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Old 06-28-2015, 08:25 AM   #1
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Need reassurance please. Time sensitive.

We recently put a deposit on a coachmen clipper 15RB hybrid with a dry weight of 2603 (checked in yellow sticker). I am aware that does not include battery and propane so that is probably 110 lbs. But the dealer said that air and canopy are included in that weight.

We dry a Chevy uplander extended cab with a towing capacity of 3500 lbs.

We have a family of four with a dog. Our combined weight is about 550 lbs.

We are used to packing super light and often travel for weeks with only a backpack per person for clothes. Additional items for the trailer would include four sleeping bags and pillows. A few dishes and a bit of food but nothing else. We don't need to tow any water since all parks here have filling stations.

We are installing a heavy duty transmission cooler. We will also be installing a trailer hitch a brake control and an equalizer.

After the RV dealer assured us we would be well within our limits I went to our mechanic and asked him as well as clearing it with my dad who is also a mechanic.

The reason why I'm so worried is because of what I read online about people saying you can't tow hybrids with minivans.

I've tried calculating using the changinggears.com and everything seems to be okay but I don't know torque.

Anyways I would love all opinions on this. I don't want to put my kids in any dangerous situation.
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Old 06-28-2015, 11:27 AM   #2
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Our first camper was a Coachman Clipper popup, and we pulled it with an Uplander rated to tow 2000 lbs. The clipper was 2400 lbs dry. Though nothing happened, it was a mistake. We drove no further than one county away, but the drive was always miserable.


Here's what I suggest:

Brake controller
sway control
WDH if possible. Might not be recommended. find out at a Chevy dealer
Trans cooler
pack light, drive slow
Check the vehicle brakes regularly
Keep fluids changed at proper intervals
Do whatever you can to prepare your finances to trade the uplander for a strong SUV or truck.
If you camp near home and have a second vehicle, have someone bring it with passengers and gear loaded in it.
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Old 06-28-2015, 04:09 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by etothepii View Post
Our first camper was a Coachman Clipper popup, and we pulled it with an Uplander rated to tow 2000 lbs. The clipper was 2400 lbs dry. Though nothing happened, it was a mistake. We drove no further than one county away, but the drive was always miserable.


Here's what I suggest:

Brake controller
sway control
WDH if possible. Might not be recommended. find out at a Chevy dealer
Trans cooler
pack light, drive slow
Check the vehicle brakes regularly
Keep fluids changed at proper intervals
Do whatever you can to prepare your finances to trade the uplander for a strong SUV or truck.
If you camp near home and have a second vehicle, have someone bring it with passengers and gear loaded in it.
Thank you so much for responding and for all of your tips!

I guess what else I'm wondering is shouldn't we technically be okay since we are under our towing capacity even with people and a small amount of stuff?
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Old 06-28-2015, 04:11 PM   #4
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I should also mention that our van is ten years old and in great condition but we are planning on getting a new towing vehicle in a year or two but since our van is in good working order and we just used the money to pay for the trailer we want to wait a year or two and save.
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Old 06-28-2015, 04:23 PM   #5
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We would need to know more particulars of your Uplander. Ie., year, engine, gear ratio, if it's a passenger, extended, or cargo van and the like.
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Old 06-28-2015, 04:28 PM   #6
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We would need to know more particulars of your Uplander. Ie., year, engine, gear ratio, if it's a passenger, extended, or cargo van and the like.
Thank you for asking. My van is a 2005 Chevy Uplander extended cab 7 seater passenger van GVWR 5622 lbs. V6 engine. Towing capacity of 3500 lbs. GAWR RR 2756 lbs and GAWR FF 2866 lbs.

I hope that is the info you need.

I really appreciate the responses.
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Old 06-28-2015, 05:03 PM   #7
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Ok so we are looking at a hybrid trailer with a dry weight of 2530 and a gvwr of 3487. You are looking at a loaded weight of at least 3000 lbs probably closer to 3400 lbs as propane tanks, dishes, clothes, camping chairs etc add up very quickly. Let's look at a low end tongue weight (ideal is 13-15% of loaded trailer weight). 3000 lbs x 13% = 390 lbs up to a possible but less likely 3487 x .15% = 523 lbs.

