Tow car advice re a Skoda - help please!

Oct 19, 2017
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Hello all, a bit of advice (& clarification) is sought regarding tow limits, recommendations & outfit matching!
I’ve got to replace my current car, because its tow limit is way too small, for something vastly better. I’ve been offered a 63 plate Skoda Superb diesel estate 2.0 Tdi Cr Elegance 5dr for an attractive price from a reliable source with a fully known vehicle history. I’ve known the vehicle since new! So I’m really tempted, especially as its towing praises have been sung by PC on multiple occasions!

I’ve yet to buy a van, but have settled on a 4 berth, front lounge with facing settees, end washroom, mid diner layout from around the 2010-2012 era (as this fits budget) & looking at various van MTPLM stats, find my choice weight wise, ranges from between 1280kg – just below 1600kg.

Now I hit my quandary, I’ve towed before & was once caught out by snaking, yep learned the hard & frightening way not to drive too fast when towing & so will be setting the speed limiter (just in case!) in future.

Now to the Skoda its’ got a kerb weight of 1501 allowing 75kg extra for driver, but has a manufacturers max braked tow weight allowance of up to 1800 kg. So some vans might ‘slightly’ exceed the 85% (1271kg) best practice recommendation, but would be well below the 1800 kg max. Reading a Practical Caravan tow car report for this vehicle it contained the statement that the vehicles a bit on the light side but was found to be steady, reliable & safe when towing a van that was above the 85% figure. Now I’m keen on the Skoda, hence this submission for some experienced drivers’ wisdom. Will it make a safe tow car with a van of say 1550kg? I’ve also thought that of course I could load some of the van payload into the Skoda when towing to ease the situation, thus beefing it’s weight up.

So please if you can offer some good guidance I’m really open to & hoping for some fact based support!! So in advance thanks for helping me out, regards Dave W.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Mines an estate 4x4 170 ps so it would be heavier than the one you are interested in. Our van is only 1300 kg MTPLM and sometimes it is up at full weight. The car is cavernous and just swallows luggage but of course it too has its maximum weight limit too. Mine tows very well and gives 30-32 mpg and up to 50-55 mpg solo. The cars maximum towing limit is not practical for a caravan and relates to its ability to do hill starts on a specified incline.
The 85% guidance is a good starting point although experienced tuggers can go higher. The design of the car also affects stability. I find the Skoda to be a better Towcar than a previous 2010 Xc70 D5 AWD. One factor being that it is lower and inherently less susceptible to body movement. I have used a Towcar caravan matching website called "towcar.info" which does allow the user the flexibility to adjust weights including noseweight. Whilst all such sites must have a "health warning" this one has been very useful in mapping my last three cars. But your approach of using owner feedback is extremely useful. One source could be the Skoda forum Briskoda where you will be able to tap into a wider set of owner views.
Choosing a caravan that's a good weight match for a car is not a precise science. I would go for the lightest caravan consistent with your needs. Remember a badly loaded caravan at 85% or a badly driven one can be a bigger risk than one at 100%. Good luck in your hunt.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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DavetheIV said:
... Now I’m keen on the Skoda, hence this submission for some experienced drivers’ wisdom. Will it make a safe tow car with a van of say 1550kg? .

The Skoda Superb has good reputation as a solo and as a tow car, It has VW underpinnings, which will probably endow it with a good degree of strength and reliability. I think its likely to be ok. Don't forget the 85% guidance is for novice caravanners, but as experience is gained the guidance suggest higher ratio's of up to 100% may be considered. so a few percent over 85% for a returning caravanner should not be an issue.

No tow car and caravan combination simply based on weight ratio's can be guaranteed to be a good tow yet alone safe. In fact I cannot give any combination that I could call Safe. Safety is down to a range of factors, including. the mechanical condition of the outfit. Correct loading to achieve a small yaw inertia, a sensible nose load and beyond that its down to the driver to drive in accordance with the performance of the outfit and the prevailing road and weather conditions.
 
Oct 19, 2017
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Thank you both, otherclive & ProfJohnL for your replies so far, much appreciated.

ProfJohnL you mention 'YAW' I've not heard this before, what's it mean?
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Yaw is the tendency to rotate sideways around a longitudinal axis. You see it on aircraft coming in to land with a cross wind. The nose isn't lined up with the runway center line. For a caravan the yaw inertia relates to it wanting to rotate around its axle (CoG area). inertia means its resistance to rotation about the axle/CoG, when provoked by a disturbing force. IE cross wind or HGV. It has a significant effect on stability as it will want to move the tow hitch/towball transversely. It is affected by the design of the caravan, it's physical dimensions and it's loading. It affects stability hence the advice to keep heavy items as near to the axle as possible. Here's a link to some Bailey studies with Bath University
http://www.towingstabilitystudies.co.uk/measuring-caravan-stability.php
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Just to correct a minor detail in otherclive's excellent answer, the correct title is the "University of Bath" not Bath University which is incorrect.
 
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ProfJohnL said:
Just to correct a minor detail in otherclive's excellent answer, the correct title is the "University of Bath" not Bath University which is incorrect.

