Towing with VW Golf GTI - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-21-2015, 10:15 PM   #1
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Towing with VW Golf GTI

Hey everyone! I've been lurking here a while, and decided to finally sign up and ask my question. I currently drive a 2011 Golf GTI. I suddenly find myself with a hankering for a small camper -- I'm leaning toward something like a Scamp 13.

Here's some info I've dug up so far:

-- For newer models, VW is in the habit of saying "no towing" in the USA, likely because of liability. Mine must be old enough to have escaped that fate. I checked my manual, and there's a whole section on towing -- how to drive, set up the electrics, etc. It does say "this is a passenger car, towing isn't its main purpose" but I think all car manuals say that. It goes on to recommend more frequent service intervals if towing regularly. It indicates the max tongue weight is 225lb. Then, there's a chart with tow ratings and there's just a * and and a footnote that says "information not available at time of printing." Go figure.

So with that -- it seems clear to me that I *can* tow something, otherwise, they wouldn't include a tongue weight and a whole section on how to tow. The question becomes how much.

My car has the exact same engine as the VW Tiguan, which is rated at 2200lb. The engine makes 200hp and about 210 torque. More than a lot of small SUVs. With some of the mods I'm planning that'll be closer to 250hp / 280 torque, so I'm doubting power's an issue. I'd include trailer brakes with any trailer, so I don't think braking would be an issue either. I have a hitch mount on my car already (Class 1, rated to 2000lb).

My inclination is a little Scamp weighing 1200-1500 shouldn't be an issue. It'd be nice if the manual had the actual tow ratings of course. I know these cars in Europe can tow. I'm not worried about my warranty (it's just about done anyway), I'm more interested if the towing is possible as a factual matter. I can't conceive a reason it wouldn't be based on the above, but would love some thoughts from folks towing small trailers with small cars.
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Old 09-22-2015, 10:12 AM   #2
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Hi Jim,
My TDI Jetta wagon is rated 500kgs to tow in the manual. In Europe, same car is/ was
Tow Vehicle of the Year. I tow my Biods with it, and it works fine. They weigh 1100 lbs and 1000lbs respectively. Guessing travel trailers are heavier here?
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Old 09-22-2015, 10:26 AM   #3
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On all these marginal towing combinations, the factor to be concerned about is NOT the warranty. It is the possibility of having an accident and what the legal system will do to you if you do not have proper authorization to tow what you are towing.


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Old 09-22-2015, 10:38 AM   #4
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The '98 New Beetle tdi had a tow rating of 2200# if the rv had brakes. Every year thereafter had a lower tr.
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Old 09-22-2015, 10:45 AM   #5
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Mine have brakes. Assumed they all do?
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Old 09-22-2015, 11:36 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Roger C H View Post
On all these marginal towing combinations, the factor to be concerned about is NOT the warranty. It is the possibility of having an accident and what the legal system will do to you if you do not have proper authorization to tow what you are towing.


Proper Tow Vehicles A Must!
Actually I think safety is most important, but agree your point is a close second . That said -- two questions:

1) Why would this situation be considered marginal? Growing up my parents bought a pop-up camper in the 80s -- it was advertised as being able to be towed by a Honda Civic, which at the time, made under 100hp. Yes, the Scamp 13 weighs more than a pop-up but not a whole lot more. Another point -- in the 80s, SUVs were genuinely trucks. Solid axels, truck suspensions, etc. Now, the average "crossover" is a station wagon, plain and simple. A cooler looking one, but a station wagon nonetheless. Something like the Ford Escape, which no one would think twice about towing a small Scamp with, is no different than a passenger car in any way other than aesthetics and height. Car suspension, on-road tuning, independent suspension rather than an axle, etc. I think we have a gut reaction of "only SUVs should tow" without realizing most SUVs today are just cars with more ground clearance. I'm not sure there's any difference whatsoever on a technical level between an Escape and a car with similar horsepower.

2) I'm also curious if it's unauthorized. The manual talks about towing. It punts on the total weight, but the one weight maximum given (tongue weight) is more than twice the tongue weight of the Scamp.
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Old 09-22-2015, 11:50 AM   #7
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I Think you should go to TDIclub.com. There's guys have forgotten more about diesel than Diesel ever knew.
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Old 09-22-2015, 12:05 PM   #8
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Towing with a VW GTI

