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I've been towing successfully with an E350 12 passenger van. But it's time to replace it. There's a lot more 15 passenger vans than 12 passenger vans available. (I want a passenger vs a cargo van because in PA the passenger is licensed as a station wagon, $36 per year versus $186 for a cargo). But I'm somewhat concerned because the distance from the rear axle to the ball will be greater on an 15 vs a 12. How will that affect the handling? I've been able to run 80 mph if need be with no issues with a double axle trailer. TIA.

Edit to correct numbers. Should be 12 vs 15 passenger, not 15 vs 18 passenger.
 

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Loose nut behind the wheel
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RE: Thoughts/experience towing with an 18 pass. vs 15 pass. van

We used an 18 pass 1997 E-350 for many years. It was a good tow vehicle and we didn't have any major towing issues using a steel trailer with a weight distributing hitch. We also had no issues using an aluminum trailer with a standard hitch. However, once in a while, the steel trailer without the weight distributor got a little snaky if you know what I mean. It is worth the extra room of the 18 pass but I highly recommend the weight distributing hitch regardless. It just make the whole system work better not matter what size tow rig you have.

Mark Utecht
 

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RE: Thoughts/experience towing with an 18 pass. vs 15 pass. van

The Hairy Canary Rally Team has decades of experience towing with the extended ford vans. I can't recall every hearing of, or witnessing a problem.

Also with the weight distributing hitch.

I only have one personal experience towing with the extended van -- no problems, passing uphill at 80 was a breeze.

As Mark says the weight distributing hitch is a real asset. Get your load balanced and then let the hitch smooth the ride between van/truck and trailer.

(I even hook the hitch up with an empty trailer to smooth out the interactions between tow vehicle and trailer.)

My only concern would be in loading the van, it seems it would be easy to put too much weight too far back. There was a 60 minutes special a while ago highlighting the concern of "church busses" - extended vans. With a full load the front steering gets light and in an emergency manuver it's easy to roll the van. The noted that the GM has a longer wheel base, the Ford and Dodge do not.

Mike

Mike
 

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RE: Thoughts/experience towing with an 18 pass. vs 15 pass. van

I have a 1999 E350 extended V10 cargo van. Great towing vehicle.

No issues, and I don't have a WD hitch. We've towed trailers from 16' to a 32' with two rally cars on!

Aren't the passengers vans more expensive to buy, won't you eat up what you're going to save in registration? It seems like a small amount compared to the price of the van.

Glenn
 

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straight at T
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RE: Thoughts/experience towing with an 18 pass. vs 15 pass. van

When I crewed for Barry Latreille, we used a couple of extended Ford vans (diesel). There were no problems towing with them, even over stage roads. I saw some pretty high speeds taking runs at hills (in the 160km/h range) with no stability issues. We also used torsion bars.

The passenger van had a few more comfort features than the cargo van (we used both).

Adrian
 

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RE: Thoughts/experience towing with an 18 pass. vs 15 pass. van

We use a 1995 E-350 15 passenger van to tow the Omni. No problems so far. We also don't use a weight distrbuting hitch and haven't had any issues. However, I have a feeling that a WD hitch would improve the ride.

Also, in terms of two much load behind the axle...just make sure you are conscious of the weight as you load. I make sure that we put the lightest objects at the back of the van (i.e. clothes bags, EZ-Up Canopy, etc.).
 

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RE: Thoughts/experience towing with an 18 pass. vs 15 pass. van

I've been using a '99 Ford E350 V10 15 pass. as well for the last 2 years. It's been fine. I use the weight dist. bars also. Without them, bumps keep you bouncing down the road. The rear gets low with a full load, but nothing crazy. I will say, in snow/ice the lightened front end doesn't like to stop in a hurry. I had a "moment" last year crossing Ontario from Buffalo to Detroit where nothing wanted to stop and almost had to use the back of a Jetta to stop. But really, it's been a fine towing rig. I haven't decided if I like the V10 over a diesel though. I like that the V10 is quiet and it's easy to find gas for, but it gets worse gas mileage. The Diesel definitely tows better, but idling at service isn't so nice. Having the comforts of the pass. van, power W&L, cruise and rear A/C is nice too.

BTW - My van is for sale
 

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RE: Thoughts/experience towing with an 18 pass. vs 15 pass. van

In a former life, I worked as a road warrior kayak-delivery guy driving 75-100k per year. We used both 12- and 15-pass E350 Ford vans towing long trailers loaded with 25-35 sea kayaks. Total trailer weight was similar to a single rally car.

The biggest difference between the two van chassis emerged when backing up. The larger distance between the rear axle and the hitch on the 15-pass amplified control inputs when backing, and it made for some entertaining moments when trying to get in or out of tight spaces...like the time I drove the tall kayak trailer into the low-clearance section of Storrow Drive in Boston at rush hour. Let's just say that once the backing adventures were done, I found that the 15-pass van works GREAT at driving over curbs and sidewalks! (even jaded Beantown pedestrians ran for cover when they saw me coming!) The longer rear overhang made jackknifing a real possibility while backing up.

The 12-pass van was easier to back, no question. I also remember that the shorter rear overhang helped lessen fore-and-aft pitching of the rig on dips and bridges. (Shorter lever arm moment between trailer and rear axle of van) This probably would have been helped by using a weight-distributing hitch, which I did not use. Other than that, no big differences between over-the-road handling.

I usually drove the company's 15-pass van because it had A/C, a better stereo and larger gas tanks for the 460 V8 to suck dry. That van was finally retired with upwards of 675k on the odo!

Cheers,

Dave G
Co-Pilote and Chief Team Backup Artist
Last Ditch Racing
On the Trailer, ME

"...Embrace loose gravel, beware big trees..."
 

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RE: Thoughts/experience towing with an 18 pass. vs 15 pass. van

The V10 gets 11MPG. Towing 2 cars, or empty. Same MPG. :)

I still think there should be a towing/service van forum.
 
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