I occasionally have the need to move a few hundred pounds of gear over a few hundred miles. My Bronco has a Class V hitch but gets ~10 MPG, which, for example, makes a two day trip (~625 miles each way) now cost over $500.
Curt makes a Class I reciever for my 93 Del Sol, though the owners manual says something to the effect 'this vechicle is not made for towing'. While it normally gets 35-40 MPG, if that drops to 30-35 MPG (complete SWAG), with Harbor Freight's 4'x4' trailer (~500 lbs, loaded; it'll probably need some sort of aero cap/cover), then the same trip is only ~$150.
I'm going to give this a try. Any actual experinces (speculation, which anyone can do with wildly varying degrees of competence, doesn't really count as much of an experience) towing with an EG Civic out there?
I don't have any experience with civics so this post is probably pointless. But for what its worth, if your car an automatic or manual? I've towed another car with a toyota camry before. After one steep hill, the transmission fluid cooked and it was an absolute disaster. I had the get the fluid exchanged, beat the crap out of it to cycle the cooked fluid in the torque converter out, and then get the fluid exchanged again. The tranny suffered no damage though, but I'm assuming that the fluid would just cook again if I were to tow with it again.
That said, I've towed the same 2500lb car with a vw fox manual transmission for 1000x the distance including many steeper hills with absolutely no issue. So I'd like to say that if it's a manual, it would probably be fine. At least the heavy wear would just be from having to slip the clutch excessively to get it started if on the bottom of a hill.
You said you'd be towing way less weight though, so an auto would probably even be fine. and again, I know a camry is not a civic, but if anything, I would have otherwise expected it to do as well if not better.
For automatic tranny you can add inline transmission cooler. I did that on my Lincoln Mark VIII to tow 3500lb boat trailer and it helped A LOT to keep trans fluid temperature down. For manual - clutch might be the weak link - don't know how to get around that ...still trying to figure a way to tow my 3500lb boat with Civic VX
Ive had about 1000 pounds in my civic before (moving cross country and one time having 4 other people + 5 bags of 100 pound rice in the trunk) and even tho i have the short ex tranny on my 1.5 dx motor, it really sucked. I was burning my clutch when i try to get it moving from a dead stop, and stopping distance was greatly increased.
only on the highway it was fine since I wasnt towing anything so aerodynamics wasnt a factor.
I think you will be OK if its a manual trans and you keep your trailer at 500 lbs and your speed at 60 and don't have to climb any steep hills. My 87 Civic 5 speed (lighter and with only 76 total hp) will do OK with 500 lbs on my 4' X 4' trailer. With only 200 lbs on it, I hardly even know its back there.
With 500 lbs, you will need to allow extra braking distance and don't do any sudden high speed lane changes or else the trailer will make your car "wag" (very scary and unsafe).
This Del Sol is an Si (D16Z6, 125 HP), has the 4.250 final drive 5-spd, and four-wheel disk brakes. While the first few trips might not include it, the trailer will eventually get electric brakes when a short (and cheap) enough axle shows up on craigslist.
i think you can try it. i have the same transmission as you (ex/si 5 speed) but my motor is a d15b7, so you have the advantage of a slightly bigger motor/tq/hp. like i said, i tried 1000 pounds in the car, but not towing. if you can find a very small trailer for better aerodynamics and put as much weight in the car rather than the trailer, it can be done safely.