Recommendations to set your vehicle up for towing
So you’re buying a caravan or camper trailer, you need to get your vehicle setup to tow and wondering what you need? Below are the items that we think will come in pretty handy and of course all are available at GCCEM.
Quality electric brake controller
This is a must if your van has electric brakes. These units control the braking force of the trailer. Some considerations when choosing a controller;
- Is it compatible with the braking system? ( Some systems require specific brake controllers such as ALKO stability control)
- Would you like proportional brake control? (Brake controllers can automatically control the braking force via an internal inertia sensor, e.g. the harder you brake the harder the trailer will brake.
- Where to mount the controller? Some systems are just a dial and others are a larger control unit. The mounting location needs to be accessible to easily adjust and actuate the brakes in an emergency. Some are also orientation sensitive.
GCCEM recommends – Redarc Tow-pro Elite or Tekonsha Prodigy
If you’re going to start touring the factory suspension is probably not going to cut it. Loading all the gear in the back and hooking up a caravan will almost certainly result in the rear of the vehicle sagging and the front lifting. This is a dangerous situation as the vehicle will handle poorly and can lose traction on the steer wheels easily.
At a minimum we recommend fitting airbags to the rear to allow you to level the vehicle out when loaded. Better still is to replace the suspension with an aftermarket lift kit such as EFS or Dobinsons, these can be customised to your specific vehicle requirements. They will improve the vehicles handling and load carrying ability (but not upgrade GVM), they also increase the vehicle ride height, a great help if you’re heading off road.
GCCEM recommends – EFS or Dobinsons
If your caravan or camper has batteries you’re probably going to want to charge them while you drive. A charge circuit connects your vehicle’s alternator to the caravan batteries generally via a 2 pin plug (Anderson plug) at the rear of the vehicle. We see people get these wrong a lot of the time, insufficient circuit protection, cables too small, poor/dangerous cable routing and other faults result in voltage drop and the system not working correctly.
GCCEM recommends – a solenoid operated system that isolates with the ignition key.
Dual battery system
There are many different ways to set these up as everyone’s requirements are a little different as are the options for a 2nd battery location. Either way they are a great investment. Some considerations when designing a system;
- Size of battery you require
- Location of second battery
- Type of battery required (some batteries are not suitable for under bonnet installation)
- Charging methods (alternator/solar)
- Visual displays for current state of charge and current draw.
GCCEM recommends – quality Century batteries, the Century C12-120DA (AGM) or for under bonnet applications the Century Overlander 4×4.
A good quality reverse camera is a must for hooking up the caravan. High end systems such as the Polaris NG7 have loads of other helpful features such as a large 7” display screen, second camera input (so you can fit a camera to the rear of the caravan), Hema off-road maps, Tom Tom street navigation, built in dash camera plus more.
See more information here
GCCEM recommends – Polaris NG7
A quality UHF radio is a must for outback travel where phone reception can be limited. They are also a very useful communication tool if travelling with others.
GCCEM recommends – GME XRS-330C
A quality bullbar has many benefits, the obvious is frontal protection from wildlife such as Kangaroos but they also provide a mounting platform for a winch, spotlights and aerials.
GCCEM recommends – Dobinsons or EFS
This is one of those accessories that needs to be quality, there are cheap options out there but if the situation is going south and you need the winch to get you out of trouble do you really want to gamble with a cheap winch when your vehicle is on the line. Stick to a quality brand such as Runva, EFS or Dobinson. They also have some handy other uses such as winching the camper/caravan into a tight camping spot and moving a fallen tree.
GCCEM recommends – Runva 11XP premium, EFS Recon R13, Dobinson 12,000lb
If you’re planning on doing some night time driving good quality spot lights will be a smart investment. Lights such as the Narva Ultima 215 will light up almost 1km of the road ahead so you will have plenty of time to avoid skippy or any other hazard. With spotlights you pay for what you get so like anything else, buy nice or buy twice.
GCCEM recommends – Narva Ultima 215 LED
Catch can and Diesel pre-filter
Most tow vehicles will be turbo diesel powered. Fitting an oil catch can will help keep the engine intake system clean maintaining engine power and fuel consumption. When travelling remote there’s not a lot of choice when it comes to service stations, so fitting a diesel pre-filter will help separate any water or other contaminates that can be harmful to modern diesels.
Read more information in our catch can article here > https://gccem.com.au/installing-an-oil-catch-can-on-your-vehicle/.
GCCEM recommends – Flashlube and Provent.
This item is a must if you’re heading to the Cape (or plan to do any water crossings) and remember it’s not just the air intake you need to protect from water ingress when crossing rivers, check the breather locations for the transmission and diffs, you may need to extend these into the engine bay.
GCCEM recommends – Safari and Airtec
Okay so it’s not technically an accessory but if you need to upgrade your current vehicle to tow the van or camper, here are a few considerations:-
- GVM and GCM. (Gross vehicle mass and Gross combined mass) This how much your vehicle can carry and tow. Generally speaking utes will carry more than wagons.
- Price and availability of parts. If you’re touring remote destinations some of the less popular vehicles may be harder to find parts and repairers for.
- Reliability. One word probably sums this up, Japanese…
- Fuel consumption. Travelling 1000’s of kms this can be important, not only in cost saving but vehicle range. There can be some big distances between service stations and towing a van will make your car a lot thirstier
Of course all your upgrade products and modifications are available at Gold Coast Car Electrics & Mechanical. For any further advice please drop in or give us a call and we can discuss your vehicle and specific requirements.
Do you have a question ? We are on the Gold Coast and here to help any time you need. Contact us today for all of your 4WD upgrade needs.