Towing with Prado Standard Suspension

I own a 2008 Prado Diesel (Series 120). The towing capacity of the Toyota towbar is 2500 kg with a maximum towball weigh of 250 kg. I am about to take delivery of a Trakmaster Kimberley poptop single axle caravan (Tare 1600 kg). When loaded the van will weigh around 2000 kg and have a towball weigh of around 200 kg. My Prado has the standard Toyota Prado suspension.
I would like hear to from anyone who has used a 120 Series Prado with standard suspension to tow a caravan of around 2000 kg. How did the standard Prado suspension perform? Did you need to upgrade the suspension? Any other comments would also be appreciated.
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Reply By: OREJAP - Monday, Aug 08, 2011 at 10:21

Monday, Aug 08, 2011 at 10:21
Hi Peter, Whilst I do not own a Playdoh I do know that the standard suspension would not cope with that weight. I know the standard suspension on the Pajero when loaded with similar weight is right on the bump stops. I don't know what else you will be carrying in your vehicle or what you have fitted but these are questions usually asked by suspension specialist like ARB & TJM. I have load sharing or progressive rate rear springs because I tow a similar weighted van to you. When I had the Old Man Emu suspension fitted I was asked what I carried in the rear & what weight I would be towing. I have always had King springs & Koni adjustable shockers on previous vehicles including Landcruiser, Patrol & a 2003 Pajero. The Prado web site & Toyota Landcruiser web site (Forums) are also helpful.
AnswerID: 462094

Reply By: Member - A J- Monday, Aug 08, 2011 at 11:26

Monday, Aug 08, 2011 at 11:26
Peter - I have the same prado as you and tow a van of exactly the same weight as you. When you attach the van it does lower the suspension slightly but not enough to worry about it. What I found with Trakmaster is that they check with you which motor vehicle you have when discussing the van you want built.

Whilst I do not have a Trakmaster van I am aware of their vans as we waited and got to the top of the build list before pulling out.

The prado will handle the van very well.

If after a few trips if you decide to upgrade the suspension I would only do the springs, but would not waste the money at this stage.

AnswerID: 462098

Reply By: olcoolone - Monday, Aug 08, 2011 at 12:58

Monday, Aug 08, 2011 at 12:58
Be prepared for some suspension mods, the best way is wait until you have your caravan and load the caravan and Prado up as if you were going away and don't forget to fill the fuel tanks to full.

Take a measurement before and after and then work out what you need to do.

Even if it doesn't sag to much you still may need an upgrade for when your travelling on undulated ground.

The other thing is make sure the height of the vehicles towball is close to the height of the caravans towball, we were following one in the Flinders October long weekend last year and we could hear this very loud scrapping noise.... as we went past the Prado we noticed it was sitting flat and so was the caravan BUT the towbar tongue had to be positioned down to match the caravan height, the tongue was only a few inches of the ground causing it to scrap on everything.

Do a dummy run loaded and seek advice from someone who tows a lot, not someone who has a caravan that they only use once a year.

The number of caravans we see not set up right when travelling is astonishing.

AnswerID: 462102

Follow Up By: Member - Peter Eltham - Monday, Aug 08, 2011 at 13:20

Monday, Aug 08, 2011 at 13:20
Thanks olcoolone,
What variation in measurements is allowable before an upgrade is required?
Cheers Peter
FollowupID: 735822

Follow Up By: Kimba10 - Monday, Aug 08, 2011 at 13:45

Monday, Aug 08, 2011 at 13:45
Peter, you can get the hitch that lifts up and down (cant remember there correct name) so that you can get the exact height to suit drawbar, Some necks you can turn either way to give you the correct height. I use to have to do this when I had my hilux, when towing my skiboat as it was extremly low at the front I had to have the ball obviously a lot lower to the ground and when towing off road camper I had to turn it back up the other way, remove the towball and fit the treg hitch to the neck. As olcoolone said you need to put the van on the back first and go from there. You may find its all spot on first go. but as mentioned dont forget to fill fuel tanks as if your factory suspension has already possibly sagged a bit, with 90L of fuel in the rear tank will drop the bum off the prado down an inch on its own before you even load the prado up. I find with the OME the ride quality is totally different and I feel more in control as the vehicle rides extremely well and doesnt bob up and down like a cork on those floaty type roads. Personally I think you will find you will need to upgrade to at least airbags or springs. I have only ever gone medium duty OME springs on previous prados as I dont want it to ride like a gocart when Im empty running around town......................
FollowupID: 735824

