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Old 07-18-2016, 03:06 PM   #1
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2014 Toyota Sienna with 2014 Flagstaff MAC 228BH

I have to be honest I am totally newbie on trailers. I have no experience at all on towing a trailer or anything.

We just bought a 2014 Flagstaff MAC 228BH two days ago and would like to tow with my current minivan 2014 Toyota Sienna. The 228BH has dry weight of 2240 lbs and Sienna is rated for 3500 lbs towing capacity. I have not tried towing the trailer yet as I need to get the Sienna added with receiver, wiring and brake control done first.

The dealer seems confident my Sienna should be about to towing this trailer well. but after checking some resource online, it seems like the number is just one thing, there are still lots stuffs to consider like road conditions, wind condition, passage weight, gear weight... the more I read the more worry I am having.

Let me lay some facts on where I am and how we are planning for camping. I am living in Calgary AB of Canada where lots of mountain around. There will be mostly 5 persons out for camping (2 adults and 3 young kids 1-6 years old), we will mostly bring one adult bike and two kids bikes and food, drink and other normal camping stuff. mostly likely continuously driving 2-4 hours before having a break.

I am wondering if anyone could advise or have any experience on owing a TT with a minivan. if there is anything I can do to make the towing a little less worry and easier.

thanks in advance, appreciate for your advise.

Andy

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Old 07-18-2016, 04:21 PM   #2
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The tongue weight on a 228BH is high from the factory, and if you add an extra tank or batteries it can climb fast. My 228BH has a tongue weight of over 500 lbs due to two deep cycle series 27 batteries, two filled propane tank.

So, first you need to find the spec (usually on the trailer hitch) for the MAXIMUM tongue weight the hitch can hold safely.

Then need to know the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) (usually on the driver's side door pillar). Then figure out what the actual weight of the vehicle was from the factory (usually can be found on a spec sheet or advertising brochure). Subtract the max vehicle weight from the GVWR and you have the maximum weight you can add to the vehicle such as passengers, food, clothes, dogs and trailer tongue weight.
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Old 07-18-2016, 04:43 PM   #3
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your van is loaded to the max as far as payload BEFORE you even hook to the camper. Would be a horrible towing experience and not good on your van. You would want to replace the van with an SUV or crew cab truck to be able to haul the people, bikes and other gear plus be able to tow.
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Old 07-18-2016, 06:41 PM   #4
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The tongue weight on a 228BH is high from the factory, and if you add an extra tank or batteries it can climb fast. My 228BH has a tongue weight of over 500 lbs due to two deep cycle series 27 batteries, two filled propane tank.

So, first you need to find the spec (usually on the trailer hitch) for the MAXIMUM tongue weight the hitch can hold safely.

Then need to know the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) (usually on the driver's side door pillar). Then figure out what the actual weight of the vehicle was from the factory (usually can be found on a spec sheet or advertising brochure). Subtract the max vehicle weight from the GVWR and you have the maximum weight you can add to the vehicle such as passengers, food, clothes, dogs and trailer tongue weight.
thanks f5moab.
I do not have tongue weight with me as the trailer is in the dealer's shop. but I took some pictures on the spec. the trailer's GVWR is 3132 lbs, dry weight is 2240 lbs, so it seems I can add up to 892 lbs on the trailer which should be more than what I need. one gas tank and other stuff (likes food or drink) in the frige, plus 3 bikes & maybe other stuff in the front deck, I will say up to 150lbs max. so from trailer itself, I do not see any problem.

my only worry is my minivan to towing this trailer, is it powerful enough? considering there will be 5 passengers and other stuff in the car, as well as there are lots of up/down hills when we travel through mountains area. or is there anything i can add to make this minivan towing easier?
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Old 07-18-2016, 06:51 PM   #5
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your van is loaded to the max as far as payload BEFORE you even hook to the camper. Would be a horrible towing experience and not good on your van. You would want to replace the van with an SUV or crew cab truck to be able to haul the people, bikes and other gear plus be able to tow.
thanks for your post.

I have used my van a lot to haul our whole family plus another two adults, I do not see any problem, and from the 7-passenger minivan spec, the cargo weight can go up to 1115lbs which I am sure I am under quite bit.

