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Towcar Help Needed


alfiesgirl
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We have just bought our first caravan, its just a small 2 berth but now we need a towcar, hubs says our little hatchback won't do the job. We do not have pots of money so 4x4 out of the question, I have been reading all about weight ratios but I feel out of my depth to be honest :blink:

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The technical side of what you need is fairly simple and with a small 2 berth there will be many choices open to you. I always think that what you had in mind before you bought the van should come first, as this will also affect the tow car and by looking at this you may find the choice becomes clearer.

 

I. Start with what romantic notions you have in your head. If it's all year round touring then a 4 wheel drive can be worth it's weight in gold. Yes you can do it in conventional vehicles but it's more relaxing knowing that getting off a wet field e. t. c. is not a problem.

 

2. If you are intent on foreign touring, especially if it involves mountains, again you need more power than just summer touring in this country.

 

3. It may be a small 2 berth but is it a 'Lets try it and see. If we like it we can upgrade later ?' If so then over kill at this stage will be cheaper in the long run.

 

4. How much kit are we carrying. Small 2 berth but big awnings, bikes, ski kit, e. t. c. all adds up and a car that's not big enough will be a constant hassle with packing.

 

If it's going to be spring/summer/autumn in the UK on commercial/club sites with ELHU and a friendly warden, then I would suggest a Turbo Diesel estate or hatchback of suitable weight / power that you like the feel of. The caravan Club technical department will assist if you have any questions as well as numerous other sources including this one.

 

Please do not assume you need pots of money to use a smaller 4 x 4 of the Suzuki Grand Vitara/ Kia Sportage / others are available. or even a full size one. "2 nd hand they make real sense. The main cost of any vehicle is Depreciation and once say over 5 years of age they perform better than most. Add to that better stability, better traction, much stronger transmissions, better cooling, engine tune more suitable for towing and they tick a lot more boxes than you think. Also check out the reliability indexes, if it ain't going it's an expensive ornament.

 

Whatever you choose remember it's supposed to be enjoyable and relaxing. So big tug - small caravan = relaxing. Powerful tug - small caravan = relaxing. Plenty of room for gear = relaxing. Reliable = relaxing. Let us know what you have purchased and what you want to use it for and we will help where we can. The expertise available to you on this forum is probably second to none.

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People carriers make great tow cars, and are available for a lot less money than a 4x4. We've had a 1998 VW Sharan, a 1999 Renault Espace and a 2002 Ford Galaxy. All very good at towing our 1500Kg twin axle van and all very reliable. Good examples of all three on Autotrader for under £1000.

 

Hope that helps

 

Ian

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, I have been reading all about weight ratios but I feel out of my depth to be honest :blink:

 

 

Welcome Alfiesgirl. We bought a little 2 berth caravan and love it. We tow it with our ordinary family car easily.

 

The weight ratio thing is not really too complicated. You just need to ensure your car is heavier than your van when the van is fully loaded. The MTPL figure that you should find on your van is just the weight of the van (called the MIRO) plus the total amount of kit you can safely load into it (sometimes called the payload). If you have more stuff than the permitted payload you need to carry it in the car when towing.

 

The 85% rule is just a guide on how much heavier your car should be than your van. If your car weighs 1200kgs then you should aim to tow a van that weighs no more than 85% of 1200kgs which is 1115kgs.

 

There are thousands of fellow caravanners that tow their vans perfectly happily with an ordinary family car - particularly if they are small 2 berth caravans. Personally I think having a diesel engine is more important than a 4x4 as diesels tend to have rather more pulling power (called "torque") than many petrol engines. They are more expensive but generally they are more economical on fuel, especially for the rest of the year when you are not towing (probably the majority of your mileage). But there again, plenty of people tow perfectly happily with a petrol engine.

 

There are two easy ways to get information on the suitability of a particular car you might fancy for towing. One is the What Towcar website where you can put in details of your caravan and the car you propose to buy and it will give you an estimate of how well it will tow it.

 

http://www. whattowcar. com/

 

The other is the Caravan Club who will advise you over the phone - or there is an online Towcar comparison service if you are a member of the Club.

 

Enjoy your new van

Edited by lottie
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Fairly well agree with all the above.

I would say avoid a 4x4 if you are on any sort of budget, you will throw £700 extra in the fuel tank per year and the are much more expensie in running cost (tyres etc) and upkeep (lots more to go wrong)

 

My top tip tip is get an estate car. The rear suspension is usually stiffer on and estate. I recommend a Pug 406 or 407 in diesel format for a good value car that will meet the towing needs.

 

You really need to sort out what the car weighs and what the van weighs and make sure the van is less than 85% of the car weight.

 

If you go on autotrader and look at ads for a car they show the kerb weight for that model on the info pages so that is a good start point.

 

Sorry but I always seem to be on here knocking 4x4s!

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