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Towing with a Hyundai Accent

I have a 1999 Hyundai Accent GS with 104K miles (new transmission at 45K). I am moving from Lincoln, NE, to Los Angeles, CA, in August. Is it reasonable to think I can tow a UHaul trailer that distance? Either a sport trailer or a 4’x8’ trailer? Do I need to go get a hitch installed? How much might that cost? Should I have anything on the car checked (other than a standard oil change) before setting out? It’s about 1,800-2,000 miles one way, depending on the route. Would one route be easier on my car than another? Any help is greatly appreciated! Thanks!

Your owner’s manual should outline the towing limitations for your car. I understand that towing something heavy is really hard on the trans. So start there. Hopefully you’ve changed your trans. fluid at some point between 45,000 and now?

Your car is over 10 years old and is a small car. U-Haul trailers weigh about 1,000 lbs before you load them. You’ll be heading over the mountains, big mountains. Towing with your car is not a good idea.

Yes, I’ve changed the trans fluid at least once since then that I can recall for certain. I’ve probably changed it twice, but can’t remember for sure. The manual says towing is ‘not recommended’ but I couldn’t find any other mention of specific limitations. I’ll double check. Thanks!

People have been known to do this, but at considerable RISK! My brother-in-law in Europe used to have a Mitsubishi Lancer, about the same size car as yours, and he towed a closed camper trailer all over Europe with it. He did it in 3rd gear (4 speed gear box) and went slowly! He also carefully watched his temperature gauge and checked the oil constantly.

Your Accent needs a proper hitch, one mounted on its bumper might pull it right off!

If you Accent is manual you need to dowshift to second gear in mountainous country for fear of burning up your brakes. If automatic, same thing. In all instances, go slow downhill for fear of losing control of the vehicle.

If all this sounds scary, that’s exactly what it is. Driving with a good size veicle and a trailer is demanding enough in heavy traffic. Doing it with a low powered and marginal vehicle takes real concentration.

No one on this panel can recommend you do this without a whole lot of warnings. Accents are OK to pull small utility trailers to get some stuff from local lumber yards. But you are going cross-country.

I would sit down and price the cost of renting the trailer one-way, plus a proper hithch and extra gas, plus an extra hotel night because of your slow speed, with just packing everything in a moving box and letting a moving company deliver it safely.

My choice would be to let the movers do it and I would enjoy the trip by car unburdened by the trailer.

The real additonal risk is your car burning out its engine or brakes!

Thanks for the feedback. I am specifically looking at one of the small, streamlined, UHaul sport trailers (having crossed out the 4’x8’ trailer after the above responses). It has an empty weight of 535 pounds and a max payload of 965 pounds, but I don’t think I have even that much stuff. My car is an automatic.

I KNOW this is not a good idea. But I am a poor college student and I CANNOT afford a moving truck or moving company. What I need to know is what are the chances this will end up getting me stranded with a dead car in the middle of Utah? (Does going south through NM and AZ involve fewer mountains? It seems to.) Assume that I drive VERY, VERY carefully. Thanks all! I appreciate the help.

I think I would rent a truck and tow the Hyundai behind it. If you are moving to California and your Hyundai doesn’t have the proper emissions controls, you’ll have to modify it; not cheap. You might want to consider selling it and buying another out there.

I don’t think U-Haul allows bumper hitches anymore. I don’t think they will let you rent from them if they feel you would not be safe.

If none of the above appeals to you, consider selling as much as you can, max out the interior of your car with your stuff and rent a roof rack or cargo carrier for the top of the car. When you get there and get settled, visit some garage sales to get cheap stuff.

When I was a poor college student, all my worldly posessions fit in a 1948 Chevrolet 4 door. The lighter trailer would be OK, especially if you pare down what you need during your college stay. Colleges do have bedding, kitchen utensels, etc., and only your entertainment stuff and books would be really heavy.

Trust you do not own a surfboard now and recommend you rent one in LA.

When towing a trailer watch all your gauges frequently, and check the fluids at every gas stop. Cars towing use more oil and heat up quicker.

If you are moving to California and your Hyundai doesn’t have the proper emissions controls, you’ll have to modify it; not cheap. You might want to consider selling it and buying another out there.

This is only a problem for new cars with less than 7500 miles on them. You can take an older car into California without having to modify it. It will probably have to pass a smog check, but they don’t make you modify or convert an older out-of-state car when you move into Ca.

Oh, that’s good to know. How likely is it not to pass a smog check? I’ve been cruising the California DMV website (and googling), but can’t find anything that is likely to tell me if my make and model will pass. (Assume it’s in okay condition.)

I don’t think the car is capable of pulling or stopping a 1,500 lb trailer. Anyone else here ever try to take an exit ramp with too much trailer? The car is much too light. The wheel base is too short. The brakes are totally inadequate. I can imagine that combination wagging from shoulder to center line with white knuckles on the wheel until something fails. Am I too vague?

