Towing w/ minivan, synthetic oil weight recommendation

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Mar 2, 2003
Macomb, Michigan
I will be towing at 80% of the trailer weight limit with a 2000my Dodge Gr. Caravan, 3.3L engine. Heat dissapation is a concern for engine oil, what oil weight is best?, a 5W-30? or 10W30? (Mobile 1?) I will be towing a popup from Detroit to Florida and back in July. Thankyou for your advice. Matt
What do you mean by "heat dissipation is a concern"? Are you saying this vehicle overheats easily? If so, I'd try to figure out why before towing something with it in Florida in the middle of summer. I would not rely on different oil grade to fix the problem. That said, maybe try the new M1 5w-40 SUV formula?
10W-30 oils tend to be more shear resistant than 5W-30, so of the two I would use the 10W-30. Check your owner's manual regarding the transmission. On our minivan it says to select the non-overdrive mode on the automatic transmission when trailer towing. Heat build up in the automatic transmission is a big concern when towing. Dick's recommendation to use synthetic transmission fluid is a very good one. Oddly enough people often pay far more attention to maintenance of the engine than of the transmission, yet expensive automatic transmission failures are in my experience far more common than are expensive engine failures. Luckily you don't have any serious mountain ranges to cross between Michigan and Florida, at least not serious in the sense of the Rocky Mountains or Sierra Nevadas. John [ June 16, 2004, 11:37 AM: Message edited by: jthorner ]
I`m with Dick and Jthorner, You need to worry about the transmision more than the engine at this point, these transmisions tend to go bad over time with just the weight of the vehicle. Anything you can do to cool the transmision is worth doing, Synthetic oil, oil cooler etc. Don`t forget to add a little more air o the tires.
I agree with the concerns about heat in the transmission. I would use a quality synthetic ATF (I use M1,others use Redline or Amsoil) and add a transmission cooler. FLUSH THE SYSTEM OF THE OLD FLUID.
Thanks, everyone!!! I do have the transmission covered... I installed a large Hayden trans fluid cooler a few months ago and the trans has factory ATF+4 (hi-quality synthetic)fluid. Matto
My '98 3.8L van required the use of an anti-foaming agent that the dealer added to the tranny. I found after 2-3 mile long pulls up hills, there would be some tranny fluid coming out of the tranny fill tube and getting on the exhaust causing white smoke. I had the factory towing package too. JR
Originally posted by Dick in Falls Church: May be wrong, but I think the OEM ATF+4 is a synthetic blend.
It's not known for sure but its better to use the ATF+4 from Chrysler if it is required, even if a synthetic fluid says it meets ATF+4. The specs for ATF+4 have not even been released so it is better to stick with the ATF+4. Don't worry much about the engine oil. I've seen a lot of Chrysler minivans towing and have been in few that have towed and the engines are just fine. Worry about the tranny. Is it equipped with the trailer prep tow package? Change the pan fluid and filter before and after the trip. NEVER FLUSH A CHRYSLER TRANSMISSION... IT'S A QUICK DEATH!
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