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Do Clutches Wear Out Faster When You Tow A Caravan?


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It's a bit hilly where I live. The other day while driving up a steep road, I noticed that momentary rise in revs you get when the clutch is going.

 

I've only worn a clutch out once before. But that was 25 years ago when I used to thrash my Nissan Micra over the Pennines twice a day to work and back.

 

I've been towing with the Volvo XC60 for three years. I've no previous experience, as that's how long we've been caravanning.

 

Is clutch wear a common problem with towcars?

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It's not a common problem IMO, But towing is harder on clutches, particularly reversing. I feel that the cost of my motor movers will be offset partly by less wear and tear in the clutch on my tug

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Is clutch wear a common problem with towcars?

 

Let me put it this way. I've been towing caravans for 53 years during which time (according to my log book) I've totalled up 140000 towed miles. That's with 7 tow cars and I've always sold them on with the original clutch in them.

 

Treated with consideration they shouldn't burn out prematurely.

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Citroen C5-X7 Tourer+Avondale Rialto 480/2
https://jondogoescaravanning.com

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It will have an effect but I think the real wear happens the other 99% of the time your not towing.

 

If you have a clutch on the way out towing with the car certainly won't help the situation.

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The XC60 has loads of torque - 400Nm probably, and a clutch designed to handle all of it. Towing or not, the clutch should last for many many miles. From what you've said (I assume it is a manual gearbox) your clutch is heading for an early grave.

Ern

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only had one clutch go, on a company car a 1. 7TD Vectra in a massive traffic jam after multiple and I mean multiple hill starts on a hill. The car had 121k on the clock at the time so I was not surprised

 

But I think more modern clutches are not as strong reading peoples problems. Also a lot more expensive to replace with duel mass flywheels normally needing replacing at the same time.

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The clutch wears when you slip it (setting off mainly).

 

If you ride the clutch pedal for a long time, especially when towing the caravan it will wear out eventually.

 

Obviously hill starts with the 'van on the back will be far more taxing than setting off on the flat, stop start traffic on hills is the clutches worst nightmare. .

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Clutches will wear faster if towing - the starts from stationary will cause more slip - but few people keep their cars long enough to see the difference - a boy-racer that doesn't tow will get a lot less life than a sensible driver towing.

 

Brakes will wear faster if towing - more weight to brake each time - but the same observations as above.

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2015 VW Touareg 3. 0 V6 TDI + 2013 Lunar Clubman ES

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The clutch wears when you slip it (setting off mainly).

 

If you ride the clutch pedal for a long time, especially when towing the caravan it will wear out eventually.

 

Obviously hill starts with the 'van on the back will be far more taxing than setting off on the flat, stop start traffic on hills is the clutches worst nightmare. .

Reversing uphill onto a steeply sloping pitch does not help either!

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When we ran an S320 merc auto as a tow car it went through brake pads every 6 months and discs every year. Combination of powerful diesel and auto box, towing and my wife's heavy right foot!

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Slipping the clutch uneccessarily will increase the rate of wear. You should be able to pull away from rest with a modern diesel just by letting the clutch up with the engine idling, once it's moving then apply the gas. My old T4 transporter still had its original clutch at nearly 200k, towing a race car trailer a lot of the time, my HiAce clutch was still going strong at 120k, both would pull away from rest with no revs on the level, the Toyota would pull away up a slight incline too. I suspect that a lot of the complaints of Sorento clutch burning are simply down to poor clutch control.

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The heavier load you put on a clutch, the sooner it will wear out. As stated above, careful operation of the pedal minimises wear.

Apparently, nowadays you can't buy heavy duty clutches for cars as in the good old days.

These dual mass flywheel things can be bother and are expensive to replace. That is why many people replace them with ordinary clutch assemblies, available for most common makes.

Premature clutch failure is usually due to slipping the clutch or changing up gears at high revs.

In caravanning, the less competent drivers frequently slip the clutch when reversing especially at higher revs than actually required.

