To A-Frame or not to A-Frame?

To A-Frame or not to A-Frame?

Back in 2020 I wrote this blog post about A-Framing my Jimny behind our campervan. 

But the more I travelled, and the more I modified my Jimny, my requirements changed.

Issues I've found with A-Framing a Jimny

Brakes

To A-Frame your Jimny behind your motorhome, you're going to need to install a brake system into the Jimny. Most vans (light the Mercedes Sprinter and Fiat Ducato) are rated for around 750kg unbraked, and 2500kg braked. Seeing as the Jimny is far heavier than 750kg, you'll need brakes.

I never bothered with brakes, I towed without them, but I was nervous. I could certainly feel the Jimny on the back, and driving through winding hills in the wet was never as relaxing as it should be! 

I don't sell brake kits, I don't know anything about the. A system like the Demco system out of USA is going to cost around $3,000 plus fitting.

Suspension changes

Once I did a 2" lift in my Jimny, I was unable to A-Frame my Jimny. This is because it threw the caster out, so the steering would swing to full lock when I turned sharp, and it wouldn't correct when I straightened up. Even with caster correction bushes, we did not get enough caster to A-Frame the Jimny again. Very disappointing, as this is something I didn't anticipate at all.

Wiring the lights

In order for the rear lights of the Jimny to work as brake lights and indicators for the van, our auto-electrician spent a full day wiring up the lights. Now there is a trailer plug under the bonnet, and a small lead that runs between there and the trailer plug on the van. It's easy to use now, but was expensive to have installed.

Transmission

It's very unclear if you can A-Frame an automatic Jimny. Some say the engine can be started every hour of towing, to lubricate things, and some say you can't A-Frame an auto Jimny.

Our A-Frame kits

We're currently building and selling these awesome A-Frame kits. They're built really strong, made from the strongest materials we can find, and powdercoated with an extremely hard wearing plastic material. These kits are not light, they are about 25kg, but we haven't built them to be light, we've built them to be as strong as possible, which is why there is no folding hinge in the middle.

But I can't even use one of these myself.

My personal solution

We're now working on a design/prototype of a small trailer, just big enough to carry a Suzuki Jimny.

Why would I rather tow behind a trailer?

  • These trailers have disc brakes, so that solves one issue.
  • These have a tilting deck, so you don't need to muck around with ramps.
  • They're single axle, so they can be pushed around a camp site or driveway easily, but they have low profile tyres and firm springs so they tow nicely.
  • You can have an automatic or a manual Jimny, it really doesn't matter what the transmission is.
  • A trailer can be reversed. A Jimny on an A-Frame has a mind of it's own when you try and reverse it, reversing really isn't an option.
  • Putting my car on a trailer also means less wear on the tyres and drivetrain. A small bonus, but now that I have such big tyres, it's a bonus worth taking into account.

The goal with these trailers is to build them as light as they can be, so they tow nicely and can be pushed around, and to keep the price down.

In summary...

A-Frame kits are going to be perfect for some Jimny owners. You don't need to store a trailer, or pay the associated costs like registration and WOF.

Personally though, a trailer is going to suit my needs better. 

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I'll update this page as we continue with this project, but we hope to have the prototype finished by about mid May (2022), with complete trailers available for purchase around July 2022. I expect these will be sold at a cost of around $7,000 - $8,000 incl GST. Product listing here.