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Towing a Trailer

Old 08-08-2003, 09:06 PM
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Hubb
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Default Towing a Trailer

I am in the market to purchase a cargo trailer for hauling my planes. something in the 5 x 10 or 6 x 10 range.

my question is in regards to the tow vehicle. I currently own a Dodge Grand Caravan and a 2wd GMC sonoma pickup truck. the pickup is a 2.2 4cyl rated at 2,000 lbs towing capacity and I am not sure what the Caravan is rated at, but it has the 3.6- 6 cyl.

to those that tow a trailer, how would either of these vehicles tow? most of my towing would be highway miles to contests (3-5 hr drives). would I stress the 4 cyl pickup with the highway miles? would I cause any damage to the drive train of the front wheel drive Caravan?

not sure what these things weigh, but assume most of our airplane gear would be no more than around 200lbs or so.

last question: does anybody tow a trailer with a car? if so what size and how does it handle the weight?

any insight would be appreciated, thanks

Hubb
Old 08-08-2003, 09:27 PM
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shill
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Default Towing a Trailer

Hubb

My brother and I Have a 6 x 14 wells cargo we used to haul with his plymouth Grand voyager with the 3.3 6 cylinder it pulled it ok but after we kept setting it up adding racks and such it got too heavy for the van. we also have a 5 x 8 trailer the van will tow it just fine no problems the pick up will not pull it as well. I have a ford ranger with a 4 cylinder and it tows it but I would not want to make long hauls with it. I bought a Dodge Ram Quad Cab to haul the big trailer no problems, But if I were you I would stick to a 5 x 8 or mabey a 5 x 10 at the most.

Steve Hill
Old 08-08-2003, 10:45 PM
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Default Towing a Trailer

Hubb, the GMC, even with a 4 banger, would be the better vehicle to tow a light trailer with because, it has a "real" frame under it. The Caravan has sheetmetal rails welded to the floor pan for a frame. While either one will pull it, long term damage to the Caravan is my concern. It would be nice to have the room though. The only other thing you need to address is brakes. I can tell you from experience, no matter how light the trailer is, with the tow vehicles you have, PUT BRAKES ON IT! You don't know how many times trailer brakes have saved me. We can control how fast we accelerate and corner. We can not control when the next yahoo will pull out in front of us.

I have spent 6 years reposessing campers, boats, horse and cargo type trailers behind my F350. Sometimes these units are slightly,,, ummm, trashed. Even lightweight boats or single axle cargo trailers will benefit from brakes. I love 'em! They've saved my hide (and my insurance rates) numerous times. PM me and I'll recommend a good set up on controllers. Dont trust the sales guys, they're watching profits. Do NOT get a "timed" brake control what ever you do.

With the proper equipment, you'll be fine...

Oh yeah, I have a 6x10 single axle steel open trailer for my lawn mower. Yes, it has brakes and so does the mower. I pull it regularly with a 740 Volvo wagon equipped with a 6 cylinder 2.4 VW built turbo diesel. That means slow and stinky, but it pulls it fine. This also has the sheetmetal frame.
Old 08-08-2003, 11:27 PM
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Default Towing a Trailer

Hubb

you will not have any trouble with the van towing the smaller trailer we have had no issues with the structure of how the mini van is built. I will second the need for brakes I have them on the 6 x 14 but the 5 x 8 does not as we got the smaller trailer second hand. I alos forgot to mention I would go with either a V nose trailer or one with the Aero Cap front on the trailer. The cap is what we have on the 6 x 14 and I think it makes a big difference, but I wish it was a V nose trailer. I would also recommend the torsion suspension over the leaf spring type. IMHO it rides better than the leafsprings.

