ONLY weigh the weight on the TT axles.  Hitch wt is on the van.  Add these two together and you do get GCWR.

HOWEVER, The weight of the loaded van, including hitch wt PLUS the TT  GVWR will not be right.  It counts the hitch weight twice.

My comment on loading the TT was this:  If I have a TT with 7000# GVWR and 2000#  CCC and a van with 1500# payload.  I have 2400# of cargo including 300# of people and snacks that must be in the van.
If you carry 1400# in the van, then the van carries 1400# + 80# WD hitch + 600# hitch wt ( 10% of 5000# empty + 1000# cargo) = 2080#  OVERLOADED!!
If you carry 400# in the van, then the van carries 400# + 80# 700# hitch wt ( 10% of 5000# empty + 2000# cargo) = 1180#  ROOM TO SPARE!
The GCW is the same either way.

Only 10% of weight added to the TT is carried by the van.  All weight added to the van is carried by the van.

Companies do not advertise outside the max.  Read the fine print.  They do make one capable of those weights, just not one you want to drive.  The one in the ad is a base model, max trailering option, but absolutely no other options, driver and passenger at 150# each, full tank of fuel, no cargo.

Be careful looking at manufacturer web sites.  They may or may not include the weight of options in their payloads, even when you build your own.  I know Ford does not.  Their payload for a base XL and a fully dressed Lariat with the same body and power train will be the same.  WRONG!!  The foot note says weight of all options must be deducted from payload.  I do not know how GM or RAM handle this.
Preacher Gordon
09 Grand Junction 35 TMS - not yet received
2013 F350 Lariat LB SRW Supercab diesel 4X4
Nimrod Series 70 popup (sold)
It's not a dumb question if you do not know the answer.

robertusa123

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #20 on: January 18, 2017, 09:18:10 PM »
They stopped making the e350. And the new ford transit doesn't have the tow capacity and is to new for your price range.   In the used marker. In a regular leanth. Ford or Chevy is good.  Dodge had been out ogmf the full size van marker since 2003.     If you want a extended leanth van then I stick with the Chevy GMC as their extended leanth  van moves the rear axle further back where ford just added an extra 2 feet to the back of their van.     The farther back axil on the Chevy is safer for towing
1996  26ft. 3 kids 2 dog and the wife too

OTW

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #21 on: January 19, 2017, 03:18:12 AM »
Grashley, very well explained, thank you.  That was the clarification I was missing - I now see what you meant about van carrying all or 10% of added cargo.  I think my only lurking question now about this part is -- how does one know that tongue weight of any given trailer is only 10% of its GVW?  Is this just an assumption, or an average, or what?   Because some trailers have one set of wheels (2) while another of its same length might have two (4 wheels).  So it would seem that # wheels under the trailer would have an effect on that as well.

Robert, I'm seeing that I may have been just a tad optimistic re vehicle price range.  And thank you VERY much for the info on wheel base because that was another question I was going to have to ask in terms of towing.  ;)

markbarendt

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #22 on: January 19, 2017, 07:17:14 AM »
The only way to know the tongue weight is to weigh it and adjust your loading.

It's a variable. Where are you packing your canned goods? Are your propane tanks full? Holding and water tanks? Are you putting a motorcycle on a rack on the rear bumper?

What having close to 10% on the tongue does is keep the trailer handling well, if you only have 2% on the tongue of the trailer the trailer will drive the tow vehicle right off the road into a ditch the first opportunity it gets. Having 20% on the tongue un duly stresses the jack and ball mount...
« Last Edit: January 19, 2017, 07:19:53 AM by markbarendt »

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #23 on: January 19, 2017, 07:37:26 AM »
Quote
how does one know that tongue weight of any given trailer is only 10% of its GVW?  Is this just an assumption, or an average, or what?

