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Old 08-21-2017, 12:43 PM   #1
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Talking Newer than newbie! (I think we're getting a trailer!)

We don't actually have a trailer yet.

I love camping. My wife doesn't.

2 weeks ago we went camping and I pulled out all the stops. 8 person tent, Hammocks, nice comfy chairs to read in, Plenty of firewood, Powered and watered campsite, Electric heater in tent... and she enjoyed herself! She still wasn't a fan of the tent/cold (even with the heater) but she got really excited about it, and our 2 year old LOVED LOVED LOVED the whole thing. This is all in spite of riding out the worst thunderstorm I've seen in a while ( even a tornado 5 minutes from our campsite! Eek!)

Its not really the simple lightweight camping I was used to, but I sure enjoyed it.

We have a 2 year old, and one on the way. My wife used to have a stationary trailer growing up, and has nothing but fond memories, so we've pretty well settled on a hard wall Travel trailer (no hybrids) The idea is In a pinch, if we get to the destination and its pouring... we can pile into the trailer and ride it out in relative comfort.

Because there will (eventually) be 4 of us, My floorplan is pretty well mandated: Rear Bunk Front queen. 174BH. Our 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan SE caps out at 3600 towing, but my particular van doesn't have the "self leveling suspension" and the tow rating is not super clear without it. It does have the heavy duty cooling, so I'm assuming with a good brake controller and load distributing hitch I'll be ok.


I've got curt class 3 Hitch on order (4000lbs, 400lb tonge, 5000/500 with load distribution), 4 Pole wiring harness, and Trailer Brake wiring kit on order, 4pin --> 7 Pin adapter, mounting plate and socket. I'm looking at the Tekonsha P2 brake controller. (its 40 dollars cheaper than the P3 and I can't see any tangible benefits over the P2)

I want to keep the trailer under 3000lbs dry/unloaded, so I have a fair margin for stuff (mostly we'll be wet camping, so I won't need to fill the freshwater tank, and the vast majority of the places we'll go will have a blackwater dump) That being said, Kids come with stuff. Lots of it, so i'm not indenial about how fast 600 lbs will be used up.

I've been using the google a lot, and there are a few things I can't get a solid answer on. (parking on hills, fiberglass vs aluminium, Build quality between makers, setting up solar, Security, yearly maintenance, other considerations) Hopefully joining here will allow me to tap into the experience of thousands of other people who've done exactly what I'm doing!

I'm beyond excited. We went to a local RV shop and crawled around a forest river viking 17BH... It was surprisingly spacious, I'm a big guy (on my way down) and I could even fit in the booth!

I just want to provide the best I can afford for my family, something that will last a long time, that we can make awesome memories with.

Right now the Viking 17BH is on sale for 18K... plus about 2k in fees and required hardware, + tax, so I'm looking at $23,000 CAD out the door. Sales guy said thats as cheap as they get. I don't think we'll be ready to jump on it this year. My hope is to get the van outfitted and then rent one for a weekend in September, just to be ABSOLUTELY sure this is for us. (a hitch is always useful)

Where did everyone else start? is there an idiots guide/videos etc I can watch? What caught you unexpected? any classic/costly mistakes That many people make?

If you made it this far, Thanks for reading!
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Old 08-21-2017, 02:32 PM   #2
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sudz, as you, I'm relatively new to this as well. I think in order to tow the 174BH, you will need an SUV with greater tow rating or 1/2 truck to tow. The TT comes in at 2960 dry and you will need to consider the weight of propane, the required gear (water hoses, black tank tubes, etc), weight of the hitch, full tank of gas and the weight of the passengers in the mini van.

Wish you all the best.
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Old 08-21-2017, 02:51 PM   #3
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the RV place said that they pretty much only sold the 17BH to minivan owners. its 2920 lbs.

