Volkswagen Golf - safe? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-20-2010, 06:33 AM   #1
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Volkswagen Golf - safe?

I have a 2008 VW City Golf (2.0 litre, manual trans) with a Towing Capacity of 1321 lbs (taken from the manual) - trailer hitch Class 1 and 2. I am shopping for a 13' Boler, loaded = 1250 lbs. I talked to the VW dealer - they say it's fine - but I'm getting a sense from this website that I'm crazy to consider such a thing.

We live in the city and hardly drive our car during the week - in fact, it's relatively new (20000 kms - 20 months old) so I'd hate to have to purchase a new vehicle just to tow an rv - we'd take a hit, for sure ($$) . We have recently 'rediscovered' camping with our 2 small children this summer and hope to be able to purchase a Boler asap. Is this combo safe or should I stick to a tent?

Is there anyone out there towing a Boler with a small car?
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Old 08-20-2010, 06:49 AM   #2
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Check out the German specs for your car. I had a similar Golf, and the tow rating was about 3,000 pounds. Car companies usually dumb down the tow ratings for the US market. This has been discussed at length on many car forums. Don't exceed the rating on the hitch that you buy, which will probably be 2,000 pounds. If you want a higher rating, you'll have to buy a European hitch like Westfalia or Bosal.
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Old 08-20-2010, 08:19 AM   #3
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Hi Melanie,

I tow with a car.

I would say that it would be difficult to impossible to go camping with four people and a Boler in a car that is rated to tow 1321# (although.... that is an odd number... is it correct?). Partly this is because a loaded Boler that weighs 1200# is a rare bird. Most of them weigh at least that much empty.

Another thing that you should check in your VW's manual: Many cars also have a gross weight for the car and camper, which essentially means that your passenger and VW cargo weight are also limited, and may encroach on the VW's tow rating.

Also, the shorter the wheelbase, the less great a vehicle is for towing. I don't know what the VW Golf's wheelbase is, but if it is short that is one more point against it.

As far as European tow ratings: Trailers over there are balanced differently, and drivers drive differently (not to mention that model specs may differ). Personally, I would not exceed my US or Canadian tow rating just because the same car is rated differently in Europe.

One other note is that you should weigh (or ask to see a scale receipt) for any individual trailer you are looking to buy, if you are cutting it anywhere near close (say within 1000#) on your tow capacity. Many is the seller or even mfgr. who has said something like "Lightweight - 900# - can tow with any car," and been completely wrong. And not everyone is trying to pull the wool over your eyes; some just have no idea. I would say that most 13-footers would weigh in at 1500# or more (sometimes quite a bit more) when loaded and heading down the road. I've virtually never seen a 900# one.

I don't mean to be a downer, as we here are pretty enthusiastic about welcoming new folks into the Fiberglass world. But.... I also don't want to steer you wrong just in order to sound happy. I would suggest that if you want to tow a Boler (or any of our fiberglass trailers) that you get a different tow vehicle. It does not have to be a monster truck, either. I, myself, tow with a 4-cylinder car. However, that car is rated to tow well over 3000#, and has a long wheelbase. I tow a Boler 13.

I hope you do end up with your Boler and have plenty of fun camping adventures (and that you continue to post here ). But with a suitable tow vehicle for your family size and tow rating.

Raya

PS: I'm glad you came here to check
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Old 08-20-2010, 08:35 AM   #4
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A UK caravan magazine just rated the new VW Golf as the best tow vehicle for trailers up to 1,424kg (3,132 pounds). Granted, that is the new model of Golf, and yours is an older model that is not even sold in most countries any more.

It is true that Europeans tow a little differently than we do in the US and Canada. They put a little less tongue weight on the hitch and drive slower. Many European countries limit towing speeds to 90 Km/h or about 50-55 MPH. More often than not, their trialers have surge brakes on them, too. Surge brakes are less complicated, but not as sophisticated as electric brakes. I would recommend installing an electric brake controller and getting a trailer with brakes.

