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Old 07-16-2018, 07:10 PM   #1
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Default trailer or TV

this is probably just a hypothetical question, since we probably won't do anything about it.

we have a 2015 grand caravan, which we paid much more for than the fun finder.
I am beginning to feel some concern about the stress of towing a trailer with the front drag of the fun finder. as pointed out in the gas milage thread, it isn't the weight, but the frontal area that is hard for the TV to pull. so our trailer is light enough, but exceeds the "frontal area restriction" by 19 sq. ft. However, I have discovered a very nebulous area surrounding tow ratings of my van. dodge told me my van, based on vin, has a heavy duty engine cooler and heavy duty transmission cooler. It does not over heat, but I worry still, because there is still the touring suspension as opposed to towing suspension. I don't know what else would make a van equipped to tow; heavier wheel bearings? brakes?

the crazy thing, is that the van does just fine. at least I don't have another vehicle to compare it with, never having towed a trailer before. It slows down going up hill, of course, and shifting down manually to keep it in a good gear works. One mechanic said not to tow with it, two others said it's fine. all said we couldn't go wrong with an extra tranny cooler.

I know that towing with a grand caravan has been discussed, and sorry to bring it up again.

I'm wondering now if an R-pod type trailer would be easier to tow because of the sloped front and rear. just theoretically, since I think they may be too heavy for my van to tow. (even though they say "mini-van towable")

I wonder if a fiberglass casita type would be easier. again, theoretically, since they are so expensive and somewhat claustrophobic.

I suppose we will continue to use the GC, put on some kind of rear suspension support and a tranny cooler. then we are probably close to the tow package that boasts 3600#. but still over the frontal area restriction.
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Old 07-16-2018, 07:27 PM   #2
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I think the brakes on the van may be an issue -- I had a Grand Caravan 20 years ago and warped the rotors by braking too hard. (Not while towing.) I have since learned my lesson, and maybe the brake design has improved since then.

Maybe R-Pods and Casitas are more aerodynamic, but I haven't heard that they get much better mileage, so that would cast some doubt on that theory. And the sloping front wall cuts off a lot of living space. The only really aerodynamic trailer is a pop-up, which has its own substantial drawbacks.
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Old 07-16-2018, 07:32 PM   #3
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we tried a pop up, briefly, not good for our needs. the r pod, hummingbird, rov, winniedrop campers are only livable with a side out, and that makes them heavy. and they are expensive. I really do prefer the little t139 that we have. I may be looking for an opportunity to trade in the van....
I think much has been improved on the grand caravan, at leas I hope so. I know transmissions used to be a real weak point.
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Old 07-16-2018, 08:50 PM   #4
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a dodge technical advisor on their website finally sent me a link to some good info. our van (according to vin#) is rated for 3600# so I feel better about that. we still are over the front area restriction, but he also directed me to a very detailed owner's manual on line. I just found the info about towing that makes me feel better. you are supposed to use the ERS (electronic range select) when towing. that is just the feature that allows you to select the gear that you think best. I was worried that manually selecting the gear meant the tranny was over worked. knowing that it is the proper way to drive it reassures me.
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Old 07-17-2018, 09:25 AM   #5
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Yes -- if you don't use ERS, you could be forcing the transmission to "hunt," where it shifts up and down continually. Hunting supposedly is hard on the components -- not sure why, but that is what they say.
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Old 07-17-2018, 02:46 PM   #6
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sort of off topic, but not really. those of you with smooth sided fun finders, wonder what you thin of these? airtab.com
I would order them, but they can't be installed on a trailer with corrugated metal sides.
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Old 07-17-2018, 05:20 PM   #7
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Airtabs do work -- on big rigs, they are proven to add about one-half mile per gallon. But big trucks drive many more miles per year than we do -- so the cost of the airtabs is "amortized" over lots of miles. They are probably not cost-effective for travel trailers.
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Old 07-28-2018, 08:48 PM   #8
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I'm kind of excited! we did buy a new to us tow vehicle. 05 toyota 4 runner. we took it for a test tow, and it is going to be a lot better for towing than the van. to start with the tow limit is 5000. the suspension is much stiffer and it is rear wheel drive. I've been spending a little time looking at a toyota 4 runner forum, and I'm amazed at what people tow with them. our little trailer will be easy for it.
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Old 08-09-2018, 10:11 PM   #9
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After a very frustrating, but probably wise delay, we finally have our 4 runner. brake controller, plug and go, hitch etc. installed. so easy! It tows like a dream.