RV trailers are designed to put roughly 10% of the total weight on the hitch. That's because at least 10% is required for safe towing, meaning reduced risk of trailer sway.  With 10-12% of the weight on the hitch, the trailer will docilely follow the tow vehicle. Less that that is likely to cause violent swaying while underway. Maybe not instantly, but sooner or later.  However, the 10-12% ideal can often be dramatically altered by how the owner loads gear and water into it, so a scaled weight is a wise idea.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #24 on: January 19, 2017, 11:40:38 AM »
Okay at the risk of sounding really stupid, how do you determine what the tongue weight onto the tow vehicle is?  From the last couple of posts, it sounds like you can adjust how much of the weight of the trailer is resting on the tongue. (?)

Alfa38User

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #25 on: January 19, 2017, 12:14:07 PM »
Weigh it!!

As Gary said, trailers are designed that way. They come from the factory balanced on the wheels/trailer hitch so that 10% of the total weight falls on the hitch, the balance (90%) is on the wheels. The only way to adjust that is by loading your 'stuff' more forward, towards the back (behind the wheels), or over the wheels. It is critical for YOU to load your 'stuff' so that the balance ratio is maintained. For example: Don't try and load that 500lb motorcycle on the back bumper and expect the 10% rule to be maintained unless you move a lot of 'stuff' forward towards the hitch to counter-balance it.

To determine what you have, weigh the vehicle without the trailer, and then weigh it again with the trailer attached. It is not necessary to do this each time you go camping, once you have an idea how your particular combination is reacting to the tow (tendency to sway etc), it will become second nature to you.

The use of the trailer GVW for these purposes is only to give an approximation of weight when the 'real thing' is unknown. The unladen or empty weight as published in many documents, is useless and, very often, inaccurate. Not too many people actually pull an empty trailer around. Using the GVWR instead, (the legal maximum the trailer (or vehicle) can weigh for use on public roads), simply gives a margin of safety in calculations. Many (most?) trailers will never come close to that weight once loaded for camping....)
« Last Edit: January 19, 2017, 01:12:04 PM by Alfa38User »
Stu
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grashley

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #26 on: January 19, 2017, 04:55:32 PM »
Weigh it!!

To determine what you have, weigh the vehicle without the trailer, and then weigh it again with the trailer attached. It is not necessary to do this each time you go camping, once you have an idea how your particular combination is reacting to the tow (tendency to sway etc), it will become second nature to you.
I would suggest three weight:
1.  Van and TT hitched together all on the scale
2.  Van only on the scale, still hitched.
3.  Van only, TT unhitched.
 
1 Is your GCW Gross Combined Weight
2 is the van GVW Gross Vehicle Weight
2 - 3  = Hitch Weight.
1 - 3  = TT GVW

Basic physic teaches a load placed directly above the TT axle(s) will have no effect on hitch wt. The axle will carry the entire load.   100# placed exactly half way between the axle and hitch will add 50# to each.  The same 100# placed the same distance behind the axle will reduce hitch wt by 50#.  You do not need to weigh and measure each item placed in the trailer.  Just understand the principle of stuff in front of the axle adds hitch wt and stuff behind the axle reduces hitch wt.  Also note where your water and holding tanks are located.

A minimum 10% hitch wt is required for safety and good towing manners.  There is no such thing as too much hitch wt unless it overloads the tow vehicle.  For most of us, that means 10% - 12%.
Preacher Gordon
09 Grand Junction 35 TMS - not yet received
2013 F350 Lariat LB SRW Supercab diesel 4X4
Nimrod Series 70 popup (sold)
It's not a dumb question if you do not know the answer.

scottydl

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #27 on: January 19, 2017, 05:17:33 PM »
Our forum library has an article describing how to weight your loaded rig on a truck scale, that will give you the individual and combined weights of every part of your setup (including tongue weight).

