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Towing Myths


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3 minutes ago, Lutz said:

 

Taking actual circumstances into consideration, the average driver would hardly be able to tell the difference between 85% and 93%, all other variables remaining unchanged. Differences only start getting noticeable to any appreciable extent as you approach 100% and even then only in otherwise less than ideal conditions.

I would go further than that, a well balanced outfit with a good towcar will be far more stable at 120% than an ill balanced outfit with a poor towcar at 85%! Even if both cars and caravans are in good condition.

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8 minutes ago, Stevan said:

I would go further than that, a well balanced outfit with a good towcar will be far more stable at 120% than an ill balanced outfit with a poor towcar at 85%! Even if both cars and caravans are in good condition.

 

What do you mean by a good or a bad towcar? Besides, at low enough speeds every combination is stable.

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20 minutes ago, Lutz said:

 

What do you mean by a good or a bad towcar? 

That is the ten million dollar question! Very hard to define, other than one that simply feels stable when towing!

From my limited experience, the biggest factors are the length of the rear overhang and the firmness of the suspension, very subjective I know, and there are so many cars that I have not tried.

Edited by Stevan
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I totally agree with Stevan-we were over 100% with our Duster but it was rock solid in every circumstance and yes we did experience high winds, emergency swerves etc etc. 85% of kerbweight may be a starting point BUT it is by far from what you might experience. And as far as our insurance small print is concerned we were within the legal towing limit of the car as rated by the manufacturer and that is all it states. 

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  • 1 year later...

Good article, and shows how things keep evolving.  I was teaching B+E about 12 years ago, before another career change.  Things have moved on again, thanks to the EU, and some restriction relaxed.

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  • 1 month later...

I’ve treated the much hyped ‘85% rule’ with the contempt it deserves since I started caravaning.

 

 

On 09/02/2020 at 20:42, Stevan said:

That is the ten million dollar question! Very hard to define, other than one that simply feels stable when towing!

From my limited experience, the biggest factors are the length of the rear overhang and the firmness of the suspension, very subjective I know, and there are so many cars that I have not tried.


yes, a long wheelbase and short rear overhang - and a long A frame length. 
I’m always baffled by the tiny vestigial A frames so popular on British makes.

Edited by Whomer
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43 minutes ago, Whomer said:

I’ve treated the much hyped ‘85% rule’ with the contempt it deserves 

And you know as well as our members that it isn't a rule but guidance. Guidance for those new to caravanning.

You don't need this guidance but it would appear many new caravanners could do well to read and try to take it in. 

Graham

Unless otherwise stated all posts are my personal opinion 

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I have a prestige Dacia duster 2019. The  150  4 x 2 petrol. Version 

the towing weight is I believe braked 1400 kg or 1500 depending on what site you look at

so long as the caravan is less I must assume I am legal

 

 

 

Or am I ..?

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1 hour ago, WispMan said:

And you know as well as our members that it isn't a rule but guidance. Guidance for those new to caravanning.

You don't need this guidance but it would appear many new caravanners could do well to read and try to take it in. 


Alas, it’s now very widely spoken of in the caravan press and industry as the ‘85% Rule’.

 

Its cod science from the 80’s when ATC, ABS, ASC dampers, traction control and a dozen other driver aids hadn’t been invented.

 

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The history and reasoning about the 85% guideline have been long debated. Many disregard it ( I myself towed at 96% for many years with only a couple of reminders travelling too fast down French motorways.)


In 2014 we were forced to leave our tug in an Italian scrapyard after a head on crash just north of Rome.

 

Redpennant sent us a brand new Discovery 4 to tow the caravan and us home to the UK. 
 

That change from a car that gave us 96% to the much heavier Disco which dropped the figure to below 70% was remarkable. I had not realised what ‘rock steady’ meant until making that step change with the same caravan.

 

So although I, like many others, was happy and felt fully in control towing well above the 85%, the fact is that the lower that figure (the heavier the car) the greater the feeling of rock steady.

 

Of course budget, other driving needs combined with your experience in loading and towing heavy caravans modify the decision process. But I would always now look for the heaviest tug that fits my bill and ignore 75,85,95 numbers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Except for the reality that no other country gives a stuff about weight ratios and no one has ever, ever provided evidence to show they have more weight related caravan accidents. I towed all over EULandia at 100% with no problems. I now tow at around 80% and when we change car this year will possibly be 90% but depending on  the car we buy from the shortlist, might be almost 100% again

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Not arguing one way or the other though I would be happy towing at 100% but it all comes to nothing if all the other advice around loading and nose weight isn’t followed. Driving solo down the M1 a couple of weekends ago, lovely warm evening saw a twin axle twitching all over the place, really thought it was going to develop into a full snake at any moment, so moved into outside lane to safely pass wondering what undersized car was doing the towing. Very surprised to find a full size Rangerover, driver, oddly, had window down and elbow on sill apparently completely oblivious to what his van was doing.
I suppose, having no towing mirrors he had know idea what his van was doing behind him and perhaps the weight of the tug was hiding what was really going on, did wonder if a coach passing at 70 would have finished him off!

So 75% recommendation for beginners may not be the most important thing!

