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  #11  
Old 08-17-2011
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Depending on your trailer...You could tow it with a bike. I tow mine with my 67 Mustang. I'm not sure of the weight but I can pull the trailer and lazer by hand with minimum effort to hook it up to the Mustang. IMHO it all would depend on your hitch.
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  #12  
Old 08-17-2011
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My Phantom is 100 lb. The trailer alone is 300 lb! I pull it easily with a Honda Accord. I'm hoping to someday pull it with my Prius, but face a similar issue of it not being rated to tow (though are whole websites devoted to Priuses pulling trailers).

The issue with a car is not usually its power to pull. It's braking to stop, stability in hard turns, and flexing of the unibody under the dynamic stresses. Realize that your trailer will always want to go straight, so whenever you turn, there's a lot of sideways force applied to the very rear of the car at the hitch. Every time you go over a bump, the hitch (and whatever part of the car it's attached to) gets a sudden jolt.

For these reasons, a lot has to do with how and where you drive. If it's a short, level run to the boat ramp, no problem. If you're driving through the mountains, it's a little more stress and therefore riskier.
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  #13  
Old 08-17-2011
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Its probably a liability issue why you cars not "listed" to tow a trailer. Weight wise theres no more strain from pulling a small trailer than there would be stuffing the trunk and backseat on a trip home from sams club, aerodynamics will drag you down a bit but no more so than a cartop rack would. If a commercial hitch is not available you will have to go with a custom from a welding shop. I have a hitch on my 3 cyl geo metro and it pulls a small utility trailer just fine. My 65 hp Harley has pulled my wife and I and a trailer thru every state on the east coast, heck theres people that pull pop up campers with motorcycles. IMHO go for it.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theuselessone View Post
Firstly, I apologize if this has already been discussed, but I didn't see anything too similar when I did a search.

As the title says, I'd like to know what sort of car would be capable of towing a Laser dinghy on a trailer.

The issue is, is that I currently drive a small car (1.5L Mazda Protege 5 speed manual) which the owner's manual says is not rated to tow anything. From reading other forums/web pages, I've gathered that towing with a small car is (obviously) not ideal, but can be done for short/medium distances (say within 2-3 hours), and that people in Europe tow dinghys with small(er) cars quite often (which aren't rated to tow anything in the US but have a tow rating in Europe).

I have the option to upgrade to a larger car, but I would rather stick with my Protege. If I shouldn't tow with my Protege, what other cars would be more capable? It seems as though most of the other cars I've looked at (Subaru Impreza/Outback, Audi A4, Volkswagon Jetta, etc.) tend to either have relatively poor gas mileage (around 20 mpg) for daily use and/or high maintenance costs.

Thanks for time and help.
Your profile doesn't say where you located but if your anywhere near the middle of maryland and need help with the hitch either installing or modifying let me know.
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  #15  
Old 08-17-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theuselessone View Post
For future reference, what other (small-ish) cars would be able to tow small dinghies and also don't cost a fortune to maintain and fuel?
Not sure where you got your mileage numbers for the Subaru Impreza. I get 26-28 on the highway with my 2005 WRX and the non-turbo does better. The new 2012 Impreza is rated at 37 MPG on the highway. The Audis and VWs with the 2.0T typically will get about 30 MPG on the highway.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bandaidmd View Post
Its probably a liability issue why you cars not "listed" to tow a trailer.
That's what I gathered from scouring other websites.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bandaidmd View Post
Your profile doesn't say where you located but if your anywhere near the middle of maryland and need help with the hitch either installing or modifying let me know.
Thanks for the offer, I am usually in either Gaithersburg or St. Mary's City, depending on the time of year for school. Other than that, I'm looking towards grad school next year so I'm not sure where I'll be after that.

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Originally Posted by JimsCAL View Post
Not sure where you got your mileage numbers for the Subaru Impreza. I get 26-28 on the highway with my 2005 WRX and the non-turbo does better. The new 2012 Impreza is rated at 37 MPG on the highway. The Audis and VWs with the 2.0T typically will get about 30 MPG on the highway.
That sounds pretty reasonable. I use estimate Edmunds and/or fueleconomy.gov to get a feel of what the MPG would be.
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Old 08-17-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bandaidmd View Post
...theres no more strain from pulling a small trailer than there would be stuffing the trunk and backseat on a trip home from sams club...
This is so untrue that your response may actually be a liability issue. The distribution of static weight and dynamic stresses are totally different for a trailer. With a trailer the stress is concentrated at one point far behind the rear axle (the hitch ball), which makes the dynamics of the car when turning and/or stopping totally different.

