Originally Posted by crispyboy
I find it intriguing how Andrew T. sets up non-traditional vehicles just curious how you get past certain limiting factors......
How are these vehicles holding up to the long term abuse of towing outside of specifications?
Are the wheel bearings going out early? Transmissions? Cooling capacity?
In a 3/4 ton truck there is a reason why full floating axles with large bearings are used. Several years ago manufacturers were using non-full floating axles on a "light" 3/4 ton truck - these didn't hold up to long term abuse. My grandpa once owned a half ton truck with a truck camper. The wheel bearings didn't last from all the weight...
Be honest - how are things holding up? Apparently there are a lot of these non-trad combo's being used but I'm just curious about long term results.
On a side note over the summer we had brake issues with our trailer - 3 of 4 new grease seals went bad - greased brake shoes last a long time but don't stop very well, I was very happy I could stop 8k pounds of trailer with only the tow vehicle........ Could a non-traditional stop all that weight? Possibly throw the combo into a jackknife situation?
Some great questions here.
I have used a 2001 Volvo S60 sedan to tow an Overlander over the past 6 years - a bit more than 25,000 miles of towing. The car now has 130,000 miles on it. It's a base model (no turbo) with a manual transmission.
A front wheel bearing was replaced at about 60,000 miles - not towing related.
The left rear coil spring broke shortly after I bought the car 7 years ago (replaced under warranty). The right rear broke 3 years ago, and I bought a matching one from Volvo and put it in myself. I do not believe that towing had anything to do with this.
The front brakes seem to last about 60,000 miles. Rear brakes seemed to go over 100,000. (I am easy on brakes, because I prefer to stop smoothly.) Towing has had no effect on brake wear.
The clutch was replaced at about 118,000 miles. A noisy release bearing prompted the replacement. The original disc seemed to have about 30% life left, compared to the new one. (I replaced with Volvo OEM). The flywheel was fine - some heat markings, but not blue, and the finish was perfect with no scoring.
I ran into problems last year with the right side axle shaft. I believe the steady bearing (the right side is longer than the left since the transmission is to the left of the engine) was worn, and created a noise/vibration under load. I replaced it with an aftermarket part - about 25% of the cost of a Volvo part. I had more vibration problems. After replacing the left side axle shaft (turns out the old one was fine), all four tie rod ends (one was a bit sloppy), and ball joints (they were fine), the front engine mount, a transmission mount, and buying a second right side axle shaft, I discovered that this brand of aftermarket shafts will vibrate under a heavy load. (At least it was only my labour, not $100+ per hour to a shop.)
This is really the only towing-related problem I've had. I could fix it by spending $500 or so to buy a Volvo axle shaft. However, I am retiring the car from active towing. The S60 will remain my daily driver for another 4 or 5 years. It still looks good, runs well, and I enjoy the car. The new tow vehicle is another Volvo, a 2008 V70 with the 3.2 inline six and an automatic (unfortunately).
I did have a minor electrical issue due to a faulty turn signal light converter sold as an part of the trailer wiring harness by Volvo. I replaced to the converter myself with an aftermarket component, and have had no further problems.
The engine has literally spent hours at wide open throttle while towing, but oil consumption has not increased. The body structure is still quite tight; I cannot say that using a weight distributing hitch has had any negative effect on its integrity.
The highest coolant temperature I've seen is 232 degrees while climbing over the Continental Divide on I-90. I have driven in 100 degree weather a number of times, and the coolant seems to stay at about 218 with the A/C on. (I use a ScanGauge II to keep an eye on things.) In cooler weather it stays under 200, and at 184 when not towing.
In terms of stopping without trailer brakes . . . I can admit that I once neglected to plug the trailer into the car. I wasn't going fast, maybe 40 mph. While I definitely realized my mistake, the car did get the trailer stopped without much trouble.
The car has turned out to be very economical, comfortable, and quite reliable. I have no regrets about using it the way I did, and I really do prefer owning a car to a pickup.