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Author Topic: Towing a pop-up with a Dodge Grand Caravan 3.3L  (Read 8142 times)

IrishBrewer

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Towing a pop-up with a Dodge Grand Caravan 3.3L
« on: August 10, 2006, 01:48:21 PM »
I have a 96 Grand Caravan (4 speed automatic trans) that I will be using to tow a popup from PA to OK (1100 miles) in about 6 weeks.  The popup's dry weight is 2000 lb.  I don't plan on loading it down much beyond its dry weight. 

The Caravan didn't have a towing package so I've been working on that myself.  Here's what I've added thus far:

1. Trailer Wiring Kit
2.  Class III Reese Hitch
3.  Class III ball mount w/2" ball (5" rise so popup is level)
4.  Replaced stock rear shocks with heavy duty shocks
5.  Added a leaf spring helper (1500 lb., adjustable)
6.  Added a heavy duty external ATF cooler.

I think that with these upgrades, I'm better off than I would be with what would have been included in the factory tow package.

I've also ordered new trailer tires with the proper load rating because the old tires are pretty cracked on their sidewalls.  Other things that I'd like to add but aren't in the budget just yet are electric trailer brakes/controller and a weight distribution system for the hitch.  I'm not using any 12V power from the TV yet so I haven't upgraded the battery or the alternator.  The ATF and filter has recently been chaged and all the brakes pads are relatively new.

The new shocks and the leaf spring helpers seem to do a very good job stiffening up the rear suspension without making the ride harsh (in fact, its quite a bit better now with the new shocks).  I'm also going to replace the stock front struts because I think they are past their prime. 

I've read in various places that I should avoid overdrive while towing.  I'll keep this in mind.

Am I missing anything?  Any thoughts or suggestions on towing with this setup would be appreciated. 

Chad

Carl L

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Re: Towing a pop-up with a Dodge Grand Caravan 3.3L
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2006, 02:12:18 PM »
Yeah, a weight distributing hitch system and a antisway mechanism, probably a single friction bar will do it.   

Even on a light weight tow as you have,  it helps to distribute the tongue weight and provide for sway control.   Remember your tow vehicle is light weight too.   Reese for one makes a light duty system.  Click HERE to see.
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

Prowler 23LV TT pulled by a '95 Ford Bronco

IrishBrewer

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Re: Towing a pop-up with a Dodge Grand Caravan 3.3L
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2006, 02:38:18 PM »
Thanks for the advice Carl.

The light duty Reese WD system is the one that I had my eye on.  However, I was wondering how much rise you get with the basic setup.  The receiver on the van sits so low that I needed a 5" rise on my ball mount.  If I replace it with the Reese WD, I might not be sitting very level.  I didn't see any specs on the 350 Mini-Lite that tell you the rise.

Also, I know that an anti-sway system is desireable but I haven't noticed any appreciable sway thus far when towing.  Would you just wait and see based on towing experience to decide whether an anti-sway system is needed?

Chad

BernieD

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Re: Towing a pop-up with a Dodge Grand Caravan 3.3L
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2006, 02:52:43 PM »
Chad

We had a '95 Grand Caravan with the towing package. It's towing capacity was 3500#s. Once I learned to downshift manually when going down long, steep grades  it towed fine. I towed a 3600 # trailer (car and trailer weight) without issue. I don't remember if it was the car or trailer manual that said do not use a load leveling hitch.
Bernie & Marlene Dobrin
Home is Goodyear, AZ
Missing our Travel Supreme

Carl L

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Re: Towing a pop-up with a Dodge Grand Caravan 3.3L
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2006, 04:19:41 PM »
Thanks for the advice Carl.

The light duty Reese WD system is the one that I had my eye on. However, I was wondering how much rise you get with the basic setup. The receiver on the van sits so low that I needed a 5" rise on my ball mount. If I replace it with the Reese WD, I might not be sitting very level. I didn't see any specs on the 350 Mini-Lite that tell you the rise.

Also, I know that an anti-sway system is desireable but I haven't noticed any appreciable sway thus far when towing. Would you just wait and see based on towing experience to decide whether an anti-sway system is needed?

Chad

Look a bit further down the page and take a look at the WD shanks and ball mounts.   There is a about a 1.5-2.0 foot leeway on leveling.   

