Petrol car to tow boat?

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lochhopper
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Petrol car to tow boat?

Post by lochhopper » Thu Jun 25 2020 14:48

How practical is it tow a boat with a petrol car? Does the fuel consumption go through the roof? Does it lack the torque to hold on to higher gears?

I need to replace my car, and at some point during my ownership of the new one I want to get a boat (16 footer with outboard, so about 750 kg with trailer). The economic case is otherwise more in favour of a petrol car, which would most probably be a Volvo V70 2.4 Gen. 2. (Mainly short journeys, no commuting by car.)

However... when I get the boat, then I will want to do some long motorway journeys with it. The web pages about towing are usually concerned with 2000 kg caravans and recommend a diesel for that. What I would like to know is whether a 140 HP non-turbo petrol engine is sufficient for towing 750 kg of boat + trailer. What is the experience of the boat owners here?

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Re: Petrol car to tow boat?

Post by andrew_nagel » Thu Jun 25 2020 16:15

I've only ever had diesels so can't comment petrol-wise. I've learned in recent years though the importance of an automatic for towing. Automatics have hydraulic clutches so you don't need to constantly feather the clutch when for example reversing the boat uphill. I nearly burned the clutch out on my manual 2 wheel drive Volvo XC70 doing just that. That car was 163HP (diesel) and pulled a rig the same weight as yours great. However it struggled with a 1800kg rig. I've now got a Volvo V90 XC 190 HP with 4 wheel drive and automatic gears. I changed just for pulling the bigger rig and the difference is very noticable.

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Re: Petrol car to tow boat?

Post by Crackoff » Thu Jun 25 2020 20:44

Diesel auto with 4x4 all day long :thumbs:

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Re: Petrol car to tow boat?

Post by Asht » Thu Jun 25 2020 22:15

I used to tow a 16’ boat which I’d guess 600kg (no cuddy) and had surprisingly little effect on fuel economy & the same towing off-road bikes. I always thought it was down to the much slower speed.🤫 with both petrol and diesel cars.
I think if you can live with the fuel economy day to day it would be fine towing a small boat.
A V70 or a smaller car would be man enough on the road & you might not even notice your towing it, till you look in the mirror. Consider a diesel if cost is similar or less than the petrol and you don’t live in a low emissions zone.
Worth considering a 4x4 for ground clearance / grip depending on the slips you will use for the boat.

Hope that helps

Ashley

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Re: Petrol car to tow boat?

Post by Ian Crook » Fri Jun 26 2020 07:37

Lots of people tow both boats and caravan with petrol cars, gross vehicle weight is more important than fuel type, I have friends who happily tow big boats with Lexus Petrol Hybrids, no issue at all and can launch and recover on electric

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Re: Petrol car to tow boat?

Post by Marty McD » Fri Jun 26 2020 08:04

I've been towing a 19ft Irish lough boat, fully kitted with outboard, bow mount motor, battery's etc, with a Hybrid Toyota CHR for the past few years with no problems.
There is a notable difference in fuel consumption though.

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Re: Petrol car to tow boat?

Post by Old Mate » Fri Jun 26 2020 08:46

Petrol car with 140hp will be fine! Towed my 700kg rig everywhere with a 100hp Subaru for years. When it slowed down on a hill (4 speed manual), "whack it down a gear and get up it". Fuel consumption will increase a bit however.
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Re: Petrol car to tow boat?

Post by lochhopper » Fri Jun 26 2020 15:41

Many thanks to everyone for the replies. It sounds as if I can live with a petrol engine for towing a boat, even if a diesel would be better.

Andrew - thanks too for the tip about the automatic. I think I knew that in theory, so it is interesting to hear that that is also your experience in practice. [This is probably also an argument against a VW with a DSG.]

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Re: Petrol car to tow boat?

Post by Steve Le maitre » Sat Jun 27 2020 09:57

Yes Diesel is best but have you noticed how the engine capacity has slipped back over the years, ideally you want a slightly higher capacity engine ( cc) for low end torque. EU restrictions now mean the days of that are going or gone. VW fit 2 litre in all the big vans as do Mercedes, long gone are the 2.5’s, these had incredible low and mid range torque just ask anyone who owns one. As for reversing many vehicles have a relatively high fist gear, reverse gear is meshed with first so DON’T buy a second hand car with a tow bar fitted, sheer brutality on the clutch. You’ve seen grandad at the campsite reversing the caravan for 10 mins on the clutch, he’s just drive 10’000 miles with that one manoeuvre.

