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New Tow Car advice?

Apr 16, 2018
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Happy New Year to all!

Unfortunately i have had to part ways with my current tow car which was a 2005 Ranger Rover. I am now in the market for a new tow car. I have a 2017 Bailey Cordoba, twin axle which fully laden weighs 1,750kg. I have been looking at the 2013 - 2015 Kia Sportage, CRDi 181BHP and also the Ford Kuga 180PS, similar age both of which are automatics and from the previous posts have been discussed in length, but that was for lighter vans. They both have a tow limit of 2,100kg - 2,200kg. I am curious and wondered if anyone has towed a twin axle with either of these cars and welcome feedback/advice?

Cheers

Rob.
 
Jul 30, 2018
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Happy New Year to all!

Unfortunately i have had to part ways with my current tow car which was a 2005 Ranger Rover. I am now in the market for a new tow car. I have a 2017 Bailey Cordoba, twin axle which fully laden weighs 1,750kg. I have been looking at the 2013 - 2015 Kia Sportage, CRDi 181BHP and also the Ford Kuga 180PS, similar age both of which are automatics and from the previous posts have been discussed in length, but that was for lighter vans. They both have a tow limit of 2,100kg - 2,200kg. I am curious and wondered if anyone has towed a twin axle with either of these cars and welcome feedback/advice?

Cheers

Rob.
I have a Bailey Barcelona twin axel, and tow it ford Kuga 2.0 diesel awd car tows well, and has ample power, would buy another next time.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Hello Rob,

An RR is a much bigger 4x4 than the Kia Sportage and will cause you to consider some compromises.

According to Parkers the Sportage 181 CRD Auto has a weight of only 1676kg which will put your towing ratio with your caravan at 104%.

Whilst the caravan is within the cars max. towed weight limit, those limits are based on ideal trailers, and caravans are about as far from ideal as you can get.

The sensible advice is to choose a car or caravan so that the max weight of the caravan is as small as possible compared to the tow vehicle. The UK industry advice is aim for less than 85%, and only when experienced consider going over but never beyond 100%, On that basis the match does not look good.

Now onto the second part of your question. And I stress this is a general note and does not suggest I'm approving your suggested outfit;- Provided a trailer is a good match with the tow car, then it should make no appreciable difference to towing whether its a Single Axle or a Twin Axle.

One important aspect of changing to a different tow vehicle when using a TA, is the nose load. TA's are particularly sensitive to the height of the hitch, and even through just a few cm's of coupled height difference can change the applied nose load by a considerable amount. Bearing in mind that RR's often had self leveling suspension, swapping to a car without self leveling cold mean the coupled hitch height drops, and that will significantly change the nose load.

Nose load should be measured with the caravan hitch at the same vertical height as when its coupled to the tow vehicle.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Hello Rob,

An RR is a much bigger 4x4 than the Kia Sportage and will cause you to consider some compromises.

According to Parkers the Sportage 181 CRD Auto has a weight of only 1676kg which will put your towing ratio with your caravan at 104%.

Whilst the caravan is within the cars max. towed weight limit, those limits are based on ideal trailers, and caravans are about as far from ideal as you can get.

The sensible advice is to choose a car or caravan so that the max weight of the caravan is as small as possible compared to the tow vehicle. The UK industry advice is aim for less than 85%, and only when experienced consider going over but never beyond 100%, On that basis the match does not look good.

Now onto the second part of your question. And I stress this is a general note and does not suggest I'm approving your suggested outfit;- Provided a trailer is a good match with the tow car, then it should make no appreciable difference to towing whether its a Single Axle or a Twin Axle.

One important aspect of changing to a different tow vehicle when using a TA, is the nose load. TA's are particularly sensitive to the height of the hitch, and even through just a few cm's of coupled height difference can change the applied nose load by a considerable amount. Bearing in mind that RR's often had self leveling suspension, swapping to a car without self leveling cold mean the coupled hitch height drops, and that will significantly change the nose load.

Nose load should be measured with the caravan hitch at the same vertical height as when its coupled to the tow vehicle.
Just to add to what Prof says, the makers tow limit is also based on the cars ability to do a set number of repeat hill starts on a specified gradient. It doesn’t necessarily relate to its ability to tow a caravan. But also modern cars tend to have Trailer Assist programmes and caravans have ATC so there are those parameters to factor into the decision making process. Once the basic weights and limits have been decided probably the biggest factor will be the load and load distribution on caravan and car, plus the drivers experience and actions.