Right in these ere western parts Bath University is general taken as being University of Bath. Google gives it the top hit. Pedantically you are correct although you mustn’t confuse the UoB with Bath Spa university sited a few miles from Bath but I stand guilty alongside such good companyj as the BBC and The Times and The Guardian.
 
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Prof
Confused by a notifaction relating to this topic. You’ve been hitting the edit button again. :)

Just to correct a minor detail in otherclive's excellent answer, the correct title is the "University of Bath" not Bath University which is another organisation - confusing isn't it!
 
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Hi Davethe1V,

Don't fall into the trap that the "published" unladen/kerbside weight as gospel!

Check the cars V5c & about halfway down on page 2 you'll see G. Mass in service, every one takes this as the unladen weight, but it isn't!, ALL VW group vehicles are weighed as the come off the assembly line, with only 2 litres of fuel in them!

Weigh the car on a weighbridge with a full tank of fuel & cleared of all the bits & bobs you normally carry around, but with the spare wheel & tool kit, you'll be surprised at the difference (the car will be heavier than stated).
My car's Mass in service is 1635kg, but weighed on a calibrated weighbridge it comes in at 1720kg!.

I see that you've posted your question re towing on the Briskoda forum, so go to this link & you'll see what I mean: https://www.briskoda.net/forums/topic/415085-towing-a-caravan-with-the-mkiii/?page=3
 
Oct 19, 2017
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Thank you all for your highly valuable & much appreciated comment.
In total it's all helped steer me into a final decision, but most importantly your comment has steered her Ladyship toward the Skoda & I'll shortly become the proud owner of the Mk 11 Skoda Estate.
That''s 1/2 the battle done, tow car sorted & mid 2018 I'll start (with her Ladyships permission!) searching for the van to tow behind it.
Regards Dave.
 
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Thanks for your comment Craig & yes I would move sooner than that BUT for the fact that I'm queuing for a storage space on a secure military site. So when that becomes available, then I'll probably bring the search to the front burner!

As I said "I'll be back" & WILL becoming a vanner, just got to 'ave some patience!'
 
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Oh ! ok , sometimes excitement overtakes patience as we were'nt going to change our van for a few year but that changed a few months ago . . . ! :p

Craig
 
May 7, 2012
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The Skoda is an excellent tow car but is a bit lightweight. If you can get the weight checked then I would do so but otherwise use the 1500 figure. The towing limit is not safety related and is what it can restart on a 12% incline so ignore it. Towing over the kerb weight is potentially dangerous, and if you can get the caravan weight down to 85% so much the better but I would certainly not rule out caravans up to 90%. Given your history I think I would stick at that until you build up confidence.
Provided you can find the caravan within the above figures then the Skoda should make a decent tow car.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Raywood said:
... Towing over the kerb weight is potentially dangerous...

I'm sorry Ray but I have to take issue with that point becasue the corollary of it is towing under the the kerbweight is not potentially dangerous. and that is definitely not the case.

The fact is towing any sort of trailer has the potential to be dangerous, its not just down to weight ratio's, and arguably other factors have a far greater effect on the relative safety of an outfit.

It is incumbent on all towing drivers to exercise greater care when towing, and to do all they can to maintain the outfits stability. How the caravan is loaded is arguably more important than how much is put into it, and of course the biggest factor is how the outfit is driven.

Weight ratios are important but lets not forget the other major influences on caravan stability.
 
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ProfJohnL said:
Raywood said:
... Towing over the kerb weight is potentially dangerous...

I'm sorry Ray but I have to take issue with that point becasue the corollary of it is towing under the the kerbweight is not potentially dangerous. and that is definitely not the case.

The fact is towing any sort of trailer has the potential to be dangerous, its not just down to weight ratio's, and arguably other factors have a far greater effect on the relative safety of an outfit.

It is incumbent on all towing drivers to exercise greater care when towing, and to do all they can to maintain the outfits stability. How the caravan is loaded is arguably more important than how much is put into it, and of course the biggest factor is how the outfit is driven.

Weight ratios are important but lets not forget the other major influences on caravan stability.

Hi Prof. I did use the word potentially as the kerb weight might be exceeded safely on a few combinations but can never advise taking the risk.
I do know that anything under the kerb weight is not definitely a safe match, but from an admittedly limited experience of accidents involving caravans, I have seen only those close to or over the kerb weight having accidents where this might be relevant, although near misses would never come to me, so exactly where to draw the line is not possible.
Some cars are better than others as tow cars, and even a change of caravan seems to be a problem sometimes, so while I accept that there is no ideal formula a reasonable margin under the kerb weight seems to be the safest option, and in reality is the best we can do.
My problem is that in amongst the RTA problems we got, caravan accidents were very few and far between, so getting an absolute answer from these was never possible, and I can only advise on the ones I did see.
 
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Hello Ray,

I totally agree that as trailer weight increases, there is a greater risk of instability if all other factors remain unchanged, and I fully support the view that less trailer weight is better, but as you imply there is no universal ratio that defines the point at which instability is bound to happen.

