Can I use Civic VX to tow 3500lb boat trailer? - Fuelly Forums

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Old 05-18-2008, 07:38 PM   #1
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Can I use Civic VX to tow 3500lb boat trailer?

I wonder, can Civic VX tow a 3500lb single axle trailer about 5 miles to the boat launch (25-45 mph speed limit, fairly flat, no heavy traffic). Trailer has electric brakes, so stopping would be non-issue.

I bit of a background - I have a 94 VX - had it for a few months, just got the last batch of problems fixed a couple weeks ago (O2, dash lighting, IACV) - been driving it for a few days now. My daily driver up to now was 94 Lincoln Mark VIII - I also used it to tow my sailboat. With gas going up I'll probably not be driving it for much longer, except I still would like to launch my boat every other week in the summer. I figured I can use electric winch and third wheel to pull the trailer up the ramp - towing would be just on leveled grade, so can Civic handle 3500 lb trailer around town, or is it impossible?

Also, any sources for Class II hitch (3500lb rated)? (I could not find anything online). Or would Class I (2000lb rated/200 lb tongue weight) suffice around town?

Thanks

Ross
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Old 05-18-2008, 08:15 PM   #2
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My 87 Civic can handle a 500 pound trailer with 900 pounds of scrap metal piled onto it (1400 lbs total), but I only do this when the roads are pretty much deserted and I keep the tongue weight under 100 pounds by distributing the load toward the back of the trailer. Braking is much worse, handling is poor.

I know the VX has a lot more power, but with 3500 pounds on it would likely make it a dog and when the trailer stars swinging side to side, I think you'd probably lose control. I would also worry about getting too much tongue weight and tearing off the hitch or damaging your rear suspension by bottoming it out.

Here's the test. Try to lift your boat trailer tongue with the boat on it or even try to slide it sideways on the ground. If you can't budge it, then its probably too heavy for the VX's rear end. How much does it push your Lincoln rear end down when you hitch it up?

The more I think about it, you might as well keep the Lincoln for boating. It will safely handle the boat during the 5 mile trip to the lake and by the time you spend $200 on an electric winch and heavy duty hitch for the VX, you could likely buy enough gas to drive the Lincoln those 5 miles to launch for 3-4 years. The Lincoln would also work as a spare car.

You definitely don't want to have a wreck or damage your fuel saving car!
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Old 05-18-2008, 08:18 PM   #3
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I wouldnt recommend it, my car is a bit better than yours at acceleration (have shorter ex tranny) and one time I had 700 pounds of rice at the trunk with 4 other passengers, so i would say its about 1500 total pounds (excluding me) that i was hauling. the acceleration was very bad to the point where i'm burning my clutch every time i was at a complete stop or shifting gears. more than doubling that weight wouldnt be too good for the car, especially with the very long transmission like yours

I hauled tons of stuff on top of my car that a pickup can do (beds, sofa, table, drywall, wood) and had no problem with it, but only that time with the extra 1500 pounds that my car actually was at the "max" limit.

if you dont have another car that can tow it, you could always have a friend or offer a person like 30 bucks at the boat place to tow your boat, 5 miles in distance. that sure beats buying a new vehicle or trying to tow that with your vx. even if you offer someone 30 bucks to tow it (60 back and forth) thats still 120 a month since you said you will go boatin' every 2 weeks, 120 a month still beats getting a used suv/pickup, insurance, gas, etc
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Old 05-18-2008, 08:23 PM   #4
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If I remember correctly the owners manual tells you not to tow over 2,000 pounds, the hitch on my vx has a 1,000 pound rating, I've towed 1,500 with it on the flat before staying under 20mph and it did ok but the clutch felt different afterwards for a few 100 miles, my car also handles really poorly with a trailer, I have a 800 pound trailer that I haul empty because I hate driving trucks, and it really wips my car around
My hitch attaches to the bumper and spare tire well, for 3,500 pounds it seems like you should have a frame for it to mount to, not a uni-body.
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Old 05-19-2008, 06:21 AM   #5
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Thanks to everyone for the info! Sounds like I might have trouble with the clutch when pulling from stop. I plan to keep my Lincoln for at least another year, or till I get this issues solved, though in the long term I'd like to go down to one car to save on property taxes, insurance, registration, parking and maintenance.