Sign up over at tdiclub and check out what people are towing with VWs. I know yours is a gas engine model, but the car is the same otherwise. There is a fun thread over there called "show what you tow".
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Old 08-20-2010, 09:40 AM   #5
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Another concern, besides only having a 2 liter lawn mower engine, is the fact that, should you ever be involved in an accident, you can bet that any shyster attorney, (the one that will be suing you on behalf of their client,) who is worth a hoot will get all the actual weights of your trailer as loaded, coupled with the actual load within the towing vehicle (this includes all passengers and gear you are hauling which, by the way, reduces your towing capacity by that amount,) and if you have exceeded your tow limit weights, chances are real good you will be held liable for damages all because you exceeded your safe total weight. A two liter engine is not well designed or suited for towing, and structurally, the frame and suspension of such a small car would be really pushing the envelope of safety.
Some here may tout their ability to perform feats of magic like pulling a semi trailer with a riding lawnmower, but you have to decide what is your family's safety, and your financial security, worth to you?
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Old 08-20-2010, 11:08 AM   #6
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Greg, I understand your point... But if we live our lives based on a fear of being sued for everything, then we might as well give up now. I can tell you from experience that you can be sued for anything... The other side just needs good lawyers. You wouldn't believe some of the lawsuits I have been involved with. If you get into an accident and someone is hurt, you should expect to be sued, whether you are towing or not.

Don't buy the argument that a 1,000-1,500 pound fiberglass trailer needs to be pulled by a truck. Trucks are for pulling multiple-ton loads. I have a boat that weighs about 6,000 pounds on the trailer. I tow it with a diesel van.

Also, to say that a 2.0 liter engine can't handle it is false. A gasoline-powered Sprinter van can haul itself (about 5,000 pounds) and tow 5,000 pounds as well. That's with a 2.3 liter gasoline engine. Yes, the sprinter is a very different vehicle, but the engine is just a version of the Mercedes 2.3 liter that is found in their cars.

Also, like I said, VW Pproves of towing 3,000+ pounds with the Golf. There's no argument against that. Yes, in the US they dumb down the numbers because they, too, are afraid of being sued.

To the OP, it is a fact that ANY extra load in your car affects the braking, acceleration, and handling of your car. Therefor it could be said that it is more dangerous to have three people in your car than two. It is even more dangerous to have luggage in your trunk. Towing adds more to the equation. You can't just hitch up a trailer and drive like it is not there. You need to know what you are doing, know how your vehicle handles with a trailer in tow, and know what to do if you should get into trouble. I'm not saying you should do anything that is outright unsafe. VW knows the car can handle towing a small trailer, and I agree with them.
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Old 08-20-2010, 11:55 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Greg Finke View Post
Another concern, besides only having a 2 liter lawn mower engine, is the fact that, should you ever be involved in an accident, you can bet that any shyster attorney, (the one that will be suing you on behalf of their client,) who is worth a hoot will get all the actual weights of your trailer as loaded, coupled with the actual load within the towing vehicle (this includes all passengers and gear you are hauling which, by the way, reduces your towing capacity by that amount,) and if you have exceeded your tow limit weights, chances are real good you will be held liable for damages all because you exceeded your safe total weight. A two liter engine is not well designed or suited for towing, and structurally, the frame and suspension of such a small car would be really pushing the envelope of safety.
Some here may tout their ability to perform feats of magic like pulling a semi trailer with a riding lawnmower, but you have to decide what is your family's safety, and your financial security, worth to you?
For every one who advocates pulling a Semi trailer with a lawnmower, there are ten who claim that you need a Peterbilt to pull a teardrop.
I bought a Scamp because it can be pulled with a vehicle which is worth driving without a trailer. If it weren't for that fact I would not own a travel trailer.
Here is a picture of not enough TV for a Scamp...... and oneof a minimumally safe rig for the paranoid.
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Old 08-20-2010, 04:44 PM   #8
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I bought a Scamp because it can be pulled with a vehicle which is worth driving without a trailer. If it weren't for that fact I would not own a travel trailer.
Well put. I feel exactly the same way (except I don't have my Scamp yet).

I used to have a popup that I towed with the car I had at the time, which was a Mercedes 240D. 68 horsepower, four speed manual, and more than 400,000 miles on it. That car had over 600,000 miles when I sold it, and the guy who bought it from me used it solely to tow and launch his sailboat.

I loved the fact that I could just hook the camper up to my car and go. No prepping a separate tow vehicle. Always had my stuff in the car with me. It got over 24 MPG. I know that people do it, but I'm not then type to drive as a daily driver. I like the comfort and economy of my car.

In fact, I have a cargo trailer hitched up to my car right now with a keg fridge strapped to it. I'll be delivering it to the proud new owner in about 20 minutes.
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Old 08-21-2010, 06:12 AM   #9
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As I mentioned above, I tow my Boler 13 with a 4-cylinder car. So I'm not an advocate of massive overkill in towing.

