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Do I need a V6 to tow 500 lbs (while the car is loaded with stuff?)

Okay, my hatchback kicked the bucket this week (aka needs a new engine) so I’m used car shopping.

Each summer I load up my car to the gills, and tow my motorcycle (“trailer in a bag” and moto weigh perhaps 500 lbs total; who knows how much all the crap in the actual car weighs) to my summer job (900 miles each way.)
Do I need a V6 for this task? Am I going to ruin a little used Hyundai sedan or similar vehicle doing this? FWIW, I insist on manual transmission.

Suggestions for a simple, budget, reliable used vehicle that can handle this job? Budget is maaaybe $7000. (Hah!)

Might the reason that your hatch back “kicked the bucket” have something to do with the car you used for the task? 500 lbs is not too much to tow but you may be exceeding your gross vehicle weight including towing weight and capacity.

I would suggest a compact 4 cylinder pick up. A reasonable used extended cab 2wd, manual in a rwd Toyota/Nissan compact could be had for $ 7 k and is up to the task. It isn’t just the size of the motor, but the gearing, drive train and suspension. Even a 4 cyl but in a compact truck designed to carry loads, should handle your tasks. But, you can’t have it all if you want long term reliability in an inexpensive vehicle and your economy will not be as good as a compact car like a Hyundai. This compromise though could still do 25 mpg highway in a Toyota/Nissan if you drive it sanely, with a manual of course.

Fwd compacts work really hard when you try to overload them, as you have found out. Short answer; no, you don’t need a six. But, you do need the right vehicle.

You need to read the specifications or owner’s manual for each car that you’re considering to see the GVWR and the towing capacity. Don’t exceed either of them, partly because you could kill the car and partly because you could kill one of us.

Instead of basing your car purchase around two trips per year, it may be better to buy the car you want otherwise and rent a U-Haul trailer with a dolly for these two trips.

A 4 cylinder P/U makes a lot of sense…Maybe you can do without the trailer…I have a 4 cylinder Toyota stick shift P/U truck that pulls a 600 pound snowmobile on a trailer all over the Colorado mountains without any trouble…

Buy a 90’s model Toyota Pickup. (the 4 cylinder is bullet proof)

You wont be sorry.

I promise

Caddy. Where you in Co? I lived there 5-6 yrs I was all over that state.

My dad killed a World Record Goat there stood for 20yrs

The car that died was a BMW 318ti (RWD, manual transmission, for what it’s worth.) It overheated last week (without telling me!), consequently, I drove it until it needed a new engine. Nice, huh? I don’t think the tow had had anything to do with it (I wasn’t towing at the time, and simply cruising down the highway), but I might be able to blame the fact that I had to replace the drive train on towing.

Thanks fro the GVW reminder. I seem to recall looking into that when I bought the moto and trailer and deciding I was within the figure, but that was a long time ago, and I certainly didn’t put all the stuff in the car on a scale, just guessed. So yes, a good stat to examine when buying the new-to-me used vehicle.

The rental idea is a good one, but that would leave me for over two months at my summer job without a car. I’m a migratory species.

Thanks for all the thoughts - appreciate it!

operaflute wrote:
The rental idea is a good one, but that would leave me for over two months at my summer job without a car.

The dolly is for your car.

Engine power is not the issue. The issue with what you state is stopping and emergency turning. A V6 engine has nothing to do with stopping and emergency turning.

We pulled a 500 lb camper trailer for many miles with a 1.9 liter car with no problem with engine power. I have also pulled very heavy loads with a 1.6 liter and also a 2 liter car; again engine power was not an issue.

I, for one, do not want to own a pickup for occasional load hauling now; use a lightweight trailer for that. This is like mine except mine has smaller wheels:

I have hauled a 500 lb motorcycle with no problem with my trailer pulled with a 1.6 liter car.

I pulled a well over 500 lb boat with a 4 cylinder 2wd, man trans Ford Ranger, up and down many expressway and other hills. 1500 lbs my guess. Every now and then I wished there was another inch to the floorboard, but we made it.

The V6 theory involves the the time tested practice of including ‘‘HEAD ROOM’’ in your operating system. ( whether it be towing, sound system wattage or computer memory )
When you incorperate a bit more than you MUST have for the job , this allows that system to work less hard than it’s maximum ability.
Kinda like YOU, lifting less weight than you ever could. It’s just easier, especially for multiple reps and longer time.
The more often you push those bounderies to the max , the sooner you’ll see trouble.

I have an older version of this trailer, FWIW.

Might be looking at a 2002 Corolla tomorrow (because it’s the first thing I’ve found that I can afford and isn’t an automatic transmission). Specs say towing weight 1500lbs. (wow!) Well over what I need. That tells me it’s do-able with out killing the car. Haven’t found the gross vehicle weight yet, though.

-"The dolly is for your car."
Oh. Duh!

I had a 2002 Corolla/ Prism (four total in different years). You’ll kill the little front drive car if a rear drive BMW failed you. Regardless of this very optimistic rating, I guarantee it will carry/tow heavy weights poorly. The mileage on the car further reduces it in practice. If your intend is to load her up, let us know when you’re on the highway and where. We’ll go an alternate route. You couldn’t pick a much less capable type of car to tow with. A front drive compact is POOR. Ratings on all cars are gimmicky unless on vehicles meant for towing and commercial.

500lb is not a lot. Here in Ireland where Tax / insurance and $10/gal petrol make us drive small vehicles, plenty of people tow with 1.8 & 2L cars, in fact, a huge number of hatchbacks have tow hitches.

I’ve a lot of experience through Scuba clubs of the perils of towing too much with too little car.

A Corolla might be a bit marginal for what you want to do. Go up a size, and you should be fine. You want a long wheelbase and ABS. just make sure your trailer and bike is actuallly only 500lbs and don’t speed.

If you can, get a Diesel. the torque and weight of the motor will solve the problems…

If the engine was the only thing that mattered, a Corvette would have NO trouble pulling a 30ft boat on a trailer.

Not arguing with the thoughts on the Corolla, but I’m not really convinced the towing history is what did the BMW in.
Curious: what’s the deal regarding FWD vs. RWD regarding towing?

Fwd can be an effective tow vehicle on larger cars like minivans. The problem with the smaller ones is the poor weight distribution coupled with the low overall weight. Hills with the natural weight shift to the rear exacerbate the problem and the overused drive train and entire suspension used for both steering and drive while being unloaded makes for some potentially hazardous situations. Rwd trucks are much more robust for both load and towing. Rwd manages loads much better as rear weighting increases traction, the opposite of fwd.

As far as towing is concerned, 500 lbs is well within the capability of a Corolla for towing if you don’t over load the inside.

The only GVWR I have been able to find for a Corolla is 3500 lbs. You tell me with a 1500lbs trailer in tow, how much more capacity you have when you subtract the tongue weight. The Corolla will have a tough time managing 3500 lbs. Especially, if you include a trailer and even if the trailer weight is just 500 lbs. I repeat, I had 4 of them. They are softly sprung and have smaller tires. Your BMW will seem like a much more capable vehicle.

Do you need a V6 to tow? Probably not. But it will be a much more pleasurable experience if you have more horsepower. Both for you and the people behind you.

“bscar” is right. A 35 hp tractor can manage a 5k lbs load and greater up and down a steep incline under the right conditions with a 1.8L motor, the same size as a Corolla. It’s just as much about gearing and chassis capability, maybe more so.