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Hi all, first post here. 2 kids and a (very nice) surprise on the way means I'm now in the market for a minivan. Considering the Pacifica and Odyssey. Unfortunately I can't afford new, but the used market has lots of options in my price range. I need this vehicle to tow a popup camper, and this is apparently looking to cause problems.

I have found several used Pacificas with the factory tow package, but they are very few and far between, would require excessive travel to pick up, and seem to carry a premium price tag as there is lots of demand. I have an aftermarket hitch on my current vehicle and I've been very happy with it. I see others here have done the same with their Pacifica, but I am very taken aback by Chrysler's documented reduction in towing capacity unless you're using *their* towing package. I find this very frustrating and suspicious.

As an engineer, I understand the need for engine and transmission cooling, so I get that, and would pursue aftermarket options with an aftermarket hitch. I can see possibly arguing for a larger alternator and battery, but doesn't seem as necessary. I cannot see why the factory hitch would have double the capacity of an aftermarket hitch. On several other vehicles, the factory hitch just bolts on to the undercarriage the exact same way as an aftermarket hitch would. And factory equipment is usually smaller and less robust. Is this not the case with the Pacifica? Do they have something integral to the body that changes with the tow package? I cannot see Chrysler making significant body changes for this. There are no suspension changes with the towing package. So what gives?

Also, I know the factory tow package has an added electronic stability system. Why is it the majority of other vehicles get by without another added system? Does the Pacifica have known stability issues with some extra weight behind it? Makes me wonder. Also, what happens if you do it right, get the factory tow package with stability system, and the stability system has a fault and goes out in the middle of a drive? It is arguably another point of failure - if the car decides to kill that system and there are stability concerns without it, now you're in the same boat again. As a previous Chrysler owner, I'm unfortunately too aware of Chrysler's reliability history, as well as the Pacifica's electronic issues specifically as well (though I want to think they got it better this time). So... are there safety concerns with this?

I'm just really confused on this. Is it FCA CYA, a sales trick to scare buyers into padding their commissions more, or a safety concern? I like the Pacifica but this would keep me from buying one if it really is an issue. Any thoughts or discussion are appreciated. Thanks.
 

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I think you've answered your own questions already. There's also the warranty claim problem if they believe you have been towing more than the 1500 lb. they may deny you service under warranty. Also if you wire up a trailer brake, then they are going to know you've been towing more than the 1500 lb.
 

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I Just purchased a Livin' Lite 10.0 pop up trailer. Weights about 1100 lbs. Towing in 99 degree weather from texas, i saw my coolant and trans temps riser by about 10 degrees. Highest trans got was 193 for about 5 miles when i was in town going slow.

I have looked into the parts, and adding the factory trans cooler would be pretty easy. I think the larger radiator on the towing package would not be needed until you get closer to the 3000 lbs mark, or are in a ton of mountains
 

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There is no additional transmission cooling, those are the same for all Pacificas. The only hardware difference I've heard about is the radiator, which is slightly larger with the towing package. Check out my thread here:

http://www.pacificaforums.com/forum/489-towing/37202-towing-experience-3-500-lb-boat.html

I tow a 3,500-lb boat with my Pacifica, and I've made no modifications other than the hitch and wiring. All Pacificas have the ability to display engine coolant temperature, oil temperature, oil pressure, and transmission temperature in the information display. Towing my boat in 95-degree weather, the factory cooling package has been more than adequate. I imagine the beefed up radiator is useful for passing the J2807 Davis Dam test right at the limit, but most of us don't climb the most brutal grade in the nation with our trailers. I'll continue to monitor my temps while towing and make a change if one is needed, but so far I've pulled over 500 miles and neither the engine nor transmission have come anywhere close to needing more cooling.

