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  1. Default Northern Winter move

    Hello;

    I am hoping for some advice from all the seasoned pros out there!

    My boyfriend, dog, and I are moving from the west coast (Vancouver) to the east (Ottawa, Canada). We will be making the drive from mid to late December in a 1998 Toyota Camry pulling a fully loaded UHaul trailer. We are staying within our towing capacity (2000lbs) but will be right on the edge of this.

    Given the weight of the trailer we would like to avoid hiways that are going to be a challenge for our car to get up, and want to avoid too much of a snow risk to keep things as safe as possible.

    We are willing to travel south but don't want to go so far south as to add too much time or cost to our trip.

    Any advice on route (mainly for the western portion/mountains) would be greatly appreciated

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Welcome!

    I would not tow a trailer at the limits with a small 15 year old car cross country, especially when you HAVE to cross mountains somewhere, they cannot be avoided.

    I'd recommend you rethink your means of transporting your belongings. I personally would rent a truck and either tow the car with the truck or drive the car separately.

    To directly answer your question, this is a bit roundabout but is the best way to avoid major steep grades:

    Take I-5 to Portland, then I-84 up the Columbia River valley to I-82 (This avoids Snoqualmie Pass across the Cascades). Take that to US-395, through Kennewick to I-90. Take I-90 across the Rockies. I-90 is less strenuous than I-80.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default towing etc

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I agree with GLC's route suggestion, and share his concerns about your towing setup.

    I'm a bit surprised that the Camry in the late 90's had a Towing Capacity of 2,000 lbs, but even there you're going to have to be very careful. Towing capacity is based on driving an empty car, so if you've got your car full of stuff in addition to a loaded trailer, you could still easily be over your towing limits. Don't forget also, that even a 5x8 UHaul trailer weighs 900 lbs empty and it doesn't take much at all to have 1000 pounds of stuff.

    Throw in the distance, terrain, and the age of your car, and I think there is some big reason for concern. Despite its towing capacity, the Camry is really not designed for towing, and even a very well maintained car that is 15 years old has things that are going to wear out - and when you put the 2 things together, you've got a pretty high likelihood of a breakdown. On any major cross country trip involving towing, getting an oil and transmission cooler installed is highly recommended, although I suspect the costs of doing so would likely cost practically as much as your car is worth at this point.

    Of course, since you'll be crossing the border you'll need your passports as well as vaccination records for your pet, however, it would be wise to have some documentation of your new home/job in Ottawa to prove you are just transiting through the US and don't have plans to move to the US without a visa.

  4. Default

    In know several people who found it was cost-effective to ship their belongings in a metal storage container (using their own locks) rather than rent a truck or use a moving company. In one case, the container was picked up in upstate New York and delivered to California 5 days later.

  5. Default

    Thanks for all the advice!

    The car has had a full check-up, new winter tires, new spacers, complete oil, battery, etc. We have done the drive (without the trailer) before and the car was perfect - she's an old warhorse! But we also have emergency kit and complete roadside assistance and will have chains for the trailer in the mountains.

    As for the route I checked out the I-84 suggestion and was wondering given the concerns about going down more south on the I-84 (to Idaho) and and then the 15 and 20 back up.

    We looked into the metal boxes, truck, etc. And we only want to move our bed and TV since the rest isn't really worth the extra $1,800 vs $300. But we are still thinking about it!

    MEgan

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default bigger fish

    The car has had a full check-up, new winter tires, new spacers, complete oil, battery, etc. We have done the drive (without the trailer) before and the car was perfect - she's an old warhorse! But we also have emergency kit and complete roadside assistance and will have chains for the trailer in the mountains.
    I think you might have missed some of the point of our advice. There isnt really a problem with driving a well maintained car that is 15 years old across the country, the problem is entirely with towing. Towing cross country, means going over mountains, which is very hard on any vehicle, even those that are made for it. Thats why oil and transmission coolers are highly recommended for any trip like this, even if you were traveling in a full sized truck. What makes the plan especially concerning for you is that you will be doing this trip in an older car that really is not designed for towing, and you will be taking a significant amount of life off the car.

    In other words you are trying to make your war horse run the kentucky derby, and while war horses are great, they arent made for racing.

    One other big red flag involves chains. If you ever find yourself in a position where you need to use chains on this trip, you should be pulling off the road. You will be in a situation that will be way to hard to control in severe winter weather, and chains will not overcome that. For that matter, chains should be put on the drive wheels of your car first for them to do any good.
    As for the route I checked out the I-84 suggestion and was wondering given the concerns about going down more south on the I-84 (to Idaho) and and then the 15 and 20 back up.
    As far as route, no, that will not work.

    First, it isnt even an option, as US-20 takes you through Yellowstone National Park and the road is closed during the winter!

    Second, even if it was open it would be kind of silly because it adds a ton of miles.

    Third, on this trip, while towing, you should be staying on Interstates at all time when traveling through mountain areas. Interstates are designed for cross country travel with limited grades and curves, unlike secondary roads (like US and State highways) can have very steep sections with switchbacks, etc. The route GLC suggested does include a short section of US highway, but it is a highway that it built to near-Interstate Quality.
    We looked into the metal boxes, truck, etc. And we only want to move our bed and TV since the rest isn't really worth the extra $1,800 vs $300. But we are still thinking about it!
    Um, keep in mind, while towing, your gas mileage is likely to be cut in half. Doing this drive with a trailer is going to cost you an extra $400 in fuel alone!

    If you only want to move those 2 things, then Id look at something like uship, and have someone else move it. Otherwise, I would put them up on craigslist. Unless there is something very special about them, it would likely be much more cost effective to sell the items and use the money you get from them, along with the money you would have used for the trailer, to buy a new bed and tv at your new home.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Unless there is something very special about them, it would likely be much more cost effective to sell the items and use the money you get from them, along with the money you would have used for the trailer, to buy a new bed and tv at your new home.
    I completely agree.

  8. Default

    Hi,

    Thanks for the advice about the route I proposed, and I will look into Uship to see. The TV and bed are expensive so we are trying to balance the cost to replace them with the cost to ship.

    Megan

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    What you need to balance out is shipping cost vs. trailer rental cost, additional gasoline costs (figure you will get about 1/2 the mileage you would not towing, plus the additional miles driven on the roundabout route and at least 1 more night in a hotel) and the very real possibility of having car trouble.

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