The trailer is advertised as "minivan towable" and the specs/marketing on the dodge caravan BOAST that the Dodge caravan has the highest tow rating of any minivan (100lbs more... wooo)

I can't afford a new vehicle and a new trailer, so either I tow it with the caravan, or I don't get a trailer at all and this adventure is dead before it started.
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Old 08-21-2017, 02:51 PM   #4
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looking at rvtrader the model you were looking at has several new 2018 for under 13,000.oo not sure if they are in your area but your delear should be able to come close to that priceoff that price
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Old 08-21-2017, 03:16 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sudz View Post
the RV place said that they pretty much only sold the 17BH to minivan owners. its 2920 lbs.

The trailer is advertised as "minivan towable" and the specs/marketing on the dodge caravan BOAST that the Dodge caravan has the highest tow rating of any minivan (100lbs more... wooo)

I can't afford a new vehicle and a new trailer, so either I tow it with the caravan, or I don't get a trailer at all and this adventure is dead before it started.
A dealer will say anything to make a sale. Check out this video from a dealer for your model TT. He states that you will be at max towing capacity.
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Old 08-21-2017, 03:22 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sudz View Post
the RV place said that they pretty much only sold the 17BH to minivan owners. its 2920 lbs.

The trailer is advertised as "minivan towable" and the specs/marketing on the dodge caravan BOAST that the Dodge caravan has the highest tow rating of any minivan (100lbs more... wooo)

I can't afford a new vehicle and a new trailer, so either I tow it with the caravan, or I don't get a trailer at all and this adventure is dead before it started.
PLEASE DON'T make the #1 Newbie mistake:
Believing the Dealer and brochure dry weights.

Your minivan has a frontal area limitation that any conventional TT will exceed.
In fact, if you'd read your owners manual, it will be stated in the Towing section of the manual.
Yours also doesn't have the factory tow package, so it doesn't have the 3600lbs towing capacity.
You have to duplicate the factory tow package to get that number.
It's more than just adding a hitch receiver.
Plus you'll need a 75lb WDH with sway control.

Trailers in this class have really poor CCC numbers.
The 17bh has only 787lbs for CCC. That'll be easily be used up. Batteries, propane, water, food and cargo will add up quickly.

Unfortunately, your minivan is really only appropriate for a popup or A-frame trailer that has a low profile.

Minivans are designed to carry people, not for towing.
Unibody construction, front wheel drive, poor towing gearing are just some of the negatives.
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Old 08-21-2017, 03:48 PM   #7
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To get you started... Rule number 1, dont take any dealers/sales person word for what you can tow. EVER! Do the research yourself!!!!!!

There is way more to towing than just "pulling" the weight, your vehicle has to support the weight in terms of "carrying" it and stopping it. You need to get familiar with words like carrying capacity, tongue weight, available payload, GVWR and GCWR.

The brochure has a weight of 2969 UVW (dry weight, unloaded vehicle weight) and a GVWR of 3756. The max weight of the TT is already over your absolute max trailer weight of the towing vehicle. You have a hitch weight (tongue weight) of 441 which is just shy of your max tongue weight for you hitch/receiver. A weight distribution hitch is usually 60-100 lbs depending on which one you get. So right off the bat you have a tongue weight 441 (empty trailer) plus at least a 60 lb hitch is 501 lbs. So with just the trailer completely empty and your hitch you are already over your rated capacity of the class 3 you indicated.

Once you add in a battery and other things the tongue weight just goes up , further putting you in the negative. To illustrate how this effects your towing vehicle, lets say you end up with a tongue weight of 600-700 all said and done ready to camp, have 3 of your friends (equaling 600 lbs) stand on your bumper and slightly bounce up and down to mimic the weight of the camper and movement with the road as if you were towing. I truly believe if you do this you will see what Im/and others are talking about when we say to be careful with weights and towing.

On top of all this your camper will still weigh the absolute max allowable for your vehicle. This means you are at max, you have nothing left over, no safety net, no margin of error, nothing. Im not trying to scare you by any means Im just trying to paint the picture and tell you what no one told me before my first purchase.

