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  1. #1
    Petty Officer 3rd Class
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    Default 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. #2
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    Default 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.

  3. #3
    DJ
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    Default 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.

  4. #4
    Supreme Mariner Silvertip's Avatar
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    Default 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.

  5. #5
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    Default 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

  6. #6
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    Default Re: will my car pull my boat?

    should i look into a weight distributing hitch

  7. #7
    DJ
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    Default 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.

  8. #8

    Default 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.

  9. #9
    Ensign ebry710's Avatar
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    Default 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

  10. #10
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    Default 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.

  11. #11
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    Default 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.

  12. #12
    Lieutenant Commander Tacklewasher's Avatar
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    Default 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.

  13. #13
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    Default 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.

  14. #14
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    Default 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

  15. #15
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    Default 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.

  16. #16

    Default Re: will my car pull my boat?

    i pulled an 18' chap bowrider with my chrysler town and country rated for 3800lbs, and it strained, would never go heavier.
    Thats my current rig. Its not the best way to go, but it was either buy a small boat and tow it with my wife's minivan, or sit around waiting to be invited on my friends boats.
    - Upstate NY Boating Community

  17. #17
    Vice Admiral NYBo's Avatar
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    Default Re: will my car pull my boat?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Mahler View Post
    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.
    Nope. The Pacifica is based on the fourth generation short wheelbase minivans. Only the independent rear suspension is based on a Mercedes design.

    But I agree that it won't be proper for the OP's boat. He's way underestimating the total weight of the rig.
    Bob
    '88 Bayliner 1700 Capri Bowrider, 85 HP Force O/B, "Sea Weasel"
    Want a vessel safety check? Click here. Want to join the Coast Guard Auxiliary? Click here.
    Disclaimer: Although I am a member of the USCG Auxiliary, the opinions and advice in my replies are my own and do not necessarily reflect CG or CG Auxiliary policy or regulations unless so specified.

  18. #18
    Ensign ebry710's Avatar
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    Default Re: will my car pull my boat?

    Every time I read a thread like this, it always seems that their are those who feel their passenger vehicle or suv can tow as good as a truck. It makes you wonder why people even buy pickups. They are bulky, have those silly big engine, large brakes, limited slip rear end, heavy duty transmissions, independent suspension, load rated tires and even towing receivers. It must be a marketing ploy to get people like me to spend money on a relatively impractical metal box that tows no better then a VW bug.
    1987 Boston Whaler "Outrageous 18"
    1989 Johnson 120 V4 VRO

  19. #19
    DJ
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    Default Re: will my car pull my boat?

    SURE, EVERYTHING WILL BE ROSES.

    Get the sarcasm??
    I'LL BET you'll be overloaded. Don't risk your family or others to your-"want to".

  20. #20
    Petty Officer 3rd Class
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    Default Re: will my car pull my boat?

    i had everything weighed and it was (rounding up) 3400#s. that what the guy at the scale said, i will have to take it to another to verify it. ive always towed with electric brakes not surge. thats why i was wondering what the opinions were on the pacifica of how it would handle the load with short trips to the launch. more worried about lanching it and loading it, i just dont want to have the pacifica slip down the ramp. if i have to worry about the pacifica slipping im gonna think about leaving the boat in dry stack and save the headache. i understand that it will be overloaded but im not towing at super speeds, just to the launch 1 mile away and the gas station 5 miles always all residential no speeds past 35mph. there is no roads that go above 35mph in that area its all residential the gas station is at one end of neighborhood and the marina at the other end. now that i got real input and not book input ill be using my truck to tow long distance and not the pacifica. but still wondering on the launch if it will stick or slide.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: will my car pull my boat?

    Not every boat needs a truck to tow it. If the OP's boat really was 2500 lbs like he thought it was it would be well within the Pacifica's towing capability. Nearly every subsequent post has directed him to take the boat to the nearest scale ASAP and to find a better tow vehicle if its over the Pacifica's tow rating.

