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PHEV - initial towing impressions


Flatcoat
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We collected the caravan from storage today - first time towing with the RAV. First impressions are the car has more than enough oomph and romped up the hills. The ride isn’t great so may need to play with tyre pressures on the rear and getting the noseweight down to 70kg is a nightmare to the point I settled on 75 just so I could get the van home. I will recheck the caravan loading after we are packed for our weekend away next week however I have already been very careful with limiting contents in the front storage locker. If it proves difficult I may resort to refitting the motor mover behind rather than in front of the axle. The only other issue is the clearance between tow ball and bumper is tight and the piano black bumper finish scratches easily so need some protector film. Can anyone recommend a product? 

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I had a look and have ordered a product called thinsulate tape which is sold for protecting bike frames. It is abrasion resistant- damned expensive so better be good! 

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The Thinsulate brand is a more premium brand, cheaper alternatives are available but in the end you get what you pay for. I certainly think it will do the job of giving you the additional protection you are looking for. Make sure everything is spotlessly clean, alcohol wipes etc., and get the position right first time.

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Some of these tapes can be applied over a film of washing up sudsy water.  The tape can then be slid about of lifted back off completely to suit.  Once you are happy with the positioning, press out the excess water with a rag and it will stick fairly well there and then.  Once it has dried completely, the adhesive will be a good as if applied dry.

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I believe the best way is with a heat gun to heat the tape, loosen the adhesive and peel off, obviously making sure not to over heat.

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Having towed about 60 miles on Thursday I now have a better indication of how it feels. First off the power is superb, at least as good as any diesel I have had including my previous car, a 300bhp Volvo D6. Very easy to creep over the speed limit on the motorway and excellent acceleration. Stability when passing HGV’s or being passed is also very good with hardly any noticeable impact on the outfit. Economy is showing 27mpg in non EV mode towing and just over 50 when solo. Not bad for a 2tonne petrol SUV! 

The 2 challenges still to resolve are nose weight and car ride comfort. It is jiggly and gives the impression of being over-firm. Whether it is possible to fit alternative shocks or springs or even after market self levelling has yet to be explored. I inflated rear tyres to their maximum albeit the payload in the car (including allowance for nose weight from the van) was probably around 300kg out of a payload limit of 470. I may reduce the tyre pressures slightly for the return to somewhere between normal and max. 
With noseweight I am really struggling. I got it down to 80kg and gave up. I do not want to simply put everything in the back of the van and end up with a tail happy outfit. The front locker is almost empty and very little in front under seat or overhead lockers. However the fridge and microwave are forward of the axle so stuck with those. I am not putting everything in the car to simply transfer it into the van on arrival. If it needs that to resolve the problem then either the car or caravan have to be changed. 

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On my previous cars it was generally 85-90 kg. However Swift caravans are notoriously nose heavy so getting below 80 is a struggle, just hadn’t expected it to be so difficult! Am even thinking of resiting the motor mover behind the axle to try and help a bit. 

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Yes, not easy. Modern vans have so much kit. Not easy to find a solution. I have not towed my Swift Challenger for some years now (probably about 5 years) preferring to use Winter storage and have it pitched when I want to use it by the site team. Haven't had a towbar since my last Yeti - haven't fitted a 'bar to either RAV I have had.

My wife's health dictates that touring is out now.

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Bailey vans are better for weight balance insofar as they have the Battery and gas bottle almost over the axle. Unfortunately we are not as keen on Bailey styling or decor and particularly like the Eccles interior colours and finishes. Out if interest where do you have your van sited? 

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10 hours ago, Flatcoat said:

Bailey vans are better for weight balance insofar as they have the battery and gas bottle almost over the axle. Unfortunately we are not as keen on Bailey styling or decor and particularly like the Eccles interior colours and finishes. Out if interest where do you have your van sited? 

Long time ago we had an ABI Marauder with the Battery and gas bottles over the axle. It was not an expensive van but suited us at the time (couldn't afford Swifts).

Current van sited at Grantown-on-Spey Caravan Park.

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We will be close to your part of the world at the end of May staying at Foyers CCC site for a few days. Will be  a full work out for the RAV while towing given the mix of roads and driving conditions heading north from Huddersfield via A1/Edinburgh and A9. 

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1 hour ago, Flatcoat said:

We will be close to your part of the world at the end of May staying at Foyers CCC site for a few days. Will be  a full work out for the RAV while towing given the mix of roads and driving conditions heading north from Huddersfield via A1/Edinburgh and A9. 

Yup, it will work a bit harder off the dual carriageways and on roads with passing places 👍.

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Second tow and nose weight was around 70/75kg so happy with that and will not try and drop it any more. I also dropped the tyre pressures to 33psi which helped soften the ride but I could tell the tyres were a touch soft so may put them back up a couple of psi at a time until I get the optimum setting. Economy on the app shows 27mpg. I use Vpower or similar petrol so not sure if that has any bearing on economy or power. I need to investigate aftermarket options for springs, shocks or even self levelling units. Does anyone know of a good Indy Toyota specialist who might advise on suspension mods? 

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