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 Post subject: Can I tow a 21' travel trailer (has dual wheels)
PostPosted: Sun Dec 07, 2008 12:16 am 
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I finally get the smurf thing

Joined: Mon Nov 10, 2008 1:20 am
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with a healthy v6. My van is a little tired now, so would not want to stress it just yet. I think the auto tranny has a 4 spd with OD - i can shift it manually into 3 gears.

If it were in tip top shape, what do you think? what kind of hitch would be needed?

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New owner of a 1996 Astro named "Plain Jane" - stock right now - with 200,000 miles on it and running like a champ


Last edited by pengyou on Fri Dec 12, 2008 11:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Can I tow a 21" travel trailer (has dual wheels)
PostPosted: Sun Dec 07, 2008 12:57 am 
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Joined: Tue Sep 19, 2006 11:50 am
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Location: Plymouth Township, PA
It'll tow it but not well. That size trailer is a bit too big for these vans. I towed one that size a couple years ago a short distance. Wasn't the most enjoyable trip of my life.

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 Post subject: Re: Can I tow a 21" travel trailer (has dual wheels)
PostPosted: Sun Dec 07, 2008 1:11 am 
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I finally get the smurf thing

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Would a full size extended van do the job?

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 Post subject: Re: Can I tow a 21" travel trailer (has dual wheels)
PostPosted: Sun Dec 07, 2008 3:05 am 
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Joined: Sun Sep 10, 2006 2:14 am
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Location: Exeter ON
The issue is not so much the length as the weight. The important numbers are the GVW of the trailer and the tongue weight of the trailer. At that length you will need a class 3 hitch and probably a weight distribution system as well.

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1997 GMC Safari 93000 Kms, RWD, Power Windows and Locks, 7 passenger, a/c, rear heat

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 Post subject: Re: Can I tow a 21" travel trailer (has dual wheels)
PostPosted: Sun Dec 07, 2008 9:54 am 
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I sleep in my van

Joined: Thu Sep 14, 2006 12:46 am
Posts: 863
Location: Vancouver B.C.
I tow a 24 foot 4500lbs travel trailer with my van it isn't fast but it tows it just fine. With a 3:73 rear end and a good trans cooler you can tow a rated 6000lbs with the 3:43 the vans are rated at 5000lbs the max tounge weight is 700lbs. But use a good weight distributing hitch as it will stop the van from getting the bouncies if you hit a dip in the road.

I usually tow at around 55mph-60mph. remember tow in drive not overdrive or if your van is newer use the number three position this will stop it from going into overdrive and slipping the convertor and overheating the trans.

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trailer tow pack with a 3:73 posi
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 Post subject: Re: Can I tow a 21" travel trailer (has dual wheels)
PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 4:14 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 19, 2007 10:07 pm
Posts: 669
Location: Mission Viejo, CA
My set-up could handle it. Like mentioned, add a trans cooler and a class 5 hitch. You'll also need rear air bags to help level it. See my sig for specifics.

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2" Overland lift & 16" BFG Terrain/aluminum rims, 3.73 gears
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Edelbrock shocks, rear AirLift bags & sway bar
iPOD, CD, DVD, Dutch door mounted 12s, 400w
Draw-Tite Dual Port Hitch System, hitch-mounted bike rack (4), hitch-mounted cargo tray, Thule roof-mounted cargo box


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 Post subject: Re: Can I tow a 21" travel trailer (has dual wheels)
PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 6:56 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2008 4:15 pm
Posts: 597
Location: Janesville, Wis
One more thing. The trailer should have good brakes because the Astro/Safari sure doesn't.

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'03 Red LT AWD Astro. Didn't buy it to keep but after driving it, I think I may
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Impossible is just a degree of difficulty....


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 Post subject: Re: Can I tow a 21" travel trailer (has dual wheels)
PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2008 4:36 am 
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I finally get the smurf thing

Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2007 8:58 pm
Posts: 118
Location: North of America
.

V6 4.3L A/S towing a 21' Travel Trailer? Assume TT at 4,200-4,500 "empty" lbs...

With empty vehicle and empty Travel Trailer with "low" wind drag on flat roads, the van will pull it. She won't be the fasted vehicle on the road but under 55 mph, she will pull it. I used to pull a 4,200 lbs "empty" 19ft TT (2 x axles) for 1.5 years - before blowing a tranny in my van.

"Towing Stress" is added when:
- More passenger & cargo weight is added into the van.
- More cargo weight is added into the trailer.
- More hills - especially steep hills (even pulling in "D" gear).
- More head wind.
- High "wind wall" profile TT.
- Faster ground speed. When towing, keep under 55 mph.

