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Grand Scenic can hardly tow a thing!?

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Old 7th August 2006   #1
Andy R
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Grand Scenic can hardly tow a thing!?

I was just about to buy a caravan at the weekend, when the dealer asked me to check my car handbook for maximum towing weights. Now, in all literature (sales, websites etc) it is quoted that the 1.9dCi Grand Scenic can tow up to 1300Kg, so no problem for an average 4 berth caravan - the one I was looking at weighed 1050Kg unbladen.

BUT - in the owner's manual, it appears this weight is for "driver only" and for all other situations (i.e. passengers and lugagge in the car) the maximum tow weight is 850Kg.

Now, I'm pretty fed up about this, as when I bought the car last year new, I specifically stated that I wanted to tow a caravan in future, and I had the dealer fit a towbar with dual electrics from new.

To then find that the car is hardly capable of towing any caravan on the market (and some trailer tents!) is unbelievable.

Does anyone know what's going on here, and why the limit suddenly gets reduced to 850Kg if you load the car with more than one person?

The caravan dealer suggested that it was to do with stress on the car when stopping. I notice that the "not Grand" scenic has a higher limit - indeed I believe a Vauxhall Corsa can tow more than this (don;t quote me on this though). He also said it's a common Renault thing -which is why you don't see many Renaults towing caravans1

What really gets me confused though is that the GS was listed in the shortlist for the Caravan Club's towcar of the year last year!

I don't want to ignore the 850Kg limit as I think with any incident, I'd be on very sticky legal ground - not to mention it possibly being dangerous. I'm guessing that I would invalidate my Renault warranty too - and I need that (been back 8 times to have an airbag fault fixed in the first 10 months already).

I am now in the process of negotiating with the Renault dealer to provide me with an alternative car of a similar spec and age at no expense to myself. When I bought the car and ordered dual electrics on the towbar (which would ONLY be used to tow a caravan), they should have alerted me to this.

Has anyone else come across this, or does anyone technical know why this lower limit applies? With other cars, if the car is loaded, you simply deduct this weight from the total towing weight allowance, not suddenly reduce it by 45%.

Thanking you....

Andy.
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Old 7th August 2006   #2
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This is down to the stupid way in which Renault calculate their towing figures. The 'all other cases' figure is based on the car being absolutely fully laden with passengers and luggage - they deduct this weight from the maximum gross train weight and the result (give or take a few kilos) is what they say you can tow. In the case of the Grand Scenic, they'll be assuming 7 passengers plus luggage.

From a safety point of view, the gross train weight and the car to caravan weight ratios should be the only things of relevance. If you're prepared to sacrifice payload in the car, then you should be able to tow a heavier trailer. The problem is that the figures in the handbook are (as I understand it) legally binding, so you could be in trouble if you just hook up a heaver trailer.

I've heard that if you phone or write to RCS, they can supply you with a revised set of towing limits, based purely on gross train weight. This supercedes the figures in the handbook, so should allow you to tow a heavier trailer provided that the car isn't absolutely fully laden.

I'm not sure about the Grand Scenic, but some 7 seater estates have ludicrously low noseweight limits too (I've seen them as low as 35Kg.) That's another thing that you'll need to watch.
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Old 7th August 2006   #3
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Thanks for the prompt reply. I've justed called RCS and they are sending me "the standard letter" to confirm this. They hadn't a clue what the 850Kg figure was though! They also put me on to a local dealer who was able to explain that this was the figure for a fully loaded car - the difference between the Scenic and Grand can be explained by the extra seats I guess.

Hurrah - I don't need to change the car, and I can tow the van I want.
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Old 7th August 2006   #4
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I can't understand towing weights. I used to drive a Discovery V8 that could, according to the handbook, pull a braked trailer weighing up to 3.5 tons. The car itself weighed 2.5 tons, but I didn't think you could pull a trailer that was heavier than the towing vehicle. Mind you, I spoke to a fellow V8 owner who pulled a trailer with a Range Rover on it, and apparently, there was no problem provided you could handle 6 mpg.
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Old 7th August 2006   #5
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It's a commonly accepted safety precaution to keep the trailer below 85% of the weight of the car, and never exceed 100%. But that's purely advisory.

From a legal point of view, you can tow whatever the manufacturer says you can. This figure in turn tends to be dictated by the maximum weight that the car can successfully perform a hill start up a certain gradient (I forget what the gradient is.) When it comes to proper (as opposted to 'toy') 4x4 vehicles, this probably also includes the use of the low ratio transfer box.

Realistically, you could probably tow 3.5 tonnes with a V8 Land Rover, but I reckon it'd be dangerous to try and shift that load at the legal limit of 60mph. At lower speeds, the heavier load will be every bit as safe as a lighter load at higher speeds.

To Andy: I'm glad you got to the bottom of this, and thanks for confirming that RCS do actually send you a letter. So far, I'd only heard it second-hand, so I wasn't entirely sure that it was true.
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