Re: Trailer Tongue Weight Question - too much stuff in Caravan?
Wed, 18 Aug 1999 10:26:59 EDT

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West Wight Potter Website at URL
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In a message dated Tue, 17 Aug 1999 4:36:01 PM Eastern Daylight Time, writes:

> Hi Judy:
> First, all vehicles bounce a bit when towing a trailer. Anyone tells you
> different has been towing for too long... You cannot expect to tow a trailer
> that weighs over 2000 lbs without changes in ride and way you drive. All
> vehicle manufacturers specify a load leveling hitch and trailer brakes when
> towing over 2000 lbs. Dealership personnel are woefully ignorant of towing
> needs. (Ask for manufacturer towing manual or read your vehicle towing
> instructions)You can correct rear bounce with auxiliary springs or air shocks
> in back... About 100 bucks a pair installed at Monroe shock stores sometimes
> K or W mart have specials.
> I would suggest you weigh rig fully loaded and set hitch weigh at 10% and no
> less.
> The effect of too heavy a tongue is that front wheels tend to have less weigh
> than normal. This makes it slightly harder to steer when road is wet or
> slippery. But not that much! Your vehicle weigh and loading have a lot to do
> with this. If you check towing specs you will notice mfgs indicate towing
> performance with 2 passengers and 2 bags of clothes and no more.

That may be true for a standard passenger vehicle, but not necessarily true when for a vehicle with the factory tow package of heavy duty shocks, brakes, tranny cooler, alternator, and wiring

When you
> threw in that tool box and extra blocks, sheets, sails, coolers (with ice no
> less!), food, bedding, etc. you exceeded mfg recs. Perhaps, not trailer weigh
> but extra gear causes vehicle bounce (shocks bottoming out?)

Actually, my van is factory equipped with the heavy duty tow package and is rated to pull 3500 pounds with the tongue weight at 10%.

With 6-7 persons and their luggage, the allowable trailer load is 2700 pounds. With 3-5 people and luggage, allowable trailer weight is 3000 pounds, and with 2 people and lugglage, it's 3500 pounds)

Total gross axle weight of the van, contents and tongue weight cannot exceed 5400 pounds. The combined weight of the van, contents and trailer cannot exceed 8300 pounds.

Another thing
> overlooked a lot is that towing over 2000lbs should be done in next lower
> gear from HI. (IF OD transmission indicator then you should tow in D only -
> This will ensure enough oil flows through radiator and tranny to keep it
> cool. - Otherwise you will smell a strange odor when you exit car - odor of
> burnt transmission fluid!)

The Caravan manual specifically advises you MUST tow in OD to avoid overheating the transaxles on the four speed tranny, which is the one you get when you order the tow package on the car. Gotta read the manual. Times change... that used to be true, but no longer. The four speed model with tow package is equipped with a huge auxillary tranny cooler.

Judy B

I fried my transmission fluid towing Potter in OD
> at 70MPH from VA to FL in summer air temp of 90+. The Astro (towing equipped
> for 5500#) transmission fluid had a quaint odd stink that stopped as soon as
> I had it drained and replaced. In past I had towed my 5000# powerboat all way
> to NCarolina and back in D with no problems.
> The effect of too light a tongue (less than 10% towed weight) is that trailer
> weaves left to right behind vehicle. (This is illegal and dangerous!) If too
> light on hitch, weave at 55 MPH may cause vehicle to rollover. I've seen
> towed boats swing clear across to other lanes...
> Best magazine for trailer towers is "Trailer Boating" mag. This rag is
> mostly trailerable powerboats but addresses all towing and towing vehicle
> problems. Most other mags are only interested in selling new BIG powerboats.
> Best
> Solar Fry