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Old 08-02-2022, 03:43 PM   #1
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Question Dodge Grand Caravan: Towing a Jay Feather?

Hello Campers,

My 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan's manual states that its tow capacity ranges between 3,000 pounds (if 7 passengers) and 3,600 pounds (if 2 passengers). However, somebody told me that this was the "best-case-scenario" only if you have a "tow package" installed. I got an after-market hitch and break-controller installed already - isn't that all a "tow package" entails? Is there anything else I need to be aware of? (e.g., engine/transmission modifications)?

Ultimately, I'm just looking to buy a light hybrid trailer (e.g., a Jay Feather or equivalent) that's around 2,600 pounds, which in theory should still leave me adequate room for accessories/cargo/fluids (i.e., I calculate up to 400 pounds if 7 passengers, or up to 1,000 pounds if 2 passengers). From your interpretation and experience, could my minivan do the job as-is? If not, what do you recommend?

Craig
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Old 08-02-2022, 05:08 PM   #2
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I think a tow package usually also includes a stronger alternator and transmission cooling.
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Old 08-02-2022, 05:33 PM   #3
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According to the web, the tow package " includes a Class II receiver hitch, a load-leveling and height-control suspension, and the average four-pin connector wiring harness for the trailer."
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Old 08-02-2022, 05:51 PM   #4
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Payload of the tow vehicle rules.
What does your door sticker say?
Payload includes the weight of everything carried in the tow vehicle and also the tongue weight which should be 12-15 percent of the weight of the trailer .

This is just a start and I bet that you are over the payload limit already if you really will have 7 passengers. Perhaps even with two depending on what else will be in the minivan. Fuel counts.

Seeing you in the Edmonton area I am betting you will be heading for the mountains.. I would stick to a pop up or get a truck.
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Old 08-02-2022, 05:52 PM   #5
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Not trying to negative or change your mind in any way but the amount of strain you would be putting on your transmission, engine, alternator, drive axles, etc for me wouldn't be worth it. This isn't something I would consider.
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Old 08-02-2022, 06:07 PM   #6
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There are actually quite a few people over on the Airstream forum that are towing with all varieties of minivans. So, it is certainly possible within the limits of the vehicle.

Even though you a researching this topic related to Jayco trailers, I recommend jumping over to airforums.com and do some research in their towing, tow vehicles, and hitches section of the forum. You can find it at the following link

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f238/

It is an RV Life forum like this one. So, you should be able to log in using your current login credentials. Let me know if you have any issues and I can help you through the process.
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Old 08-03-2022, 09:17 AM   #7
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This is a long one, please bear with me to the end and do the homework.

“What can I tow?” seems like a simple question but honestly the answer gets complex pretty quick. It’s basically adhering to a the least of the maximums when looking at all of the ratings on the tow vehicle.

It starts with some homework. You need to load the truck up like you’re camping and take it to a truck stop to weigh it. It costs about $12 and is more intimidating than it is hard. You’ll want to make sure your truck window lines up with the call box. It can be a stretch to reach the call button OR you can use an app called “Weigh My Truck”.

Once you weigh, you can start to do some calculations:

1, take your truck’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) minus the loaded truck weight

2, take your truck’s rear gross axles weight rating (GAWR/RAWR) minus the rear axle weight

3, take the weight carrying capacity of the rear tires and add them together

4, subtract the sum of #3 minus the rear axle weight

These numbers are basically what you can start to see how much capacity your truck has for carrying tongue weight from the trailer.

Once you figure out how much your truck can carry, it’s a good idea to make sure that you’re within the truck’s actual tow rating. This isn’t the advertised number as that is defined with a 150 pound driver, 150 pound passenger, and 100 lbs for “towing equipment” but nothing else in the vehicle. You need to check the owner’s manual for the gross combined weight rating (GCWR). You’ll take the GCWR minus the loaded truck weight from your trip to the scales. This tells you the maximum loaded trailer weight that you can pull.

Next thing is going to be on the hitch itself or in your owner’s manual. This is going to describe the maximum tongue weight rating with and without a weight distributing hitch.

Now, you shouldn’t use the dry advertised weights. Your trailer literally is never that weight from the moment it leaves the factory. The dry weight is calculated with no battery and often without propane in the tanks.

So, what do you do? You need to use a tool to estimate the loaded tongue weight by extrapolating from the dry weights:

Estimating Tongue/Pin Weight from Dry Weights - TowingPlanner
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Old 08-04-2022, 03:51 PM   #8
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Hello again all, and thanks for your generosity with your detailed responses.

FYI, and to perhaps assist others reading this thread in the future...

Today I phoned the mechanic shop which installed my after-market hitch and break-controller. Seems you were right regarding the tow "package" - but the good news is that I should be pretty-much good to go anyway. My mechanic looked up my 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan's VIN/serial number, and was advised by a Dodge dealership that all Grand Caravan's have come standard with the transmission cooler some of you referenced for many years. Therefore, that, along with what my mechanic did previously, should suffice to tow the kind of 2,600ish pound trailer I'm considering - given that the minivan can tow between 3,000 and 3,600 pounds depending on number of passengers/cargo in the minivan itself. The mechanic also strongly recommended a weight distribution hitch, and (since I'll be towing close to the max), keep my speeds below 100 km/h, don't be in a rush on steep inclines, and when needed force the automatic 'drive' setting to manually limit it to 5th (not 6th) gear maximum. Those things, plus keeping gear to a minimum (and ideally heavier items placed in the minivan, not the trailer where feasible) should do the trick - as ependydad implies (and I did play with that calculator, thanks)! Ultimately, I can always try things out, and stick closer to home (Edmonton, Alberta) where it's very flat, before venturing further afield to the Rockies. If I need to upgrade the minivan later, so be it. Thanks again everyone for your input.
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Old 08-04-2022, 05:00 PM   #9
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Perhaps you are right that your minivan is adequate, and if so, great! But I read from your post that you havenít really determined your RVís payload or what tongue weight and cargo load youíll be carrying. As has been said, tow capacity is not you biggest concern. Keeping speeds down, staying out of OD etc is fine but doesnít really have any bearing on your payload capacity. And I donít think packing heavier items in the minivan instead of the trailer is your solution. Short trips on flat terrain may prevent any catastrophes but you canít ensure youíll never encounter an obstacle, sudden winds, or other unexpected event.

I donít mean to rain on your parade and I hope it all works out for you. But your safety, and that of others, is most important. Good luck!
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