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Should You Ever Tow with a Car?

Should You Ever Tow with a Car?

Should you ever tow with a car? The answer is more complicated than you think.

This article covers how you can find out if your car can tow a trailer and gives our best tips for doing it safely.

Let’s get into it.

Can You Tow with a Car?

Depending on what type of vehicle you have, you may be able to tow a small camper or tent trailer. It all depends on your car’s towing capacity. Before attempting to tow anything at all, have a look in your vehicle manual under the “towing” section.

In this section, you’ll find information related to towing with your particular vehicle. In some cases, your manual will simply state that towing of any kind is not recommended.  

How to Find Your Towing Capacity

Towing capacity refers to the amount of weight your car can safely tow behind it. This number is listed in pounds, and it’s best to stay below the maximum towing capacity of any vehicle you drive to protect the engine. 

There are a couple of different ways you can find out how much your tow capacity. The first option is to look in your owner’s manual under the “towing” section. In this section, you can usually find information about safely towing with your specific vehicle, as well as your towing capacity.

If your vehicle can’t tow any weight at all, your manual will say something to the effect of “towing is not recommended.” 

If you don’t have your manual, you can try a few other methods to determine your towing capacity. You can look up your vehicle by VIN online or contact the manufacturer to get information about your specific make and model. 

Pro Tip: Finding your vehicle’s towing capacity does not need to be tricky! This is How To Find Towing Capacity by VIN.

SUV towing small trailer.
The towing capacity of your car will impact what you can tow.

What Can You Tow with a Small Car?

Knowing what you can and can’t tow with a small vehicle all comes down to your towing capacity. Keep in mind that any additional weight added to your car can also affect your towing capacity. This includes cargo, passengers, and any other weight. 

Since different vehicles have different towing capacities, and some have none at all, you first need to know your specific towing capacity to determine what you can (or can’t) tow. Here are some examples. 

2019 Ford Taurus

The maximum towing capacity for a 2019 Ford Taurus is 1,000 pounds. It’s best practice to stay within 20% of your car’s maximum towing capacity, so this car should only pull something that is 800 pounds or less.

A tent trailer like the Sylvan Sport Go would be a good choice for this kind of car. This tent trailer weighs 840 pounds.

Toyota Corolla

Certain Toyota Corollas can tow a maximum of 1,500 pounds. With this car, it would be best to stay below 1,200 pounds. The Quiksilver pop-up tent trailer by Livin’ Lite would be a good option for this car.

This camper weighs just over 1,000 pounds. 

Pro Tip: Interested in a pop-up camper for your next adventure? Check out these 5 Best Small Pop Up Campers.

Benefits of Using a Car to Tow

Using a car to tow a camper or small trailer has many benefits that you won’t find with a larger vehicle. First, cars are easy to drive and maneuver.

You’ll notice a different feeling when pulling a trailer, but overall it will still be a comfortable drive. Second, you get great gas mileage in a car. Although pulling a trailer will lower your mpg, it’s still better than what you’d find in a truck or SUV. 

The Disadvantages of Towing with a Car

The disadvantages to towing with a car include that you can’t pull a camper of substantial size or weight. So if you need a lot of space or something bigger than a pop-up, you might be out of luck.

But if you just want a small tent trailer or to tow a U-Haul across town, many smaller vehicles are perfect for the job.

Pop up camper on a car.
Pop up campers are great options to use if you don’t have a truck to tow with.

Which Cars Are (Relatively) Good for Towing?

Cars aren’t the best vehicles for towing, but you can do it if you know your towing capacity. That said, here are some cars with a high towing capacity. 

Subaru Outback: The Subaru Outback can tow between 2,700 and 3,500 pounds. With this vehicle, you can tow a teardrop camper or a pop-up tent trailer. 

Volvo C30: This car can tow up to 2,000 pounds. With this towing capacity, you can tow a small teardrop or tent camper. 

Ford Fusion: When fully equipped, the Fusion can tow up to 2,000 pounds. This towing capacity opens up several options for tent campers and some small teardrops. 

Subaru Legacy: Depending on how you equip it, the Legacy can tow upwards of 3,000 pounds. 

Should You Tow with a Compact Vehicle?

We don’t recommend towing with a car for extended periods or over extremely long distances. Ultimately, only you can decide what you can and can’t tow based on your car’s specific instructions. 

If you want to tow a small and lightweight tent trailer that’s well within your towing capacity, go for it.

But we don’t recommend towing long-term with a car, especially a compact. Although your vehicle might have the towing capacity, it wasn’t designed as a towing vehicle. Towing long-term will accelerate wear and tear and might lead to some costly repairs. 

Towing with a Car

Camping is awesome. You can easily upgrade from a regular tent to a tent trailer or small teardrop camper to increase your comfort. If you only have a car to tow with and are considering getting a small camper, be sure to do it the right way.

Research your vehicle’s towing capacity and remember to stay under 80% of the maximum weight with your trailer. With the right research and the right weights, towing with a car can be a fun and safe experience and a great way to upgrade your camping experience. Have you ever towed with a car?

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  1. Freddie Stanleta says:

    Sure, back in the day my Dad towed a 35ft mobile home from Ohio to New Mexico, to Mississippi and back to Ohio…with a ’49 Mercury. No problems.

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