Jetta towing issues.... caution - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-25-2011, 11:15 PM   #15
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My unibody 2008 Toyota Highlander (5K lb. tow capacity) has been used to tow trailers for about 85,000 miles now, and everything seems to be good on it.

Can-Am RV fabricates a custom hitch receiver for the Jetta, and I'm sure they have multiple attachment points compared to the standard (class 1 or 2?) hitch. I guess that's how they get away with towing those Airstreams and such with their Jetta. They claim a tongue weight rating of 700 lbs for the receiver... and no I'm not implying that the suspension could handle that much, only that they feel their attachment is that strong.
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Old 09-25-2011, 11:35 PM   #16
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I freely admit that this is only my personal prejudice, with very little - if any -scientific rationale - but I just do not like the idea of a front wheel drive for towing, and would not use a unibody for towing either. (and since "all" [????] front drivers are unibody......) There is a reason why trucks are selling so well in comparison to cars, and the ability to take your travel trailer or boat, or your "playtoys" on a trailer somewhere is, to my mini-mind, a large part of the reason.


Due to the truck-based powertrain, the Astro and Safari could pull 5,500 lb (2,500 kg) with proper equipment. AWD models could tow up to 5,000 lb (2,300 kg) when properly equipped. This is opposed to front-wheel drive minivans; most of which are limited to a 3,500 pound towing capacity.
Yes the Astro is a unibody.
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Old 09-26-2011, 01:10 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BCDave View Post
I freely admit that this is only my personal prejudice, with very little - if any -scientific rationale - but I just do not like the idea of a front wheel drive for towing, and would not use a unibody for towing either. (and since "all" [????] front drivers are unibody......) There is a reason why trucks are selling so well in comparison to cars, and the ability to take your travel trailer or boat, or your "playtoys" on a trailer somewhere is, to my mini-mind, a large part of the reason.


Due to the truck-based powertrain, the Astro and Safari could pull 5,500 lb (2,500 kg) with proper equipment. AWD models could tow up to 5,000 lb (2,300 kg) when properly equipped. This is opposed to front-wheel drive minivans; most of which are limited to a 3,500 pound towing capacity.
Yes the Astro is a unibody.
And rear wheel drive.
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Old 09-26-2011, 03:16 PM   #18
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Barrie, your a brave man for having the courage to man up on here!

For those who point to unibody being the issue - let me ask you this. What was the weight of Barrie's trailer and what was the Jetta rated for in NA? Could/should that not be the real issue here?
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Old 09-26-2011, 03:23 PM   #19
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Barrie, your a brave man for having the courage to man up on here!

For those who point to unibody being the issue - let me ask you this. What was the weight of Barrie's trailer and what was the Jetta rated for in NA? Could/should that not be the real issue here?
Thanks Carol...
By the way, I had brakes added to the trailer, as well as beefed up rear shocks on the Jetta.. I found the Jetta had plenty of power and, with the trailer brakes, stopped very well.
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Old 09-26-2011, 03:29 PM   #20
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Older full sized 3/4T Chevy vans are unibody , Honda pilot and Ridgeline are unibody,Toyota Highlander is unibody, all recent minivans are unibody.... lots of other high tow capacity(3500#+) vehicles are unibody, in fact we have reached a point where there is almost nothing built "body on frame" anymore with the exception of actual trucks...Not every unibody vehicle is fit for a hitch, but it is simply not appropriate to say that unibody construction is a problem for towing within it's chassis' design capability.
No offense to anyone, but no manufacturer would overestimate their tow capacities by 30%. We coud type until our fingers bleed and never eliminate some of these persistent myths.
Totally agree Floyd! You can add the Ford Explorer to the unibody list and it has a tow cap of up to 5000lbs.
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Old 09-26-2011, 03:46 PM   #21
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Totally agree Floyd! You can add the Ford Explorer to the unibody list and it has a tow cap of up to 5000lbs.
I would have but that just happened last year and I didn't want to obfuscate the issue!
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Old 09-26-2011, 03:52 PM   #22
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I would have but that just happened last year and I didn't want to obfuscate the issue!
Yeah, I was going to say that I used to haul the frames to the Louisville assembly plant, but that was several years ago.
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Old 09-26-2011, 04:00 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Barrie Bochoff View Post
Thanks Carol...
By the way, I had brakes added to the trailer, as well as beefed up rear shocks on the Jetta.. I found the Jetta had plenty of power and, with the trailer brakes, stopped very well.
Your welcome. I'm just happy to hear you discovered the reason for the Jetta's tow rating or lack of before any harm was done to yourself, family or some unlucky person who happened to be following behind you.

I don't doudt that it felt fine towing but as you discovered one can never be to sure as to what is going on over time inside or under in regards to wear and tear. As has been rightly pointed out here a number of times the tow ratings set by manufacture are what they believe the car can safely tow. Lots of folks like to point at what the ratings are elsewhere in the world but the truth is the cars may not be built the same all over the world. In the case of your Jetta perhaps the attachment points are beefed up elsewhere. I know that in the case of my Subaru which is rated higher outside of NA - its been suggested its the rear suspension that is different. Who knows if thats true or not but I would rather play it safe and take the manufactures word for what it can safely tow than take advise on what it can tow from someone who didnt actually manufacture it.

