Pulling a trailer

I pull a 5x8 enclosed trailer moderately long distances with my Toyota Matrix XRS and want to know if there are things I should do or be aware of to prevent excessive wear and tear on my car. I do this about 6-8 times a year and travel an average of 500 miles per trip but some trips are 800+ miles. I often travel thru stretches of interstate in the eastern mountains with long climbs. I heard last week you recommend synthetic oil to someone who drives their car hard, should I switch to synthetic oil on my next oil change?

When towing with a vehicle it causes the engine to work harder. So using a synthetic oil in this case is a good idea. Also, the transmission also works harder when towing. This can cause the transmission fluid to break down faster from the heat produced in the transmission when towing. So keep an eye on the condition of the transmission fluid and when it starts looking darker than normal it’s time to have the transmission fluid serviced.


Installing a transmission oil cooler will greatly extend the life of the transmission which will be the first component to fail…(assuming it’s an automatic)

a rear sway brace will help some by giving you better control of your Matrix.

If my 2 cents are worth anything, I would just get a car that is capable of hauling a trailer. I can’t even find a “trailer package” on the toyota website.

I agree. If this vehicle is a 2009 or newer, it’s not rated to tow anything, if it’s a 1st gen Matrix, then the limit is 1500 pounds. Even lightly loaded the OP is asking alot of the car to travel 500+ miles whilst towing a trailer. I would use another vehicle if possible.

Synthetic oil won’t hurt. But it’s not going to make a huge difference either.

One thing I found out the hard way is make sure the ball on the hitch is the correct size. When I was a much younger buck I towed a Audi with my Wagoneer and the ball was one size below what the hitch on the car dolly was, the constant movement took out the odd front joint on that 1970 Wagoneers driveshaft.