In the row of links near the top of the page, click on Library -> Towing and Towables and I believe it's in that category.  You'll see there are dozens of other articles on various RV topics in the library as well.
Scott, wife, 3 boys... and the dog
- 2008 Forest River Wildwood 32BHDS
- 1995 Chevrolet Suburban C2500 tow vehicle
- 1994 Thor Residency motorhome... owned 2007-2012

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #28 on: January 20, 2017, 08:10:05 AM »
Hoooooookay.  It's now making sense.  It was no brainer how to find out weight of each vehicle, but it was the tongue weight itself that was hanging me up.  Whew!  The remaining unknown now understood. 

Thank you all for explaining all that!   :)

I've been searching (I mean HOURS!) for used GMC/Chevy 3500 cargo vans around my price range and haven't scored anything yet.  Brick walls.  However I did just go back to GMC's website and it appears that a 2500 cargo van would work IF! it has the 6L and not the 4.8.  It shows tow rating for 10K pounds on both regular wheel base and extended.  So maybe I'm doing overkill in looking at only 3500's?  (I started by asking my two mechanics and one said "Oh, for that you'd want a V10."  The other one said yesterday, "Why are you looking at 1-ton?  You don't need that to pull a 7K pound trailer."  GAAA!!  This is crazymaking. 

But the latter may have a point.  I've been thinking in terms of 10K pounds and the bottom line is, the trailer itself empty (UVW) shows it as just under 4990 lbs.  Its GVWR is 7K pounds.  I would be full-timing in it, but being extreeemely careful about what I put in it but further, I'd be taking out the whole dinette setup.  In its place a lightweight stand-alone table I can move around and two patio chairs.  I don't think I'd exceed the 7K total.  And there would not be a ton of stuff in the van itself because everything I'd be taking on side van-camping trips would be taken out of the trailer.  Only exception?  Possible paneling and insulation in the van, and about 8 tent poles, a tent and a few other really not heavy things that would just live in the van.

Therefore, 7K pounds real TT weight (max probably) plus say mmmm, 300 lbs. of camping stuff that would live in the van.  I seriously doubt more than that.  So in that hypothetical, am I safe IYHO to consider getting a 2500 cargo van with 6.0L engine? 

scottydl

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #29 on: January 20, 2017, 08:44:16 AM »
It all depends on the weight ratings... you've learned that mechanics and/or salesmen may not always have the most accurate information, and certainly don't have as much concern for YOUR towing needs than YOU do.  If a 2500 with the 6.0L will do, then sure go for it!  Or at least add that search option in with the 3500 search, then it doubles your chances of finding something that works.

Spending hours on these searches is great, but many of us spent MONTHS looking for our perfect RV, tow vehicle, or daily driver vehicle.  I did on all three.  Frustrating when nothing turns up, but the longer you go the more you hone your searching skills and confidence in what you need & what it should cost.  Then y out KNOW when the right one comes along, and you can jump on it!
Scott, wife, 3 boys... and the dog
- 2008 Forest River Wildwood 32BHDS
- 1995 Chevrolet Suburban C2500 tow vehicle
- 1994 Thor Residency motorhome... owned 2007-2012

markbarendt

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #30 on: January 20, 2017, 08:47:43 AM »
If the numbers work you are good to go.

As said above by others though, every option the vehicle has adds weight. Air conditioner, trailer hitch, bigger engine, upgrade tires, full fuel tank...

Actually weigh your potential new van and look at it's owners manual then do the all the math.

OTW

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #31 on: January 20, 2017, 10:56:44 AM »
Thanks Scott-
I've also been operating under the impression that a "cargo van" is not necessarily as bare bones as a "cargo van WT" but now I'm wondering if I'm wrong and that any cargo van is going to be super bare bones in terms of seat comfort, etc. in the cab area.  If you happen to know that, please let me know.

Meanwhile, I'm now considering biting the bullet and looking at Chev 2500HD trucks.  I was hoping to stay with a van but ...  well, the above reason.  Found one that looks a bit interesting - 4x4.  That would be good but I don't know what 4x4 does to one's mileage. 

