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Towing with an auto


philip697
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We are looking at trading our Citroen C4 GP in for a car more suited to towing our caravan, I've been looking at the VW Tiguan which looks like it would pull a mountain, and is a good roomy family car too so ticks a few boxes. The local dealer we use have one but it's automatic transmission and just wondered if autos are suitable for towing? My initial thought is that, if anything, it would be better in theory as you might not burn your clutch when stuck in slow moving uphill traffic (which I have noticed before on the Citroen). The biggest issue might be adjusting moving to an automatic transmission having never had one, but just wanted to confirm really. 

 

I'll qualify this by I have never driven an automatic in my life, always manual for me, so this might be a '... why would it be a problem, what? situation.

Edited by philip697
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I think the general consensus will be that once an automatic as a tug, always an automatic.

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I've been dragging 1650kg of caravan around for the past five years with my 2.0TDCI S-Max autos, firstly the 150ps and now the 180ps and my next car will be an auto Kuga when it arrives. No problems whatsoever.

 

TBH once you tried an auto I guess you'll be reluctant to go back to a manual - totally effortless

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We have a Tiguan 4Motion which has the 7speed DSG box. Previously we had a Volvo V70 D5 with an old school auto box, and a Jeep auto before that. The Tiguan is the best tow car we have had. Once you get an understanding of the drive system and particularly the choice of settings, you will love it.

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3 minutes ago, Lutz said:

I think the general consensus will be that once an automatic as a tug, always an automatic.

 

2 minutes ago, alicanto grande said:

I've been dragging 1650kg of caravan around for the past five years with my 2.0TDCI S-Max autos, firstly the 150ps and now the 180ps and my next car will be an auto Kuga when it arrives. No problems whatsoever.

 

TBH once you tried an auto I guess you'll be reluctant to go back to a manual - totally effortless

 

Thanks guys, this is my thinking too. I've always instantly disregarded autos thinking take the 'fun' out of driving, but that was in my younger days before I had a 'van, and towing is hardly 'fun' anyway, so I'm thinking an auto will make my life easier!

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If you want fun, then set it to sport and use the flappy paddles, just like Lewis or Max :ph34r:

 

When I'm towing I tend to set the cruise control to around 55 and then let the car get on with doing all the gear changing - not that it does all that much with 400nm of torque

Edited by alicanto grande
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we have had 2  kuga auto for the last 7 years  and my OH would not go back to manual now. Good point , more relaxing drive, bad point , which is not really but coming out of a junction or moving onto a roundabout  , give it a bit more time or as Alicanto says , switch it to sport

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Been towing with Automatics for the last 20 years. Modern ones are so economical and easy to drive! Would not contemplate ever having a manual again!

2019 Bailey Platinum (640) Phoenix from Chipping Sodbury caravans, towed by our  2017 my Discovery Sport!

 

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The Tiguan auto can be driven like a manual if you want via the gear stick or the paddles.

But to be honest after a while you wont bother.

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Our Seat Tarraco has the same 7 speed auto DSG. In everyday driving the automatic is perfect, many other automatic cars I've driven you end up controlling the gearbox and the throttle through the same pedal (having to ease up to get in to change up etc).

 

The good thing is that these have wet clutches (like a motorbike) which should make them much less likely to overheat like a normal clutch. We haven't towed far with it yet but I think it's worth paying a bit more attention to what it's doing than a conventional automatic. For example when driving around at minimum speed I drop it into manual to make sure it's in 1st rather than feathering the clutch in 2nd. I also try to pull away decisively rather than letting it slowly creep away, minimising the time where the clutches are slipping. This is just out of mechanical sympathy rather than than any particular need to do it though.

Edited by ChertseyMike
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Our 2011 Tiguan was a good towcar but after a while we found the boot too small for us.

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I have a Kia sportage 2 litre diesel electric hybrid thingy with an eight speed auto and will never go back to a manual.  Can put it into sport manual if I want to play but so much stress free than a manual in heavy holiday traffic. 

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Even as someone who loves a ‘drivers’ car I will never ever go back to a manual tow car, ever. 

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I was going to order  my fourth manual Tiguan but my dealer was able to offer a very good deal on an auto that was already in the country, with the colour I wanted and swivel tow bar. I've had it two and half years now and won't go back to manual. Only issue is a bit of lag at junctions but putting it in manual to pull out gets rid of most of the lag.

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I prefer an old school manual for "driving" as well as towing.

Caveat is that most Auto's are better 95% of the time.

It's the last 5%, where you are driving for fun (not A to B) that the majority of Autos are left wanting as they are all reactive rather than proactive.

I've had a VAG DSG car (not for towing) and it was great.

I currently have a BMW with the ZF8 gearbox - widely acclaimed as one of the best. And it's great. Absolutely the best Auto that I've driven. It's used for towing and most of the time it's in the "right" gear - with the engine at around 2000 revs, changing gear to match speed rather than using the rev range. Perfectly in the maximum torque area of the (turbocharged petrol) engine. Towing duties are to be taken over by a recently purchased diesel manual. Whilst car shopping I was completely disinterested I  whether the car I was looking at was Auto or Manual.

It's true that for most people who have been driving manuals for years, once they drive an Auto, they'd never go back. I tried for many years to get my wife to have an Auto (lack of mechanical sympathy and driving like she did in 1975 with a Wolseley Hornet). Finally got her in one in 2013. It took 3 weeks before she asked me why I hadn't made her have an Auto before! She won't drive anything with 3 pedals now.

