Tow vehicle

Submitted: Monday, Mar 07, 2016 at 17:07
ThreadID: 131777 Views:3326 Replies:10 FollowUps:14
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We have put the cart before the horse and have decided on a Nova Terra sports van.
Now I need a tow vehicle. The Nova has a GVM of 3100kg. I am considering a Ford Ranger or do i require a 200 series Landcruiser?
There is a substantial purchase price difference.
Please give me your thoughts
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Reply By: Idler Chris - Monday, Mar 07, 2016 at 17:37

Monday, Mar 07, 2016 at 17:37
Over 3t 200 series. Look at the forums and transmission problems for the Ranger seem to be related to big tow loads. The GCM on a Ranger/BT50 is 6000kgs from memory so you would have to keep the Ranger under 2900kgs to be legal. I do not believe you can expect longevity and reliability towing at close to the GCM all the time. Even with a 200 series you would still need to take it easy as 3.1t is a very big load.
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Reply By: Steve in Kakadu - Monday, Mar 07, 2016 at 17:43

Monday, Mar 07, 2016 at 17:43
The only problem you will have with a 200 series is, you will need to keep looking in the rear view mirror to remind yourself that there is a van on the back.

I tow a 2 ton boat with the Colorado and you know it is there, with the 200 I have to remind myself to back off the loud peddle, you shouldn't tow 2 ton at 130kph. lol
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Follow Up By: Member - Roachie - Monday, Mar 07, 2016 at 18:37

Monday, Mar 07, 2016 at 18:37
I had a similar "problem" when we recently traveled to the Gold Coast (from country SA) to collect a 3500kg Bushtracker.

The 1100nM of torque that the Chev Silverado meters out in big gob-fulls simply meant that ANY hill just didn't make any difference. We traveled down through the Blue Mountains along some secondary roads. Going up the hills was easy with all that power and torque....whilst going down the other side was equally easy with the exhaust brakes and the benefit of "Tow/Haul" mode on the transmission.

Back to the original the most powerful rig your money can stretch to; simple as that!

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Reply By: gbc - Monday, Mar 07, 2016 at 18:03

Monday, Mar 07, 2016 at 18:03
The ranger will do it no problems. That's just a bit lighter than the 680 Haines we tow with a ranger. It is a seriously good tow ute. Make no mistake though a 200 is in another league when it comes to dragging things.
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Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Monday, Mar 07, 2016 at 22:09

Monday, Mar 07, 2016 at 22:09
gbc, I gotta agree with you.

If you do choose the ranger/bt50, be careful how you treat the auto. At that weight you will need to look after the box with an aftermarket cooler and I suggest an egt gauge. If you choose a 200, you will still have to look after the box. The ones that will do it easily are the big chev, ford or dodge if you have the bucks.

Many just get in a vehicle and think it will look after itself but driven the right way they can do it easily.

50000k plus towing on my Ranger with more to come this winter and no problems at all, main reason is, I do look after it both temperature and predicting the down changes when approaching hills. One of the biggest problems is people think the box should know it all and in many circumstances this is correct, the problem comes when it can't predict the terrain and holds onto a gear to long. On a diesel the engine also looses revs and it starts to pump in fuel to maintain speed, this causes internal temps to rise. It happens whether you drive a big banger or a little one.
Hope you choose wisely.
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Reply By: Notso - Monday, Mar 07, 2016 at 18:54

Monday, Mar 07, 2016 at 18:54
I woud also be carefull of the payload issues with the LC200. The Maximum Payload of a standard LC200 is 630 kilos. The Kerb Weight, or Unladen weight is around 2700kilos. A lot of owners are doing an upgrade to ythe carying capacity before rego.
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Follow Up By: Steve in Kakadu - Monday, Mar 07, 2016 at 19:00

Monday, Mar 07, 2016 at 19:00
Yeah I'm getting a new 200 cut extended and GVM up grade to 3.8 ton, you can go to 4.2 but that is more than a few dollars more.

I was going to get one of the ones I have now done but bugger it I will go a new one, the pay load after conversion and canopy will be 900 kgs that will be plenty for what I want.
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Follow Up By: Notso - Monday, Mar 07, 2016 at 19:25

Monday, Mar 07, 2016 at 19:25
I can't understand why Toyota would make something this good but give it a payload that for anyone who uses it for towing they have to invest additional money in GVM upgrades. the Kerb weight is 2.7 tonnes, put a couple of people in it and 350kgs on the ball and the thing is almost at it's maximum!
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Follow Up By: Member - Robert1660 - Monday, Mar 07, 2016 at 19:59

