Adding a trailer hitch to a mini van

2007 Chrysler Town and Country with 75K. We’re looking at buying a pop-up trailer but figuring out the weight the Chrysler can tow is difficult. It doesn’t have the towing package, so we’d have to add that. The owner’s manual says w/o the towing package, it can tow 1800 pounds but with the towing package, it can tow 3500 pounds, with the same engine listed. It has a 3.8L V6.

How much can it really tow? How reliable is an aftermarket tow hitch?

I wouldn’t tow anything that weighed 1800 pounds with a Chrysler mini-van.

First. The transmissions aren’t that robust to handle any more weight than what is normally hauled in the van itself. And if the there’s not a seperate transmission fluid cooler this puts more strain on the transmission/fluid because of the higher operating temperatures.

Second. This van has the same brake components that are used on the Neon/Pt Cruiser. Way under-sized for the weight of the van itself. Now you’re going try to stop an extra 1800 pounds at the least with these small brakes. And in a panic stop that could be dangerous.


What is included with the tow package? I have a tow package on my Explorer, and that includes an external transmission cooler, larger springs in back, and a limited slip rear axle with synthetic gear lube.

It’s important to know what optional equipment is needed to go from 1800 to 3500 lbs.

Also, an aftermarket tow hitch from a reputable brand is quite reliable. I have a Curt 2-in reciever hitch on my truck that is well designed, fits great, and is really solid.

1800 pounds isn t much. nine 200 pound men is any easy way to picture it.

Plus the the weight of the van, the people inside the van, and cargo inside the van. An extra 1800 pounds can mean you stop in time before you slam into the vehicle in front of you in a panic stop, or plow into that vehicle.


Adding a tow package could get very expensive. The specs show it’s about a 600 dollar option but that means on a van that is fitted with it on the assembly line. Tacking it on afterwards could be a different ballgame as it appears to involve a different radiator, engine and transmission coolers, load leveling suspension, etc, etc.

That also sounds like a lot of weight to me and the terrain could weigh into this decision. Light use in the flatlands is one thing but piloting a rig like this in mountainous or hilly terrain would make me a bit nervous.

yeah, I m not familiar with the braking system, so I ll take your word for it. and for the OP, just slapping a hitch on some thing is not the same as a factory tow package.

A 2007 Chrysler T & C with a 3.8 does not use the same brakes as a PT Cruiser. The Chrysler Voyager might but the T&C 3.8 doesn’t. I agree, the brakes should be bigger, but as long as EPA fuel economy numbers sell cars, it isn’t going to happen.

See if you can retrofit as much of the tow package as you can afford, my dad owned a 88 grand voyager with the tow package (rated for 4,000 pounds that year) and still only felt comfortable using it to tow our 1600 pound ski boat. A 2007 should be more durable but these vans haven’t had the best track record. My dad has a curt hitch on his current tow vehicle and used a aftermarket hitch on the Grand Voyager and has never had any issues, the hitch that his father used when they lived in SE Asia (state dept) is a story for another time

You can use an aftermarket hitch like a Reese, just make sure it has a two inch receiver and is at least class III. I believe class III is good for 5000 lbs, but that does not mean the van will be able to tow 5000 lbs. Next, get a transmission oil cooler installed to protect the transmission, and get the transmission serviced while you are at it, new filter and new fluid.

Last, get good ceramic brakes put on. Go with a good brand like Akebono or Wagner Thermoquiet. get the brake fluid flushed while you are at it.

All the above is just for towing 1800 lbs. If you want to tow more than that, get a full trailer wiring kit that includes support for electric brakes on the trailer, and make sure the trailer has electric brakes. You may also need a new radiator as well.

With a tow package I think 1800 lbs is possible if you drive carefully. A 3500lb trailer is asking for trouble, no matter what your mechanic tells you. I would avoid that.

A neighbor down the street has a tent trailer and they totaled their Honda Odessey transmission pulling a tent trailer. They now have an SUV.

The weak area is the transmission and the brakes. An auxiliary transmission fluid cooler is a must.

How reliable is an aftermarket tow hitch?

As good or BETTER then the OEM hitch. Buy a Reese/Drawtite hitch. They are the best on the market. U-Haul is a Reese/Drawtite hitch.

Getting a good hitch is the easy part. Most “towing” packages include; bigger radiator (additional cooling), a larger transmission cooler, higher capacity alternator, larger battery, and bigger brake pads rotors and drums. About the only thing you can add with aftermarket parts at reasonable costs is a larger transmission cooler.

Therefore the OP’s mini van will never be able to approach the towing capacity of the same vehicle with a factory towing package. Towing a camper always means more additional gear in the camper and in the towing vehicle. If the OP goes ahead with this plan, he should budget for a replacement or rebuild of the auto transmission in about 1-3 years. It is the auto transmission that takes the brunt of the wear and tear. Since the differential is incorporated into the transmission as a unit in a FWD car, the differential gears can also give up the ghost. Either way it means transmission work at some point in the future.

Your mini van is not a good candidate for towing anything. Besides…a FWD vehicle is not suited for towing at all.

I’ve always used Rigid Hitch or Reese and they are very good. Mostly class II for me for a light trailer. Class III is very heavy duty and may not be available for every vehicle. Mine cost about $300 installed so they are not cheap. Absolutely agree on the trans cooler and heavy duty cooling would be a plus. Still I think 3000# is really not too practical on a mini van. It used to be standard full sized cars could handle it but now its pretty much trucks and SUVs.

Asking a vehicle with 75k on it to start working harder is always a little bit of a risk, the transmission probably will need to be rebuilt/replaced in a couple of years but that might have been the case without towing anything (I think we got about 80k on the 1988’s transmission before having it lose all forward drive just up the street from the local Aamco)

I have a 12 foot Starcraft popup with the slide out and A/C. On the scale it weighs 3010 lbs. We remove the rear seats in the van and fill it with all the foolishness you need for camping including a couple hundred pounds of firewood. We have pulled it with our 97 Grand Caravan with the 2.4 liter and the three speed automatic since new. Over 200,000 miles and things are going good, just a lot of rust. No tow package, just an aftermarket hitch and wiring harness. HOWEVER,we never go more than 75 miles from home. I also understand that the 3 speed is nearly indestructible and the four speed not so much.

Getting a good hitch is the easy part. Most "towing" packages include; bigger radiator (additional cooling), a larger transmission cooler, higher capacity alternator, larger battery, and bigger brake pads rotors and drums. About the only thing you can add with aftermarket parts at reasonable costs is a larger transmission cooler.

The place I bought my pop-up trailer also sells a towing package kit for most vehicles. This includes a larger battery, higher capacity alternator, separate transmission cooler, load leveling. On some vehicles they also offer a upgrade to the brake system (larger rotors and calipers/pads). Yes there’s a cost. But the cost is usually cheaper then the factory OEM towing package.

My major concern would be the braking. Minivan brakes are nothing great and adding 2000 lbs of weight to the back just more stress. Does your trailer have a braking system?

Towing packages sometimes have more than what you can modify. For example my Acura MDX (can tow 5000 lbs) actually changes the stability control into a tow mode when it senses(wiring harness likely) it is towing. That being said there was no option for towing just a dealer add-on.

I recently towed 2800 lbs+trailer behind my MDX with a rented Uhaul trailer. You definitely felt it behind you on the steep downgrades.

Braking is always a concern. Most pop-ups come with trailer brakes these days. I wouldn’t tow anything long distance that weighs over 2000lbs without trailer brakes.