Re: Trailer Tongue Weight Question - too much stuff in Caravan?

Rich Gort (
Wed, 18 Aug 1999 09:36:28 -0700 (PDT)

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On Wed, 18 Aug 1999 wrote:

> 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.

> Best,
> Judy B

I find this very interesting! I have a 97' Chrysler Town&Country Van with
the factory towing package (heavy suspension, tranny cooler, 4 speed
automatic, etc) and while the specs for towing capacity seem to be
identical to yours, the manual specifically states that "The 'D'
Overdrive range CAN be selected when towing. However, if frequent
shifting occurs while in the 'D' range then the '3' range MUST (their
caps) be selected to avoid transaxle overheating." Since Chrysler Corp is
not exactly known for the best automatics in the industry, I always use
"3" when towing anything. I also refuse to use "cruise control" when
trailering as it causes more shifting to occur.

There are so many factors that affect towability. Some have been
mentioned here. I don't think that your toungue weight is excessive.

Other things that affect towing are:

Wheelbase of the towing vechicle
Weight of towing vechicle with respect to weight of trailer
Distance between hitch ball and trailer axle
Distance between trailer tires (width of trailer)
Levelness of trailer (you might want to check this one, as I have the 2"
slug on my van and needed to provide about 8" of lift to get level, but I
have 14" tires on my trailer)
Toungue weight (10 - 15 % of boat + trailer weight is current thinking)

I wonder if you have the long van .. Grand Caravan .. or the standard
length. My Town & Country is the long style.. don't think that should
make much difference, but the long one may have a little longer wheelbase.

Rich Gort
Lake Stevens, WA
Sailing Northern Puget Sound and North Cascades Mountain Lakes