What is your hitch rated for? If you add 550 lbs weight to your vehicle, then that also comes off your payload and towing capacity numbers. Towing capacity is determined by gvwr - actual vehicle weight. The listed capacity is typically a stripped down model with a 150 lb driver. What does the tire loading sticker inside your drivers door say? Look for occupants and cargo should weigh less than x lbs. (At 10 yrs old, you may not have this sticker). If you do have it, that is your payload and you need to subtract the weight of your family from it. What is left is what's available for tongue weight.

Now let's talk frontal area and wind drag. A hybrid has a full frontal wall meaning more wind resistance. I believe this will be too much trailer sizewise if not weight wise for your minivan. You will not have a comfortable ride. Having had too much trailer for an suv, I will never ever be in that situation again. Honestly I wouldn't tow anything bigger than a pop-up with your minivan.
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Old 06-28-2015, 05:37 PM   #8
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I hope that is the info you need.
Yep. And I was able to find some additional online. So here is where you sit:

Uplander will have 250lbs available cargo capacity (that is taking into account the 550 in passengers and 100 for a WDH) minus additional hitch weight added once your TT is loaded and any personal cargo in the van itself.

Trailer will have 847lbs available, however, if you take on water and prime your black tank with say.. 5 gallons, that would drop down to 547lbs. That would need to include everything.. spare tire, jacks, chocks, tools, hoses, cords, personal gear, food, etc.

It adds up VERY quickly. When guesstimating an average load out I generally use 1000lbs for 2 people as a rule of thumb. Meaning it is doable, but you will have to be very careful what you plan on taking.

As a side note: Battery/ies and LP I calculated at 100lbs. Full LP tanks is already calculated in your dry weight from the factory even though it doesn't come with full tanks. I don't know if you're going to be packing a single 12v battery or a couple of 6v's so I split the difference at 100lbs. That gives you a +/- 40lbs depending on which way decide to go.

Bottom line... 1100lbs combined cargo capacity doesn't leave you much wiggle room with a family of 4, but if you are careful you can squeak by. It might get a little white knuckle, but keeping it slow and easy it's doable for the short term.

I would hit the scales to get your actual weights once loaded up before going too far. I would also be looking into a larger tow vehicle in the not too distant future.

If you would like me to post all of the numbers and calculations used just holler.

Most of all..
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Old 06-28-2015, 05:47 PM   #9
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The listed capacity is typically a stripped down model with a 150 lb driver.

I believe this will be too much trailer sizewise if not weight wise for your minivan. You will not have a comfortable ride.
With that year of Uplander, Chevy calculated curb weight with base model + full fuel - driver. So his weight would have to come off the CC.

I would have to agree that it's not likely to be a comfortable ride. For sure. Being careful, it's possible to stay right at about max gross, but there are a number of different variables to consider when towing. With your wheelbase and your van and trailer presenting so much flat surface area it's likely you'll get you pushed around a little in crosswinds or with passing big rigs. Be prepared.

Slowwwww is the key. You can get by with a few not to distant excursions this summer, but start saving for a TV upgrade.

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Old 06-28-2015, 05:58 PM   #10
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The biggest reason minivans are not recommended for hybrids or any TT, is because of the frontal area of the trailer.
Many minivans have a frontal area limit, which nearly all HTTs or TTs will exceed.
It might be in your Chevy's manual.
The air resistance of the front of the trailer requires torque to overcome, which most minivans lack.
All the factors that make minivans great people movers, are the opposite of the factors for a good tow vehicle.
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Old 06-28-2015, 06:09 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by lovinglife15 View Post
I should also mention that our van is ten years old and in great condition but we are planning on getting a new towing vehicle in a year or two but since our van is in good working order and we just used the money to pay for the trailer we want to wait a year or two and save.
Welcome to the Forums from Huntsville, AL and congratulations on joining the RV Lifestyle - I am sure you will become completely addicted to it!

It *sounds* like you will be OK with your current TV & rig.

