Niagara Gazette

Columns

January 2, 2014

TOM'S CORNER: How to kill a car

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Overloading towing and hauling capacity

Have you ever followed a car towing a small boat trailer that’s loaded with a very large boat? Picture it. A large boat is hanging over a trailer on all sides and towering over the tow vehicle; the trailer’s tires are flattened, and the vehicle’s front end is pointing upward. It’s a mess looking for a place to explode, and this is not an uncommon sight. Talk about a safety issue. Not only are the people in the tow vehicle at high risk, but so are the motorists who share the same roadway space.

Vehicles come from the factory with a specific towing capacity. Some vehicles come made with a towing package that is designed for safe towing. Check your owner’s manual or call your manufacturer’s customer service department to find out the towing capacity of your particular vehicle.

What happens when you pull a trailer that’s too heavy for your vehicle? Engine damage from overheating, undue stress to the frame, damage to the suspension and braking systems, and transmission damage from overheating.

Overheating

Vehicles designed for heavy towing that have a towing package from the factory come with a high coolant capacity radiator and sometimes a heavier water pump. When hauling a heavy load on a trailer with a vehicle that is not designed to haul such a load, the engine heats up far beyond the ability of the radiator to cool it down. The result is overheating, blown head gaskets, and cracked or warped cylinder heads. This is not to say that you should never tow a trailer with your vehicle, just find out what the towing capacity is and do not exceed it. On vehicles that tow heavy loads regularly, it’s a good idea to add an auxiliary engine oil cooler to ensure the engine oil in the crankcase is thoroughly cooled, because intense heat causes the oil to break down and lose viscosity. 

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