The importance of matching car and trailer width

Submitted: Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 09:49
ThreadID: 66518 Views:5054 Replies:4 FollowUps:11
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I own a second hand camper trailer and so never had the chance to match my tow vehicle with my car. Having said that it tows just fine and even on a recent Off Road training course it handled mud and sand rather nicely, or so I thought.

While it's true that IF the God Of Lotto smiles upon me that I would probably like to match my next new car to my next new trailer, I'd be stumped to know exactly how I'd factor-in future vehicle upgrades.

I say this because so many owners of CT's that I've met did actually go down the 'match the trailer to the car' road, only to later on trade their car for a new one that no longer matched their CT.

I can see the benefits of towing on sand in the same track as the two vehicle, and using the same wheel size on car and trailer has obvious benefits come repair time but in all honesty how important is it? And if it is so important why are second hand camper trailers selling so well?
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Reply By: Member - Fred B (NT) - Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 09:56

Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 09:56
I can't give you advice on your questions, but I can provide you with a little trivia about winning lotto....

If you buy a ticket the odds of winning are 0.000001
If you don't buy a ticket the odds are 0.000000

Not a lot of difference is there! You make more by putting your money in the bank.
Fred B
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AnswerID: 352279

Follow Up By: Bob of KAOS - Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 10:57

Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 10:57
More people get run over and killed every year than win a major lottery prize.

Or in other words you are more likely to die on the roads than win the lottery.

Perhaps on a brighter note you are more likely to win the lottery than to be taken by a shark, despite their concerted effort in recent weeks.
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Reply By: Axel [ the real one ] - Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 10:06

Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 10:06
Have had 3 different camper trailers , 3 different 4x4 tow vehicles ,wheel track width of the c/ts compared to vehicle track width has never been more than 1 inch difference , making wheel /tires interchangeable is of more import than an 'exact' track width measurement IMO.
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Follow Up By: Member - Wayne David (NSW) - Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 10:21

Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 10:21
Axel (the real one)

My reading of what you say is that width is less important than matching the wheels of CT to vehicle. Hope I've got that right.

So in your experience with three CTs and three 4x4 vehicles did you actually change the CT wheel size, stud pattern etc to match the tow vehicle? And if so, is it an expensive exercise?

Personally I'm reasoning that my width is close enough to my tow vehicle, so I won't play with that.

I'm also reasoning that one wheel replacement on my CT and my vehicle should get me out of most situations.

For more extreme adventures I think I'd be more tempted to simply take spare tyres (which are relatively light weight) rather than add an extra wheel for the vehicle and an extra wheel for the CT.

Thoughts anyone?
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Follow Up By: Member - Matt M (ACT) - Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 10:38

Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 10:38
Wayne,

I would tend to agree with Axel, as long as the track width is fairly close to the tow vehicle, then it is probably not worth the money to modify your trailer. Sure, if you are buying a new trailer then get the track width matched.

Like Axel, I would go for matching tyres and rims as a priority if you are looking at making changes. At least get the same tyres which can be changed even if the rims are not the same stud pattern, offset, etc.

I have the same rims and tyres on the car and camper and carry one spare on each. The way I figure it is that I have 8 rims and tyres that will fit straight onto the car. In the worst case (life threatening situation) this should be more than enough to get out of trouble, even if it means leaving the camper behind, although not a preferred option.

Matt.

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Follow Up By: Bob of KAOS - Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 11:06

Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 11:06
Matt,

I agree.

By having the trailed wheels follow the car tracks you reduce the chance of puncture, and you don't have to plough a new furrow in sand.

The benefits of having interchangeable wheels all round are great, as you say. That can be costly to achieve. If you are replacing wheels and hubs, the little extra to replace the axle to have the same track is peanuts in comparison.
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FollowupID: 620512

Follow Up By: Axel [ the real one ] - Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 11:13

Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 11:13
Wayne ,give you an example , was last yr on the Tanami , we stopped to see if the couple were ok as could see that they had done a tire on their c/t , no great drama , thing is it was a new troopy with the 5 stud wheels and his c/t had cruiser 6 stud wheels /tires , so he no longer has a spare left for the c/t and still 500k to Halls Creek , we decide to follow behind just in case he does another tire on his c/t ,, pulling into the scrub for the night you guessed it ,another tire on his c/t gone , made camp , said will try to repair tire in morning ,, tire unrepairable so fit MY c/t spare to his c/t and head off in convoy for Halls Creek , 30klm before the bitumen starts his other tire on his c/t shreds and wraps its self around the hub + axle to the extent that it takes 1 + 1/2 hrs to remove and fit MY 80 series spare to his c/t ,,, get the drift ?? My vehicle and c/t all wheels and tires interchangeable , his were not, therefor after his 2nd flat / shredding he would have to leave the trailer behind ,, he did 3 tires and 1 wheel , replacement cost in Halls Creek was not too bad ,but he had to settle for what was available ....
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FollowupID: 620514

Reply By: Member - Wayne David (NSW) - Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 11:53

Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 11:53
Thanks gents for your valued replies and opinions. Much food for thought here.

