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Should I do it?

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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay so long story short I find myself suddenly in possession of a camper and I'm trying to decide whether it's a good idea or not.

She is a 2014 Mazda3 iSport hatchback, with a manual transmission and a theoretical towing capacity (from the Mazda website) of 2094 lbs, max tongue weight 165 lbs. He is a 2011 Aliner Expedition, with a base weight of 1850 lbs, and an actual tongue weight of 150, once the propane tanks are off.

I already have a tow bar and hitch on the car, and have recently added a brake controller. We towed it around locally prior to adding the brake controller, and it did fine. By fine I actually mean great. It towed very nicely, including up a couple of VERY steep Pennsylvania hills. I even started it up a hill from a dead stop about midway up the hill, and other than a little initial lugging right at the start, it did perfectly. The trailer dropped the suspension in the back by less than an inch.

I plan to remove and lighten a lot of components inside of the camper. Namely, I'm removing all electric bits and bobs that are intended for campground hookups and replacing them with a small solar panel and DC lights and a fan. I'm removing the fridge, the speakers, and all that weird stuff that no one actually uses when they're camping. I'll likely also remove the stovetop, but that's frankly not a lot of weight. I'm also replacing the counter tops with cheapo 1/2 inch plywood and just sanding and coating it.

The issue is that I don't know how much weight this is going to actually remove from the trailer. As is, 1850 is the max I'm comfortable pulling, so once my hiking gear, food, water, etc is all packed up and in, I'd be over my limit.

I don't want to tear this camper apart just to realize that I only removed 100 lbs, you know? I got it for a really good price, but if towing it is going to be dangerous and/or mess up my baby, then it's not worth it and I should just resell it.

So, input anyone?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
You're going to have to show us that, because the Owners Manual says to never tow anything.

It's only not rated for towing in the US (probably because we're statistically more likely to sue when we do dumb stuff and don't follow the directions). Mine is the Hatchback, SkyActiv-G 1.5L, Manual transmission, which is consistent at 2094 lbs across Europe and Russia. Germany's is actually rated higher, but I went with the smaller rating. All tongues are rated max 165 lbs.
 

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No it's not. American market cars have different engines, transmissions, and safety standards.

But whatever, knock yourself out. When your transmission shits all of the gears out, don't say that you weren't warned.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
But whatever, knock yourself out. When your transmission shits all of the gears out, don't say that you weren't warned.
I bet you're a joy to be around. That was the point of posting here asking for advice. "No I don't think it's a good idea because..." would have gotten your point across a lot faster and more effectively than a bunch of shitty passive aggressive comments.
 

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You already know the answer, simply by the title of your post, yet you asked anyway. Why did you ask? Because you're going to wait for one single response saying they know more than the engineers who designed your car, and then you're going to tow with it anyway. I simply cut straight through the noise.

You do you. I'm out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Christ I hate car people sometimes.

Extra backstory for anyone who might be able to actually explain:

My father is a 40 year master automotive tech who is insisting that this will be fine. I do not have faith, and I was hoping someone could provide a tangible reason why this won't work.

This isn't a "teehee I'm gonna do it" post, it's an actual request for info or someone to actually give me a breakdown of why this is a bad idea so that I don't break my only car.

So, why are the American and European cars different? What in the engine or transmission makes other countries' builds able to handle towing when the American one can't?
 

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brings up questions of liability as well
if you are within the specs for your country then it would be legal
which then begs the question
just because you can doesn't mean you should
as you appear to be in the usa
the answer is no, sorry
 

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The Mazda 3 weight to power ratio is very critical when towing. The ECU will get feedback from the sensors based on the engine demand for power and will compensate up to a point. After which you will get less performance and, in most cases, dangerous pinging due pre ignition.

If you are still deciding to tow with your MAZDA 3 I suggest to load the vehicle with what you think the maximum weight will be during your trip including the tow bar fill the fuel tank full and go get a certified weight. This information you can use for intelligent computations to base the MAZDA specifications for towing and take the guessing game out of the equations.

The other BIG thing is if you have an automatic transmission(I know you have a manual but others reading this may want to know) you WILL need an auxiliary transmission cooler to keep the transmission fluid at or below 195F continually. DO NOT USE sport mode or manual shifting both will cause increased transmission temperature and may cause damage to the transmission.

The rear suspension will need to be upgraded at least the dampeners (shocks) if not install air support bags for your contemplated type of towing. You may also need to increase the sway bar % (not necessarily diameter) of performance as well.