Follow Up By: olcoolone - Monday, Aug 08, 2011 at 18:29

Monday, Aug 08, 2011 at 18:29
Kimba, the adjustable hitch your talking about was what this Prado in the Flinders had, the Prado had standard suspension and they were towing a on road Jayco camper with small wheels.

FollowupID: 735847

Reply By: Kimba10 - Monday, Aug 08, 2011 at 13:33

Monday, Aug 08, 2011 at 13:33
I have 120 but petrol auto, I have towed a car trailer a few times behind myn, car & trailer would have been 2T for sure. Cruising on flat surfaces was fine but when it comes to some roads that sort of have that floating feeling like a roller coaster ride I think this is where you will find you will need some heavier springs or airbags to assist. My mate just has airbags, hasnt touched the factory suspension and is fine. Alot will also depend on what roads you will be taking, this is where good quality aftermarket suspension comes into its own. I have had 3 prados, previous 2 (95 series) had OME and I also towed behind them and never had any issues with the bum dragging so to speak. At the moment my 120 is stock but I am in the process of having OME fitted to it as well to cope with the towing weights. Not sure if yours is the grande or not or GX,GXL etc ??? All except the grande run the same suspension, the grande having the airbag suspension which my mate actually hates towing with, reckons its way to floaty. He is either going to sell and upgrade to a 150 or if he decides to keep his 09 120 grande he is going to have the rear suspension changed (rear only)............................
AnswerID: 462108

Follow Up By: Member - Peter Eltham - Monday, Aug 08, 2011 at 14:32

Monday, Aug 08, 2011 at 14:32
Thanks Kimba,
My Prado is a 2008 GXL Diesel D4D. One of the upgade options Trakmaster have suggested is installing Coilrite airbags inside the standard coil springs(rear). At this stage I am collecting comments before deciding what to do.Initially most of my travel will be on the tar with some dirt roads (slowly). Cheers Peter.
FollowupID: 735825

Follow Up By: Kimba10 - Monday, Aug 08, 2011 at 14:50

Monday, Aug 08, 2011 at 14:50
Personally at the moment the airbags would be the first stage. See how they go. If you find its too floaty or still sags then springs would be the next step. I think for the type of roads you will be taking the airbags will suit you down to the ground. Remember with the airbags even when not needed (as in not towing) you still need to keep at least 5psi in them to stop them getting pinched between the coils. I would also have independent air valves for each airbag, better set up I think then one feeding both. The sweet spot for the two valves in the 120 prado is just in behind the cargo door. When you open the rear cargo door on the black strip on top of the rear bumper bar in the middle is a little plastic cap/flap just infront of rubber seal. lift it out and mount your two valves under neath. Then keep the black plastic cap/flap and put back in when finished. You will need to remove the flap to get to the airvalves (easy done) but it stops extra dirt and crap getting to them and also stops any lowlifes from playing with the valves and keeps them out of harms way...........
FollowupID: 735828

Follow Up By: Member - Peter Eltham - Monday, Aug 08, 2011 at 15:42

Monday, Aug 08, 2011 at 15:42
Thanks Kimba10
Cheers Peter.
FollowupID: 735832

Follow Up By: Kimba10 - Tuesday, Aug 09, 2011 at 21:00

Tuesday, Aug 09, 2011 at 21:00 Dosent really show anything but it happens at the 3 minute 40 seconds on the clip.............
FollowupID: 735996

Follow Up By: Member - Peter Eltham - Tuesday, Aug 09, 2011 at 21:20

Tuesday, Aug 09, 2011 at 21:20
Thanks Kimba10,
Cheers Peter
FollowupID: 735999

Reply By: Hairs & Fysh - Monday, Aug 08, 2011 at 14:13

Monday, Aug 08, 2011 at 14:13
Hi peter,
Besides a suspension upgrade have you considered a set of Polyair Air bags, about $300 plus fitting.
I fitted a set in the 80 and it made a big difference to the way it towed.
Just a thought.
AnswerID: 462111