I started with a smaller SUV and camper, it was maxed out, I loved camping but I hated the drive to and from the site because I was at my max and it was not fun (dangerous). I upgraded my vehicle to a 1/2 ton truck, it performed way better, more stable and safer. I then upgrade trucks again to a 3/4 ton and that was even better. Im not saying you need a 3/4 ton truck I am merely saying that the heavier duty/more capable the vehicle the better the towing experience. I now have a 1 ton truck and fifth wheel but I started right where you are at and Im telling you from experience I wished I was on here and had someone telling me what Im telling you.

If you do nothing else at least contemplate (or put a few friends on your bumper and bounce it up and down) how that much weight behind you will effect your mini van. Also consider how it effects your shocks, your tires, and stopping distance.

As another said $18K on sale seems a bit high, Im seeing them for $13K-$15K but your market may dictate differently.

I hope all of this helped and didn't scare you away, the camper life is an awesome life.
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Old 08-21-2017, 03:56 PM   #8
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I'll second what others have said here. Don't take a dealer's word for it. A minivan will be okay with a pop-up or A frame most likely, but anything else, and you will be overloaded.
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Old 08-22-2017, 10:52 AM   #9
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Well, My dream is over before it started then.

I'll see if I can return the hitch/wiring. It arrived last night.

My wife said no to a tent trailer (we borrowed her dads once, she didn't like it.)

We bought the minivan 3 months ago , we're not trading it. I drive 45,000km's a year, I can't afford to drive a big car (my DD 4cyl honda accord is fuel efficient, and I still burn $3000 in gas a year)

18 thousand is in Canadian Dollars. After conversion it equates to about $14,000.

What I don't understand is tow ratings in north america. In europe the nissan roque (xterra/xtrail there) can tow 3300lbs with trailerbrakes. In Canada its limited to 1500lbs. I looked at comparisons and they're EXACTLY the same weight, specs etc. (They even have smaller engines!)

I assumed that there was a margin already built into the "max towing" and that a weight distribution hitch could compensate for the extra tongue weight and load the front axle better to be safer.

Anyway, Dodge Caravan GVWR is 6050lbs, Van weights 4510, giving me 1540lbs of cargo+tonge weight.

Me, my wife small kids and booster seats and gas in the tank account for 700lbs. Our gear in the van will be about 200lbs. 1540lbs - 900 = 640 lbs

Assuming (shudder) the trailer weighs 3600lbs loaded (I'd want at least 10-12% Tonge weight for stability, even with the LD hitch- 360-440lbs So I still have 200lbs for the hitch/LD hardware.

Its at max. I'll have to be careful. I'm not going across the country, I'm staying within 3 hours of home, Weekends only. I See tons of other people do it (which I know doesn't make it SAFE) but with an abundance of caution I think either I'm doing it this way, or not at all. I think I'll definitely rent one this fall to see how it feels all loaded up before I bite the bullet on a trailer.

I called the dealer - My van definitely has the tow prep package, but the auto leveling suspension was only included on the upper trims of van - according to the dealer it doesn't effect tow rating. Will look at sticker again to be sure.
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Old 08-22-2017, 11:37 AM   #10
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I'm with the others in saying that I'd be leary about towing a trailer that size with a minivan. We pulled a pop-up with a minivan when we first started out. But it was a 10-foot bare-bones trailer. No AC, no water heater, no slide-out, no extra storage. It weighed maybe 1000 lbs. but it was all that van could handle.

When we moved up to a bigger pop-up we had to get an SUV. Not only for the towing capabilities, but for the extra cargo space as well. Our kids were getting older and always wanted to bring friends, which meant more "stuff".

I was also like you where I was driving 30,000 miles a year. So the SUV only got driven on weekends.

Renting first is probably a good idea but you also need to think about the future. If you are maxed out now you have no wiggle room for when the kids get bigger and you want/need to start bringing more things with you.
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