Is an anti-sway device essential on your rig?.   Frankly I do not know -- not with a popup, their windage is small.   What does your tow feel like when a highspeed bus, motorhome or panel van passes it?   If you hate the feeling get an anti-sway unit.  If you think it is not an issue, then ... what the hey.   ;D

[Note:  a 3000 or less popup is what we are talking about here.   A TT or hybrid with all their windage absolutely require anti-sway.  Findling out on the highway at 65mph that you should have gotten it is no damn fun.]
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

Prowler 23LV TT pulled by a '95 Ford Bronco

John From Detroit

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Re: Towing a pop-up with a Dodge Grand Caravan 3.3L
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2006, 10:46:16 PM »
I have towed an Apache pop up with all of the following

1977 AMC hornet, it was an inline six, 4 speed, don't recall the cid of hte engine

197x Ford LTD, whompoing big V*, though not the biggest, auto tranny

1980ish Dodge B-250 Tradesman Maxi van, this is a 3/4 ton truck,  Way overkill for that trailer

I did add a sway bar somewhere along the line (Friction anti-sway, made a big difference)

I have also pulled it with a 1992 Chevy Lumina APM 3.1L auto tranny (My current towed vehicle) 

I never pulled it over mountains though, save with the big Ford LTD, and that was east of the Missippi,  Otherwise it's been all Michigan, or Mich and northern Ohio (As far as Kings Island)
Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
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Carl L

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Re: Towing a pop-up with a Dodge Grand Caravan 3.3L
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2006, 11:47:15 PM »
Quote
Way overkill for that trailer

I have said it before and will say it again.  Tow capacity on a tow vehicle is like a really angry grizzly bear, there is no such thing as overkill, but there sure as hell is such a thing as underkill.  ;D
« Last Edit: August 22, 2006, 12:21:55 PM by Carl Lundquist »
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

Prowler 23LV TT pulled by a '95 Ford Bronco

N Smock

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Re: Towing a pop-up with a Dodge Grand Caravan 3.3L
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2006, 06:08:15 AM »
I have a 96 Grand Caravan (4 speed automatic trans) that I will be using to tow a popup from PA to OK (1100 miles) in about 6 weeks.  The popup's dry weight is 2000 lb.  I don't plan on loading it down much beyond its dry weight.    Other things that I'd like to add but aren't in the budget just yet are electric trailer brakes/controller and a weight distribution system for the hitch. 
Am I missing anything?  Any thoughts or suggestions on towing with this setup would be appreciated. 

Chad


Yup! In some states the rquirement for trailer brakes is 2000# or less. You have a light car/van you will need a brake controller. I suggest that the 100-150 bucks for a controller are a few bucks well spent. Look at the Prodigy by Tonkonshia (sp) this is an excellent controller. Does the trailer have electric brakes installed?


Nelson



Nelson

IrishBrewer

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Re: Towing a pop-up with a Dodge Grand Caravan 3.3L
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2006, 02:39:26 PM »
Nope, no electric brakes on the trailer so I'll have to add them.

I found a deal where I could get two sets of 10 inch electric brakes and drums with hubs and new bearings for $160 shipped to the door.  These are good for 3500 lb.  So I'd need that plus the brake controller and some wiring to get the job done.  I just need to check to see if the axle has mounting flanges for the brakes.  If not, then I'll have to see if it is possible to add those.

I might be able to get the whole job done for a little over $250 which wouldn't be bad. 

Jim Dick

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Re: Towing a pop-up with a Dodge Grand Caravan 3.3L
« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2006, 08:37:57 AM »
I would spend the money and add the brakes. This will do more for your piece of mind than weight distribution. I can't think of any popup we've ever sent out with weight distribution. Anti sway could work for you if you do have a problem. The ones I have seen need an adjustable ball mount to install the mini ball required by the anti sway control. There may be other style draw bars that aren't as fancy.  I'd try to take it for a run up the highway and see how it performs before spending the money.
Jim

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IrishBrewer

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Re: Towing a pop-up with a Dodge Grand Caravan 3.3L
« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2006, 10:27:01 AM »
Here's an update.

The family and I took the popup on a 2400 mile trip from PA to OK.  I hadn't yet installed the electric brakes.  The Caravan towed the trailer nicely and I didn't feel any need for sway control.  The electric brakes would have been nice but I didn't feel unsafe not having them for this trip.   

I towed in overdrive for most of the trip, shifting into third gear on hills where my speed dropped to 60 MPH.  I also used third gear going down a few steep inclines.  This seemed to work well and we got a surprising 17.5 to 18.8 MPG throughout the trip.  90 percent of the travel was on Interstate highways with WV and Missouri being the states with the most hills to traverse.   Speed probably averaged about 65-70 MPH and the van handled this very well. 

I did encounter a minor electrical problem once we reached our destination but this was unrelated to towing and was a fairly easy fix.

For our return trip, we were starting off pretty early so we had to do our final packing and takedown in the dark.  I wouldn't want to do this task in the rain - that's for sure.  However, we still had a lot of morning dew on the canvas so we had to set up again to dry things out on our return but this allowed me to give the canvas a cleaning prior to winter storage.

 

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