2012 Dodge Grand Caravan Crew and 10 feet popup trailer

Discussion in 'Tow Vehicles, Hitch & Towing' started by Chris_V, Dec 16, 2016.

  1. Chris_V

    Chris_V New Member

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    Since a couple of years, my wife and I had rediscovered the fun of camping and the National Parks Campgrounds.

    Now that we are grand parents..., we want to buy a popup camping trailer, for a bit more comfort.
    We are completely new to this.
    We will probably go with a second hand, 10 feet of floor model.

    I want to buy it soon in the spring time (april), and by mid-may we will be heading toward Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico, for one month. From Quebec (Canada) that will be a long long trip.

    I'm looking for someone's advice on the popup trailer size and weight with a Grand Caravan as a towing vehicule.
    The newer generation of grand caravan (like mine, a 2012) are rated for 3600 lbs / 360 lbs.

    My crew edition has the :
    Heavy Duty Transmission Oil Cooler
    Heavy Duty Engine Cooling
    Heavy Duty Radiator
    730-Amp Maintenance-Free Battery
    160-Amp Alternator.
    and so on...

    It is powered by the famous Pentastar 3.6 V6, with a 6 gear transmission.
    It is an automatic transmission, but we can also manually select the gear.

    I also have the Hitch installed from the previous owner.

    I don't want to get into trouble on the road. So any advice on accessories, weight, size or anything would be appreciated and welcome.

    My main concern right now is, does a 10 feet popup is a bit too much for such a long trip behing the Grand Caravan ?
    But, comparing the weight, I notice that the smaller 8 feet, is only about 200 lbs less.


    Thanks

    Chris
     
  2. tzmartin

    tzmartin Well-Known Member

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    Lots of opinions on this site about towing. Mine is that you will be fine. When buying look on the actual pup for the weight, don't trust the salesperson's opinion. Always check your loaded weight at a CAT scale or some other truck weighing place. If you're sagging (doubtful with a 10ft pup), then use a weight distribution hitch. Pack carefully so the load doesn't exceed your gross vehicle weight.
     
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  3. Snow

    Snow Well-Known Member

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    To know for sure what weight you can tow, take the vans VIN into any Chrysler/Dodge dealer and have them check it on the computer and they can tell you exactly what you can tow weight wise.. You can even call the Canadian Corporate office and have them check it..

    Once you know what you can tow then you can start the process of looking, make sure you use the GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) of any trailer your going to look at, DO NOT use the dry weight.
     
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  4. Jughed

    Jughed Member

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    Brake controller, anti sway bar and possibly weight distribution/air bags would be good additions. Brake controller is a must for where you are planning to go.

    Towing is one thing, towing in the Rockies is another... I've done it with my truck, and wouldn't want to do it with a Mini Van or non truck based SUV, but that is just my opinion/preference.
     
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  5. CamperMike

    CamperMike Member

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    The Pentastar equipped Town and Country and Grand Caravan make good tow vehicles. They have the HD cooling standard (trans cooler, HD radiator, oil cooler, etc) and that's why they're rated for 3500lbs whether they had the tow pkg or not. With yours though, I am curious if the hitch is factory or aftermarket? If yours had the towing package, you would have one advantage over most of us in that the tow package included a self-leveling rear suspension. If you don't have the tow package, air bags or the Timbren SES system will be helpful to minimize rear end sag. As others have already suggested, a brake controller is a must unless you end up buying a popup with surge brakes (rare, but some Jaycos have them - mine does).
     
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  6. JimmyM

    JimmyM Well-Known Member

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    Weight distribution is a must in my opinion. Both steering and power are applied with the very wheels that are being unloaded by weight on the hitch. I've rented Caravans with the Pentstar. It is easy to light up the front tires without a trailer. Torquey V-6.
     
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  7. sierrapup

    sierrapup Active Member

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    should be no problem. myself I would go for the 10 ft. , just make sure the wheel bearings are packed and the brakes work as advertised, also consider the weight of the gear you are taking. air bags do a nice job of re-distributing control
     
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  8. Ryanm

    Ryanm Member

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    Equalizer bars, brake controller and sway bar for a 10' trailer? [LOL]

    Our 2007 Jay 1006 is over 16' long and we load it and our 2011 Grand Caravan full. No problems in 5 years of hauling it through the White & Green Mountains.
     
