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Towing with a Hyundai Accent

You need to find another alternative. Your car only weighs about 2,000 lbs. Stopping an extra 1,000 lbs would be nearly impossible. Your transmission would probably be toast after a few hundred miles if you made it that far. The other problem is finding a hitch. I looked at 3 major hitch manufacturers and none had a hitch listed for your vehicle. There is a reason for that.

Those cars are UNDERPOWERED. I drove one through the Appalachian Mountains where it couldn’t get up inclines without down shifting to third and the speed dropping below 55 mph. I can’t imagine towing a trailer up a hill, much less the Continental Divide in one of those.

Ship the chest. Unless the bookshelfs are special sell them and buy new.

Ship the books using US postal book rate. It is relatively cheap.

You can get a roof top carry box for your car and add items there if need be.

Trailer is bad idea at highway speeds with a small car like this.

Andrew’s suggestion is probably the most practical and safest! Ship the books (the ones you’ll actually need), don’t take any cabinets or furniture, buy or rent a roof carrier (U Haul rents them), and pack the rest inside the car. Unlike Imelda Marcos, you probably do not have 4000 pairs of shoes, being a poor student.

When you settle in, you can buy all the rest you need very cheaply from the Goodwill Stores, and have your mother send some items that you may have forgotten.

The cost of the trailer rental, good hitch ($300+), and extra time on the road will pay for an enormous amount of shipping via parcel post!!

P.S. Life in California colleges is not conducive to extensive READING. I’m puzzled why you need 3 large bookshelves worth of books, unless you are a graduate student and need them all for your research. I would wager that your experience will be wonderful there and in the full first year you will maybe read 5-10 max. of all the books you are planning to bring. California universities have big libraries and your assigned reading will likely all be found there.

My own experience was that I would only take a few books from home and explored the wonderful selections in the university libraries, while buying best sellers as they appeared. Don’t burden yourself with a lot of stuff you won’t use! My brother did a Doctorate in England and he arrived with exactly 6 books there!

Here’s what can happen if you try to drive with a load behind you in a small, underpowered, FWD car uphill

LOVE it…Although I do hope no-one was seriously hurt.

Andrew i is right.You will not save any money when the car and trailer are towed off the Hi-way. Ship your stuff. I remember when people with FIATs tried the same thing.It didn’t work very well.Basically the same type of car.

First off, let me state what has already been stated: not a good idea. Not good on the car, not terribly safe, and possibly (not a lawyer) not legal. I’d advise a alternate plan.

Now, having said that, I was once in a similar situation, and hauled all my stuff from NM to PA in a trailer towed by a then-5y.o. '95 Nissan 200SX (2-door Sentra). Why?

I am a poor college student and I CANNOT afford a moving truck or moving company.
pretty much that.

So, if you ignore everyone’s advice and tow anyway, let me give some harm-reduction tips on how to do this in the least-hazardous manner:

(1) Have the hitch installed by someone who knows what they’re doing. Either a professional or someone who has a good mechanical background and has done a hitch before. Towing like this’ll give you 99 problems; you need to know the hitch ain’t one.

(2) Try driving the vehicle with the trailer installed (dry run). Yes, you’ll need to practice backing up. Spend half a day in a vacant parking lot before the drive.

(3) Load the trailer properly. BALANCE the load! Both front/back (keeping proper % “tongue weight”) and side/side. Since the car is so light, a shift in load could upset the vehicle, so make certain everything cannot shift in the trailer! Also, if you have too little tongue weight, the trailer can come off the ball hitch unexpectedly.

(4) Possible modification of oil/transmission coolers. I didn’t do this, but I was running a manual transmission, and took my chances with the oil. While you’re at it, run a thicker-than-normal-weight oil for the tow.

(5) Re-aim headlights. After adding load, or you’ll effectively be driving around with your brights on (due to a nose-up attitude caused by excess weight on the rear axle).

(6) Use the gearshift! Cannot over-emphasize! You will have a lot of weight (relative to vehicle weight) that is unbraked. You can easily over-heat your brakes…either on sustained downhills, or simply by coming to an abrupt stop from highway speeds…and experience loss of braking (brake fade). Downshift for all downhills and even when coming to a stop from highway speeds.

(7) Plan your route. Remember that interstates have lower maximum and minimum gradients, have more gentle curves, and are all-around better-engineered than state/local roads. Use them, even if doing so increases driving time/distance.

That’s all that comes to mind right now…towing was quite the adventure, but I doubt I’d do it again, knowing what I know now. Remember that the performance of your car in all directions (acceleration, deceleration, turns in both directions) will be substantially degraded, and plan for it.

do front wheel drive vehicles even HAVE a rear axle?

You won`t make it. The money you tried to save by doing this will be lost when you sell the car for $20 and are stuck with the trailer and all your stuff somewhere.

I worked for a Hyundai dealer, and these things were town cars at best, marginal on the highway. I have a same vintage Sonata, (2 car levels up) and I wouldn`t trust it for this job.

Trust me. If it doesn`t fit in the car, leave it behind. Or find a different way.