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #32 on: January 20, 2017, 01:42:24 PM »
Will do Mark, thanks very much.  It's a truck I'm looking at now.  If cargo vans are as uncomfortable to drive as what I'm now finding they sound like, then I think I need to revise my thinking about trucks. 

TO EVERYONE! 
Thank you ALL so VERY much for helping me figure out what these numbers mean and how to put them together.  I really appreciate it a lot. 

scottydl

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #33 on: January 20, 2017, 04:43:47 PM »
Was your main reason for a van to allow for minimalist camping in the van itself at times?

I'm not sure about any differences between versions of cargo vans... you'd probably have to go look at some in person to know for sure.  But either way, they are generally built strictly for utility and not for comfort.

4x4 is a fine feature, but it generally isn't needed for towing and adds 300-500# to the vehicle weight... hence that same amount is subtracted from overall towing capacity.
Scott, wife, 3 boys... and the dog
- 2008 Forest River Wildwood 32BHDS
- 1995 Chevrolet Suburban C2500 tow vehicle
- 1994 Thor Residency motorhome... owned 2007-2012

grashley

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #34 on: January 20, 2017, 05:40:28 PM »
I am sure you have seen this page.       http://www.gmc.com/previous-year/savana-cargo-van/features-specs/trims.html#   

You are very correct about the towing specs.  About 3000# payload for the 2500; and 4000 for the 3500.  The extended costs 200# of payload due to its weight.  Either one should do fine.

NOTE OF CAUTION: This is the 2016 model specs.  They can change year to year.  Make SURE to check the yellow label to verify THAT van has sufficient payload to meet your needs.  I would guess the yellow label payloads to be 200# - 400# less, depending on option packages.

You should be in great shape!
Preacher Gordon
09 Grand Junction 35 TMS - not yet received
2013 F350 Lariat LB SRW Supercab diesel 4X4
Nimrod Series 70 popup (sold)
It's not a dumb question if you do not know the answer.

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #35 on: January 21, 2017, 04:19:11 AM »
Scott- 
Main reason for the cargo van vs. truck is that my tow vehicle would be my car as well.  It would also serve as a camper that may not be pretty to the eye but would work for me.  But in terms of "my car" use, I would strongly prefer an empty van to a pickup truck.  (First waking thought this morning was, "hmmm, don't quite turn loose of van idea yet.")  From what I hear, the seating in a Ford cargo van is not conducive to long trip driving (e.g., New England/Florida).  But I have not sat in a driver's seat of a GMC cargo van.  So that's next on the agenda. 

Which leads me to...

Thanks for that link, Grashley!  I have not been able to get that spec sheet to work!  So now another question.  Under Mechanical, it says "Heavy Duty Towing Package."  Under that, it says, "Trailering Hitch Platform, 7-pin sealed connector (assume that's electric brake wiring) but then it says "Requires Available Dedicated Natural Gas System."  WHAZZZAT?? Can all this be added after market?  Either by GMC or a Camper's World type service dept.?

And do either of you know whether nicer seats can be safely installed into a cargo van?  If so is that terribly expensive?

markbarendt

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #36 on: January 21, 2017, 05:24:28 AM »
OTW custom interiors and seating for vans have been done and done well for many, many years. So well that it spawned it's own class of RVs, class B.

I'd suggest you find a dealer that sells converted vans and class B MH's, not necessarily to buy one, but to see what's possible.

One distinct difference that will affect you comfort between an "empty" PU and "empty" van is noise. PU interiors are typically finished and quiet, empty vans are unfinished and like riding in a steel can. 

Once you are done at the place with the conversion vans go to a dealer with an empty van and take a ride.

grashley

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #37 on: January 21, 2017, 06:25:08 PM »
Under Mechanical, it says "Heavy Duty Towing Package."  Under that, it says, "Trailering Hitch Platform, 7-pin sealed connector (assume that's electric brake wiring) but then it says "Requires Available Dedicated Natural Gas System."  WHAZZZAT?? Can all this be added after market? 