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  9. Halford

    Halford Well-Known Member

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    Find a popup yet?

    Coleman popups are good and watch for the ABS roof. Mine has NO CRACKS as of now... Keep in mind that it is a bit harder to find parts for Coleman popups. The 10 ft box tend to go up to 3500 lbs fully loaded which leaves 100 lbs for you.
     
  10. Genie2010

    Genie2010 Active Member

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    ...I was gonna say! I pulled a 10ft with a Toyota Rav 4 lol. Heck, I pull my 16ft hybrid without sway bars/weight distribution. (Not suggesting anyone else do so- just my experience!)
     
  11. p

    p Active Member

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    I have what you want to have.

    2012, Caravan, with 10 foot Rockwood Preimere 92005 model) for past 3 years
    two kids, wife
    Towed to Vancouver Island from Calgary and back.
    No issues.
    -after market hitch and break controller

    Recommendations:
    -Transmission fluid flush every two years
    -trailer with electric breaks
    -loaded trailer not to exceed 2100 lbs.
    -don't exceed 250 lb trailer hitch weight (I have minor sag since I did)
    -you can get airbags...but they have to be professionally installed (I have not)
    -some tent trailers can't handle a weight distribution hitch (call manufacturer...mine couldn't)
    -pack items in back of trailer to decrease tongue weight.
    -repack trailer bearings ever 2nd year
    -purchase trailer used (I did with kijij)
    -Ask for advice here..I did and discovered I have zerk points to grease every season...who knew?)
    -if you can do an 8 foot trailer...do it. It is lighter and who wants to spend all the time in the trailer anyhow?
    -forget about bringing bikes unless they are on the roof of the trailer

    Pulling over the mountains I still got great mileage. Just go slow in set up and take down. It's too easy to mess something up and they are breakable and $$$.
     
  12. CamperMike

    CamperMike Member

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    No they don't. Most are under 3K GVWR. Heck my 12' has a 2950 GVWR meaning it better be under 3K loaded or else the trailer itself is overloaded. Realistically, most 10' trailers will be less than that when loaded. 10' trailer, at least the right 10' trailer should easily be towed safely by the OP's van.
     
  13. fastdixie

    fastdixie Member

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    I have an 8ft trailer weight about #1000, with 2001 grand caravan and 3.0L. We keep up with most traffic in the Rockies. I watch my brakes for overheating by braking harder but less frequently. We overheat brakes when we ride them with light pressure for longer periods. You've got a great TV there.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  14. campfreak

    campfreak Active Member

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    I think the OP is talking about a 10' box, which would make it about the same as yours. Plus he is an admitted newbie who is talking about traveling in the Rockies, not New England. Don't laugh at him for looking for safety info.
     
  15. Hersbird

    Hersbird Member

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    It's not really a self leveling suspension as in something like with air bags. It just has a fancier strut with a progressive spring. Aftermarket Timbren stops will do the same thing probably better and you can put them in yourself in a few minutes.
    http://www.etrailer.com/susp-2012_Chrysler_Town+and+Country.htm
     
  16. CamperMike

    CamperMike Member

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    The self-leveling system is not exactly what you said... It is specialized shocks in the rear and is somewhat of a self-leveling system. It will initially compress quite a bit, but after a very short amount of driving will level itself back out. I would prefer it over the Timbren system if buying/ordering new from the factory, but it is rediculously expensive to retrofit. if you don't already have the tow package the Timbren system is great. As my van did not have factory tow, I installed the Timbren system and have been very pleased with it.
     
  17. Lakesider

    Lakesider New Member

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    Chris,
    I'm late to this one, but I thought my config is really close to what you are considering.