I think that there are several things that people frequently forget to mention/consider: there is a difference between a small box trailer and an RV (big box) both with identical weights and that is wind-resistance at highway speeds. All trailers over 1000 lbs should have working brakes installed! Highway speeds in the US and Canada are generally higher for 18-wheel trucks and towed trailers than in Europe (80 kmh) due to the longer distances travelled here and less policing. US/Canadian vehicles have different bumpers than the same vehicles in Europe depending on the year of manufacture. Some vehicles have 5 mph bumpers which use shocks, so installing a hitch on these vehicles disables/cancels the 5 mph protection and may cause insurance consequences. My daughter decided to return home from BC after university and use her VW Jetta 2 to tow a huge U-haul trailer (mostly empty but probably more than 1000 lbs.). The U-haul store should never have rented it to her with type 1 hitch. The result was that the engine quit in Thunder Bay and the brakes were also pretty well shot.
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Old 09-22-2015, 12:32 PM   #9
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Old 09-22-2015, 12:44 PM   #10
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I Think you should go to TDIclub.com. There's guys have forgotten more about diesel than Diesel ever knew.
I have a GTI, not TDI . It's a performance gas engine (turbo 4cyl, same one as in the Tiguan). I would expect the TDI could tow even more (as evidenced by the video below).
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Old 09-22-2015, 01:19 PM   #11
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Towing with VW Golf GTI

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Originally Posted by Azmordean View Post
Actually I think safety is most important, but agree your point is a close second . That said -- two questions:

1) Why would this situation be considered marginal? Growing up my parents bought a pop-up camper in the 80s -- it was advertised as being able to be towed by a Honda Civic, which at the time, made under 100hp. Yes, the Scamp 13 weighs more than a pop-up but not a whole lot more. Another point -- in the 80s, SUVs were genuinely trucks. Solid axels, truck suspensions, etc. Now, the average "crossover" is a station wagon, plain and simple. A cooler looking one, but a station wagon nonetheless. Something like the Ford Escape, which no one would think twice about towing a small Scamp with, is no different than a passenger car in any way other than aesthetics and height. Car suspension, on-road tuning, independent suspension rather than an axle, etc. I think we have a gut reaction of "only SUVs should tow" without realizing most SUVs today are just cars with more ground clearance. I'm not sure there's any difference whatsoever on a technical level between an Escape and a car with similar horsepower.

2) I'm also curious if it's unauthorized. The manual talks about towing. It punts on the total weight, but the one weight maximum given (tongue weight) is more than twice the tongue weight of the Scamp.
I do understand your frustration. My Pilot 3.5L is exactly one of those raised station wagons you are talking about. Properly equipped, Honda rates it for up to 5000 pounds (2016 4WD). A Honda Accord is built on the same basic platform and is available with the same 3.5L engine, but it is only rated to tow 1000 pounds and it doesn't matter which engine you have.

What's never so obvious is what else might be different: brakes, transmission, cooling, electrical, suspension, engine and transmission management software,... So the debate will rage on… Some maintain it's a conspiracy to sell expensive, gas-guzzling SUVs. One might equally say its a "conspiracy" to raise fuel economy numbers for passenger sedans by programming engine and transmission controls to operate within an inch of their respective lives. That doesn't make for a good tow vehicle.

But in my opinion, it comes down to this: (1) what anyone did 30 or 40 years ago is not relevant- both vehicle design and the tort environment have changed radically, and (2) regardless of whether something "works" or not, you expose yourself to liability if you choose to ignore manufacturers' published capacities, even if the accident was not your fault.

Your situation is rather unique. I have never heard of an owner's manual that addressed towing without specifying any towing capacity, especially as it does address tongue weight. Strange… What does VWofA say? Of course, they may be a bit distracted just now… but at least you don't have the diesel engine!
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Old 09-22-2015, 02:16 PM   #12
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Check out the towing on the forums.tdiclub.com the engines are different, but the chassis is the same.

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Old 09-22-2015, 02:25 PM   #13
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Did I miss the OP posting the manufacturers max towing weight from the owners manual???
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Old 09-22-2015, 02:48 PM   #14
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Did I miss the OP posting the manufacturers max towing weight from the owners manual???
Hilariously, it says "information not available at time of printing." The tongue weight is listed at 225.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
Your situation is rather unique. I have never never heard of an owner's manual that addressed towing without specifying any towing capacity, especially as it does address tongue weight. Strange… What does VWofA say? Of course, they may be a bit distracted just now… but at least you don't have the diesel engine!
I will try to call VW if I can find a number. I'm guessing they'll dodge and say something like "we don't recommend towing." It's funny - the identical car in the YouTube video posted above, that won the best tow car award in the UK, is not allowed to tow at all in the USA. And I don't buy the road condition argument. Road speeds in places like Germany are frequently higher than the USA, not less. I think it is pure laziness around liability. It's easier to say "no towing" than bother with testing it. The US public is conditioned enough to the idea a SUV is required for towing, that no one questions it. As an added bonus, the company can force you to buy an expensive and gas guzzling SUV when you don't even need it -- built in upsell.

Assuming VW says no, I may just drop the trailer idea. It seems silly to drive a gas guzzling SUV 95% of the time so I can tow once every month or two. Multi-vehicle is not an option most places in my part of California, given the parking situation (one assigned space).
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