One matching tow site that I have found to give good information is Towcar.info. It allows the user to modify parameters to assess the effect on the outfits predicted performance. But of course nothing is absolute and your approach to seeking advice and information is the best way ahead.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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I’ve checked the Towcar.info match and it shows the 2015 Sportage to have a tow limit of 1600 kg. I recall an earlier thread relating to Sportage in the years of interest to you which showed some variations in tow limit with years and power rating and transmission. Better to check quite carefully.

The Kuga comes out better than the Sportage namely in that it does have a max towing limit above the caravans MTPLM.
 
Last edited:
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Apr 16, 2018
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Hello Rob,

An RR is a much bigger 4x4 than the Kia Sportage and will cause you to consider some compromises.

According to Parkers the Sportage 181 CRD Auto has a weight of only 1676kg which will put your towing ratio with your caravan at 104%.

Whilst the caravan is within the cars max. towed weight limit, those limits are based on ideal trailers, and caravans are about as far from ideal as you can get.

The sensible advice is to choose a car or caravan so that the max weight of the caravan is as small as possible compared to the tow vehicle. The UK industry advice is aim for less than 85%, and only when experienced consider going over but never beyond 100%, On that basis the match does not look good.

Now onto the second part of your question. And I stress this is a general note and does not suggest I'm approving your suggested outfit;- Provided a trailer is a good match with the tow car, then it should make no appreciable difference to towing whether its a Single Axle or a Twin Axle.

One important aspect of changing to a different tow vehicle when using a TA, is the nose load. TA's are particularly sensitive to the height of the hitch, and even through just a few cm's of coupled height difference can change the applied nose load by a considerable amount. Bearing in mind that RR's often had self leveling suspension, swapping to a car without self leveling cold mean the coupled hitch height drops, and that will significantly change the nose load.

Nose load should be measured with the caravan hitch at the same vertical height as when its coupled to the tow vehicle.
Hi ProfJohnL,

I very much appreciate your lengthy reply, it is very helpful and as they say definitely gives me food for thought.

Regards

Rob.
 
Apr 16, 2018
11
1
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I’ve checked the Towcar.info match and it shows the 2015 Sportage to have a tow limit of 1600 kg. I recall an earlier thread relating to Sportage in the years of interest to you which showed some variations in tow limit with years and power rating and transmission. Better to check quite carefully.

The Kuga comes out better than the Sportage namely in that it does have a max towing limit above the caravans MTPLM.
Hi otherclive,

Thank you for your reply and looking into the towcar.info website. As replied to ProfJohnL both your replies are very helpful.

Regards

Rob.
 
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Mar 14, 2005
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Hi ProfJohnL,

I very much appreciate your lengthy reply, it is very helpful and as they say definitely gives me food for thought.

Regards

Rob.
Thank you,

With the additional information about the models maximum towed weight that Otherclive has brought to the table, the idea of using the Sportage model you suggested is really looking untenable and possibly illegal.

Its back to the drawing board!
 
Nov 23, 2010
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I would respectfully suggest that although the Sportage will undoubtedly pull 1750KGs, weighwise there is a real danger of some sunny day, you getting into the dreaded 'tail wagging the dog' situation, which could have a disastrous outcome.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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I would respectfully suggest that although the Sportage will undoubtedly pull 1750KGs, weighwise there is a real danger of some sunny day, you getting into the dreaded 'tail wagging the dog' situation, which could have a disastrous outcome.
Not all Sportages are specified for that weight. So your comment is misleading. Read my earlier post and there is another older thread on Sportage towing limits.
 
Jan 31, 2018
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Some of these Sportages are rated at 1600kg and some 2000kg; check your model v carefully--if it is the higher rated then you will be fine but obviously the lower rated one won't be legal. Personally I take a realistic view of the 85% kerbweight advice-and have in the past totally ignored it and towed perfectly safely at legal speeds in anyweather and without ATC!Never ever had a tail wag in the slightest but in Hurricane Brian on the way up to Scotland on a very exposed motorway I did slow down a bit just to be on the safe side.Modern cars and caravans are far more stable than older counterparts when the 'advice' was devised. I know many will disagree but after many miles of towing it is purely my experience and opinion.
 
