FAQ: TOWING VEHICLE

This page last updated 1st November 2009

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20th October 2009

QUESTION:

Hi

I have a question on towing. What vehicle capacity is required? Currently I have a VW Touran 1.9 TDi will it be ok to tow ?

Regards,  
 
Eric Fedeli

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20th October 2009

The legal requirements are that if the vehicle being towed is heavier than 750kg it requires brakes, if this vehicle is heavier than the tow vehicle it needs vacuum brakes. We used to fit a PBR braking system to the car and the trailer had a vacuum cylinder to activate the brakes. 

Another issue is the nose weight of the trailer, we moved the axles approx 150mm back on the trailer to create more nose weight, this gives a lot more directional stability especially when you are going down hill and the trailer begins to push the car, it also elevates the tendency for the trailer to sway at high speed, the only problem with this is that the weight on the ball is then approx 150 kg so you need to beef up the tow bar. 

Brian Gardener   

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19th October 2009

I used to work for the factory and thus did a huge amount of towing I think in excess of 100 000km towing H23’s, the main vehicle we used was a 3L Cortina Bakkie, 4 speed, this vehicle was supurb as the gear ratio’s were right. 

Nissan then gave me a 2.8L Skyline to test for them, this car was 5 speed and the gear ratio’s were wrong at times it battled to maintain 100km/h in 4th gear, I went through 4 clutches and 2 windscreens (because of flexing) ie. A bad tow vehicle. 

Later on when I had my own business I had a 3L Sani it also suffered with the wrong gear ratios, after that I got a 3L Colt Rodeo this car was fantastic for towing, towed a H23 to Langebaan with it (140km/h) no sweat. 

So to sum up, you need a tow vehicle in excess of 110kw in power and also the gear ratios need to be right, so I don’t think your Touran will stand a chance !!! 

Hope this helps. 

Regards

Brian Gardener

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20th October 2009

 

The holiday + extras is about 2000kg.

 

The Touran is for speed more than power. (I think)

 

If you do not plan a long distance (less than 100km) it could work - just do not go into top gear. 

 

I tow with a Jeep Grand Cherokee 4.0L automatic. It is powerful enough but, I lost one gearbox.

 

Every time I go into the water some other electronic part fails.

 

I would recommend nothing less than a 3L diesel. And preferable not automatic.

 
Roux

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19th October 2009

It may be that the Touran has the required torque but I would be surprised if the vehicle mass is more than about 1300 kg.  I would agree with you that you need a heavier, more powerful vehicle especially if you are encountering hills.

Regards

Mark Smeddle

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19th October 2009

I towed my H23 from Gariep Dam to Cape Town with a Chrysler Neon 2 liter. It was a nightmare. The trailer did not have brakes, and I had a few close calls going downhill. The brakes started to smoke. (that leaves skid marks in your underpants!). The car was also too light. I am not sure what the car weighed, but it was less than the boat and trailer. My advice is to have a powerful vehicle, and a heavy one. Brakes on the trailer are essential.  

Kind regards 

Roger

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19th October 2009

I towed my H23 from Bloemfontein to Joburg with a Ford Double Cab 2.5 TD with no problem at all. Just stayed in 4th gear. 

I suspect the Touran would be too light for a long distance tow or with any serious hills but that is just a guess. I have a read other articles where they reckoned to tow a H23 you need a Landrover!  

I think your observation of the towing vehicle being equal or heavier than the tow is probably correct. 

