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Glamping with My Volvo?

I’m hooked on vintage campers! I’'d like to pull an old school camper (2,000 pounds?) with my 2002 Volvo Cross Country wagon which is rated for 3,300 towing capacity. My mechanic says don’t as it’ll ruin the transmission. He suggests a camper under 1,000 pounds for our Rocky Mountain lifestyle. Another mechanic suggests more frequent transmission flushes and the transmission should be fine. Now I’m sad as I don’t want a bigger vehicle and yet want the glamper experience. " Canned Ham" is for me and my dog! (I can leave hubby at home for most trips.). :wink:
What to do? My Volvo is still a baby with 120K miles if that matters.
Thanks for any thoughts.

You had me until you said ‘Rocky Mountain lifestyle’. Steep = hard on vehicles. And ‘old school campers’ are often heavier than 2000 pounds. So I wouldn’t with your Volvo.

And 120,000 miles is far from a ‘baby’.

If you haven’t already, open a savings account called “My Next Transmission” and deposit $4,000. Then go have fun.

Like texases said, “old school” campers are heavy. The only camper I would tow with a Volvo is a small Scamp-type fiberglass one. But in the mountains, I wouldn’t tow anything at all with a Volvo.

Take the transmission repair fund for the Volvo and instead buy yourself a used F150 for towing. Then go have fun. Leave the Volvo at home.

" open a savings account called "My Next Transmission" and deposit $4,000. Then go have fun. "


Has the OP changed the trans fluid at least 4 times so far?
If so, there is a chance that this now-aged vehicle’s transmission will survive the torture of pulling a heavy trailer up extreme grades. (Not a strong chance…but…a chance…)

If the trans has not already gone through 4 changes over the past 12 years, then I have to say that there is no way on God’s green earth that it will survive the torture test that the OP is thinking of subjecting it to. In fact, just “normal” usage will likely lead to trans failure in the very near future if the trans has not been serviced as described above.

It appears that the OP loves her Volvo, but…has she loved it enough to properly maintain its transmission over the past 12 years?

After reading your question I did a search for “2002 volvo cross country wagon reviews”, It seems that the transmission that they used in the 2001-2004 cross country wagon isn`t very dependable or reliable, even in the best of circumstances.I would advise to not try to tow anything with that car.

Thanks all! I enjoyed your comments and advice. I’d need to check service records but I believe I’ve had the Volvo’s transmission fluid flushed at least twice. I bought the car with 40K miles when it was three years old. I’ve had it serviced regularly and have followed the garage’s recommendations but don’t know the previous owner’s level of care. When I talked to the mechanics yesterday, they indicated that those transmission problems for my model year were typically noted “a lot a few years ago” but they’ve not had a Volvo in the shop with that need in a while. (My guess is there are probably fewer cars of this year on the road; I hardly see them myself.)
The camper I’m thinking of, by the way, is a compact model of 1300 pounds. But I may go bigger, and follow the advice about getting a truck. I had one before the Volvo and do miss driving one. Thanks all!

Skip the teranny flush…it’s just a flush of your wallet. All a flush does is stir up anything that has already settled on the bottom and brings it back into being pumped thru all the parts.
A good filter change and new fluid is a better route to go…


I wouldn’t relish pulling a camping trailer with an unreliable car like this one, but then I remember what we were towing those canned hams with 50+ years ago. Those cars (and they were mostly cars) were not very powerful or robust. They broke down far more than cars do now and were less powerful. But people hitched up their trailers and away they went. Up and over the Rockies, absolutely. They had to slow down a lot to do it, and I’m sure their transmissions were hurting, but cars weren’t expected to be perfect forever. Plenty needed major engine or transmission work before they hit 100k miles. If you drove beyond that you knew you were on borrowed time and hoped for thd best.