For van upgrades for towing, do the following:
- Install Aux Tranny cooler - rated for 4,000 lbs trailer.
- Install Timbrens or air bags - to "firm up" van's weak factory rear suspension.
- Install 7-Pin connector with onboard brake controller. Prodigy Brake Controller is a good brand.
- Install WD system with properly sized bars (based on "loaded trailer's" scale tonque weight).
- Install Tranny temp guage - if pulling in hills and against strong head wind. A guage allows you to view rear time tranny temp heat. And if necessary, opportunity to pull over and let things cool down. Instead of using a "too late" dummy light.
- Always pull in "D" (aka: 3rd) gear. Thus, keeping engine revs higher. The OD gear is "too tall" for towing.
- Change rear axle oil often. And use Synthetic gear oil. Unknown to many, factory axles cannot take long term towing stress. Going with 3.73 rear axle ratio for towing is best.

The more "towing stress" (see above list) your van endure's while towing, the harder it will be to pull your TT. If pulling "short distances at low speed" more then 3 times, I'd install a V8 in the A/S van. Or, get a smaller / lighter weight trailer. In the long run, the A/S van with factory V6 engine cannot take long term "towing stress" abuse. Lessons learned on my 2001 AWD Safari van...

Hope this helps...

.


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 Post subject: Re: Can I tow a 21" travel trailer (has dual wheels)
PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2008 7:40 am 
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I finally get the smurf thing

Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2007 8:58 pm
Posts: 118
Location: North of America
pengyou wrote:
Would a full size extended van do the job?


Yes. Full size van with standard V8 5.3L engine would nicely pull a 21ft TT - under most driving conditions and "normal" load within van and within the attached TT. As per online GM specs, max towing weight (with empty van) for Chev 1500 van is 6,300 lbs.

My one neighbor pulls a 24ft TT with his Chev Express Passenger Van. He never complains about "over stress" worries while towing. Then again, I think his passenger van is 2500 series - with Vortec 6.0L V8 engine. Which has towing power (with empty van) up to 7,800 lbs.

If towing 21 ft TT with "average" loaded TT, "average" loaded vehicle and family of 3 kids with dog, I'd go for the 2500 series van. Especially if towing on lots of hills, fast hiways and/or you plan to upgrade to large size TT in the future.

Hope this helps in your decision...

.


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 Post subject: Re: Can I tow a 21" travel trailer (has dual wheels)
PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2008 12:58 pm 
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Joined: Sat Sep 09, 2006 10:35 pm
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Location: New Haven, NY
Here is my experience towing a trailer that is 23' long and is an ultralight Jayco 232. It weighs in at just over 4100# empty and I estimate about 5000# loaded and that is not counting what we put in the van such as wood, people, coolers etc. The 2003 AWD has 3.42 gears.

Your V6 equipped van will not tow a 21' camper very well. Here is what was done to my old 2003 AWD to try and get it to tow our camper. We installed a 28,000 GVW auxiliary trans cooler. We installed a trans temp gauge. We installed a Transgo HD-2 shift kit along with Amsoil fully synthetic fluid. We installed a rear anti-sway bar made by Hellwig. We installed a set of Airlift air bags in the rear. I changed both front and rear diff oils to fully synthetic Amsoil gear oil. I also flushed the transfer case with GM Auto-Trak 2 fluid. I already had a 1000/10000 weight distribution hitch and set it up to level the van/camper combo. It was even setup correct to get the front of the van to drop the same distance as the rear.

After all this work and $$$$, the van simply could not handle the weight! )>) ANY little breeze or say a passing tractor trailer would find the van and camper being pushed into the other lane. I could not drive above 55 mph. Trans temps always ran in the 200+ degree range and we would not use A/C which sucked on 90+ degree days. Interstate driving was limited to 55-60 mph max!

The issue is NOT the weight at all...in fact I have towed well over 5,000# behind the same Astro and it towed like it wasn't there but the load was not larger than the van. There was no extra wind resistance. The issue is the frontal area on the camper or fully enclosed trailer. This is why I use a 3/4 ton truck now and I tow at whatever speed I want and load the back of the truck with up to a full face cord of wood for a weeks worth of camping.

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1986 Safari 2.5L 4 speed manual - scrapped
1995 Astro 2WD conversion 4.11 posi, shift kit, DHC rock rails - sold to Skippy
1998 Astro 4x4 D44, D60, NP231, full hydraulic system with 9k# Milemarker winch and snow plow - sold to Lockdoc
2003 Astro AWD all stock - traded for a 3/4 ton truck
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 Post subject: Re: Can I tow a 21" travel trailer (has dual wheels)
PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2008 3:02 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2007 4:18 pm
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pengyou wrote:
Would a full size extended van do the job?

full size vans are essentially full size trucks, get at 2500 or 3500 and you should have no problem, whether its extended or not plays no factor.

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03 Chevy Silverado 2500HD, LB7 Duramax Diesel, 5 speed Allison Tranny, Crew Cab Long Bed, no muffler or cat, 4 inch turbo back and side piped. not too many other mods yet, also addicted to AMSOIL.


