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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, Just wanted to share some info on pulling a trailer with a Volt. I searched for info before making my trip and found very little, so maybe this will help others who wonder about the Volt and pulling trailers.

I drove from El Paso, Texas to Houston Texas last weekend - 15 long hours mostly at 65 mph.

Attached is the mpg result. The car did very well. It had no trouble going up the small mountains east of El Paso, and held steady speeds the whole way. I drove in Mountain mode, as I wanted to maintain a good charge in the battery. Not being sure how towing a trailer would affect it, I was somewhat afraid I might somehow drain the battery below a safe level, and I absolutely did not want that to happen.

The U Haul was in pretty bad shape - but it made it. It was a 4'x8' - the smallest they would rent me. Online I read that the trailer weighs 800 lbs. I put about 200 lbs in it, so it was probably around 1000 lbs total.


Volt_UHaul.jpg VoltUhaulMPG.jpg
 

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Sounds like similar performance of when I used my Civic to tow a trailer 7 hours. Low 20 mpgs from a 38mpg rated car.
 

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The battery is protected by the generator. It cannot be negatively affected by more load.

Kind of silly to warn in the manual against towing when Volt has the equivalent power of a V-6!
 

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How many people and how much cargo was in the car itself?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It was only me in the car, plus my two cats. That's why I rented the trailer - so I could have the car empty for me and them.
 

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Although theoretically you can tow anything with anything (there used to be old commercials of a bicycle towing an airstream) from a safety standpoint I won't tow anything without the right equipment. If I was moving, I'd rent a big U haul and tow the Volt on a car trailer. For that trailer a pickup or SUV, and maybe a small pickup. If the trip was some sort of camping trip, I'd rent a mini van or CUV rather than add a uhaul to the volt. If you hit high wind conditions, rainy stormy conditions or even if something happened in front of you and you had to panic stop, the brakes, suspension, unibody isn't really designed for the stresses of that extra weight. Glad to hear you made is safely.

Of course, this is coming from someone with a 3/4 ton suburban with a 454 cu in engine in his driveway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well, I disagree with "Malibu Hybrid: meh". I love the one I read about lately - if I didn't have the Volt or my other electric I'd be looking at it seriously. It says 45/48 mpg! That's so awesome! But of course, its not electric so maybe not. If it has adaptive cruise, I might consider it.

The first car I can buy that has "autopilot" or whatever they want to call it - if the thing drives itself - I'm buying!!!
 

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Well, I disagree with "Malibu Hybrid: meh". I love the one I read about lately - if I didn't have the Volt or my other electric I'd be looking at it seriously. It says 45/48 mpg! That's so awesome! But of course, its not electric so maybe not. If it has adaptive cruise, I might consider it.

The first car I can buy that has "autopilot" or whatever they want to call it - if the thing drives itself - I'm buying!!!
You disagreed with me, then talked yourself out of it, thus proving my point. If the Malibu was an 80 mpg hybrid, then it would set the world by storm. or if it was a 200 mile BEV at half the price of a tesla, then I'd be totally stoked about the Malibu.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well I still disagree with the "meh" part. It deserves more of a "not bad..."
 

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I love this. I pulled a 6 x 12 with the Prius(s) we've owned and have no doubt the Volt will do a better job once I fabricate a proper hitch.
 

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I love this. I pulled a 6 x 12 with the Prius(s) we've owned and have no doubt the Volt will do a better job once I fabricate a proper hitch.
I think even if I owned a welding shop, I'd just buy a pre-fab hitch for the car. There are several on the market at reasonable prices.

There are some things that the owner's manual warns against for very good reasons and then there is the trailer thing. I just don't understand it. The drive train can pull the car up long mountain passes at 80 MPH, it shouldn't have any trouble pulling a toy trailer. You wouldn't want to try launching a cabin cruiser boat with it, but a small utility trailer is a great substitute for a pickup when you don't have a pickup handy. The unibody construction and relatively small brakes makes me think that 1000 lbs is a safe limit. You could probably do more, but there's a point where you're just asking for trouble. I really don't understand the OP's reason for using a trailer to haul only 200 lbs of stuff. What's special about having the car empty? The cargo area is there to be used!
 

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Hell no!
Like LLninja said - you can tow anything with just about anything.
The amount of power the vehicle has nothing to do with its towing capability.
Volt has the power of a V6? Maybe.
A Corvette has a very powerful V8, more power than most 1/2 ton or 3/4 ton pickups, so should I pull a 10,000 pound toyhauler RV with it?

