manual v automatic?

Jun 2, 2019
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Hi.
I'm currently towing a bailey pageant 4 berth ( not sure of the weight) with a Honda CRV manual, but considering switching to an automatic.
What are the pros and cons of manual v auto, and any recommendations on 4x4's, not new models, can't afford that :)
Cheers.
Steve.
Oh, and also petrol or diesel, bearing in mind I do quite low mileage normally?
 
Nov 11, 2009
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For towing I always prefer automatic. But there are autos and autos. My overall preference would be a torque converter auto gearbox rather than a double synchro clutch which is basically an automated set of clutches.

Diesel is the fuel of choice but I had no problems years ago towing with petrol. The Saab 9000 CSE 2.3 turbo was great. Albeit thirsty. But if your towing mileage isn’t high then perhaps a petrol could be a better option. Then you do away with DMF, DPF, glow plugs, very high pressure fuel systems and emission control zones.

Do you really mean 4x4 or a car the ability to drive four wheels when required. The true 4x4 petrols are Range Rover, Landcruiser, Shogun etc. You don’t say what your budget is. Suitable four wheel drive petrol could be BMW x drive models, Subaru Forester XT it VA group cars with 2.0 TFSI engines.

Your choice though.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I agree with Clive,

but I would explore why you think you want a 4x4. I guess that 95% of UK caravanners do not need a 4x4 as their towing is on normal roads and camp sites. You only have top look at the continent where there vast majority of caravanners us perfectly normal family cars not big thirsty 4x4's

Think about the proportion of mileage you do solo vs towing, Obviously you need a car that is physically and legally capable of towing your caravan, but if most of your mileage is solo, why compromise that driving by choosing a vastly over sized vehicle with its attendant fuel and servicing costs? Surely its more sense to be slightly compromised when towing, and even that's unlikely becasue you have the caravan for carrying the bulky items.

Just don't jump to the false conclusion that having a caravan means 4X4 is automatically needed.

Just for the record my view is not based on a hatred of 4x4's but on the need for people to think logically before acting out of passion or just following a trend.
 
Nov 16, 2015
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Steve, normally a manual gearbox will have a higher towing limit, by maybe 500 kg. I prefer to use an auto gearbox, torque converter type but if your not doing high towing milage then the DCT, (dual clutch transmissions ) will probably be ok, I am still going for diesels, when doing a survey for myself deciding on diesel to petrol over 6k miles and 12k miles, town and country driving, the diesel still came out ahead on costs.
4x4 you dont reall need one, but I like the Hyundai SantaFe's, but my caravan is 1645 kg MTPLM.
 
Jan 3, 2019
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i'd definitely recommend a diesel over a petrol engine for towing, as much as i detest diesels (mechanic by trade, so my reasons for hating diesels is a different story...diesels belong in buses and hgv's IMO lol)
I am currently towing with a bmw 320 (2.2 litre 6 cyl) which tows fine, but fuel consumption is ridiculous, diesels generate their torque at a much lower engine speed so regrettably when i change cars the next one is going to have to be a dirty old diesel :)
Auto is fine on the bmw...however it does have a tendancy, or reluctance to change up gear sometimes with a load on the back until its happy that the engine load will cope with a higher gear, I have found out though it pulls fine through the gears in sport mode so it might be worth looking at an auto box that at least has some manual controls rather than just "D".
 
Oct 12, 2013
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We have the 2-litre TDI Kuga 2 wheel drive front and although it's powerful enough to pull ours at 1542 kg I didn't think i needed a four-wheel drive but until recently when I got stuck up at wet & snowy Doe Park at Barnard Castle on the grass and slipped into the grass , I would go for an all-wheel-drive next time . First time in 7 years I've been stuck though & I don't plan on it happening again , p.s , this was just before I had to renew my tyres as they were nearly on slicks :blush: ;)
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Craigyoung said:
We have the 2-litre TDI Kuga 2 wheel drive front and although it's powerful enough to pull ours at 1542 kg I didn't think i needed a four-wheel drive but until recently when I got stuck up at wet & snowy Doe Park at Barnard Castle on the grass and slipped into the grass , I would go for an all-wheel-drive next time . First time in 7 years I've been stuck though & I don't plan on it happening again , p.s , this was just before I had to renew my tyres as they were nearly on slicks :blush: ;)

I have been stuck three times in my caravanning years. All were four wheel drives. A generation 1 Sorento with All Terrain tyres didn’t like the freshly cut wet grass on a CL. The XC70 with Pirelli M&S tyres and the Superb with Michelin Criss Climates stuck in surface grime on CL after heavy rain softened the surface.

On each occasion it was the motor mover with the caravans noseweight reduced right down that extricated the caravan. From my off roading days I learnt quickly that if your tyres can’t grip then the best four wheel drive system won’t help. Unfortunately a lot of four wheel drive cars have road orientated tyres that won’t deal with slippy conditions with a tow load.
 
