Towing with Holden Commodore

Hi there guys.

My wife and I are planning our "Around Oz" trip and require your help and advice.

I have a 17 foot (body length), single axle Jayco "Discovery" pop top, which I intend towing with my 2005 Holden Commodore VZ sedan.

We live in the South-West of WA and will be travelling up the west coast, over the top and down the east coast and will obviously encounter some extreme weather conditions on the way.

I have heard that an automatic transmission oil cooler is essential, especially in the Kimberley, Pilbara and NT.

Does anyone out there have any information for me as to what other modifications I need to make to the Commodore prior to the trip?

Thanking you in anticipation.

Don and Linda.

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Reply By: MrBitchi (QLD) - Thursday, Mar 11, 2010 at 13:24

Thursday, Mar 11, 2010 at 13:24
Put a set of Polyairs in the rear. Otherwise you'll chew out rear tyres like crazy. Keep it (the car) as level as possible.
AnswerID: 408376

Follow Up By: sweetwill - Thursday, Mar 11, 2010 at 14:10

Thursday, Mar 11, 2010 at 14:10
hi there
also electric brakes make the drive a hell of a lot more enjoyable, cheers bill.
FollowupID: 678334

Reply By: Road Warrior - Thursday, Mar 11, 2010 at 14:22

Thursday, Mar 11, 2010 at 14:22
Yeah if the VZ didn't already have a camber correction kit fitted, get one fitted because it will squat in the bum quite a bit when it is loaded up and stuff your tyres.

And yes to the trans cooler, more because you will be doing a lot of towing with something heavy(ish). But the warmer weather up north combined with towing the heavy load can make life tough for the trans if there is no cooler. Repco sell a generic PWR kit for 6 cylinder cars for around $130. Service the trans while you're at it.

A cooling system flush and refill with fresh coolant of the correct grade and ratio would be good too.
AnswerID: 408386

Reply By: Member - mazcan - Thursday, Mar 11, 2010 at 14:25

Thursday, Mar 11, 2010 at 14:25
hi lindon
a weight distribution anti sway hitch would be a positive step and pump up shockies
try and keep the weight down to absolute minimum others will tell you that they took stuff all the way around and never touched or used it as i did as well

naturally there will be a lot of areas that you wont be able to go

but as you travell you will get varing opinions from other travellers about rd conditions some get paranoid about a few corregations or horregations as i call them but everyone views conditions in different ways
i'm not knocking others opinions but you will find them many and varied as per what and where your rig can go

some 4wders will say no way mate you wont get in there with that outfit and some one else will say if you take it easy and drive carefully you will be ok

not every vehicle up north towing a van is a 4wd
so decisions are made based on hear say and others opinions and what you feel confident with and your personel ability level
if you happen to have had farm experience well then you will pretty much know where your holden can or cant go
you did;nt say what time of year your going

i also agree with installing a trans oil cooler as yes it gets really hot up there did it in 1980 and on the road was 40-47 deg daily in nw wa and nt to qld
october through to dec i left bunbury in late sept and by the time we reach karratha it was in the 40's every day from there on

very hard on the tow vehicle if not set up for the job if you add the right equipmt to your vehicle before you leave you'll have an enjoyable trip

a good set of tyres that are capable of the load they will carry on the car and van
rather than try and penny pinch then run into trouble on the road and your engine wont last long if its boiling its head off
so make sure the cooling system--- radiator/water pump hoses-drive belts are in very good clean condition
you have'nt said how many km's it done or whether it's v8 or v6
replace the hoses/belts with new ones and carry the ones you take off for spares if they are in sound condition
happy travells and hope this has been helpfull to you
AnswerID: 408388

Reply By: Notso - Thursday, Mar 11, 2010 at 14:39

Thursday, Mar 11, 2010 at 14:39
There were some particular requirements for setting up the Commode for towing. I would have a thorough read of the owners manual as well.

Not too sure about the VZ but one of the earlier models required strengthening inside the boot for towing over 1200 kilos.

Plus all the good ideas above.

AnswerID: 408392

Follow Up By: Member - mazcan - Thursday, Mar 11, 2010 at 15:25

Thursday, Mar 11, 2010 at 15:25
hi notso
you betcha there'd sure be some problems setting up a commode to tow a caravan
ha ha aha aha aha haaaa !!!!
computor error??????
FollowupID: 678352

Follow Up By: Notso - Thursday, Mar 11, 2010 at 15:36

Thursday, Mar 11, 2010 at 15:36
That's what I called em when I was a Fleet manager, just to torment the Holden Lovers? Mind you I am not a Ford man either!
FollowupID: 678355

Reply By: Fab72 - Thursday, Mar 11, 2010 at 16:50

Thursday, Mar 11, 2010 at 16:50
Transmission cooler.
Pump up rear shockers.
Anti sway bars.
A heavier duty than standard (1200kg) towbar.