Follow Up By: Member - Peter Eltham - Monday, Aug 08, 2011 at 14:35

Monday, Aug 08, 2011 at 14:35
Thanks Hairs & Fysh,
One of the upgade options Trakmaster have suggested is installing Coilrite airbags inside the standard coil springs(rear). Cheers Peter.
FollowupID: 735826

Reply By: Member - Charlie M (SA) - Monday, Aug 08, 2011 at 19:03

Monday, Aug 08, 2011 at 19:03
We have a Prado 120 with standard suspension plus airbags in springs, run airbags on 10psi. Tow standard van at 2200kgs with WDH and all works well for me.
AnswerID: 462128

Reply By: Member - Toyocrusa (NSW) - Monday, Aug 08, 2011 at 20:28

Monday, Aug 08, 2011 at 20:28
Hi Peter. I have a late 04 Prado petrol and tow an Outback Sterling 22ft loaded at 2.5t. with standard suspension on the vehicle. I have added Coilrite Air Bags. ( I prefer their design and fittings over Polyair bags) and only need to run them with 5lb air pressure along with a Hayman Reese WDH. I don't carry a lot in the rear of the vehicle but could possibly add up to 100kg. All up the rig tows very well and comfortably. Have towed over lots of rough tar roads but have not done any dirt roads yet though. Cheers,Bob

AnswerID: 462135

Reply By: awill4x4 - Monday, Aug 08, 2011 at 21:54

Monday, Aug 08, 2011 at 21:54
Peter, if your Prado has the standard cast steel Toyota factory towbar and you are using a weight distribution hitch, which you really should be having with a van of that weight.
Then, you should read the following link about the factory Prado towbars failing.
Prado towbar failure.
If you have that towbar and are using a WDH then I would recommend removing it and replacing it with a Hayman Reece towbar.
Regards Andrew.
AnswerID: 462146

Follow Up By: Kimba10 - Tuesday, Aug 09, 2011 at 11:41

Tuesday, Aug 09, 2011 at 11:41
Hi Andrew, do you know if there was ever any follow up in regards to these towbars snapping ?? I have the same factory towbar on mine and have towed car trailer with car on numerous times. Obviously I havnt had an issue BUT I wonder if Toyota will accept this as been a dodgy part ?? I have rang them up and no one has heard of any issue with the towbars. This is obviously not a one off. Wonder if there is any other way of following this up ?? Also is this only caused by using the extra towing aids ?? or have both these towbars snapped just by purely having some thing hanging off the towball BUT still with in legal weights/set up by toyota for their towbars ???.........
FollowupID: 735909

Follow Up By: Member - Peter Eltham - Tuesday, Aug 09, 2011 at 20:24

Tuesday, Aug 09, 2011 at 20:24
Hi Andrew,

thank you very much for your reply.

I have been very concerned about the strength of my genuine Toyota cast towbar since seeing the post and photos about 6 months ago. However, I had the genuine Toyota towbar installed when I got the Prado two years ago.

My new van manufacturer,Trakmaster, is suggesting that I do not need a WDH when towing the Trackmaster Kimberley poptop.

I have used a small WDH for 20 years when towing a Jayco Dove camper and then a Avan Aliner (both less than 1000kg loaded) with a Falcon. The small WDH helped with steerability and stability when towing with the Falcon.

I have had the Prado for two years now and have normally been towing the Avan with a small WDH. However, on some occasions I have towed the Avan with the Prado without a WDH. The rig seems to be fairly stable without a WDH.

Initially I will probably trial towing the Trakmaster (loaded 2000 kg) without a WDH and then consider getting a HR WDH if necessary. I know that I cannot use a WDH when off road.

If I have to use a HR WDH I may have to consider getting a HR towbar fitted to my Prado.

However, I will consult Toyota before making my decision.

Cheers Peter

FollowupID: 735979

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