Regards, 

David Hunter
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20th October 2009

Hi All 

Sharyn and I have towed our Holiday 23 from Port Owen to Carletonville, North West, with an Isuzu KB 260 petrol Bakkie, at the time it had about 230 000km on the clock. We did the trip in 2 days, arriving in Carletonville on the 2nd evening at +- 22h00. It is certainly not pleasant traveling at night on a narrow road with a wide H23 behind you, but I digress, this has nothing to do with the size of the vehicle’s engine or weight. We towed up via Van Rhyn’s pass in 1st gear and never had any problems. We don’t travel over 100km per hour and stick to all the rules with regards breaking in a straight line etc.. Another vehicle that we have used to take the H23 to Durban, is a Pajero 2800 turbo diesel. Absolutely no problems either up or down the passes. This trip was done by Sharyn and the kids. We have used a 3000 V6 Nissan twin cab to take the H23 to Vilanculos but in this case we had the boat and bakkie loaded with fuel, water and rations for 3 weeks. A very heavy load in both the bakkie and the boat, no problems with the actual towing, but did loose trailer wheel bearings due to my stupidity, sea water left in bearings for 2 weeks does not help the cause.   

Comments: 

The length of the trip will dictate what vehicle you should use. The speed that you travel at is dictated by the vehicle that you are using. I personally believe that a 1.9 diesel is too light in the pants ( both power and weight )for trips over 150 km and definitely not where passes are involved. Make sure that you have time and patience and don’t exceed 100km per hour. 

The best type of brakes that I have found are discs on all 4 wheels operated by rods. But even this does not work for long. The best rule is never to trust the trailers brakes and always break in a straight line. The worst type of brakes are the cable type. 

If you want a tow vehicle heavier than the H23 trailer combination, you will end up with a 3 ton truck with a 2 ton load on it. 

Make sure that the boat trailer combination is balanced sideways and fore and aft with 25 to 40 kg on the hook even if you have an anti sway device. Never have the situation where there is no load on the hook. 

Always make sure that the tail board is fully operational and that you carry all the types of

Spare globes that may be needed. Included in this, carry the full range of fuses. 

With the speed of the big trucks on the road today, left and right caravan mirrors on a narrow vehicle are a must. 

Make sure that the trailer has the new yellow stick-on tape down both the sides and across the back. 

Make sure that you carry at least 2 spare sets of wheel bearings. You will only need them when you don’t have them with you. 

With the conditions of the roads today, never let the trailer wheels leave the tar. If they do drop off the edge of the tar, don’t try to bring them back while still travelling at speed. Slow down and find a decent place to get back on again. in the North West, Northern Cape, Northern Natal and Mozambique drop offs of 100mm are becoming common. 

Tie the boat onto the trailer. There is nothing quite as scary as when some idiot causes an emergency in front of you, you hit the brakes all controlled and the boat decides it also wants to see what is happening. 

Don’t leave rudder blades and aux motors hanging over the transom. I attach the tailboard to the transom. I am not sure what the law calls for in this regard, but our boat has at least a 2000 overhang on the back of my trailer. 

Towing a H23 is not a major task as long as you take care. The things that I have listed above may sound over the top but, if they are taken care of, the towing part is actually a breeze and I find quite enjoyable. 

Hope this is of some value. Please note that these are my opinions and based on my experiences.   

Regards. 

Derek

Always let the keel rest on the trailer to prevent damage to the hull!!!  (Editor) 

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21st October 2009

I have just read Derek's note of towing the Holiday. So nice to know there is a responsible adult in the family.

 

We just hook and pull.......

 

An important fact regarding the tow vehicle, is the height of the tow hitch.

 

I have found that it is vital that the tow hitch is high enough so that sufficient load is placed on the rear trailer axle.

 

If you don't get the rear axle to carry its fair share of the load, it has the effect of increasing the rear overhang, thus increasing the propensity to sway.

(I hope that makes sense.)

 

We have towed with 3 lt Nissan twin cab bakkies (both old shape and new), a Toyota Prado, the Toyota Fortuner 3lt Diesel, and (after a breakdown) 100 kms with an old Opel Kadett 1600.

 

By far the best performer has been the Toyota Fortuner. (Standard Toyota towbar modified to raise hitch height.)

 

Ray van Rensburg has towed successfully with his VW Kombi (2.3 if my memory serves correctly) and his Mercedes off road toy. I hope he will report on his experiences.

