Towing capacity of a Pontiac Montana?



Well, I’m just plain confused. I want our 2002 Pontiac Montana to be able to tow 3000 lbs, with a loaded tongue weight of about 200 lbs. However, according to an engineer at Pontiac, the standard Montana can only pull 1500 lbs – though it says 3500 on some specifications, apparently that’s only if you ordered the towing package prior to manufacture. However, my mechanic (and the manufacturers of the trailer I want to pull) say that the Montana has more than the required wheelbase and horsepower, and that there’s a Drawtite Class III hitch with the Montana’s name on it, which means that the Montana can pull 3500 lbs. And that the “pre-manufacture” thing is bogus. Since I want to pull a horse trailer with world’s most wonderful horse, I have to make sure the Montana is up to job of pulling said horse and trailer safely. The loaded weight of the trailer would be about 2500lbs. Again, tongue weight of about 200 lbs, and the trailer has its own braking system. Can anyone shed any light on this?


Unfortunately, the best trailer hitch in the world cannot give you the higher capacity cooling system, “beefier” final drive ratio, transmission cooler, and other vital items that are part of the manufacturer’s towing package.

The manufacturers of the trailer want to sell you a trailer, come what may. And, your mechanic is ill-informed, unfortunately. I predict problems if you try to pull this trailer with your “non-towing package equipped” Montana.

If you want to see an example of what I am talking about–albeit on a different vehicle–take a look at:


The manufacturer of the trailer and your mechanic don’t have much to lose if you wreck this vehicle by exceeding the towing capacity, and you might even say they have something to gain (less so your mechanic).

Towing capacity is about more than wheelbase and horsepower. It involves the whole drivetrain, frame strength and rigidity, strength and size of the brakes, capacity of the transmission fluid cooler, alternator capacity, and other factors.

Please, whatever you do, [b][i]don’t exceed the towing capacity listed in your owner’s manual[/b][/i]. You will put yourself, your vehicle, the horses, and others in danger, and if there is any warranty left (like an extended warranty or a 100,000 mile drivetrain warranty), you will void it.


It is my understanding that the togue weight ought to be about 10% to 15% of the weight of the trailer for stability. So you’ll what to have 350# to 475# on the tongue. This has to be added to the stuff you are putting inside the van.


I think you maybe understimating the total weight of your loaded trailer. Most trailers are 2 horse and weigh closer to 2,000 lbs. The fact that it has trailer brakes is another hint it is heavier. An average horse weighs over 1,000 lbs too. Combined with water, and tack you are going to be closer to 3,500 lbs.

Just because there is a hitch available doesn’t mean the vehicle is rated at 3,500 lbs towing capacity. If you still have the owner’s manual it should give the towing capacity. If you stick to short trips with no interstate highways you might get away with it. Safe? No, you are overcapcity. Will it damage the Montana? Yes, the transmission will take a beating and will be prone to failure. Check out the cost of replacing the transmission before you proceed.

Best option is selling or trading in the Montana for a more capable tow vehicle. I did just that; sold a '98 Volvo wagon with 3,500 lb capacity for a '01 Toyota Sequoia with 6,500 lb capacity to tow my 2 horse trailer.