Towing with Airmatic Suspension.

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robb443
Dernburg Wagon
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Model you own: w164

Towing with Airmatic Suspension.

Post by robb443 » Fri 30 Jun, 2017 6:08 pm

I have just towed a 6.5 metre caravan (overall weight - 2300 kg.) for approximately 1000 km and have been amazed with the power and economy of my 2016 W166 GLE350d with Airmatic suspension. I'm wondering how well the suspension can cope with such a load in the long term. Has anyone had experience with a similarly equipped GLE or ML, which I believe is almost identical to the GLE? My previous tow vehicle was a Landcruiser 100 series with less power and torque, and heavier. It was fitted with a set of stabiliser bars, which ironed out most of the fore'aft rocking movement between vehicle and van. Can the Airmatic suspension handle this obvious continuous pounding? The GLE ironed out most of the rocking but was a tad more floaty than the Cruiser. Despite being a smaller capacity, the GLE averaged between 14 - 14.5 litres/100 km on a very fast trip (continually maintaining speed limits up to 110 kph with ease). By comparison, the Cruiser would average 17-18 l/100 km under similar circumstances. Any advice on longterm towing experience with an ML would be appreciated, particularly from a reliability point of view.
Robb443.

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AMG
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Re: Towing with Airmatic Suspension.

Post by AMG » Fri 30 Jun, 2017 10:40 pm

Forum sponsor regularly uses an R350 lwb with airmatic to tow a car carrier (basically an S class chassis)- hasn't had an issue to date afaik. but I think the struts were overhauled just after it was purchased. Could always ring him and ask...
Current:
1987 560SL 4sp. auto Signalrot "Stella"
1987 190E 2.3-16 5sp. man. Blauschwarz "Hermann"
1992 300CE-24 6sp. man. Perlblau / Iceblau "Gretel"
1992 Range Rover Vogue SE 4sp auto Ardenne Green "Oswald"
2012 Renault Sport Megane RS265 Trophy 8:08 6 sp. man. Liquid Yellow "Jean Rédélé"
Previous:
1986 560SEL Anthracitgrau "Schultz" - In Mercedes Heaven
1987 190E 2.6 4sp. auto Signalrot "Sabine" - which now resides/owns Andrew M's Garage
1972 350SLC Astralsilber "Lurch" - now in the loving care of Craig B
1989 2.5-16 Blauschwarz 4sp. auto (parted) formerly owned by Derek/Hasan.

robb443
Dernburg Wagon
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed 14 Jun, 2017 5:55 pm
Model you own: w164

Re: Towing with Airmatic Suspension.

Post by robb443 » Sat 01 Jul, 2017 2:34 pm

Thanks for your prompt response. That sounds reassuring, not that I thought M-B would advertise 3250-3500 kg towing capacity without being able to justify it. We have only had our GLE for seven months now but we are totally impressed by its superb fit and finish, its performance and particularly its fuel economy, both with and without caravan in tow. So it is now be time to finalise plans for a continuation of touring this fabulous country of ours. The only concern now is the low profile tyres (265/40/R21) and rims on outback roads.
Robb443.

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AMG
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Re: Towing with Airmatic Suspension.

Post by AMG » Sat 01 Jul, 2017 5:10 pm

I am not aware of the exact specification for your vehicle - it is in your owners manual. You can find and access your owner manual online at Mercedes-Benz' official website.
I do doubt that it is rated for over 2 tonne towing, but you never know.
These days the manufacturers all try to fudge their figures by advertising GVM figures and make them sound HUGE, when the capability may only be 1500kg.

So check your owners manual.
Then check with MB service dept
Then check with towbar manufacturer (the rated load is supposed to be on the hitch - on a plate)
over 2 tonnes you are required to have brakes on trailer, breakeaway protection on the trailer and a few other 'compliance' items - rated chains / shackles etc - which have all recently changed laws around them.

Please check for your own sake. What one vehicle is rated to certainly bears no comparison to another.

but to actually 'tow' (as in haul it around) then you shouldn't have any issues, so long as you service your transmission regularly.

