Prado, is it a suitable tow vehicle for a mid sized caravasn?

Submitted: Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 03:48
ThreadID: 103727 Views:10986 Replies:12 FollowUps:24
This Thread has been Archived
I recently went to a caravan and camping show to buy some new stackable saucepans, and came away with a new 19.6' Jayco Starcraft Outback caravan! My question is, is a 2002 Toyota Prado diesel a suitable tow vehicle for this sized caravan? The tare weight is 2105kg, to which I have added an extra water tank, (total 3), a couple of solar panals and of course the equipment and clothes etc that have to be carried for an extended trip, i.e. 'the big lap'. I estimate the weight will be in the vicinity of 2500 to 2600 kg (I don't take delivery till oct this year, so weights at this stage are estimates only). The tow bar is rated at 2500kg and the owners manual says it is 'dangerous to exceed 2500kg towing weight'. However, I have seen many Prados towing similar or bigger caravans both on the road and in the various caravan magazines, some even off road.
It has a higher mileage, 345k on the clock but apart from a bit of slack in the front drive shaft, (owner says he will have it rectified), it is in good condition and drives well. Not being a comon rail engine it does not have the power of the later models, but is that an issue? On that question, is a comon rail engine a better option than the older injection type model due to possible fuel contamination in the more rural supply conditions?
I would appreciate any input on the above, thank you.
Back Expand Un-Read 0 Moderator

Reply By: Member - Toyocrusa (NSW) - Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 06:54

Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 06:54
Hi. Reading into your post I am assuming you have not purchased to Prado yet. I think you will find it woefully underpowered for what you will tow and it will use quite a bit of fuel as well. I have a d4d and when towing I have a GCM of around 5990kg. I have travelled with a couple towing a single axle Windsor van towed by an 03 Prado and found it really trying running behind him. Heaps of soot coming out of his exhaust and soo slow up hills. Take a d4d for a run before you make your decision. Dirty fuel should not be a problem. You would have to be really unlucky. The d4d has two fuel filters so if you change the primary one regularly you should be OK. Cheers,Bob.
AnswerID: 516269

Follow Up By: Kelvin B - Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 09:38

Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 09:38
Thanks Bob, no I have not purchased the prado yet, and by the comments so far, will not. It was an early option and the purchase cost was attractive and there seem to be many Prados towing similar sized vans, but both the high mileage and age were a worry.
FollowupID: 795591

Reply By: Lyn W3 - Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 07:43

Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 07:43
NO it is not OK to drive an overloaded vehicle, That's why there are rules to ensure the safety of you and the other road uses,

Do the right thing and get a tow vehicle suitable for the task.
AnswerID: 516270

Follow Up By: Kelvin B - Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 09:44

Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 09:44
thanks Lyn, and agree with your comments, was merely getting feedback. As a professional driver I am well aware of the dangers of overloaded vehicles and combinations, but the amount of Prados out there towing similar or bigger vans made it worth considering.
FollowupID: 795593

Reply By: Robin Miller - Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 08:25

Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 08:25
I have always been very concerned with the poor roll over angle of the Prado Kelvin.

A few years ago there was a post on this forum from someone who had rolled his while towing a similar van.
It happened when he backed off slightly when just going over a hill.

Soon after in the same post 2 other similar stories were added.

We probably will never know for sure what it was but I wouldn't purchase one without a good explanation.

In your case the prado is underpowered and couldn't even accelerate out of a situation.

This doesn't mean it can't be done with careful driving and in fairness my next door neighbour (a careful driver) drove just such a setup for years.

So it can be ok , but you can get better odds, a lot depends on a very factual assesment of the drivers.

Robin Miller

My Profile  Send Message

AnswerID: 516273

Follow Up By: Kelvin B - Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 09:58

Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 09:58
Your time and comments are appreciated Robin, I have never driven a Prado before and the lack of grunt on the test drive did concern me, as did the high mileage but Toyota do have a good track record for longevity and thought the exercise worth doing. Budget is an issue of course and after reading many comments on this and similar subjects, I must say the the humble Pajero is coming into view as possible option.

In another life I did spend time as a 4 wheel drive instructor in the military, but the vehicles were much more basic then, roll-over in my experience occurs mainly when the drivers imagination outstrip his ability, often with quite spectacular results, (not pleasant when sitting in the passenger seat I might add).
FollowupID: 795594

Reply By: WBS - Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 08:31

Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 08:31
If it is not a D4D CRDI engine, I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole. I think it would be underpowered in comparison to the more modern D4D CRDI engines. At 2500kg the van would be a noticeable load even for a modern 3.0 litre 4 cyclinder CRDI engined vehicle. Your engine and transmission will be working hard at the upper limits of their capabilities so you can expect your fuel consumption would likely be quite high towing that sort of load. Add to that the 345,000 km on the odometer and you are asking for trouble.
My advice is to rethink the tow vehicle and get one that can comfortably cope with the load.
Fuel contamination is always a concern however, you can buy fuel filter funnels to look after that issue. I might add I've done a lot of outback travel and have not yet had a bad batch of fuel, touch wood.

