Towing a 2002 Coleman Sea Pine w 2013 Town & Country

Discussion in 'Camper Pre-Purchase Questions' started by MovingTarget, Jun 6, 2019.

  1. MovingTarget

    MovingTarget New Member

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    I'm new to this, so please be kind :)

    I am looking at purchasing a 2002 Coleman Sea Pine popup and was hoping to get some help determining if I could safely tow it with our 2013 Town & Country. The van currently does NOT have a hitch and I will need to install one. I'm trying to determine if, once that is done, it is safe for me to tow the camper, and if so, were there recommended things I should look for (trailer brakes, etc).

    I did do some research and according to the manual, the Sea Pine has a 350lb tongue weight rating, but when I look at the specs for my van, I really don't understand what I see. The max tongue weight is listed anywhere from 300-360 lbs. Is the tongue weight of the trailer simply the weight at max capacity - or in other words, if I don't try to pack my trailer to capacity, I should be good to go.

    Thanks for any help!
     
  2. Eric Webber

    Eric Webber Active Member

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    If you have the trailer completely empty, with whatever configuration they used to arrive at the starting tongue weight, that’s what it would be. After that, think of a see saw. Every pound you add behind the axle is removing some tongue weight. Every pound you add forward of the axle adds some. The further from the axle, the more extreme the impact. 50 lbs, six inches in front of the axle might put 49.5 on the axle and half a pound on the ball while that same 50 might put 49 on the ball if set up on the tongue

    There are two constraints to keep in mind - you need to be under the upper limit of your tow vehicle hitch, and you want probably 10% of the total weight of the trailer on your ball. Europeans recommend 6-8% minimum (but they have low speed limits when towing) while North America tends to favour 10-15% minimum. Either way, heavier is better, up to the limit of the tow vehicle
     
  3. MovingTarget

    MovingTarget New Member

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    After doing some additional digging, from what I can see, the trailer has an unloaded tongue weight of 175lb. It sounds like my tow vehicle should be fine then as long as I don't go crazy when loading. I suppose the smartest thing to do would be to find a public scale around here somewhere and load up as if we were going on a trip to see what I weigh in at.
     
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  4. Eric Webber

    Eric Webber Active Member

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    That or get a tongue scale. Mine is only accurate to +/- 10lbs but it was only $30 and that’s close enough for me.

    I actually weigh my tongue down intentionally because of weight added to my back bumper. I prefer external storage since it has less impact on setup and takedown than putting things on the floor that I have to move to temporary spots
     
  5. MovingTarget

    MovingTarget New Member

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    Nice - I learned something new - a tongue scale is a thing. Will have to start looking at Amazon for one if I end up picking up this camper. We will be checking out the trailer tonight to make a final decision.
     
  6. gec66

    gec66 Member

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    I highly recommend adding a transmission cooler and switching the transmission fluid to synthetic. Towing adds a lot of stress to the transmission/
     
  7. Eric Webber

    Eric Webber Active Member

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    When my Coleman Santa Fe was new, and belonged to my parents, they towed it with a 1995 and then a 2001 Dodge Caravan. You should be just fine
     
  8. BigAl

    BigAl Member

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    I have a 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan and it pulls my Dutchmen fine - per the NADA guide my camper is 100 pounds less than yours. Just don't go nuts; you definitely know you're pulling a trailer behind you. Watch the loading like Eric said above, keep the transmission in 5th gear (not OD), and don't plan on doing 80 MPH on the highway.
     
  9. MovingTarget

    MovingTarget New Member

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    Everyone - thank you for your inputs. After all of the positive information, I went ahead and decided to buy the camper last night. Now I just need to get a hitch, wiring & transmission cooler installed so we can go on a trip!
     
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  10. BigAl

    BigAl Member

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    Etrailer has been great for me; I've bought hitches and wiring for my past 3 vehicles from there and they have great service, prices and tips. I installed 2 of the 3 myself; I didn't install the Caravan because I snapped off 2 bolts trying to get the factory bumper off and decided I didn't want to risk snapping off the rest and then needing to drill out and retap all those. Their instructions and videos are very helpful.
     
  11. WrkrBee

    WrkrBee Well-Known Member

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    Use a bathroom scale. Put a piece of wood on it to spread the load, a chunk of wood to set the tongue on, zero it, and lower the tongue on to the wood.
     
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  12. Shaman1

    Shaman1 Well-Known Member

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    Most U-Haul dealers and any hitch place can get you set up in a day. The brake controller took me about 30 minutes for my Expedition.
     
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  13. Minimalist

    Minimalist Member

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    Not trying to start an argument, but from all I understand and learned adding tongue weight to compensate for a load added to the rear bumper is not a good idea. You are increasing your potential for sway. Proper loading is key and most weight should be as close to the axle as possible. Rule of thumb is the less tongue weight the slower you should go.
     
  14. PaThacker

    PaThacker Well-Known Member

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    30 minutes on a truck that can tow up to 9000 pounds properly equipped. Most factory tow vehicles are diy 30 minute installs.
     
  15. Rusty2192

    Rusty2192 Well-Known Member

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    Don't forget a trailer brake controller and 7-way plug and wiring for the van. If the pup doesn’t already have electric brakes, you’ll want to add them. They help out a ton and may be required (check the owners manual for your van to confirm).
     
  16. GreyFox

    GreyFox Well-Known Member

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    Electric brakes became standard on ALL Fleetwood campers for the 2001 model year so the OP's 2002 Sea Pine will have electric brakes.
     
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  17. BillyMc

    BillyMc Well-Known Member

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    Chrysler has been using ATF+4 synthetic since well before 2013.
     
  18. Bigantlers

    Bigantlers Member

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    Don't assume you need the tranny cooler. There are pros and cons which research will show you. Plus your van should have a factory cooler on it already (and many people have plenty to say). I pull mine with a '12 T&C but I do it in NW Ohio flatland. I've only done it for a season but what I found was that any questions I had were not necessarily answered with research but do it anyway. Spend (a lot) of time here seeing what people have to say. My 2 cents are that making sure your TV is properly maintained is what you have to do. Other things you are going to have to make a judgement call.

    Also, did the break controller myself with the kit from e-trailer and it works just fine. Otherwise you need to specify what kind of wiring you want installed when you get the hitch. The shop I went to did not explain the difference between 4-pin, 6-pin and 7-pin.

    Take it slow and try not to worry to much.

    Oh and definitely replace the tires if they are older than 5 years! Blowouts on the turnpike in the middle of the night are no fun!
     
  19. Spridle

    Spridle Active Member

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    My mechanic is very anti cooler unless temps prove there is an issue. He's doesn't say don't do it, he says monitor the temps and if they are high then add. His reasoning is that in his decades in the business, he's seen plenty breakdowns and things blown up from the aftermarket lines blowing out. With that in mind, Have a friend who is a dumbass and has towed load that is probably 6,000# all up and down the east coast with a Chrysler mini van and never had a single issue with the power train. Makes me think they are pretty well cooled from the factory.

    And I couldn't agree more with BigAntlers - no matter how much advice you get here, every situation is unique and you will only figure it out by doing it.
     

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