Cars that can trailer Lasers

Discussion in 'Laser Talk' started by scullygirl, Feb 20, 2008.

  1. scullygirl

    scullygirl New Member

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    Hi all,

    I'm investigating the possibility of my 2005 Honda Civic being able to trailer a Laser. It sounds like it would be possible, but I want to know for sure because the last thing I need is a wrecked transmission. I live in Southern California and we have lots of hills around here, so I'm a bit worried about how my car can handle this, even with the Laser and trailer weighing less than 400 lbs. Can anyone give me some insight or be willing to share their stories of towing a Laser with a Honda Civic or similar sized car and engine?
     
  2. turquoise boat

    turquoise boat New Member

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    I'm sure lots of people on here have tiny cars that have been used to tow big boats.
    I have a rover 414, from 1999, its basically the same as an old school civic with a 1.4 engine, the laser gets towed easily and I've had a double stacker with fire flys on with no drama. I'm from England so we don't have cars that are as big as you guys in the states so people tow boats with all kind of small cars.
    Makes sense as 400lb=about two big guys.
     
  3. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    try contacting Rob Koci - user name here is RobKoci - Last year I know he towed his laser and a pretty heavy trailer from Canada to FL and back with his Civic, I talked to him a little about it, IIRC he said it wasn't much of a problem, but the car did bog down a bit on the hills..

    Obviously towing weight is not quite the same as weight in the car, you also have to account for the added resistance, both aero and from the tires.
     
  4. captainJack987

    captainJack987 New Member

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    The laser and trailier are like a small utitlity trailing just about anything can pull one especially if it rwd.
     
  5. bjmoose

    bjmoose Member

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    I used to own a J/24 and watched many similar questions being answered on J/24s over and over again; though obviously the scale was different -- people were asking about SUVs and trucks of varying sizes, not honda civics.

    I did a fair amount of research myself before buying my truck.

    Over time I concluded the best answer is the one obtained by consulting your owner's manual. If it tells you you can tow that much weight -- you're good. If it tells you not to do it, then don't.

    If you're "close" to the maximum weight in your owners manual, you can conclude that towing it is OK, but you may have some trouble on steep hills, mountains, etc... and therefore allow extra time for your trip.

    If you do lots of towing on steep hills, and you're close to your max weight, and you have an automatic transmission, the one extra piece of advice I have is to invest the extra money in an "automatic transmission service" to have the fluid flushed and the filter changed every time you do your annual maintenance on your car.

    The reason is that towing generates tranny heat, the heat causes the fluid to break down and lose its lubricating properties faster than usual, and poorly lubricating fluid causes permature transmission failure.
     
  6. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    I am very certain the car can do the job well if you:
    1. Ignore impulses to attempt rapid acceleration and high speed driving.
    2. Use a small lightweight trailer such as the Trailex or Kitty Hawk.
    3. Bring the rig to Austin and have our local hotshot Honda mechanic look it over.

    Whie you are here, you may as well sail in the Easter Laser Regatta.
     
  7. Scott B

    Scott B Member

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    Continuing on bjmoose's thoughts -

    If you have an automatic transmission, and are going to do a lot of towing, an auxiliary cooler is a good idea. Heat is the enemy of the auto tranny, and anything you can do to lower the temperature is a good thing. (Actually, just sitting in LA traffic on a hot summer day can be hard on the tranny, too. A cooler would help here, too.)
     
  8. Cenutrio

    Cenutrio New Member

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    Man, i drive my laser on the roof in a small Lancia 1.1 L

    When kids my dad used to drive the whole family fleet of four optimist in a trolley driven by a citroen GS break also with a 1.2 L little engine.

    In many ways, we, westerners, are very spoiled. It is just a matter of pushing the engine using the gearbox properly. All cars do just fine. My record was driving my laser back in the 80s from barcelona to Porto (Portugal) in a 850cc old mini.

    The Civic will do just fine.
     
  9. David Vaughan

    David Vaughan New Member

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    Hi Scully Girl;

    Your very prudent in being cautious with the decision to place your Laser atop your Civic. The added weight, added drag, and resulting additional requirments to both your engine and transmission are not to be taken lightly.
    The suggestion to check your owners manual for towing capacity is a good one, as is the auxillery cooler for your transmission. While you asked about roof top capacity/load, some of the same priciples apply.

    I have two suggestions:
    1. Ensure you get a good or excellent roof top carrying system and that its attached flawlessly.
    2. Put the money into an axillery transmission cooler, or replace the one that may be mounted infront of your radiator already, with a larger one. Your dealer or well versed mechanic shop should be able to do this for $200 - $300.

    I have a 2003 Ford F-150 and tow either a work trailer or boat behind me nearly all the time. My tranni crapped at only 34,000 miles, (under warrenty) The dealer fixed it, then I had him install the axillery tranni cooler, No problem since, not one.

    Good luck in your decision, and Laser sailing.

    Dave of Florida
     
  10. sk8ingsailor

    sk8ingsailor Member

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    My coach's friend car tops his V15 on a jetta...
     
  11. scullygirl

    scullygirl New Member

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    Dave,

    Actually I'm looking into trailering the Laser behind my car. Cartopping wouldn't be an option for me, it would be too difficult for me to get the boat on and off at regattas by myself. Besides, the boat is about the same size (or bigger) than the car!

    It sounds like you recommend the auxiliary transmission cooler even in a trailering situation? I'm amazed at your F-150 story, those trucks are designed to pull a load and your transmission went out at 34,000 miles? This makes me worried for my little Honda that's not designed to pull anything...even with all the encouraging words I've heard from the Forum.