AnswerID: 516274

Follow Up By: Kelvin B - Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 10:03

Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 10:03
Thanks for that, after the above I would say you are very close to the mark.

Also good to hear that the fuel issue is not as bad as I feared after listening to some horror stories of common rail engines and bad fuel. I guess it is like most things, you hear the bad cases but not the non issue cases.
FollowupID: 795595

Follow Up By: AlanTH - Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 11:07

Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 11:07
We had a 120series 2005 Prado for 5 years which pulled our van weighing approx. 1.8 tonne easily until you met a hill. Then it was a matter of patience but it was certainly a good comfortable and reliable vehicle. Juicy though at around 18-19ltrs/100klms.
According to our boy the Pajero the Tojo stealer lent him while his LC200 was being fixed (3 months with engine transmission problems, but that's another story:-)) was a great tow vehicle with I think a 3ltr engine.
Plenty of vehicles around so take your time and keep asking the questions.
FollowupID: 795598

Follow Up By: Kelvin B - Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 13:24

Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 13:24
Thanks, hadn't considered a pajero till recently but once i started looking, there are plenty out there. The latest ones have a 3.2l donk and seem well regarded.
FollowupID: 795602

Follow Up By: hooks - Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013 at 06:46

Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013 at 06:46
I know I have a lot to learn, but what exactly is a D4D CRDI engine and why is this a better option.
FollowupID: 795650

Follow Up By: Kelvin B - Wednesday, Aug 14, 2013 at 10:39

Wednesday, Aug 14, 2013 at 10:39
Hooks, I'm sorry someone with more knowledge than me has not answered your query, but think the D4D means Diesiel, 4 litre (but think the Prado still 3 litre so could well be wrong, again), and maybe the second D is the 4th model, just guessing. The CRDI probably means Common Rail Direct Injection and the reason they are better is because the common Rail injection system is more efficient in distributing and injecting the fuel, so giving more power and better economy, albeit under great pressure and with much greater cost if something goes wrong, i.e. dirty fuel gets into the system.

Maybe someone out there could put us both right.

FollowupID: 795732

Follow Up By: Kelvin B - Wednesday, Aug 14, 2013 at 10:45

Wednesday, Aug 14, 2013 at 10:45
Oops, foot in mouth, again. just read the follow up to your question on another thread, and now understand the D4D issue. thanks to those concerned.
FollowupID: 795733

Reply By: The Bantam - Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 09:10

Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 09:10
Mate it is an all too common for people to run right to the edge and past their load and towing capacities....this is not a good idea at all.

It is by far a better idea to keep well within the vehicle towing capacity.

Particularly considering the optomistic towing ratings of the latest crop of vehicles.

We have had one nationwide recall and any number of stories supported with pictures of bent and cracked chasis in vehicles seemingly operated within specification.

Remember the published towing capacities are under ideal conditions and on "smooth improved surfaces"

OH now the other thing is to check the allowable draw bar weight.....some of the recent vehicles look to have " great" towing capacities...until you check the permissable drawbar weight.
Some of these vehicles the only way you could legally tow published capacity would be if the trailer was a self steering trailer or a fifth wheeler.

I'd be looking for a vehicle with a 3 tonne pluss towing an early model vehicle that puts you in the Landcruser and Patroll bracket of 4wds or a small truck.

AnswerID: 516278

Follow Up By: Kelvin B - Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 10:13

Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 10:13
As with the above, thanks for your thoughts and comments. As I mentioned before, budget is an issue, but of course not to the extent of pushing the boundaries too far, with the resulting additional cost of repairing overloaded equipment. My first thoughts were for a 100 series or Patrol, but the former are still very expensive for there age (and often mileage), and the 3 litre Patrols seem have had their issues. I will keep looking.
FollowupID: 795596

Follow Up By: The Bantam - Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 11:22

Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 11:22
Troopies are a good tow vehicle and have better load carrying capacity than station waggons, they also have the advangae of a shorter rear overhang and stiffer rear suspension.... that helps with stability.

If cost is still a factor, and you dont want to off road it, think about a small truck.
There are plenty of small trucks out there under the 4.5 tonne GVM that you can drive on a passenger car licence, or a 6 tonner can be derated to 4.5 tonnes and a big saving made on rego.

People all to often turn their noses up at small trucks, but they will do it much easier than a stationwagon will and in more comfort than many will believe.

look at all the room in the back of a dual cab in a small truck...some of then will seat 4 adults in comfort in the back seat.

