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Ian of Chorley

Hill start disaster from stationary

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Hi.

Have a Ford Mondeo 2015 2L diesel 180 manual which tows my 575 Coachman caravan 2016 model. Everything fine until I fried my clutch last week as I ended up making a series of hill starts from stationary following roadworks and T junction. Costing me over £1k to repair which I don’t want to pay again! Moving awning into car to help but the hillstart assist, electronic brake, clutch and weight of caravan all seemed to be working against each other. Quite frightening experience and I am a reasonably experienced tower! Am pleased with the Mondeo but having read forum wish I had chosen automatic. Any advice out there? Would rather not have to change the car if possible as only had it six months.

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We had a 09 Passat 2L diesel 6 speed manual, just outside warranty we had a gearbox failure where one of the 6 large rivets holding the crown wheel onto the diff carrier had sheared, it came out, split the casing, gear oil ran into the bellhousing and onto the clutch. No s/x on the gearbox due to the split case, new clutch assembly and dual mass flywheel (£1200) 30,000 miles later the dual mass flywheel gave up (another big bill) 

 

A replacement clutch was a relatively cheap affair, however with later diesel cars with manual  gearbox now all seem to have this dual mass flywheel which always needs to be changed (or recommended to be changed) when a new clutch is fitted making the job very expensive.

 

I was always sceptical about towing with autos but after the Passat issue I was convinced to move on. The modern multi geared autos are the way to go, we now have the one of the last series of the Freelander2's, with a 6 speed auto and electric park brake, hill start assist and when towing the van has very smooth up and down shifting, fantastic bit of kit, plus you can never be in the wrong gear!

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I prefer an automatic transmission, especially for towing a caravan, as it allows me to position the caravan without slipping a friction clutch.  I would always choose a transmission with a torque converter as some modern automatics use friction clutches which slip to move off from stationary.

 

I have a SsangYong Turismo ELX which not only has a 7-speed automatic transmission but also selectable four wheel drive with low ratios.  This allows me to pull or push the caravan onto levelling ramps at tickover and control the speed with the brake.   Without the low ratios you need to use the accelerator to get up a ramp and it is easy to overshoot.

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if you did not do so then leave a big gap between you and the car in front, you  then may not need to stop so often once you get going. i'm sure someone will come along as they have done before and tell me how wrong this is

I have seen somewhere to chock the caravan wheels, tie chocks to rear handles of caravan. allow car to come back onto the caravan. when you pull away there is a little bit of movement before you pull the caravan

 

macafee2

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I believe the VAG dsg auto gearboxes have a "wet" clutch and therefore less likely to overheat under load?

I have found mine very good on hill starts when towing. No more smoking clutches, especially when reversing uphill!

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26 minutes ago, Joeblogs said:

We had a 09 Passat 2L diesel 6 speed manual, just outside warranty we had a gearbox failure where one of the 6 large rivets holding the crown wheel onto the diff carrier had sheared, it came out, split the casing, gear oil ran into the bellhousing and onto the clutch. No s/x on the gearbox due to the split case, new clutch assembly and dual mass flywheel (£1200) 30,000 miles later the dual mass flywheel gave up (another big bill) 

 

A replacement clutch was a relatively cheap affair, however with later diesel cars with manual  gearbox now all seem to have this dual mass flywheel which always needs to be changed (or recommended to be changed) when a new clutch is fitted making the job very expensive.

 

I was always sceptical about towing with autos but after the Passat issue I was convinced to move on. The modern multi geared autos are the way to go, we now have the one of the last series of the Freelander2's, with a 6 speed auto and electric park brake, hill start assist and when towing the van has very smooth up and down shifting, fantastic bit of kit, plus you can never be in the wrong gear!

mmmm not the advice I've seen regarding changing DMF when a clutch is changed. If they are in spec leave them.