Monday, Mar 07, 2016 at 19:59
Toyota 200 Series are great for towing. However, it is important to note that towing should be restricted to 4th or 5th gear to ensure maximum time for the transmission to be in lockup mode. The addition of a transmission temperature gauge such as a Scangauge is very highly recommended.
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Follow Up By: Steve in Kakadu - Monday, Mar 07, 2016 at 21:14

Monday, Mar 07, 2016 at 21:14
Notso I am making it a twin cab ute hence the GVM upgrade.
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Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Monday, Mar 07, 2016 at 20:50

Monday, Mar 07, 2016 at 20:50
Of the two tugs mentioned I only know the TD 200; but if you go that way, I can't see you ever having any regrets ( can't eat your $ savings - they have to be spent ! :-). The 200 TD has lots of grunt of course, yet is not stressed at all for it's L just happily plugs along with good economy and if you need a spurt of power, you just hit the pedal and smile. As mentioned, you rarely 'feel' the van in tow, when cruising with a 200.

AnswerID: 597137

Reply By: Macquarie - Monday, Mar 07, 2016 at 22:55

Monday, Mar 07, 2016 at 22:55
I have a Ford Ranger XLS 3.2 Auto and tow a van that has an all up weight of 2830kg. the gross mass of the combination is 5400kg. To date Approx 12000k travelled with no dramas at all. Sure it does not sprint away on steep winding hills but slow and steady does it every time. I follow the recommendation in the Ford owners manual to select.' Sports Mode ' when towing which has the effect of holding gears longer, and I presume locking out the top overdrive 6th gear gear. Fuel consumption goes up a bit but less stress on the motor.

Of interest I had the same problem as yourself ; big bucks on the Toyota (a great vehicle) or something that would do the job for less cost. One other advantage is that with a canopy on there is a much larger 'boot' on the Ranger
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Reply By: 671 - Monday, Mar 07, 2016 at 23:04

Monday, Mar 07, 2016 at 23:04

The ideal tow car should be at least as heavy as the van and preferably 20 to 30 % heavier. The wheel base should be as long as possible and the distance between the rear axle and the tow ball should be as short as possible. This will give the car the best possible chance of keeping the van under control. That is an often overlooked part of towing.

A Ranger or a 200 will certainly pull your van along nicely and no doubt everything will feel very stable in the process but there will be a big question mark hanging over their ability to control it. They are simply not big enough for a van the size of yours if you want the highest degree of safety for yourself, your family and those sharing the roads with you. This will quickly become apparent if the van is suddenly knocked off its straight ahead course by things like a sudden strong wind or you trying to avoid a large pot hole or an animal.

The manufacturer of any car will state a maximum towing capacity but they don’t claim that it will tow anything that happens to weigh that much anywhere in any conditions. There are plenty of things being towed around the streets that can weigh 3100kg but are half the length and half the height of a 3100 kg van. Their ball weights will be much lower and their handling characteristics completely different.

These links give you some idea of what is involved. Take note of the first section of the third one. If you start altering the rear suspension of a car to cope with heavier loads than it has been designed to carry, you can very easily destroy a vital feature of its handling and steer the rear end in the wrong direction. You won’t notice it when you are cruising along the road at speed but you certainly will if the van starts swinging the car around. A tail heavy car sitting up high on heavier springs or air bags will be a disaster. The car has been designed to be down low when fully and correctly loaded.

The same design feature applies to leaf springs. They will be flat or very close to it when fully loaded with the front eye of the spring at the same height or lower than the axle. As the car leans into corners, the outside rear wheel will be pulled slightly forward thus steering the rear end in the same direction that the front wheels are pointing..
AnswerID: 597147

Follow Up By: gbc - Tuesday, Mar 08, 2016 at 15:16

Tuesday, Mar 08, 2016 at 15:16
Ranger runs flat springs - tick.

In lieu of buying a tow truck weighing 4 tonnes, both the ranger and the 200 have electronic trailer sway control - not perfect, but better than most. I can vouch for its excellence having had it cut in on me once or twice towing similar loads - tick
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Follow Up By: Geepeem - Tuesday, Mar 08, 2016 at 18:40

Tuesday, Mar 08, 2016 at 18:40
Good advice and information links provided by 671. I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments. Personally I choose not to tow anything greater then 80% of my rated braked tow capacity. Its a safety margin I like to have, regardless of trailer sway control and stabiltrak and all the other electronic gizmos.

As stated by many the 200 series is an excellent tow vehicle with plenty of power. But, unmodified, carrying capacity by weight is 630kg (and that has to include your 300 odd kg tow ball down force) and is limited by volume with 3 rows of seats. So these are significant weaknesses in my opinion.

