Towing a cargo trailer

I will be towing a small (5X8) cargo trailer with my 2005 stick shift Hyundai Tucson. Several people told me not to use fourth gear, but to stay in third gear when towing. Is this a good idea? Why?

What does the owner’s manual say about this? The manual will have information about towing. Read and follow the manual and you’ll be fine.

The weight of the load and the speed at which you intend to travel will have a lot to do with this.

If you’ll be traveling at highway speeds the engine will be racing in third. I’d probably want to stay out of 5th gear, but not necessarily 4th. Again, read the manual for towing advice appropriate to your vehicle.

The recommendation applies to auto transmissions. Your manual transmission is a 4 speed? It would be a good practice to stay out of the highest gear when towing. If you have a 4 speed, that means 3rd. The car has a tachometer and I’d try to keep the rpm’s in the 3,000 and up range when on the highway. Most motors develop the best torque between 3,000 and 4,000 rpm.

You will need to upshift and downshift more frequently when towing to keep the motor in its “sweet spot” for power. Keeping the car in 3rd gear going downhill will help control your speed and reduce some of the need for heavy braking.

Keep your speed moderate to reduce wear and tear on your towing vehicle. On an interstate that means 55 to 60 mph.

You should practice your starting on a hill technique. If you find you need to start from a stop on an upslope you will need to use the parking brake to hold the car while you engage the clutch. If you start rolling backward too much it will but a lot of pressure on your clutch. Make sure your parking brake is adjusted and effective and practice before hooking up the trailer, just in case.

I have never dogmatically kept my vehicles out of fifth gear when towing a small trailer, rather, I let my common sense tell me when I can use fifth and when it’s better to use fourth. If you are going down a mild downgrade and gravity is helping your engine or you have a strong tailwind, why not use fifth?

I used to pull a small sailboat trailer (Sunfish) with a three cylinder Geo Metro five speed. Here’s what I found.

55 mph with no trailer = 51 mpg, or the engine was burning 1.08 gallons per hour.

55 with a trailer = 45 mpg, or the engine was burning 1.22 gallons per hour.

70 mph without a trailer = 40 mpg or the engine was burning 1.75 gallons per hour.

Based on the above, I believe going 55-60 with a trailer actually is easier on the engine than going 70-75 without a trailer.

Having towed my boat with a 4 cyl ranger it boils down to not making your engine lug. You will notice this especially going up hills and into the wind. Basic adivce if you hit the gas and nothing changes or you keep slowing down go to the next lower gear. Basically I would not shift to fifth until 70mph or so, hope this helps.

Thanks waterboy, B.L.E., Uncle Turbo, and mcparadise. I do have a fifth gear, so I will heed your advice. I can go in fifth when it?s convenient. Otherwise I will stay in fourth. Thanks again for the advice,

What does your owner’s manual say?

Many automatics with an overdrive gear allow you to disable that gear when towing. Your friends are suggesting you do that manually.

Read the owner’s manual and follow its recommendations.

Your vehicle will let you know weather it can handle 5th gear or not…

Was towing even recommended or allowed (by the owner’s manual) for the Metro? Given the small size of the car, the short wheelbase, the small brakes, the torqueless 1 liter engine and the general flimsiness of the car, it would seem that it wouldn’t be an ideal tow vehicle…

I’m amend my rpm range downward a bit. 3 to 4K is the range for max power, say you are going up a significant hill. Otherwise cruising on the level just avoid lugging the motor. On a level anything around 2 to 2,500 rpm should be good. When you see a hill coming get up some momentum and downshift a bit early to maintain your speed and momentum.