Jun 1, 2019
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I wouldn't go back to a manual box. Like others have said, a modern torque converter auto box takes some beating.

Tick-over crawling, with my big diesel lump, is like having a big motor mover! :D
 
Jun 2, 2019
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Thanks everyone, still lots to consider, but no rush.
I'll definitely be going 4x4 or AWD again of some sort as it's not only for towing, but bad snowy weather as well ------not that we get much down here in Cornwall ------ but I like the capablity if I need it.
It's more just a question of diesel/petrol and manual/auto.
More research I think.
Cheers.
 
Feb 23, 2018
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SteveM54 said:
Thanks everyone, still lots to consider, but no rush.
I'll definitely be going 4x4 or AWD again of some sort as it's not only for towing, but bad snowy weather as well ------not that we get much down here in Cornwall ------ but I like the capablity if I need it.
It's more just a question of diesel/petrol and manual/auto.
More research I think.
Cheers.

I've only towed with a Diesel, but out of Auto or Manual, I'd choose an (torque converter) Automatic.

However, even in Snow, 4WD/AWD will not be much good on the wrong tyres.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfuE00qdhLA
 
Nov 11, 2009
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SteveM54 said:
Thanks everyone, still lots to consider, but no rush.
I'll definitely be going 4x4 or AWD again of some sort as it's not only for towing, but bad snowy weather as well ------not that we get much down here in Cornwall ------ but I like the capablity if I need it.
It's more just a question of diesel/petrol and manual/auto.
More research I think.
Cheers.

I got caught on Bodmin Moor in snow when my boss decided to take his 3 Series saloon rather than his Discovery. Although I am not sure that the Disco would have done any better as the road was jammed solid ahead and behind. We enjoyed a jolly social night in the car along with other stranded souls.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Tourer-Ted said:
Aye, and don't spin the wheels so the tread fills up and the tyre becomes a slick! :lol:

It does that anyway with most tyres spinning or not spinning. It’s the nature of snow. That’s why winter tyres or for UK good All Seasons are better in snow.
 
Oct 12, 2013
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Good video ; but they should have put 1500'kgs worth off caravan on the back and then tried the tyre test ?!?! :unsure:
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Craigyoung said:
Good video ; but they should have put 1500'kgs worth off caravan on the back and then tried the tyre test ?!?! :unsure:

Theres a video on this Forum recorded last winter in Scotland. The Op collected a Hobby caravan fro high up north and drove it home in quite bad snow and it shows the outfit having to weave in and out of stuck vehicles. He had winter tyres on the car, but it was Scotland in winter.
 
Feb 23, 2018
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otherclive said:
Tourer-Ted said:
Aye, and don't spin the wheels so the tread fills up and the tyre becomes a slick! :lol:

It does that anyway with most tyres spinning or not spinning. It’s the nature of snow. That’s why winter tyres or for UK good All Seasons are better in snow.

I wanted to have a set of Winter wheels for my Volvo V50, I worked out that 16" Ford Focus steel rim, with a higher-profile tyre, would fit and be within 1-2% of the OEM 17" Alloys & lower profile tyre diameter. But, irrespective of the cost, having to properly store 4 wheels all year round would be a pain when conditions in the Midlands are not that extreme. So All-Seasons the compromise (Michelin Cross-Climates) and I've followed suit on my XC60 as the tyres needed changing.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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My caravan career started way back with Mk 1 Cortina GT - not the best of tow cars due to relatively high gearing, and progressed through Landrover 110 Safari to Volvo 122 and 144. All petrol. and all manual gearboxes. The Volvos were easily the best all round tow car. In those days we used CC sites almost exclusively and never had any traction problems.
Later I changed to diesel - Discovery 200 tdi manual. This was excellent apart from the build quality and provided the other great advantage of 4x4s generally - that of a much better view or the road and traffic than the average saloon.
This was soon after my first long term experience of autos on my company cars - not particularly wonderful on a Granada 2 litre petrol.
The disco was changed for a Merc ML 270 auto - an excellent car all round with good commanding driving position, auto with 'sport' mode very useful descent of long Continental hills, and was retained until suspected gearbox trouble at a reasonably high mileage.
Next a Merc E220 SE saloon but with fully folding rear seats. Wonderful car but too low for some of the poorer roods and speed bumps and more difficult for my co-driver /OH who is considerably shorter.
When it became obvious she would have to do all the towing due to my decreasing sight, the MB was changed for a Freelander 2 auto. The EClass was a very difficult act to follow as a car but after 5 years I have to say the Freelander has done the job very well and the chauffeuse is very happy with it. The rear load area is not as big s ome and it is thirsty, but otherwise I suggest well worth considering.
 

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