2007 Dodge Grand Caravan towing a 2004 Coachmen Classic 1270st pop up

Discussion in 'Tow Vehicles, Hitch & Towing' started by Stygshore, Jun 28, 2012.

  1. Stygshore

    Stygshore New Member

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    New Member firt post and yes I already did some searching for my answer...

    I came across a good deal on a 04 Coachment 1270ST Pop Up camper that aside from some minor repairs is in excellent shape and has AC added and some other features I certainly didnt have 30 years ago when my parents owned a pop up camper. It's been suggested to just put it back up for sale, but that will cause my family to be heartbroken not being able to use the "new" camper.

    Now my dilema - The original owner drove a 2005 Grand Caravan with a Class 2 hitch and 3.3 engine -with an electric brake and no tow package. He said they towed this thing for 6 years without any problems, and several of the placed he talked of going were 4+ hours away.

    I drive a 2007 Dodge Grand Caravan with a class 3 hitch and 3.8 engine, getting an electric brake installed and I also do not have a towing package. Looking to do some local camping trips and a long trip to Mackinac this year and I'm worried about causing damamge to the van.

    Looking at the numbers... I'm worried about towing this thing

    GVWR=3300
    UVW=2300
    NCC=1000
    CCC= 775

    Am I reading wrong or is that 3300 lb Max towing capacity rating is needed to tow this pop up camper properly?

    That being said what are my options, do I need to have an aftermarket towing kit installed? Tran cooler, Springs, etc? Or can I use a weight distribution hitch?


    This is my first time having to tow anythine large on this van ( i miss my f-250 ) so any help would be appreciated

    Thanks

    Styg
     
  2. salaryman

    salaryman Member

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    I believe that you are limited to 1500lbs without the trailer package. Big thing that it adds is the Ninovat self adjusting rear shocks.

    Once you do that, you are rated to 3800lbs (less kids, luggage, etc.).

    Transmission cooler would be good as well.
     
  3. gec66

    gec66 Active Member

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    If it was me I would add the trans cooler and use a wdh if the camper is allowed to. Some are not. Check the owners manual. If no wdh add air lift 1000 air shocks and go for it. That is just me though. We just got back from a 5k trip Ohio to California and my Ody has 149k on it. Synthetic trans fluid gives me peace of mind.
     
  4. Stygshore

    Stygshore New Member

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    I called 2 dealerships today and had them look up my Van by VIN, and both of them came back and said with the Class 3 hitch I should be able to tow a 3500lb max.

    One of them told me he did not see the parts needed on the invoice ( used car ) for a towing package but it did show I was able to tow 3500 lbs when he looked me up. I have him checking price on dealer install of leaf springs, trans cooler, and electric brake assembly. Th eother guy matter of factly stated that I could tow 3500 wiht the class 3 hitch on MY Dodge Caravan SXT

    So I'm still a little confused, We have a short trip in 2 weekends scheduled right up the road for it's maiden voyage, and a long trip to Mackinac in the works. I think I will at least get the Trans cooler installed before the long trip. Electric brake is going on the Van tomorrow.

    Will a WDH help me out at all with a Pop Up? I thought those were just for the full sized travel trailers. Odd none of the 11 places I spoke to today mentioned putting a WDH on there.



    So 1 dealer = yes, 1 Dealer = maybe, 2 Auto Service Centers = yes, 2 auto service centers = no, 1 trailer shop = yes, 1 Trailer shops = maybe, 1 trailer shop = no, and 2 RV centers =no
    I got a great deal on the pop up, and we opened it up and cleaned it up real nice, would hate to have to put it back on the chopping block and begin the search again.
     
  5. gec66

    gec66 Active Member

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    What you have is a very unique application for a wdh and not many are familiar with it. Double check the trailer manual for compatibility. I use the Reese 400 single bar for its simple set up and hook up and love it. It makes me able to get the exact right weight distribute to the trailer and both van ales. If not for the wdh I would be over on the rear axle, even if I had air shocks.
     
  6. bruceac1

    bruceac1 Member

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    After reading the last couple of posts I am beginning to wonder about my vehicle and pop up. I have an 87 Palomino hardside that weighs in at about 2500 fully loaded, and I just bought a 2007 Dodge Grand Caravan with the folddown seats and no tow package. Now I am reading I can only tow 1500# with it? Oops. The dealer said I should be able to tow a 2500# pop up without any problems, as soon as I put on a class 2 hitch. Who is right?
    BAC
     
  7. Dust Devil

    Dust Devil Member

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    Best place to check for what you can tow with your Mopar minivan is the owner's manual. My '97 states I can tow up to 2000 lbs. without the tow package and up to 3500 lbs with it. If I remember right, anything over 1500 lbs. should have trailer brakes.

    Considering the reputation of Chysler transmissions, I'd definitely recommend adding a auxiliary transmission fluid cooler if your van doesn't already have one. It's a lot cheaper than getting your transmission rebuilt or replaced.

    Styg, with your heavy trailer, I'd definitely use a Class III hitch. Timbrens are an easily installed option for shoring up the back end, as are load increasing or air shocks. There is an air bag kit out there for the Chrysler minivans. Adding multi-leaf springs would shore up the rear as well, though might stiffen up the ride a bit. Etrailer.com is a good source of info both for parts and installation videos so you know what is involved.

    G, you are probably okay provided you have the transmission cooler and the electric brakes and controller. Again, if your trailer isn't more or less level when hitched up, then you may want to look into some of the options for strengthening the rear.

    Afraid I don't know much about WDH's, but from what I've read, the Reese Mini-350 is usually what is recommended for minivans. Again, etrailer.com can help you with that.