But, on the other hand, my car is officially rated to tow the weight of my Boler, with a nice cushion to boot.

I'm the last person to do things just because that's what I'm "supposed" to do; but recommending that someone tow a load that is over their tow rating (by quite a bit, I would imagine, with a family of four and all of their living/camping gear in the car) just doesn't seem like a good idea, to me.

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Old 08-21-2010, 07:36 AM   #10
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pulling weight isnt that hard to do........stopping it is and keeping it pointed in the right direction is a concern.
Lighter tv's struggle on the last two counts sometimes, not always.
most small cars can easily pull a 13ft egg these days...the lawnmower engine the earlier poster referred to isnt made anymore and put in golfs. Modern engines are quite reliable and more powerful than what he's referring to.
I pull my uhaul 13 with a chrysler mini van with a 2.5 i think it is 4 cyl and it has no problems handling it. I'd rather use my v8 Ranchero but haven't yet...maybe next time
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Old 08-21-2010, 07:59 AM   #11
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Other factors... towing on flat lands or over the Rockies?! And yes, we are a litigious people. More important than that, is being held criminally negligent if knowingly towing something overweight. If someone is seriously injured or dies, there can be jail time involved. Personally, I couldn't live with myself if I hurt someone and it could have been prevented by towing properly. Accidents do happen, but having one waiting to happen is different. YMMV

There is an old saying, just because you can doesn't mean you should.
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Old 08-21-2010, 08:27 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Raya L. View Post
but recommending that someone tow a load that is over their tow rating (by quite a bit, I would imagine, with a family of four and all of their living/camping gear in the car) just doesn't seem like a good idea, to me.

Raya
I am with you on that. The tow rating of the VW Golf in question is more than enough to tow the trailer in question. I am going by the tow rating that the VW factory assigns to the Golf, not what VWoA dumbs it down to.
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Old 08-21-2010, 08:37 AM   #13
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I guess I assumed that the original poster would be towing in Canada and the US, with a vehicle made and rated for this market. If she and her family will be towing in Europe, with a car rated for European towing, then that is a different story.
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Old 08-21-2010, 12:25 PM   #14
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Melanie, I guess what you need to ask yourself is "do I feel comfortable going above the Canadian tow numbers, knowing that in other countries I would be allowed to tow much more with my car."

We cannot answer that for you. We can just argue about whether vehicles get weaker and drivers get dumber on this side of the ocean. VW seems to think so.
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Old 08-21-2010, 08:41 PM   #15
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Thanks so much for all of your input. I really don't want to tow overweight - I just can't figure out what I am allowed to and what is safe.

So I have the manual open...

Maximum Vehicle Weights (lbs):
Total Permissible Weight = 3,946
Maximum Payload = 1,168
Reg. Vehicle Weight = 2,778 (from the permit)
Max front axle load = 2,094
Max rear axle load = 2,006
Max roof weight = 165

Maximum Permissible Trailer Weights (lbs):
Trailer with brakes = 3,086
Trailer without brakes = 1,323
Tongue Load = 165

"The tongue load increases the weight of the rear axle and correspondingly reduces the other load that your vehicle can carry."

"Never exceed the Gross Vehicle Weight, which is the weight of the vehicle, including the driver, passengers, luggage, trailer hitch and tongue weight of the loaded trailer."

A few points....

1. I didn't consider trailer brakes before because I thought I was fine without but it more than doubles the permissible trailer weight (3,086 lbs).

2. The Boler manuals I have read state an unloaded weight of 900 lbs and a MAX Trailer Weight of 1250 lbs. To the poster who thought it would surely be higher - why would that be? We met a couple with a Boler last weekend (my introduction) and they were towing a 13' Boler (1200 lbs fully loaded / 800 lbs unloaded - they did have it weighed) plus 2 kids with a Honda Element.

So I figured...

Boler 1250 lbs (Max Permissible Trailer Weight without brakes 1,323 lbs)

Passengers 600 lbs
Tongue weight 125 lbs
Hitch 75 lbs ???
Luggage 200 lbs

Total Payload 1000 lbs (max 1,168 lbs)

Am I calculating this properly? If so, it seems fine (to me and VW). For those of you who disagree - please explain.

Thanks again for taking the time to ponder this with me.

Melanie

(Related question...Is it a big deal to install brakes?)
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Old 08-22-2010, 02:39 AM   #16
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I have only one thing to say to those who wish to tow overweight, read this:

Proper Tow Vehicles A Must! - GlamisDunes.com

Now tell me you want to tow overweight.

