Everything Needed to Tow a Trailer with Brakes with a 1999 Chevy Astro Van

Question:

Hi, I have a 1999 Chevy Astro Van, LS. I am the first time towing a trailer so I would need your help/recommendation for which Hitch type, Ball Mount Kit, Sway Kit, Brake Kit and light kit I can purchase. I found a couple of types of hitches, Draw-Tite Item# 75123 and Curt Item # C13035, on your website and I dont know what the advantage of one over the other. I noticed that the specs for Curt is with 4000 lbs for maximum gross trailer weight and a maximum tongue weight of 400 lbs versus 3500 lbs and 350 lbs for Draw-Tite. Does this mean Curt is better? Can you please tell me what the difference between them in term of quality, weight, and fitness? I am planning to tow a trailer with approximately around 3000 pounds. Also, I was reading some other website and the descriptions said that Curt Item # C13035 requires spare tire relocation and Draw-Tite Item# 75123 does not fit my van model. However, from your website, it indicates that these two fit. Can you please help clarifying that? Thank you so much in advance!!!

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Expert Reply:

I was able to (miraculously) find an online version of the owner's manual for your 1999 Chevrolet Astro and found on page 4-32 that the max trailer weight you can tow is between 4,500 lbs and 5,500 lbs depending on your axle ratio and if you have a 2WD or AWD version. I recommend checking out your copy of the owner's manual to verify this.

In your research you basically already discovered the difference between the Draw-Tite # 75122 and the Curt # C13035. the Draw-Tite has a lighter weight capacity but is compatible with a full size tire while the Curt is a bit heftier but cannot fit with a full size tire. Even though this is the case, they both have a 600 lb tongue weight (TW) rating and 6,000 lb towing rating when used with a weight distribution (WD) system. Because of this I highly recommend going with the Draw-Tite option which I have confirmed with Draw-Tite to fit your vehicle.

A great ball mount kit is part # C45036 but you will need to check with the linked ball mount article to ensure that the 2" drop is correct for keeping your trailer level.

Since you are wanting to use a brake controller, the wiring that I recommend going with is the Hopkins # HM41225 along with the Universal Wiring Kit # ETBC7. Once all of this is installed you will have a fully functioning 7-Way. You may need additional wiring with part # 5506 to reach your cab for your brake controller.

The brake controller that I highly recommend using is the Prodigy P2 # 90885. This is a proportional brake controller that will activate the brakes on your trailer at the same time and with the same intensity as the brake pedal on your Astro van. It has received high praise from our customers and will last you a long time. Attached is a sample installation video of the ETBC7 and this brake controller on a 2003 Chevy Express Van that you can follow.

If you were wanting to utilize only a sway control kit like part # 83660 then you have everything you need and you are good to go. However, if you were wanting to gain the higher weight ratings of your trailer hitch (even though you will be limited to the weight ratings of your Astro van) I recommend using a WD system that has sway control (SC) built-in instead of just the ball mount/hitch ball. The best way to choose the correct WD/SC unit for your towing setup is to add the loaded TW of your trailer along with the weight of any cargo that will be behind the rear axle of your Astro van and then choose a WD system with a TW range that the number falls in the middle of.

According to your owner's manual (page 4-33) the loaded TW of your trailer must be 12% of the weight of your loaded trailer when using a WD system. To ensure that you have the proper TW I recommend using a TW scale like part # 5780.

You will need to figure out all of those weights that I mentioned above but if your loaded trailer weighs 3,000 lbs then the Equal-i-zer # EQ37060ET is a great system for your application. It has a TW rating of 200 lbs - 600 lbs, uses an integrated SC system, and even comes with a 2" hitch ball. A thin-walled socket like part # EQ70-00-4800 is recommended for the hitch ball installation though.

This is a lot of information to take in at once so I have attached some review videos and helpful articles for you to check out. If you have any further questions please let me know.

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Jon G

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