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Jerry None
12/5/12 7:40 p.m.

Brand new to the forums, love the magazine. (Hi.)

Just finished my first season of Rallycross with a 1987 Toyota MR2. I'm looking to do plenty of work over the winter, and I'm curious if my girlfriend's 2007 Honda Element has enough omph to carry it around? It's either build a hitch and tow a small trailer of tires with the MR2, or put a hitch on the Element and tow everything!

Then I'm less worried about breaking it and needing a tow home!

Any advice?


Vigo SuperDork
12/5/12 7:54 p.m.

Personally, i would be fine doing it with a dolley or tow bar. Ive used a 3000 lb dodge dynasty to tow cars around on a dolley for a long time. The dynasty has upgraded everything as far as suspension, brakes, tires, etc, but my point is that (at least for a dolley or flat tow) you dont need a whole lot of weight in the tow vehicle to be safe.

If you planned to do it regularly i would set the MR2 up with a tow bar so that you could just hook the bar up and flat tow it. I eventually did that with one of my cars and it towed great after i fixed the play in the tie rods. I feel that a WELL ATTACHED tow bar is safer than a dolley. Ive put a lot of miles on my dolley with no major mishaps but ill be the first to tell you the dolley introduces several failure points vs the tow bar and they mostly have to do with inducing instability in the tow vehicle.

I wouldnt consider using a trailer to tow the car, at least with the element, but it would still be pretty easy to build a rack to hold the race tires that could go somewhere on or behind the element or the mr2.

In general, towing with an automatic, i highly recommend an external trans cooler and to try not to shift with a lot of load. For example, ive always been just fine with towing in 4th ( / overdrive / top gear) in my vehicles, but i dont let it shift in and out of 4th under a lot of load. Ill either manually downshift with the shifter and give it just enough gas to bring the rpm up without the transmission dragging it up with its clutch application, or upshift from 3 to 4 by letting mostly off the gas and getting back in after it's done shifting.

bengro New Reader
12/5/12 9:08 p.m.

I had a 2003 element. I flat towed a Mr2 from northern Minnesota to Joliet Il. Totally mint. Braking takes some thought. The vehicle is only rated to tow 1500 so keep that in mind.

I have also towed an 89 corolla wagon on a dolly, again brakes where lacking.

I did put a larger auto trans cooler and changed my trans fluid (the 3 or so quarts that drain when you pull the plug) every 15-25k.

Will it do it? Yes. Is it designed to do it or the best thing to do it with, prolly not.

Woody GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/5/12 9:33 p.m.

I'd be more concerned with the short wheelbase than anything else.

duetto_67 New Reader
12/5/12 9:42 p.m.

know a guy who flat towed a Spec 944 with an Element. He had a very cool towbar setup for the racecar that came on and off fairly easily. He would change to a taller tire on the 944, put on the towbar, hook up and be gone. Pulled it all over, 15000 miles or so without a problem. he reported 18mpg while towing - good stuff.

ClemSparks PowerDork
12/5/12 9:43 p.m.

Having put some miles on the element of a girlfriend...I wouldn't do it.

Buy an F150 or something

I have very poor memory, but thought I remembered seeing 1,500 lb tow rating in the manual in the glovebox. Bengro's post seems to back that up. So yeah...that would be a negative.


Jerry New Reader
12/6/12 7:13 a.m.

Hm. Mostly good, one bad. Season starts again early May 2013 so I have time to make up my mind. Definitely need something because I finally have real rally tires and the MR2 isn't going to carry 4 full-sized wheels no matter how well I stack/hide-Tetris them.

Thanks for the input!

Bobzilla UltraDork
12/6/12 7:47 a.m.

1500lb towing capacity, brakes that are barely large enough to stop the vehicle without cargo and a super short wheelbase. If I counted right, that's 3 strikes.

Woody GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/6/12 7:49 a.m.

How about a Tire Tail?

pinchvalve UltimaDork
12/6/12 7:57 a.m.

Slightly OT, when can we get pics of the MR2 in action? An AW11 flinging dirt through the corners would be very cool.

Jerry New Reader
12/6/12 8:00 a.m.
Woody wrote: How about a Tire Tail?

I like!

Jerry New Reader
12/6/12 8:02 a.m.
pinchvalve wrote: Slightly OT, when can we get pics of the MR2 in action? An AW11 flinging dirt through the corners would be very cool.

I have a couple in my profile that I added last night.

Jerry New Reader
12/6/12 8:03 a.m.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Intern
12/6/12 8:15 a.m.

No is the answer! Elements can't tow a car, legally or realistically. Don't do it.

Enyar Reader
12/6/12 8:26 a.m.