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Re: Petrol car to tow boat?

Post by andrew_nagel » Sat Jun 27 2020 12:50

When I bought my car 2 years ago the Volvo dealer told me it would likely be the last diesel I’d be able to get from Volvo.

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Re: Petrol car to tow boat?

Post by lochhopper » Sun Jun 28 2020 11:18

Steve Le maitre wrote:
Yes Diesel is best but have you noticed how the engine capacity has slipped back over the years, ideally you want a slightly higher capacity engine ( cc) for low end torque. EU restrictions now mean the days of that are going or gone. VW fit 2 litre in all the big vans as do Mercedes, long gone are the 2.5’s, these had incredible low and mid range torque just ask anyone who owns one. As for reversing many vehicles have a relatively high fist gear, reverse gear is meshed with first so DON’T buy a second hand car with a tow bar fitted, sheer brutality on the clutch. You’ve seen grandad at the campsite reversing the caravan for 10 mins on the clutch, he’s just drive 10’000 miles with that one manoeuvre.
> DON’T buy a second hand car with a tow bar fitted

Hmm, yes, I worry about that too... I've seen my father in law get through one clutch in < 20,000 miles even without towing, and watched an elderly neighbour reverse slowly out of his driveway at about 3000 rpm the other day too. Possibly also a general argument against those low-mileage OAP cars in good optical condition, with or without trailer hook.

The argument against retrofitting a trailer hook is that the manufacturers sometimes also upgrade other components when the car is fitted out to tow. For example the E-class gets a bigger fan, and some others get more cooling for the auto box, although I guess that is more of an issue when towing 1800 kg than with 750 kg. I'll check whether that was the case with the cars I am looking at.

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Re: Petrol car to tow boat?

Post by Steve Le maitre » Sun Jun 28 2020 19:19

You sound like you know more than you are letting on ! I suspect the vehicles you mention have not an upgraded cooling system but a cooling system that is something that should be a standard. Electric cooling fans are ok if traveling at speed but once they are working at or near max engine power are next to useless, speed creates a lot of air flow - how many have seen an overheated car in heavy traffic ? Yes it’s common in warm weather but not if you have a direct drive or viscous fan fitted. This might excite a few of you but I’ve totally removed the viscous fan from my van - it saves fuel for one and there is no expensive replacement viscous fan once the unit is worn. Have the brains to switch the engine off in heavy traffic. I’ve never had any overheating issues despite a lot of towing, think about this - a stationary electric fan actually restricts air flow to the radiator at speed and at speed it won’t be working !

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Re: Petrol car to tow boat?

Post by Stewlaws » Sun Jun 28 2020 20:40

I suppose your only issue is stationary whereby the vehicle may quickly pick up temp.... That would make me uneasy after a run when towing. Dissipation of heat would be problematic without if I'm understanding correctly

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Re: Petrol car to tow boat?

Post by lochhopper » Mon Jun 29 2020 12:43

Steve Le maitre wrote:
You sound like you know more than you are letting on ! I suspect the vehicles you mention have not an upgraded cooling system but a cooling system that is something that should be a standard. Electric cooling fans are ok if traveling at speed but once they are working at or near max engine power are next to useless, speed creates a lot of air flow - how many have seen an overheated car in heavy traffic ? Yes it’s common in warm weather but not if you have a direct drive or viscous fan fitted. This might excite a few of you but I’ve totally removed the viscous fan from my van - it saves fuel for one and there is no expensive replacement viscous fan once the unit is worn. Have the brains to switch the engine off in heavy traffic. I’ve never had any overheating issues despite a lot of towing, think about this - a stationary electric fan actually restricts air flow to the radiator at speed and at speed it won’t be working !
No, when it comes to cars I really do know less than I am letting on :wink: I knew about the fan on the E-class because I used to have one with a factory-fitted trailer hook, and I've forgotten where I read about auto box cooling.

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