 

Apart from the mass of the vehicle and the engine capacity, I think the major problem with the Touran may be the strength of the point where the tow bar is attached to the vehicle. That is what I would check most carefully. If you are going to attach a plate to the towbar to increase the height of the hook, remember that this plate adds leverage to the load that will be transmitted to the point where the tow bar attaches to the vehicle.

 

Having the facility to tow our Holidays has opened up a vast spectrum of possible sailing pleasure for us. Derek has listed a few of the places he has been, and for us, we have had the attitude that if there is a road that goes there, we can go sailing there.

 
And its been great!
 
Michael.

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20th October 2009

That’s me on this one. The website will be full.  

Acknowledgement to Skiboat magazine for the article from back issue March/April 2009. 

Regards

Rob Wilson 

From: Sheena Carnie [mailto:sheena@mags.co.za]
Sent: 20 October 2009 11:28 AM
To: Rob Wilson
Subject: Re: Braking system review

 

TOWING - LEGAL OR ILLEGAL

 

The rules are complicated and involved, so take heed By Pierre Barnard, SKI-BOAT magazine.

DURING the past December holidays, numerous deep sea anglers, towing their boats,

were referred to the weighbridges to check the legality of their vehicles and trailers. Most were found 

to be towing illegally. I made contact with Corrie Barnard, Gauteng Traffic Police, to get an explanation

on what the Road Traffic Act stipulates. 

 

DRIVERS LICENCE

 

The law clearly states the following:

 

•     Category B licence: Permissible to drive vehicle with weight less than

      3 500kg and tow trailer with boat less than 750kg.

 

•     Category EB licence: Permissible to drive vehicle less than 3 500kg and

      tow trailer with boat more than 750kg. If vehicle’s weight exceeds 3 500kg, the driver needs a PDP (Professional Driving Permit). 

 

COMBINATION OF TOWING AND TRAILER WEIGHT

 

On the manufacturer’s plate, normally located under the bonnet of a vehicle, you will find the following. 

 

•     Tare: Vehicle’s weight only. In relation to a motor vehicle, means the mass

      of such vehicle ready to travel on a road and includes the mass of:

 

(a) Any spare wheel and all other accessories and equipment supplied by the manufacturer as standard for the particular

      model of motor vehicle concerned;

(b) Anything which is a permanent part of the structure of such vehicle;

(c) Anything attached to such vehicle so as to form a structural alteration of a permanent nature; and

(d) The accumulation, if such vehicle is self-propelled by electrical power, but does not include the mass of

(1) Fuel;

(2) Anything attached to such vehicle which is not of the nature referred to in paragraph (b) or (c).

 

• GVM:

          Gross vehicle mass/weight.

This, in relation to a motor vehicle, means the maximum mass of such a vehicle and its load as specified by the

         manufacturer thereof or, in the absence of such specification, as determined by the registering authority;

 

GCM:

 

        Gross combination mass/weight. This will be the combined mass of trailer and vehicle coupled. In relation

        to a motor vehicle which is used to draw any other vehicle, it means the maximum mass of any combination of

        motor vehicles, including the drawing vehicle, and loaded as specified by the manufacturer thereof, in the absence of

        such specification, as determined by the registering authority. These weights are not allowed to be exceeded.

• Trailer means a vehicle which is not self-propelled and which is designed or adapted to be drawn by a motor vehicle.

• Emergency brakes mean a brake, other than a servo brake which can stop a vehicle.

• Overrun brake in relation to a trailer means a braking system actuated by a device fitted to the drawbar of the trailer

   when a force is exerted on such device by reason of the inertia of the trailer.

• Parking brake means a brake, normally a hand brake, which is used in the ordinary course of event to keep a vehicle

  stationary.

