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The money you are saving for caravaning should not burn with fuel but it should be well spent on yourself. Even though you have the most aerodynamic towing car does not mean it will give you the best fuel efficiency while towing a caravan. The aerodynamic of vehicles-trailer combination is complicated and strongly dependent on the turbulence in the region of the rear of a car, the front and rear face of a caravan. The flow separation at the front and rear face of the trailer leads to an unfavourable pressure gradient which causes high drag force (opposing force to the vehicle motion). At higher travelling speeds (e.g. 60mph), more than 50% of the power generated by the engine is consumed to overcome the drag force. Being a researcher in the field of Computational Fluid Dynamics, we have researched several flow-modifying devices named AERO TREK. The performance of these devices has been tested in the wind-tunnel and Computational Fluid Dynamic software. The Aero Trek devices have the potential to reduce the fuel consumption of towing car by 10 to 15%. One of the concepts of these devices is shown in the figure below. The device guides the flow on top of the trailer and reduces the turbulence region in the gap between the car and caravan. This post is not a marketing pitch but a part of a PhD research carried at the University of Huddersfield to survey the interest of caravan and horse trailer owners and users. The purpose of the post is to understand the pains and gains of caravan and horse trailer users and use your feedback in value addition and further research and development process. I am pleased to have your opinion on such devices which can reduce fuel consumption and contribute to the global Green Environment campaign. I am happy to share further information and discuss the performance of the Aero Trek devices in the comment area.
At the moment the UK is in a process of changing over from the traditional 7 pin electrical sockets that connect your car to your trailer / caravan to 13 pin electrical sockets. This is IMO a really good thing; the 13pin sockets that have so long been the main stay of our European cousins have many features which make them a much better alternative. The trouble for most people with 13pin electrics on their car is how to connect this to a 7 pin trailer or caravan. The answer is very straight forward; the purchase of simple converter is all that is required. One of the clever things about the 13pin sockets is that it allows the car (if it’s fitted with Vehicle Specific Wiring Kit or’ VSK’ for short) to know that something is plugged into the electrical socket. A number of modern cars when the engine management system ‘discovers’ that something is plugged into the electrical socket prepares the car for towing and changes the actual engine settings. The changes can affect the mixture of the engine, oil cooling strategies, gear change points to name but a few. For towing this is simply brilliant and improves your experience of towing. Money saving TIP Always, always remove the 13 pin to 7 pin adaptor when not in use. If like me, you are a little lazy, if you have been using your 13 pin to 7 pin adaptor, rather than taking it out of the towing socket and stowing it in the glove box (that’s where mine is designated to live) you leave it on the car something strange can occur….. The car thinks that it is still towing. The engine settings remain in tow mode. The clever 13 pin socket attached to you car is signalling to the engine management systems that the socket has something plugged into it: the 13 pin to 7 pin adaptor!! What’s the effect? Well different cars react differently, but in most cases you will have a car that seems to have lost some of its power, and the fuel usage has increased significantly. Little Known fact A number of people have been affected with this ‘problem’, and have taken their cars back to the garage to get it checked over is increasing. The garage will normally give the car a clean bill of health. The vehicle diagnostic system they use to check the health of the car does not detect a fault, because there is no fault. Most garages are completely un-aware of the changes in the engine management system when the electrical socket has something plugged into it. To be fair to the garages, a 13 pin to 7 pin adaptor does not always look out of place, and can appear to be part of the socket. They are unlikely to see it and realise that it needs removing to ‘solve’ the problem. The affects of activating the 13 pin socket are a ‘little known fact’. So to summarise, to save fuel, and have the proper performance of your car Always remove the 13 pin to 7 pin adaptor when not in use.