 

macafee2

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Living in New Zealand I cannot understand why you UK people use such small capacity motored vehicles for towing ? A 2 liter motor wether diesel or petrol has very little low down power so you would need to slip the clutch on hill starts I would think?  An auto is obviously the way to go but of course it has to be robust enough for the job to (read the previous post regarding the VW) . My tow vehicles have all been automatic but 4.4, 3.0, and now 3.5 V6 Nissan Pathfinder 2019 absolutely brilliant tow car CVT transmission. Before I hear about the price of fuel ours is $2.20 a liter just now. Kindly, get more cc s.

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24 minutes ago, James Donald said:

Living in New Zealand I cannot understand why you UK people use such small capacity motored vehicles for towing ? A 2 liter motor wether diesel or petrol has very little low down power so you would need to slip the clutch on hill starts I would think?  An auto is obviously the way to go but of course it has to be robust enough for the job to (read the previous post regarding the VW) . My tow vehicles have all been automatic but 4.4, 3.0, and now 3.5 V6 Nissan Pathfinder 2019 absolutely brilliant tow car CVT transmission. Before I hear about the price of fuel ours is $2.20 a liter just now. Kindly, get more cc s.

 

Clearly you don't understand engines, the Mercedes 250d is a 2.1 litre diesel that develops 500Nm at 1800 rpm, so you can let the clutch out and allow the torque take you where you want to go.

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2 hours ago, James Donald said:

Living in New Zealand I cannot understand why you UK people use such small capacity motored vehicles for towing ? A 2 liter motor wether diesel or petrol has very little low down power so you would need to slip the clutch on hill starts I would think?  An auto is obviously the way to go but of course it has to be robust enough for the job to (read the previous post regarding the VW) . My tow vehicles have all been automatic but 4.4, 3.0, and now 3.5 V6 Nissan Pathfinder 2019 absolutely brilliant tow car CVT transmission. Before I hear about the price of fuel ours is $2.20 a liter just now. Kindly, get more cc s.

why does living in New Zealand have any bearing on your understanding?

 

macafee2

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Probably because very few people here would tow with a 2.0Liter engine vehicle. I read often people fussing about tow vehicle weights talking about being a few kgs near the tow car limit etc? Hook up to something with a bit of grunt may fix the problem! I'm not trying to be scarcastic or smart just find it hard to get to grips with.

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Hi Grandpa Steve, no I don't know everything about engines , even though I am an A Grade mechanic since 1968, have driven RS1800 Escort Rally cars to 3 NZ Championship wins in 14 yrs. And I remember the words of a rather famous F1 driver and constructor Jack Brabham : There is no substitute for cubic inches !

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8 minutes ago, James Donald said:

Hi Grandpa Steve, no I don't know everything about engines , even though I am an A Grade mechanic since 1968, have driven RS1800 Escort Rally cars to 3 NZ Championship wins in 14 yrs. And I remember the words of a rather famous F1 driver and constructor Jack Brabham : There is no substitute for cubic inches !

 

Shame your post I replied to doesn’t reflect what you claim above.

 

What part of you training taught you that Diesel engines have very little low down power?

 

Also if you took a bit of time to understand the restrictions and punitive legislation we have in the UK, along with the “save the planet brigade”,  you would start to understand why we have, in comparison to your country, relatively small engines cars.

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52 minutes ago, James Donald said:

Probably because very few people here would tow with a 2.0Liter engine vehicle. I read often people fussing about tow vehicle weights talking about being a few kgs near the tow car limit etc? Hook up to something with a bit of grunt may fix the problem! I'm not trying to be scarcastic or smart just find it hard to get to grips with.

Many of us have, for economic reasons to tow with multi purpose vehicles, that have to combine commuter car, family cruiser and towcar etc.

I have, in the past, towed caravans successfully, and without burning clutches, with 1.3 litre and 1.6 litre petrol engines and more recently with 2 litre and 2.2 litre Diesels, although my favourite was a 2 litre 5 cylinder petrol engine running on LPG!