PLus the usual increase in maintenance frequency as you would expect with offroad driving and towing. Make sure you have roadside assistance cover for remote areas.

Can remember an AGOA member with his lovely new G350 stuck out near the oodnadatta track with an engine failure issue, not long after it was purchased. Covered by MB but nonetheless..... you do not want to be stuck in a remote area with a new car AND towing a van. the recovery costs are astronomical.
Current:
1987 560SL 4sp. auto Signalrot "Stella"
1987 190E 2.3-16 5sp. man. Blauschwarz "Hermann"
1992 300CE-24 6sp. man. Perlblau / Iceblau "Gretel"
1992 Range Rover Vogue SE 4sp auto Ardenne Green "Oswald"
2012 Renault Sport Megane RS265 Trophy 8:08 6 sp. man. Liquid Yellow "Jean Rédélé"
Previous:
1986 560SEL Anthracitgrau "Schultz" - In Mercedes Heaven
1987 190E 2.6 4sp. auto Signalrot "Sabine" - which now resides/owns Andrew M's Garage
1972 350SLC Astralsilber "Lurch" - now in the loving care of Craig B
1989 2.5-16 Blauschwarz 4sp. auto (parted) formerly owned by Derek/Hasan.

robb443
Dernburg Wagon
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed 14 Jun, 2017 5:55 pm
Model you own: w164

Re: Towing with Airmatic Suspension.

Post by robb443 » Sat 01 Jul, 2017 10:38 pm

Great advise, thank you. I have double-checked the Owners Manual and M-B website and both state a 3500 kg towing capacity for the GLE350d, our vehicle. I have yet to check the hitch but it is a genuine M-B accessory, fitted prior to picking up the vehicle together with wiring. Our caravan is fitted with electric brakes and breakaway protection, with rated chains on the caravan and rated shackles, supplied by M-B with the tow hitch. We will not be doing any serious off-roading, maybe just some graded dirt roads, but will follow your advice and talk to M-B service dept. re. more frequent servicing due to additional workload towing the van. And we do have roadside assistance for remote areas, as well as M-B roadside assistance for new vehicles. I'm seriously considering carrying a couple of spare tyres with us to avoid any long delays stuck outback somewhere where 21 inch tyre supplies will probably be limited. Interestingly, where searching for replacement tyres, I can across a website, tyresales.com.au, that offers quite a few brands of 265/40/R21 tyres at excellent prices with free fitting included at over 300 outlets throughout Australia. But I have not yet checked whether the fitting outlets are in the areas we plan on travelling through. That only leaves the rim replacement issue but with care, I feel we should be right.
Robb443.

Mickey
C Class
Posts: 33
Joined: Mon 13 Apr, 2015 12:04 pm
Model you own: w164
Location: Sutherland Shire, NSW

Re: Towing with Airmatic Suspension.

Post by Mickey » Wed 05 Jul, 2017 11:55 am

With regard to towing weights, just check the towball weights allowed. I tow with a ML350 (not airmatic and not on outback trips) and while the maximum tow weight as 3500kg, the permissable towball weight is 226kg up to 2260kg tow weight and then only about 142kg for tow weights beyond that. I still don't know why this is so. You would think that it would be good for 226kg towball weight for all towing loads.

robb443
Dernburg Wagon
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed 14 Jun, 2017 5:55 pm
Model you own: w164

Re: Towing with Airmatic Suspension.

Post by robb443 » Wed 05 Jul, 2017 11:11 pm

Thanks Mickey. From memory, my GLE Owner's Manual states a single towball weight of 146 kg for the 350d Airmatic. Maximum towing weight is 3500 kg. Do you use the M-B tow hitch and if so, do you feel its needs reinforcing? I have read on the U.S. forums that a reinforced tow hitch is recommended and many GL/GLE/ML owners are using after-market hitches with stabiliser bars. It's all very confusing but from my initial assessment of a 1000 km trip with 2300 kg caravan in tow, I could not be more happy. I just don't want to face problems down the track.
Best regards,
Robb443.

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