Can you tow a trailer with a small car?

By Product Expert | Posted in Tips and Tricks on Tuesday, April 10th, 2018 at 8:25 pm
truck pulling a trailer through mountains

The vehicle that you want for daily commuting and the one you need for weekend adventuring are very different. On one side you want easy parking, excellent fuel efficiency, and maybe a nice sound system so you can blast your tunes or listen to podcasts while you are going to work. But when it comes to the weekend, you want large cargo space, maybe plenty of seating (maybe with a minivan or crossover) and probably the ability to tow a trailer. Can you tow a trailer with a small car? Or are you going to destroy your vehicle trying to get your boat out of the yard?

Read More: What’s the difference between compact and midsize vehicles?
side view of man driving dark car

Towing Capabilities Vary Depending on the Vehicle

You should always check your owner’s manual (or find the manual online or at your local dealership if you don’t have your own copy anymore) before you try to tow something. Many small cars are not rated to tow anything. Even the ones that are rated for towing often do not have a very high rating.

What can you tow with a small car?

Most small cars and crossovers that can tow anything at all are rated for 1,500-2,000 pounds, which is not enough to pull a full-size trailer. Some of them may be able to tow a small off-roading vehicle or jet ski, but towing something larger than that could do damage to the vehicle. Your average camper is going to weigh 3,500-8,000 pounds, and will easily overwhelm the capacities of most small cars.

There are some crossovers that are rated to tow more, but generally speaking if you have a camper (or want a camper) you are going to want to also invest in truck with a towing capacity high enough for the model. Something around 7,000 pounds of trailering ability should be enough for most models (though make sure that the truck has all the specialized towing packages it needs before it can actually offer that capability).