Best way to carry/tow small, occasional loads?

I have a 2000 Mazda Protege (1.6L, 5 speed manual) and I’m trying to find the best way to carry relatively small loads that won’t fit in the car (e.g. sheets of plywood (4’x8’), 2x4s, mulch, etc.).

Even though the manual shows N/A for towing capacity, I’ve considered a small trailer since I wouldn’t be towing anything extremely heavy and it would only be for short distances. Is a small trailer probably my only option? If so, are there any that are easier to store or less conspicuous than “normal” trailers? I only have a single car garage and not a lot of room to get to the back yard. Anything that can be tipped up easily and stored on its side? Or maybe even something that can be folded or easily partially disassembled? Possibly stupid questions, but I’m just trying to figure out what’s possible. Thanks for any suggestions and advice.


Owner’s manual says towing N/A. In other words, don’t do it. For one thing, this car probably doesn’t have a sufficient rigidity it the back to mount a tow bar. And, it may throw things off enough to make the car dangerous at any speed. From what I noticed on a lot of cars lately, the braking systems just keep getting smaller and smaller. Probably doesn’t have safe capacity to brake well with extra weight behind it. These are safety issues that make it dangerous for everyone else on the roads, not just you.

How often is this, anyway? Home Depot has a truck that will more that carry what you describe, and can be rented hourly. I’m sure Lowe’s has probably followed suit. The neck you save could be that pregnant lady’s. Think about that, please.

We used a Thule roof rack system for many years on our sedans with great success. Look for a quality brand with easy on/off and options. Quality speaks for itself - you don’t want one that falls short or needs to be trashed. Easy on/off because if it is easy you’ll be more likely to take it off when you don’t need it and save some gas and wind noise. Options we have include a basket carrier, ski holders, bike holders, ratchet straps, a web-style bungie
device and regualr bungie cords and ropes. We also added an air dam, which quiets down wind noise and maybe improves mileage. Also out there are weather tight pod carriers.

In our case, the rack was used on two successive Saabs, which use an identical mounting point
system. If we had changed car types, one can buy new rack-to-roof adaptors. So, one good
rack system can last you a lifetime of cars.

I think you can buy a good system with a few options for under $500. I think our basic racks were $135, basket $125, ski $135, ratchet straps $50, and so on.

Seems reasonable. I’ll look into the truck rental as it won’t be very often and that would probably cover most of what I’d need. Otherwise, I’ll look into the roof rack as mentioned below (it’d be nice to have that for my bike anyway). Thanks to you both for the suggestions.

I have seen tiny folding trailers rated for a couple of hundred pounds, that would be ideal for your need. (And I’m talking about trailers light enough to pick up and move with one hand.) As long as you’re not loading the trailer and then loading the car to the brim, I don’t see why you couldn’t do it. There are certainly hitches available for the car, I think you’d be fine.

You can put the plywood on the roof. I’d use a rack as thechums suggested. Do Not Ride On The Highway With This Load. The plywood will act as a wing and you run a strong risk of it blowing off, no matter how well you tie it on. I don’t care about your precious load, but the nice folks you share the road with. You might fit 2x4s inside. Drop the passenger seat down and place the lumber inside from the passenger side behind the driver to the floor in the front passenger side. How many extra trips to Lowes does it take before the cost of return trips exceeds the cost of renting? Remember, you have to fill the tank before you return the truck.

I bought and used a folding trailer from Sam’s Club for many years. I towed it with a 1986 1.6L 5 speed Nissan Sentra, very similar in size to your Protege. No problems as long as the trailer load is light. I would never try to haul plywood on a roof rack. That seems far more likely to cause handling issue than a small trailer. Here is a link to a very similar trailer to the one I used:

Note that this folds and has small caster wheels for storage. You can get even smaller ones, but this will hold a full size sheet of ply wood. Just don’t go nuts and overload it.

Thanks very much. That’s exactly the sort of thing I was hoping to find. It’s also good to hear about your past experience with a similar situation; good to know you didn’t kill any pregnant ladies.