Can You Flat Tow A Chevy Express Van?

Chevy Express is a multipurpose, full-sized van that serves several purposes. It packs enough room for 12 passengers along with sufficient space for luggage. The van can also is popular for commercial purposes as a contractor's work vehicle. When you aren't using your Chevy Express van, you may want to tow your Express on the back of your RV to have an extra vehicle. But can you safely flat tow a Chevvy Express without damaging it?

According to Chevrolet, you cannot flat tow a two-wheel-drive or a four-wheel-drive Express with all four wheels on the ground. Chevrolet warns that doing so will damage your Express, and the vehicle's warranty would not cover the repairs. The two-wheel-drive version can be dolly towed safely. The four-wheel-drive version can only be towed with a platform trailer with all four wheels off the ground.

Flat towing a Chevy Express without any modifications might lead to permanent damage to the vehicle's transmission. The fluid responsible for lubricating the transmission is pumped along with engine rotation by the input shaft. Vehicles whose transmission itself runs a fluid pump can mostly be flat towed easily. Continue reading as we have provided complete instructions for the required equipment and the towing procedure below for the Chevy Express.

A Chevrolet Express work van parked on a public parking lot, Can You Flat Tow A Chevy Express Van?

How Do You Tow A Chevy Express?

Below is an outline of the different ways to towing a Chevy Express van. Contact your local dealer or mechanic to ensure proper setup for towing. 

Dolly Towing

For the dolly tow option, a Chevy Express requires a dolly that is capable of handling the weight of the van. Some dollies also come with brakes that are attached to the towing vehicle. They brake in proportion to the towing vehicle to bring the tow to a stop safely. Dolly towing the Chevy Express is different than other vehicles. Instead of mounting the front tires to the dolly, the Express requires you to mount the rear wheels of your van onto the dolly.

Keep in mind that only the two-wheel-drive version of the Express can be dolly towed without any modifications. Also, make sure that the towing vehicle has enough towing capacity to pull your Express van. The van's weight can range anywhere between 7,100 to 10,000 pounds, depending on the model.

After you have successfully attached the dolly to the vehicle, drive the van with the rear wheels onto the dolly. Firmly set the parking brake. Put the transmission in P (Park). Secure the vehicle to the dolly following the manufacturer's instructions. Ensure the front wheels are locked into a straight position. Turn the ignition to the LOCK/OFF position.

Motorhome towing a car on a dolly

Trailer Towing

If you happen to have a tow trailer, then this is another safe and valid option for towing your Chevy Express. Putting a vehicle onto a trailer is pretty straightforward, but does require a certain way of strapping down the vehicle. Check out this video on how to properly put your vehicle onto a tow trailer:

Flat Towing (With Modifications)

As we stated above, it is not safe to flat-tow a Chevy Express. However, if you are really set on flat towing the van, there are ways to flat tow with certain modifications.  

In order to flat-tow the Express, you would first of all need to install an extra lube pump in the engine bay. A lube pump is added in the engine bay for circulating the transmission fluids, keeping the transmission lubricated as the vehicle is towed. You will need a lube pump on your vehicle if your automatic transmission is lubricated from the input shaft, which is the case in Chevrolet Express.

In addition to a lube pump, you would also require some aftermarket parts on your Express to tow it on the back of your RV. First of all, you will need to add a base plate kit that would be mounted securely on the front side of your vehicle onto the chassis. The base plate will then be attached with a compatible towbar designed for flat towing.

Safety cables or chains should also be attached with the base plate to the towing vehicle for an emergency scenario. You would also need to hook up the brake lights of your towing vehicle with the Express to make it safe in the traffic.

An additional proportional braking system should be attached in the vehicle being towed to brake in proportion to towing the vehicle. You might also require a high to a low adapter for your towing vehicle hitch to keep the tow bar as flat as possible when attached to the base plate.

If you're set on flat towing, these modifications are possible. However, even with the modifications, there is a risk of causing extreme damage to the van.

What Is A Base Plate For Towing?

The function of a base plate is to provide a firm mounting mechanism for the tow bar to pull the complete weight of the vehicle safely and securely. Base plates are mostly mounted onto the chassis of the vehicle and are designed to withstand the dynamic loading under hard braking and acceleration. In addition, base plates have the required mounting points to attach a tow bar with them.

Can I Tow Chevy Express Behind A Motorhome?

Yes, you can easily tow a Chevy Express behind a motorhome with one of the methods mentioned above. You need to make sure your motor home has a hitch on its back to mount the tow bar.

Then ensure that the motorhome can pull the full weight of your Express van. You will also need to hook up the motorhome's brake light with the van's brake light. This ensures that the van's brake lamps also light up when the motorhome brakes. It is also recommended to add a supplementary proportional brake on the van to ensure both the van and the motorhome brake simultaneously when required.

Is Flat Towing Safe?

Yes, flat towing is absolutely safe if allowed by the manufacturer in the vehicle's owner manual. You can flat-tow almost any manual transmission car by keeping it the neutral gear. If the manufacturer does not advise vehicles with automatic transmission to flat tow, the input shaft circulates the transmission fluid.

In case of this scenario, you would be required to install a lube pump in the engine bay to circulate the transmission fluid when the car moves. Some vehicles require the rear driveshaft to be disconnected manually to make them capable of being flat towed. You should always read your vehicle's owner manual to get the exact steps to flat or dolly tow your vehicle.

Flat towing is comparatively more stable than a dolly tow, as all four wheels of the vehicle are on the ground. In addition, it is unnecessary to store the flat towing equipment separately as it can easily be folded behind the RV. A flat tow setup can be costly to set up as there are a limited number of vehicles that allow flat towing without modifications.

Does Flat Towing Add Miles?

It depends on the specific vehicle whether or not flat towing will add miles onto the odometer. For example, older vehicles with mechanical odometers attached to the transmission mechanically will add miles on the odometer.

But suppose your specific vehicle has a modern electronic odometer as most post-2000 vehicles do. In that case, it will not add any miles on flat towing if the ignition was not turned on and the transmission is neutral.

In Closing

The Chevrolet Express can be towed flat towed, which is a more stable towing method than the rest, and deploys almost instantly if it is set up correctly. However, it requires some permanent modifications in the transmission. The initial equipment for installing a flat tow setup might cost you a couple grand. Nevertheless, Chevy does not condemn this method because of the high risk of damages to the van. Overall, dolly towing the van or using a platform trailer is always an option, as advised by the manufacturer.

If you enjoyed this article on towing the Chevy Express van, then you might also like the following:

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