    Since both of you have 4th generation vans, you may want to check if you already have a separate transmission cooler. Older vans like mine have tanks in the side of the radiator (two for heavy duty, one for normal duty), but somewhere around 2001 Chrysler began shortening the a/c condenser(s), which left room for a separate transmission cooler. Here's a thread on a mini-van forum that discusses the transmission cooler coming loose and how to check for it.
     
  8. Stygshore

    Stygshore New Member

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    Per the dealership, I do not have a transmission cooler on my setup - but they were looking for it on the invoice. Is it possible since it became standard it is not even broke out seperately? Will it hurt for me to install another even if there is already one installed? Whats the best configuration for that is I have to install 2 coolers "in line"?

    I got the electric brakes installed on the Van today, gotta hook em up and figure out how to use them this weekend. Trailer is 2300 empty 3300 fully loaded, guessing we will roll out with it closer to 2500-2600 lbs, plus my 3 year old daughter , my wife, an 1. Add in luggage and extras, and I am guessing we are maxed out WITH a tow package.

    Really hoping the dealerships were right when they told me I could do up to 3500 lbs towing by just adding the class 3 hitch with the current configuration of my van.

    The Van sits pretty low with the trailer hooked up when we hauled it home, but part of that may have been becasue I was told I needed a 2 inch drop hitch when in reality a straight hitch would have been better. I turned the ball over on the hitch so its basically a bout a 2 inch rise instead of a drop. I will see if it sits level, otherwise I will just go pick up a straight receiver.

    What are some tell tale signs I am overloaded when I am driving the Van? I have never towed in anything but an F-250 4X4 and that thing made a fully packed 20' Uhaul seem like it wasnt even there.

    Thanks

    Styg

    What do the self leveling shocks usually run for installation? Thats beyond my capabilities for auto maintenance. The Trans cooler, I think I could handle without too much issue aside form the wife yelling at me fo taking off the front of her van :)
     
  9. gec66

    gec66 Active Member

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    The drop or rise on the hitch draw bar has no impact at all on whether or not the rear suspension of the van is overloaded. Based on the numbers you are posting I don't see how you wouldn't be over the max weight on the axle. That is why a wdh is most likely necessary. Even if you change out the shocks to the Monroe coil over load adjusting shocks and it brings the rear up to where it belongs, you may still be putting too much weight on the rest of the components. Remember, the weight rating for the rear (or front) axle is simply the weakest component. The only way to know where you stand for sure is to load it up and head for a scale that is capable of weighing the individual axles. I weighed mine at a CAT scale (truck stop) and found that I had over set the wdh and actually overloaded the front axle, so I made the adjustment and re-weighed.

    The Monroe load adjusting shocks are $120 at Advance Auto. Not sure what a shop would charge for install, but if you are willing to tackle a trans cooler, shocks are no more difficult. The dealer will never find the trans cooler on the invoice. He may be able to find the component code on a build ticket, or a technician can simply look for it. If you know what you are looking for it takes 2 seconds. Take the van to the dealer or a trans shop and ask them to look.
     
  10. cwolfman13

    cwolfman13 Active Member

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    What does your manual say? The manual should list your capacities to include capacities with or without trailer brakes, tow package options, etc. Also, manufacturers come up with their tow capacities differently, and there's usually a formula in the manual to tell you how to calculate your real world towing capacity.

    For example, I have a 1,500 Lb capacity for a trailer with no brakes. That bumps up to 3,500 Lbs if the trailer does have brakes. Bumps up to 4,000 Lbs for a trailer that doesn't go above my roof level or a boat. The formula in my manual for real world tow capacity starts assuming a full load in the TV (GVWR) plus the weight of the trailer and contents of the trailer. In other words, my real world tow capacity truly is what is stated in the manual as the formula starts with the GVWR of the TV itself.

    Tranny coolers are a good option IF you have a higher mileage vehicle and/or one is recommended as part of a factory tow package. I was really worried about this with my TV as there was no factory tow package. I started to look into aftermarket tranny coolers, which they do make for my TV. The guy at Uhaul took a look and told me I had a pretty stout one on there already and should be fine for what I was doing, but he could put a heavier duty one in there if I really wanted it. I almost did it, but decided to consult my parts/service department at the dealership.....I was told that taking such action would completely void my power train warranty of which I still have 40K miles remaining, so we didn't do it.
     
  11. Dust Devil

    Dust Devil Member

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    Here's your 2007 GC tow ratings from Dodge.com:
    http://www.dodge.com/bodybuilder/2007/docs/rs/ti.pdf

    To find out if you have the tranny cooler built in, pull the valance piece that goes over the top of the radiator and the support piece. Look down in front of the radiator. There should be an a/c condensor on the passenger side and a tranny cooler on the driver's side. If in doubt, you should be able to trace the hoses back to the transmission. You probably can add a second cooler, but I'm not sure where you would add one. There isn't a lot of room in there. That is the issue I have with mine. I have two a/c condensors (front and rear) in front of the radiator with no extra space.

    From what I understand, replacing the rear shocks on the GC is pretty easy. Supposedly, it's just put it on jack stands, pull the wheels, unbolt the old ones and bolt in the new ones. Haven't done it myself, but will soon to put in Gabriel air shocks. The Nivomat auto-leveling system that comes with the tow package is pretty expensive. Figure I can level it myself with an air compressor and level.
     
  12. jms336

    jms336 We are there yet!

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    I have a similar pup (Coachmen 1265st) and similar tow vehicle (2005 Honda Odyssey).

    My rig tows very well, but only because I have a WDH. I did tow it a few times without, and it was not fun. Definitely get the WDH. It is night and day. Of course, the electric brakes go without saying.

    These are heavy pups (12-ft box, plus slide out, and a storage trunk. I have no doubt that there is over 400-lbs of tongue weight on mine when fully loaded with LP, battery, trunk, etc... You can tow it but need the right equipment.
     

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