Getting conflicting info from VW on towing capacity - Fiberglass RV

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Old 02-08-2015, 04:45 PM   #1
Junior Member
Name: Kevin
Trailer: Currently educating myself and shoopping
North Carolina
Posts: 2
Getting conflicting info from VW on towing capacity

Hello to All. I'm a NEWBIE!!!

I'm new to things but plan on taking an extended road trip later this year. I will be traveling solo and I'm perfectly comfortable with minimal amenities. With that said, here's (one of) the early questions I've run into and can't get a definitive answer to. It seems like a simple and VERY IMPORTANT question.

I have a 2010 Golf TDI with a standard transmission. The Volkswagen TDI is a fuel-injected turbo diesel. It has lots of torque and plenty of power (as compared to a straight gas model).

I’m looking at small, light-weight camping trailers and have come across some conflicting information.

My owners manual says the vehicle is rated to tow up to 1,000 lbs. However, in Europe, (including the UK), the same car is rated up to 725 kilograms - which is 1600 lbs, obviously a significant difference (60%). I’ve also come across reviews, articles and forum posts that say TDI models are the best towing vehicle for their size in the UK. So the question is ... what explains the difference? I have written (and called) VW-USA and although they're friendly enough, all they will say is that "there's a difference in the 2 vehicles". When I ask for specifics I get basically corporate stonewalling.

I have no desire or intention of “maxing out” what I will tow. In fact, I'm focused on keeping the trailer as light as possible. However, the 60% difference is confusing. Does anyone have any suggestions on howto proceed? Or perhaps know if there IS a difference between the European and USA versions of the vehicle? If so, what exactly is it?
Engine size (displacement)?
Breaking system?
Is it an emissions issue?
Bottom line is, all I'm trying to find out is can my US golf pull up to 1000 or up to 1600 pounds?

Raleigh, NC

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Old 02-08-2015, 05:20 PM   #2
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Larry Tenhage's Avatar
Name: Larry & Joyce
Trailer: 1974 Trillium 1300
Fergus Ontario
Posts: 114
The difference is that in Europe, you're allowed to attach a trailer hitch directly to the car's chassis & bumper at-the-same-time. In Canada & the USA, you're not allowed to do that (liability factors into this too) but have to attach the hitch directly to the chassis or bumper only (NOT both). This is supposedly so that the bumper's impact absorbing qualities aren't bypassed, as they would be if you attached a hitch directly to the chassis & bumper simultaneously. Of course, the combined chassis & bumper mount is stronger than the "bumper only" or "chassis only" mount & that is where the difference in ratings is. You COULD get a combination Chassis/bumper hitch, but you'd be in violation of provincial / state regulations, as well as running afoul of your insurance provider. Don't go there!

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Old 02-08-2015, 05:24 PM   #3
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Bob Miller's Avatar
Name: Bob
Trailer: 1973 Hunter Compact II
Posts: 7,912
Hi Keven and welcome to the group....
Basically the answer is 1000 lbs because that's what the owners manual for your vehicle states.
Your quandary is an oft posed one, that of the differences in towing capacity between U.S. and European versions of the seemingly same vehicle.

Asking if there are differences is basically moot because towing over the manufacturers limit for your vehicle in the U.S. can leave you open to several problems, not the least of which is liability.

If you were to have an accident while towing, any second year law student would jump on the issue of operating a vehicle out of mfgs. specifications.

Next is the issue of warranty, but I suspect your car is well past that point.

And last is that there may well be lots of differences between your vehicle and the ones built for the European market, as well as the issue that European driving conditions and towing laws in general are different, all of which may allow a higher limit.

Your VW dealer isn't talking because they don't have anything to say. You are driving a VW of America vehicle and you are asking about VW GMBH vehicle specifications.

While there are a few out there that seem to see manufacturers towing limits as suggestive, you only need to ask two people about the risks of assuming the higher limit, your insurance agent and your lawyer. IMHO their opinion will trump all others here, there and everywhere, including those PM's that are sure to follow
P.S. Don't shoot the messenger....!
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Old 02-08-2015, 05:24 PM   #4
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Name: JD
Trailer: Scamp 16 Modified (BIGLY)
Posts: 1,094
The UK VW site brochure list the unbraked towbar limit at 689 KG and the braked limit at 1500 KG. The tongue limit is 75 KG.
One of the best small tow car there is,
The DSG version is rated at 690 KG unbraked still 1599 KG with trailer brakes.
VW US basically says their cars van't tow.
I tow a 16' scamp with my 2009 JSW TDI. No problems.
Your mileage may vary.
My Scamp is insured by State Farm with the JSW listed ad the tow car. They were concerned that the towing might damage the VW. No mention of all the other concerns from other posters.
I suggest you ask your insurance company and get them to list your car and trailer on the policy.
I am not a lawyer, but evidently there are a lot of them who have reservations and I am not telling you to tow or not. It is your decision.
Do you want a legal opinion or a mechanical opinion?
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Old 02-08-2015, 05:50 PM   #5
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Name: Donna D
Trailer: Escape 5.0 TA, 2014
Posts: 24,540
Hummmm. You live in the US or Europe? Overtow your vehicles capacity in the US and get into an accident... good luck with that.
Donna D.
Ten Forward - 2014 Escape 5.0 TA
Double Yolk - 1988 16' Scamp Deluxe
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Old 02-08-2015, 05:52 PM   #6
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Name: Michael
Trailer: Li'l Hauley
Posts: 5,389
Can-Am RV in Toronto uses a Jetta TDI to deliver Airstreams and other travel trailers all over Canada. They also set up VWs for towing for customers; they fabricate a custom hitch receiver that's much stronger and better attached. Two or three members of this forum see this as a good idea; Many others remain vehemently opposed. Personally I would not use the Jetta for such towing without the modifications (which can cost $1500 or more).
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Old 02-08-2015, 06:02 PM   #7
Pam Garlow's Avatar
Name: Pam
Trailer: U-Haul 1985
Posts: 3,259
Kevin, I suggest that you use the search feature for the word 'towing', and read through the various discussions. Actually, I'd posted a link to that search result at the bottom of this post.

