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New Van = Towcar Woes :-(


Rael
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My elderly Passat TDI (max 1500kg) was quite happy towing our old van (1200kg), but having just upgraded to an Olympus (1450kg) it's really struggling - not for power, but stability. Anything above about 52mph and the extra weight of the new van becomes very apparent, whereas the old van would tow all day at 60 quite happily. Given that the new van weighs almost the maximum permitted for the car I'm not hugely surprised, but being new to caravanning it's the only Towcar I've had, so I need some advice on options. I'm looking to spend no more than about £5000.

 

Do I go for a large estate such as an Audi A6 or Mercedes E Class? Plenty available within my budget, tow dating is 1800-2000, so would that give me back the margin for comfort? Audi is front wheel drive (or 4wd), Merc is rear wheel drive - any pros/cons with either configuration? Volvo V70 is another one I'm considering.

 

Would a 4x4 be better for towing? Thinking X5, Xc90, maybe Discovery. Downside there is fuel economy and running costs (eg road tax) when used as a normal car. I'm aware of the various far-eastern options like the X Trail, Sorrento etc, but they don't float my boat as cars, which is a factor. Had a Jeep in the past and loved it, but the mpg was catastrophic.

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To give you an idea, I changed my car back in March. One of the car buying websites offered me £5k for my old car. It was a March '08 Volvo V70 d5 SE Lux with 90k on the clock. It had a new timing belt, brake pads and discs, trailing arms and steering pump. Quite a few quids worth in all. Also a fantastic tow car and my 'vans have all been around the 1500kg range.

Volvo XC60 Momentum Pro D4 pulling an Elddis Crusader Mistral

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I have had a v70 and xc70 now . The V70 towed my 1700kg caravan with ease . I had the D5 which is also pretty good on fuel when solo. I had a passat as well and towed a 1430 van with no trouble so I can only think you maybe have a suspension problem or tyre pressures a a bit low.

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Early insignia tourer cdti 160 may be worth a look.

Edited by stattam
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Loading, loading, loading.

 

Stability does not only depend on tug and caravan mass ratios.

 

Noseweight and lowball height come into it, plus tyre pressures.

 

May be worth checking and adjusting things?

2012 Bailey Pegasus 2 Rimini towed by 2019 Ford Galaxy Titanium X, 2.0 EcoBlue, 8 speed auto.

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To give you an idea, I changed my car back in March. One of the car buying websites offered me £5k for my old car. It was a March '08 Volvo V70 d5 SE Lux with 90k on the clock. It had a new timing belt, brake pads and discs, trailing arms and steering pump. Quite a few quids worth in all. Also a fantastic tow car and my 'vans have all been around the 1500kg range.

Interesting, had a petrol V70 a few years ago and loved it. D5 might be a good option

I have had a v70 and xc70 now . The V70 towed my 1700kg caravan with ease . I had the D5 which is also pretty good on fuel when solo. I had a passat as well and towed a 1430 van with no trouble so I can only think you maybe have a suspension problem or tyre pressures a a bit low.

Tyre pressures are OK, shocks might be a bit tired but I'm a bit reluctant to throw more money at it to find out.

I have had a v70 and xc70 now . The V70 towed my 1700kg caravan with ease . I had the D5 which is also pretty good on fuel when solo. I had a passat as well and towed a 1430 van with no trouble so I can only think you maybe have a suspension problem or tyre pressures a a bit low.

Tyre pressures are OK, shocks might be a bit tired but I'm a bit reluctant to throw more money at it to find out.

Loading, loading, loading.

 

Stability does not only depend on tug and caravan mass ratios.

 

Noseweight and lowball height come into it, plus tyre pressures.

 

May be worth checking and adjusting things?

Towball height is OK according to Bailey handbook, nose weight is OK but my gauge was s/h so I might try and check it against another one actually, thanks

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I have a 2004 Audi Allroad, high mileage 235,000 but still runs perfectly, uses no oil etc and the air suspension really comes into it's own when adding a caravan. I tow an 1800kg Bailey Senator Wyoming, the Allroad is always in charge, not once has the caravan felt unstable. Towing on windy roads up and down hill etc I get 22 mpg, on motorway much more and generally averages 24 mpg whilst towing on a mix of roads. Solo I get low to mid 30's knocking around town. The 2. 5 v6 is silky smooth, loads of torque and 4 wheel drive makes it very sure footed. I am selling it soon if it's of interest but it makes a superb tow car so you should consider one for sure. If you look at one make sure the Cambelt,water pump and thermostat have been done (every 80,000 miles) and the air suspension works as it should and doesn't drop overnight.

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I would go the Volvo route, Mercedes is a nice car, but to find one for £5000 without rust is getting to be a tall order.

Land Rover Discovery and Conquerer 630

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My first thought was loading i. e. is the van loaded low and middle or is there some weight in a place where it's causing instability. I say that because in theory a heavier van, pulled by a car that's within its limits should be more 'planted'. A lighter van should, again in theory, be more skittish. However a lightish unevenly loaded van being pulled by a relatively heavy car might have its instability swamped by the heavier weight of the towcar. It's certainly worth checking how you're loaded and how much, because it's very, very easy to go over your payload and think everything is fine.

I've got nothing to do on this hot afternoon

but to settle down and write you a line.

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Thanks, first trip with the new van was only a couple of nights so we didn't have much, no awning or chairs. Dont think weight was an issue. It definitely feels more balanced with gas bottles etc than it did when I brought it home from the dealer.

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Well that could be the noseweight being too light then.

 

Having said that I drove 200 miles home with our van with only enough kit for me for an overnight near the dealer and one gas cylinder on board. I didn't check the noseweight 'til I got home and it was around 120kg when at max. it should've been 75kg. However I later discovered the gauge was over reading, but I gues I was probably running all the way home with 30kg more than I should on the towbar. It was steady as the Rock of Gibraltar.

I've got nothing to do on this hot afternoon

but to settle down and write you a line.

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I checked the nose weight when I got back from collecting it - 55kg! No wonder it felt like the back of the car was lifting off the ground . ... feels much better now.

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Rael - try to run it around 70kg. We found our olly best around 65-70kg, but it was really sensitive to bad loading. You may also want to get the wheels balanced as it makes a massive difference to things

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Interesting, I'll try that thanks. The Discovery was happy at about 85kg so I was aiming for the same with the Olympus.

 

Thinking about it I always had a bit more weight over the axle in the old van with seats, awning and so on, that might help stability too perhaps.

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I have a similar weight van (Lunar Quasar 546), which also feels unstable unless the nose weight is high. As you found, the tow back from the dealer, empty, was really unpleasant.

It's particularly bad when windy and when HGV's pass. Being a long single axle van doesn't help.

 

With my 2004 V70 (max nose weight 75kg) I could never get the van stable enough, so had to keep the speed down, especially on downhill motorway sections - often 45-50mph.

I then bought a 2007 XC90 (max nose weight 90kg), and with the van loaded for 90kg nose weight it's much better. I can just set the cruise to 60mph and get on with the journey.

Downside is mpg. About 26 mpg towing usually on flat-ish roads, about 22mph through hilly parts of France last week.

185bhp D5 engine, 6 speed manual. Mpg is better with V-Power or similar diesel though.

 

I return from France in a week (630 miles), I'll try keeping pace with the HGV's around 56mph on the return to see what effect it has on mpg.

2012 Lunar Quasar 546 towed by a 2008 Volvo XC90 D5.

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