That should do the trick.
AnswerID: 408409

Reply By: Member - barry F (NSW) - Thursday, Mar 11, 2010 at 18:38

Thursday, Mar 11, 2010 at 18:38
Hi Don & Linda, lots of good info so far. We used to tow a 16 foot pop top with a tare weight of about 1100 Kg with V6 Toyota Camry & provided the weight of the van you are towing does not exceed the towing capacity of your vehicle you should not have any problems. As already said, check your vehicle manual & read & understand what it says about your vehicle towing capacity.
We never used any pump up suspension & camber correction gear or anti sway equipment but we did make sure we had the following:
Automatic transmission cooler
We had the Auto Transmission serviced before a trip, the very least an oil change)
Our gross weight of the van was within the specified vehicle towing capacity, including the gross weight of the tow vehicle
The tow bar met & exceeded our towing requirements
Our ball weight was within specified limits
Correct Tyre Pressures applied to vehicle & van
Last but not least, and to my way of thinking is essential. A decent Weight Distribution Equipment. We used & still use a Hayman Reece WDH. They cost about $600 but if you set it up correctly ( & it is easy to do)they do what the are designed to do & that is re-establish your tow vehicle braking & steering geometry which also looks after the "sagging vehicle bum" & Tyre Issues etc...... WDH is an essential in my books regardless of tow vehicle & van

AnswerID: 408429

Reply By: DIO - Thursday, Mar 11, 2010 at 19:57

Thursday, Mar 11, 2010 at 19:57
Yes it is a very good idea to have a transmission oil cooler fitted. This is not something the Holdens suggest or recommend but have a word with your Auto Trans Specialist. Most will recommend fitting one, the expense is not great but the benefits substantial.
Make sure your towbar is capable of towing your van. You haven't stated any weights for the van however I would recommend having a 2100 kg towbar installed as well as the extra body bracing recommended by Holden (and essenbtial). Also obtain a heat protection underbody kit. It is designed to protect the centre drive shaft bearing from being exposed to heat as well as the heat reflective material to fit to the underside of your petrol tank to help reduce radiant heat. These items are listed as mandatory by Holden with the 2100 kg bar. They are not all that expensive and easy to install.
Yes the suggestion for fitting PolyAir bags (or similar) is a great suggestion. With the additional weight your car WILL chew out the rear tyres very quickly if you don't have it setup correctly. Don't forget the WDH (Weight Distribution Hitch) as well for assistance in transferring tow ball weight to the front and aiding with stability.
Holden do recommend more frequent servicing when towing for extended periods. It might pay for you to study your Owners Handbook for more information on the subject.
Finally make sure that you DON'T tow in D (Drive) as it will engage overdiive something that you don't want when towing. Use selector position 3 with the P (Power) switch engaged. Good luck and have a safe journey.
AnswerID: 408450

Reply By: Member - Toyocrusa (NSW) - Thursday, Mar 11, 2010 at 20:26

Thursday, Mar 11, 2010 at 20:26
Hi. In regards to the transmission cooler, GMH do not recommend fitting an external transmission cooler and do not make one to instal on these vehicles. The radiator has a transmision cooler in both tanks and combined with the fluid capacity in the transmission there is enough cooling capacity to be sufficient in all temperatures.I have checked with their technical people and that was their advice.
Regarding the rear suspension, I don't think there is an air bag that will suit the size and shape of the spring. You may need to look at fitting heavier duty springs such as Lovells or a brand similar. Hope that helps. Bob.

AnswerID: 408457

Follow Up By: Bearly - Saturday, Mar 13, 2010 at 21:29

Saturday, Mar 13, 2010 at 21:29
QMH in Canberra do have off the shelf transmission coolers for VZ, but they are to dear and they told me to ge to the local Transmission dealer who was 200 bucks cheaper
FollowupID: 678652

Follow Up By: Bearly - Saturday, Mar 13, 2010 at 21:44

Saturday, Mar 13, 2010 at 21:44
Now I cant spell GMH
FollowupID: 678655

Reply By: Bearly - Saturday, Mar 13, 2010 at 21:26

Saturday, Mar 13, 2010 at 21:26
You should have a good trip, I have been using a VZ with a 2008, 17 ft Millard poptop for some time and no issues. The oil cooler is a must though.
AnswerID: 408716

Reply By: Nomadic Navara - Sunday, Mar 14, 2010 at 02:07

Sunday, Mar 14, 2010 at 02:07
Check what the Holden heavy duty towing kit consists of. People look at these ant the price they cost then just fit a tow bar and trailer plug instead of going to the genuine kit. The price of the Holden kit is larger because it consists of more than a bar and socket. Make sure you have ever thing in the Holden kit fitted for heavy duty towing, even if you source every bit separately.

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AnswerID: 408728

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