Towing/model advice

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by dazzler1976, Aug 18, 2017.

  1. dazzler1976

    dazzler1976 Active Member

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    Hello all,

    Im looking for a new family car which needs to be able to tow a caravan. On doing some research I was surprised to see that the E class is very highly rated for towing, I had never considered a rear wheel drive car as a tow car.

    Anyone tow a caravan and got any advice?

    Found the car below after a brief search, any advice on the model? My last Merc was a W210 which was badly effected by rust so going to have a job convinving the wife to move back to Mercedes.

    https://www.arnoldclark.com/used-ca...20-cdi-se-5dr-7g-tronic/2013/ref/arnft-u-4444

    Cheers Derek
     
  2. renault12ts

    renault12ts MB Club Veteran

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    Rear wheel drive is better than front wheel drive. Think about where the weight is when you attach the caravan.

    If/when you find a car and it does not have a tow bar already attached that a tow bar is allowed. There are some models (AMG lines) where they are not approved.
     
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  3. Druk

    Druk Administrator Staff Member

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    I've been towing our present van with an E Class since 2007. Firstly a 211 with the straight six 320cdi and now a 212 350V6 cdi. Both cars are exceptional towcars with the V6 having much more power and torque but, tbh, I still prefer the I6 with its five speed box. I got approx 25 mpg towing with that and dropped to 22mpg with the V6. I don't hang about though always towing at the max allowed speed (and the rest ;)). The 211 came with a factory towbar so had extra engine cooling as standard and the rear Sam was already programmed to accept and work with the caravan electrics. The 212 was retro-fitted and it has been coded to factory standard which gives the stability package and Sam compatibility but not the extra big cooling fan. Not that I've ever noticed it not being there.
    Our caravan weights 1800kg fully loaded so not a toy.

    I don't know where you got the notion that FWD makes for a good tow car but I don't agree with that. RWD every time.

    That looks a nice car although I would do an Autotrader search before making up my mind. There's a lot of them out there. If you get one without a towbar I can offer advice on that front as I've been there---done that.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2017
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  4. renault12ts

    renault12ts MB Club Veteran

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    I didn't think they got a bigger fan but a gearbox radiator?
     
  5. OP
    OP
    dazzler1976

    dazzler1976 Active Member

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    Thanks for the reply.

    TBH, I have no idea why I discounted RWD cars in the past.

    I have a single axle Coachman which is quite a heavy van. I have experienced quite a bit of snaking going by lorries on the motorway, so looking for something that can cope a bit better. Using a Passat at the moment.

    I have a Witter detachable swan neck, which I got because I thought the parking sensors would pick up the towbar, however they don't. Should have just bought the fixed head.

    Did you fit the towbar yourself?

    Thanks
    Derek
     
  6. zipdip

    zipdip Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Druk makes a very good point about buying a car that had a tow bar fitted from new,those mods to the car will cost serious money if you have to add them later,I suppose people not thinking about rear wheel drive towing cars is because front wheel drive has become so popular over the years,as has been posted rear wheel drive is best to tow a van,of course 4 wheel drive is even better,a friend swears by his Touareg he says it's the best tow car he has owned.
     
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  7. Bobby Dazzler

    Bobby Dazzler MB Club Veteran

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    As you've found out, FWD will happily tow a caravan, however they will struggle for traction sooner in difficult conditions (especially with a heavier the caravan). RWD will cope better in those scenarios however if you're likely to be staying in big muddy fields without surfaced access then 4WD may offer the best traction in those conditions.

    You mention snaking though, and I don't believe the driven axle will influence your cars resistance such that it's noticeable. However, one of the reasons 4WD SUVs are popular for towing is not for traction, but weight - they tend to be amongst the heaviest cars, and so are less likely be moved around by the shifting weight of the caravan.

    Final thought, what kind of stabiliser do you have? If it's a friction based stabiliser, have you checked the ball and friction pads are squeaky clean and free of grease, paint and dirt? Also, have you checked or changed the friction pads, because they do wear down?
     
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  8. Druk

    Druk Administrator Staff Member

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    The only time I experience any snaking is when overtaking loaded car transporters. Seems they set up quite a lot of eddys in their wake. With that knowledge I wait till the road's really clear then give them a wide berth even to the extent of straddling the third lane. Bad boy!! And white van man coming past at 90+ is sometimes a surprise.

    Yes, I fitted mine myself, a Westfalia detachable from PJ Jones and also the Westie loom which was a mistake. More on that later if reqd. Coding the car once the loom's connected fixes any parking sensor problems. Cost me £100 at Western and worth it imho.
    I wouldn't consider a fixed head unless you're skint. Ugly thing behind the car when not hitched-up.
     
