Since the 1960s, Aussies have loved packing up the caravan and hitting the open road to explore our great country

As a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the popularity of domestic tourism has spiked. A recent Caravan Industry Association Report revealed that the number of caravans registered in Australia had exceeded 698,000.
EXEDY Senior Product Manager, Mark Davis, says it is vitally important to set up the vehicle to ensure it is ready to cope with the load that towing places on a vehicle’s drivetrain.
“Clutch failure can spell the end of an enjoyable trip and leave you stranded miles from help, so it is important not to skim on quality for this vital component,” Mark said.
Starting with the basics, the function of the clutch is to transmit torque from the engine to the wheels via the transmission and to disconnect the power to allow gear shifting and the vehicle to stop.
Whether it’s a caravan, boat or trailer, towing places additional demands on a clutch system.
“A standard clutch will withstand some punishment, but once you add the additional load that towing places on the drive train, it is worth considering upgrading this vital component to ensure you don’t get stranded on your next trip,” Mark said.
The first sign that your clutch might be struggling while towing is higher engine revs but no noticeable increase in vehicle speed or, as some like to put it, a ‘flaring tacho.’
“Towing is very tough on clutch materials,”
Mark said.
“If you smell sweet, burning odour during your trip, that is more than likely your clutch disc letting you know it’s time to consider an upgrade.”

A quality clutch with organic friction material that is working correctly should provide:

  1. Smooth engagement (no shudder)
  2. Positive drive (no slip)
  3. Efficient gear changes (no grating gears)
  4. Ability to absorb noise and vibration from the engine and to stop it from reaching the gearbox that can cause harmonic noise and/or gearbox rattle (rollover noise) –however, it is worth noting that the ability to damper noise and vibration will be influenced by clutch and flywheel selection.
  5. Durability

With more and more off-road capable caravan and camper trailers available from manufacturers today, there is also an increasing number of 4WDs hitting the tracks with something hitched to their tow bars.
“Every time when you head off towing a load, we know the clutch is going to get a work-out. Especially if the plan is to do a bit of off-roading at the same time,” Mark said.
“Clutches take a heap of abuse in the bush. Frequently, we find that during 4WD trips, clutches are held for long periods in the partially engaged position. For example, when holding the vehicle on hills using the clutch or by trying to rock the vehicle, as is sometimes the case when 4WD driving on rough terrain.
“This is exaggerated when you are towing and can generate extreme heat causing clutch fade, similar to brake fade, to the point where clutch disc linings start burning to dust in the bell housing. This results in a smoky smell that can often signal the start of a problem, which has the potential to bring a trip to an early end.”

Mark generously shares the following as his ‘Top Tips’ for extending clutch life and avoiding clutch failure:
• Ensure the dust boots and seals are in good condition to prevent water and mud ingress, which may cause clutch issues.
• Avoid riding the clutch.
• Use the gearing in the vehicle to your advantage instead of slipping the clutch. Use low range wherever possible.
• Save the clutch in extreme conditions and use the winch.
If you plan on towing, Mark says Exedy’s Safari Tuff is an excellent upgrade guaranteed to give you peace of mind and outstanding performance.
“The Exedy Safari Tuff clutch range has been purposely engineered to meet the extra demands that towing and four-wheel driving place on the drivetrain,” Mark said.
“Our Safari Tuff Kit features a high-quality clutch disc with premium grade friction materials and in most cases upgraded damper springs.”
The engineered cover assembly boasts a minimum 25 percent increase in clamp load compared to standard fitments.
The Exedy Safari Tuff Clutch Kit also features an anodised cover pressing to limit corrosion, spheroidal graphite anti burst pressure plate casting and, in most cases, additional drive straps. 
“Designed and assembled in Exedy’s Australian facility using quality components from our Japanese factories, the Safari Extra Tuff clutch kit includes a clutch disc with improved damper springs and high coefficient friction material; coupled with an upgraded Safari Tuff clutch cover resulting in the highest clamping force in the Exedy range,” Mark said.
Importantly, all Safari Extra Tuff clutch kits also come with an alignment tool, spigot bearing and grease satchel, so you have all the tools you need to do the job. 
To date, Exedy has released Safari Tuff Heavy duty clutch kits for Toyota Landcruiser, Hilux and Prado applications as well as Nissan Patrol, Mitsubishi Triton and Holden Colorado. More applications are being developed continuously.

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