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Quote:
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Its probably a liability issue why you cars not "listed" to tow a trailer..
That's what I gathered from scouring other websites.
Well if you read it on the Internet, it must be true!

It's a very common fallacy to dismiss facts that you don't understand as "lawyer talk." If your car's manufacturer has not rated your vehicle for towing a trailer, that may mean that your car has either not been tested, or it was tested and failed. Neither is a good scenario.

You may be OK towing your trailer. But don't let strangers mislead you about the potential risks. If you're checking websites, make sure the advice you are getting is from people who are using your exact same car to tow a trailer that is at least as heavy as yours. Otherwise you're being misled by worthless Internet gossip.
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  #18  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RhythmDoctor View Post
Well if you read it on the Internet, it must be true!

It's a very common fallacy to dismiss facts that you don't understand as "lawyer talk." If your car's manufacturer has not rated your vehicle for towing a trailer, that may mean that your car has either not been tested, or it was tested and failed. Neither is a good scenario.
Perhaps I should reword my statement to "That's what the consensus seems to be from scouring other websites".

Quote:
Originally Posted by RhythmDoctor View Post
You may be OK towing your trailer. But don't let strangers mislead you about the potential risks. If you're checking websites, make sure the advice you are getting is from people who are using your exact same car to tow a trailer that is at least as heavy as yours. Otherwise you're being misled by worthless Internet gossip.
That's why I ended posting about it. I've read people who have towed with cars in the same size range, but slightly larger/more powerful. I haven't seen much information on towing with smaller cars until a few were mentioned in this thread.
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  #19  
Old 08-17-2011
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As stated earlier you will not have an issue getting started or going straight. The manual tranny is helpful, but expect to wear the clutch faster than normal since you will probably let it slip more during acceleration when towing. People tend to be ginger when towing at first. Keep current on your brake and tire maintenance (a good idea anyway, but more important when towing). Learn how to balance your trailer so you get the 10% tongue weight. This will make the trailer stable and allow you to have control over your car. We can have a whole thread on how to trail properly.

For reference I towed an '82 Hobie 18 (~400 lbs) on a steel (~500 lbs) and later aluminum (~250 lbs) trailer with a loaded box (~150 lbs) from Vermont to Maryland regularly. My vehicle was/is '01 VW Passat with the 1.8T and a 5 speed manual tranny. When you add up the weight using the lighter trailer it is ~900 lbs. This is less than loading up the three other seats and the trunk so it had the needed stopping power. As for the suspension I only had about 100 - 150 lbs on the tongue so the shocks were fine (actually I finally put new rear shocks on at ~260,000 miles).

What I am trying to say is your "small" car will be fine if you are towing a few hundred pounds. It comes down to proper trailer loading and understanding how to drive with a trailer. Don't jerk the wheel of your car at highway speeds, don't turn and brake at the same time, brake early and gradually, and generally be smart about driving.

I have used the car to trailer my boat since new and I now have over 260,000 miles on it and am on my third clutch and I just replaced my original rear shocks. So, if you are responsible about loading your vehicle it will still last a long time. BTW, I used to load the trunk and backseat full of tools and camping gear and the roof rack with two sea kayaks and two mountain bikes when I did the long trips with the boat.

If you want to know more about towing and get answers from people who are doing it all of the time, try the Hobie forums. Even though you only have "half a boat" they will still be glad to help out.
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Old 08-17-2011
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When I'm not sailing, I'm often spending weekends racing autocross. Many owners of small sport cars put trailer hitches on them to two a small trailer to carry their race tires, jacks, stands, and tool box. Think of a '99 Mazda Miata with a trailer. The lazer is light and if you get a very lightweight trailer for it, the only issue you will have will be how to put a hitch on your Mazda. If it can be done with small sports cars, you can do it with the Protege.

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