I think my family had one old-school car, a 1971 Ford wagon, make it to 100k, and it was in pretty sad shape, not helped by a cheap repainting that tried to match the original deep, distinguished burgundy and ended up with a pretty nice shade for hooker nail polish, a vivid metallic purplish red that could be seen from space. Red cars did fade back then, but it was not anything like that color before the paint job. It was cheap job and enough to keep it looking acceptable for a few more years. Sort of, in the right neighborhood. Low-riders from the barrio loved it. We replaced it with a used Chevy wagon in a nice burgundy, except the interior plastics which had turned hot pink. We had bad luck with red cars, also having an unreliable Renault Alliance, and a red 1959 Impala that lost a wheel on the freeway, right after a set of new tires. No injuries, and even the car was OK.)

Watch The Long Long Trailer with Lucille Ball. Its from 1953. I think they use a Buick? or maybe Mercury convertible to pull a camper over the mountains.

It was a Mercury convertible, and it struggled to get over the mountains.
Once Lucy loaded her rock collection (actually, more like a boulder collection) into it, they were barely able to move uphill.

For anyone who has not seen it, this film is worth searching-out, as it is cute and amusing.

Yep it was a Merc and I really liked that car. Back in the days when a regular car could pull a trailer no problem.

It’s been my experience with the Volvo brand that they have a hard time going from point “A” to point “B” by themselves. I know that they are well built cars but that’s not enough to get them past that point A and point B problem. I wouldn’t add anything in to the mix that would hinder them further.

I thought it was interesting that my BIL’s cousin is a Volvo mechanic in Norway. He has a collection of cars, every one is a GM but not Volvo.

Well, or back when we didn’t worry about the car self-destructing. It’s not as if that Mercury was powerful. Quite the opposite, yet people routinely towed with cars like that. In the movie the problem was the load, not the car itself. If a car broke down, it was fixed, or discarded if at all old. Fixes were straightforward and usually pretty cheap. Kept a lot of mechanics employed, even with far fewer cars than today.

During my childhood in the sixties most families still had only one car. Women going to work (including my mom) drove many families into getting a second car. In our case something small for my dad to commute in, my mom driving the family station wagon. A generation earlier and many women never learned to drive (including both of my grandmothers). They could walk to the local shops and the dairy and bakery brought things to them. Or they were driven into town on the weekend by their husbands, if they lived on a farm, like one grandmother. Her milk and eggs were out the back door and the bread was from the oven. So much work.

American cars are exotics in Europe. One episode of Car Crazy was in Sweden and there were a lot of American muscle cars.

Christine67 “My guess is there are probably fewer cars of this year on the road; I hardly see them myself.” I recall a vintage Volvo commercial that claimed 9 out of 10 Volvos ever produced were still on the road. Tell me it isn’t true that statistics used in a commercial could be exaggerated. (sarcasm).

I don’t know about Sweden, but in Germany there are young guys, many foreign born, who love American cars. Not the really old ones they can’t afford, but the cheaper models from twenty years ago (give or take a decade.) I don’t know how they manage to license them unless there are some weird exceptions. There are clubs and excursions and whatnot. The Swiss used to buy quite a few American cars, because they didn’t have a Swiss brand to patronize. But that is not as true as it was.

MarkM “I remember what we were towing those canned hams with 50+ years ago.” I remember and love those classics. I have owned quite a few of them. I would like to own some of them again and drive them occasionally. For a daily driver I would prefer a modern vehicle. When I turn the key they go VROOM! After a few seconds I can drive them. I stay under 3,000 RPM for about 1/2 mile when they are usually at normal operating temperature. They get much better fuel mileage. They perform much better. My current 2010 KIA Forte SX 2.4L 6 speed manual has been tested by Road and Track at 0 to 60 in 6.9 seconds. That would challenge a mid 1960s Pontiac GTO! They handle better. Stop better and are much safer in a crash.

VDCdriver Yes. The tow vehicle in “The Long, Long Trailer” was a Mercury. I’m thinking a 1953. This was the ultimate FOMOCO flathead V8. The 1953 Ford was their first over head valve. I will admit this film is one of my favorites, however a 1953 or even a 1954 Mercury would not be able to tow this trailer flat and level much less uphill!