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Passenger van to tow travel trailer?


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We are just starting out and are thinking of using a passenger van (without seats) to use to tow a travel trailer. Have not purchased a travel trailer yet but the ones we have looked at would be 5-6000 lb tow weight.  Our thinking is that this will give us more options than a  pickup truck.  We want a passenger van so there will be windows.  Has anyone here had any experience with this combination? 

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I've seen bigger families do it, but because they needed the seating area. You would have to be careful if you plan to load a lot of stuff into the back of the van because there are no seats, of course removing the weight of the seats and the occupants could negate the issue. 

Given a choice of a bumper pull or "5th" wheel trailer to pull I would always choose the later. Of course if you have never pulled a 5th wheel then you won't know. 

Good luck with your search. I do like the flat floor of a travel trailer, but not much else. 

 

Rod

White 2000/2010Volvo VNL 770 with 7' Drom box with opposing doors,  JOST slider hitch. 600 HP Cummins Signature 18 Speed three pedal auto shift.

1999 Isuzu VehiCross retired to a sticks and bricks garage. Brought out of storage the summer of 2022

2022 Jeep Wrangler Sport S Two door hard top.

2007 Honda GL 1800

2013 Space Craft Mfg S420 Custom built Toyhauler

The Gold Volvo is still running and being emptied in July. 

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Long ago we used that combination. 1984 Dodge window van pulling a 21' TT, then a 29' TT thru 1995. Only put 232,000 miles on the van. We thought it was a great combination. Today I'm not a fan of the Ford Transit or the Dodge Sprinter or facsimile the Mercedes. If it were me now and I wanted that combination and I'm not a GM fan but I'd hurry up and get a full size Chevy van before they quit making them. They are darn near bullet proof.

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One disadvantage to towing with a van is with the driver's seat so far forward over the front axle you'll have less "feel" for what the rear of the van and the trailer are doing, so it will be harder to notice if the combo is starting to sway.

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6 hours ago, Lou Schneider said:

One disadvantage to towing with a van is with the driver's seat so far forward over the front axle you'll have less "feel" for what the rear of the van and the trailer are doing, so it will be harder to notice if the combo is starting to sway.

Lou, compare a side view of a Ford E-250 van and a Ford F-250 pickup. Note how far behind the front axle both steering wheels are. The truck is a little further back than the van, but both are behind the front axle.

 

 

 

Edited by Dutch_12078

Dutch
2001 GBM Landau 34' Class A
F-53 Chassis, Triton V10, TST TPMS
2011 Toyota RAV4 4WD/Remco pump
ReadyBrute Elite tow bar/brake system

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25 minutes ago, Dutch_12078 said:

Lou, compare a side view of a Ford E-250 van and a Ford F-250 pickup. Note how far behind the front axle both steering wheels are. The truck is a little further back than the van, but both are behind the front axle.

Wait, what, Dutch? I think I know what you are going for but how can the steering wheels be behind the front axle?

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I used to tow a 33' travel trailer with a 1 ton van...Ford E-350.  Mine had the 6.8L v10 gas engine.  Our trailer was heavier than what you are looking at, so you may not need quite a robust van as I had.  We also had significant passenger weight having 5 kids.  Anyways, we had a good sway control system with the Equilizer hitch, and the setup was very good IMO.  Rarely experienced any sway.  I would recommend the setup. 

One consideration in the Ford...I'd recommend the 12 passenger rather than extended 15 passenger, as the extended van has a large overhang behind the rear axle.  The GM vans have a longer wheelbase in the longer vans if I remember right, but the Ford simply extends the box with the same wheelbase.  I was afraid that overhang might lead to sway issues. 

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1 hour ago, Chalkie said:

Wait, what, Dutch? I think I know what you are going for but how can the steering wheels be behind the front axle?

Look at Kirk's photos. How would you describe the steering wheel location in relation to the front axle?

Dutch
2001 GBM Landau 34' Class A
F-53 Chassis, Triton V10, TST TPMS
2011 Toyota RAV4 4WD/Remco pump
ReadyBrute Elite tow bar/brake system

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The closest I came to that combination was a Dodge Caravan pulling a small tent trailer. But it was nice to have the space in the back of the van for gear. I know lots of people who have pulled a "fiberglass egg" type trailer with a Chevy Suburban. That's a popular combination.