 

BRAKES ON TRAILERS

 

(1) Subject to the provision of sub regulation (4) no person shall operate a trailer if on a public road:

(A) The gross vehicle mass of such trailer does not exceed 750kg and the gross vehicle mass:

(1) Does not exceed half the tare of the drawing vehicle, unless such trailer is equipped with a parking brake or

      other device to keep such trailer stationary;

(2) Exceeds half the tare of the drawing vehicle but does not exceed such tare, unless such trailer is equipped

     with a parking brake and either a servo brake or an overrun brake;

(3) Exceeds the tare of the drawing vehicle, unless such trailer is equipped with a parking brake and servo brake.

(B) The gross vehicle mass of such trailer exceeds 750kg but does not exceed 3 500kg and the gross vehicle mass:

(1) Does not exceed the tare of the drawing vehicle, unless such trailer is equipped with a parking brake and

      either an overrun brake or a servo brake; or

(2) Exceeds the tare of the drawing vehicle, unless the trailer is equipped with a parking brake and a servo brake;

(C) The gross vehicle mass of the trailer exceeds 3 500kg, unless such trailer is equipped with a parking brake

       and a servo brake, and where more than one trailer is drawn by drawing vehicle, the foregoing requirements shall apply

       in respect of each such trailer, and in such event the gross vehicle mass shall be construed as the total of the gross

       vehicle mass of all trailers so drawn: 

(1) The servo brake of a trailer shall be capable of being operated by the driver of the drawing vehicle while such

     trailer and drawing vehicle are in motion.

(2) If the servo or overrun brake on the trailer is capable of being used as a parking brake, a separate parking brake

     needs to be fitted to such a trailer. 

I will use an example:

 

Toyota Hilux 4x4

GVM:2 790

Tare: 1 770

GCM:4 290

PD: 175x240 = 42 000 = Drawing-

Power of this particular vehicle.

 

Trailer with boat (206 King Cat)

Tare: 1 100

GVM:2 350

• Boat mass = difference between

GVM and tare = 1 250kg more than tare.

• Trailer fitted with parking brake as well as servo brake makes the driver with EB code 10 licence legal on road.

 

• SKI-BOAT refers readers to <http://www.transport.gov.za/library/regulations/1999/roadregs06.html>.

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 20th October 2009

I found the attached on the Caravan and Outdoor website. It gives the whole story.

 

If you accept that a H23 on trailer will have a mass of around 1,500 kg (boat, trailer and stuff), then you need a vehicle with a tare greater than or equal to 1,500kg to tow it-with brakes.

 

A quick look around the car park has a Nissan Quasqui at 1251kg (about a Touran size?) so will not do it. A Mazda double cab 4X4 was 1880kg and a Grand Cherokee 1940 kg. Hence bakkies and big 4X4’s seen towing these things? 

 

Rob Wilson

 

Click on this link to go to the article, with thanks to Caravan and Outdoor Magazine

 

 

Caravan and Outdoor\Towing, the law and you.mht

 

 

(This article is copyright to Caravan & Outdoor Life magazine (published by Caravan Publications (Pty) Ltd.) and is intended for private use only. Permission to republish any part of it or use the information for commercial purposes (in order to re-sell it and/or make a profit from it and/or any such means) must be obtained from Caravan Publications. For more information in this regard please email wendy@caravansa.co.za)
 

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20th October 2009

 

Please see that attached courtesy of the Caravan Magazine – related to the legalities of towing. It is a must read for everyone towing right down to “Do you have the right Drivers Licence”.

Having towed a H23 from the factory to Johannesburg and then to the Vaal Dam, limited experience I know – but I must say that anyone who tows a trailer with that mass at speeds in excess of 90 – 100 kph is irresponsible. Getting to those speed is easy but to get from 120kph to zero when another road user does something stupid in front of you is impossible in any reasonable distance or time. 

By law the weight of the trailer cannot exceed 75% of the tow vehicles kerb weight. When calculating this do not forget to add the weight of all the goodies loaded in the boat! 

Bruce Richards

Click on this to go to the PDF file:

Caravan  Outdoor Life Magazine.pdf