    Mary
     
  12. scullygirl

    scullygirl New Member

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    Thanks for including the pics of the cars, it sure helps. I'm amazed at what these little cars have done. I've read my owner's manual in the past and although it talks about how you can tow, it's not very encouraging about it and so I settled for renting Lasers. But now I'd like to have my own boat. :)

    Mary
     
  13. scullygirl

    scullygirl New Member

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    A Vanguard 15? Wow. That's practically bigger than the car itself.

    Mary
     
  14. Canadalaser

    Canadalaser New Member

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    If you are trailering in the hills with an automatic transmission, listen carefully, because the transmission might jump around a lot because of the changing loads. You might want to consider forcing the transmission to hold gears... its a little hard on mileage but easier on the transmission... we had to do this in the laurentian mountains with a truck towing a team trailer...
     
  15. captainJack987

    captainJack987 New Member

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    How about a trailer will it make a huge difference, in the trailer and the sailboat being light will it have a tendency to fishtale or will it act normally like a heavier trailier?
     
  16. Canadalaser

    Canadalaser New Member

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    In my experience, the average single boat trailer can take speeds of up to around 110-120 km/h without too much drama. Much past that and they tend to get a little bouncy. Make sure that you grease the bearings of your trailer around once a year.
     
  17. Scott B

    Scott B Member

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    Trailer speed is partially dependent on wheel/tire size. An 8" wheel will spin considerably faster at 70mph than a 12" wheel. Faster spinning equates to more heat in the bearings, causing the grease to break down faster, causing bearing wear, etc. The taller the tire/wheel combo, the better.

    Fishtailing has to do with the fore/aft center of the load mass. Too much mass aft (a too light tongue weight) will cause the trailer to fishtail.

    A trailer that is too lightly loaded will bounce more than a heavily loaded trailer. One thing to check is the load capacity of your trailer (both spring rate and tire). Most small trailers are rated to carry 800 pounds. A Laser and gear (and even with my heavy trailer box) do not weight close to 800 pounds. One suggestion is to remove one leaf from the spring pack on the trailer. This will lower the overall weight capacity of the trailer, but will allow the springs to flex when the trailer hits a bump, and will reduce the bouncing of the trailer.
     
  18. Krycek

    Krycek Member

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    My F-150 does a phenomenal job towing my lasers!! :D

    I'm also a little bit of a control freak and perfer a manual transmission for towing. However, if you have an automatic, the aux cooler is an excellent idea!!!
     
  19. sidewinder

    sidewinder Member

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    I pull mine with a 97 civic, 1.6L, 4 speed auto. It is very flat here, and it trails pretty effortlessly on the highway. I don't take it long distances. I have a stripped-down steel pwc trailer that is probably 2x the weight of the aluminum ones.

    Scott Bosso has good advice about weight distribution and springs. In my opinion, the trailex and KH are a little light on tongue weight, but most tow vehicles are much larger than the civic. So it probably evens out.

    I think you'll be fine. Listen to your car. If it is really working hard and hunting through the gears on the hills, you should probably reconsider. As others have said, the boat and trailer is no more weight than 3 people. There's 3 other seats in that car right?

    EDIT: I do a drain and fill on the trans before every summer. Can't hurt.
     
  20. ddombrowski

    ddombrowski New Member

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    I realize I'm a little late to this party, but I thought I would throw my 2 cents in for anyone searching for this information later. Also, sailing is hobby #2 (gasp), I live and breathe all things automotive.

    First of all, your 2005 Civic MAY have a direct link overdrive in its transmission, meaning that for cruising in top gear, the transmission bypasses the torque converter. Slipping of the the torque converter in autotransmissions is what shears the fluid and causes it to heat up, damaging the transmission. No slip, no heat, no problem. Check to be sure, but we were investigating why a co-workers new Civic claimed a higher fuel economy with the automatic than the manual, and this was something we discovered in our search. If this is the case, as long as you're not downshifting (you shouldnt have to towing a laser, maybe for the hills though), you'll be no worse of than towing nothing.

    In general, as others have said, just about anything can tow a laser, although many of the smaller cars quoted had manual gearboxes, which, like a direct link auto, do not shear the trans fluid in the torque converter that they don't have, so the transmission doesn't heat up, and you'll be just fine. Still, the 200lbs or so for the boat +trailer+gear isn't going to make much of a difference. As other people quoted, 200lbs is 1 large person, or one small person and a full tank of fuel, or a full tank of fuel some gear and a dog.....etc. All things the car can do.

    My last point on all of this is that when I drive my tow vehicle (a 91 Volvo 240 with a 2.3L 4cyl motor, a 4 gr autotranny, and over 200K miles) by itself, I get about 23mpg on the highway. When I tow the laser, I get about 22.5. If what you are towing isn't making a dent in your fuel economy, its not all that hard to pull. You might want to check your fuel economy both before and after pulling the trailer and see how much of an additional strain you're putting on the car.

    Ok, one more thing (I know I said I was done). Autotransmissions with high mileage can be a little finicky, especially when flushing the fluid. Regardless of car make/model, if you search around on car message boards asking about flushing trans fluid on older boxes, you'll see pages upon pages of arguments both for and against doing it, as many people believe that flushing the trans stirs up the clutch pack material thats settled on the bottom of the pan and clogs up the cooling passages, roasting the transmission. I'm not saying this will definitely happen, but I'm just saying that towing a 200 lb boat is the LEAST of an old transmissions worries.

    Okay, this isn't a car board, so I'll shutup now. Hope I at least set you guys at ease for towing things and answered a few questions.
     

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