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Nov 11, 2009
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Misleading?? {shakes head}
My wife’s Kia Rio would probably tow that weight but if it exceeds the cars legally specified makers limit it’s a no no. So with the uncertainty over the precise limit for the Sportage of interest to the OP it’s really not possible to advise the OP on the suitability of a match.
Two models that i considered some time back were X trail and C5 estate. Both did well in Towcar tests. But whilst manuals had good tow limits, the automatic variants were very much lower. So no doubt I could have towed with one and no shakes, but by exceeding the makers limit I would have been illegal.
 
Jan 31, 2018
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Exactly; the OP needs exact make/model power and whether 4x4 or auto etc to find the manufacturer rated towing capacity and hence legal limit for the car in question.
For example our Dacia Duster 4x4 1.6 petrol was rated at 1500kg, and towed our pegasus at 1450kg brilliantly (which leaves me to the conclusion that I shall always ignore the kerbweight advice that is masqueraded as a rule by some parties) whereas the 2 wheel drive model was 1200kg and would have been illegal withour caravan. The new Duster is even more specific on engine/drivetrain/tow capacity.
 
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Mar 14, 2005
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It's not as black and white as Jezzer makes out. Just becasue a vehicle has a stated legal towing capacity it does not automatically make towing a caravan of that size is sensible or safe.

Whilst I openly dislike the Industry towing advice (which was never, and should never be referred to as a rule!!!) becasue it fails to take into account real world situations, the underlying principle of keeping trailers as small as possible has a lot of good sense behind it, especially when the trailer is as awkward as a caravan.

It is also important to realise, that even if a car had a stated towing capacity of 2000kg and is towing any trailer within that limit, if the outfit is observed to be difficult to drive and exhibits even small amounts of loss of control it may be deemed legally unsafe and may prosecuted.
 
Jan 31, 2018
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No, Prof is right and agree the heavier the towcar v van the better-just saying, that after many miles of near 100% limit re the manufacturer specs and totally ignoring kerbweight-which we were most defiinitely over; max kerbweight of a Duster was 1400kg v our 1450kg caravan we never had even the slightest wobble and we didn't have ATC! Just saying, don't panic!
 
May 7, 2012
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I agree with the Prof. The car manufacturers figure is based on the ability to restart five times on a 12% gradient and has nothing to do with safety when towing. At the limit you should be safe towing a broken down vehicle round town where side winds are not a problem but a large flat sided caravan on a motorway is a different proposition.
You should also be aware that what is safe may depend on weather and other conditions. What is safe on a still cool day is completely different to what is safe on an exposed motorway in a 40 mph wind.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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No, Prof is right and agree the heavier the towcar v van the better-just saying, that after many miles of near 100% limit re the manufacturer specs and totally ignoring kerbweight-which we were most defiinitely over; max kerbweight of a Duster was 1400kg v our 1450kg caravan we never had even the slightest wobble and we didn't have ATC! Just saying, don't panic!
I have towed many different combinations of car and caravan related to one of the jobs I had, and in my experience there can be surprising differences that cannot be just explained by paper weight ratios. If necessary we added ballast in the form of water containers to trim the caravan and set an appropriate lose load.

A few combinations that on paper should be good, proved to be decidedly unsettled, and others that were close to or over 100% (but always within the vehicle weight limits) or over in some cases proved to be very stable.

On balance there were fewer issues with low ratio outfits, which is why I still suggest keeping trailer weights small especially so for newcomers.

I do believe the UK industry weight ratio advice is seriously flawed and has been used by too many as a hard target so it has become a dogma, It is frequently used to suggest it will provide a "safe" tow, and it has often been misquoted as being a "RULE" neither of which are true, I have witnessed outfits that were definitely under 85% involved with incidents of instability, and there is no reference in the statutes about this advice having any legal authority!

I don't like the industry advice today , becasue the formula (Caravan MTPLM/ Tow vehicle Kerbweight) relates two extremes of loading which will never be experienced in practice. It ignores any reference to the vehicles actual specifications regarding GTW, so for some vehicles the calculation does produce an industry guidance figure that exceeds the pulling vehicles legally permitted GTW!

