Roadtrip ~6000 km to Death Valley and Back. Will we make it? - Club Touareg Forums
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post #1 of 31 Old 02-24-2019 Thread Starter
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Roadtrip ~6000 km to Death Valley and Back. Will we make it?

This spring we are heading to Death Valley towing our Pop-up camper and Touareg. We will cover 5-6000 km over the return trip. We will be trying some offloading and we will be trying RV'ing and some form nomadic life for 2 weeks. Will we make it back without drama? How will the TDI emissions fix behave? Will we run out of DEF? What problems will we encounter on the way? Will we become Overlanders, RV'ers, something in between or neither? Will we get stuck in snow on mountain passes or will be wimp out early due to heat in the desert - or will we freeze in the desert or shred our sidewalls? Will I sell the trailer when we get home? I don't know, but if you want to know I am going to write about it here.

You can post your questions, predictions, recommendations, and you can tell me if we are doing it all wrong. My wife and our 8 year old son...will he blow up in the car due to boredom or will exploring Death Valley hold all our interests? WHO knows? We do not know yet, but we will find out soon.

I'm not going to give away all the secrets right away but I like to think we will be well prep'd for our intended journey. My big question is, how will the Touareg 2014 sport suspension handle some unpleasantly bumpy roads? I already know it is not great, even on graded gravel- but that was with 20" tires. Now I have 18" Nokian Rotiiva AT. We leave in several weeks. There is barely time to complete ToDo lists, gather spares, give the RV a little TLC and get the WD Hitch set up properly as there is still snow on the ground here. The snow makes it a bit difficult to get the RV prepped and de-winterized!

Here is a little preview of this rig from couple years ago. I intend to dial that rear sag out any day now, in contravention of VW's advice on WD as many of you here at CT already do...and I won't be taking the dual sport bike on this trip.

Yesterday I purchased a 12V powered tongue jack from our discount cheap china parts store - Princess Auto. The first hurdle was getting it installed because after the old jack came out I found out it was ever so slightly tapered. The lower jack hole was about 2 mm too small. I am handy but not a metal worker and I was quite a bit concerend about the prospects of enlarging a large metal hole in 1/8" steel plate. I purchased a grinding stone for my drill and got to work. It took about 10-15 minutes of grinding but the new jack slid right in, bolted down, and got wired up. I really didn't want the hassle of taking the trailer to a welder for this problem and thankfully I didn't have to. Puzzle piece number one for RV upgrades was now in place. The 12V jack is going to help out as using the WD hitch system seems to need more ups and downs during set-up and day to day operations.

The family is looking forward to warming up in the desert. What do you guys want to know?

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post #2 of 31 Old 02-25-2019
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Presumably you will top off adblu before you go?

Even if you have a full sized spare wheel for the Touareg, get some tire strings to deal with punctures.

There are lots of videos on how to use them.

Even better would be to find an old wheel and tire that''s holding air, bang in a couple of nails and practice.

VW Touareg models are as follows:
Generation 1: T1 is model 7LA & facelift T2 is model 7L6
Generation 2: T3 is model 7P5 & facelift T4 is model 7P6
Generation 3: T5 is model CR7 [Not available in "VW Atlas" North America!]
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post #3 of 31 Old 02-26-2019 Thread Starter
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Thanks for the comment. Nice to know there is a hint of interest. In fact, I waited very long to post something as our trip schedule was in jeopardy due to some possible overseas work commitments. No sooner did I make the post above then the threat of changing plans due to work come right back...so at the moment we are still planning but not sure if we will leave.

On the planning note, yes...I intend to take one full size spare. It will have a Pirelli snow tire on it though and it is 255/55/18 and the AT tires I will be running are 265/60/18 so the rolling diameter is a bit different. All the research I have done haven't definitively identified this as a critical issue or not. Of course not preferable for the long run I think we will take the chance of course and if we have to use the spare we will limit speed and duration.

I do have tire strings and the string tool and have had the opportunity to perform two repairs using them. One on my wife car and one on my brother-in-law's win laws car. It is certainly not easy, but not difficult either. Thanks for the recommendation to practice first. I imagine it could be very difficult on all terrain tires.

Ok, so on that note here is the list of everything I keep in m Touareg on a regular basis (can you tell I was a Boy Scout?). I removed the styrofoam rear tire well spacer bits and can fit all of the following in my spare tire well:
-orange rain jacket
-winter gloves
-tool kit, sockets wrenches, pliers
-OEM jack
-OEM tools
-OEM chocks
-OEM air compressor
-cheap Walmart air compressor
-spare fuses (normal
-spare fuses (mini)
-electrical tape
-duct tape
-jump cables
-towing draw bar with 2" ball
-4"x10K tow strap with loops
-2"x5k tow strap with hooks
-2x 2"x8k x 6 foot tow straps
-extra trailer tow receiver pin and clip
-variety of small/medium shakes and carabiners, only one is big enough and suitable for towing or small recovery
-aluminum snow shovel
-first aid kit
-tires strings
-tire string tool (but no file)
-thats all I can remember for now.

