towing with a D-90 - Defender Source
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  #1  
Old October 18th, 2005, 08:02 PM
gofins
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Eric Hovatter
1995 Defender D-90
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towing with a D-90

Greetings all. I have a '95 D-90 that is basically stock. I have purchased a Fleetwood folding trailer that is rated at 3770 lbs. I read in my owners manual that my Defender is rated up to 5000 lbs "in low range." It appears initially that my pop-up would be towards the higher end of what the vehicle was made for. I have heard that beefing up the shocks and springs (in the rear at least and preferably all around) would enable the Defender to tow this weight without any issues.

Does anyone out there have any input? Anyone towing anything close or more in weight than what I am considering and what have you done to your Defender to accomodate the load. My wife is pushing me to sell the Defender and get something that would tow the trailer with more ease but I don't want to lose my ride. Thanks in advance for any input.

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  #2  
Old October 19th, 2005, 12:04 AM
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Kevin Collins
'95 AA Yellow & '97 Willow Green
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I used to have a small Palomino Pinto tent camper and I used the D90 to tow it on two long trips - one from Houston to Las Cruses and back and a second from Houston to Moab and back. Neither were a pleasant experience. I don't remember the weight of the pop-up but it was I think the smallest or second to smallest they built. My 90 was a 4.0 Auto with 4.11s and 33s with between 20 and 30K miles on the truck. The camper acted like a parachute on a dragster behind the D90 and driving into headwinds was aweful and one tank during the Moab trip clocked an astounding 4 miles/gallon (all while traveling at very reasonable...and sometimes painfully slow speeds).

It can be done. Sometimes it is just going to be more painful. Might be different with a 5-speed...i dunno
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Old October 19th, 2005, 02:47 AM
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Scot Yount
95 Coniston Green D-90 SW
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I just recently returned from a trip from Boston to DC and back with my '95 SW and I towed my Harley Davidson both ways. Some observations:

You don't need beefed up shocks or springs if you manage the tongue weight properly. I am not sure what it is for your trailer but the weight of the tongue is many times less than the weight of the trailer. It should balance and that is where the height of the tongue comes in. I would guess for a trailer like you have it should not be more than 200 lbs. No big deal. Depending on how the trailer is meant to be towed your 90 will do the weight you describe from a suspension point of vew with no problems.

Power is another matter entirely. We all know our rides are underpowered and when towing things get worse, especially on hills. On the flats I could pull my bike on its trailer (the whole sheebang weighs about 2k lbs) at an even 70 or 75 (believe it or not my speedo is correct because I run 255/85s) without much trouble. But as soon as I encountered a hill, the rig would slow to 40 ish miles an hour, so it ain't good like other trucks, but that isn't what it is made for. The Defender's engine churns out its best power at lower rpms, which works best off road, not so much on the highway. This brings up an interesting point. Sometimes when going up a hill, I fould that staying in 5th at lower rpm gave me more power than if I down shifted to fourth or third. Funny that Rover. People passed me like I was sitting still...but sometimes they would smile. Hey, what's wrong with that?

I would say live with the slowness...after all, we have to be kind of nutz to love these cars in the first place. And how often do you and your wife tow this thing anyway. It would seem a shame to give up on such a cool car just so you could tow a popup trailer once in a while. Just my experience and two cents.
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  #4  
Old October 19th, 2005, 04:46 AM
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Barry O'Mahony
97 D-90 SW LE
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One big, big reason why D-90 does great off-road is that the suspension is so compliant. Unfortunately, that works against you when you hang a few hundred pounds on the rear bumper. Beefing up the read suspension may help.

Unfortunately, towing with a short wheelbase tow vehicle is always problematic; at leadt that the case for bumper-pull towing where the pivot point it behind the rear axle (this is less a problem iwth goosnecks and other setups where the pivot is in front of the axle).

A D-90 is about as short a wheelbase as it gets. It's not really designed to be a great tow vehicle.
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  #5  
Old October 19th, 2005, 05:52 AM
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Mike Hammond
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I used to tow my 90 on a twin axle trailer behind my 110 200 tdi without too much trouble, they're rated for 3.5 tonnes and will pull that. use low ratio to pull away if you're near the max weight, then change to high once you're rolling. I don't mean go throught all the gears in low and then change to high just 1 st and 2 nd maybe, double declutch to change into high.
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Old October 19th, 2005, 10:47 AM
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Robert Dassler
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When I married my wife, she had a large pop up tent trailer. We towed it with my brother in law's Classic...power wise, it did fair on the flat, in the mountains it was painfully slow. Our solution was to get rid of the camper that we used once or twice a year and switch to tents and a utility trailer.
I tow my small utility trailer with the D90 all the time for my business...but usually not more than 1000 lbs. I agree that loading the trailer correctly is of paramount importance...so long as the tongue weight is within the specifications you should not have to change springs. You will probably find that the power is the bigger problem. My solution was to fit a replacement transfer case with a 1.4:1 high range gearset in place of the 1.2:1 stocker for 20% lower gearing. I also run 235/85/16 tires. With this combination I can easily pull the hills at or above the speed limit with my small trailer and outrun stock vehicles. Lowering the gearing raises the RPM in any given gear and helps keep the engine at it's 3100RPM sweet spot. It has a lot more grunt at low speed and a slightly reduced top speed...about 85 is the comfortable upper limit. The downside is slightly reduced fuel milage. In your case, changing the gearing would be worthwhile...and cheaper than a new truck...but with that much weight the performance still won't be blistering. Before you do any modifications, I'd hitch up the trailer and take it for a spin and see how it performs.
Rob
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Old October 19th, 2005, 12:03 PM
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Jim Cheney
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I've pulled cars on dollies, chassis' on 2-wheel auto transporters, and single-axle u-hauls. The most weight was probably 3k, which is manageable. I've pulled around 1800 pounds more than 3000 miles across country, and everything slows down, but control is no issue. Like was said already, weight distribution is key. The d-90's wheel base is much less than ideal, but it partially compensates with very short rear overhang. I think the Defenders relatively low weight (~3500lbs) is really the limiting factor.

I think that fleetwood trailer is probably OK if the 3770 is its max loaded weight - but I wouldnt load it down with a thousand pounds of gear and roll like that. Just pack your heavy gear in the rover to improve the weight distribution - the rear springs will carry a lot more than you generally can fit in the back. I've carried two full 55 gallon fuel drums with no issues.
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  #8  
Old October 19th, 2005, 01:55 PM
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Mike Hammond
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My 110 runs on the 1.44:1 transfer box and pulls well even loaded. I've recently swapped the 1.44 for a 1.222:1 transfer box on the 90 and it really motors (with the fuel and turbo turned up somewhat, improved the fuel milage too

Follow-up Post:

I don't think the 90 would tow nearly so well now though.
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  #9  
Old October 19th, 2005, 05:43 PM
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Randy Black
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No way is it safe to pull that kind of weight with a D 90, at least not in traffic or any real distance.

I know, yes you can make it pull that kind of weight but what about cross winds, high altitude, and emergency braking. When it comes to tow vehicles longer wheelbases, more weight, and more power, bigger brakes are good things.

I used to tow a 4300 lb. camping trailer with a 1/2 ton Suburban, with the towing package and it was no fun and it was miserable with a headwind.

Does the trailer have brakes?
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  #10  
Old October 20th, 2005, 11:53 AM
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Mike Hammond
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Landrovers are rated for 1/2 ton unbraked or 3.5 tonnes with overrun brakes, 4.0 tonnes with coupled brakes, theres no way that it would be safe to tow such loads without a braked trailer
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