What would you fill this trailer with in the move?

Do I need to go get a hitch installed?

Well how else are you going to attach the trailer to the car??? You’ll also need electrical hookup…and I also recommend a trailer brake and transmission cooler that’s not integrated as part of the radiator. And I also suspect your vehicle doesn’t have proper towing mirrors (you can rent them from U-Haul).

Towing with this vehicle is NOT a good idea…and in fact it’s NOT legal.

The SMALLEST U-Haul trailer weighs 750lbs…And that’s an open trailer. The smallest closed trailer form U-Haul is 1500lbs. If you car can tow…It’s going to be less then 1000lbs…so anything you tow is going to be heavier then what the car can legally and safely handle.

#2…based on your questions…it sounds like you’ve never towed anything before. So this is another strike against this. You don’t just hook up the trailer and go…especially going on a long trip. Do you know how to back a vehicle up with a trailer???

No, I’ve never towed before. The weight specs I listed for the UHaul sport trailer are what is available on the UHaul website. It does not weight 750 lbs, but close. I’m planing on moving some small wooden furniture (a map chest and some drawers) and about three tall bookshelves worth of books (but not the shelves) as well as all my clothes, bedding, dishes, and maybe two boxes worth of knicknacks. I have no idea what that adds up to, but I’d put the books alone at 300 lbs. The sport trailer is small enough that towing mirrors aren’t necessary, but extra brake lights are probably a good idea.

No, I don’t know how to back up a trailer. I wasn’t planning on trying it. If it needs to be done, my mother knows how and she’ll be helping with this move.

My car has been towed a couple of times (at least once from behind) and they’ve always found something on the undercairage to hook on to. I wondered if that same something is what you would hook a trailer onto. I guess not.

I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t be legal? All sorts of stupidity is legal after all…
Thanks for the advice!

I would suggest going through NM and AZ but If you do end up getting stranded in Utah give me a holler and I’ll come tow you the rest of the way just because I’ll stop in Vegas on the way back

I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t be legal? All sorts of stupidity is legal after all…
Thanks for the advice!

Usually stupid things that are NOT illegal don’t effect other people. If you loose control of the trailer not only will it endanger you life but the life of everyone driving on the road with you.

The other thing you have to consider is the Gross Vehicle Weight Limit. Since this car is NOT suppose to be used for towing…I doubt you’ll ever find what that limit is. Basically it’s the combined weight limit of the car AND trailer.

Since your mother is coming with you…I’d seriously consider renting a U-Haul truck and one can drive the truck and the other can drive the car. Or you can tow the car.

The Accent is not a good car to tow a trailer. Check with the Hyundai dealership because they probably have seen the consequences of such a tow. You might get the opinion of the U-haul company. They are also the best source for getting the hitch attached to the rear body structure of the Accent if you so opt. If you opt to tow, remember to load the car evenly with heavy stuff so the car will have better stability. Load the trailer so the tongue weight meets the specifications of your owners manual. Also inflate your tires to match the weight being carried. Also check the trailer tires for pressure and health.

One idea is to ship the heavy things like books and barbells via Greyhound. As I remember they are pretty cheap.

Remember in towing to down shift early on long climbs; stay in the right lane behind the RV’s and trucks; use one grade high octane rating fuel when you know you will be climbing; watch your coolant temperature; take a rest if the temperature gets too high; come downhill using the gear you would have come up; you should only have to be on the brakes intermittantly; check your oil level at each fill up as you will be using some oil; and check the inflation and health of the tires each morning. If you do get into a sway oscillation, do not brake; lift the gas; allow the rig to slow until it is under control again; and continue a little slower.

Hope this helps.

To summarize my opinion, and apparently the opinions of others:

Can you tow a small trailer with this small, underpowered, 11 year old car? Sure

Is it advisable from a mechanical standpoint or a safety standpoint to do it? Absolutely not.

Honestly, I think I’d try to find another way. You are talking about putting a major strain on a small engine and transmission. You’d want to have the transmission fluid changed immediately after arrival, if you made it, and oil and probably brakes. You’ll want to add a transmission cooler and have to have a hitch installed. So add those costs to the rental cost of the trailer as a minimum. In August you have 2 terrible choices. Either try to tow over some serious mountains and overheat your engine and transmission from the extra load, or go further south to avoid the mountains and overheat your engine and transmission by driving through 100+ temperatures.

If you can keep the weight of the trailer and everything in it below 1000 pounds, and you took it easy, you might make it, and you might still need a new transmission when you get there.

I would suggest checking into shipping the books by freight. The book rate is usually very good. My experience in going to college as an undergraduate and twice as a graduate student taught me that less is better. I went to college with less and seemed to accumulate a lot while in college.
Some things like dishes can often be bought at yard sales, etc. when you get to your destination at rock bottom prices. What you save on not renting a trailer will more than pay for the items you really need.