Steve Hill
Old 08-09-2003, 12:45 AM
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Default Hubb,

I have been pulling a Wells Cargo 6 x 10, 6' ceiling, for a couple years with a 1996 Ford Ranger, 4.0 liter six, five-speed manual trans. The Ranger also has a topper that helps cut down a little on the drag of the high- profile trailer, but the extra height really makes for alot of drag. The Ranger pulls it without much problem on a straight, level road, but when I am making a long trip with a lot of long hills and valleys, it is a major pain. There is alot of downshifting into fourth and even third gear and the gas mileage is atrocious! I have recently bought a new F150 Super Crew with the 5.4 liter V8 and even though the difference is like night and day, the high trailer roof still creates alot of drag. I'm going to retrofit the fiberglass bubble front fairing(can't remember offhand Wells Cargo's term for it) some time in the near future. I expect this to make quite a bit of difference in the induced drag. Your van would probably pull a trailer of this size okay, especially because of the high profile of the van's body. I would not, under any circumstances, try to pull this size trailer with a 4-cylinder equipped vehicle of any kind, though, especially on a trip of any distance. I would be afraid of the weight and drag overheating the engine, unless it was equipped with a heavy duty cooling system of some kind. Also, passing power with this combination would be absolutely nonexistant. If I had to use the four-banger, though, I wouldn't hook up anything bigger than a low-profile 5 x 8. At any rate, Hubb, I didn't mean to rain on your parade. I just wanted to save you some potential trouble. Good luck with whatever combination you come up with. Oh, one last thing. My trailer weighs in at about 900 pounds, I think, and I never load it up with more than a couple hundred pounds additional load. I personally have never felt like I needed trailer brakes(yet) to handle this load with either of my towing vehicles. Of course an extra measure of safety never hurts, so let your conscience be your guide. Good luck in your future endeavors, Hubb.
Old 08-09-2003, 01:54 AM
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Default trailer

Be sure to get a wind break on the trailer. My 8x20 pulls easier with the deflecter than my old 8x12 did with out it. My 8x20 is 1200 lbs. heavier, but I pull with a F350 diesel. Steve is right about the V nose for best deflection. Cargo Craft is a good trailer and a little cheaper than some of the others. I go with the tamdem axle over single spring or torsion for better ride of the load. But the small trailer 6x10 will probably ride well with the torsion. Add two feet to length if you go with the V-nose and cut heighth for reduced drag.
Old 08-09-2003, 09:26 AM
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Default Towing a Trailer

The smaller trailers usually dont have brakes...The only time u really need brakes is if what u are pulling weighs close to or more than your tow vehicle.
The only concern would be to the automatic transmission. Pulling the trailer will add a lot of drag and the transmission temps will get a little hotter. Have a transmission cooler installed, and also a heavy duty flasher to handle the trailer lights.. U-haul will probably be the cheapest place for the cooler installation........Andrew
Old 11-05-2003, 04:24 PM
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Default RE: Towing a Trailer

Hubb, I agree with everyone here on the wind brake. I have a small 4X8 trailer that was pure work to pull without the added wind break, although you would have more room to move around in with the 6'wide it would add more weight. I only wish mine was a 1' wider more 2' wider. I am pulling my trailer with an F150 power with the 4.2L engine and it pulls it 70 no problem.

here's a picture of my added wind dam.
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Old 11-06-2003, 04:01 PM
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Mike3579
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Default RE: Towing a Trailer

Hi


I just placed an order for a 5x8 enclosed trailer. It weighs about 900 lbs but I got 3/8 inch side walls increased the height from 60 inches to 72 inches, the torsion axle and the side door. This is my first trailer. I am going to be pulling it with a Jeep Grand cherokee with the 4.0. Will my jeep be able to? Does any one have anyexperience with towing a tailer with a Grand cherroke? Please let me know I know the added hieght is going to affect towing but I could not see banging my head everytime I got in it.
Thanks
mike
Old 11-06-2003, 11:04 PM
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Default RE: Towing a Trailer

I think your Grand Cherokee will pull it just fine. I agree with what everyone says here about the drag of the blunt nose trailier. I bought a 6 x 12 single axle this spring with the roof raised to 74". I'm pulling it with a Ford F-250 with the 5.8 litter and 4.10 rear end. The trailer only weighs 1200 lb empty, but it pulls as hard as my 4400 lb gooseneck stock trailer! If I put my topper on, I can't hardly tell it's back there. My buddy has a Chevy Tahoe and it will pull one down the road at 75 mph with no trouble. My next one will have the V-nose or better yet a gooseneck with living quarters in it.
Old 11-07-2003, 12:10 AM
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Default RE: Towing a Trailer