I wonder, can I change the ratio of the first gear to double or triple RPMs - this should help pulling from stop. I don't think I'd have problem with other gears - just shift late and do RPM matching.

>>> Here's the test. Try to lift your boat trailer tongue with the boat on it or even try to slide it sideways on the ground. If you can't budge it, then its probably too heavy for the VX's rear end. How much does it push your Lincoln rear end down when you hitch it up?

Erik, Right now I have about 200lb on the tongue. It had about a 75lb when I bought it 3 years ago and I had problems with fishtailing on highway going over 50 mph. I can control weight distribution by moving boat supports and the boat back and forth. I don't worry too much about fishtailing as I can control it by applying electric brake. Also, I haven't had a problem with fishtailing when going under 50 mph even with very little weight on the tongue and with Civic I wouldn't be driving on highway.

>>> if you dont have another car that can tow it, you could always have a friend or offer a person like 30 bucks at the boat place to tow your boat,

Civic94, that would work on occasional basis, but for reoccurring recreational activity I would prefer to be self-reliant. Planning sailing trips is hard enough with the weather, mechanical issues and crew availability, having to arrange a tow would add another dimension to this problem.

So sounds like the biggest issue for towing with Civic will be transmission - any comments on solving that (gear/tranny swap etc) will be much appreciated.

Thanks

Ross
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Old 05-19-2008, 09:12 AM   #6
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When people ask about towing, everyone starts talking about power, acceleration, engines, and transmissions. Those are appropriate concerns only after you consider safety.

I do not believe you can tow 3500 pounds safely with your Civic. You may be able to drive it steady at 20mph, but in any kind of surprise or emergency maneuver you could be in huge trouble. At any higher speed you may find it entirely unstable, but if not, you'll really be on the edge and it can all change very suddenly.

Keep a tow beast, maybe the Lincoln or maybe something else.
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Old 05-19-2008, 10:15 AM   #7
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you may be able to get it rolling, but I doubt you will get it to stop.
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Old 05-19-2008, 12:25 PM   #8
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The other issue I see is trying to launch the boat. I remember trying to launch a 21 ski boat using a 5 litre Mustang on a shallow ramp which required the rear end of the car to be sumberged to get the boat to float on the trailor.

The car easily had enough power, trouble is as we were pushing the boat off the trailer, the car started following it into lake Mead. With the interior full of about 2 feet of water, it amazingly it pulled itself out. I don't think a front wheel drive VX in this situation would have.
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Old 05-19-2008, 12:31 PM   #9
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Funny story. Reminds me of the Amphicar: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amphicar
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Old 05-19-2008, 01:07 PM   #10
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LOL! Reminds me of my car boat launch failure story. I towed my brother in law's ~700 pound boat with my 1997 Grand Am V6. I went to Maine, at 19 years old, with my girlfriend (now wife). We somehow managed to survive with me driving 80 as moose kept dive-bombing us, the trailer tracking neatly behind the car as I swerved wildly to avoid them. Hey, I was a stupid kid! I don't drive like that anymore.

I backed down a dirt "ramp" to launch, and noticed the trailer floating...and that's when I realized I forgot to unstrap the boat. Now, with the trailer suspended from the boat by the straps, I was unable to unstrap it. My front wheel drive car was also unable to pull up the ramp, and I was screwed. After struggling for awhile (these days I think I could probably figure it out -- maybe I could have unhitched and dragged it up by the safety chains; though these days I'd do it with my 4wd full size pickup anyway) a nice local came with a 4wd pickup and dragged my car and boat out all at once.
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