Ive seen these things unable to get up regular hills with 4 people. Any trailer hitch will be a total mcgyver operation..... its just a receipe for failure.


The Nissan did!

I think you might be nitpicking (just a little)?

I’m adding one final note here. Agree that it is possible to do this, but not recommended because of 1) the risk of totalling the transmission and othe key items disabling the car, and 2) your lack of experience in towing anything.

As a reality check, please do a class survey when you get settled in and ask how many classmates arrived with a trailer full of stuff and how many brought the contents of 3 bookcases to California.

If you want to use the car in California, rent or buy a roof rack for your excess stuff that does not fit in the car, prep the car well before leaving and enjoy the trip.

If you are moving permanently to California, buy stuff there as you need it and let your mother send stuff that you might need on an “as required” basis. Pretend you are a Rhodes scholar who has just been accepted at Oxford. The university residence there would not even let you bring all the stuff you are planning to take to California!

If I were your father, would I go along with your proposed move? NOT IN A MILLION YEARS. Please show all these posts to your mother; I hope she is as concerned as we are about this move, after reading all the ramifications.

I agree with most posters that it is not a good idea for you to tow with your Accent. I would ask myself what I would pack if I were a homeless college student. Skip things like dishes. Just pack your computer, printer, some bedding, books and clothes. Then, find everything else on Craigslist. That’s what I did when I moved from L.A. to Portland Oregon. It probably will cost you less to buy all that stuff off Craigslist than to have the hitch installed, rent a U-Haul trailer and possibly install a new transmission on your car. When you leave L.A., you could sell everything for the prices you bought them for.

Let’s figure the cost of towing. Even if you install things yourself, the trailer hitch would cost you $150 and transmission oil cooler would cost you $50. If you have someone else do it, it will cost at least $300. Then, there is the cost of renting the trailer. I bet you could find all you need with less than $300 on Craigslist.

An important note. I don’t think your car has a transmission cooler. (Cars larger than yours has a transmission fluid cooler built into the radiator, and this allows people to install an extra transmission fluid cooler. But if yours does not have a transmission cooler, it would not be possible to install one, because there is no pump in the transmission to circulate the transmission fluid.) I have an older Honda Civic, and it doesn’t have a transmission cooler. This means it is highly likely you will need a new transmission in L.A. if the car makes it there.

People say that one needs to use a lower gear when going down hill, but this is a good advice only if there is adequate transmission cooling. Regular foot braking and downshifting both transform the kinetic engergy of the vehicle into thermal energy in the brake pad and rotors or into the heating of the transmission fluid. So, both uphill and downhill are bad for transmission.

Have you actually priced out installing/purchasing a trailer hitch/wiring? They do not come cheap beyond a one way rental of a trailer. I wpuld also price in an automatic transmission fluid change($60-$100) either before or after this stress out, that is if it survives. Lastly have you considered the extra fuel you will consume (likely lose 10mpg) across the country?

I don’t think you have the full picture on costs vs ship.

When I went to college, I couldn’t understand why everyone who moved into the dorms felt they needed to bring all their worldly possessions with them.

Why do you need all that stuff?
Just go to school, and learn.
First thing you should learn is how to live with LESS.

You’re not well off, and the sooner you learn how to get by in life without several bookcases full of books that you have to lug half way across the country, and then up 3 flights of stairs, the better off you will be.

If you’re already a pack-rat, now’s your chance to break the habit.

As for the trailer thing with your car, yes, you can install a trailer hitch onto your car, and get a small trailer (Harbor Freight sells small, light weight ones, that are really durable, and fairly inexpensive), but you really shouldn’t try and town with that car, as much as it sounds like you want to tow, as far as you need to tow it.


Here’s the deal, forget everything everybody else has said. Yes it can be done. And, if you search for the cheapest ways to install the hitch, and wire the harness it will still be cheaper than renting a van or having a shipping company ship everything for you. I’ve done this before with a 91 honda civic dx hatchback 1.6 liter with a slipping clutch. I pulled a uhaul 4 *4 *8 ft trailer from Minneapolis to NYC. If I could do it with that car, anyone can do it with almost anything. Did i have to drop down to 1st gear and go up the steeper slopes at 10mph? Yes. Did it take me like 30 miles to get up to 80 mph on the freeway? Yes. But I did it from Minneapolis, MN to NYC in 2 1/2 days, and got 37 mpg. That’s how you save money. There is NO cheaper way to do it. I’m actually getting ready right now to move to San Diego and i will be taking my 95 hyundai accent with 110,000 miles on it out there while towing a 4 *4 *10 ft trailer. Yes, I have just changed the automatic transmission fluid and filter and oil and filter and brake pads and installed a hitch and wireing harness. Yes, i will have to drop down into 1st and go slow through the steeper climbs. But here’s the math. About $375 in gas @ $4/gallon. $250 for the trailer which i will sell to break even on when I get there. About $300 worth of car pre-trip work. There is NO other way to move me, a car, and a trailer to San Diego, CA from Philadelphia, PA (2800 miles)on less than $675. No other way. That’s how it’s done folks. Just go slow and be careful. The car will have plenty of power.