I understand the additional passenger/stuff weight in the car will probably decrease the tow capacity, which is something I am not really know how much. this is where I am worry about.
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Old 07-18-2016, 06:53 PM   #6
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The 3500 lb towing capacity has a note that states "** When adequately equipped, which may require engine and/or other drivetrain upgrades". Which is the factory towing package. Not just being a hitch, but likely a trans cooler and some other upgrades also. Your capacity is likely quite a bit lower since you have no hitch. Payload capacity is 1600 at most. With 5 adults and other stuff in van, you only have a few hundred pounds left over. No where near enough. With the light suspension of a mini van, you will be squatting badly.
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Old 07-18-2016, 07:08 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by ayangch View Post
thanks f5moab.
I do not have tongue weight with me as the trailer is in the dealer's shop. but I took some pictures on the spec. the trailer's GVWR is 3132 lbs, dry weight is 2240 lbs, so it seems I can add up to 892 lbs on the trailer which should be more than what I need. one gas tank and other stuff (likes food or drink) in the frige, plus 3 bikes & maybe other stuff in the front deck, I will say up to 150lbs max. so from trailer itself, I do not see any problem.

my only worry is my minivan to towing this trailer, is it powerful enough? considering there will be 5 passengers and other stuff in the car, as well as there are lots of up/down hills when we travel through mountains area. or is there anything i can add to make this minivan towing easier?
No problem if you see no problem, justremember, as you add weight to that front deck you add weight to the tongue. But it's your trailer, your vehicle.
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Old 07-18-2016, 07:51 PM   #8
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Be aware of your setup...

I had a 2003 Sienna with a Flagstaff 227 for 7 years. Drove 4x to Myrtle Beach (3600km round trip) and 2x to Wildwood, NJ (1700km round trip). Usually drove at 120km/h on cruise, stopping only for gas... In retrospect, I might have been a ticking bomb but then again, never had any issues, not even a blow tire.

In the van was me, my wife, two young daughters, the cooler and some luggage. No anti-sway and no WD but I did have an aftermarket trans cooler installed and replaced the tires on the pup after year 5 as they were slick on the outside. Also had the P2 brake controller which worked great in occasional emergency braking situations.

Needless to say that climbing was a challenge but no more than for the 18-wheelers in front of me.

So yes, it's possible but you won't get many approvals here as you'll be over the van's payload no matter how you set this up. To try to compensate, pack the heavier stuff near or behind the pup's axel. It's up to you to decide if you want to do it. But many have already done it, and many continue to do it...
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Old 07-18-2016, 08:11 PM   #9
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Would you be so kind as to let us know which model of the 2014 Sienna you have? Also, did it come with what Toyota calls their towing prep package? We tow a Rockwood 2318G (similar weight to yours) with a 2011 Sienna LE (towing prep package) but have added a brake controller, hitch receiver and Andersen No-sway weight distribution hitch. My wife and I, plus our four kids, 14, 9, 8, and 8, took a 4,700 trip from Ohio to Arizona, Utah, and Colorado this summer. The van was level and averaged 18.9 mpg even with a number of mountain passes. It has plenty of horse power per pound, the most important number and the aerodynamics are quite good as is the low center of gravity. Just make sure that you check the sticker for payload capacity, which is located just inside the driver's side door. Stay below that and each gross axle weight rating, drive smart and you'll be just fine. Be sure to use the shiftable automatic feature and stay out of cruise control. Check out CanAm RV for their discussion of the best tow vehicles, you might be surprised. Best of luck.

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Old 07-18-2016, 08:30 PM   #10
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There is a relatively short thread entitled "towing an A128 with a minivan" in the tent campers section here that describes all the steps you will need to get the Sienna ready to tow. Just search the term; hope you find it useful.


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Old 07-18-2016, 08:36 PM   #11
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Better information on Sienna towing prep thread.

Towing, Tow Vehicles, Hitches & Toads

Search "Towing A128S with Minivan"


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Old 07-18-2016, 08:48 PM   #12
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That 3500lbs towing capacity is IF the Sienna has the factory tow package, which yours doesn't have.
You have to duplicate the factory tow package to tow that 3500lbs.
As others have said, your 5 passengers weights, any cargo and the WDH's weight will all lower the payload capacity amount.
You may not have much left for tongue weight.
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Old 07-18-2016, 09:43 PM   #13
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I tow an A122 with a 2008 Hyundai Entourage (minivan with 165,000 miles currently). The Entourage is a re-badged Kia minivan. There are no towing figures available other than the 3500lb. The European version has a much higher tow rating, so I did not worry so much about unibody strength or tongue weight.

I had planned on having a transmission cooler installed, but the stock Hyundai transmission cooler (separate cooler) was 3 times the size of the aux cooler that was going to be installed. I had read this might be the case on the Internet, but it was good to have a mechanic confirm. I do flush and clean (or replace) the transmission fluid every 50,000 miles, and it's always looked good.