Looking ahead though think about where you will be regarding RVs and buy your new TV accordingly. Too many folks we know (ourselves included!!) Have played the upgrade game nd realized the last TV be bought should have been that 1 ton Dually
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Old 06-28-2015, 06:15 PM   #12
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You MIGHT be ok on paper, but you most likely won't feel good driving. And never trust an rv salesman when they tell you your vehicle is adequate. The will do or say whatever it takes to make a sale.


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Old 06-28-2015, 06:18 PM   #13
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Keep it slow and close to home until you can swing a better equipped tv...
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Old 06-28-2015, 06:20 PM   #14
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It might be in your Chevy's manual.
Ruoh~

I should have tried to look up a manual first. I didn't find anything regarding the frontal surface area, but I DID find one figure I was trying to locate and couldn't. I just thought, "well.. maybe they didn't include those figures back then".

But there it is.. GCWR is 8500lbs. Dang it all.

So 8500 - 4470 (curb weight) - 2530 (dry trailer) - 550 (passengers) - 100 (hitch) - 100 (battery/ies)....

That's 750lbs MAX cargo available before you bust the ratings even though your van OR your trailer still have cargo capacity ratings higher than that.

Having the wife and kids ride in a separate vehicle with additional cargo is looking much more attractive.
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Old 06-28-2015, 06:27 PM   #15
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You MIGHT be ok on paper, but you most likely won't feel good driving. And never trust an rv salesman when they tell you your vehicle is adequate. The will do or say whatever it takes to make a sale.
X2. Of course it kind of falls into the buyers responsibility. They sell RV's, not TV's and can't reasonably be expected to know the specs on every potential TV that pulls through their lot. But they sure act like they do don't they....
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Old 06-28-2015, 06:40 PM   #16
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Can you remove one row of seats from the uplander? That would save some weight.


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Old 06-28-2015, 07:29 PM   #17
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Wow you all really know your stuff! The advice I have received here so good.

Thank you for running the numbers for me as well. I feel so new compared to you all. haha!

I definitely could take out the back row of the van because no one sits in it. I bet that would save some weight like someone suggested. Great idea.

We will definitely be upgrading our TV in a year possibly two if this summer goes okay. It would just be nice to have some money for a new one and not have to finance it.

I am from Ontario and really our season for camping is short maybe 3.5 months at most. We have a few trips booked that are all within two hours from our house but we do have one in August that is 775 km away. We will have some shorter trips first to see how it handles and if it is bad then we won't be able to take it up north I guess. I hope it does handle well because we were all really looking forward to trying it out at our friend's cottage that week.

I think we will try it this summer since the numbers do "work on paper" but we won't carry food. We can get firewood at the camp and water so all we will bring is:

4 backpacks for clothes and personal items
5 lbs of dog food
4 camping chairs
Small container of cooking stuff (dishes, pots)
4 sleeping bags and 4 pillows

That should leave some weight room for the hoses and whatever else is needed with the actual trailer. I hope!
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Old 06-28-2015, 08:14 PM   #18
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That should leave some weight room for the hoses and whatever else is needed with the actual trailer.
I would recommend taking it out by yourself with no loads whatsoever. Just you (or you and the Mrs.), your TV and trailer dry. Just plan a half day trip an hour or so up the freeway a ways, grab some lunch, then head back home to get a feel for it. It would give you a better idea of what you're in for before you find yourself pulling out for a family get-a-way with paid reservations.

That creates a lot of pressure to make a tow that you might not be feeling all that great about.

Did we mention... keep it sloooooowwww? Plan for extra drive time.
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Old 06-28-2015, 08:36 PM   #19
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Wow you all really know your stuff! The advice I have received here so good.

Thank you for running the numbers for me as well. I feel so new compared to you all. haha!

We were all new once. Many of us started out trying to make a sub-optimal tow vehicle/trailer combo work. Experience teaches a lot. That said, indigestion needs to be asked, will you be towing in the mountains at all?
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Old 06-28-2015, 08:39 PM   #20
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We were all new once. Many of us started out trying to make a sub-optimal tow vehicle/trailer combo work. Experience teaches a lot. That said, indigestion needs to be asked, will you be towing in the mountains at all?
Good idea about taking it out for a test drive day. I will definitely do that before taking the kids with us.

No mountains, southern Ontario is pretty flat but there is some hills but not mountains in our trip up north.
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