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Old 04-17-2011, 01:52 PM   #1
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Towing with a Minivan

My wife and I bought a 17z and have ford freestar. After much reading and researching we decided to trade in our pup and buy the 17z this year and upgrade our tow vehicle at the end of next summer. We recently repaired our van so that we could tow the trailer for 1.5 years. We are only planning to tow close to home since our kids are young. We know that it is not the best choice but did not really understand why?

Today I went to get our pup from my parents house. The trailer is on an upward slope on the grass at the side of the house. The snow has just melted so the ground is really soft. I hooked up with the van and went to pull it out but my front tires just kept spinning. I unhooked and almost did not get the mini van out. It was covered in mud. I called the neighbour who had a pick up. Using 4 wheel drive on low he did not even make a mark on the grass. Pulled it out like nothing.

Today I had my real lesson on proper tow vehicles and the importance of rear wheel or all wheel drive. I don't even have the 17z yet which is alot heavier. I still have to experience pulling with the full find resistance of a full trailer.

I am looking forward to getting that new tow vehicle more then ever.

Thanks to everyone for all the advice and help.
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Old 04-17-2011, 06:06 PM   #2
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I wouldn't necessarily say that its a FWD problem, as much as a loading problem. I have a FWD Chevrolet Traverse, and tow our Jayco 213 with no issues. The key is the WD hitch that I have. It transfers a lot of weight from the rear axle to the front axle. I have excellent traction. I would definitely consider a WD hitch for your 17z.
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Old 04-18-2011, 12:17 AM   #3
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With the trailer weight on the rear of your van the front wheels were unweighted. With a light front you not only lose traction but also steering and brakeing ability. I would guess that a weight distrubiting hitch would help.
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Old 04-18-2011, 05:19 AM   #4
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Thanks. I bought a weight distribution hitch for and sway control for the new trailer. Reese I think? I pick it up tomorrow.
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Old 04-18-2011, 09:38 AM   #5
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Hi bertscampers.

If wondering, RWD vans can also get stuck on wet grass as well. Especially if the PU / TT has been sitting on softer grass and its tires have sunk in. Even sinking in 1/2" can make a RWD vehicle spin their tires. And, instantly get stuck. Been there several times - even with RWD vehicles.

For your ex-PU (now upgraded to small TT), I would recommend parking on hard boards. During storage, I hear its best to park on wood. And if possible, put large patio stone under the wood boards as well. Thus, making its wheel contact area even more firm.

To view the trailer pad for my previous 19ft TT, surf:
http://i178.photobucket.com/albums/w...ge-Padcopy.jpg
http://i178.photobucket.com/albums/w...ront-2copy.jpg
http://i178.photobucket.com/albums/w...ront-1copy.jpg

Even with a parking pad, I had to pick optiminal times when to back our TT across our home's front lawn. Too soft and the TT tires sink in (cutting the sod like a knife). When firm but grass was too wet (re: during morning dew), my Safari van's Rear Wheels would spin.

At my seasonal camp site, I sometimes pull a boat up the cement ramp. A steep ramp but being on hard cement, my FWD mini-van does it (without spinning). But, if my front wheels get on soft ground or wet grass, they loose traction. Thus, I pick my time of day to drive across wet grass. It's true that AWD & 4x4s have little to no problems driving across wet grass. But with mini-FWD vans, its unfortunately that one must pick the ground conditions... Or, park the PU/TT on wide boards - to get some initial movement in your first towing pull...


For mini-van and TT, I'd recommend a WDS (Weight Distribution System) like Reese brand as well. If possible, get a WDS with dual sway control as well. Especially for short Wheel Based Tow Vehicles - like mini-vans and future Ford Explorer vehicles.

Hope this helps....


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Old 04-18-2011, 11:58 PM   #6
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Good post Spike99.
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Old 04-19-2011, 12:36 PM   #7
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Since you are on S Ontario go talk to Andy Thompson at the Can-Am RV center. WWW.CamAmRV.ca On highway 4 between 401 and 402 London. Andy LIVES for hitching up to stuff you would not think should tow. eg a Jetta TDI and a 16' Airstream..
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