Utility Trailer – Towing with a Small Car

June 24, 2019 by

Utility Trailer – Towing with a Small Car

One of the first things you are told to do when buying a utility trailer is to check the towing capacity of your vehicle and make sure that it is up to the job. So that begs the question, “can you tow with a small car?” The answer, quite surprisingly, is yes you can tow with a small car. Remember towing relies one-third on the vehicle, one-third on the trailer and one-third on the tow hitch. This means that your car is only one-third of the equation. Before you buy the first cargo trailer that you see, we have some helpful advice to make sure it is right for you.


It is commonplace to see large pick-up trucks and SUV towing trailers down the highway but when you see a small car towing a cargo or utility trailer you generally do a double take to make sure that your eyes are not deceiving you. When Canadians want to tow, they buy a pick-up or SUV but on European roads, you will see more people towing with small vehicles because most of them drive smaller cars and they expect them to be able to do more than the Canadian or American market does. This is because we have all been convinced, by car manufactures, that you can’t tow with a small, compact car.

Car manufacturers do publish the tow ratings of their small cars in their manuals, but they also caution that the cars are not recommended for towing and many manufacturers state that they do not recommend installing a trailer hitch. They usually go on to explain that if you do plan to tow a trailer you need to be aware that your vehicle will perform differently and it will affect your handling, fuel economy, service intervals, and overall performance. And while all this is true, it does not mean you can’t tow with your car, even if it is small.


When towing with any vehicle, the weight of the trailer isn’t the only factor. You also need to consider the tow vehicle’s axle load limits, and the overall gross combination weight rating of the trailer and tow vehicle combined, including cargo and passengers. Obviously, a small car carrying only the driver will be able to tow far more than a small car that is fully loaded and has three large passengers. Vehicle tow ratings are based on braked or unbraked trailers and it is important to know how your car is rated as this will determine the size and weight of the trailer and how towing will affect the handling and safety of your car. When you tow with a small car it helps to have a trailer that is designed to minimize mass and aerodynamic drag.


When you tow with any vehicle, it is important to pack your load properly, but this is especially important when you tow with a small car. An unbalanced load or any movement of your cargo can severely affect the handling of your vehicle and on wet, icy or slippery roads you could skid or lose control. Incorrect load distribution will pull the rear of the vehicle down and affect your steering and an overloaded trailer will put unnecessary strain on your car, damaging your tires, wheel bearings, and axle.


Technically towing is one-third vehicle, one-third trailer, and one-third tow hitch; but it is more like one-quarter vehicle, one-quarter trailer, one-quarter tow hitch, and one-quarter the driver. Before you go anywhere do an all-around inspection of your vehicle and trailer, checking the trailer hitch, wheels, tires, lights, load distribution, and load security. Always be responsible when you tow, drive slowly and carefully, maintaining a safe following distance and speed that will allow you to stop smoothly in any situation. If you’re new to driving with a trailer, or if it is the first time towing with a small car, you need to familiarize yourself with the vehicle’s handling before you go on a long trip.

McFarlane’s has a wide variety of utility trailers for sale and can help you find the perfect trailer to suit your needs and your small car.