Floats and towball limits

Discussion in 'Horse and Rider Safety' started by hasheld, Apr 29, 2008.

  1. hasheld

    hasheld New Member

    I'm hoping someone can help me with a very expensive mistake that I just made.

    A couple of weeks ago I finally took the plunge to buy a car that could tow a horse float. I sold my cute, reliable and very fuel efficient Barina (which couldn't tow a feather) and bought a Nissan X-trail. My reason for choosing an x-trail was that they are relatively fuel efficient (which is important to me, for cost and environment reasons) but can still tow 2000kg - at least that's what it says in the specs. Well, after I bought it I found out that the maximum towball down load for the x-trail is only 150kg. I've heard that the towball load should be about 10% of the total trailer mass, so that means you can only tow about 1500kg with the x-trail. So, apart from being very annoyed (grrrrrr!) with Nissan and their misleading 2000kg statement, I'm wondering if I can tow a horse float with it at all.

    I only need to tow 1 horse, but I'm not very keen on single floats (I just read the thread on single floats - some scary stuff in there!). I have access to a couple of different double floats, so I guess I need to find out the towball down load with the horse in the double float - any ideas on how to do that? He's a big solid boy so I'm guessing he would be at least 500 kg, and double float is probably 1000 kg, so it looks like I'm going to be right on the 150 kg towball limit with a double float (10% rule again). Hmmm.

    Any ideas? Should I just ditch the x-trail and give up on my idea of having a fuel efficient car for towing? I really don't want to drive around in a tank, but maybe its the only way to be safe.

    If nothing else, perhaps my experience will prevent someone else making the same mistake!
  2. Elanda

    Elanda Gold Member

    Most standard floats are about 850kg, for a standard float (galv), so I guess it depends on float size and horse size. My Rodeo can tow 1800kg ( is rated at thatfor the car, and has a 2200kg rated tow bar). It is about 1 standard float + 1 x 16hh horse and 1 x 12hh pony. So towing a float with one horse would be fine**)
  3. Roe

    Roe Banned

    I have a nissian x-trail and it tows my float fine with the 2 horses. Both my horses are under 15 hh and my tow ball (which is the nissian one) tows 2000kg together I estimate to weigh about 1500kg.

    I love it :) I was also told when I brought mine that is wouldn't have enough power but it does the job fine. I feel safe tooo.

    I am taking mine back tommorrow though because my left indicators are not working on the float (they work with the other car so it is not the float) and some screws have come out of the mud flaps
  4. kiraSpark

    kiraSpark Gold Member

    Goodness! I have towed my horse around with an older model Suzuki Vitara, so im quite sure your X-trail will be able to cope! :) Dont stress too much about down pressure, its better to have more weight on the front than the rear, as this will cause the float to sway at higher speeds and/or gravel roads.

    My vote - definitely keep the X-trail, it will be quite adequate for towing around one horse **) **)
  5. Maree4

    Maree4 Gold Member

    The car probably can tow 2000kg, but the tow ball and fittings need to be rated at that too, all you need to do is get a heavy duty tow ball kit installed that is rated to tow what the car is rated at. Most standard tow bars are rated at about 1200kg, you put a float and two horses on that and you way over your safe weight.

    People often make the mistake of saying yes my car can tow 2200kg but forget that tow ball can not and could be ripped out of the back end of your car which i believe happened in a accident not so long ago. The whole unit of the tow ball from inside the back of the car was still attatched to the float it just tore out.....float rolled
  6. Khan

    Khan New Member

    Hi to all,
    See if you can find some personal scales that will read high enough.
    Then measure the actual height of your tow bar from the ground, do it in a flat car park like a shopping centre.
    The get the float, build up a small pile of bricks, criss crossed etc to the height of the car's tow ball that you measured and put the scales on top(include the height of the scales also in the total height of your little stand).
    Then roll the float in and gently rest the float tow hitch on the scales and take a reading.
    If the float has a hand brake, you could then load the horse and take a total reading etc.
    That will give you the confidence you need with the tow ball down load.
    The 10% rule is a load of rubbish as all the float draw bars are different lengths and thus apply different amounts of leverage on the tow ball.**)
  7. hasheld

    hasheld New Member

    Good to hear that someone else is towing ok with an x-trail. At least that gives me a bit more confidence!
  8. hasheld

    hasheld New Member

    Thanks Khan - I was thinking about putting the jockey wheel down on the scales but I like your idea better.

