What key modifications should you make to your 4×4 to make it a better towing vehicle?
Can you make a good 4×4 towing vehicle better? Yes. And here are the key modifications to make your 4×4 a better towing vehicle.
MOST 4x4s make very good towing platforms as they usually have the size, torque and heavy-duty design to do the job. But the aftermarket industry can always improve on a stock vehicle, and so it is for towing.
In most cases, you’ll need to buy a towbar and often your best option is typically the manufacturer option fitted at time of purchase. There have been occasions when the aftermarket does a better job – notably, Ford Ranger PX/PX2 and Land Rover Discovery 3/4. If you do get an aftermarket towbar then ensure it is rated the same as the towcar’s maximum braked towing capacity.
To tow heavy trailers you’ll need more accessories; for trailers over 2000kg it is mandatory to have independent trailer brakes, which in practice means the car needs an electric brake controller, and make sure it’s a proportional not a time-delay unit for smoother braking operation.
Your wingmirrors must be wider than the towcar, and that means for caravans extension mirrors, or complete replacement mirrors as per the title photo are needed. The replacements are higher quality, safer and easier to use, but higher cost.
For many owners, suspension is a top item to replace. That’s because with any significant towball mass most 4x4s sit quite low in the back, so heavier-duty suspension restores ride height. The factory suspension isn’t designed for continuous heavy loads.
Another accessory which owners find useful for towing is a long-range fuel tank. Towing anything increases fuel consumption and shortens range, and as Australia is a big place fuel fills can be few and far between. An aftermarket fuel tank may increase capacity from about 80L to 140L, so you’re well ahead on range even compared to a vehicle not towing anything.
If your vehicle doesn’t have one, then a high-quality reversing camera makes trailer hook-up easier. Fitting a UHF radio is handy for talking to other travellers, roadhouses, and even to someone outside the car with a handheld unit. Driving at night is hazardous, and extra light from a set of driving lights is invaluable. And upgrading the brakes is never a bad idea; this usually means high-performance brake pads.
Older automatic transmissions benefit from transmission cooling and other upgrades, but modern ones with more gear ratios and better designs are less likely to need such upgrades. However, every vehicle has its foibles and constraints, so it pays to research your specific vehicle. For example, many vehicles cannot use weight-distributing hitches, so don’t rely on those…