I also accept that in the absence of a better defined method of assessing the risk of instability, the use of "kerbweight" is far better than nothing, but I do ask you find an alternative way expressing it which does not give the impression that keeping the ratio below kerb weight will somehow magically be alright.

For example
"The towing limit is not safety related and is what it can restart on a 12% incline so ignore it. I would certainly not rule out caravans up to 90% of kerbweight. But the danger of instability increases with higher towing ratio's and speeds but and if you can get the caravan weight down to 85% so much the better.
 
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ProfJohnL said:
Hello Ray,

I totally agree that as trailer weight increases, there is a greater risk of instability if all other factors remain unchanged, and I fully support the view that less trailer weight is better, but as you imply there is no universal ratio that defines the point at which instability is bound to happen.

I also accept that in the absence of a better defined method of assessing the risk of instability, the use of "kerbweight" is far better than nothing, but I do ask you find an alternative way expressing it which does not give the impression that keeping the ratio below kerb weight will somehow magically be alright.

For example
"The towing limit is not safety related and is what it can restart on a 12% incline so ignore it. I would certainly not rule out caravans up to 90% of kerbweight. But the danger of instability increases with higher towing ratio's and speeds but and if you can get the caravan weight down to 85% so much the better.

Hi Prof,
I do not want to give the impression that getting the MTPLM down below the kerbweight is by any means a magic formula and would say to be sensible you should get it lower if possible. My position comes from dealing with actual accidents rather than anything else and I know these might just be the bad matches, but it does make me very wary of towing with a poor weight ratio. You cannot easily test for a good match before buying so I would not advocate taking risks with getting the weights wrong.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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I would hardly consider the Skoda Superb estate to be a "lightweight" but then I don't subscribe to the notion of bigger is better. I think when you weigh it against the normal definition of kerbweight it will come out somewhat heavier. But its capacity to swallow load volumes exceeds the MB E class estate so as long as you don't exceed the cars maximum authorised mass when loaded you will find it a solid towcar that's also an excellent everyday vehicle albeit with a tendency to overhang parking bays. But I would still advise looking for the lightest van consistent with your needs.
 
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DavetheIV said:
Thank you all for your highly valuable & much appreciated comment.
In total it's all helped steer me into a final decision, but most importantly your comment has steered her Ladyship toward the Skoda & I'll shortly become the proud owner of the Mk 11 Skoda Estate.
That''s 1/2 the battle done, tow car sorted & mid 2018 I'll start (with her Ladyships permission!) searching for the van to tow behind it.
Regards Dave.
Hi, another topic for you to look into, make sure that the towbar electrics integrate correctly with the car.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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SpondonMob said:
DavetheIV said:
Thank you all for your highly valuable & much appreciated comment.
In total it's all helped steer me into a final decision, but most importantly your comment has steered her Ladyship toward the Skoda & I'll shortly become the proud owner of the Mk 11 Skoda Estate.
That''s 1/2 the battle done, tow car sorted & mid 2018 I'll start (with her Ladyships permission!) searching for the van to tow behind it.
Regards Dave.
Hi, another topic for you to look into, make sure that the towbar electrics integrate correctly with the car.

I had a Witter detachable set up fitted via Witters approved technicians. Arranged on line via Witter website. Everything works perfectly with the cars systems. When I’m on site I leave the towball fitted and the sensors are unaffected. Mine are Skoda sensors fitted at works.
 
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DavetheIV said:
Thank you all for your highly valuable & much appreciated comment.
In total it's all helped steer me into a final decision, but most importantly your comment has steered her Ladyship toward the Skoda & I'll shortly become the proud owner of the Mk 11 Skoda Estate.
That''s 1/2 the battle done, tow car sorted & mid 2018 I'll start (with her Ladyships permission!) searching for the van to tow behind it.
Regards Dave.

Good choice, I have the 2.0TDi 4x4 (Haldex) variant, get around 65mpg solo and depending on road type 33-37mpg towing.

27484317159_75be95ff12_c.jpg


Should have said, my Octavia has a mass in service (V5C) of 1,495kg and caravan mtplm 1,318kg, with 75kg noseweight get a very stable tow.
 
Oct 19, 2017
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Hello once again all. SKODA owners a bit more information please. The one I brought is a 2013 Mk2 Superb estate. I've now been WARNED, by a tow bar fitting company that in fitting a tow bar it 'might' interfere with reversing sensors. Has anyone any knowledge or experience of this?
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Read the thread on VW Tiguan tow bar. I had mine fitted by a Witter approved NTTA technician. Everything works as it should with or without the caravan. Mines a detachable towball and I opted for the non generic harness. The technician recoded too.

I gave the same advice to this query regarding towbar/ towball a few posts above. I could question the experience of the fitter who told you that the sensors might interact with the towball. Has he ever fitted one to a Superb? If you have concerns speak to your local Skoda dealer and ask who they use. My first car with rear sensors was in 2004 and three cars later I’ve never had a problem with a towbar assembly affecting the sensors. But I always use NTTA fitting companies who are used by my local motor traders.
 

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