    In response to some of the other suggestions (thanks guys!) - its not as simple as just getting a tow bar that is rated high enough. Its the car itself that can only take 150 kg down load, regardless of what the tow bar can take (and it hasn't got a tow bar at all just yet). Apparently there have been some cases where insurance companies have refused to pay up after an accident involving a trailer that exceeded the car's down load limit.

    Why is nothing ever simple?!!

    RIght, better get myself some mega bathroom scales....
  9. Maree4

    Maree4 Gold Member

    Thats what we a hayman reese, they are brilliant.
  10. Roe

    Roe Banned

    What do you mean by the 150kg down load limit ????
  11. hasheld

    hasheld New Member

    That's the maximum weight allowed on the tow ball (the weight that's pressing down on it). I know its all very confusing, I'm only just starting to get my head round all this stuff! THere was me thinking a tow bar is a tow bar...
  12. Roe

    Roe Banned

    I just had Nissian put my tow bar on and it has a 2000kg limit they said it should be fine.

    I asked a heap of questions when buying mine. I thought very long and hard when proceding to buying it. I have had mine just over 3 weeks and been towing my float all the time with ease. I would suggest you go to nissian and get them to help you.
  13. hasheld

    hasheld New Member

    Hi Roe, did you buy a new car or a used one? I've got a 2004 model. I had to phone Nissan to find out the towing limits as it wasn't in the user manual, for some reason.
  14. Roe

    Roe Banned

    Haha Yes I got mine from Nissian I have a 2003 it only has 30 000 km so it's a used. I am at Nissian now as on my float the left indicator did not work so they are fixing it. They have been very helpful and the x trail manual is a bit useless.

    OH and I feel like i am driving a bus as well going from my little mazda 121 to the x-trail.

    (ps Yay for wireless internet)
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2008
  15. Lin

    Lin Well-known Member

    It should say in the X-trail manual that the 2000 kg tow limit is only applicable with a heavy duty tow pack, and this may actually include load levellers as well as a Hayman Reece type hitch.

    I think it is more a matter of you changing your tow hitch, rather than chucking out the car. Read your car's manual, it is your friend. As is this brochure about safe and LEGAL towing... :)

  16. norrishbex

    norrishbex Well-known Member

    Does no-one look at the towing capacity of vehicles these days??? The Nissan X-trail is rated to tow 2000kg's (braked) only. No matter if you put on a higher capacity tow hitch, you can still only tow 2000kgs!! This means that, for example, if you have an extended float with a tackbox, it may weigh up to 1400kgs, you can only put one horse in it. Otherwise you will exceed your vehicle's recommended towing capacity. Exceeding your vehicle's towing capacity is foolish, and should never be done. Not only does towing too heavy wreck your car, but what do you do if you get into a bit of trouble?
  17. kiraSpark

    kiraSpark Gold Member

    The original poster only said they are towing one horse.

    All horsefloats are braked weight anyway, they have either hyraulic or electric brakes.
  18. Bon & Ted

    Bon & Ted Guest

    That's if you are towing with an extended float. If she is only towing one horse why would she have an extended?

    I tow with a 4 cyl Mazda Bravo and it does the job nicely. Has a towing capacity of 1800 kg's. I tow with my 15.3hh solid boy and it does just fine, not that poweful with a horse in the back but I drive like a nanna with a float anyway. I was looking at the X-trail, but someone said that they couldn't tow...obviously they were wrong.

    I'm pretty sure that you can get towing packs, while it doesn't increase your cars maximum towing capacity, it increases the max towball down load... not 100% though...
  19. hasheld

    hasheld New Member

    Hey, calm down! I know all that, and yes I did look at towing capacity BEFORE buying the car, but I didn't find out the towball load limit until AFTER I bought the car. I'm only looking at towing a standard double float. The point is, a standard double + biggish horse will weight about 1500 kg (well within the towing capacity). And the weight on the tow ball will be about 150 kg (give or take quite a bit) - that's the problem, because the x-trail is rated for 150 kg load on the towball (regardless of the type of tow bar that's used). If I exceed that I'm in trouble.

    Anyway, I'm off to a towbar specialist at the weekend to measure the towball load. If its less than 150 kg I'll be happy. Fingers crossed...
  20. hasheld

    hasheld New Member

    Hmmmm if only that were true... You can get a thing called a weight distributing hitch which distributes the weight more evenly over the wheels of the car + float - was that what you were thinking of? But even with that you still have to stick within the towball load limit specified by the car manufacturer - 150 kg in this case. I've spoken to a couple of towbar specialists and both said there's no way you should exceed the car manufacturer's recommendations.

Share This Page