    I have a 2015 T&C towing a Flagstaff 220BHSE. I live in Colorado. I've been up and down several of the passes out here with no problems. I do load the trailer as close to max as I can in lieu of loading my T&C. In fact, just yesterday my family of 5 just got back from a 2000+ mile round trip pulling a 2300# brakeless UHaul full of gifts; I averaged 21.1 MPG @61MPH. Here are some lessons I've learned while towing with the T&C:

    • The 2015 - no factory spare tire (prep accordingly - one summer/winter tire on the trailer)
    • Drive the tachometer and not the speedometer: keep between 2500~3200 RPM
    • Keep transmission in 5th manual - this prevents gear seeking.
    • I use the phone app "Torque" and a bluetooth OBDII sender unit (amazon) to monitor engine/trans while pulling. HOWEVER, over time I have found that the real-time MPG efficiency gauge gives a good estimate the torque (e.g. heat) on the transmission: on uphill grades @ <2000 RPM, keep the MPG meter >10MPG; else, you need to downshift.
    • Engine brake as much as possible. My 2015 transmission will govern to engine red line (I found this out by accident).
    • WDH is not required; IMO, too much added weight for too small a load
    • Put 10+ lbs of air in the rear tires (or max to tire manufacturer spec)
    • A set of front tire chains came in handy driving up the Mogollon Rim yesterday (didn't have my snow tires on)
    My rig is 1k+ lbs more than what you are considering. I know there are a lot of opinions out there on this sort of thing; based on what you are describing, I don't believe you will have any problems whatsoever. The T&C/Caravan is a pretty well-built and versatile vehicle.

    P.S. My other vehicle is a F350 7.3L SRW
     
  18. mickaqua

    mickaqua Member

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    I put Monroe Sensatrac rear shocks on my '13 Grand Caravan, and they work great for towing and load handling. :)

    Can't beat it! [:D]
     
  19. Chris_V

    Chris_V New Member

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    Hey hey ! Thank you everyone for all your info. I came back around christmas time to read all your replies, but with the christmas rush, I promise myself to come back later to give you a follow up. Sorry it took me so long.

    All your replies gave me more confidence in the towing capabilities of my 2012 Grand Caravan.
    And I want to really thank you all for the time that you took for me. It is really appreciated.

    Finally, it turns out that I did not have the Towing Package on my Grand Caravan, and this was confirmed, by the dealer, using the VIN. The "bad" news is that the "towing package" cannot be added or installed by the dealer. It is only something that comes from the Chrysler factory. And they couldn't tell me what does the Towing package really includes, nor what is the towing capacity of my Grand Caravan without the Towing Package. Hey, what kind of dealer is that ! Does he knows anything about the product he sells. Hi, hi.

    Anyway, all this to say that I found more helpfull information here. ;-)

    So, yes, even without the Towing Package, my GC will be OK. I visually confirmed that it has the oil cooling radiator, probably from transmission. I will have my mechanic have a look on this. Anyway all your comments says that I shouldn't worry in my case. It is also a question of common sense I think. I mean, I will go a bit slower and will keep an eye on the engine temperature. If it is rated for 3500 with Towing package I dond't see why it should be a problem with 2000 lbs witout the tow package. It is a 3.6 engine after all, with 6 speed transmission and 280 HP.

    I went to a local garage to have the electric brake controller installed.

    We are now in april, and we just bought, yesterday, our popup trailer. :) Yeeeheee !
    We finally took a 2017 Rockwood model 1980, wich is the same model than the famous Flagstaff 208.
    It has a 10' box, and an empty weights of 1890 lbs.

    In about ten days, our popup will be ready, and it is only then that we will see how low the bumper goes.
    But with a weight of only 250 lbs on the hitch, it is really not much.

    I will remove the 3rd row of seats in the grand Caravan, and one of the 2 seats of the second row. This will remove 186 lbs from our towing vehicule.

    In 4 weeks, it will be from Montreal - across Ontario, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Kansas and back to Montreal.
    We will travel a bit more than 5 000 miles in 5 weeks. We will try to spend most of the time in Arizona, Utah and Colorado. Otherwise, we will just go thru the other states, without loosing too much time here and there. Our reservation are made in national parks campground and in various KOA.

    Still have a lot to plan though.

    Chris.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2017

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