By Andrew Brown – Lead Instructor
(Land Rover Experience Gerotek & Inchanga)
I regularly receive enquiries from clients at my Land Rover Experience Centres with regards to towing and seeing as the Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 has just won its class (1900kg +) for the third consecutive year in the coveted annual UK Tow Car Awards, I thought it would be a good idea to write down what I usually tell clients.
I have divided the topic up in to the sections listed below for easy reference:
I regularly tow an Ifor William HB510 horse trailer that has a GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass) of 2,584kg. So what is GVM? It’s the total mass of the trailer and the load. Therefore when my horse trailer is full loaded with two horses its total mass may not exceed 2,548kg.
Now if I look at the different Land Rover models, according to the manufacturer (Land Rover), I can tow my horse trailer with a Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, Discovery 4 or a Defender as each of these vehicles is able to tow a braked trailer on-road with a maximum mass of 3,500kg without there being any warrantee implications. However, don’t forget that you can’t exceed maximum mass of vehicle and trailer combination (GTW), which for a Discovery is 6,740kg. The GTW is the mass of the vehicle including people, luggage, fluids (petrol, oil, etc) and the mass of the loaded trailer. All of this information is available on http://www.landrover.co.za under the “Performance & Weight” section for each model.
Note that based on the maximum towing capacities supplied by Land Rover, I cannot tow my horse trailer with a Freelander or an Evoque as the on-road braked trailer capacity of these vehicles is 2,000kg and 1,800kg respectively.
Towing a trailer whose mass exceeds the rated capacity of the towing vehicle voids the manufacturer’s warrantee. In addition it will cause damage to the body, suspension, transmission and engine of the vehicle and severely impact the vehicle’s handling ability. TIP: Check the vehicles manufacturers Website or brochure for the rated towing capacity of the vehicle you are thinking of using for towing or get it in writing from a Dealership – the sales persons’ word is not good enough.
So what does the law in South Africa have to say about towing? Well according to the NATIONAL ROAD TRAFFIC ACT:
(1) Subject to the provisions of sub-regulation (4) no person shall operate on a public road a trailer, if—
(a) the gross vehicle mass of such trailer does not exceed 750 kilograms and the gross vehicle mass—
(i) 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;
(ii) 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 service brake or an overrun brake; or
(iii) exceeds the tare of the drawing vehicle, unless such trailer is equipped with a parking brake and a service brake;
(b) the gross vehicle mass of such trailer exceeds 750 kilograms but does not exceed 3 500 kilograms and the gross vehicle mass—
(i) 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 service brake; or
(ii) exceeds the tare of the drawing vehicle, unless the trailer is equipped with a parking brake and a service brake;
(c) the gross vehicle mass of the trailer exceeds 3 500 kilograms, unless such trailer is equipped with a parking brake and a service brake, and where more than one trailer is drawn by a 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. [Sub-reg. (1) substituted by r. 42, GNR.1341 w.e.f. 25 September 2003.]
(2) The service 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.
(3) If the service or overrun brake of a trailer is capable of being used as a parking brake, a separate parking brake need not be fitted to such trailer.
Let’s put this in to perspective. Most single axle luggage trailers have a GVM of 750kg, which is what the National Road Traffic Act is referring to in section 1 (a) above. The minimum Tare of any Land Rover is the Range Rover Evoque at 1685kg. Therefore half this amount is 842.5kg. So you can therefore use any Land Rover model to legally tow any luggage trailer with a GVM of 750kg. Have a look at the license disk on the windscreen of the vehicle you wish to use for towing. It lists the vehicle’s Tare.
Now back to my Ifor Williams horse trailer with a GVM of 2,548kg that is fitted with a park brake and an overrun brake as standard. Under section 1 (b) (i) of the National Road Traffic Act, I can legally tow my horse trailer with a Discovery 4 SDV6 with out fitting any additional brake systems to the horse trailer or vehicle, as the Tare of the Discovery is 2,767kg (information taken from the license disk) which is exceeds the GVM of the horse trailer. Similarly, you can also legally tow this trailer with a Range Rover or a Range Rover Sport.
However, under section 1 (b) (i) of the National Road Traffic Act I can’t legally tow my horse trailer with a Defender. The Tare of a Defender 110 Station Wagon is 2,048kg, which is less than the GVM of my horse trailer. If I were to fit a service brake to my horse trailer, which can be operated by the driver from within my Defender (refer to section (2) above), then under section 1 (b) (ii) of the National Road Traffic Act I could legally tow my horse trailer with a Defender. A service brake takes the form of a vacuum or electrical brake system, which needs to be fitted to both the vehicle and the trailer. The fitment of an after market vacuum system voids the manufacturer’s warrantee. It is possible to fit an electric brake system without voiding the warrantee as long as the vehicle’s electrical system is not interfered with.
The consequences of ignoring both the manufacturers specifications and the law when towing are:
Setting up your vehicle and trailer up properly for towing is of vital importance. If your Land Rover is not fitted with a tow bar (Freelander or Evoque) please take your vehicle to a Land Rover Dealership to have one fitted and ensure that it is a genuine Land Rover Part that is fitted. The tow bar electrical connection that comes with the tow bar needs to interface with the vehicles’ electrical system which is digital and is coupled to the vehicles’ Dynamic Stability Control System. After market accessories do not do any of the above. In addition fitment of after market tow bars voids the warrantee.
You need to get your trailer level with your vehicle. To do this park your vehicle and trailer on a level surface and adjust the height of your tow bar on your vehicle until the trailer is completely level. A height adjustable tow bar might need to be fitted to your vehicle to achieve this. If the trailer is pointing upwards then under braking the trailer will push the back of your vehicle upwards causing you to jack knife. If the trailer is pointing downwards it can negatively affect the vehicles steering under braking.
You also need nose weight on your trailer (weight measured at the coupling to the vehicle). The amount of nose weight required varies considerable between a luggage trailer and a double axle horse trailer. My advice here is don’t exceed the vehicle or trailer manufacturers limit.
When loading your vehicle and trailer you want to as far as possible keep the trailer and vehicle level. This is extremely hard to achieve unless you have self-levelling pneumatic (air) suspension fitted to your vehicle. Pneumatic suspension is standard on Discovery 4, Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. Pneumatic suspension levels everything out after you have finished loading and gives you ultimate handling and ride comfort while towing.
Other points to consider are that while towing trailers are prone to start swaying. Discovery 4, Range Rover and Range Rover Sport are fitted with Trailer Stability Assist, which automatically detects the presence of a trailer. Once 60km/h is reached, the sensors monitor the behaviour of the trailer. Should any swaying or oscillations occur, the system uses selective braking of the appropriate wheels to help correct any potential problem.
Tyres on trailers heat up, especially if they are under inflated or if the load on a multi-axle trailer is not correctly distributed. Trailair by Land Rover (a new system on its way) monitors vehicle and trailer tyre pressures and temperatures and alerts the driver to out of specification values.
Land Rover Experience Gerotek and Inchanga have internationally qualified Instructors that are able to offer a Land Rover Trailer Handling and Towing Course. All of the points covered in the article are covered on the course along with practical trailer towing and handling techniques.