From family road trips to moving furniture to needing a trailer for working purposes — most folks will find themselves towing something sometime in their lives. This leads us to the question:
Is towing bad for your car?
And the answer is, maybe. The severity of the damages range from expected wear to catastrophic depending on 1) your vehicle’s towing capacity and 2) what you are towing. So, let’s take a deeper dive into that question.
Can Towing Hurt Your Vehicle?
Towing causes additional strain on your vehicle, from the engine to your brakes. So, it will slowly wear on your engine over time, no matter your vehicle or trailer. However, some big things will lead to faster wear and more substantial damage.
Towing with an Underpowered Car
While your car is a machine, it doesn’t mean that you can expect the world of it, and it just happens. When towing an RV or trailer, you want to make sure it’s something your car’s engine and transmission can handle.
Think about it this way. You may walk up a hill or down the road every day with no issues. But, could you do it with a 50-pound backpack? Could you do it while towing three times your body weight?
Towing with an underpowered vehicle can lead to major engine and transmission issues. Check your vehicle’s towing capacity in your owner’s manual before you attach the trailer.
Pulling an Unbalanced Trailer
Keep the trailer or RV balanced to ensure it stays centered behind your vehicle and doesn’t add additional drag to only one side.
A trailer that leans to one side causes more wear on your hitch and more easily “sways” while towing — leading to an increased chance of an accident.
Your vehicle’s brakes may be great for your vehicle, but they may not be sufficient for your vehicle, plus the added weight of a trailer.
Trying to brake with a trailer with brakes that aren’t sufficient can lead to some significant issues. The first being, you can’t stop. Those runaway truck ramps are just for semis; if your brakes can’t handle the job, they may be meant for you as well.
Or you could not stop in time and cause an accident. You could destroy your brake pads and rotors from overuse and overexertion.
If you’re towing, make sure your brakes and engine can handle the job. If they can’t, it’s not a question of “if” but “when” will towing hurt your vehicle.
Tips for Towing a Trailer
Towing a trailer doesn’t have to be disastrous or even difficult. Here are a few tips to get you on the road while also minimizing the wear on your vehicle.
- Tow Within Your Ability – this means your car’s ability and yours. Be aware of what your driving skills can handle.
- Take is Slow – don’t plan on getting anywhere fast; accelerate slowly, drive slowly, and brake slowly.
- Check Your Owner’s Manual – find out if there is anything special your vehicle has (like a towing mode) that will make your job easier and verify what you are doing is within your vehicle’s ability.
- Verify Your Hitch is Compatible – don’t go to leave only to find out that your hitch and trailer don’t work together.
- Have Your Local Mechanic Check Your Vehicle – make sure your car/truck is in top order before asking it to take on the extra load.
Help Your Vehicle Handle the Load
So, can towing hurt your vehicle? Yes, but it doesn’t have to be that bad. If you take a few steps to verify your vehicle is ready for the extra weight, you’ll be on the road with no issues. Need an auto repair after towing went wrong? Or needing to service your vehicle before heading out on a road trip?
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