You should run only 91 or 95 octane fuel and take bottles of quality octane booster to add at each fill up. Regardless what MAZDA may imply you cant add weight as your thinking to do and not run higher octane fuels.


TheBlooms is a straight forward member and his information is street level DIY good! (y)

I am an engineer in the auto industry among a few other things and that is as Forest Gump said "that's all I am going to say about that"! :ROFLMAO:
 

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From what I can gather, Europe tends to be very lenient with tow ratings. The US market cars not being rated for it probably has to with, A: Mazda wanting more reasons to deny warranty coverage, B: The tendency of Americans to overload vehicles, and C: Americans being statistically more likely to sue over stuff.
Also, there is NO WAY that you have a 1.5L Skyactive-G engine because that was never sold in the US. I'm guessing that you have the 2.0L Skyactive-G which has quite a bit more power.

I've towed with my 08 manual 2.3L Mazda 3 and while it works just fine, when you are close to the limit or have too much tongue weight, you can really feel it. I would drive around with your intended trailer and see how it goes, try going up and down steep hills and see how it handles it. If you don't like it then don't do it. Upgrades for the the rear suspension probably aren't even available and frankly, they aren't usually unnecessary if you don't pack the car to the hilt with stuff. Put any stuff you want to take with you in the back of the trailer instead, it will actually lower the tongue weight. The higher octant fuel also isn't necessary, engines have had knock sensors for 20+ years and can compensate for pinging as it happens. How someone claiming to be an engineer in the auto industry doesn't know this is beyond me.
 

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Upgrades for the the rear suspension probably aren't even available and frankly, they aren't usually unnecessary if you don't pack the car to the hilt with stuff. Put any stuff you want to take with you in the back of the trailer instead, it will actually lower the tongue weight. The higher octant fuel also isn't necessary, engines have had knock sensors for 20+ years and can compensate for pinging as it happens.
Yes you can get suspension upgrades.
And anytime to tow it is a strong consideration to consider suspension upgrades. To mention only one important reduced safely influence towing does is increase the braking distance @MPH. Most owners of vehicles if asked don't even know what the 60 to 0 mph on a perfect day dry tarmac is let alone when you add passengers of Towing!

The "knock sensors sending the information to the ECU, that ECU can only make minor adjustments to protect the engine. Your comment is not like many I read on forums and a long time misunderstanding how the ECU mapping from the factory works and to what degree.
When I do a ECU mapping and change the KNOCK values I first try the easy way by increases the % from factory. If that does not work than I will do the long process and map difference from the factory knock values to a linear adjustment based on the load % and rpm. So these are 2 examples of how you incorrect about your Knock sensors information. ;)

A quick look at any one that has data logged an engine that the ECU is correcting engine operation from the knock sensors can see clearly the limits.


I was entertained that you somehow feel that here in the US we are more prone to sueing than other countries.... and that is based on what real information?
 

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Everything I've found typically places the US as top 5 or #1.

As for the knock sensor thing, I've yet to see an completely stock engine come in with pre-ignition damage that still has a factory tune on the PCM. Not even in vehicles used for heavy towing, let alone performance cars.
 

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madmatt2024 said:
The 50+ years of combined experience at my shop contradicts this.
Everything I've found typically places the US as top 5 or #1.

As for the knock sensor thing, I've yet to see an completely stock engine come in with pre-ignition damage that still has a factory tune on the PCM. Not even in vehicles used for heavy towing, let alone performance cars.
How would you know unless you did a engine health evaluation, pulled the head or disassembled the engine, or did a data log of the knock sensor values? Without looking at the STOCK mapping looking at the knock values. actual ignition retard, knock level peak, sensitivity of reporting values etc.,etc., etc. please don't imply that a knock sensor will save an engine if severe knocking is constantly applied to an engine . Now I understand from your post that the shop you work at has 50 years combined experience (that is a good thing for customers) unfortunately I for myself only have 45 years in the business so I am short 5 years experience with your whole shops crew so I am still learning about things like ECU operations and what going on inside their programing, stock OEM or aftermarket performance! :cool:

I give you the floor to respond further as I believe I have said all I can for the OP and what to think about. It will be the OP that ultimately decides what to do regarding towing !

Thanks all for reading my responses.

As for your response about Sueing like everything these days anyone can find supported information that they post on forums like this on the WWW, hey even what I posted. LOL ;)
 
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