how to tow a big van
April 30, 2006 11:34 AM   Subscribe

Help me get a broken down vehicle from PA to MI

Over the weekend, our 15 passenger van broke down about 275 miles from home. In order to keep our pending gigs, we rented a truck that could haul our trailer for the weekend.

The engine in the van has serious internal issues, and we have a replacement already lined up. The trouble is, the engine is here (Detroit) and the van is there (Pittsburgh). I have to figure out how to get the van to Detroit as cheaply (and safely!) as possible.

The van ways approx 5500 lbs and has a 138in wheelbase, which rules out anything from uhaul. I have a truck available that will easily haul the extra weight, so that part isn't an issue. I have also been lent a towbar that I was told will do the job, but it makes me nervous, so other options are greatly appreciated.

A professional tow company is (almost) out of the question, unless it is super cheap. A rental vehicle trailer that will haul the van would be excellent, especially if I could get it in the Detroit area.

I have to return the rental to Pittsburgh tomorrow, and am being followed out, either by a car or the borrowed truck, so time is vital.

Not to mention that the most direct route involves the PA and OH turnpikes - my head is spinning from the logistics.
posted by ikareru to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total)
The most direct route is actually not terrible - I75 down to I80 into the 279/579/etc. mess. Yeah, it's called different things, and once you cross OH-PA the roads get a bit worse and narrower and hilly-er, but it's a fairly direct route.

Can you bring the engine to the van and get it done in Pittsburgh? I'd recommend Lifetime Automotive on Baum in Shadyside, at least as an honest starting point, depending on where everything is and if they handle that sort of thing.
posted by kcm at 11:38 AM on April 30, 2006

Response by poster: the van intself is outside of Pittsburgh, in Cranberry, parked behind the rental lot. They allowed us to leave it there until the rental is returned. The engine was ordered on Friday, after the breakdown (one member works at a shop and made some calls. The engine will be cheaper than a rebuild, and the mechanic is doing the work for free) and won't be availble until late Monday/Tuesday. The rental already is costing us a small fortune and we can't afford another day.
posted by ikareru at 11:52 AM on April 30, 2006

Have you called an auto transport company for a quote? They'rew primatily set ip to deal with new and used car dealers, but they also deal retail and you may be surprised at how low the cost is.
posted by buggzzee23 at 12:04 PM on April 30, 2006

Maybe instead of bringing the van to the engine, you should bring the engine to the van.
posted by MegoSteve at 3:09 PM on April 30, 2006

If you can line up 3 willing AAA plus members along the route, each plus member is allowed up to 100 miles of free towing.
AAA membership follows the member, not vehicles, and members can be from any AAA or CAA region.
posted by MD06 at 3:22 PM on April 30, 2006

You buy this and use it to haul your van back home. When you're done using it, put it on Ebay and get your money back.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 3:52 PM on April 30, 2006

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