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Can I Use a Van to Tow a Travel Trailer?

by Bob K
(New Castle, Pa. USA)

Many years ago we would haul horses in a very heavy steel trailer behind the family sedan or wagon. I even had a clamp on bumper hitch for my old 1970 full sized Dodge 4 door sedan. I see now that everyone seems to use pickup trucks.

I am wondering if there is any reason we could/should not use a sprinter type van to pull a 23-28 foot camper trailer. It seems to me this would be a good combination but am not sure about weight and stability, etc.

I do not have either the van/truck or the trailer. I will be purchasing after the sale of my home so I can go full time. I used a '78 Thunderbird to pull a 19' and then a 26'? 20 years ago when we were a family and never had problems.

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I just like the idea of a van now that I will be traveling alone. Your input would be greatly appreciated.

Bob Koontz

ANSWER: Hi Bob thanks for submitting your question on our Ask An RV Question Page

As you have probably guessed by now the good old days that you refer to of being able to tow a fairly decent size Travel Trailer with a passenger vehicle are over. Now it is a matter of matching your tow vehicle to the Travel Trailer you plan to use to make sure that you get a tow vehicle that can safely pull the trailer.

In general when you are talking about towing a 23-28 foot Travel Trailer you are going to have to look at Full-Size Vans such as the E-Series from Ford, The Express Van from Chevy, etc. These full-size vans make very stable towing platforms when equipped with the proper tow package to meet the towing weight of your chosen Travel Trailer.

Based on your needs you cannot consider mini-vans such as the Town & Country by Chrysler, the Sienna by Toyota, etc. as these vehicles would not meet your towing requirements. Some Mini-Vans do however have enough towing capacity to safely tow a Tent Trailer or a small Expandable Hybrid Trailer.

You had mentioned that at one time you had used a clamp on bumper hitch on one of your vehicles to tow a trailer, well those days are also over. Once you get your tow vehicle I would suggest that you use a weight distributing hitch which will help immensely with keeping your travel trailer stable during travel.

I realize that everything I have mentioned so far has been general information. When it gets close to the time for the purchase of your trailer you are going to have to do some research to setup the proper package for you. One of the keys of setting up a proper tow package is making sure weight does not become an issue so I would Urge to read the article Trailer and RV Weight Demystified which will give a clearer idea of what to look for in your tow vehicle.

Hope this helped.

Do you have any suggestions or comments on this topic? You can add them to this page by clicking on the "Click Here To Post Comments" link located near the bottom of this page.

Happy RVing

RVing Al

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Of course you can use a van...or ANY vehicle
by: Hank Photo

The laws of physics have not changed since the 60's and 70's when MA and pa strapped on big mirrors backed up to the travel trailer in the big 4 door car and off you went. Just liability concerns from maufactirers .

Anyway, I use my 2011 Lincoln Town Car to occasionally road trip my 34 foot bumper pull travel trailer. I moved it from Dallas, TX to Western Oregon with this car. Custom welded 15,000 pound Curt weld on class 5 hitch, 10,000lb weight distribution hitch correctly set up under the factory bumper cover with an access hole for the receiver, did all work myself cept for the actual welds, electric brake controller, a LARGE transmission cooler, and a transmission shift kit...oh yea, air shocks for a crown vic, factory coil springs, no air springs. An engine reprogrammer for turning on the fans at 180 degrees .Rides like a dream, level, and safe up to 50....I do cruise at 60 on level flat non windy days...the addition of Reese cam based sway control made cruising on windy days much better...I don't drive on snow or ice...ever.

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