Yes, get a tranny cooler. Some people (even mechanics) see a tiny fiberglass trailer and underestimate both the weight and the effect of frontal area on wind drag.
I made that mistake myself. When I first bought my Scamp, I owned a 2000 Sienna without a tow package. Since it was rated for 2000# without the package I thought I would be fine. I even asked my Toyota dealer, and they talked me out of adding a cooler.
First trip, first long grade against a headwind, the tranny overheated. Thanks to electronic nannies, it went into limp mode, so we were able to pull over safely, let it cool, and proceed gingerly. A later inspection didn't reveal evidence of permanent damage, but I learned my lesson. Sitting on the side of a busy interstate with the whole family, 100+ degrees without AC, waiting for the transmission to cool and uncertain whether it will ever move again... not a place you want to be!
Good Luck !!!
The company I worked for owned a large fleet of Dodge Caravan Mini-vans.
Every single one had multiple transmission failures while under warranty and traded each one in before warranty expired on the drive trains. The owner of the company did not care because the failures never cost him a dime!
These vans were ordered with only front seats and were used to carry samples of building materials by sales representatives. Dodge supplied roadside assistance and towing when the transmissions failed. I can only assume Dodge had added in the cost of transmission replacement into the base price of these vans rather than re-engineer the transmission and drive-train. This series of incidents all occurred about 10 to 14 years ago. Since then I have avoided anything made by Dodge/Chrysler Corp.
All automobile manufacturers factor in the cost of their warranties in the base cost of their products. They do this based on known failure rates for each model.
This cost factor can run from less than $100 to many hundreds of dollars. Last I heard GMC had the highest dollar factor allocated to "warranty-support" to cover their high recall rate.
Thanks for the helpful info ! Will get in touch with my mechanic on Mon. and schedule a tranny cooler install. We won't be traveling a lot until my wife retires and by then we'll be ready for another vehicle (will get something more beefy w/ a tow package).
I have owned 3 Dodge minivans (since 1985 till present) and am considering a fourth one. None of the ones I owned ever had tranny failures. But towing even a 13' scamp brings possible transmission failures to mind, hence my concern to buy one to tow with.
With that said all 2012+ Chrysler vans come with a heavy duty alternator, engine oil cooler and a transmission cooler. If you add the towing package, it comes with hitch and 7 pin trailer wiring.
But can the transmissions withstand the rigors of towing??:
I have a Honda Odyssey and have towed a 13' Scamp from CA to MA to FL to the Canadian Rockies with no issues.
I believe in 2007 the Odyssey got the heavier duty transmission from the Ridgeline and their transmission issues ended at that time. I also strongly recommend the transmission cooler.
Concerning reputations, I have heard of some ongoing issues with the Chrysler minivans and minimal issues with the Honda and Toyota. The Honda has a little better driving feel and is my personal preference. My brother has a Toyota. We have both found them to be reliable.
I keep reading reference to using the manual. This is good info to a point but it is very limited especially when wanting an understanding about reliability and actual performance.
It is no secret that since cave man times Mini Vans have had a 2,000lb tow rating, and with the tow pkg they get a 3,500 lb rating.
There is more to it than that. When you look deeper into the vehicle specs that is where you find out what the individual models are all about.
It is no secret the older Chrysler offerings were weak and problematic.
By contrast, Nissan for example built a very stout mini van with their 1st generation Quest. I can talk about this vehicle from experience. Our 93 towed for 100's of hours all over the country. We still had it when it was 17 years old and at that time was still running great with 465,000klm's on it. The tranny* never had an issue and only had a couple fluid changes over its life time.
The rest of the drive train was original including universal joints, engine* etc.
* The tranny used in these vans were from the V8 Q45 Infiniti sedan. Very reliable and robust.
*The 3.0L 150HP V6 needed a head bolt replaced (it had a factory defect) not related to all the trailer towing.
The vehicle had the tow pkg (3,500) lb rating.
So you really need to look into the different offerings. Check out long term towing experience of others and review what they are towing. Find out what tranny the manufacturer is putting in the vehicle*. This really gives one a better idea of how they actually perform.
*Note the tranny in the 5,000 tow rated Honda Ridgeline is the same one used in the Pilot and Odyssey Mini Van.
I towed for a while with a Chrysler mini van with no issues. I also have towed with a 6 cylinder Buick Enclave. Much better tow vehicle. I have before and again tow with a Chevy pickup for reasons unrelated to any inadequate things about thevan or Enclave. Granted, the Enclave is not a mini van but is very similar in concept and usage.
Bob, I agree with you about the Enclave. There are some reviews out there about their overall towing abilities and they are very, very capable vehicles.
That top rating comes from the finer details. Long travel quality suspension that soaks up the bumps and smooths out the ride. A drive train that is HD, etc.
I have a 2008 Town & Country that had its first transmission replacement at 45k miles and it feels like there's another replacement coming on. Not sure if the problem is bad engineering or bad mechanics, although judging from former work done at this particular dealership, I'd lean HEAVILY on bad mechanics.
It is the most comfortable vehicle I've had (and that includes the '56 Caddy)....I can drive for 20 hours and STILL be able to walk upright after arriving at my destination! Yay! I like the seating which allows me to carry my daughter and her seven kids, OR put all the seats down and carry my dog in his large veri-kennel, perfectly flat.
Frankly, if I had it to do over, I would just get a Caravan though...less cost, same benefits.
Oh, and I was told, the "newer" (includes my year) vehicles has a transmission cooler already installed, so an additional one is not needed. However, considering the mechanics who told me this, maybe NOT.