In this article, we will answer the following question: Can a minivan tow a U-haul trailer? We will explain how to attach a tow cable to a minivan, how to tow an RV with your minivan and give you a few extra tips and warnings.
Can a minivan tow a U-haul trailer?
Most minivans have a towing capacity of 3,500 lbs (1587 kg), which is in most cases just enough to tow a U-haul trailer. Of course, before hitting the road, you will have to take into consideration the following:
- The empty weight of towing vehicle;
- The GVW of towing vehicle;
- The towing capacity of towing vehicle;
- The plated MAM of the trailer;
- The unladen/empty weight of the trailer.
Minivans are multipurpose vehicles and unlike pickup trucks and SUVs, minivans have front-wheel drive, which makes them safer and more versatile for towing another vehicle in wet conditions. You will need a towing package for your minivan to tow safely.
How to connect a tow cable to a Minivan?
From time to time, minivan owners might find themselves in a situation – such as a mechanical breakdown or getting stuck in mud, snow, or ice – that forces them to attach a tow rope or tow strap to their minivan.
But minivans are not usually one of the easiest vehicles to connect to a tow strap. Yours can be equipped with tow hooks, making the job easier, but most aren’t, so they require a bit of vehicle chassis knowledge to securely attach a tow rope.
Find a place to attach the tow rope to your minivan. If there is no tow hitch, attach the tow strap to the major structural members of the vehicle’s frame – but not the bumper, axles, suspension, steering rods, or a tow hitch ball.
At the front of the truck are some one-inch to 1 1/2 inch thick steel bars, attached to the wheel hub or axle and other interior components. They are easily accessible but avoid them by all means. They are part of your steering and suspension, and they are going to bend, requiring costly repairs to keep your minivan straight.
Instead, look along the thick frame rails that run the length of the car on one foot inside either side of the body. Find a place where you can run the tow strap or rope through and back out.
Inspect the tow cable or strap to make sure it is not worn or frayed. If necessary, clean off dirt or mud, which can become embedded in the nylon fibres and weaken the strap.
Route the tow cable around the appropriate point you can find on the vehicle’s frame. Tow ropes with metal hooks are widely considered unsafe; a towing strap with loops is best. Loop the strap over the point you chose and back through the loop at the other end of the rope or strap. The slack will get withdrawn when the other vehicle starts towing.
Cover the tow cable or strap between vehicles with a blanket or tarp to help stop the strap from breaking your back and injuring someone if the strap breaks while trying to pull the minivan.
Turn the key in your truck to the ACC (accessory or “in” but not started) position and slide the gearshift lever into neutral before towing. Someone must remain at the wheel of the towed minivan as the tow vehicle pulls. An unmanned vehicle should never be towed.
Pull the minivan slowly and steadily to avoid damage to either vehicle. Once the strap or rope is taut, the vehicle is ready to move. Do not exceed 35 miles per hour.
Tip: Take as much time as necessary to find a safe place to attach the tow rope if your minivan does not have tow hooks under the vehicle. When in doubt, call a wrecker or towing service.
Other questions you may be interested in
Can a minivan tow an RV?
Minivans are multipurpose vehicles that come with front-wheel drive and horsepower that gives them the ability to tow other vehicles like an RV. Towing an RV with your minivan is a bit technical and can be a bit intimidating at first.
However, understanding RV trailer safety along with a little practice driving will have you operating your RV with confidence and enjoyment in no time.
- Modern minivans are made with a trailer in mind. Check your minivan manual to find out the maximum towing capacity. Certain minivans can tow up to 3,800 pounds. Check the size and weight of the RV that is to be towed with your truck against what the owner’s manual for the truck says is compatible.
- Evaluate the rear overhang to the wheelbase ratio of your minivan. To do this, simply divide the length of the rear overhang with the wheelbase. Multiply that number by 100 to get a percentage. The lower the percentage you receive, the better your minivan will handle the load.
- Hook up the RV to your minivan. Use the cat’s tongue to lift the tongue out of the RV to the point that the hitch clears. Back up the minivan carefully until the hitch lines up. Lower the jack until the hitch tab snaps into place. Use a backup camera or helper if necessary.
- Place the bars, chains and brake line anti-sway on the frame of the van and plug the flexible electrical connection cable into the connector on the minivan.
- Check that the RV lights work.
- Remove the wheel chocks by raising the levelling feet. Raise the tongue jack leg up to the moment you think the RV is fully supported by the minivan.
- Examine the entire vehicle, walking around it to make sure all the stairs are up, the cable connections are disconnected, and the antenna is lowered.
- Begin by driving the truck at a very constant speed.
Tip: In case your RV is a bit wider compared to your minivan, make sure that you get and install side mirrors that are extra wide. Drive with extreme caution when towing. Make sure you don’t exceed the speed limit or make turns that are really sharp.
Can a minivan tow a boat?
Boats have the ability to be towed, but not everyone has a truck that will do the job. Other vehicles may have the ability to tow the boats if they are properly equipped with a tow bar and ball hitch and if the weight of the boat is at the limit of what the vehicle can safely tow, this includes the minivan.
With the right equipment and practice, the minivan is as capable of towing a boat as a truck.
- Check the combined weight of the boat and trailer, as well as the towing capacity of your minivan by referring to the owner’s manuals for both vehicles. If the towing limit on the minivan is greater than the weight of the boat and trailer combination, then your minivan can tow the boat.
- Ensure proper connections (electrical harness, chain lock slots and properly sized hitch ball) are available on the towing device of the truck. The hitch and ball on your minivan must be capable of towing the weight of the boat and trailer. This information must be recorded on the hitch.
- Attach the boat trailer to the minivan tow bar by backing up the vehicle to align with the trailer hitch. Backup is best done with the help of another person to watch and guide you to the trailer without incident.
- Hook the tow hook onto the ball of the minivan and lock it in place. Attach all safety chains to the tow bar of the truck and plug in the electric lighting to the boat trailer.
- Inspect all boat trailer connections on the vehicle to ensure all items are secure and locked. Check all exterior boat straps, chains, and lighting devices to ensure functionality, and to ensure the boat is securely attached to the trailer before driving away.
The bottom line
Most minivans were designed with the towing capacity in mind. Check the combined weight of the minivan and the U-haul trailer/boat/RV, as well as the towing capacity of your minivan by referring to the owner’s manuals for both vehicles.
But generally, minivans are multipurpose vehicles that come with front-wheel drive and horsepower that gives them the ability to tow other vehicles.
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FAQ on Can a minivan tow a U-haul trailer?
Can you pull a travel trailer with a minivan?
Yes, you can pull a travel trailer with a minivan. Check the combined weight of the minivan and the travel trailer, as well as the towing capacity of your minivan by referring to the owner’s manuals for both vehicles.
Can a van pull a trailer?
A van can definitely pull a trailer. While many associate trailer lowing with SUVs, a minivan can do just as a great job. Besides, you have more space for your luggage and passengers!
Which minivan is best for towing?
Some of the best minivans for towing are Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, Ford Transit, Nissan NV and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter or Metris.