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 Post subject: Re: Can I tow a 21" travel trailer (has dual wheels)
PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2008 10:35 pm 
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I plan to be buried in my van
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Joined: Sun Sep 10, 2006 2:14 am
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Location: Exeter ON
Post title "Can I tow a 21" travel trailer (has dual wheels)"

I don't think 21 inches will be a problem for your van to pull. In fact I'm pretty sure a bicycle could pull it too. :poke: jk

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"I have a torque wrench and I am not afraid to use it."
Jim
1997 GMC Safari 93000 Kms, RWD, Power Windows and Locks, 7 passenger, a/c, rear heat

http://rileysowner.blogspot.com/


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 Post subject: Re: Can I tow a 21' travel trailer (has dual wheels)
PostPosted: Fri Dec 12, 2008 11:34 pm 
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I finally get the smurf thing

Joined: Mon Nov 10, 2008 1:20 am
Posts: 174
:axe:



smack!!

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New owner of a 1996 Astro named "Plain Jane" - stock right now - with 200,000 miles on it and running like a champ


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 Post subject: Re: Can I tow a 21" travel trailer (has dual wheels)
PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 3:33 am 
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I am merely driving my van
I am merely driving my van

Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2007 1:50 am
Posts: 16
Kidhauler wrote:
I tow a 24 foot 4500lbs travel trailer with my van it isn't fast but it tows it just fine. With a 3:73 rear end and a good trans cooler you can tow a rated 6000lbs with the 3:43 the vans are rated at 5000lbs the max tounge weight is 700lbs. But use a good weight distributing hitch as it will stop the van from getting the bouncies if you hit a dip in the road.


Note sure where you're getting your figures, but reading directly from the owners manual, 3.73 is 5500lbs, 3.42 is 5000lbs, and 3.23 is not recommended for towing. AWD models are approximately 500lbs lower than this.
IMPORTANT: These ratings INCLUDE passengers, luggage, fuel, etc, INSIDE THE VAN. This rating is not just the trailer.
Tongue weight limit has nothing to do with the van itself. It's a limit of your brand of hitch.
There are usually two weight limits printed on the hitch receiver itself, one rating with a WD hitch and one rating without. Basically you can have a trailer that is within the tow weight limit, but if it's tongue weight is higher than your hitch is rated, YOUR OVERLOADED.

The tow rating is only a slight part of what's involved. The wind resistance is a huge part of this limit.....meaning a 15ft flat trailer loaded with 4500lbs of bricks will tow much better than a 24ft 4500lb high standing travel trailer. Add 6 people, a tank full of fuel and a few ice chests, luggage, and a canoe on the roof into the travel trailer scenario, and you're seriously overloaded, even though the trailer is still 4500lbs.
Terrain is also another major consideration. A 4500lb trailer will tow much better through the flat lands of the south than it would through the Rockies.
Believe it or not, altitude is another major consideration if you're regularly towing at higher altitudes.
Rule of thumb is that you loose 10% of your horsepower for every 4000ft of elevation. If you're towing through the Rockies and find yourself at 12,000ft, you're going to be in trouble.

Note: Most people think that the tow limit of a vehicle is directly related to it's power and or drivetrain. While this of course is somewhat correct, a very important item that is always overlooked is BRAKING power. You can soup up the engine, add coolers, gauges, etc, to the tranny, beef up the suspension, etc... but low and behold the brakes are never thought of... until you and your trailer end up in the middle of a field, or much worse.

In summary, ALL vehicles have a rated tow capacity. ABIDE BY IT! These can be found in numerous places on the internet, in your owners manuals, etc. READ THEM CAREFULLY!! #-o Understand that when you hitch a trailer behind your van and don't take the time to learn what your doing, you take the lives of your family and everyone around you on the road into jeopardy.

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97 Astro LS Passenger Van, 4.3L (newly rebuilt)
New Orleans, LA


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 Post subject: Re: Can I tow a 21" travel trailer (has dual wheels)
PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 3:28 pm 
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Joined: Mon Sep 11, 2006 1:45 am
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GnarliSafari wrote:
pengyou wrote:
Would a full size extended van do the job?

full size vans are essentially full size trucks, get at 2500 or 3500 and you should have no problem, whether its extended or not plays no factor.


Well, the length of the van does factor in if the extended section is beyond the rear wheels. The shorter the overhang, the more stable the towing. I don't think a modern day fullsize van will be a problem, but looking back to the long Ford and Dodge vans... YIKES!!

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Matt
Selah, WA
-96 GMC Safari AWD Hi-Top Conversion -->Stalled 5.3L swap & 5" lift
-74 Ford Bronco -->Far from perfect but mine!
-99 V-10 Ford Super Duty Super Cab 4x4 -->Stock with 285 Cooper ATs
-00 Ford Focus Wagon -->The Red Turd
-95 Ford 24' Class C Motorhome -->My big block sleeper
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-04 Ski Doo REV Summit -->Still several chassis behind!


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