Caravan car travels on the highway at high speed on wet pavement.

Can a Van Tow a Camper?

Vans are popular vehicles for families because they can carry a tremendous amount of cargo. You’ll see kids piling out of them at soccer practices or school. You may even see one on a camping trip. But while vans may be one of the most family-friendly vehicles, can a van tow a camper? Let’s look and see!

Caravan car travels on the highway at high speed on wet pavement.

What Is Towing Capacity?

Towing capacity is the legal and safe limit a vehicle can tow. If you try towing too much weight, you could experience severe swaying from the trailer you’re towing.

The faster you go, the more likely you’ll experience this sway. Some drivers have experienced a total loss of control, which can result in a serious or fatal accident. 

You should never tow anything that’s over a vehicle’s towing capacity. You not only put yourself in danger but your passengers and others on the road. Plus, you could find yourself in serious legal trouble if you’re involved in an accident or caught towing over your towing capacity.

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What Is Payload Capacity?

Payload capacity is the amount of weight you can safely add to a vehicle. This will include the weight of all passengers and cargo and any accessories you might have installed on your vehicle. This is important to consider when towing, as some of the trailer’s weight will sit on the tow vehicle. 

Exceeding your payload capacity can put you in a dangerous situation and increase the wear and tear on your vehicle. You’re pushing it past the manufacturer’s recommendations. This could void warranties if the manufacturer discovered you were exceeding the payload or any other important towing numbers.

A small SUV pulls a travel trailer down the highway.

How Do I Find My Vehicle’s Capacities?

Sadly, vehicle manufacturers don’t make it easy for vehicle owners to find their towing capacities. The best bet is to learn your vehicle’s towing capacities when buying it and make a note of them.

Dealers have a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips and can help you pinpoint the information specific to your vehicle. However, we’re not always that lucky or thinking about it when we’re shopping for a vehicle.

Another way to find your vehicle’s capacities is to check with the manufacturer. Towing capacity numbers for all major vehicle manufacturers are relatively easy to find. They often post them on their websites, and you can locate them with a quick Google search.

You may have to investigate, but if you know details like your vehicle’s year, trim level, and engine size, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to locate the information you need from the manufacturer.

A vehicle passing a van towing a trailer on the highway.

Your vehicle’s payload capacity is one of the easiest numbers you can find. All you have to do is open the driver’s door and look at the inside door jam for a sticker with yellow on it.

This is the tire and loading information sticker. The sticker will say, “The combined weight of occupants and cargo should never exceed,” whatever your vehicle’s payload capacity is. You can ensure you’re under your payload capacity by quickly driving over a CAT Scale and checking your total weight.

What Is GVWR?

GVWR stands for “Gross Vehicle Weight Rating.” This is the maximum weight a camper or other trailer can weigh. The trailer or RV manufacturer sets this number. It includes all cargo, fluids, and camping gear you pack inside your camper for your trip.

If you’re worried about whether or not you’re over the GVWR of your RV, drive across a CAT Scale to check your weight. You don’t want to tow your RV if you’re over the GVWR.

We have seen RVers have some serious issues with their RVs. They were put in a very difficult situation as a result. One RVer over their GVWR discovered their frame was bent when they arrived at their campsite. They called their RV manufacturer and were very angry.

However, the manufacturer could void their warranty as the RVer had exceeded the GVWR. You don’t want to be on the hook if you don’t have to be when it comes to footing the bill for replacing your RV’s frame.

Can I Tow My Camper With a Van?

Whether or not you can tow your camper with your van will greatly depend on your vehicle type. Minivans aren’t great for towing, but they can pull very light teardrop-style trailers and pop-up campers. 

Be careful not to overload it with passengers or camping gear. Most minivans have a payload capacity of around 1,500 pounds, which can get eaten up very quickly if you have a family with a couple of teenagers and adults. However, your towing capabilities are slightly better if you’ve got a full-size van.

Full-time RVers test out towing their Airstream travel trailer with a van.

Full-size vans can carry 3,000 to 4,500 pounds, which is plenty of payload capacity for a camper. They also have towing capacity numbers that can compete with SUVs and even half-ton trucks.

Are they impressive tow numbers? Absolutely not. Will they get the job done and tow your camper during an adventure? You better believe it!

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Pros of Towing With a Van

There are many reasons to consider towing with a van. One of the largest pros is their tremendous amount of seating. You can find vans with seating for seven, nine, 12, or even 15 passengers.

You may be able to remove a seat or two to increase cargo space. They’re roomy vehicles that can carry a tremendous amount of weight.

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Many love towing with a van because they’re very easy to customize. You can adapt and modify the van to fit your unique situation. If you want to travel with pets and want a safe place for them to stay in their crates during your travels, a van can make it possible!

Cons of Towing With a Van

When it comes to towing with a van, there are some cons you should consider. The most obvious con is that it’s a van. They’re not flashy and won’t turn many eyes or attract much attention. They’re rather plain and aren’t going to win you any cool points when you pull into a campground or your work parking lot.

Cargo vans don’t make great daily driver vehicles because they’re a box on wheels. They’re not very aerodynamic and typically get pretty terrible gas mileage.

Their massive height also makes them nearly impossible to fit into any parking garages. Many of these vehicles are also rear-wheel drive, making them bad in snow or slick conditions.

You Might Be Surprised What a Van Can Tow

Vans are more capable than many people think when it comes to towing. However, unless you need the seating or storage space, you’ll likely consider other options for a tow vehicle.

They may get the job done, but there are better vehicles for the job. You don’t want to push your vehicle to its limits, especially if you live in a mountainous or hilly part of the country.

If You Love RVing, You Need to Stay Informed

Don’t rely on biased RV industry news sources to keep you informed with RVing news.

Stick with Nomadic News. We publish daily articles and breaking stories that matter to your RV lifestyle.

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