One mistake that many people make with the clutch is to try and be too smooth with hill starts allowing it to slip in an attempt to creep forwards rather than being decisive in its use.

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5 hours ago, James Donald said:

Living in New Zealand I cannot understand why you UK people use such small capacity motored vehicles for towing ? A 2 liter motor wether diesel or petrol has very little low down power so you would need to slip the clutch on hill starts I would think?  An auto is obviously the way to go but of course it has to be robust enough for the job to (read the previous post regarding the VW) . My tow vehicles have all been automatic but 4.4, 3.0, and now 3.5 V6 Nissan Pathfinder 2019 absolutely brilliant tow car CVT transmission. Before I hear about the price of fuel ours is $2.20 a liter just now. Kindly, get more cc s.

 

I think most people here look for a compromise as  all vehicle costs favour the smaller car.  Initial purchase, fuel, tax, depreciation, etc.  Some are also compromised by what they are allowed with a company car.  However common sense says a large heavy vehicle with a big engine will pull best.  On top of that there is a tendency to get the biggest van they can manage (or just manage).  Consequently we live on the edge, so to speak.

 

John

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6 hours ago, Stevan said:

One mistake that many people make with the clutch is to try and be too smooth with hill starts allowing it to slip in an attempt to creep forwards rather than being decisive in its use.

There may be some truth in that. I have towed with manual cars for 35 out of the last 38 years and never had clutch problems thankfully. On the present car, although I have 4 wheel drive available, I rarely use it other than in bad road conditions and have certainly spun the front tyres a time or three on steep hill starts. The present car has done 90k and 40k of that has been towing.

 

Not sure if there is any better advice than yours Stevan if OP wants to retain his present car. I think from the initial post that he has bought a three year old car. He does not mention its mileage and presumably has no idea how it was driven or used previously or how good the clutch and pressure plate was. 

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13 hours ago, Ian of Chorley said:

Hi.

Have a Ford Mondeo 2015 2L diesel 180 manual which tows my 575 Coachman caravan 2016 model. Everything fine until I fried my clutch last week as I ended up making a series of hill starts from stationary following roadworks and T junction. Costing me over £1k to repair which I don’t want to pay again! Moving awning into car to help but the hillstart assist, electronic brake, clutch and weight of caravan all seemed to be working against each other. Quite frightening experience and I am a reasonably experienced tower! Am pleased with the Mondeo but having read forum wish I had chosen automatic. Any advice out there? Would rather not have to change the car if possible as only had it six months.

 

If it is of any consolation I did the same, I'm an experienced tower but got stuck in a mega jam on a hill in Chesterfield. I made it to the top with a steaming clutch a limped to the cc site at Chesterfield. I was lucky it was a company car so the new clutch was not painful just a little inconvenient. I also tow with an auto now, I do understand your dilemma best and only constructive advice is to plan your routes at less busy times of the day. (whenever that is nowadays)

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I guess the only advice I could give to the OP is get an auto next time, which I think he has worked out for himself. Although aren’t there problems with ford auto boxes?

 

If in a queue resist the temptation to move every time the car in front moves at least that way you are hopefully slipping the clutch less often. 

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14 hours ago, CliveB said:

I believe the VAG dsg auto gearboxes have a "wet" clutch and therefore less likely to overheat under load?

I have found mine very good on hill starts when towing. No more smoking clutches, especially when reversing uphill!

I agree that a wet clutch is probably preferable to a dry one but would still prefer a torque converter as any friction clutch is liable to wear out eventually.

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3 hours ago, Easy T said:

He does not mention its mileage and presumably has no idea how it was driven or used previously or how good the clutch and pressure plate was. 

Good point. Over the last nearly 50 years I have had to replace only 2 clutches, one was on a 1965 Vauxhall Viva that had done 98,000 miles including the previous owner towing a caravan to Spain with it and the other had an uncertain history before I acquired the car. Exactly how you use a clutch has a big impact on its life!

