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Author Topic: Confused about Dodge Caravan's towing ability  (Read 111010 times)

t6817rm

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Confused about Dodge Caravan's towing ability
« on: October 30, 2006, 06:41:01 PM »
I'm confused. According to www.dodge.com the towing capacity for the grand caravan is 1800 pounds, yet I know other people have towed heavier popups with a minivan. fleetwood.com even shows a setup video for the santa fe popup, which I think weighs 3,000 lbs, in which a minivan is the tow vehicle. And I see another topic in here about someone setting up his own towing package for the minivan and I didn't see anyone warning him that the minvan shouldn't be used for towing popups. I'm considering getting the minivan but won't if it's not capable of towing my Fleetwood Colonial popup. Any comments or advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

Will

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Re: Confused about Dodge Caravan's towing ability
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2006, 06:55:46 PM »
When we bought our Grand Caravan we were told, by the service manager, to not even bother putting a trailer hitch on the van.  He said that the transaxles were too weak to be reliable on a long tow.  My experince with Chrysler transmissions says he was right.  Caravan trannys are weak.  A small popup trailer is the most you would be able to tow without replacing transmissions every year.

Old Astro vans and Aerostars were good towers, being rear-wheel-drive truck-based vans.  Alas the Astro, the last truck-based van, was discontinued last year.

Look at the Honda Pilot.  Still a car based SUV, but rated for towing 5000lbs.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2006, 07:03:56 PM by Will »
Will - KD5CZF
1990 Champion EuroCoach DP

t6817rm

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Re: Confused about Dodge Caravan's towing ability
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2006, 07:05:01 PM »
Unfortunately, but also fortunately, I work for the company so I pretty much have to drive one of their products. I currently have a Jeep which I love but my wife really misses the Grand Caravan, which admiitedly is a more comfortable vehicle. I'm happy to stick with Jeep or possibly a Durango. But if I can please my wife and save gas money, I'm all for that too.

Will

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Re: Confused about Dodge Caravan's towing ability
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2006, 07:13:54 PM »
Older Caravans were rated for higher towing, but I think the Stow and Go seats added lots of weight, subtracting from the GVWR.

Check the sales literature from dealerships.  I check the Mopar sites often and they are prone to misprints.  The Grand Caravan with the 3.8 may still be able to tow more weight than that.  I would, nevertheless, insist on the towing package with transmission oil cooler.

Sticking strictly with the Chrysler lineup, the Pacifica is rated for 3500lbs, and is available with a much nicer 4.0L engine.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2006, 07:16:32 PM by Will »
Will - KD5CZF
1990 Champion EuroCoach DP

Carl L

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Re: Confused about Dodge Caravan's towing ability
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2006, 07:17:32 PM »
There is something confusing here.  The Trailer Life 2006 tables show ratings as high as 3800 lbs on some models of caravan.   The usual rule is the mfr ratings have priority, but this might be worth checking out.  If you work for the company, get ahold of someone not a salesman and find out what models or equipment options of the GC will premit maximum towing ratings and what those ratings are.  
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

Prowler 23LV TT pulled by a '95 Ford Bronco

BernieD

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Re: Confused about Dodge Caravan's towing ability
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2006, 07:57:31 AM »
I know that many things have changed since then, but we had a 1995 Dodge Grand Caravan with the factory towing package. It was rated for 3,500 #s and we towed a 3,800 # loaded trailer with it for 3 years until we traded it in on our motor home.
Bernie & Marlene Dobrin
Home is Goodyear, AZ
Missing our Travel Supreme

IrishBrewer

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Re: Confused about Dodge Caravan's towing ability
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2006, 10:01:59 AM »
I must be the exception to the rule with the Caravans and towing.  I bought the van used with about 50K miles on it and I took it to my mechanic to go over prior to purchasing.  He had seen a lot of Caravans with transmission problems but few that had the overdrive transmission.  The engine is the 3.3L.  I did change out the transmission fluid and filter a while back.  If you do so, just make sure to use the recommended ATF fluid despite what anyone else may tell you.  These dodge trannys are very picky about the fluild.

I bought a popup camper this summer and have been towing it with my Grand Caravan after making the following modifications.

1.  External tranny cooler mounted in front of the radiator and A/C condensor to supplement the stock cooler that is part of the radiator.

