Tow Package

I am considering putting a tow package on my 2.0 liter 5 speed gas 2002 Jetta wagon for pulling around a small wooden boat (unsure of its weight) or possibly a pop-up camper. The boat trailer has no breaks. I’m sure the camper would, if we got one.

I live in Western Massachusetts, which is not crazy with hills, but there are certainly plenty. I’m planning on replacing my clutch plate in the next month, so I’ll be riding on that by the time I’m ready to pull anything.

Good or bad idea?

All comes down to weight. Find a popup camper you like, let us know what it weighs.

What’s the towing capacity listed for this car?

I found this, so I think my question is answered.

This is the style camper we’re looking at. If we kept it to 1000 or less, I should be ok?

While 1,000 pounds may be OK (I’m reluctant to recommend towing for a 13 year old VW), you might check what popups are actually available at that weight, loaded and ready to go. Won’t be much.

I don’t know if I would even trust a 13 yr old Jetta to pull this reliably.

And this little thing is 800 lbs if loaded to the max.

I’m not aware of any popup campers that are light enough.

There are a few teardrop campers that are sub-1000 pounds out there. Here’s an example: . That one’s 850 pounds, which even leaves you with 150 pounds to play with for loading it with clothes, etc. Though I would recommend carrying as much luggage as possible in the car, as it would be safer.

It’s basically a bed with a roof and a small air conditioner though. If you’re looking for a camper with a kitchen/bathroom, you’re probably going to go over that 1,000 pounds.

Jetta wagon for pulling around a small wooden boat (unsure of its weight) or possibly a pop-up camper.

A pop-up with a Jetta?? Not possible, Even a small pop-up weighs more then 1500lbs. The Jetta can tow a MAX of 1000lbs…and that would be pushing it. I wouldn’t tow over 500lbs with that vehicle.

I agree with the rest here, 2.0 liters is really not enough to pull more than 1000 lbs. Being slow is not as much trouble as overheating the engine, overstressing the clutch and not having enough brakes to slow the car AND the trailer. Usually trailers under about 2000 lbs don’t have nor legally need brakes depending on the state but adding another 1/3 to the weight the car needs to stop is a lot to ask. Adding 1500 lbs is way too much.

You probably have one of the worst vehicles to tow anything with. A 2.0 liter engine just won’t do the job. The fact that it’s a FWD and has a manual transmission further complicates the issue.

You mentioned installing a “Tow Package” …Installing a trailer hitch is not a tow package. A tow package, if available, is installed at the factory and includes a lot of optional equipment that make towing safe and reliable. To mention a few, a high capacity radiator and a separate transmission cooler. A prewired connector for the trailers electrical and lighting needs. A larger alternator. Heavy-duty suspension and brakes and perhaps a slightly lower overall gear ratio…

While I don’t know if the OP can tow what they want to, when we were looking at pontoon boats at a boat show I was told which ones I could safely pull with our S10. I would assume a popup camper dealer would do the same.

I wouldn’t trust the seller of the trailer/boat/whatever to tell me what my car can tow, they want to sell stuff.

Maybe I’m showing my age, but people used to prefer standard transmissions for towing. The standard is going to put less load on the cooling system than an automatic.
The 2.0 is going to be slow, but that’s fine. You can move to the right and turn on the 4-ways.
I say make sure you have the brakes checked and try it.

Maybe I'm showing my age, but people used to prefer standard transmissions for towing.

The weakest link in the drive system with a manual transmission will be the clutch. Automatics are much better for towing.

I owned two manual Pathfinders (90 and98). I didn’t do much towing with them so the manual trany was fine. Both Pathfinders were rated Class-II (up to 3500lbs) with manual tranny…and Class-III (up to 5000lbs) with the automatic transmission. The automatic transmission were MUCH STRONGER and could tow a lot more.