    If the boat really is 4000-4500 lbs like many are predicting, there are still vehicles other than pickup trucks and truck based SUVs that are up to the task. For example, a quick search of GM's website will find the Chevy Traverse, a crossover slightly larger than the Pacifica with a 5200 lb tow rating and better fuel economy as well.

    Edit - looks like it came in under 3500 lbs after all.

  22. #22
    Lieutenant cbavier's Avatar
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    Default Re: will my car pull my boat?

    Quote Originally Posted by lkempf View Post
    I agree with the others that your boat probably weighs more than 2000 lbs. I think you will be alright pulling it though.
    You can also get your rig weighed at any place where they sell/truck sand or gravel. I wanted to know exactly what mine weighed. A Four Winns horizon 190 so I took it fully loaded and fueled and had it weighed. The boat and trailer weighed 3900 LBS so I'm sure a 20 foot boat will weigh more. Also my trailer title weight is 875 Lbs and it's a single axle trailer with 15 inch tires. So I'm sure a tandem axle trailer will weigh more than that. The only way you will really know is to weigh the complete rig fully loaded. As far as pulling it up the ramp. I would be very skiterish trying it. Ramps even concrete get wet and slippery. Many times they also have loose sand or gravel as well as sometimes that green slime, moss which is extrememly slippery. If you try it. Have a chain on board so somebody can pull you out. Just in case your SUV won't come up the ramp with the boat attached under it's own power. I pull with a 3/4 ton HD pickup with a 7.4 Litre and sometimes it will spin starting up ramp.

    Welcome aboard iboats.
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  23. #23
    Lieutenant Commander Tacklewasher's Avatar
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    Default Re: will my car pull my boat?

    Quote Originally Posted by 66mstgfsbk View Post
    i had everything weighed and it was (rounding up) 3400#s. that what the guy at the scale said, i will have to take it to another to verify it.
    That is probably the axle weight. Add another 10-15% for the weight of the tongue on the back of the car. To weigh it properly, you need to weigh the front axle of the car, the rear axle of the car and the boat axles. Then unhook and re-weigh the front and rear of the car. Don't be surprised if the front weighs less when hitched up, and the rear weighs a lot more.

    ive always towed with electric brakes not surge.
    You boat trailer has electrics? That does change things in regards to adding tow bars.

    thats why i was wondering what the opinions were on the pacifica of how it would handle the load with short trips to the launch. more worried about lanching it and loading it, i just dont want to have the pacifica slip down the ramp. if i have to worry about the pacifica slipping im gonna think about leaving the boat in dry stack and save the headache. i understand that it will be overloaded but im not towing at super speeds, just to the launch 1 mile away and the gas station 5 miles always all residential no speeds past 35mph. there is no roads that go above 35mph in that area its all residential the gas station is at one end of neighborhood and the marina at the other end. now that i got real input and not book input ill be using my truck to tow long distance and not the pacifica. but still wondering on the launch if it will stick or slide.
    If it were me, I wouldn't want to risk it.

  24. #24
    Lieutenant cbavier's Avatar
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    Default Re: will my car pull my boat?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tacklewasher View Post
    That is probably the axle weight. Add another 10-15% for the weight of the tongue on the back of the car. To weigh it properly, you need to weigh the front axle of the car, the rear axle of the car and the boat axles. Then unhook and re-weigh the front and rear of the car. Don't be surprised if the front weighs less when hitched up, and the rear weighs a lot more.
    You boat trailer has electrics? That does change things in regards to adding tow bars.



    If it were me, I wouldn't want to risk it.
    If it was weighted properly they would have had him unhook the boat and trailer on the scales. Then pull the tow vehicle just off the scales.At least that's what they told me to do.
    Chuck
    "OWN-IT II"
    1986 Four Winns Horizon 190
    1982 Aqua Patio
    50 Hp Two stroke

  25. #25
    Ensign ebry710's Avatar
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    Default Re: will my car pull my boat?

    Regardless of whether it was designed for it or not, it always goes back to what you got. If I had a boat and only a bicycle to pull it to the lake, I would use the bike. What can I say?....its a boating site.
    1987 Boston Whaler "Outrageous 18"
    1989 Johnson 120 V4 VRO

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