Lastly, for this update I have made many plans and list, and to do items to prepare but I have NOT decided on a route to DV yet. As you know google can recommend the shortest route but it doesn't take safety and weather into consideration. In addition to my pet peeve on google maps (lack of contract on secondary and tertiary roads) I am adding that it doesn't indicate mountain passes as my old AAA paper maps do. Having said that I decided to peruse the traffic cameras for my route of first choice and noticed yesterday that several hundred km was SNOW covered! So this has definitely got me thinking about the routing and staying flexible on it to the last minute.

Below are some images of my possible routes and some traffic cam photos in central Oregon. The blue line is my current preferred route but central and eastern Oregon appear to be snowed under! Things can change in a couple weeks, or a day so we will likely drive to Portland and assess the snow and road situation the morning we intend to leave Portland.

I really hope this trip lifts off and work doesn't interfere. Thats all for now.
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post #4 of 31 Old 02-26-2019 Thread Starter
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I guess my Rig photo didn't save to the first post so here it is:

I think I will buy Adblue in the USA as we pass through major cities with stores like Walmart or other autoparts.
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All four wheels and tires on the Touareg must be identical.

So your full size spare is an issue - it should be the same size, same make, same model, same tread pattern and same tread depth to with 2/32ths in order to avoid transmission wind-up that can burn out the clutches in the $8,000 gearbox.

If you do use it then you must NOT exceed 50 mph (the same limitation as the spacesaver) and revert to the correct sized wheel/tire ASAP.

It's the reason I suggested tire strings!

VW Touareg models are as follows:
Generation 1: T1 is model 7LA & facelift T2 is model 7L6
Generation 2: T3 is model 7P5 & facelift T4 is model 7P6
Generation 3: T5 is model CR7 [Not available in "VW Atlas" North America!]
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post #6 of 31 Old 02-27-2019
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Just another thing to have is a lithium battery pac to start the car if the battery craps out . They are very compact, 2inches by 6inches. I started my TREG TDI with one and it saved the day. Always have one on my boat, just incase. They can be had for $60-70 on Amazon.
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post #7 of 31 Old 02-27-2019
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You can definitely make it with no issues (if you're already in proper running condition). I just traveled towed a trailer over 2,800 miles (4,500 km?) through the desert and over the mountains to Colorado. Yes you WILL need DEF. Ok maybe you won't, but I was surprised on my return trip by the light and the amount it used traveling over elevation in headwinds. You can buy it easily enough on the road, but it's expensive.

I did plenty of 'side trips', mostly in the desert, and it IS tricky with a trailer. A couple of times I parked the trailer for a day trip. As I was traveling alone, my trips were less about adventure and more about scenery. By the way, the desert is COLD at night and sometimes mild during the day. Since you will be gong up and down, check the current temperatures at various map points to use as a guide.

Things in my 'go box' I didn't see listed:

Ratcheting tie downs. You never know what and when you need to secure.
Cheap vinyl work gloves. Increased grip and very handy
Bottle of 'work water'. For wiping hands, cleaning battery etc. I use a liter bottle.
Generic folding knife.
Small Binoculars. These are a throwback to my backpacking days, you never know when you'll want to look at something.

For the kiddo:
As a parent of now 16 year old twins, I understand your concern about the mini-you. We took many a road trip and they seemed less interested in the scenery, the history of the area or how to read mile markers to determine your location (a valuable skill when in the middle of nowhere).

iPad with movies DOWNLOADED on it. We had a portable DVD, but who has those anymore? If you have a Netflix account you can download movies directly to your tablet so you won't have to worry about data or cell coverage. We also brought a sketchpad. The boy liked to draw what he saw, the girl wrote a journal of sorts. If you have an old phone he may enjoy taking his own pictures.

Finally, I invested in the VW Roof Rack and a Thule Basket. All in it was about $425. I negotiated with my dealer on the rack to match an online price. Funny story, it had to ship from Canada since there weren't any in the US. It looks better in person than in pictures.
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post #8 of 31 Old 02-27-2019
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Sounds like a great adventure will be had. Nice setup with the trailer as well.