Enjoy your new legal tow.
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Old 09-26-2011, 04:04 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by cpaharley2008
Like I said, most cars were not made for towing and 3500# is low tow capacity for trailers other than 16-17' fiberglass. The older cars that towed big trailers had a body on frame construction that the hitch was secured to. Today, pickup trucks have the same set up and that is why they can tow 7500-12000 lbs. The unibody is not as strong and that is the reason for the low tow rating. Therefore attaching a hitch to a unibody is not as strong as to a vehicle with a frame. Again that would be the weak point over time and over rough roads compared to using a framed vehicle.
The Jetta IS made for towing. The problem is that most people are not using the correct mounting points. The German hitches bolt to the bumper mounting points and are rated to tow around 3,500 pounds, depending on then year, engine, and transmission. US hitches for Jettas/Golfs mount to the thin sheet metal of the spare tire well on the left and the tow hook on the right.

The problem isn't the car... The problem is the way that the US hitch manufacturers design their hitches to work with it. I owned a turbo diesel Golf, and was never happy with the way the hitch installed.

My Toyota used existing mounting points for the hitch, which was a LOT more secure. My Subaru uses holes in the "frame" to mount the hitch. Very secure. In fact, very similar to the way the hitch mounts to my Sprinter Van.

I put this in the same category as many bumper hitches on trucks. The truck may be able to tow, but if the bumper isn't secure, then that becomes the weak point.

If you want to tow with a VW, you should look at Bosal or Westfalia hitches. Yes, they cost more... But they a FAR superior due to the mounting points.
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Old 09-26-2011, 04:07 PM   #25
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Yeah, I was going to say that I used to haul the frames to the Louisville assembly plant, but that was several years ago.
The list of vehicles that are not unibodies has been shrinking every year. Mostly pick up trucks left on the list now along with a few very big SUV's.
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Old 09-26-2011, 07:16 PM   #26
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correct.......

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Originally Posted by mcbrew View Post
The Jetta IS made for towing. The problem is that most people are not using the correct mounting points. The German hitches bolt to the bumper mounting points and are rated to tow around 3,500 pounds, depending on then year, engine, and transmission. US hitches for Jettas/Golfs mount to the thin sheet metal of the spare tire well on the left and the tow hook on the right.

The problem isn't the car... The problem is the way that the US hitch manufacturers design their hitches to work with it. I owned a turbo diesel Golf, and was never happy with the way the hitch installed.

My Toyota used existing mounting points for the hitch, which was a LOT more secure. My Subaru uses holes in the "frame" to mount the hitch. Very secure. In fact, very similar to the way the hitch mounts to my Sprinter Van.

I put this in the same category as many bumper hitches on trucks. The truck may be able to tow, but if the bumper isn't secure, then that becomes the weak point.

If you want to tow with a VW, you should look at Bosal or Westfalia hitches. Yes, they cost more... But they a FAR superior due to the mounting points.
Just to add to this though, the Bosal or Westfalia hitches you talk about are illegal in NA, the reason being is because of mandatory 10 MPH bumpers (or whatever you want to call them), the bumpers are designed to be hit at a certain speed and not cause any "unibody" damage, it has shocks that absorb the impact from slower hits.....

however if you instal a Bosal or westfalia hitch those small shocks are replaced with straight steel members, which do go into the "frame" (in order to be more robust for the trailer), ........which will damage the car when hit at the prescribed rating for the actual bumper.......


and Barrie, I also tow my Boler with a 2003 Jetta, with the receiver attached to the spare tire well, however i used a large backer plate on the inside to help beef it up some, ......not saying it will not fail like yours, but i am sure it is slightly stronger that what your was, ..........

I also tighten/check the bolts twice a year, ............but will do it more now that you have had this issue, .......thanks for posting
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Old 09-26-2011, 10:35 PM   #27
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That was very interesting info, Paul, thanks for posting it.
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Old 09-27-2011, 04:47 AM   #28
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and Barrie, I also tow my Boler with a 2003 Jetta, with the receiver attached to the spare tire well, however i used a large backer plate on the inside to help beef it up some, ......not saying it will not fail like yours, but i am sure it is slightly stronger that what your was, ..........

I also tighten/check the bolts twice a year, ............but will do it more now that you have had this issue, .......thanks for posting
I had the hitch professionally installed and backer plates were used. The install is only a year old but has endured 10,000 miles of towing my Trillium. The metal failure occurred outside the backing plate at the driver side forward attachment point. It appears to be metal fatigue. When the pressure on the ball changes, up or down, the rear most mounting points nearest the ball act as pivot points and magnify the pressure on the forward mounting points and the surrounding area. The spare tire wheel well metal is not thick enough to prevent the metal from flexing. After 10,000 miles it appears this flex took it tole.
As you mentioned, checking the hitch connection regularly should help you find a failure, should one occur, before it gets too bad.
Barrie
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