My tongue weight was added to with dual batteries and dual propane tanks. Filling the water tank has very little effect on tongue weight. The 15 gal tank is directly behind the camper axle, but the 6 gal hot water heater is several feet in front of the axle. We do not have the front storage compartment so tongue weight remains fairly constant.

A test drive showed a lot of porpoising of both minivan and camper, even at 25MPH. The dealer recommended the Equalizer E2 600/6000. He said the extra capacity was needed because there wasn't room to mount the brackets as far back as they should be on the camper. We settled at 27" instead of 29", and had to raise the propane tanks an inch to make it work. It cost me $330 installed, of which $230 was covered by deleting the transmission cooler.

Actual tow weights: 2730 lbs - give or take, mainly depends on water carried
Tongue weight: 390 lbs

With the Equalizer WDH, the van rides like the camper is not there. The ride is comfortable and secure enough that the wife happily spells me driving 65MPH on the Interstate, even in 35MPH cross-winds in Eastern Colorado and Nebraska. The WDH does add about 5 minutes to set-up and hook-up times. And Equalizers do groan in curves at slow speeds.

The 250HP 3.5L V6 with 5 speed transmission is powerful enough for the 11,000ft mountain passes in Colorado - I can always maintain posted speed limits. I do adjust the brake controller so the camper is neither pulling or pushing when brakes are applied.

just our experiences
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Old 07-18-2016, 09:49 PM   #14
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There is a relatively short thread entitled "towing an A128 with a minivan" in the tent campers section here that describes all the steps you will need to get the Sienna ready to tow. Just search the term; hope you find it useful.


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Thank you so much, as well as others who posted here.

Mine is 2014 Sienna XLE, based on the info on other forums, it seems mine does have tow package ready which has transmission cooler and oil cooler done. But I could not get this confirmed by Toyota dealer.

I will definitely check out these thread you mentioned.
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Old 07-18-2016, 09:50 PM   #15
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It's a tent trailer, you have a minivan! You will be fine, you are well within your weights. There are tons of people on the road in the Canadian Rockies with your same setup. You may have transmission and suspension problems down the road, but that's the chance you take.

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Old 07-18-2016, 10:00 PM   #16
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When we first started camping. We pulled our pup with s Nissan Quest. Added air bags to the rear coils with auto level.Aired tires to the max.

Hauled two adults, three kids, nary a problem.

Kids got bigger so moved up to a TT and a 3/4 ton.
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Old 07-18-2016, 11:15 PM   #17
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My prediction is you will start out overcapacity on GVWR/payload and only get worse as the kids grow, more gear starts to accompany, etc.

Back of the envelope math:

- 500 lb tongue weight (367 dry tongue weight from specs plus LP, battery, and stuff stored in the camper contributing to tongue weight..could be even more if you fill up the hot water tank, toilet water, etc)
- 65 lb receiver hitch itself
- 100 lb for 1 adult, 2 kids bikes
- 200 lb for misc gear (cooler full of food and ice, firewood, bags/clothes, etc)
- 450 lb (and growing) for passengers as described
TOTAL: 1,315 lbs

Bare bones Sienna probably has around 1,450 lbs leftover for payload capacity, so the above scenario is pretty close to being overloaded even with the ideal Sienna model. All the options installed on yours take up more weight. Even the little things that are always in the car like car seats (15-30 lbs each) must be considered, also including the very things that are supposed to "help" like transmission and steering coolers and even weight distributing hitches.

I see a ton of people driving insanely overloaded, but before you do so,, see the top few links at Buyer’s Guide | Popup Camping 101 to make an intelligent decision for your family.

Ideas for mitigating the problem:

- Neither the standard trucks like F150/1500/etc nor SUVs will give you much more payload capacity (some are even less than a van). Only a 3/4 ton truck or higher will make much of a difference in tow vehicle payload capacity.

- You can pack more stuff inside the PUP, preferably on top of or behind the axle so that less weight is transferred to the tongue/hitch. Just make sure your tongue still has 10% or more total weight

- Carry the bikes on top of the PUP with a roof rack (but never on a rear mounted hitch). Better yet, add a cargo rack for carrying firewood etc on the roof (while obviously not exceeding the PUP's GVWR or roof capacity).

-Move the battery to the rear of PUP (using sealed battery or vented box).