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  9. Pontoneer

    Pontoneer MB Club Veteran

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    I've towed many caravans over the years , never small ones , and mostly with Mercedes-Benz .

    When you think about it , adding nose weight at the back adds to the downforce on the driving wheels , giving improved traction , which is useful if manouvering on a slippery grass surface , as encountered on many caravan sites .

    With front wheel drive , the opposite happens , and the downforce behind the rear axle lifts weight off the front axle , reducing traction - traction is already worse in FWD thanks to weight transference towards the rear when accelerating forwards ( hence you so often see FWD cars losing traction on moving off but seldom a RWD ; and RWD will be at an advantage moving off from the traffic lights ) .

    E Class estates all benefit from self levelling rear suspension , and will stay level whilst towing - I towed a number of large-ish caravans with my W123 and W124 estate cars , always six cylinder petrol models , so there was sufficient power to pull the weight and , once moving , the outfits were stable and easily controlled .

    I did fit a Kenlowe ATF cooler to my W123 280TE , but the later cars had a separate ATF cooler as opposed to just a pipe running through the engine radiator .

    The car in your link looks very nice but I can't comment further as no experience of that model .

    Looks like four of us in Scotland now , all called Derek , who tow caravans with Mercedes estates :D

    You , me , DRUK and Silversaloon ( if he's still around ? ) .
     
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  10. Pontoneer

    Pontoneer MB Club Veteran

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    Agree with above - stability ( snaking ) is largely a function of weight ratio between towing vehicle and trailer ; also driving technique , which comes with experience .

    I latterly used a Bulldog stabiliser , which helps damp side to side movement , and as stated important to maintain friction discs in good , clean condition . The alternative is the Alko type stabiliser which is built into the hitch - these also have replaceable friction pads . The advantage is this type will also damp vertical movement , unlike the blade ( Bulldog ) type , but the downside is that over time they can wear your towball into an eccentric shape ( not such a great problem if you have a flange mount bracket , or a detachable ball which can be replaced , but a major pain , and a danger , if you have a one piece fixed swan neck ) .
     
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  11. Pontoneer

    Pontoneer MB Club Veteran

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    Derek , didn't you also have a couple of S124 towcars before that ? :)
     
  12. Druk

    Druk Administrator Staff Member

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    I did Derek. My first Merc was an S124 230TE converted to LPG towing a Van Royce 15/2, then moved to an S124 320TE scrapping the 230.
    In 2006 I went with a pal to the auctions in Livi to vet an Audi for him. The Audi was crap but the next car through was a nice S211 320cdi. The rest is history. I broke the 320TE for spares and it's Getrag gearbox is now languishing in the 107.
     
  13. davidjpowell

    davidjpowell Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    The last RWD I towed with a S210. I found it quite susceptible as to how I loaded the caravan, particularly with regard to nose weight.

    I have towed with Front wheel drive. No real difference day to day. Two trains of front with regards to wet grass. One being less weight on front wheels = wheel spin. The other that more weight on the rear = wheel sink. Even better if you can keep front wheels on the track...

    We now have a 4wd, which pretty much remains undisturbed, other than the occasional white van man, or heavily tramlined lane 1
     
  14. OP
    OP
    dazzler1976

    dazzler1976 Active Member

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    Thanks to all the Derek's, and those less fortunate not to be named Derek, for the advice.

    Test driving the Merc tomorrow, cant wait. Test drove an A6 earlier and found it pretty boring.
     
  15. cass

    cass New Member

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    I have towed a 4 berth c/van weight 1440kg with both an E220 cdi w210 model " I would steer clear of this model because of the rust bug" this seems to effect cars from 1999 to 2006 approx. and with a 2011, E250 cdi avant. W212 which is my present car towing the same c/van this is a great car as solo or when towing plenty of power when needed & rock steady towing.
     
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  16. Huw 800S

    Huw 800S Active Member

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    I've towed my 1800kg Caravan 9000miles in the last 18 months, with my W163 ML55 enjoyed every minute, snaking is usually caused by poor weight distribution, and poor driving skills:D
     
  17. Mactech

    Mactech Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    It is , of course, possible to tow with a vehicle of any drive format, FWD, RWD and 4x4. Only on low grip surfaces are the differences pronounced.
    My own experience suggests that weight and frontal area will have a much more noticeable effect on the ease of towing.
    My best towing experiences with a caravan is behind a FWD Vito van!
    It had the weight and frontal area to make the difference with a caravan on the back minimal.
    My Land Rover towing the racecar on an open trailer doesn't even notice it is there!
    The 164 ML towed very well, but it is all do do with the balance of how much you tow and what you want of the tow car when it is on it's own....:dk:
     

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