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ON my previous towcar I lost two clutches in 7 years, both of which I attributed to reversing the caravan with the dreaded dual mass flywheel. Because of the reverse gear ratios it was impossible to reverse without slipping the clutch and wherever there was a difficult reverse, then I could smell the clutch overheating. When I changed to my current car (updated model of the previous one) I resolved never to reverse the caravan if at all possible and instead use the motor mover to position it. As a result the clutch is still fine after nearly 4 years. On previous towcars without the DMF, clutches seemed to be totally unaffected by reversing and never caused me a problem. So if, as seems likely, the OP has a DMF, then I think it's quite possible that reversing the caravan may have caused the potential clutch failure.

 

John M

2017 Skoda Superb Estate 2. 0 Tdi 190; 2014 Swift Challenger 530SE + Powrtouch Evolution

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ON my previous towcar I lost two clutches in 7 years, both of which I attributed to reversing the caravan with the dreaded dual mass flywheel. Because of the reverse gear ratios it was impossible to reverse without slipping the clutch and wherever there was a difficult reverse, then I could smell the clutch overheating. When I changed to my current car (updated model of the previous one) I resolved never to reverse the caravan if at all possible and instead use the motor mover to position it. As a result the clutch is still fine after nearly 4 years. On previous towcars without the DMF, clutches seemed to be totally unaffected by reversing and never caused me a problem. So if, as seems likely, the OP has a DMF, then I think it's quite possible that reversing the caravan may have caused the potential clutch failure.

 

John M

I've given up reversing now. Just pull up to site and let the movers do the work. I'm amazed at the amount of people that struggle to reverse the van, burning clutches, that have a perfectly decent mover and don't use it. Madness!!
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Many thanks for all these replies.

 

I've always thought I'm careful with the clutch. But stop-start towing uphill in long queues has always made me wonder.

 

I did once try reversing with the van up the 1-in-10 road I live on. The smell was awful. I've never done that again.

 

So next step is to get an estimate. Not looking forward to that!

 

Thanks again, everybody.

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I did once try reversing with the van up the 1-in-10 road I live on. The smell was awful. I've never done that again.

 

 

I am guessing that is the catalyst to the early demise of your clutch.

 

Steve

 

Steve

RR & BC

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Friction clutches in ever lighter cars is the reason we resolutely buy only vehicles with torque converter transmission, for tow cars.

And then with transmission cooling specified for towing.

 

I can accept a lorry or tractor friction clutch hauling the loads towing inflicts, they are designed for that, but not the those optimised for light solo duty in domestic cars.

 

It is "horses for courses" and for me there is a chasm between solo use and hauling near twice the optimised design loading.

Edited by JTQ
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I am guessing that is the catalyst to the early demise of your clutch.

 

Steve

 

Plus one

Paul B

. .......Mondeo Estate & Elddis Avanté 505 (Tobago)

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The heavier load you put on a clutch, the sooner it will wear out. As stated above, careful operation of the pedal minimises wear.

Apparently, nowadays you can't buy heavy duty clutches for cars as in the good old days.

These dual mass flywheel things can be bother and are expensive to replace. That is why many people replace them with ordinary clutch assemblies, available for most common makes.

Premature clutch failure is usually due to slipping the clutch or changing up gears at high revs.

In caravanning, the less competent drivers frequently slip the clutch when reversing especially at higher revs than actually required.

not sure replacing a dual mass flywheel with solid is a good idea. heard it can cause serious engine damage.

 

macafee2

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not sure replacing a dual mass flywheel with solid is a good idea. heard it can cause serious engine damage.

 

macafee2

Don't see why. All the people I know who have done the conversion have not mentioned any detrimental effects.

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Don't see why. All the people I know who have done the conversion have not mentioned any detrimental effects.

The dual mass is supposed to mean the engine revs easier but smooths out and holds its power as well. A non dual mass can increase wear on all the engine components as nothing is smoothed out.

 

I think. .......

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Don't see why. All the people I know who have done the conversion have not mentioned any detrimental effects.

 

After how many miles and on which vehicles please.

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