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24 minutes ago, Stevan said:

Good point. Over the last nearly 50 years I have had to replace only 2 clutches, one was on a 1965 Vauxhall Viva that had done 98,000 miles including the previous owner towing a caravan to Spain with it and the other had an uncertain history before I acquired the car. Exactly how you use a clutch has a big impact on its life!

I've replaced a number of clutches out of necessity as I used to do work on cars as a side line but never a problem on my own car's clutch.

 

 

 

 

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9 hours ago, James Donald said:

Hi Grandpa Steve, no I don't know everything about engines , even though I am an A Grade mechanic since 1968, have driven RS1800 Escort Rally cars to 3 NZ Championship wins in 14 yrs. And I remember the words of a rather famous F1 driver and constructor Jack Brabham : There is no substitute for cubic inches !

 

I am not knocking Jack Brabham's statement you have quoted "There is no substitute for cubic inches !" But that was a long long time ago regarding engine development. in the early 60's if you look at his prefered engine configurations with Repco, it was a naturally aspirated 3 ltr V8 using an Oldsmobile block from the states, just like his other engine suppliers of that era as either Climax or Cosworth as naturally aspirated V8's, delivering around 290-310 bhp @ 8,000 rpm. If you now look at the current F1 engine (2019 season) we are now at a V6 1.6 ltr delivering around 1,000 hp  also the engines are restricted to 15,000 rpm, a single turbocharger and fuel is restricted to 100 kgs per hour.

 

The swept volume of an engine is no longer the key to high KW output, now it's down to:  turbocharged, supercharged, intercooled, aftercooled, oversquare,  twin cam, variable valve timing,  multi valve,  electronic fuel mapping etc. NASA are also developing new super light alloys for pistons that give a very low coefficient of friction and very low wear rates in combination with synthetic lubricants. 

 

I think we will go a lot further with IC engine development before we are all driving around in electric vehicles.  

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10 minutes ago, Joeblogs said:

 

I am not knocking Jack Brabham's statement you have quoted "There is no substitute for cubic inches !" But that was a long long time ago regarding engine development. in the early 60's if you look at his prefered engine configurations with Repco, it was a naturally aspirated 3 ltr V8 using an Oldsmobile block from the states, just like his other engine suppliers of that era as either Climax or Cosworth as naturally aspirated V8's, delivering around 290-310 bhp @ 8,000 rpm. If you now look at the current F1 engine (2019 season) we are now at a V6 1.6 ltr delivering around 1,000 hp  also the engines are restricted to 15,000 rpm, a single turbocharger and fuel is restricted to 100 kgs per hour.

 

The swept volume of an engine is no longer the key to high KW output, now it's down to:  turbocharged, supercharged, intercooled, aftercooled, oversquare,  twin cam, variable valve timing,  multi valve,  electronic fuel mapping etc. NASA are also developing new super light alloys for pistons that give a very low coefficient of friction and very low wear rates in combination with synthetic lubricants. 

 

I think we will go a lot further with IC engine development before we are all driving around in electric vehicles.  

For many years 100bhp/litre was a holy grail for engine tuners, now it is commonplace on even fairly mundane cars.

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I have a hybrid so have a CVT gearbox. There are no gears, so no clutch or serious moving parts in the transmission. This is because CVT is basically an expanding ring.

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18 minutes ago, warrenb said:

I have a hybrid so have a CVT gearbox. There are no gears, so no clutch or serious moving parts in the transmission. This is because CVT is basically an expanding ring.

In effect, the CVT transmission belt is your friction clutch and may be subject to wear during hill starts etc..

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19 hours ago, macafee2 said:

. i'm sure someone will come along as they have done before and tell me how wrong this is.

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Not me, for sure.   I do exactly the same thing.   My longest tow is down to southern Spain each winter and I dread having to do hill starts.   I leave as big a gap as possible and crawl in first gear as slowly as possible to avoid having to come to a stop..   Even when boarding the ferry, I wait till the ramp is clear before beginning the climb. 

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