the dealership decided the vehicle needed work before it was sold...sort of after we bought it. I'm glad, it is like new, but I was really second guessing the decision to buy it. I suppose a used vehicle can always have "hidden" problems, and this one may still. but when I told them I would buy it after they addressed the road noise from "big tires", the sales man was told they were still waiting a bearing for the pinion gear in the differential. just a miscommunication, but un nerving just the same.

now it is smooth and quiet. It feels like a new vehicle.

camping on Monday!!
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Old 08-09-2018, 10:38 PM   #10
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Have a great trip!
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Old 08-14-2018, 04:15 PM   #11
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We finally got on the road today. We could only stay out one night, but felt we had to go somewhere to try out the 4Runner. VERY, VERY happy with everything about it. Towing is a breeze! Mileage average quite decent.

We decided to go to a nearby desert lake, and "pretend" we were at the beach. Maybe Kayak later in the day and then cook out. Well, it's just too hot! this afternoon, anyway. But we are lounging in the trailer, enjoying the AC and catching up on some reading.
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Old 08-14-2018, 10:04 PM   #12
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How are you running the AC -- with a generator?
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Old 08-15-2018, 07:52 AM   #13
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We decided to go to a campground with hook ups. It was getting so hot out, we decided for this short, first trip, we would not try to go far, as we have to go home today. Caballo lake is one of our favorite spots in the winter, but it's still too hot to really enjoy the birds and hiking around the lake. I'm going to enjoy a little paddling before we leave though.

We thought about going a little further into the mountains, but no phone service in the Gila Wilderness, and we needed to be able to stay in touch with some people who would be calling.

Next Tuesday I go to LA to help my daughter with her toddlers. I love to do that, but will be anxious to hit the trails after Labor Day!
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Old 08-15-2018, 12:20 PM   #14
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I trust you are having a good time.

Actually, I prefer the comforts afforded by full hookups... just as I enjoy the comforts of my toy hauler compared to 'tenting it' as I did for decades.

Best for a great time.
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Old 08-15-2018, 01:26 PM   #15
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Hilda, when you are in Southern Calif, try to carve out a little time for the beach -- the water is unusually warm!
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Old 08-15-2018, 03:15 PM   #16
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oh boy, does that sound good! We will defiantly do that, it is a nice place to wear out 2 energetic toddlers. we usually get to the the Annenberg Beach as it is so kid friendly
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Old 08-15-2018, 03:17 PM   #17
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on the topic of towing, for some reason I feel more sway when towing with the 4runner than with the van. So next on the list is an anti sway bar.
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Old 08-15-2018, 03:37 PM   #18
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well, we sure were glad to have them! it was hot and we couldn't have stood it without the AC. It was nice to shower, not having to be stingy with the water. I really enjoyed taking a nice cool shower after kayaking this morning. This particular lake sees heavy use on holidays, and lots of snow birds stay during the winter. this time of year it is miserable out in the sun, but no crowds. Last night was delightful, with a dramatic thunder and lightning show and refreshing rain storm.

my son and his family seldom camp without hookups, neither does my sister and her husband. my sister and law and my husband want to be where there is not another person in sight.

I guess all these options are really good to have!!
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Old 08-15-2018, 05:22 PM   #19
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Hilda, yes, get an anti-sway bar ASAP. In theory, you can avoid sway by proper loading -- be sure to watch this very short video:



But really, why take a chance? A gust of wind, a passing truck, a dip in the pavement, or all three at once, and there could be trouble.

We have an anti sway bar -- very easy to install and use. We have never had a problem, even in 50 mph (really!!) cross-winds.

A weight distribution hitch is also supposed to be good, but it is more difficult to deploy, and they say it is not useful on very small trailers.
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Old 08-15-2018, 05:34 PM   #20
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someone, on this forum I think, said the trailer we have uses an axle that is too light weight to take the stress a weight distribution hitch would put on it. but for sure we are getting the anti-sway bar. on the way up we had a full fresh water tank, and were carrying our little honda generator in the front of the trailer. On the way back, we had used all the water, emptied the waste tanks and the generator was in the back of the vehicle. There was also some gusty wind. I could feel the difference! And although going up hills and driving 60-65 is easy in the 4runner, I won't drive that fast until we get the anti sway bar.

not that it matters, but I wonder if the front wheel drive, longer vehicle was less prone to sway. the 4runner is a bit shorter, rear wheel drive and stiffer suspension. also we had to get a lower drop on the hitch, because the rear is higher than the van.

regardless, we are delighted with this tow vehicle.
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