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Can a civic pull a small trailer?

I have a 2002 honda civic. I completely understand that the civic is not built to pull a trailer, and that doing so would impact handling and breaking. However, it’s all I’ve got, and I don’t want to get something else just to occasionally pull a trailer. The load would be about 350 pounds including the trailer and the weight would be distributed properly. The ride would be mostly around 50-55 mph, not a lot of stop and go. What do you think - would it damage the car?



Why don’t you just rent a truck when you need it? Civics are not the best vehicle to install a trailer hitch.

350 pounds should not hurt anything…IF, IF you can properly install a hitch…There is not much to bolt it to…Your temperature gauge will let you know if it was a bad idea…

I’ve installed a hitch on most cars I’ve owned, even those that aren’t recommended for towing…great for bike racks etc. and “towing”. It’s like “Crocodile Dundee”; and that’s not a knife, now this is a real knife…350 lbs, now that isn’t towing.
Proper hitch installation for the proper tongue weight is your real problem. If it can’t be done appropriately…don’t do it.

Check your owner’s manual. I bet it says not to tow with your Civic. If it does, don’t tow with your Civic. When you need to haul things, rent a truck.

For those recommending not towing, what is the specific part of the car that it would hurt - the engine, transmission, suspension?

Before you can tow you need a hitch. See it you can find one for your Civic and what the cost is installed.

The automatic transmission in the Civic isn’t very robust. It holds up ok in the car but doesn’t handle stress well. Stress means lack of maintenance, running hot in the mountains, etc. People that put bike carriers on the top of their Civics and go blasting down the highway at 75 mph are more likely to have transmission problems.

If you get a hitch and stick with your 350 lbs (which is about lightest trailer I’ve ever heard of), stay under 60 mph, and don’t take the trailer into the mountains you might not hurt your car. What happens to many is once the hitch is on the car, the trailer gets either bigger, or gets overloaded and they end up towing much more than 350 lbs. Once you have the trailer you’ll tend to take it longer distances, on interstates, and up and down some hills. That’s when the car winds up dead on the side of the road.

If use your trailer you should have more cooling for the motor, more cooling for the transmission, and more robust CV joints, drive shafts, and brakes. The Civic needs upgrades of all these systems for and significant over the road towing.

Let’s assume you do have a hitch and 350 is the max including trailer you need to move. There’s nothing magically different on the strain of the drive train between towing and loading 350 lbs. of “lardos” in the back. I would argue that if the weight is kept within reason of 350 lbs, the fwd Civic would certainly be better balanced with just 10%-20% tongue weight and lower tire load. Again, this all assumes you can safety hand a hitch. 350 lbs, if I didn’t make myself clear, hasn’t quite reached the stage of towing IMO. If my old two stroke SAAB could do a 12’ aluminum with a motor in the trunk at about 500 lbs…this is fine.
BTW, don’t be seating those “lardos” in the back at the same time. Be considerate of total load capacity.

I would expect you to wear out your rear struts and experience a loss of traction on the front wheels, which do most of your braking. You should also expect premature transmission failure.

What I don’t understand is, if your owner’s manual says not to tow with your Civic, why isn’t that enough for you? Why do you need extra justification to follow Honda’s recommendations? Isn’t the fact that they designed and built the car enough to take it for granted that they know what is best for the car?

dagosa, I have a question.

If your total towed weight (including trailer) is 350 lbs., that must be a pretty small trailer with pretty small wheels. Would it not provide rolling resistance aside from its weight?

My personal opinion is that any cargo that, combined with the trailer, weighs 350 lbs. total, must be small and light enough to fit inside a U-Haul van or in the back of a U-Haul pick-up truck, which the OP can rent locally for a very reasonable price. This is especially true if you consider the cost of the trailer and hitch.

“If your total towed weight (including trailer) is 350 lbs., that must be a pretty small trailer with pretty small wheels. Would it not provide rolling resistance aside from its weight?”

I hear where you’re coming from and you make a good point, but according to the Civic Forum discussion on this matter, Civics towing is not recommended and still, Civic owners do tow ski doos, snowmobiles etc. effectively with a total weight much greater than 350 lbs.
They do have a load capacity of 850 lbs.
Is there rolling resistance, yes; increase wind resistance, yes. But consider the added load to driver and gear of 350 lbs on suspension, drive train, tires and positioned mostly in the rear of the fwd car. This compromises the handling and safety. A tongue weight of less than 15% of that weight, makes the car much more stable. You know from past discussions I’m a fanatic on towing safety and towing 350 lbs with a Civic, is much safer and with less stress on the drive train, than towing the rated 3500 lbs with a minivan.

Of course this discussion is mute if you have no safe way of mounting a hitch…but I had access to a good "welder " so it wasn’t the case with my old Civic and Saab 2 stroke. Would I do go over 55. no; and do it all the time, no. But the unnecessary hitch on my wife’s RAV, made a great pick up point for my tractor when she rolled it on it’s side in a ditch…so they do have other uses.
I’m out of breath and my two fingers hurt Whitey !

Thank you all for your input on this, I definitely have good information on which to make my decision.


I don’t know if the OP is still checking back on this thread, but I’ll add a couple of points. First, there are hitches available for a 2002 Honda Civic. I just searched online and found one in a few minutes. As someone else mentioned people in Europe will tow small trailers with small cars in this class all the time. No, they aren’t all diesels, though many of them are.

Second, I have some experience towing a small utility trailer with a 1986 Nissan Sentra. Same basic class of vehicle. I did not use it constantly, just occasional things like picking up plywood, etc. This did wear out the clutch on my manual transmission car earlier than normal, but other than that I had no trouble with suspension or anything. That car lasted 15 years and 150,000 miles and only got traded off because the ring gear for the starter was going bad and it wasn’t worth the cost to replace it.

You have to be reasonable with towing with a small car, but it’s not going to cause the sky to fall.

I can’t help but be reminded of this video.

As long as no one was hurt…that’s funny.

I have a question about the rolling resistance of pulling a trailer. Is it correct that, all else being equal, that a wheel with a larger diameter will have less rolling resistance?

I believe that the larger tire actually generates more Rolling Resistance Force that the vehicle?s engine has to overcome. But the larger tire has other advantages in the form of load rating, running cooler with less flexing, tracking and other factors that contribute to it’s better stability, that in actual use the larger tire may be more beneficial and under heavier loads may present less resistance to forward motion… For 350 lbs at low speeds, the small tire might be better behind a small car. But all things are seldom equal as illustrated by a very tall but narrow, bike tire. It’s not a concern if you use a trailer as intended IMO.

The reason I was asking is because the trailer I’m looking at comes in both 8 and 12 inch tires, with the 12 inch ones being much more expensive.

I’m a big tire fan…they roll more easily over uneven surfaces, and the difference for a car is insignificant in that size for that weight for resistance. 8’ would work too, as both are still “cookie cutters”. I always vote bigger, but it’s your $$$$. Assume that the actual outside diameter is greater for the 12" wheel.

A smaller wheel will have to make more revolutions for the same distance compared to a larger tire. That is why I believe a smaller wheel has more rolling resistance.