How is the tow rating for an Element 1500 #s but a Jetta can tow 2000#?

Bobzilla UltraDork
12/6/12 8:30 a.m.
Enyar wrote: How is the tow rating for an Element 1500 #s but a Jetta can tow 2000#?

Do jetta's come with Glass transmissions?

andrave HalfDork
12/6/12 8:47 a.m.

there is more to safe towing than brakes and springs. You want some heft to your tow vehicle so the trailer isn't the one running the show. I have not towed in a FWD element (never been THAT daft) but have towed with a 4cyl 4wd suzuki vitara, and even within the factory rating (1500 lbs as well, iirc) it was somewhat scary. Brakes were lacking, rear suspension was overloaded even with "rated" tongue weight, and trailer (no brakes on trailer) would push down hills. It wasn't pleasant. The same trailer on my nissan pathfinder was just fine.

The main contributions to factory tow ratings are frame strength, factory tire capacity, factory spring rates, transmission longevity, and cooling capacity. If you were to hook up a scangauge to your element and monitor your transmission, oil, and water temps while towing, you would probably be amazing at how high they are compared to driving without them. Its going to dramaticaly shorten the lift of that little box.

And, of course thinking like an attorney, you have to think to yourself, "what if I couldn't stop or blew a tire and hit someone, and I was towing double the factory tow rating?" Thats probably going to be considered negligence.

What I consider "safe" to tow isn't "well I got the hitch on it and successfully got it out of my driveway. I consider safe to tow if you would feel comfortable on the interstate, on a country road, through the rain, or getting a flat tire on the trailer or the tow vehicle...

The element just fails every test.

Besides, if you tow on a dolly or flat tow and you damage your MR2 at the event, you still wont' be able to get it home.

I'd agree with whats been said, better to spend $1200 on a used F150 or E150 that will tow your 2500 lb car on a 1000 lb trailer without batting an eye... also give you a much better place to sleep, store equipment in, and etc than an element!

cwaters New Reader
12/6/12 9:03 a.m.

One more data point: If you were to get into an accident and lawyers get involved, it won't look good to the powers that be if(when) somebody figures out that you were "overloaded". That could be enough to significantly change the size of your slice of the liability pie. Watch your insurance company disown you.

HiTempguy SuperDork
12/6/12 11:30 a.m.
Tom Suddard wrote: No is the answer! Elements can't tow a car, legally or realistically. Don't do it.

I always find this funny. What don't people understand about the word "illegal"?

DOT would be all up in your grill if they ever decided to pull you over, and they will berkeley you with the long dick of the law.

BoneYard_Racing Reader
12/6/12 11:37 a.m.

^ I have always heard that as long hard dick of the law but this is a family forum

There is a guy in the WDC region who drives a clapped out LOOKING v6 mr2 tires strapped to the engine cover you know that is the right answer

andrave HalfDork
12/6/12 12:39 p.m.

legal is a funny word, I've been through the code here in Wv with a fairly fine toothed comb and the only thing you come up with are the DOT limits per tire. Nowhere in the state code does it say anything about staying with a vehicle's factory assigned GCVR or GVWR. I didn't toss that word into my argument, I left it out on purpose.

Adrian_Thompson SuperDork
12/6/12 12:46 p.m.

You can town with anything. Over here the general consensus is you can tow a 4x8 utility trailer with something less than an F350 powerstroke duellie LWB, but that's suicide, but hey, it's your life so do it.

Back in Europe I thought nothing of towing my TR7 behind my 1.8L (the big one!!!) FWD GM Cavalier. Over there you can tow with anything

codrus GRM+ Memberand Reader
12/6/12 12:48 p.m.
Woody wrote: How about a Tire Tail?

AFAICT, they guy who used to make them doesn't do it any more, and nobody else has stepped up. It seems you can only buy them used now.

codrus GRM+ Memberand Reader
12/6/12 12:54 p.m.
Adrian_Thompson wrote: Back in Europe I thought nothing of towing my TR7 behind my 1.8L (the big one!!!) FWD GM Cavalier. Over there you can tow with anything

None of the trailers in those pictures is particularly large, certainly nothing approaching the 3000 pound minimum of an MR2 on a custom lightweight trailer.

A tire trailer behind the MR2 is fine. If you're worried about getitng home in the (hopefully) unlikely event that you wreck the car, invest in AAA Plus/Platinum to get free 100/200 mile towing. You can buy 10 years of that for less than the cost of a lightweight trailer, not to mention a transmission rebuild on the element.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Intern
12/6/12 1:04 p.m.

This^ I think nothing of towing a 3400 pound car/ trailer combination behind my Trooper, but towing with an element is just stupid. It's light on chassis, brakes, power, and durability.

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