I've pulled a a 5x8 blunt nose trailer for a full season with a 2001 Dodge Grand Caravan with the 3.8 6cyl. I've never had any issues with it, and it towed very well. The stopping distance was very reasonable. I upgraded to a 5x10 trailer for a little more room. Again a blunt nose trailer. I noticed the trailer a bit more, but again it was easily handled. It never felt unsafe or stressful to the van. Usually the van was lightly loaded with one or two passengers, and the trailers usually had a 40%, two 1/4 or 1/3rd scales, all the flight gear, an Ezup, fuel, etc. Most of my trips were the routine 25 to 60 minutes each way to one of the two local fields I fly from, with a longer trip each month of about 2 hours each way. All the very long trips (Boston to So Carolina (Joe Nall), Illinois (Superman), etc are done with the motor home which would actually pull my mini-van and trailer with ease. Of course, I'd have to pull a gas station behind that as well, but I think it would handle it

Based on the above, I just signed a purchase and sale on another mini-van (Town and Country LXi AWD - essentially a Grand Caravan with all wheel drive) with a 3.8 6cyl. I looked at a number of SUV's but really didn't want to loose all the room I'v grown accustomed to. I like the fact that with the quad seating, I can fit a 40% airplane in the mini-van, take three passengers, all my flight gear, a smaller fun fly, and not have to pull a trailer at all if I didn't want to. I would have a hard time putting my smaller airplanes and gear in an SUV, let alone anything over 30% or take passengers.

From what I remember the 3.3 6cyl is rated at 2,000lbs, but the 3.8 6cyl with the tow package, or the 3.8 w/AWD is rated at 3,500 lbs. They recommend brakes if its over 1,000lbs, and a weight distributing hitch over 2,000lbs. I don't think they have a 3.6, so I don't know if that was a typo on your part, or an option I didn't know they have. All the towing I've done in the Grand Caravan were under these limits. The 5x8 cargo couldn't weight more than 1,100lbs full loaded, and the 5x10 cargo is maybe another 200lbs more.

By the way. The best thing I ever did on my trailer was to mount a metal box up front for carrying all the gas and oil, and having two side doors installed. The second side door cost me $75 total. But it made the trailer a custom order item, and the delivery took 2 months instead of buying off the lot. But every trailer I get from now on will have two side doors!
Old 11-07-2003, 10:02 AM
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Mike3579
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Default RE: Towing a Trailer

HI


Is there a wind break I could possibly put on the roof of my Grand Cherokee? Like a deflector or something? I know my 5x8 will stick out above the roof especially since I added an additional 12 inches to it. I think some sort of spoiler might help.
Old 11-07-2003, 10:10 AM
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Default RE: Towing a Trailer

Wind is your enemy, anything you can do to help defer the wind from a blunt surface will greatly reduce drag. Any vehicle that has a high, elongated body that is of equal or close to the hight of your trailer will help in your pulling. Even though I put a wind break on the front of my trailer I believe I would do even better for those long trips by putting a camper shell on my truck.

Blackie
Old 11-07-2003, 10:12 AM
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Default 97 Honda Accord w/ 4 banger

Ok... I have you all beat. I pull a 4x8 extra tall, fully enclosed trailer by Haulmark with all of the trimmings (15!QUOT! tires, better suspension, side door, etc.) It weights about #1,600 empty and my equipment couldn't weigh more than 2 or 3 hundred pounds. Ultimately less than 2,000 ponds. I pull this with a 97' Honda Accord (2 door coupe) with a 4 banger and over 110,000 miles under the hood. Big hills must be taken easy, but basic driving is a breeze. The car claims a #2,500 pound capacity. Stay with a smallish trailer and you can tow it with about anything. I can fit a fuse up to 92!QUOT!, plus the rudder can be cocked to the side for up to a 100!QUOT! fuse or so. The bowed trailer front makes this possible. The extra tall style also allows a middle shelf running the entire length with equal room above. You will need a 1' taller than standard garage door.
Old 11-07-2003, 12:00 PM
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Default RE: Towing a Trailer

Are you recommending electric or hydraulic brakes?
Old 11-07-2003, 12:51 PM
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Default RE: Towing a Trailer