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On 18/07/2021 at 22:31, Flatcoat888 said:

Except for the reality that no other country gives a stuff about weight ratios and no one has ever, ever provided evidence to show they have more weight related caravan accidents. I towed all over EULandia at 100% with no problems. I now tow at around 80% and when we change car this year will possibly be 90% but depending on  the car we buy from the shortlist, might be almost 100% again


 

Another factor to a stable tow is things like dampers that seem to be an optional extra on many vans in the U.K.  It’s a requirement to tow at 62mph in Germany, a stabiliser and dampers. But there again, the TuV have conducted proper evidences based  trails into towing, not based things around some made up number.

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On 18/07/2021 at 22:31, Flatcoat888 said:

Except for the reality that no other country gives a stuff about weight ratios and no one has ever, ever provided evidence to show they have more weight related caravan accidents. I towed all over EULandia at 100% with no problems. I now tow at around 80% and when we change car this year will possibly be 90% but depending on  the car we buy from the shortlist, might be almost 100% again

Does any other country use the same AL-KO chassis that is fitted to U.K. vans?

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The use of AL-KO chassis is irrelevant. 

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1 hour ago, Flatcoat888 said:

The use of AL-KO chassis is irrelevant. 

 

Totally irrelevant and AlKo is a German based company with their chassis being used all over the world.

I've got nothing to do on this hot afternoon

but to settle down and write you a line.

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1 hour ago, fred said:

Does any other country use the same AL-KO chassis that is fitted to U.K. vans?

AL-KO chassis are made up using stock pattern sections with a selection of axles, and types of steadies, then bolted together.   Continental makers usually specify a slightly longer A-frame than those used in the UK.   

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29 minutes ago, Jaydug said:

AL-KO chassis are made up using stock pattern sections with a selection of axles, and types of steadies, then bolted together.   Continental makers usually specify a slightly longer A-frame than those used in the UK.   

Continental vans typically have the delta axle, shock absorbers and the longer  A frame.  Not many U.K. vans brave enough to run on a 2000kg single axle.  

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I doubt if bravery has anything to do with it, it'll always be a straightforward commercial decision. 

I've got nothing to do on this hot afternoon

but to settle down and write you a line.

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52 minutes ago, Jaydug said:

AL-KO chassis are made up using stock pattern sections with a selection of axles, and types of steadies, then bolted together.   Continental makers usually specify a slightly longer A-frame than those used in the UK.   

 

17 minutes ago, fred said:

Continental vans typically have the delta axle, shock absorbers and the longer  A frame.  Not many U.K. vans brave enough to run on a 2000kg single axle.  

 

That may well be the case but a few years ago, I had the opportunity to 'measure' 2 vans, one UK and one German both of almost identical total length and length of A frame but the UK 'van had a longer body.  I have since convinced myself that such further examples exist and that it is UK-common.

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If Continental and UK caravan manufacturers use the same chassis, but UK caravans have a shorter A-frame then this can only be because the body is mounted further forward on UK caravans, presumably to keep the overall length down. That would also account for inherently high noseweights that many UK caravans seem to have that some owners complain about. My Continental caravan had less than 25kg noseweight in its ex-works condition before gas bottles, EHU cable, and the spare wheel etc. were in their respective location inside the front locker.

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Perhaps UK caravans have shorter 'A' frames because UK citizens are more worried about shipping length than our continental friends.

As for the 85% rule or recommendation, the only place I see that discussed is on caravan related forums. How many new caravan owners are on, or even know about Forums.

'I know' is just 'I Believe' with delusions of grandeur

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16 hours ago, SamD said:

That may well be the case but a few years ago, I had the opportunity to 'measure' 2 vans, one UK and one German both of almost identical total length and length of A frame but the UK 'van had a longer body.  I have since convinced myself that such further examples exist and that it is UK-common.

 

We have just swapped from a UK single axle (total length 7.5m) to an Adria twin axle (total length 8.3m). Adria and Swift don't seem to use comparable measurements for body length (Swift use internal length at bed box height).

 

By my own estimates, of the extra 80cm extra length, only about 30- 40 cm is in the caravan, with the A frame accounting for 40 - 50cm.

 

The new caravan was more stable than the previous on its return from the dealers, though it was empty.  In its favour, it has:

  • the long A frame
  • twin axle
  • delta axle
  • ratio of 105% (when loaded, more like 90% as tested so far)

While the Swift had:

  • shock absorbers (self fitted)
  • ATC
  • ratio of 86%
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28 minutes ago, Scarab said:

The new caravan was more stable than the previous on its return from the dealers, though it was empty.  In its favour, it has:

  • the long A frame
  • twin axle
  • delta axle
  • ratio of 105% (when loaded, more like 90% as tested so far)

While the Swift had:

  • shock absorbers (self fitted)
  • ATC
  • ratio of 86%

 

The implication of another caravanning "myth" creeping in.

ATC makes zero difference to the towing stability of a caravan; it just checks instability when that occurs.

 

However, not in a manner where you can continue with instability, as the van's brakes will burn out or even catch fire should you attempt to.

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11 minutes ago, JTQ said:

The implication of another caravanning "myth" creeping in.

ATC makes zero difference to the towing stability of a caravan; it just checks instability when that occurs.

 

Sorry, I didn't mean to imply it did. I don't believe we've ever had the ATC activate at high speed (though would I know?). We've certainly felt it on low speed twist bits.

 

Has anyone ever looked into this properly? A couple of activations on the motorway wouldn't burn out your brakes. Would they even be felt?

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