Al-Ko on show at Best Aussie Vans

By: Philip Lord, Photography by: Ellen Dewar, Nathan Jacobs


At Best Aussie Vans this year, many of the caravans were fitted with AL-KO’s Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and AL-KO’s tough new offroad suspension, Enduro.

Best Aussie Vans finalists and winners including the Jurgens Lunagazer (see review page 56), Kokoda Veteran Platinum XLi (see review page 68), and Winnebago Mossman (see review next issue of CW) were all fitted with ESC as standard, something increasingly more manufacturers are doing.

AL-KO ESC is a system that stops sway as soon as it becomes dangerous. The system works for caravans fitted with AL-KO or Dexter electric brakes. In an emergency avoidance manoeuvre, such as having to swerve suddenly to avoid a car or animal, AL-KO ESC is highly effective in wiping off speed and stopping distance enabling you to maintain control.

During fitment, the AL-KO ESC system is programmed specifically for your rig, according to the caravan’s weight, so it will automatically activate the brakes to the correct amount for the caravan that it was set up for.

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ESC does, of course, need power to work, so it must be connected to the 12V power supply in the tow vehicle using a 12-pin connector that many new caravans come standard with. You can either fit a 12-pin connector (if not already fitted) or power the ESC system by wiring up a separate two-pin connector that is wired to the vehicle’s battery (with an inline fuse).

ESC monitors the caravan for sway from the moment it has successfully completed its self-check. The AL-KO ESC works in a similar fashion to the ESC system mandatory in all new passenger vehicles.

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ESC constantly senses the lateral (side-to-side) movement of the caravan and when the system detects a critical sway or emergency swerve, the ESC reacts by partially applying the caravan’s brakes. What this does is effectively pull the caravan back into line behind the tow vehicle, stopping the swaying motion. The caravan brakes are released and safe progress can resume.

The AL-KO ESC system has an LED indicator that sits on the caravan drawbar that continually monitors and reports on the status of the ESC and braking system.

OFFROAD USE

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In general offroad conditions, AL-KO ESC continues to operate effectively to keep you safe. For extreme offroad conditions, ESC may need to be disconnected because the severe tilting of the trailer and bumps experienced may cause the ESC to inadvertently activate the brakes.

For vehicles intended to be taken extremely offroad or rock-hopping, AL-KO recommends that ESC is connected to the tow vehicle using a separate two-pin connector rather than the normal 12-pin connector. This means you can easily disconnect ESC during extreme offroad use, without losing power to lights and items such as the fridge. AL-KO recommends that ESC should be immediately reconnected when less severe road conditions resume.

AL-KO also recommends that the connector on the caravan and tow vehicle are lubricated with a water dispersant spray and checked regularly for corrosion to ensure that ESC will function correctly. Replace the connector once it displays evidence of corrosion. Otherwise, ESC is basically maintenance free and requires no adjustment. However, the caravan’s electric brakes must be adjusted correctly and working within their specs for ESC to operate effectively.

INDEPENDENCE DAY

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AL-KO suspension systems, including Enduro Outback and Enduro Cross Country independent trailing arm suspensions which were introduced last year, were also present on several vans at Best Aussie Vans. The Sunseeker Desert Storm (see review page 80) was equipped with Enduro Outback while the On The Move Vortex (see review page 100), Jurgens Lunagazer (see review page 56) and Winnebago Mossman were fitted with AL-KO’s independent rubber torsion suspension (IRS).

Enduro uses AL-KO dampers (colloquially known as shock absorbers) specifically tuned to suit the suspension, Australian-made coil springs and automotive-grade maintenance-free bushes.

AL-KO Enduro was engineered and tested in Australia to integrate with modern caravan features such as ESC.

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The Enduro suspensions come standard with single or optional twin dampers per wheel. Made locally from Australian steel, the AL-KO trailing arms are fitted with maintenance-free polyurethane bushes and have tuned King Springs that have X5K high-stress spring steel. The coils are made in Queensland. The heavy-duty dampers are built in AL-KO’s factory in Spain, and were tuned locally with bespoke valving.

The key benefits of the Enduro suspension are greater ground clearance and up to 50 per cent more suspension travel than a leaf-spring caravan suspension. The net result is in a smoother ride over rough terrain.

AL-KO ANTI-THEFT PROTECTION

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Caravan theft is one of the greatest concerns we all have. As the value of new vans increase, and as caravans become more popular, the more attractive they are to thieves. It’s also very difficult to put your caravan under lock and key when not in use. Not many suburban garages are big enough to store a caravan in.

The AL-KO Anti-Theft System (ATS) provides an effective way of protecting your investment from theft. AL-KO ATS incorporates GPS tracking in addition to Microdot technology, providing two levels of theft protection.

Bundled with a minimum of 12 months global connectivity, AL-KO ATS includes the tiny Black Knight GPS tracking device and accessories, the free Black Knight real time tracking app, plus high-security Ghost®, authentication labels that can be applied to your assets to help police identify that they are rightfully yours.

The full feature appeared in Caravan World #558 2016. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!