Either would be fine but, electrics are a lot cheaper and easier.
Old 11-07-2003, 02:15 PM
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Default RE: Towing a Trailer

I had a 5x8 trailer that I bought in Ceder Rapids IA and hauled to Seattle with a Nissan small truck with a 4 cylinder engine. I then hauled the trailer to Fla by way of Penna and then back to Seattle by way of AZ. With the wind aginst me I could barely make 60mph but the truck did not overheat. The trailer had leaf springs and rode a lot better if it was loaded down. It would bounce around a bit if it just had models in it
Old 11-08-2003, 01:45 PM
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Default RE: Towing a Trailer

Hello Hub:

Maybe I can help you. I was a Mopar technician for 17 years. The thing about a Voyager/Caravan is they do not like a lot of weight on the tail. You must keep the tounge weight down. I will guess around 400 pounds or less. I think 200 is a better guess.These are guesstimates. You will have to play with them. I am not sure but load leveling bars would probably allow higher weights. Ask some one at a U-haul or similar place. I am not real familiar with them. I do know they will allow a heavyer than normal load.

You must put electric trailer brakes on them. The standard brakes are ok for flat areas and slow speeds. But highway 55 and up speeds you will quickly overheat them. An electronic controller are easy to install. I believe that Teconsha(?) makes a small one. Check with a dealer many times they have access to easy to install aftermarket parts that are designed to fit your vehicle. They have harnesses and brackets ect. that would make the job easy. And prices are reasonable.

The other thing you must do is to look at the transmission. With the 3.3 and 3.8 you can only get the A-604 (or as they now say 41TE). It is very sensative to heat and the condition of the trans fluid. You can damage them easily if you are not careful. I know I rebuilt or replaced over 1000 of the things. I am not trying to scare you. Many of these were abuse or neglect. A few were parts defects. Now to tow with you MUST put an auxillury trans cooler. Transdapt and other manufactuers sell kits. Again check your dealer. They should have a direct fit kit in thier accessory cataloge. Install the cooler and if the vehicle is used you may want to look at servicing the transmission. Here I will warn all Mopar owners. The fluid in the transmission is NOT DEXRON! you must use the proper fluid. Up until around 1998 (where a mid year change occured) the transmissions used type 7176 fluid. It is marked as ATF+3 in the stores. after 99 as I recall they went to a 91?? ( I forget the number) or ATF+4 fluid. You can retrofit +4 into a +3 car! The proper type fluid is stamped into the transmission dip stick.

With these mods a minivan will do a very good job of towing a trailer. I appologize for the long post. There is an awful lot more info to this. If anyone has any spacific questions please start a new thread and ask for me by name. I will see it and answer any question. If you have questions on different makes or models go right ahead and ask. If I don't know I darn sure have the connections to find out.

Mark Shuman
Old 11-08-2003, 01:52 PM
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Default RE: Towing a Trailer

Hello Mike:

In a word Yup. The grand will tow your trailer just fine. Just make sure that your trans fluid is in good shape. If it has been in there for more than 30,000 miles have the trans serviced and the bands adjusted. I would suggest an auxillury transmission cooler as well. With the 6 banger don't forget the lever on the column. It can help to save you greef. Do not lug it too much. if it seems that you are struggling on the highway pull it out of OD and back to 3rd gear. It will not hurt anything and keep the transmision from overheating. Go for it and have fun.

Mark Shuman
Old 11-08-2003, 02:02 PM
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Default RE: Towing a Trailer

Hello again:

Finally a thread here I can help with. I am a 20yr auto technitian vet. The one thing that I will stress to anyone who has an automatic transmiossion and tows. Heat is the enemy! Transmission fluid condition is paramount. Make sure you fluid is in good condition. Most fluids are only good for 30,00 miles. General Motors products especially. They use Dexron type fluid. It is good stuff but does not like to be misstreated.

Transmission auxillury coolers are highly reccomended. Especially for front wheel drive cars. Most trucks are ok as they come from the factory. But an aux coller won't hurt.

And last but not least. With an automatic use the shift lever. If you lug a vehicle in 4th gear with the torque converter locked up you can easily overheat the trans. Either by switching off Od or by pulling the lever into 3rd gear or both you can keep your transmission cool and happy.