- not good for you, but helpful to others: buy a different config of PUP. Your BH adds weight. Other models eliminate this and shift more weight off the tongue while also making it easier to pack more stuff near the rear of PUP.
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Old 07-19-2016, 12:16 AM   #18
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Hello,

I pull our classic 625d with a 2011 Sienna XLE AWD. It has the towing pkg, but I added the extra tranny cooler, air bags, prodigy controller and WDH with sway control. A lot of smart people on this thread have given you a bunch of solid info. Look over the specs of the van and PUP. Just make sure not to overload either vehicle. Smart thing to do is load it up and go get it weighed. This will put your mind at ease. The van can pull that no problem, but it is always good to know the totals, then you can adjust as needed.

Your dealer or Toyota Corp should be able to tell you if you have the tow pkg from your VIN. But it should have the duel fans, oil cooler, etc. you will need to get an extra tranny cooler, brake controller, air bags for the rear springs and a good WDH. Sway control can't hurt either.

You won't win any races, but hey we are camping, right. 😀 But it will easily pull it 60-65 on the hwy, and you will be able to get over the mtn passes. I would use the sport shift, which I assume you have on yours. Unless it is just the flattest stretch of road, I don't use overdrive. With mine, 5th will only have it at 2300 rpm at 65mph. And don't worry if you hit 3500-3800 rpm on the hills. It can do it, but the extra tranny cooler will help there. You may also want to change the fluids a bit sooner if you are towing a lot. If you have additional questions about the Sienna, go to Sienna chat or even Toyota nation. They will have all sorts or info and pics to answer your questions.

Good luck and enjoy.

Mark
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Old 07-19-2016, 11:24 AM   #19
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Thank you all so much for sharing your experience or advise, much appreciated.

I was thinking about towing capacity only when I jumped into this trailer, but it seems like the payload may become more concerns for my minivan. I did not know the tongue weight will directly eat up the payload.

I will be getting the trailer and my minivan this Thursday, will try somewhere close (within one hour range) this weekend and see how that goes. will try to pack the stuff behind the axle or on top of camper if possible to minimize the tongue weight. I do not have weight distributing hitch yet, will definitely consider it if it will help (but it will add up the tongue weight). as well as to see if I can move the battery or gas tanks to the back.

again, thanks so much for your help.
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Old 07-19-2016, 12:53 PM   #20
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No worries. We all started out the same way. Payload is always a problem before tow rating. Vehicle manfacturers use the tow rating to make you think you're OK but don't mention the low payload. According to the Toyota commercial, a Tundra pickup can pull the Space Shuttle as long as there's no tongue weight applied.

We used to tow a 10' box Coleman Santa Fe popup with our current 2005 Sienna LE. Same as you ... 2 adults and 3 kids. We put 3 bikes on Yakima crossbars on the popup's roof and had 2 bikes on the Sienna's roof rack. Did that for 2-3 years. Since we are still driving that Sienna today - 11 years old - it obviously didn't damage it too much.

My suggestions for you getting set up:
- add Air Lift 1000 air bags to the rear coil springs. I pumped mine up to 35 psi.
- make sure you have good quality tires. Michelin is always a good brand. Passenger tires will be fine, look for a higher load rating - speed rating is not important since the popups' tires shouldn't be run at much more than 65 mph (105 km/hr).
- add a transmission oil cooler (assuming you'll be doing some mountains)
- get a Class III receiver hitch by Reese, Hidden Hitch or Curt, a 2" drawbar and hitch ball (probably 2" size ball). The "drop", if any, on the drawbar will depend on the height of the trailer's coupler when level compared to the receiver hitch on your Sienna.
- install a Tekonsha electric brake controller (Voyager will work, P3 would be better)
- install a 7 pin trailer electrical harness with constant voltage to run the 3-way refrigerator while driving

We didn't use a weight distribution hitch (WDH) and didn't need any sway control. It's only a popup. If you feel any sway or the air bags aren't enough to level the Sienna, get the WDH (Equalizer/Fastway 2 point or Andersen will provide some sway control built in). Once you're all packed up and ready to head out camping, take the van and popup to a CAT scale to check your weights. Use this website as a guide for how to weigh and what the measurements mean and compare the weights to the door sticker on your Sienna.
Actual Weights - Travel Trailer/Bumper Pull Weights from CAT Scales - Towing Planner

If you're a little over, I wouldn't be concerned but if you're way over you'll need to address it somehow. When I was thinking about going bigger, I thought I'd get a high wall popup so I bought a Tacoma but we ended up with a Rockwood Roo (5200 pounds loaded) and had to upgrade to a half ton.

Good luck and enjoy the new camper!
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