Remember if you are towing over are more or less uninsured.

then there is the whole cost/adequacy thing.....we see posts on all the forums where people have baught a vehice that is simply not up to the job, then they go looking for spring and shock absorber upgrades or GVM upgrades to paper over the truth, those vehicles will never be properly adequate regardless of the modification.

Sorry to point it out..but soooo often people buy the van first before considering what they will tow it with and how much that will cost.

FollowupID: 795599

Follow Up By: Kelvin B - Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 13:20

Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 13:20
Agree with your comments re small truck, but off road (without the caravan) is high on our list of pleasures (Simpson in sept/oct but current ute too small for towing).
As to how I managed to swap a set of pots for a caravan, then start looking for a tow vehicle, is because we had been working towards the big lap for some time and the offer at the show was too good to refuse. Reminded the war office that she was the hand brake to my impetuous side, but the hill was too steep and it failed!!
After all input so far I realise I will have to dig a bit deeper to get it right, but have time so wont rush it. Intend to be on the road by this time next year.
Thanks for your thoughts.
FollowupID: 795601

Reply By: yorkie2 - Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 10:43

Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 10:43
discovery 2 td5 will work for this, some at low milage and good price too.
AnswerID: 516284

Follow Up By: Kelvin B - Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 13:42

Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 13:42
Thanks yorkie, but bit nervous about Discoveries. Probably plenty out there that will do the job, and do it well, but would rather stay with a common jap jobie for ease of maintenance and parts.

No offence to happy disco owners intended.
FollowupID: 795605

Reply By: Derek Jones - Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 12:08

Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 12:08
I just want to know how you managed to turn a set of saucepans into a caravan.

How did you get that past the war office?
AnswerID: 516289

Follow Up By: member - mazcan - Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 12:50

Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 12:50
x2 derek
the rest of the thread is just the usual boring stuff
but me too i'm more interested to know how a bloke can go to get a set of saucepans that turns into a 19'6 caravan and a headache about what vehicle he needs to tow the said saucepans with
fascinating stuff?????????
kevin B
my only comment regarding a tug is that you need to know within 100kg what the the actuall final weight of your fully loaded van is
before you go and shell out for what could turn out to be the wrong tug
why don't you go and look at a new stove to put the saucepans on
the stove might turn into a new land cruiser ???????? lol
FollowupID: 795600

Follow Up By: Kelvin B - Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 13:36

Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 13:36
Explained above how it all happened. Was so surprised at the lack of resistance, I must have been in shock.

Thanks for your suggestion regarding the stove, but think it impractical, imagine how many 9kg gas bottles you would have to carry to get to Darwin!!

your motto at the bottom of the page pretty well sums it all up.
FollowupID: 795603

Reply By: Winner W - Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 13:49

Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 13:49
Goodness K ! I want to meet that caravan salesman to get his services for my business :) pots to caravan . I think stay away from BCF or super cheap unless you want to buy a ship or a oskosh truck ! Consider a new FordRanger or the current Pajero both in automatic to tow at reasonable prices too.
AnswerID: 516292

Follow Up By: Kelvin B - Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 16:08

Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 16:08
Thanks, have looked (at a distance at this stage) at a couple of Rangers, a friend leases a 2012 model, very impressive.

If you do happen to meet that salesman, ask him to send the missus back please, the dishes are pilling up! (only joking, have done dishes).

You are right about the Oshkosh though, that would do the trick.
FollowupID: 795612

Follow Up By: Shaker - Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 17:31

Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 17:31
Saw a Ford Ranger with a broken chassis at Hell's Gates last week!

FollowupID: 795622

Reply By: SDG - Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 17:35

Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 17:35
Just a question.

Did you actually get a set of saucepans?
I would have asked the salesman to throw a set in for ya.
AnswerID: 516304

Follow Up By: Kelvin B - Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 18:21

Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 18:21
No need now as he took the missus as part trade in dont need saucepans anymore.
FollowupID: 795626

Reply By: fisherPete - Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013 at 12:03

Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013 at 12:03
Have a look at 120 series with the 4l petrol motor as well, some very good low k units around now for around $20000.Their now seem to quite a few reports of d4ds with faulty injectors seals, leading to oil sooting up and blocked oil pick ups. We run around 20(off the top of my head) d4ds at work with only two fuel contaminations issues in 7 years. But we usually off load them at 100000ks, the seal issue seems to pop up around 150000ks.
Also drive the Paj, they are simply a superb vehicle to drive, best engine choice seems to be the 3,2 diesel.
cheers pete
AnswerID: 516334

Follow Up By: Kelvin B - Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013 at 13:59

Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013 at 13:59
Thanks Pete. Ran into a guy who had just bought a poptop caravan and had a 4l petrol Prado, fairly late model I think, and he said that while it went very well, it was expensive to run and he would go diesel next time. Have to agree with those sentiments as have always been diesel, mainly Nissan and Isuzu and had great runs out of both.

