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will my car pull my boat?

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  • will my car pull my boat?

    new here and got a towing question. i have a 84 20 foot i/o open bow malibu cruiser, which weighs about 2000#s. trailer is nothing special just a tandem axle. doesnt look heavy id say about 400#s or so, also has a surge brake. now the car its a 2006 chrysler pacifica 3.5L all wheel drive 3500# tow limit, weight about 5k#s i think, 250hp and tq, also has trans and oil coolers. i know the car will tote the boat here and there, but do you think ill have problem on the launch? i dont want to slip down while trying to pull it out. i also have a truck to pull but the chrysler fits more people. thanks for any input.


  • #2
    Re: will my car pull my boat?

    my experiance with all wheel drive vans says that i don't think you will have a problem at ramps. towing uphill may be another question.

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    • #3
      Re: will my car pull my boat?

      I think you are GROSSLY underestimating the weight of your rig. The tandem trailer is my first clue.

      WEIGH IT! Most moving companies have drive on scales. Obviously, truck stops too. I do this all the time.

      The issue is not pulling it, the issue is STOPPING it.

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      • #4
        Re: will my car pull my boat?

        Just the wheels, axles, springs, and brakes weigh 400 pounds. That trailer probably weighs more like 800 - 850#. A Chrysler Pacifica is not a van its a crossover SUV. Regardless, when said "it fits more people" you need to understand that the people you put in the car counts as cargo and therefore detracts from towing capacity. So without any guessing at all, you are overloaded with four people in the car. Add fuel, gear, adult beverages, and --- well you see where this is going.

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        • #5
          Re: will my car pull my boat?

          i was also thinkin about the stopping part, ive installed different brake pad compounds and the vehicle has 4 wheel disc brakes. ive pulled a yard of concrete in the vehicle and had no real issues stopping.

          in the car is only my wife and i when i tow, it would be easier to use the chrysler if i could so when the boat is launched and trailer disconnected i can have my wife or whoever is with me drive and get the rest of the group and only have one car in the parking lot. do you think the chrysler would work if it was only the 2 of us or am i better using my truck a older 77 chevy half ton. i leave my boat at my dads house which is only 1 mile to the launch all flat land and residential to get there. once in a while we would go camping 100 miles away.

          thanks for all the input

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          • #6
            Re: will my car pull my boat?

            should i look into a weight distributing hitch

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            • #7
              Re: will my car pull my boat?

              You're not reading us.

              You have NO idea what the rig weighs-realistically.

              You MAY be OK BUT until you find out what you are really dealing with, any plans are pure guesswork.

              Your super duper brake pads won't amount to a hill of beans if your brakes are undersized OR your hitch pulls out of the sheet metal (seen it happen).

              Spend $10.00 and weight it.

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              • #8
                Re: will my car pull my boat?

                I agree with the others that your boat probably weighs more than 2000 lbs. I think you will be alright pulling it though.

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                • #9
                  Re: will my car pull my boat?

                  I use to have a Dodge Dakota. 5.2L v-8, 3.9 rear end, etc. It could tow a lot, but I replaced brakes pads every year (eventually got lifetime warranted pads) I hated expansion joints on the freeway (oscillated) and since my trailer was as heavy and longer than my truck, when the wind blew it swayed (even with anti sway bar). I never complained about it (especially to my wife), because it is what I had.

                  What can be done, sometimes shouldn't be done. But if it has to be done, just be careful.
                  1987 Boston Whaler "Outrageous 18"
                  1989 Johnson 120 V4 VRO

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                  • #10
                    Re: will my car pull my boat?

                    i bet it is too much, i would bet the boat and trailer come closer to 4,000. and the pacifica is built on an excellent mercedes benz car platform, the 300E sedan. great car, but not an suv by any definition. i pulled an 18' chap bowrider with my chrysler town and country rated for 3800lbs, and it strained, would never go heavier.

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                    • #11
                      Re: will my car pull my boat?