Noticed in your post about Nokian tires. I am currently test fitting the same tire. Was a bit surprised to see they are made in Russia. That's a first in my book. After looking at several other tires found the Nokians to have a somewhat narrow tread. It exposes the sidewalls more than I like, noticeably more than others like the Falken WildPeak AT3W. The Falken for the same given size has about 1" more tread, plus sidewall blocks. It's also SnowFlake rated. For our use (off road/snow) and region (your route goes by us in the Cascades) it should be the ideal tire. If your Nokians are newer will probably be fine (if the DOT's are 5 years or older, suggest new tires). Certainly keep the air up to reduce sidewall exposure. They are supposed to have Aramid sidewalls, which is ultra strong.



Far as the spare tire goes being a different size: it's a near non-issue. The rolling diameters are very close. It won't damage or stress the transmission- at all. It will, however, cause the differentials and transfer case to rotate slightly more. Extremely slightly. Far less than normal driving. A bigger issue (or difference) is the tire rolling Radius. That is all that truly matters. It's simply the distance from the hub to the ground. This can be manipulated by tire pressure. OEM's don't mention this aspect because it doesn't matter enough to point out. However it's somewhat addressed by the recommended tire pressures - often different front to back. The caveat is to avoid driving thousands of miles with mixed size tires.



Unless it's assumed, but was not so far mentioned, having the vehicle inspected and serviced prior to the trip may be money well spent. Any 5 year old vehicle is going to benefit from fresh drivetrain fluids - including the transmission. Especially for towing. The transmission is mostly likely to have a bad day on a long trip. It may even be worthwhile to have an aftermarket trans cooler installed. Obviously service as needed, belts, power steering fluid, coolant, brakes, batteries, wipers and so on (guibo joint?). Might even have the shop do a full start/charge/battery test. Be sure the tester checks the alternator voltage ripple. I've caught a few failing units that were causing odd drivability issues due to excessive mV readings. The alternator would pass a basic test fine. It's bad when AC voltage leaks into your DC system.



Items that may save your day/nite:

Brake light switch. When it fails (it will) it won't be easy (is there a shift lock override?) to put the transmission in gear.

Headlight and fog light bulbs, related bulbs as desired.

DVOM/DMM (digital multimeter).
Generic Engine scanner
OEM engine coolant (Pentosin and others make a nice 1.5L size which makes 3L when mixed)
Extra engine oil (if the engine is tight a Qt/L should suffice)
Carrying an extra set of trailer wheel bearings. At least have them serviced (with synthetic grease) and adjusted.


All that crosses my mind for now, cheers!

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03 Audi RS6
07 Audi A4 Avant
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post #9 of 31 Old 02-27-2019 Thread Starter
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Thanks, a lithium jump box is on my to purchase list....

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post #10 of 31 Old 02-27-2019 Thread Starter
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Thanks cehawley. Great info and thoughts you have here. We definitely have Netflix on the iPad! Thanks for the info and recommendations. I'll plan on DEF on the way down and back. I am going to add more work gloves and ratchet straps- they are on the list!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cehawley View Post
You can definitely make it with no issues (if you're already in proper running condition). I just traveled towed a trailer over 2,800 miles (4,500 km?) through the desert and over the mountains to Colorado. Yes you WILL need DEF. Ok maybe you won't, but I was surprised on my return trip by the light and the amount it used traveling over elevation in headwinds. You can buy it easily enough on the road, but it's expensive.

I did plenty of 'side trips', mostly in the desert, and it IS tricky with a trailer. A couple of times I parked the trailer for a day trip. As I was traveling alone, my trips were less about adventure and more about scenery. By the way, the desert is COLD at night and sometimes mild during the day. Since you will be gong up and down, check the current temperatures at various map points to use as a guide.

Things in my 'go box' I didn't see listed:

Ratcheting tie downs. You never know what and when you need to secure.
Cheap vinyl work gloves. Increased grip and very handy
Bottle of 'work water'. For wiping hands, cleaning battery etc. I use a liter bottle.
Generic folding knife.
Small Binoculars. These are a throwback to my backpacking days, you never know when you'll want to look at something.

For the kiddo:
As a parent of now 16 year old twins, I understand your concern about the mini-you. We took many a road trip and they seemed less interested in the scenery, the history of the area or how to read mile markers to determine your location (a valuable skill when in the middle of nowhere).

iPad with movies DOWNLOADED on it. We had a portable DVD, but who has those anymore? If you have a Netflix account you can download movies directly to your tablet so you won't have to worry about data or cell coverage. We also brought a sketchpad. The boy liked to draw what he saw, the girl wrote a journal of sorts. If you have an old phone he may enjoy taking his own pictures.

Finally, I invested in the VW Roof Rack and a Thule Basket. All in it was about $425. I negotiated with my dealer on the rack to match an online price. Funny story, it had to ship from Canada since there weren't any in the US. It looks better in person than in pictures.

2014 White/Saddle Exec/R-Line TDI
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