2.  Replaced stock rear shocks with some good quality heavy duty shocks.

3.  Installed leaf helper springs in the rear.

4.  Class III Reese hitch (Class II would also work fine), 5" rise ball mount & trailer wiring.

The only thing I would change about this setup is to get a different hitch that doesn't ride so low.  If the hitch receiver bar is welded to the cross bar such that they are in the same plane rather than the recever being below the cross bar, you would have a couple inches of additional clearance.  As it is, I have to be careful not to pull into any gas stations where there is a significant dip in the pavement when towing.

The popup is 2000 empty and the GVW is up to 3000 lb.  I've never weighed it loaded so I'm not sure where we're at but I would guess it is about 2400 lb.

Took it on a couple short trips to get the bugs worked prior to a big 1200 mile trip (each way) to Oklahoma for 10 days.  Mostly interstate driving.

The van did great and I drove it in overdrive on the flat sections and shifted into 3rd in hilly areas.  Avg MPG was a little over 18.  I didn't feel any need for additional sway control but electric brakes on the trailer would give me a little more piece of mind.

I now have about 145K miles on this vehicle and it is still going with its original tranny. 

My wife thought that the long trip would be the death of this vehicle but even she was very surprised as to how well it towed.  I think she thought that this would be her oppertunity to get a new(er) vehicle but I keep telling her I expect to get another 100K out of it. ;)
« Last Edit: October 31, 2006, 10:10:41 AM by IrishBrewer »

Six Pack

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Re: Confused about Dodge Caravan's towing ability
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2006, 07:15:09 AM »
I have a 2006 Dodge Caravan 3.3L with factory tow package with braking system that I purchased in March of this year, we had a 2004 Coachman Clippers 1070ST with brakes(not sure of the weight).  Before hauling with the van I checked the owners manual and it said "tow rating 3800lbs with 2 audults, 2 children and carry on bags.  For a little extra since there were only 3 of us and a dog we took out the middle seat and moved the back one ahead.  Never had a problem.  My next door neighbor also tows an older, heavier 12' model pup with his Caravan with 3 kids.

Here is where it gets interesting; in June I upgraded to a 2007 Rockwood Roo 21SS GVWR 4753lbs., pulled it with the van for the rest ogf the season.  After the season end I have since purchased another TV (2003 Dodge Durango 4.7L V8).  I would not recommend this combination (Caravan/Roo 21SS) for those who have have not experience towing trailers.

Jeff
« Last Edit: November 09, 2006, 07:41:44 AM by Six Pack »

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Confused about Dodge Caravan's towing ability
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2006, 12:14:58 PM »
Irishrewer,
You are well within the Caravan's tow rating and it should perform well and not suffer any undue stress because of it.  Adding the tranny cooler was wise - just keep changing that fluid regularly. Heat is the #1 enemy of auto transmissions and ATF and fresh clean ATF is one way to minimize the possibility of damage.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

Carl L

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Re: Confused about Dodge Caravan's towing ability
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2006, 12:33:43 PM »
Irishrewer,
 Heat is the #1 enemy of auto transmissions and ATF and fresh clean ATF is one way to minimize the possibility of damage.

Power drain and replace once a year before the towing season like clock work is the way to go.
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

Prowler 23LV TT pulled by a '95 Ford Bronco

MikeOrion

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Re: Confused about Dodge Caravan's towing ability
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2009, 09:24:20 PM »
Hello Everyone,

I'm new to the forum and have a new pop up camper.  Been talking about buying one for seven years and did it last year.  The wife and kids are happy, so much for procrastination.  As for your towing rating I can help.  Most of the high end packages for Dodge/Chrysler minivan's have the tow package option, which I highly recommend.  Our powertrain is tested on extreme conditions and at full rated conditions (Max Load).  To put it simply we load a trailer at the max weight we qualified for and pull it up mountains, deserts, through death valley to make sure it lives.  The two most important grades we run the vehicles up is the grapevine and bakers grade in the middle of the summer.  The powertrain will live but you have to have the tow package.
The towing package is usually matched up with the high end engines (3.8L/4.0L with the 62TE trans).
Includes:
•Heavy Duty Engine Cooling
•Engine Oil Cooler
•Heavy Duty Radiator
•Heavy Duty Transmission Oil Cooler
•Load Leveling and Height Control
•Trailer Tow Wiring Harness (7-Way)

http://www.dodge.com/en/towing_payload/2009/

My wife and I have 139,000 miles on ours and still running like a champ.

Take Care,
Mike

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Confused about Dodge Caravan's towing ability
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2009, 07:15:11 AM »
HI Mike and welcome to RV Forum. Glad you joined us and hope you will stick around and participate.