Towing weights are complicated enough without having guidance that can actually produce an illegal result.

To be fair to the industry advice was derived in the days when there was far less technical information available about cars, I believe it was produced because there were some people who drove some grossely mismatched even dangerous outfits, becasue there were no guidelines to help them make a more sensible choices. Its need stems from the fact that caravans are inherently unstable and represent very difficult loads to tow, a fact that is as true today as in the past.

Since our membership of the EU, it has meant our car manufacturers have had to publish more and consistent information about their products. we now have access to detailed information about the cars GTW and other key data that describes the cars capabilities. Ironically publishing kerbweight is not a requirement.! Given this wealth of defined and accurate information a revision to the calculation is well overdue.

Not only has the depth of information improved but the vehicles have also had some significant changes such as the increased use of diesel engines and turbo's offering better low RPM torque and more power, the introduction of better brakes, and vehicle suspension and stability system improvements.

It should be possible to produce a revised formula that uses some of the type approval data of vehicles to produce customised advice for any towvehicle and caravan combination. Some of the matching websites do attempt this but they are hamstrung by omissions or errors in their databases.

Do not go away with the impression that I anticipate a revised formula to allow heavier caravans to be towed, When the calculations are done and safety is taken into account it may suggest even lower trailer weights or speed should be considered.
 
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Jan 31, 2018
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A very nicely put comment Prof, and one which I agree with. Err on the side of caution, drive with caution and load safely but there are so many variables further research would be very useful!
 
May 7, 2012
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I do understand the Prof's position which has a lot of merit. Personally I think the industry needs to look again at the advice but for the time being it is the best we have. On that basis I cannot do other than suggest people stay as c;lose to 85% as possible and do not understand how that can produce an illegal outfit unless of course the tow car has a towing limit below that figure.
I accept that some combinations are better than others, having towed seven different caravans with even more tow cars. On that basis trying to keep the trailer weight down as far as possible is the best bet, but even that is probably not infallible in a small minority of cases.
In my career though I have not seen an accident where the driver has lost the caravan, except where the weight ratio was well in excess of the 85% figure..
 
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Nov 16, 2015
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Having Towed my caravans, at mostly close to 90%, plus Ratios, I can understand, where a lighter caravan can be blown around in higher winds than a heavier one.
 
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May 7, 2012
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The weight one is a catch 24 problem. A lighter caravan should be more vulnerable to side winds, so there must be a limit to how light you can go. The other problem you get with weight though is that the heavier the caravan the more difficult it is for the tow car to control it, so weight is also a limiting factor. You are probably best sticking with a compromise around 85 to 95%.
 
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Mar 14, 2005
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I do understand the Prof's position which has a lot of merit. Personally I think the industry needs to look again at the advice but for the time being it is the best we have. On that basis I cannot do other than suggest people stay as c;lose to 85% as possible and do not understand how that can produce an illegal outfit unless of course the tow car has a towing limit below that figure.
I accept that some combinations are better than others, having towed seven different caravans with even more tow cars. On that basis trying to keep the trailer weight down as far as possible is the best bet, but even that is probably not infallible in a small minority of cases.
In my career though I have not seen an accident where the driver has lost the caravan, except where the weight ratio was well in excess of the 85% figure..
Two points Ray,

Yes there are some vehicles that are not permitted to tow at all and some that have a permitted towable load of less than 85% of kerbweight, so in these cases it would be illegal.

It is also illegal to have an unsafe outfit. For example if a trailer had an grossly overloaded nose, yet was still within the GTW, it might cause some obvious distress to the tow vehicles rear suspension. A well versed police officer or DVSA inspector might spot it and consider it to be unsafe.

I think you must have been very lucky in your professional role in insurance not to have seen claims involving instability of outfits that were blow 85%. I have seen several, and of course not all instability occurrences involves insurance claims!

There is nothing magical about the figure of 85%. It offers no guarantees of safe towing.
 
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Mar 14, 2005
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lutzschelisch.wix.com
In view of the fact that the 85% weight ratio recommendation is unknown and unheard of on the Continent but one doesn't see their roads littered with overturned caravans shows that the weight ratio recommendation needs to be put into a realistic perspective.
 
Jan 31, 2018
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That is very interesting Lutz! I presume they simply obey the max limit determined by the manufacturer?
 

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