Category Archives: RV

Towing a travel trailer with a mini-van

This is a repost from 2012…. but it is one of the most read posts on my blog!

My friend David sent me a note the other day – he’s got a mini-van and is buying (has bought) a hybrid trailer like ours.  He was getting some contradictory advice on towing.  Will his mini-van tow this trailer safely – is really what he wanted to know.

Camping in Nothern California

So I shared with him our experience in towing our hybrid with two mini-vans.

We had a Chrysler Caravan (’98 I believe) and it had a 3 L 165 hp Mitsubshi motor with a three-speed transmission.  It towed our very small, 1000 lb tent trailer well, not that we had a great deal of get up and go…it was sluggish with just a 3-speed transmission. But it did the job.

The 05 Uplander – Revelstoke BC

In 2005 we were fortunate enough to move up to the Chevy Uplander – not the best mini-van on the market – however that allowed us to purchase our current Surveyor Hybrid and with a four-speed transmission the Uplander pulled the trailer fairly well.   We needed to add the transmission cooler and the class 3 hitch along with the appropriate wiring but we did not touch the suspension or the alternator.  We left them as supplied by GM. We did, of course, add the equalizer bars to the towing arrangement which really kept the van and trailer level.

The Uplander was introduced in 2004/5 and replaced the  Venture.  The Venture had a very reliable 3.4 L 185 hp V6.  The Uplander got a slightly more powerful 3.5L 201 hp V6.  My only complaint was that on inclines it would rev up to 4500 rpm and going through the mountains that meant at times an incline of 17 km.

Camping in Billings Montana

I did check this out with GM who assured me that the engine could do 4500 rpm “all day”.  Really?  All day?  I still didn’t like it.

In 2008 we were able to move up to the 2008 Uplander.  This final version of the Uplander (GM ceased production that year) was given the 3.9L V6 producing a much better 240 hp.

Our experience has been that the additional 40 hp allows the vehicle to pull the trailer without needing to run into such high rpm’s.  In fact, we often call pull our trailer at 100 km/hr running at just over 2000 rpm.

The 2008 also came with a built-in transmission cooler and once again we didn’t touch the suspension.  The equalizer bars continue to do the trick.

I pointed my friend Dave to the canamrv.ca website.  This company has been working with Canadians to set up tow vehicle/trailer combinations for years.  Take a look at some of the combinations that work!

You may wish to look at this article from the RV Lifestyle magazine (Vol. 41 No. 2) Hint: click on the article to enlarge it.  After you’ve read it, I would love to hear what you think?

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Camping 2017

Wendy and I have been camping on and off for almost 36 years. Our first adventure was in a tent – summer camping – but not an experience that either of us really adored. Then we borrowed a small motorhome – that was good but we spent too much on fuel just getting there. Then we rented someone’s trailer – that was better but it was old and we were novices. Finally to our own tent trailer and we were super thrilled with what we had though it was a pretty primitive trailer (compared to some).

Seven years of being in the tent trailer and we moved up to our hybrid – a travel trailer but with tent ends. We’ve had this since 2005 – twelve years now and we really love it. We feel privileged and though I know at some point this too will need to be left behind I’m not anxious to give it up!

My sisters are high-end hotel users…too bad for them I think.

The summer is rapidly coming to the end. In the next couple of weeks, I will be winterizing the trailer and we’ll be putting it away for the winter. However, with that end of season stuff comes the joy of knowing we’ll be back next summer.

Redeeming the time

Has there ever been a person who didn’t look forward to a restful vacation? Perhaps there has been but it wasn’t me, at least not this year! I could hardly wait!

Our trailer continues to age and each year I open it up in spring while holding my breath! Will the roof be leaking? Will the fridge start? Will the propane system be safe?

We are well into summer 2017 and enjoying our getaway spot. Here’s a few photos to make you wish you were with us!

Summer is a wonderful time! Join us at the lake….