Linda Sand

Blog: http://sandcastle.sandsys.org/

Former Rigs: Liesure Travel van, Winnebago View 24H, Winnebago Journey 34Y, Sportsmobile Sprinter conversion van

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On 5/13/2024 at 12:30 PM, Dutch_12078 said:

Look at Kirk's photos. How would you describe the steering wheel location in relation to the front axle?

OH, my! I am so embarrassed! I had it in my head the steer wheels, i.e., the ones on the road doing the turning. SMH  LOL

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1 hour ago, Chalkie said:

OH, my! I am so embarrassed! I had it in my head the steer wheels, i.e., the ones on the road doing the turning. SMH  LOL

Every time I see anything about steer wheels, in my mind I see the scene from the movie Jersey Boys with the safe in the trunk. :D 

Linda

Blog: http://sandcastle.sandsys.org/

Former Rigs: Liesure Travel van, Winnebago View 24H, Winnebago Journey 34Y, Sportsmobile Sprinter conversion van

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3 hours ago, Kirk W said:

Ford Van History - Econoline and Transit (photos) | Ford-trucks

I owned one of the old Econoline vans, and yep, you really did sit over the axle. But I sure wouldn't want to tow much of a trailer with one... :)

Dutch
2001 GBM Landau 34' Class A
F-53 Chassis, Triton V10, TST TPMS
2011 Toyota RAV4 4WD/Remco pump
ReadyBrute Elite tow bar/brake system

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3 hours ago, Chalkie said:

OH, my! I am so embarrassed! I had it in my head the steer wheels, i.e., the ones on the road doing the turning. SMH  LOL

It's all good, Chalkie... :)

Dutch
2001 GBM Landau 34' Class A
F-53 Chassis, Triton V10, TST TPMS
2011 Toyota RAV4 4WD/Remco pump
ReadyBrute Elite tow bar/brake system

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"I owned one of the old Econoline vans, and yep, you really did sit over the axle. But I sure wouldn't want to tow much of a trailer with one..." True, as they only came with 6-cylinder engines as I recall. On the other hand, having some additional weight at the rear would keep the rear tires on the ground when you slammed on the brakes.

David Lininger, kb0zke
1993 Foretravel U300 40' (sold)
2022 Grand Design Reflection 315RLTS

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On 5/13/2024 at 1:52 AM, Lou Schneider said:

One disadvantage to towing with a van is with the driver's seat so far forward over the front axle you'll have less "feel" for what the rear of the van and the trailer are doing, so it will be harder to notice if the combo is starting to sway.

So, use a rear camera to keep an eye on the toad?  Also, a tire pressure sender.

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As Kirk said, the van should be RWD. Another factor with vans is the distance between rear axle and hitch ball.

reference: https://davidsrvtips.blogspot.com/2009/03/how-long.html

and:  https://rv101withmarkpolk.com/2018/04/24/understanding-and-controlling-trailer-sway/

Edited by Ray,IN

 

2000 Winnebago Ultimate Freedom USQ40JD, ISC 8.3 Cummins 350, Spartan MM Chassis. USA IN 1SG retired;Good Sam Life member,FMCA ." And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.  John F. Kennedy 20 Jan 1961

 

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I don't see that anyone mentioned the gear ratio. I believe in most cases the newer vans have in the neighborhood of 3:73 rear ends where as some of the older ones had 4:10 or there about. That could make a difference on what size and weight of the trailer you will be able to tow. Including of course the cargo and passenger weights.  I once towed my 30ft TT for a little over 2 years with a dodge one ton van with the 5.9L v8 and the 4:10 gears. Towed well.

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FWIW, I just went to Ford's web site and looked up the Transit Van. This is what they say:

 

"Properly equipped, the Transit® can tow up to 4,500 pounds. *

*When properly equipped. Max towing varies based on cargo, vehicle configuration, accessories and number of passengers."

 

David Lininger, kb0zke
1993 Foretravel U300 40' (sold)
2022 Grand Design Reflection 315RLTS

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