How to tie down Canoe on Dodge Van

I have a Dodge van with plastic bumbers that has nothing for my tie down straps to tie onto. I want to be able to transport my 16ft canoe. If anyone has run across this and knows what to do I’d sure appreicate some advice. Thanks.

“S” hooks
Some contorted hunting around under there will likely reveal some place to hook onto metal parts of the bumper. Yeah, it’s not ideal, and the plastic bumper covers are obstructive, but I’ve always found a hole or something onto which I could hook a beefy steel ‘hardware store variety’ S-hook.

What year?
What year is your van? Short or long wheelbase? Does it have stow and go seats?

I have a long wheelbase 2005 Grand Caravan with stow and go seats – I tie my boats through the bumper on the drivers side (there’s a rectangular pillar that I can get a line around), and through the muffler clamp on the drivers side rear (there’s also another clamp on the passenger side to attach to).


Not on newer models
Newer model Caravans have almost nothing to attach to – no metal at all in the bumpers that is accessible, front or back. On models with stow and go seating, the only thing to attach to on the underside of the rear are the muffler clamps – not ideal, but it works.

I work in the paddlesports industry for the largest canoe and kayak shop in western Canada and we see every kind of vehicle come through our shop – it’s amazing how many cars have absolutely no where to tie to. It used to be that European and Asian cars all had tow hooks – not any more.


dodge van
I put an “S” hook up under the front of the van. A little inaccessible, you’ll have to get on your kness but there are holes in the chasis to crimp one side of a hook. Couldn’t find anything “on” the bumper.

tie the front
by tying loops around the piece of metal that hinges the hood to the body. Tie them big enough to stick out between hood and fender when hood is closed and you can then tie down to those loops. The back is difficult and a bit different with different model years, but there is usually a place to attach a carabiner to the frame and you can leave it there and tie to it whenever…

Tie downs on Dodge van
As Swordfish says above, Top-Ties will end the problem right away. We have them on 7 vehicles in our extended family. At about $8.95 for a simple, permanent fix (that you can move from car to car when one is sold), they are hard to ignore. You can mount them front and rear and you’ll never lie on your back looking for a tie down spot again.

As to WestCoastPaddler’s accurate comment about European and Asian cars often no longer having tie down loops, that’s because those cars are now made here rather than overseas. They are now shipped via truck or rail and not tied down to the deck of a transport ship, which is what those loops were used for originally.

For front tie downs, open the hood and remove one fender bolt from each side. Use the ones closest to the front. Heat each bolt with a propane torch and push it through one end of a loop made with about 10" of doubled-over nylon webbing. The hot bolt makes a nice neat fray-proof hole in the strap and leaves a 5" loop. Re-install the fender bolts with the loops still on the bolts. Now, whenever you open your hood you have two secure tie-down points, Just pull 'em up above the fender when you close the hood and they’re ready for use. Tuck them back under the hood out of sight when you’re done.

At the rear, crawl under and locate a hole in the rear frame rail. (It’s there) Clip a stainless carabiner through the hole and let it hang. Instant tie-down point!

Worked great for me on two Dodge Caravans.

Dodge Grand Caravan
The hot bolt trick works great under the hood and in the back. IN the back just take out one of the bolts that holds the spring hanger and make a hole in the webbing and reinstall the bolt through the webbing. It only requires you to bend down on one knee to lace your tie down rope through the loop. In the back I used 1-1/2-inch webbing because of the bigger bolt hole. In the front 1-inch webbing works well.

What Magoo said. I’ve used that
method for a few years since I read it here.The Top Ties look great, but mine cost about 50 cents. Just some nylon strap from my outfitter.

Late model Caravans…
I have a 2005 Grand Caravan and the web under the hood doesn’t work because the fenders are not bolted down from the top – there is an extra bend in the fender and the bolt is on a vertical surface. If straps are attached to the bolts, the strap will pull up on the edges of the hood, possibly causing damage to the hood. If the tiedowns are needed (i.e., a roof rack failure), the hood will undoubtably be seriously damaged.

Tying down on a late model Caravan is challenging at best.


Here be de wat ah’ did it…


Doesn’t work on late model Caravans

– Last Updated: Jan-26-08 2:12 PM EST –

As I've mentioned, the fender bolt configuration on late model Caravans is much different than what you've show. On late model Caravans, damage will occur to the hood if this strap method is used.

I'll try to post a photo so that you can see what I'm talking about.

Tie Downs
You are correct about the bolt. I have a 2006 Dodge Caravan and there the vertical bolt is about a inch inside the lip of the hood when closed. Unfortunately, I don’t see any other way. I’m just going to have to hope that I don’t have any serious accidents with the roof tie downs.

For the rear, you may be able to install
a hitch to tie to.

Easy Mod
After struggling to secure a canoe to our '07 Caravan, I found this site.

There are indeed no bolts or screws in the right spot under the hood to install the tie-downs.

The solution that worked for me was to simply drill a hole in the flat surface of the fender under the hood about a 1/4" in from the vertical edge of the fender. (Under the hood out of sight)

I did as outlined above and cut two pieces of nylon tie-down strap and installed them under the hood with ordinary sheet metal screws. They work perfectly.

I installed washers under the head of the sheet metal screws to kind of offset the nylon tie-down straps so they line right up with the gap between the fender and the hood.

A dab of silicone in each of the holes and on the thread of the screws should help mitigate any corrosion issues I hope.

For the back of the canoe, I opened the back gate and looped the rope through the catch hoop for the back gate latch and pulled it tight then closed the gate. Tied off the excess rope and called it good.

With rope on both ends, and two straps over the canoe it stays put for us all day.

Thanks for the great suggestion for the tie-downs!