As before if anyone has questions on anything related to this topic. Just start a new thread in here and call me out by name I an here a lot and can answer your questions.

Mark Shuman
Old 11-08-2003, 06:42 PM
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Mike3579
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Default RE: Towing a Trailer

Hello Mark

My Jeep has 113.000 miles on it I bought it with 20,000 and I never chemged the fluid in the trans[:@] Should I change it now? Or is it to late. It still shifts like it did new and seems fine please let me know what you think.
Old 11-09-2003, 12:36 PM
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Default RE: Towing a Trailer

Hello Mike:

Yes go ahead and change it and put a new filter in too. I would suggest something. Drop the pan on the trans and drain the fluid. Then replace the filter and reinstall the pan with the old gasket. Fill the trans back up and start it up in park. set the level to proper level. Take the Jeep out and drive it around town for around 5 miles or so. Bring it back in and drain the fluid out again. Put the new pan gasket on and torque the pan nuts to around 105 inch pounds. If you do not have a inch pound wrench just torqu them tight with just the head of the ratcher sticking out of your hand.

At the milage you are at the fluid is pretty tired. This is a TSB (technical service bulletin) that Mopar came out with to help chattering transaxles on upshifts. It works wonders on other transes too. It would cost you over 75 bucks to have it done at a shop with a flush machine. It will replace around 80% of the old stuff.

Being as you said she shifts fine now your trannie sounds like she is in good shape. The fluid change is very cheap insurance. And as I said fluids take a beating towing. Best to have good fluid in there. I would reccomend using a good brand of fluid. I use Castrol or Valvoline if I can Texaco If not. Be sure to check the dipstick for the proper stuff. Some Jeeps used different fluids. Use whatever the dip stick reccomends. If you have questions start a thread looking for me and I'll get an answer for you. Best of luck.

Mark Shuman
Old 11-15-2003, 07:46 PM
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Hubb
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Default RE: Towing a Trailer

I just noticed the new replies to this old thread. Since I posted the original question I have since dropped BOTH the GMC pickup and the Grand Caravan! we picked up a '03 Cavalier (not much of an airplaine hauler) in Aug and just recently picked up a '01 Chevy Blazer. funny is the fact that I STILL do not own a trailer yet, but now I am all but commited . I appreciate all the feedback to the original question and just decided to go this route instead. so....

to start another round of questions or comments: should I still opt for a trailer with brakes? I really dont want anything bigger than a 6x10 (a 5 x 10 if I can find one). the Blazer has a 4.3 v6 and rated at 5500 lbs. also, at a local RV show a new breed of camper trailers cought my eye too [8D]. they are a hybrid of a travel trailer and a pop up trailer. the two models I am looking at are 4500 lbs and 4900 lbs. just on the rated limit for the Blazer. any thoughts from you guys? also should I still follow the transmision fluid change sugestion even if I only tow the 6x 10?

thanks for the good reading

Hubb
Old 11-15-2003, 09:16 PM
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Default RE: Towing a Trailer

Mike3579, I pull a 23' boat with my Cherokee Sport 4.0. Yes it has a nice pointy bow that cuts the wind well, but at a weight of 4900lbs total, I'm at the limits! Towing in 90deg+ heat with the air on and no problems. If you don't have the towing package, get the coolers and install them (including the engine oil cooler). Oil pressure is very heat sensitive in the 4.0, keeping the oil cool will make your engine much happier too. Don't believe the gauges on the dash, the stickers and pointers don't line up properly. I mounted better after market units under the dash. I also opened up the airbox inlet and added a Tornado in the air hose. I plan on replacing the stock muffler with a better flowing one very soon.
Old 11-15-2003, 09:26 PM
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Default RE: Towing a Trailer

I would deffinately get the trailer brakes it is really nice to have especially depending on the weather, Traffic and road conditions. When people see you have a trailer or not they can pull out infront of you or whip over in traffic and the traffic is coming to a halt and the brakes can be a real life saver and also they help take some of the strain off of your tow vehicle brakes. Also do not forget about the drag so remember to get a v nose or the cap for wind deflection it will help even if you are using a blazer to tow it with.

Steve

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