Rather than have our 200series modified/upgraded to a higher GVM, upgrade suspension, engineer to takes out 2nd and 3 rd rows of seats, we decided to sell it and buy a Chev Silverado. Best decision we ever made. A very safe vehicle to tow with. We can descend the Toowoomba Range with a 3000kg van and not even touch the footbrake. The engine brakes slows the rig all the way down at a constant speed. Allison transmission is awesome and can tow in 6th gear much of the time due to 1049 Nm torque. (with the 200 series we had to tow in 4th and 5th all of the time). Bust the best news is the Silverado is more economical when towing. Over extensive towing with the 200series we averaged 19litres/100km. The Silverado is averaging now 18litres/100km but is still tight being run in. I am expecting a figure in the 17s eventually. And we have 1300kg cargo capacity.

I know these big trucks will not suit everyone but to me they are the "bees knees" for towing and about the same price as a new 200 series Sahara. Cheers.
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Follow Up By: 671 - Tuesday, Mar 08, 2016 at 20:57

Tuesday, Mar 08, 2016 at 20:57
gbc posted:
Ranger runs flat springs - tick.

They all do and that is the way it has been for many decades. The problems start when excessive weight is placed in the rear of a car and it is lifted up with higher arc springs or air bags. The roll understeer stability assistance in corners is gone and will almost certainly be replaced with undesirable roll oversteer.

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Follow Up By: 671 - Tuesday, Mar 08, 2016 at 21:05

Tuesday, Mar 08, 2016 at 21:05
Geepeem posted:

I know these big trucks will not suit everyone but to me they are the "bees knees" for towing and about the same price as a new 200 series Sahara. Cheers.

I would not be surprised if a lot more people start using them if GM and Ford start importing them when they stop manufacturing in Australia. They are like a "missing link" in our range of tow vehicles. If they were as plentiful and affordable here as they are in the US, few people would even think about towing the larger size vans with Cruisers and the small utes.
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Follow Up By: gbc - Tuesday, Mar 08, 2016 at 21:33

Tuesday, Mar 08, 2016 at 21:33
I understand what you are saying, I just don't agree that any normally upgraded vehicle ( such as my 2 inch comfort lift) will be affected as you say when operating in a less than fully loaded situation such as this. We are discussing normally occurring situations. My race ute was very high and had no sway bars. It had terrible rear bump steer - we used the winch to lower it on the springs and adjustable shocks so it would behave on transit stages.
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Follow Up By: 671 - Wednesday, Mar 09, 2016 at 22:40

Wednesday, Mar 09, 2016 at 22:40
gbc posted:
I understand what you are saying, I just don't agree that any normally upgraded vehicle ( such as my 2 inch comfort lift) will be affected as you say when operating in a less than fully loaded situation such as this.

It would most likely take a suspension engineer to work out exactly what will happen. My main concern with any alterations to the original suspension design when towing a heavy van is what will happen in an emergency situation. A large van travelling at highway speed does not take too kindly to being suddenly knocked off its straight ahead course. Anti sway devices can help bring it back but they have their limits. A lot depends on how violently the van swings. They will not save the day every time.

A little bit of study by car owners into suspension designs will soon give them a good idea of how they work. It will also help them understand what any changes to the design can do. Even trying to improve the handling of a street sedan or sports car can result in major problems if you don't know what you are doing.

It reminds me of a magazine interview with a Chrysler executive that I read back in the days of the Valiant Pacer in the late 1960s. The Pacer had a mildly hotted up engine and modified exhaust, a lowered suspension, a few stripes on the paint and not much else. The engineer said the reason for building it was Chrysler was aware that a lot of people were carrying out those same alterations to stock Valiants so they decided to do it for them only do it properly. The reason the Pacer retained the three speed gearbox was few if any owners were changing the box to a four speed so they did not change it.

The same applies to modified 4wds today. Very few owners would know exactly what their new suspension has done to all aspects of the car's handling. If they lift it for more ground clearance on rough tracks then it will clear bigger rocks but how is it going to behave on the road? Nobody lifts a car raising its centre of gravity in the process to improve on road handling.

Overloading the rear of a 4wd and lifting it with a stiffer suspension or air bags without doing exactly the same to the front suspension will transfer more weight to the outside rear wheel in corners. That will cause the car to oversteer which is swinging its tail out. Just about all manufacturers have their cars set up with more weight on the outside front wheel in corners which results in it understeering. They do that because few drivers can handle oversteer.

A car prone to going into sudden oversteer with a van on the back is the last thing that you want.

In addition to that you have the roll understeer or roll oversteer issues that I have already mentioned.

Another is the steeper angle on the panhard bar on most coil sprung rear ends when the car is lifted. That is going to move the axle from side to side a lot more than the car manufacturer. intended.

