towing a 13' boler with a small car - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-28-2006, 05:18 PM   #1
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Hello,

I have noticed a number of photos with small cars (e.g., Volkswagen Beetles) paired with Bolers. We have a 1200 lb Boler (loaded for bear) that we currently tow with a Dodge Caravan - which is plenty big enough. We would like to downsize the vehicle for a number of reasons and are interested in either a TDI Golf or a new Mini Cooper. The dealers we have talked to say either "no problem" or that it will void the warranty. As far as we can tell, there is no official prohibition on towing.

I would like to hear from people who have towed bolers or equivalent with a small car about:
1. The practical problems doing this (ie, hitch installation, going up hills, stopping, etc...). I am not too worried about passing on the highway since we are always very cautious when we tow.
2. Any warranty or insurance issues you have come across. One dealer actually suggested that we remove the receiver hitch every time we bring it in for service so that the service guys wouldn't see it and void our warranty.

Many thanks,

Jeremy
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Old 05-28-2006, 06:07 PM   #2
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We towed a 13ft Compact Jr. with a Peugeot Stationwagon in the mid-70's around the nation. The car had a 1.6 litre engine, about 65 hp, and weighed about 2000 lb.

We never had a problem with stability or braking. Had some cooling problems in the Utah desert in July. Had to run with the heater on for a ways up a long hill.

The biggest problem was a stop for a construction crew on a steep mountain pass. When the cars were allowed to go, our rig didn't have enough umph to get rolling. The construction fellows ran over and gave us a shove and off we went in low gear. There just wasn't enough steam available to shift into second, so it was first gear for what seemed to be about an hour until we crested the summit.

We are quite a little older now and hopefully wiser. I get the same fuel economy with a 16ft Scamp pulled with a full size GMC Jimmy powered by a 6.2 litre turbo diesel as with the smaller Compact pulled with the wimpy Peugeot. There is no point in even attempting to compare the ability of these two rigs for towing.

The real problem with the smaller cars, and pickups, is not that they don't have enough power, but that it is not available for starting off. To rectify this, they would either need to increase the cubic capacity of the engine significantly, or add a much lower gear for starting off.

I'm sure you get my point, but if I needed to limit myself to just one vehicle, I'm not sure I would want to herd two tons to the grocery store and post office all year just for the increased margin of towability it offered. I'd just enjoy the rig I had like we did 30 years ago.

Perhaps someone with more contemporary experience would chime in. Good luck and happy RVing.
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Old 05-28-2006, 06:17 PM   #3
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I have seen people in "our" area towing a 17ft. Escape with a 1929 Shay (which is a fiberglass replica). The roadster has a 4 cylinder Pinto engine with a C-3 automatic transmission. Yes this vehicle is "modified", but still shows how small a vehicle one can tow a trailer with. I know he has a larger rad, with an electric fan and a fair sized tranny cooler. The trailer also has e-brakes on it for safety! I have pix of it but I cannot figure out how to post here yet!!!
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Old 05-28-2006, 07:49 PM   #4
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The most important consideration is safety for yourself and others.
The only only way to be assured of that is to go by what the Car manufacturer says - IN WRITING.
No salesman, other owners, previous owners, uncles, or whatever will provide that. There are far too many variations of engines, transmissions, drive train type, HD options for anyone to have an accurate answer.

If you're buying a used car, ask to see the owner's manual. It will be stated in there.
If you're buying a new car, not only can you look at the owner's manual, but there is usually a chart in the showroom which will give you a quick summary. (You should still look in the owner's manual.)

Finally - and maybe most important - you can be the best driver, and be involved in a bad accident, which is not your fault. These days, smart lawyers will, and do, get you on the hook if you are towing something too heavy for the car.

Keep the highways safe. Tow with the right rig. And remember, this is one area where bigger is better.


By the way; I don't think a boler "loaded for bear" will weigh only 1200 lbs. I would get it weighed at a couple of different places.


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Old 05-28-2006, 09:31 PM   #5
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If I had to pick from the two choices you listed, I'd go for the Golf TDI every time. Diesel torque is where it's at!

Not sure what the official word from VW America is, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear that trailers of the same size are regularly towed with a Golf in Europe. If I were to attempt it, though, I would definitely want trailer brakes.

I have a '98 Jetta TDI and while I don't have a hitch, I wouldn't hesitate to tow a light trailer with it.
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Old 05-28-2006, 09:39 PM   #6
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One dealer actually suggested that we remove the receiver hitch every time we bring it in for service so that the service guys wouldn't see it and [b]void our warranty.
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Finally - and maybe most important - you can be the best driver, and be involved in a bad accident, which is not your fault. These days, [b]smart lawyers will, and do, get you on the hook if you are towing something too heavy for the car.

Keep the highways safe. Tow with the right rig.

Enuf said.
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Old 05-28-2006, 09:48 PM   #7
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I'm with Tom - READ THE MANUFACTURER'S RECOMMENDATION - I've got a pretty small car and I've thought very carefully about how far, where, etc.... and I figure the Pontiac people aren't looking for any liability and I must be in some sort of safety zone...

I also compared hp, wheelbase length, vehicle weight and torque to comparable vehicles that were towing successfully...

after lots and lots of MATH and a little bit of faith, I think I can SAFELY tow a 13'er if I don't go crazy packing...

Now the Big Dog and I must lose 10 pounds a piece and I think we will make the limits!

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Old 05-29-2006, 12:58 AM   #8
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Towing isn't just about getting started or pulling; it's also about steering control and stopping. If the wheelbase, the tranny, the rear end ratio, the suspension, the cooling, the brakes, the tires, the body strength and a number of other things aren't right, it can be a receipe for lots of repair money or a highway accident.

Most automotive salesmen will tell you that their product will pull your RV and most RV salesmen will tell you that your vehicle will pull their RV -- Ask to see the manufacturer's tow ratings in writing (For those salesmen who don't know how to find it, it's in the Owners Manual).

There are a lot of folks out there towing with not the right stuf and I believe it's "So far, so good"... When the bad stuf happens, it happens fast.
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Old 05-30-2006, 08:15 PM   #9
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Here's a link to a VW with enuf power to tow an Airstream up Pike's Peak, but is otherwise unsuitable for towing an Egg (or getting the Airstream back down again):

Powerful VW
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Old 05-30-2006, 08:23 PM   #10
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otherwise unsuitable for towing an Egg
Powerful VW
Maybe a [b]Hard Boiled Egg...
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Old 05-31-2006, 10:28 AM   #11
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Maybe a [b]Hard Boiled Egg...

Hey, watch that mouth. (note signature)
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Old 06-01-2006, 06:34 AM   #12
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Almost anything can be used to tow these lightweight trailers...... But can you stop it?
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Old 06-01-2006, 03:29 PM   #13
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I can't imagine towing anything with a mini cooper but I did a quick search and there is some info out there about folks who do it. Heck I worried about towing with a Ranger.
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Old 06-01-2006, 04:26 PM   #14
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Since you can probably put a Cooper inside one these FG trailers, I'm not so sure I'd want to be on that stretch of road if it's towing something.

On the other hand, as a film promo for Trillium, I towed it once with a 750 Norton motorcycle for a short stretch. It worked - even without brakes on the trailer! Does this count as a recommendation?

Tom
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