I think you've answered your own questions already. There's also the warranty claim problem if they believe you have been towing more than the 1500 lb. they may deny you service under warranty. Also if you wire up a trailer brake, then they are going to know you've been towing more than the 1500 lb.
Over the last fifteen years I've spent time on a bunch of different automotive forums from several manufacturers. I've heard a lot of warranty horror stories, but I've never heard of someone with a denied warranty claim because of trailer weight. Heck, one well-known poster on another forum used to work for GM and said that they never even consider this in the warranty process. Of course it's a different company with different procedures, but I don't think anyone is putting trailers on scales to deny a warranty claim.
 

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not sure how they would even prove what weight trailer you were towing My 1000 lbs trailer had an option for trailer brakes. it does not have them, but it could. ALso, a 2000 lbs flat bed trailer could we weighted down to 5000 lbs, but how would they ever prove it?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
There is no additional transmission cooling, those are the same for all Pacificas. The only hardware difference I've heard about is the radiator, which is slightly larger with the towing package. Check out my thread here:
*snip*
Thanks for the link - I did see your thread earlier so I appreciate you posting. I'm somewhere between (1) cautious that something else is at play here and the reduced rating should be adhered to, and (2) as long as I understand what I'm doing, it'll be fine just like any other vehicle. I just don't know any other manufacturer that claims a 3rd party hitch is worth less than a stock one... then again I have not reviewed every vehicle - I should look into the odyssey, maybe it says the same thing.

Seems the anti-sway system is for sure a "nice-to-have" but load your trailer properly and drive appropriately like you would in any other vehicle and you'll be fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Ok, thanks TomB for the thoughts. I have a little time to figure it out, but I'm leaning back towards aftermarket hitch on the Pacifica.
 

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Whatever your thoughts on the tow ratings with vs without the tow package, just keep in mind that if you don't have the tow package your only rated to tow a max of 1500lbs. If you were to get into an accident while exceeding that weight your insurance company will most likely drop you on the spot and leave you on the hook for whatever damages may have occurred. That risk seems much more costly than the cost of the tow package.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
what popup trailer do you have / looking at getting
Don't have one yet, but I'm cheap so I'm guessing an ultralight might be out of the question. I just don't want to be limited either - just in case.

Whatever your thoughts on the tow ratings with vs without the tow package, just keep in mind that if you don't have the tow package your only rated to tow a max of 1500lbs. If you were to get into an accident while exceeding that weight your insurance company will most likely drop you on the spot and leave you on the hook for whatever damages may have occurred. That risk seems much more costly than the cost of the tow package.
Now why did you have to go and ruin all the fun? lol Yes, this, among others, is another reason for concern.

I just did a cursory look through the Pacifica and Odyssey owners manuals regarding towing. It's clear as day in the Pacifica manual that the limit is 1500lbs trailer weight and 150lbs (149lbs) tongue weight "without towing package." My guess is it can support more tongue weight but 150lbs is 10% of the claimed 1500lb max tow capacity. I wonder if you could make a case if you did the necessary upgrades yourself that it met the same criteria. Couldn't do sway control, but everything else. Don't want to test that though. It also suggests that in order to maintain the warranty, all these "guidelines" need to be kept. What's interesting is the GCWR is 6500lbs without tow package and 8600 with.

The odyssey is more vague, and makes no distinction between towing package or not. It has a maximum trailer weight based on number of occupants, and a maximum gross vehicle weight. That's it.

So, it still leaves me with the question... why?

edit: looking closer, the chart with tow limits actually says they're for the given drivetrain. Change the drivetrain and it doesn't apply? So, throw in the bigger cooler and you're good? (probably not, but bureaucracy stinks)
 

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I towed a 1500ish popup without brakes and you could hardly even tell the trailer was attached to the van. This was through Skyline drive and several other hilly areas.

I currently have a 2500 lbs popup but have only driven in 40 miles. My first long trip is this weekend and I plan to post about it.

Also the comment about insurance. My popup is insured with the same company as my car, tow rating stuff never even came up.
 

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My last insurance company asked what a pop-up was when I tried to add it to my policy. I don't think they'll question the tow package. But I've always went with the tow package because it wasn't too much. I've noticed that very few new Pacifica's have them so I may be in the same boat. Wish they'd build more with the tow package.
 

