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Trailer towing

Discussion in 'Gen II Prius Main Forum' started by dinger_greg, Apr 16, 2011.

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  1. dinger_greg

    dinger_greg New Member

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    I know that Toyota does not recommend towing anything with the Prius. I also know that a lot of people ignore Toyota's recommendation and tow with the Prius anyway. My question for the individuals who do tow with their Prius is how much weight do you feel the Prius can tow without major strain on vital components of the car? I am considering purchasing a 150lb 4'x8' trailer to tow behind my Prius. I would use the trailer mostly for trips to the recycling center to drop off brush and pick up mulch. I would also use it to haul my snowblower and lawnmower when needed. In an ideal World I would love it if I could tow my 750lb motorcycle ;)

    Thanks in advance for your insight
  2. jdenenberg

    jdenenberg EE Professor

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    Towing a light load at slow speeds is probably OK. You could consider doing regular (30k mile intervals) ATF drain/refills if you tow heavier loads at higher speeds to prevent build up of metallic particles in the transmission fluid.

    JeffD
  3. uart

    uart Senior Member

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    I've been thinking about the same thing Greg. I'm pretty certain that if you have a relatively light weight trailer/load and are mindful of not driving excessively hard that there should be no problems. In particular I think if you are mindful of what routes you take and are able to avoid any particularly large hills or mountains then the ill-effects should be absolutely zero.

    You're taking about a snow blower or a lawn-mower and in my case I'm thinking of like a windsurfer or a canoe. I mean it's hardly like we're going to be towing a car or a ton and a half of scrap metal or anything.
  4. dinger_greg

    dinger_greg New Member

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    uart-
    I would think that the Prius would have the towing capabilities of a Toyota Corolla which is around 1,000 lbs. Not sure why the Prius is "not recommended" for towing. I just installed my hitch and plan on purchasing this small lightweight trailer after I install the wiring for the trailer. I will keep you updated on how the Prius handles towing. Thankfully I do not live in high elevation terrain.
  5. dinger_greg

    dinger_greg New Member

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    Thanks for the advice Jdenenberg. I recently changed my transaxle fluid at 47,000 miles for the first time. I was pretty shocked at how dark the fluid looked compared to new. I was also surprised to see the amount of sludge that compacted on the drain plug. I plan on changing my fluid at 30k intervals from now on. I will attempt to see how the Prius tows light loads. I am pretty confident it will be able to do the job with no problems.
  6. JimboPalmer

    JimboPalmer Nadir of Wrongness

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    I have theories.

    1) It is a heavy car with a tiny engine. there is less than 900 pounds of passenger and cargo capacity, and if you use it you can feel it trying harder to move.

    2) The Prius gets a lot of it's effiecency from aerodynamics. adding a trailer is going to kill that.

    3) The HSD transmission is unlike any other vehicle, engine torque is not directly tied to the wheels. Much of it goes through an electrical system which is not sized for towing.

    4) In the Gen II, the chassis flexs so much that many owners add an under body brace. More loads will mean more flexing.

    5) Perhaps the lawyers at Toyotas are spoilsports.


    I would not put a lot of faith on 5).
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  7. RobH

    RobH Senior Member

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  8. dinger_greg

    dinger_greg New Member

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    Very good theories stated on why towing is not recommended. It is a lot easier for Toyota to say towing is not recommended. That way they do not have to deal with paying out warranty claims for individuals who damage their vehicle by exceeding the towing capacity while the vehicle is still under warranty.
  9. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    Light weight towing has not proved to be a problem for our Prius. We use a SportsRig trailer for our canoe, tandem bicycle, and to haul the occasional bulky item like plywood.

    If you want to tow at high speeds for extended times, I recommend adding a ScanGauge so that you can monitor internal temperatures.

    Tom
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  10. MattFL

    MattFL Junior Member

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    Towing limits are frequently less about what you can pull, and more about what you can control and stop. For example, imagine a worst case panic stop; down hill while turning, maybe in the rain. Put an extra 1000# behind your prius and the results might be very bad. Not only might you stopping distance be poor, but the weight could easily slide you sideways or boil your brake fluid, which I can tell you first hand is not a good situation. It's probably not good for the service life of the brake system either. Even a basic kid runs in front of the car panic stop could end badly if the car is overloaded.
  11. Jabber

    Jabber Chicagoland Prius Guy

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    Ding! Ding! MattFL is the most correct. Toyota cares more about the stopping and controlling part than the actual weight on acceleration. At least this is what they have always told me at truck training classes when asked about it.
  12. stevemcelroy

    stevemcelroy Active Member

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    I have used my Prius for towing my sailboat - the trailer and boat weigh about 750 lbs and I had no real issues. As others have said that the biggest issue is with stopping - I could definitely feel the weight of the trailer and boat pushing me as I slowed. It is not a big deal - you just need to be extra careful.
  13. dinger_greg

    dinger_greg New Member

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    Steve-

    Thanks for the input. Im glad to hear others have towed heavier weights without problems. How far do you typically tow your sailboat? Are you towing at highway speeds?
  14. stevemcelroy

    stevemcelroy Active Member

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    When I bought it I towed it about 150 miles - along Rt 95 from Connecticut to Mass. There were a few rolling hills, but it was fairly level so I can not speak to towing with big uphill or downhill stretches. Now that it is at home I only tow it a couple of miles at a time to the boat ramp. I think that a small utility trailer will be just fine even on longer trips or highways.



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  15. savrip

    savrip Junior Member

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    I have towed with a 4x8 trailer, when uses require, for nearly a year. I don't see/hear/feel anything different with the way the car operates. I do plan on changing the fluids more often than I would if I were not pulling, but that's just common sense. I have a Scangauge II and can obvious tell that the RPMs are elevated and the drag causes about 15 MPG loss. That means 30-35 MPG instead of 45-50 with my driving habits. I've had the RPMs higher just hauling body weight up the Smokey Mountains without the trailer. I have trucks that I could borrow from family, but I always have to ask myself do I want to fill up at 12mpg or 35mpg? I always use my trailer when the load is an acceptable weight. Most of the time you can barely tell there's a load back there. The only pain is having to take it off before I send it for service. I just don't want a visual notification that could cause me problems down the road. When service time comes I'll remove the hitch unless I can find a mechanic in my area that isn't Toyota.
  16. latture

    latture New Member

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    I would love to be able to tow a small pop up or teardrop camper with my Prius. Has anyone else tried that and have any recommendations?
  17. RobH

    RobH Senior Member

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  18. dinger_greg

    dinger_greg New Member

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    I agree I would rather tow with the Prius and get 35 mpg instead of using a SUV or small truck that would get around 15 mpg. What is the most weight you have towed with the Prius?
  19. RobH

    RobH Senior Member

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    If you remove the hitch, it will be obvious to anyone who looks under the car that a hitch was recently removed. If the issue comes up, just say that you use it for a bike rack.
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