BASIC KNOWLEDGE: PASSENGER CARS WITH CARAVAN
Trailer couplings are available for almost every car ex works or for retrofitting. How much it can pull is in the vehicle registration. But that’s not all. We have summarized what makes a top train wagon compact in 12 points.
High torque (in Newton meters) is more important than high peak power (kW and HP). That is why turbo diesel is still the first choice for towing vehicles. Also because at full load, i.e. high performance requirements, they work more economically than the equally powerful new turbo petrol generation.
Automatic transmissions are superior to any manual transmission (and most drivers) in train operation. You can read which automatic design is particularly suitable for trailer operation in our automatic comparison.
3. Assistance systems:
traveling with electronic helpers is more comfortable and safer. Cruise control is almost a must for caravanners. It always keeps the speed in a safe and legal range during long journeys. Even better, but quite expensive, the adaptive cruise control. In addition to the pace, it also maintains the distance to the vehicle in front. He also initiates emergency braking if necessary. Shunting assistants are new, which take over the steering when reversing.
4. ESP with TSA / TSP:
Most medium and high-priced new cars that are available ex works with a trailer coupling have a special ESP (Electronic Stability Program) called TSA (Trailer Stability Assist) or TSP (Trailer Stability Program). It detects when a trailer becomes unstable at higher speeds and starts to commute. The ESP then acts on this wheel at lightning speed with targeted braking interventions on individual wheels and, if necessary, also brakes significantly. A real safety plus!
5. Wheels and tires:
the wider and sportier-flatter, the more stable and safe to drive; this applies to towing vehicle tires. But: With less tire cross-section, driving comfort also suffers. An additional disadvantage of wide tires on front-wheel drive vehicles: with increasing tire width, sensitivity to ruts increases, steering influences when accelerating or under load become more noticeable. Up to 20 millimeters tire width above the standard format is usually still useful.
6. Drive concept:
rear-wheel and all-wheel drive ensure the best traction with high loads and high engine power. The type of drive has no measurable influence on the driving safety of the team. Well-balanced front-wheel drive vehicles with effective traction control (ASR) are also suitable as towing vehicles, but often have somewhat lower trailer loads.
7. Weight and wheelbase:
“Length runs” – this also applies to the towing vehicle. The longer the distance between the axles, the greater the stability of the team. A high weight of the car also ensures full driving stability, but is no longer a must.
the more, the better. Because: Both the trailer coupling itself (dead weight between 30 and 50 kilograms) and the drawbar load of the caravan draw on the payload reserves. Some car manufacturers allow trailer operation – recognizable by the addition “b. AnhB.” in the footnotes of the vehicle registration – higher rear axle loads and sometimes higher permissible total weights.
9. Rear overhang:
the shorter the better for driving stability. However, the driving comfort suffers because the tipping of the drawbar has a somewhat stronger effect on the towing vehicle. On vehicles with front-wheel drive, a short overhang levers the front wheels less, which in turn improves traction.
10. Trailer coupling:
it is a matter of certainty who orders it ex works, because sometimes the maximum trailer load is only released. The reason: The package with the hook often includes larger radiators, body reinforcements and thicker drive shafts. In addition, factory installations have a permanent positive lead that supplies electricity to the caravan. And: Combined ESP is also controlled if available.
11. Trailer load:
The most important criterion when used as a towing vehicle. For family caravans it should be 1500 kilograms. The standard values apply to road gradients up to twelve percent. Some cars are allowed to pull more if the driver avoids gradients over eight percent. The permissible gross train weight also has an influence on the trailer load. It specifies the maximum that train and caravan can weigh together. If it is limited, the trailer may have to be lighter than the actual trailer load when the car is fully loaded – or the car may not be fully loaded.
12. Reversing camera:
One of the best tools for coupling the caravan and available for more and more new vehicles ex works. The systems are often coupled to expensive sat navs that show the image on their screen, and a few cameras do not capture the ball head of the towbar. To this end, many manufacturers have even programmed a coupling mode, in which a line that reacts to the steering angle shows the way to the caravan.