All of this can be bad enough but it can be ten times worse with a monster van on the back. As I said earlier, the van can and most likely will feel very stable but it is only the stable vans that crash. The unstable ones don't because their owners drive them slowly to someone who can fix the problem.

The key to survival in emergency situations is to have a tow vehicle that acts like the proverbial immovable object. If it is heavy enough and long enough to hold the front of the van rock steady then the anti sway devices are much more likely to be able to bring the van back into line. If the van is capable of "wagging " the car then you could end up wishing the car had an ejection seat.
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Reply By: Member - John and Lynne - Tuesday, Mar 08, 2016 at 09:06

Tuesday, Mar 08, 2016 at 09:06
I liked your note 671, and found the ''CaravanGuide' link to be of particular interest with respect to sizing your tug to a van. I found it amazing how hard they are in Germany!. However, the link to your CivilEngineeringHandbook would not open. Would you please have a look at what you've put there and see if an adjustment is needed?

regards John
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Follow Up By: 671 - Tuesday, Mar 08, 2016 at 11:36

Tuesday, Mar 08, 2016 at 11:36
Thanks John. I tried it myself and it didn't work. Type the words "1082 suspension roll steer vehicle technology" into Google and the site should come up at the top of the page. The subject is mentioned in many other sites but this one contains a basic drawing that makes it easier to see.

The drawing uses a "semi" trailing arm design. That was used in Commodores and just about everything else with wheels for many decades. The difference is the two rubber bushes that the arm pivots on are mounted on an angle to the centre line of the car. The arms are also mounted in a fairly flat position with the bushes down low near wheel center height. This changes the angle of the wheel as it rises and falls in order to work in with the rest of the design.

It is not the same as the trailing arm design that is used in caravans. That design places the bushes on a straight line across the chassis. The wheel can only rise and fall vertically. When the van leans over the wheels lean with it.

The early 1940s VWs used a trailing arm front suspension that pivoted off torsion bars that ran straight across the front of the car at 90 degrees to its centre line.. It was never noted for good handling. I think VW must have got it from Noah's Ark.

The information given in the first section of this site is rarely if ever mentioned in forums like this but it will come up frequently in sites catering for things like clubman sports cars or high performance sedans. Many drivers have heard of understeer and oversteer but not roll understeer and roll oversteer. They are two completely different things with the latter applying to rear wheel steering when a loaded car goes into a corner. The car can be anything from a high performance European sedan to a Landcruiser ute, It is built into all of them and has been for as long as anyone with a knowledge of suspension design can remember.

This link shows a loaded Cruiser ute. Read the third last and last post. That spring is fully loaded and is supposed to be flat. It is not a sign of a sagged suspension. The center of the axle is higher than the front shackle bolt. The other side will be the same. As it leans into a corner, the spring will go into a concave shape and pull the outside wheel forward while the other goes back. The rear axle is now assisting in the steering and stability of the car.

If you raise the car with high arc springs, that feature is lost. If you are towing a big van and it gets the wobbles, you will have a screwed up car trying to control a screwed up van.

In another post by that same man he describes his loaded 1460 kg car trailer that has been carrying the same car for thirty years. It has 25 kg ball weight but handles perfectly because he has designed the suspension with 10% roll understeer.
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Reply By: 515 - Tuesday, Mar 08, 2016 at 13:22

Tuesday, Mar 08, 2016 at 13:22
Hi joeblogs

I had a similar dilemma but one major factor in turning me to the 200 Series (I love it!!) is the size of those twin cab utes. If you use the vehicle as a daily driver, which I do. Rangers etc are about a foot longer and have a bigger turning circle. It makes them a bugger in cities and carparks etc.

When someone on here alerted me to these facts I didn't believe them until I set up a spreadsheet to look at the comparisons and I was amazed. It made the decision easy!!

Cheers Choppa
AnswerID: 597160

Reply By: joeblogs - Thursday, Mar 10, 2016 at 16:56

Thursday, Mar 10, 2016 at 16:56
Thanks to all for the comments. I must admit I was not expecting the issues with either of the vehicles.
I now have grave concerns for the fleet of Toyota Prado vehicles towing vans which are equal or above the 2500kg rating for these vehicles.
I will look for a smaller van
AnswerID: 597220

Follow Up By: 671 - Thursday, Mar 10, 2016 at 23:14

Thursday, Mar 10, 2016 at 23:14

If that is the van that you really need and want then look for a bigger tow vehicle. You may find this link interesting.

This thread was started about three years ago by "Iron Mike" and he has come back recently with an update on his truck. This thing handles his 3500kg off road van with ease while being 1 ton under its maximum carrying capacity with everything he could possible want packed into it.
FollowupID: 866250

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