Very interesting comments about the injector seals, and the Pajero. Pajero's weren't in my mind when I started looking, but they are certainly well spoken of and well worth considering.
FollowupID: 795668

Follow Up By: fisherPete - Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013 at 16:58

Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013 at 16:58
Kelvin Steve on this site has had a 90 series TD and a 120 4l and has found little little diff in overall running costs, but the later D4ds are much better on fuel. Problem is big tugs are expensive to run and buy.
Good luck Pete
FollowupID: 795678

Follow Up By: Kelvin B - Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013 at 18:06

Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013 at 18:06
Thats interesting, thanks Pete. The problem with the the Prado is not so much the power, mind you the 90 series I test drove wasn't exactly over endowed with grunt, the main issue is tow weights. They are restricted to 2500kg and my van will probably max out at about 2600 or 2700kg.

Will keep looking and if all else fails, buy a few draught horses!!
FollowupID: 795685

Reply By: Winner W - Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013 at 15:28

Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013 at 15:28
If you want a new Wagon you have two choices unless you want to spend a LOT. Pajero or Prado. The Pajero is proven and old news. A manufacturer that gives you a 5 year warranty like Mitsubishi gets my coin. All cars break. The Pajero 3.2 motor makes towing easy as well as driving a pleasure when not towing. I assume the Pathfinder stx 550 is good as well and I know little of the Colorado 7. A ute fulfilled my needs more so in stead of the Pajero i got the new Ranger . Tows my big boat easily , drives like a car and my fishing bait and dogs stink in the tub:) for serious 4x4 its awesome for a ute.
If money is no issue get a big new patrol or cruiser or iveco truck. Fortunately you can enjoy the search and research that is part of the fun. You will get thousands of opinions and I will be shot down here for my opinion. In the end your needs are unique and its your money to enjoy! If it was clear cut what to pick then we all would be driving Cruisers , use BP diesel, have Engels and Canons, eat pies, drink guiness and support England in the ashes. Be greatful for choices. Happy hunting. Keep us updated on you progress and when you buy that Oskosh post a photo of the miss and that brilliant caravan salesman and yourself .
AnswerID: 516341

Follow Up By: Kelvin B - Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013 at 17:57

Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013 at 17:57
Thanks again for your thoughts Winner. Unfortunately I don't have a new car budget, but there are plenty of options in my range, just a matter of sorting the wheat from the chaff, as they say. the more I look the more I hear good things about the pajero. Wasn't so long ago that any diesel starting with an M was taboo, not any more.

Agree with the pies, but who is the other team playing in the ashes??

Will keep you posted and when I get the photo, don't be surprised if that bloody salesman is mounted. Now now, I meant on a cross!!
FollowupID: 795683

Reply By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013 at 21:42

Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013 at 21:42
Hi Kelvin B

I tow a 2200kg van with a 120 Series D4D Prado, max towed mass 2500kg. It's a bit below the limit. There's no way I would consider more Kg's behind that vehicle, or for that matter 2500kg behind a non-D4D Prado.

Considering that class of tug for your proposed van weight I go along with some previous posters' suggestions - a 3.2 diesel Pajero. 3 tonne towing limit, but be advised that if the van is above 2.5 tonne the ball weight is limited to 160kg. Ie the 10% rule-of-thumb does not apply all the way. My mate has just this problem with his 3 tonne van and has had to move tanks and batteries to get the ball weight down.

Also, be advised that the "10% rule-of-thumb" is not a definitive rule. It is an an old rule, an estimate. Combinations of the dynamics of your tug and your van may/will necessitate a variation.


Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

AnswerID: 516362

Follow Up By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013 at 22:52

Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013 at 22:52
Just to clarify, with my mate's late model Pajero (2 yo) you can have up to 250kg ballweight if your van is 2500kg or below. Between 2500kg and 3000kg, the ballweight cannot exceed 160kg. There is no "pro rata" adjustment - it is a sharp cut-off.


Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

FollowupID: 795708

Follow Up By: Kelvin B - Wednesday, Aug 14, 2013 at 10:27

Wednesday, Aug 14, 2013 at 10:27
Many thanks Frank. I am aware of the ball weight issue, and while the tare ball weight is only 135kg, I am aware that it will change when loaded. the tare is 1105kg, but will probably come out at nearer 1200kg when delivered. I have taken that into account with the placement of the extra water tank, and will only be filling all 3 tanks when free camping, so the majority of the time will use the 2 best suited to balancing the ball weight.

I am glad I have used this forum for getting the info I needed, you cant beat the experience of those who have 'been there, done that'.
FollowupID: 795729

Sponsored Links

Popular Products (11)