Bow/stern tie downs on newer vehicle

I need some help. I’ve just purchased a 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan and there’s not one place to attach bow and stern lines on the front or back of the car. There’s not even anywhere to attach lines underneath the car at the front or back.

Are there any other late model Caravan owners who have shed some light on how they’re carrying their boats?

Anyone have any ideas of how to fasten tie-down lines on newer cars?



Try the manual…
Never seen a Dodge Grand Caravan, but it might be a good idea to search the manual for “towing”: On my VW you have to unscrew a plastic cover to find a hole into which you can screw the tow hook which is normally stored in the spare wheel. In my mind a less than obvious solution.

These work great for bow lines. I’m been using them on my Montana for a few years now.


Same, homemade
I melted a hole through webbing loops(no fraying that way) and attached them under the hood with the existing fender bolts. Invisible when you don’t need them, work great when you do.

For the rear, I have webbing loops that run from the underbody structure up between the bumper and the body, giving me two loops on top of the rear bumper to tie into.

Webbing should probably be changed at least annually because of UV deterioration and wear.

2002 Dodge Caravan
It came with a rack on the roof, hopefully yours did as well. I’ve tried a couple of things here and there and sometimes I do tie the bow down under the hood near the radiator.

Last summer I got the Thule wet glide system and now that my confidence has grown, I just use two tie downs and normally don’t tie the bow to anything. Sometimes I just tie it back to the roof rack and sometimes I don’t.

I have a light weight plastic foot stool which I use to reach the roof and the straps.

There is no good place in the front or the back of the van to tie anything to! I have tried various combinations of everything. Don’t even bother to get a Yakima Stacker system unless you are very very tall.

I have a 2002 Caravan…
I’ve only carried the kayak on it once, but I do basically the same thing when I cartop using my Stratus: Open the hood, and tie the bow lines through existing holes in the crossmember*. For the stern line, I opened the rear hatch and ran a line through one of the seat anchors (the seats were out at the time). In the Stratus, I tie the line to where the trunk latch engages (being careful to position it so it doesn’t interfere with the latch). The lines are relatively small diameter nylon, so I can still close the hood and rear hatch (or trunk lid) with no problem.

*I’m considering rigging some lines with toggles that I can just drop down into the hole, then turn 90 degrees - no need to tie any knots that way.

not sure if it’s the same,
but I have an old 97 which I use occasionally. What I do is run the front rope through the lower holes below the grill. If you feel behind the plastic bumper cover there is a steel frame behind it. I tie the rope around this. Use a cover of some sort to stop chafing since its still fairly new. For the back I run it through the holes in the spare tire wheel. If you have the stow away seats I’m not sure what is there. Maybe drill a hole through the frame somewhere and put in an eye bolt.

Drill some holes into the “frame” member
under the front end, install a couple of strong eye bolts, and tie away. Do the same on the rear.

98 Grand Voyager
Don’t know if it’s the same, but I use it to transport my kayak everywhere.

Front tie downs: In wheelwells. Wish I knew what you call it, but if you look just above the tire, you will see part of the steering structure with a large empty bolt hole. I slide my S-hook into it (“backwards”, like you do with safety chains on your hitch). There is plenty of room and the tire never comes close. However, there is a negligible amount of movement when you make sharp turns.

Rear tie downs: Get under the van and look down the “frame”. About 16" in along each side, you’ll see a slot that works well. Once you know where it is, you can insert an S-hook while kneeling behind the van. Be careful of guiding it past the muffler! Burned through two straps that way.

Of course, the most important strap is the one that runs through the kayak and through the van. I often use two straps for safety.

Made These Tiedowns…
…with 8" pieces of nylon straps and a grommet kit from Walmart. Total Time spent, 10 minutes, expense, about $4 for grommet kit, found some old straps. Easy, cheap, best tiedowns I’ve ever used, and all vehicles have someplace under the hood to put them. WW

Hi, Terry!
Glad to hear you like your tie-down thingies. I just bought a pair the other day.


Great to See…
…you’re healed and paddling Kate! Hope you can make it to the Fall Ozark Rendevous! WW

On my Aveo
I just tied something near the hood latch and it sticks out under the hood or folds back out of the way.

2002 Caravan
I have a 2002 Caravan and had to search long and hard for a solution. For the rear tie downs, on the frame just by where the springs attach, there is a small hole which an “S” hook will fit into nicely.

The front is somewhat more difficult to explain. I’m not sure if the front bumper on your model is the same, but on mine it is a large bumper with openings toward the bottom of the bumper. There is also a small divider bar on each side of the lisense plate holder. I take the “S” hook end of the tie down and start off by running it behind the divider bar. I then run it out in front of the next piece of plastic and then through the next opening in the plastic bumper. Through this opening you will see a hole in the frame that you hook the “S” hook onto. Be careful as this needs to be pulled tight by hand before you do any tightening on the rachet for the tie down. Tightening the rachet itself will not tighten the front tie down when it is attached this way. It works, but you just need to be careful to hand tighten the bottom first. Hope this helps.