                      I have a 2004 Saturn Vue AWD (3500 lb tow rating) that is a crossover SUV. I tow my 20' Bayliner Capri all over the place with no problems. Taken it on several 300+ mile trips. Never had a single problem at all. I did add a tranny cooler to it to be safe.

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                      • #12
                        Re: will my car pull my boat?

                        Couple of things.

                        I agree with most that you are way under on the weight of the boat/trailer/gear etc. Get the whole setup weighed (including the hitch weight).

                        But you asked about getting a weight distributing hitch. It isn't the answer if your boat weighs what I think it weighs, but be warned that you cannot use any weight distributing hitch if you have hydraulic surge brakes. Most of the weigh-distributing hitches will not let the trailer push on the hitch enough for the brakes to be activated. I know there is a model out there that will, as I've read about it in a boating magazine my Dad had kicking around, but any that you buy for a normal travel trailer will not work.
                        1977 Starcraft 18' SS 1980 Evin 115

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                        • #13
                          Re: will my car pull my boat?

                          I'd suspect the AWD Pacifica might actually be better at launch and retrieval than the half-ton pickup alternative (unless it's a 4x4). The trailer has brakes (make sure they work), so I wouldn't worry too much about towing it a short distance at low speed from storage to launch, even if it is a bit over the 3500 lb tow rating.

                          Definitely weigh it before you think about any long trips though, and if it comes in over 3500 lbs start looking for a bigger tow vehicle. Many smaller North American vehicles have lowball tow ratings, but the Pacifica doesn't appear to be one of them - a 3500 lb tow rating for a 4500 lb vehicle is pretty close to the 85% guideline often used elsewhere.

                          If it makes in under 3500, make sure you check your brakes before every trip and do consider a weight distributing hitch - there are "lightweight" weight distributing systems made for just this type of application. Setting up a WDH on a trailer with surge brakes can be a bit tricky - make sure you learn how and do it right every time. See this explanation.

                          250 HP will be sufficient to maintain highway speed on all but the steepest hills, but you will have to push it a bit. Don't be afraid to manually downshift if the transmission can't find the right gear - you don't want it lugging or shifting frequently. Top gear ("overdrive") will probably be useless, even on flat roads. In addition to the transmission and oil coolers you mentioned, use premium quality full synthetic oil and transmission fluid. They are more resistant to breakdown under high shear, high temperature conditions.

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                          • #14
                            Re: will my car pull my boat?

                            The weight ratings from manufacturers of the boats vary more than a politicians promises, and are about as acccurate
                            20' boat. Heres my educated guess:
                            Boat hull alone: 2000
                            motor: a V6 mercruiser is about 850 itself, so far 2850.
                            guestamating 50 gal gas: @ 6.5#/gal: 325 3175
                            Batteries, gear, tools, spares: 300 3475

                            Aluminum trailer: 700
                            Steel trailer 1200
                            So, what I say is closer to 4500 trailering weight.
                            now, add the 6 people in the vehicle to the trailer, being very politically correct at 150# per person, now its 900# more. The cars innards are internally hemoraging.....

                            Next, brakes. The trailer brakes are most likely surge brakes. Simply, when the vehicle stops (or attempts to), the trailer weight presses on the master cylinder, and applies fluid pressure to the brake wheel cylinders. Now, IF the trailer outweighs the tow rating, which we think, or if the pavement is wet, the force of the trailer weight will cause the car to lockup brakes adn skid. The trailer brakes are NOT activated. A strong possibility is a jack knife or rollover. Not pretty.
                            Your 77 pickup may be a better tow vehicle. trucks have bigger brakes than a car, and probably a heabier tow rating.
                            Insurance may be voided by overweight towing, and you could be charged in case of an accident, even if someone else caused it. thats what shysters do.
                            my $.02....
                            Captharv
                            Certified Old Boater

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                            • #15
                              Re: will my car pull my boat?

                              ABS was standard on the Pacifica, so brake lockup leading to jacknifing is unlikely. Good point about the limitations of surge brakes though - they don't stop the trailer from pushing on the tow vehicle, they just make it push with less force. If the trailer outweighs the tow vehicle even that can be too much.

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