And do either of you know whether nicer seats can be safely installed into a cargo van?  If so is that terribly expensive?

I suspect the Natural Gas bit is in the wrong place.  I did not see a natural gas option for the van anywhere!  The 7 pin wiring includes wiring for lights and brakes.  A brake controller is needed.

Looking at the option list, 6 way power seats are available, along with power windows, locks, cruise, remote start, nav system, etc.  The best advise is still to go drive a few.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2017, 07:02:27 PM by scottydl »
Preacher Gordon
09 Grand Junction 35 TMS - not yet received
2013 F350 Lariat LB SRW Supercab diesel 4X4
Nimrod Series 70 popup (sold)
It's not a dumb question if you do not know the answer.

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #38 on: January 23, 2017, 05:39:12 AM »
Okay, I'm backing off the cargo van idea as a tow vehicle at least to start with.  I won't bore you with why but what I wanted from it will be way less often needed than what would actually probably work better with a crew cab PU and a lockable toneau cover or cap. 

What I think I have found is a small car/truck lot that I've passed many times and barely noticed, where owner, service manager and other key employees have been there for years.  They have great reviews (the kind that look quite real) and from what I can tell they target local repeat business and word of mouth.  I'm going to go there this morning and was told the SM knows towing very well, that he'll sit down with me, hear what I want to tow and carry, and then recommend specific truck choices.  (MECCA!)  Then when I'm ready, if they don't have it, they can look for it specifically as they visit auctions.  Their inventory leans toward GMC/Chevy clean-used.  It appears they price "fairly."  Not 'blow-out cheap' where you kinda wonder, and not high from what I can tell.  But if I have confidence vs. skepticism, that's worth a lot.  I'll know if they're what I think they are, when I get there.

You all have may never know how much you have helped me in this thread, and I strongly suspect there will be others who'll come across it as time goes on who will also be extremely helped by it.  You've explained A LOT!  Thank you very, very much.  I'll come back to it in case of replies, and of course, if I need to verify anything further will ask.  But {{{BIG HUGS}}} in the meantime.  Whew! 

scottydl

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #39 on: January 23, 2017, 07:25:19 AM »
That's exactly what these threads are for, to help you "talk it out" and learn more as you go.  Stick around, because I'm sure you'll have truck purchasing/towing questions as that time arrives... and then there's the whole RV buying/using part.  ;)
Scott, wife, 3 boys... and the dog
- 2008 Forest River Wildwood 32BHDS
- 1995 Chevrolet Suburban C2500 tow vehicle
- 1994 Thor Residency motorhome... owned 2007-2012

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #40 on: January 23, 2017, 10:13:54 AM »
That's exactly what these threads are for, to help you "talk it out" and learn more as you go.  Stick around, because I'm sure you'll have truck purchasing/towing questions as that time arrives... and then there's the whole RV buying/using part.  ;)

Oh I will definitely not disappear, lol.  Thanks for the warmie though.  ;-)

grashley

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #41 on: January 23, 2017, 05:54:45 PM »
That's exactly what these threads are for, to help you "talk it out" and learn more as you go.  Stick around, because I'm sure you'll have truck purchasing/towing questions as that time arrives... and then there's the whole RV buying/using part.  ;)

X2

Let us know what you find and what you buy!
Preacher Gordon
09 Grand Junction 35 TMS - not yet received
2013 F350 Lariat LB SRW Supercab diesel 4X4
Nimrod Series 70 popup (sold)
It's not a dumb question if you do not know the answer.

OTW

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Re: Please Help? Re what van I'd need to tow a 7000-lb. GVWR trailer
« Reply #42 on: January 25, 2017, 05:03:06 AM »
I will Grashley, thanks!  It will be a while before I actually buy the truck.  Have not yet purchased the TT I like, but sure am flirting with it.

 

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