You will find those that say 'absolutely not', and those that say, 'why not, I've done it for years'. This discussion has been run into the ground on numerous occasions and there is never a solution that satisfies everyone. My personal choice is to use my manufactures' US recommendations because I am towing in the US. For example, I would not tow a 1500lb trailer in the US with a car that is rated to tow 1000#.

I've pulled up this link about towing with a vw jetta:
Towing with VW Jetta TDI

And this is the search result for 'towing':

Be safe and be careful.
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Old 02-08-2015, 07:46 PM   #8
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Name: Norm and Ginny
Trailer: Scamp 16
Posts: 7,326

Just so you know others have disregarded North American ratings.

I towed our Scamp 16 (2600 pounds) and other similar trailers for 7 years with a Honda CRV rated for 1500 pounds in the USA (and rated for over 3000 pounds more than in Europe). Over the years we drove all over the USA and Canada without a single issue.

Our Insurance company and Honda both know we tow a trailer (I've written to Honda about it often). We never had a single issue with the CRV, selling our 10 year old Honda with 250,000 miles on it.

Also we were hit in a small accident and the Insurance company did not blink.

We based our decision on the European ratings, in our mind recognizing that it's some kind of standard practice to de-rate vehicles for 'only God knows' what reason.

Over the many miles we have met a half dozen people happily towing with VW TDIs, some towing trailers heavier than my Scamp. I have seen TDIs set up by Can-AM, very impressive.

Asking you lawyer for legal permission to tow over the rating is like asking your mother if you can have a Red Ryder BB Gun.

The Can-AM web site is very informative.
Norm and Ginny

2014 Honda Odyssey
1991 Scamp 16
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Old 02-08-2015, 08:31 PM   #9
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Name: Carol
Trailer: 22' Airstream Formerly 16' Scamp
British Columbia
Posts: 11,729
Whats to be confused about? I don't see any conflicting info.

a) Your owners manual states the car is rated to tow 1000lbs
b) VW USA has told you your car is rated to tow 1000lbs
c) VW confirmed they are NOT the same car as they sell in Europe. Nothing changes that fact even if you know what the differences in the build are. My best guess is the difference is in the back end components as it is with a few other VW vehicles as North Americans's like a softer ride. I posted a video interview awhile back of a German VW rep confirming the same thing.
d) You live in North America not Europe - North America does not have across the country the low towing speed restrictions that they have in Europe.

If you truly "have no desire or intention of “maxing out” what I will tow" then stick to what the folks that built the car have told you its towing capacity is.
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Old 02-08-2015, 08:43 PM   #10
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Trailer: 1973 Hunter Compact II
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I am guessing that Bruce Jenner also drove for many years without problems, until yesterday. Watch and see what happens there.
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Old 02-08-2015, 09:28 PM   #11
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Name: Glenn ( second 'n' is silent )
Trailer: 2009 Escape 17B '08 RAV4 SPORT V6
British Columbia
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Originally Posted by honda03842 View Post
I towed our Scamp 16 (2600 pounds) and other similar trailers for 7 years with a Honda CRV rated for 1500 pounds in the USA (and rated for over 3000 pounds more than in Europe). Over the years we drove all over the USA and Canada without a single issue.
what reason.
I smoked cigarettes for more than 50 years, up to two packs a day, and I don't have lung cancer yet.
Got emphysema, COPD, circulation problems, but not lung cancer, I think.
Good luck.
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Old 02-09-2015, 03:36 AM   #12
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Name: John
Trailer: 2000 16 ft Casita Spirit Deluxe
Posts: 169
A similar situation exists with the little, but very heavy, Jeep Wrangler, two door version. In the US they would have you drive it while towing a maximum of 2,000 pounds. But, in Europe, they are perfectly happy with you driving it in front of a 3,500 pound tow.

I have used the latter maximum specs for my decision making since 2008 with a 16' Casita and have been quite happy with the decision. Seven years of auto plus Casita insurance over 4 insurance companies who have been happy as well knowing what I was doing while taking my money. I calculate I have driven around 40,000 miles with the Casita in tow and those miles have been all happy as well. Its strange how so many opining naysayers raise their heads whenever this topic pops up.
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Old 02-09-2015, 06:42 AM   #13
Junior Member
Name: Kevin
Trailer: Currently educating myself and shoopping
North Carolina
Posts: 2
THANKS for all the input ... and ...

... for apparently stirring up an old debate. Before my post I had looked at the forum a bit to see some of this debate already but the posts I saw didn't focus on this specific dilemma I'd run into, namely the manufacturer of the same car providing two radically different specifications.

I understand both arguments provided here, and both have merit. I will continue to do my homework, check with my insurance provider, dot all my i's and cross all my t's before I do anything, so thanks for the input.

I've already discovered - since yesterday - that (at least according to Can-Am), a hitch-is not a hitch-is not a hitch. Now I have to find someone locally who can install a hitch on MY vehicle to pull MY trailer and do it to provide the least wear on the car and the trailer AND the greatest efficiency and safety. As I might have suspected, this is turning into a less simple process than I was aware of.

Thanks for the help and guidance.
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Old 02-09-2015, 07:23 AM   #14
Name: George
Trailer: Trillium
Posts: 82

if I was planning on travelling solo, I would use a van like a westy (VW Westfalia) or similar. You can park it much easier in cities. Take a bike for local travel. This makes solo travel much more convenient and practical than towing a trailer.

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