I'm a pretty conservative bloke. No hang on a minute make that careful. Okay being totally honest I border on a coward when it comes to safety. Matt & Kaos have helped. Whereas Axel's yarn has me totally freeking out. So I suppose he's helped too.

Of course being what I am I almost certainly would not have been out there alone shredding tyres. I like the buddy system as a bare minimum and I am currently leaning towards the Tag Along Tour idea because I know I'm in the company of well kitted-out seasoned professionals.

That of course may all change if and when I gain experience and confidence but even then I'd reckon the buddy system is still the way to go. Mind you I'm talking high risk country scenarios here, not a weekend by the Murray or some such thing. In those cases I love my privacy.
AnswerID: 352309

Follow Up By: Member - Glenn H (NSW) - Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 12:53

Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 12:53
Gentlemen, try this little experiment. Take 4WD to hard wet sand on beach. Drive straight and note that rear wheels track exactly in path of front wheels. Now turn slightly and you will note that rear wheels make their own tracks now. If you repeat towing a van or trailer you will see that you now have three sets of tracks.
The bigger the turn the wider the disparity. So , yes , having van with same trackwidth as 4WD means less work has to be done in sand as the wheels all run in the same furrow - left and right sides respectively - provided you travel in a straight line. But as soon as you curve it's all over rover and you are pushing sand to the detriment of your momentum as all 6 tyres are creating their own furrow if the sand is soft. And then you may get bogged. Cheers, Glenn
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Follow Up By: Member - Wayne David (NSW) - Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 13:24

Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 13:24
Glenn H (NSW) - "The bigger the turn the wider the disparity". Don't you mean the 'sharper' the turn............?

Having just completed a training course on sand it was the sharp turns that caused the greatest problems for my slug of a car. Whereas if I turned wide then it all went okay. The sharp turns just had me losing momentum big time.

Having said that, I've absolutely zero experience on wet beach sand.
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FollowupID: 620530

Follow Up By: Member - Glenn H (NSW) - Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 20:16

Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 20:16
Yep, sharper is the more accurate word in this instance. Was at Archer River on the Cape last year and decided the flat dry river bed was a good spot - as had others. Alas had not learned the turning regime discussed above nor the necessity to lower tyre pressures the naosecond you're on the sand so took the 4WD and van down and you can guess the rest. A tight turn around some trees really strained things with both the vehicle and co driver!
Next morning with 16 psi we got out - luckily it was dead flat. Al;l in all it's practice and preparation. Cheers... Glenn
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Follow Up By: Member - Wayne David (NSW) - Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 22:00

Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 22:00
Glenn H (NSW)

Can I ask how you extracted yourself and the van?

My best guess (based on almost zero experience) would be to detach van from vehicle and hand winch each out. But what if there's no suitable point to secure the winch? But then you mentioned there were trees, so perhaps they came in handy.

There were some very well designed orange coloured plastic or vinyl aids mentioned on this site a little while back that were just the thing. Simply dig out the sand fit these flat bases under wheels and drive out. Mind you, that was not with a van.
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FollowupID: 620634

Reply By: Crackles - Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 17:50

Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 17:50
Wayne think yourself lucky you don't have a new 70 series Cruiser. Then you'd have to decide if the trailer track would match the front or rear wheels which are as much as 100mm out of line. The truth is having a different track between the car & trailer would make little difference & I doubt anyone could feel the difference.
Cheers Craig............
AnswerID: 352357

Follow Up By: porker - Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 21:04

Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 21:04
Yep,spot on.
Have a 70 series Troopy and a Kimberley Kamper which is 80mm wider than the widest track of the troopy.
Makes no appreciable difference.
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FollowupID: 620615

Follow Up By: Member - Wayne David (NSW) - Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 21:52

Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 21:52
Crackles -

You make a good point. Yes I'd heard that some 4x4 vehicles had different width front & back (actually I thought it was the Patrol), so that kind of makes one wonder that if Toyota doesn't think it's important to match then who does? I wonder.... why the difference in width with the 70 series?

Personally in my very limited experience (on soft course river sand) I could certainly tell the difference when I followed another vehicles track in my car compared to making fresh tracks. And when I added the CT there was a huge difference. So it did help me.
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