I think safe towing comes down to the frame of the vehicle (unibody, or full frame).
Does it have dedicated reinforced section of the frame to bolt up a hitch to it? And the brakes are strong enough to stop additional weight.

With the CIvic and VOlt the answer is likely - no.
People still do it. And most get lucky and does not slide into a minivan full of kids.
When I was young and stupid, i pulled a 19 foot ski boat with no trailer brakes withan S10 Chevy blazer. It pulled it just fine.
But when the road was wet and I came up to the stoplight, the trailer pushed the blazer into the intersection like it was on ice.

A better question/answer would be: Should or can the VOlt pull a trailer? It can but the powertrain was not designed for it and it will wear out its components prematurely.
Can the VOlt stop with a trailer? it can if the trailer has its own brakes.
Otherwise... yes it can stop but it will take longer distance if it is in a straightaway, in a turn it may fishtail the vehicle.

So the short answer .... you got lucky.
I am sure other drivers around you on the road were avoiding you or going around you in a hurry.
But hey... you did what you had to do, right?

 

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Most likely the towing issue is because GM decided to rush the Volt to market and skip all the required towing certifications/tests. Volt can tow, it's just not on paper.
 

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Most likely the towing issue is because GM decided to rush the Volt to market and skip all the required towing certifications/tests. Volt can tow, it's just not on paper.
No, it's most likely that people who want electric cars are in it for the fuel economy, not towing capacity. If you want towing capacity, get a Silverado, F150, or RAM. End of story. If you want to tow an atv, lawn mower, or sone jet skis, sure an SUV will do it in a pinch.

My brother in law has a 19 foot motorboat that he towed with a Chevy S10 blazer and blew out the transmission.

Right vehicle for the right job.
 

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So if I want to buy a sheet of plywood or 2x6's and they would only weight 200lbs, you say I should HAVE to buy a pickup, because I can't be safe and drive careful with a trailer on a Volt? You can drive unsafe for most conditions. You can drive too fast even if under speed limit for rain or snow even with no trailer. Driving too fast for conditions doesn't only apply to people with trailers. People aren't talking about a large amount of weight, so when you mention using a truck to pull little items, you just seem like you are being a Debbie downer on people that were sharing information with others.
 

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I towed 2,500 lbs. with a Subaru Legacy GT. Properly balanced, the back end barely sunk and it was 900 miles no problem.

I no longer have a truck but I do I have a Kia Spectra that's waiting patiently for my sister to get out of school (giving it to her) and I tow wood and drywall and concrete bags from the Depot of Homes all the time with that pup - no problem.

Friend Tows a full encosed stand in it motorcycle trailer with two Aprilia bikes with a BMW 535... no problem.

The Volt has to be able to tow 1K... has to.
 

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My brother in law has a 19 foot motorboat that he towed with a Chevy S10 blazer and blew out the transmission.
There is a reason they refer to a towing PACKAGE when you buy a vehicle. They don't just stop at the suspension; they put in a transmission oil cooler that takes transmission fluid up into a set of coils in the radiator. It is not the VEHICLE at fault; I severely doubt that the S10 itself was incapable of towing a dinky 19 footer. But you do have to make sure the vehicle is PROPERLY EQUIPPED! While it has been quite a while since I checked into it, garages that installed trailer hitches used to install transmission oil coolers.

With that being said, the transmission was always the week point in the equation. I heard of others who fried transmissions while towing. Given that this part of the equation is non-existent for the Volt, there is one more reason to think that a Volt is more towing capable than you might give it credit for.
 

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The trailer in question here is tiny and meant to be pulled by cars. When I take 4 guys at work to lunch I can easily have about the same weight in my Volt as that trailer.

The Volt is not going to have any problem stopping an extra 1000 lbs, and the heavy weight of the Volt probably makes it a lot more suitable for towing than other compact cars.

Most cars are capable of towing, safely, far more weight than the owners manual indicates if you aren't stupid with it (trying to drive too fast, etc). Those ratings are often for warranty reasons. I wouldn't drive 80 mph with the Volt and that trailer, but driving 65 is going to do just fine.

Granted, I wouldn't tow anything with the Volt on a regular basis since it really isn't setup for it. Need better load rated tires for one, and not sure on suspension. As clear by MPG a van with the same load would probably do as well as what should be an efficient car, and getting 24 mpg means the engine is working quite a bit harder, and my guess is the Volt doesn't recommend towing because the engine has to work so much harder and is meant to be a light duty generator set. The OP keeping it at 65 mph is being smart, and probably not putting undue stress on the car.
 

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How did you get a trailer hitch installed?
 
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