BTW1: Your hitch weight should be 10-15% of your trailer weight.

Here is a helpful website:

http://www.uhaul.com/hitches/glossary/

BTW2 : German specs only apply in Germany. I would use Canadian specs since you live in Canada...

BTW3 : There is no question that we are a litiginous society, moreso than European countries. Ignore at your peril.

BTW4: Here is a discussion of Boler weight:

http://www.fiberglassrv.com/forums/f...ght-25389.html
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Old 08-22-2010, 08:13 AM   #17
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I have only one thing to say to those who wish to tow overweight, read this:

Proper Tow Vehicles A Must! - GlamisDunes.com

Now tell me you want to tow overweight.
There's a big difference between a truck pulling four times it's own weight and a car pulling less than half it's own weight. It is hard to convince anyone who hasn't done it on a regular basis, but it is a very stable setup. Nobody in their right minds should drive very fast while trailing.
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Old 08-22-2010, 11:02 AM   #18
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It was never my intent to stir up a hornets nest by remarking that under-sized under-powered vehicles weren't capable of towing a trailer under ideal conditions. I notice that most of the comments advocating using these minisule TV's are, by and large, what we out west would refer to as "flatlanders". I just wonder what kind of towing results you would achieve trying to go up and over some our western mountain passes at 6,000 - 7,000 ft elevations, in much thinner air, and with a line of irate vehicles stacked up behind your little pipsqueak "I think I can, I think I can" tugs. Yeah, you can probably eventually make it in first gear, but your vehicle would probably hate you forever for putting it through such torture. Cruelty to tow vehicles should be a crime. At least holding up traffic on a long mountain uphill drag should be! Oh, and don't forget...you will be wearing out your brakes real quick too because what goes up must come down, hopefully under some form of control. You people who insist on using rediculously under powered vehicles for towing really scare me.

I'm sure this will ignite another firestorm, but it's my opinion, and I'm sticking to it!

P.S. And no, I don't have a huge truck, I have a 2004 Nissan Frontier, V-6. It's not a large truck, but sufficient for hauling, even through these high mountain passes, but yet still economical to operate.
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Old 08-22-2010, 06:24 PM   #19
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Greg, I don't disagree with you. There are certain conditions when vehicles should not drive. I don't just mean TVs, I mean any vehicle. My car does not have a lot of ground clearance or 4 wheel drive. Someone could argue that I shouldn't own this car because sometimes, in some places, it snows. Well, I don't drive my car in conditions that wouldn't be reasonably safe. The same holds true when towing. Not just towing with a small car, but towing with anything. Do you think an F350 towing its maximum payload would be able to get over a mountain pass at the speed limit? What about a tractor trailer? I doubt it. However, those are considered acceptable tow vehicles.

I have been through the Rockies. I know what it is like. I have seen cars and trucks with NOTHING in tow that can't keep up and end up holding up traffic. You make a good argument, but should not limit it to small TVS, or TVs at all, but rather ALL vehicles.

By the way, we have steep hills out on the east coast, too. Our mountains are much smaller, but our highways tend to go over, rather than wind around them. There are many hills that need special lanes for tractor trailers because they can't keep up. Many cars downshift, too... cars without trailers.
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Old 08-23-2010, 11:01 AM   #20
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Greg, I don't disagree with you. There are certain conditions when vehicles should not drive. I don't just mean TVs, I mean any vehicle. My car does not have a lot of ground clearance or 4 wheel drive. Someone could argue that I shouldn't own this car because sometimes, in some places, it snows. Well, I don't drive my car in conditions that wouldn't be reasonably safe. The same holds true when towing.
Sometimes conditions get bad real fast. In the blink of an eye.

We have been almost run off the road several times. I think vehicles towing trailers become invisible. And I'm talking about a one ton truck towing a 22ft trailer!

Weather can turn on you too. Many years ago we were going up to a local lake here in So Cal the last weekend in April. We checked the weather forecast and there was a chance of light showers. On the way up the mountain an unexpected cold front/storm blew in very quickly. It hailed and then started snowing heavily. There was no where to pull off. I was scared to death. I can not imagine what would have happened if we had been towing with a marginal T.V. Hubby slowed to a crawl as did everyone else going up the road and we made it safely.

I have a two wheel drive Explorer rated to tow my very heavy Boler (2200lbs). I hate towing with it. My next vehicle is going to be a truck, a 4x4 truck!

I realize many people are comfortable towing with smaller rigs but I am not.
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