Towing with a 2002 Toyota Camry Solara

Here?s the skinny. My wife and I want to get one of those SeaDoo Sportster Boats. The weight of the boat is right at 2100 pounds. Y?all think we?d be able to use my Solara to tow it? I am planning on getting a hitch as well as a transmission cooler installed. We would not be towing it that far or that often (10-15 miles once or twice a week). The lake is pretty close. I?m fairly certain the car would not have any problems actually towing the boat, but I am slightly concerned about taking it out of the water. I don?t want to be that guy at the boat dock who is spinning his tires trying to get the boat out of the water. The Solara is front-wheel drive by the way. Oh, and it only has 40k miles on it, so it?s in great shape. The boat is balanced very well on the trailer I can lift the tongue with one hand and push the boat around so I?m not worried about the weight lifting the front wheels off. The car?s a V6.

Our other vehicle is a 2001 Honda CRV 4-cyl with 133k. The towing capacity on that one?s only 1000pds so it?s out.

Thoughts? Thanks in advance! ?G

P.S. I realize I posted this a little earlier but I wanted to make sure the subject line included the word ?towing.? Thanks.

That will be fine as long as you take it really easy and like you say, don’t do it very often and don’t go far. My brother tows his 16’ boat around and launches it with a 98 Lumina with no problem. Maybe, if you want to tow the boat to the lake 2+ times a week, go buy a junker truck for no more than $1000, just for towing the SeaDoo. Your Camry will do it, but it will cause extra wear.

Towing is when you find out about thinga not going as planned. Make sure the towbar isn’t pointing in an up direction or you could end up in a ditch when you use the brakes. In other words, make sure the trailer looks like it’s going downhill a little. Don’t tow with that car.

I would not recommend towing with these small cars as you’ll soon burn it out, not to mention the fact you will have a devil of a time stopping safely under different circumstances…

I don’t think the towing is going to be the problem. The big problem is going to be pulling the boat out of the water on a slippery ramp. At that point you are going to have more weight off of the drive wheels and little traction.

Traction will not be a problem. Unless you are using an extremely steep ramp covered in loose gravel…Just take it super easy when towing and you will be fine.

I think that you have a lot to learn about towing. You need to have 10-15% of the trailer weight on the tongue. Maybe you are very strong, but I know few people that can lift over 200# easily with one hand. I hope that you have the auto trans. Is towing recommended with this vehicle?

I agree with that.

I see people get into trouble towing stuff time and time again, and it comes from not having experience towing and reading these dang manuals that say “Your vehicle has a towing capacity of 2000 lbs”. The problem is there’s a heck of a lot more to it than that.

First of all, none of these cars have a solid axle under them. They have independent rear suspensions. While those ride good, they aren’t good for towing because they provide 2 more points on which the trailer can exert force to rock the boat so to speak. A tow vehicle should have a solid rear axle. I know that Ford’s Expedition has an independent axle on it’s 2 wd, and no, I wouldn’t suggest towing anything of any size with one because of that.

Beadsandbeads is right, your trailer needs to be set up so that a good percentage, at least 10 to 15% of the weight is on the tongue. If it’s not, the tail is going to wag on the trailer and if you are attempting to tow with a marginal tow vehicle the wagging trailer is going to wag your car. That’s why you see people wrecked on the highway with boats and campers.

The big thing you need in a tow vehicle is a vehicle with some weight to be able to handle the trailer in a fast stop or emergency situation. Cars don’t weigh enough. No, even with tractor trailers, the tractor weighs a lot less than the trailer, but we are talking about a whole other ball game as the vehicle was engineered to tow, a small passenger car isn’t. Trucks, expecially 3/4 ton and heavier weigh closer to 6000 pounds where cars weigh about 2500 to 3000 lbs. They have heavier brakes, larger rotors, larger pads, and to a large degree are much more capable. When I hit my brakes on my truck, I’ve got enough weight in the truck to set the surge brakes on the boat trailer. On the other hand, do the same thing on the Solara, and you don’t have the weight needed to bump the tongue on the trailer to set the brakes, and a ride you will be in for.

While your car may be perfectly capable according to it’s manual to tow 3000 lbs, being capable of stoping, evasive maneuvers, handling an ill set up trailer with the weight in the wrong place (On a boat, the mere act of filling a rear fuel tank can make a big difference on a trailer if the vehicle doesn’t have the weight and braun to handle it). I really wish the manufacturers would do a better job of explaining what their vehicles can and can’t tow in their manuals.

I’ve not even mentioned transmission damage that it could cause and won’t go into that. My concern is the physics of the set up, and I don’t believe a car is capable of a 2300 lb boat.


That’s a pretty decent site, isn’t it? I came across it when I started to pull a travel trailer years ago.

What most people don’t understand about towing is that every trailer (regardless of class or style) has very different handling characteristics.

Now, you want to have fun? Learn how to back up a portable welder. I learned how when I worked for a rental house.
Same method goes for backing up those little utility trailers.

Here’s a freebee: add a thin pole or piece of pipe (painted a bright visible color) to the trailer in such a manner that you can just see the end of it when the trailer turns.

These can be mounted in a removable manner. Lots of little tricks to learn.

After many years driving big rigs, one ton trucks (with the welder and compressors to vans with boats to the combination rv I have now, I became quite adept at towing and backing.
Not too many things I’ll pat myself on the back for, but I’ll take credit for that one.

Now, you want to have fun? Learn how to back up a portable welder. I learned how when I worked for a rental house.

That or a jack hammer compressor or mortar mixer. That’s what they make tractors for. :slight_smile: I have a little hino tractor at the house to handle putting my flatbed and small boat up. You can jackknife that trailer with it and pretty much put it where you want it. Trailers shorter than the truck are a pain in the rear.


Maneuvering short tongued trailers and other machines is best done with a front mounted hitch. When I mentioned this to the boss he looked at me like I had two heads. (I think he really didn’t want a hitch attached to or below the chrome bumper)

I was at a boat ramp once and some gal was trying to back a wave runner trailer in with a jeep. She had the ramp blocked forever. Finally, I got out, walked up behind her trailer, picked it up and told he to just back the Jeep strait and I’d handle the trailer. Toted it all the way to the water.