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Old 15 June 2015, 12:01   #1
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Rear Wheel Drive Towing?

I've always had soft 4x4 cars for towing my rib - Passat 4motions and currently a Subaru Outback.

I've now the opportunity to buy a BMW 320d at a very good price and having had a test drive in it I quite like it despite getting it stuck on my (steep) front lawn where I'd normally park the Subaru without hesitation.

Makes me wonder what it would be like for towing. My thoughts are that with a decent towbar load it would help give it some grip, what are other peoples experiences if any?

Should I stick with 4x4 or will rear wheel drive be ok?

Any thing I should look out for specifically on a BMW 320D?
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Old 15 June 2015, 12:13   #2
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I tow my 6.5mtr Coastline/130 Honda with a RWD Merc C220. It won't do what a 4x4 will, but it's a lot better than the FWD Citroen C5 and SAAB 95 I used to have.
Best tow car I've had was a RWD..... V8 XJ8 Jag (better than the Range Rover I owned.) However the Range Rover was the only one I'd take onto the beach.
Your BMW should do fine.
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Old 15 June 2015, 14:26   #3
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Plenty comments on tow-cars, but one thing that seems to be missed is rear suspension. One thing to consider is the rear springs on what is basically a conventional saloon or estate car.

I tow with a 2001 Audi 2.5TDI quattro avant. It has sports suspension, so sits a little lower than conventional SE variants, but the key thing is the springs are stiffer. I've replaced the springs on my Audi a couple of times, as coil springs invariable break every 4-5 years. Combination of road salt (typical Scottish winter) plus the stress towing probably puts on the suspension components. This is hauling an unbraked 750kg trailer. There's still quite a bit of weight on the trailer nose, so it's not unusual to watch the car dip once you hook up.

One thing to consider, but I'm sure the BMW will be fine. Having 4x4 capability is useful, but it's by no means essential. 95% of the time you're not towing, so it's all about what suits you.
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Old 15 June 2015, 15:43   #4
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I tow with a 2001 Audi 2.5TDI quattro avant. It has sports suspension, so sits a little lower than conventional SE variants, but the key thing is the springs are stiffer.
Likewise my C220 has lowered and stiffened "sports pack".....down side of that I find is if the boat is left attached to the car in the rain it doesn't drain out the bung hole !
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Old 15 June 2015, 16:06   #5
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Likewise my C220 has lowered and stiffened "sports pack".....down side of that I find is if the boat is left attached to the car in the rain it doesn't drain out the bung hole !
You could try raising the final hull roller nearest the winch post, either that or turn a 4 litre plastic milk carton into a baler!
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Old 16 June 2015, 23:43   #6
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You could try raising the final hull roller nearest the winch post, either that or turn a 4 litre plastic milk carton into a baler!
Park on a hill..............lowest effort solution
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Old 17 June 2015, 16:47   #7
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I tow my 6.2 with a 520 and it's been brilliant. I have recently had the engine mapped and I would thoroughly recommend it as it gives bags of power. Mine has the self levelling air suspension so springs are not an issue.
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Old 15 July 2015, 16:50   #8
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I tow with a BMW 520D M Sport, 6m Ribeye, works great, wouldn't take it anywhere near a soft surface such as the beach - but great on hard slipways.
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Old 07 December 2015, 09:51   #9
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How do you find the Outback? Can you beach launch with it. Asking as I'm thinking of one for my next car.
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Old 07 December 2015, 16:11   #10
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depending on age check its had the swirl flaps removed from the intake manifold
cheap to do expensive to fix if you dont
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Old 09 December 2015, 04:35   #11
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Whilst I never towed boats with them I did a fair bit of caravan towing - single & twin axle - with rear wheel drive cars in the 80s. Cars were a Reliant Scimitar SE5 3.0 and later a Ford Granada Mk2 2.8. Never had any issues with either.
Obviously you need to be aware of the surfaces you're driving on with 2 wheel drive, but that applies to 4x4 as well & with those you have the potential to get really really stuck!
Can be better on a slippery slip - or wet grass which has about as much grip as ice - to use a rope from the trailer hitch to the car & keep the car on a good surface.
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Old 09 December 2015, 06:42   #12
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How do you find the Outback? Can you beach launch with it. Asking as I'm thinking of one for my next car.
Outback has been OK. Its a 2010 diesel model, bought used from main subaru dealer. Felt I got a very good deal on price compared to some of the german alternatives that I might have gone for and warranty that came with it has been very very good. Its a well specced car but it has had some annoying niggles but I've used a local dealer who has addressed all these and dealt with the necessary warranty claims quickly so its only cost to me has been fuel, fitting a towbar and some mats. Bit sluggish off the line when towing, need more revs than other diesels to get away in 1st but once its away its a good car. Amazing grip and quite competent off road too even in deep muddy fields where almost everything else there got stuck. Only tip is to turn off the traction control when you go offroad. Its hopeless if you leave that on!
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Old 10 December 2015, 00:41   #13
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Thanks for that, sounds good. Have you ever had it on the beach? If so how did it perform. Also did you go for the Bm in the end and if you did how does it compare. Cheers.
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Old 10 December 2015, 04:53   #14
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Thanks for that, sounds good. Have you ever had it on the beach? If so how did it perform. Also did you go for the Bm in the end and if you did how does it compare. Cheers.
Still got the Subaru. It has been on the shingle off the bottom of Castletown slipway in Portland at low spring tide pulling the rib out fully laden with dive kit no problem a few times. Its been used as a tractor to pull all of my friends cars out of a very steep very muddy field when we went for a disastrous camping trip in the summer.

The Geolander tyres that come on them seem to wear well and do alright offroad, but if you drive it hard on the road they squeal like nothing else. On my last car (4motion passat) never heard a tyre squeal once.

Dealer fitted a new clutch and dual mass flywheel on the subaru under warranty because there was some vibration on the flywheel and difficulty engaging 1st gear. Hence keeping it for a while as nothing else seems wrong with it.
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Old 10 December 2015, 08:56   #15
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Thanks for letting me know. The Outback seems to be a good option with fairly decent mpg from what I've read.
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Old 10 December 2015, 17:33   #16
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Don't believe what it says on the dash. Mine constantly says around 48mpg. In reality that is 42-43mpg in real life. Towing is less. I have heavy feet though!
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