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Ok, thanks TomB for the thoughts. I have a little time to figure it out, but I'm leaning back towards aftermarket hitch on the Pacifica.
While I agree with others that you'll likely be fine with after market from a pulling perspective, keep in mind there are a couple other benefits to the OEM version. For one it sits a good bit higher off the road as it's built into the rear bumper which can make a difference for things like bike racks and cargo carriers. You also get working hands-free opening since there are two sensors included on either side of the OEM hitch (as opposed to one sensor in the middle without it). Obviously subjective, but I think it looks a bit better as well :smile2:
 

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Whatever your thoughts on the tow ratings with vs without the tow package, just keep in mind that if you don't have the tow package your only rated to tow a max of 1500lbs. If you were to get into an accident while exceeding that weight your insurance company will most likely drop you on the spot and leave you on the hook for whatever damages may have occurred. That risk seems much more costly than the cost of the tow package.
That's also a rampant internet myth that's been out there forever.

Negligence can't be used to deny an insurance claim. Heck, that's the whole purpose behind car insurance. Someone is almost ALWAYS negligent when an accident occurs, but it's virtually unheard of for an insurance company to deny a claim on that basis. They deny claims every day based on coverages and fault(collision vs. liability and assigned responsibility), but never negligence. That's why DWI victims still get their losses covered despite gross criminal negligence on the part of the person who was drinking. The drunk operator's vehicle is also covered if he paid for collision coverage, but of course the insurance company will frequently drop coverage because of risk after paying the claim that they are legally required to pay.

I've chatted with a few law enforcement officers over the years about this, and they all agree on one thing. There is no legal meaning behind manufacturer's recommended towing capacities. The only enforceable standards are what are on the door sticker, which are GVWR and GAWRs. GCWR isn't listed on a passenger vehicle or light truck's sticker, so that limits what you're legally responsible for in the event of an accident investigation.

Has anyone seriously heard of state police scraping up an accident scene, piling all the bits of rubble into a truck, and hauling everything to a scale? I've yet to find a single example in any state.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
While I agree with others that you'll likely be fine with after market from a pulling perspective, keep in mind there are a couple other benefits to the OEM version. For one it sits a good bit higher off the road as it's built into the rear bumper which can make a difference for things like bike racks and cargo carriers. You also get working hands-free opening since there are two sensors included on either side of the OEM hitch (as opposed to one sensor in the middle without it). Obviously subjective, but I think it looks a bit better as well :smile2:
Yep, I do like the look of the factory hitch better for sure. I think I remember reading the factory hitch on the pacifica is only about 1/4" higher than an aftermarket one since it mounts so low, so I'm not as concerned about height on this as I would be on another vehicle, but I will be using a bike rack on this even more than a trailer so it is a consideration. I'm probably not going to get a trim level high enough for the foot sensors so likely not a consideration for me, but who knows, maybe I'll find a good deal.
 

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Yep, I do like the look of the factory hitch better for sure. I think I remember reading the factory hitch on the pacifica is only about 1/4" higher than an aftermarket one since it mounts so low, so I'm not as concerned about height on this as I would be on another vehicle, but I will be using a bike rack on this even more than a trailer so it is a consideration. I'm probably not going to get a trim level high enough for the foot sensors so likely not a consideration for me, but who knows, maybe I'll find a good deal.


1/4” seems way too little. I took a look at my OEM hitch and I’d say the bottom of the bumper aligns roughly with the midline on the hitch. So at best I’d guess a well designed after market hitch would be about 1 1/2 inches lower. Still may not be an issue, but it seemed off so made me take a look.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
1/4” seems way too little. I took a look at my OEM hitch and I’d say the bottom of the bumper aligns roughly with the midline on the hitch. So at best I’d guess a well designed after market hitch would be about 1 1/2 inches lower. Still may not be an issue, but it seemed off so made me take a look.
Ok, thanks for that.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I could be wrong, but the sway control isn't a sway bar but rather an electronic sensing system that works with the brakes, there isn't any extra hardware associated with it.
 
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