You probably didn't notice but the discussion you replied to is almost 3 years old. Nothing wrong with that, but thought I would mention it so you  were not expecting a reply from the original poster.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

michaelcard1973

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Re: Confused about Dodge Caravan's towing ability
« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2013, 10:26:23 AM »
Hey Gary...  Not knocking you at all...  But I think it's kinda funny how people comment/poke fun/ridicule posters when they make a comment years after the last post...  While the OP may never see the reply, somebody like me who is just seeing this forum for this first time and in my case 5+ years after the last post, I can read it and if it's relevent and usefull, it helps me...

Tom

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Re: Confused about Dodge Caravan's towing ability
« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2013, 10:52:45 AM »
Gary's point was that the original poster(s) may no longer be around to respond if the new poster is hoping for a reply.

FWIW in the 20 years I've known Gary on this forum, and the times we've met in person at campgrounds and at each others' homes, I've never known him to ridicule anyone. Stick around a while and you'll soon figure out that he's a person who goes out of his way to help folks.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2013, 10:54:17 AM by Tom »
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michaelcard1973

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Re: Confused about Dodge Caravan's towing ability
« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2013, 04:19:36 PM »
Hi Tom.  Sorry, I definitely did not mean to accuse Gary of poking fun...  I was just generalizing about forums of any kind...  rereading, I probably could have worded my reply differently or just said thanks for the info.  So, Thank you for the info!

I am new to this site, I drive a Caravan and pull a trailer.  Some usefull information was gleaned from this forum to my benefit...  even if it was many years since the last post.  The point I was trying to make was that even if somebody replies to a post from a user who may not be around any longer, somebody new like me may still find it usefull.   I hope no harm has been done.  :)


Tom

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Re: Confused about Dodge Caravan's towing ability
« Reply #15 on: May 09, 2013, 06:14:06 PM »
No apology needed. No harm done AFAIC, and you'd have to work hard to ruffle Gary's feathers; He's one of the most easy-going guys I've come across.

Glad to hear you've already gleaned some useful information here. In addition to our message boards, be sure to click the Library, Resources and Glossary buttons above for lots more info.
Tom.  Need help? Click the Help button in the toolbar above.

JNHGRNJ

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Re: Confused about Dodge Caravan's towing ability
« Reply #16 on: September 06, 2014, 01:44:00 AM »
Hi, All.
I appreciate all who wrote in this forum.
We have a pop-up trailer that has been sitting since we scrapped our tow car.
IrishBrewer Your post was very helpful & detailed.
Considering buying a 2001 Dodge Caravan Sport with 111K on it.
Need to do my homework. But This forum has helped.
John in Northern NJ

Alfa38User

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Re: Confused about Dodge Caravan's towing ability
« Reply #17 on: September 06, 2014, 11:44:17 AM »
John in Northern NJ

I had a 2002 model Caravan and presently have a 2010 Grand Caravan. The towing limitation was/is 2000 lbs on both mine. Some of the new models 2011+ like the Touring do have a higher limit.

Be careful!!!
Stu
Montréal, Canada 🍁
Snowbird, Naples Florida
Alfa Gold 38 (2000) 5ver (parked!)

"Of course I talk to myself, sometimes I need expert advise!!!"

TAD1979

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Re: Confused about Dodge Caravan's towing ability
« Reply #18 on: June 18, 2015, 10:01:51 PM »
Hi Everyone,

After reading some posts, I wanted to share my experience since I think it's unique (I read a lot of forums....). I have a 2002 Dodge Grand Caravan Sport with the 3.3l engine. we bought the van with ~96,000 km( that's about 60,000 miles for our American friends).

The modifications I did were: I installed a transmission cooler, Monroe load adjusting shocks (they look almost like struts in that they have coils over the shock) and a wiring harness and I changed the tranny fluid. It pulled like a dream.

I pulled about 2,800 pounds of pop up (no electric brakes) and gear all over Western Canada and parts of the US. I towed across the Rockies to Tsawwassen where we boarded the ferry to Vancouver Island, hauled it to northern Alberta to see the boreal forest and rolled over 200,000 km when we towed the unit to Yellowstone National Park.

Every two years I would drop the transmission pan and change the filter and as much fluid that would drain. We still drive the van everyday and it has over 305,000 km (190,000 miles) and runs great on the original engine and transmission. So, it may not be the rule, but it is proof that with proper care these vans can tow and tow well for a long time.

Cheers and good luck!!

 

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