 

Bottom line. Don't worry about it. Get the Auto, you may never look back!

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25 minutes ago, AlwynMike said:

I prefer an old school manual for "driving" as well as towing.

Caveat is that most Auto's are better 95% of the time.

It's the last 5%, where you are driving for fun (not A to B) that the majority of Autos are left wanting as they are all reactive rather than proactive.

 

 

Agreed!  But sport mode with paddles and dynamic setting where available then just open your window and throw out your licence! Yippee!:D

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1 minute ago, SamD said:

 

Agreed!  But sport mode with paddles and dynamic setting where available then just open your window and throw out your licence! Yippee!:D

 

and don't forget to turn off the traction control weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee :P

 

 

 

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I too have the Mk2 Tiguan auto, it's the 190PS diesel 7 speed DSG, it's a good size but not massive and is built on the Golf foundations and very capable. I've had it from new so specced the factory fit tow bar. When a trailer or caravan is plugged in, the brain of the DSG or car, whichever, changes the way the gears change. It will hold the lower gears for longer and change down from higher ones quicker than it would on normal solo driving. It also has "trailer assist" built into the car's ESC which is a sort of ATC but with the car dealing with any snaking issues as opposed to the caravan. 

These will be the same across the Volkswagen group and more than likely other marques but I can reassure you that they combine with the effortless auto gear box to give a very nice towing experience and as said before, the mpg isn't too bad either. You have "flappy paddles" as well should you be faced with a steep decline to use the car manually to slow things down rather than the brakes 

Edited by Tunnelvision
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12 hours ago, George&Ade said:

Our 2011 Tiguan was a good towcar but after a while we found the boot too small for us.

 

Mk1 was also too small for me, Mk2 is just right.

 

 

11 hours ago, Webslinger said:

I have a Kia sportage 2 litre diesel electric hybrid thingy with an eight speed auto and will never go back to a manual.  Can put it into sport manual if I want to play but so much stress free than a manual in heavy holiday traffic. 

 

I would be looking at that option but its no longer available except in Australia where the concensus is its the best power plant for the car, but they don't get the hybrid I believe.

 

 

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As someone who spent his whole career driving manuals (very quickly at times!) and enjoying it I converted to an auto a few years ago.

 

I will never go back to a manual, much more relaxed and simply brilliant when towing.

Mine is a “proper” auto with a torque converter rather than a DSG type (But I have never driven a DSG auto so I am unable to offer an opinion on the difference. I know many rate them highly) 

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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At the risk of incoming flak!:)      I have only ever possessed manual cars although I have driven many automatics and semi automatics, including the DSG/ direct shift gearbox or dual clutch box.

The only one that I would consider if I really had to would be the torque converter type with epicyclic gears  but I am even put off that one because of the possible horrendous repair bills.

The DSG has a dual clutch pack that has a limited lifespan and very complicated electronics that just decide the gearchanges for you.

It is only my opinion but I think the DSG too complicated and expensive to hang a large caravan on when it is clearly  not designed for it.

sorry,  I will now get my tin hat

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7 hours ago, robertB said:

At the risk of incoming flak!:)      I have only ever possessed manual cars although I have driven many automatics and semi automatics, including the DSG/ direct shift gearbox or dual clutch box.

The only one that I would consider if I really had to would be the torque converter type with epicyclic gears  but I am even put off that one because of the possible horrendous repair bills.

The DSG has a dual clutch pack that has a limited lifespan and very complicated electronics that just decide the gearchanges for you.

It is only my opinion but I think the DSG too complicated and expensive to hang a large caravan on when it is clearly  not designed for it.

sorry,  I will now get my tin hat

 

Ah so you are the one with semaphore indicators and an acrid smell of burning on the 1 in 4 in the Peak District last week eh?;)

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I did my apprenticeship back in the days of the Borg Warner 3 speed auto’s and even back then they gave much less trouble than a manual gearbox (but were costly to get fixed if they went wrong) Modern TC auto boxes are vastly more reliable items providing the fluid in them is changed at the designated mileage (if there is one) 

Modern manuals are fitted with dual mass flywheels and a lot of owners have serious issues with them. To replace a DMF and clutch is well over a £1000 You don’t hear of many TC auto gearbox owners being lumbered with similar sized bills. It can of course happen though, but it is rare. 

I tend to agree with your theory about DSG’s being highly complex and  are really robotised manuals rather than “true” (epicyclic) autos. Having said that DSG’s have been around for a good few years now! 

One final point TC autos don’t have clutch packs to wear out (yes I do know they have brake bands etc, but if holding on a hill a DSG slips it’s clutch, a true auto relies on the TC with no friction faces to wear down/out) 

Each to his own if course though. 

 

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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1 hour ago, Mr Plodd said:

if holding on a hill a DSG slips it’s clutch,

Yeah, this is a bad idea for the same reason that it's a bad idea to slip the clutch in a manual car. With most cars coming with electric hand brakes and auto hold functions there aren't many excuses for doing this it's not even like you get to show off your immense skill at balancing the clutch.

 

However, it's worth remembering that the same robotic manual type transmissions (and even dual clutch systems) are used on practically every modern lorry. Obviously for drivers driving all day it's more comfortable but you can bet between the operators and the manufacturers they've also figured out that it saves them money in the long term.

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