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  1. Default Cross-country move (DC-SF) with trailer: Route 70, 80, or 40?

    Hi Everyone! I'm moving to SF with my 2014 Civic and a 5x8 Trailer with about 2000 lbs. I love mountains and would love to drive through I-70 but I'm concerned that going up and down mountains w that type of weight might be rough on my breaks and dangerous in the snow.
    I'd like to know if it would be safer to drive south of the mountains (new mexico, arizona, and up) or if can go through them (colorado and utah). Thanks in advance for your help with my cross country move!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Check the vehicle and the weather.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    You don't say what model Civic you have but you should be OK on any Interstate as long as it's within the Mftrs tow capacity limits. Driving 'south' does not automatically mean you will avoid winter weather and you can't avoid mountains anyway, the fact is I-40 could have an ice/snow storm along it, while I-70 is clear. The best thing you can do is check the weather forecasts and road conditions close to your departure and make an informed decision then. You should have your vehicle checked over by a fully qualified mechanic who has been informed you intend to drive cross country with a trailer so they can give it a major check. If you are not already a member it's worth considering joining a motoring organisation such as AAA. The most important thing is allowing enough time to safely make this journey which is pretty much 6 days without disruption but have a day or 2 in hand in case you of delays or if you just want to take it easy.

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

    Default seems like a bad idea

    You need to check with your owners manual, but I really can't imagine that a Civic is rated for 2,000 lbs of towing. That's a lot of weight for a small car - where what you'd be towing would weigh almost as much as your entire car. Not only would that be hard on your brakes, transmission, suspension, etc, it would be very easy to get into a dangerous situation where the "tail is wagging the dog" and could easily cause you to lose control, especially when talking about mountains.

    I'd guess that your car is actually not rated for any towing, so doing a trip like this could do lasting damage to your car and will likely void the warranty.

    As far as routes go, this is one case where taking I-70 through Colorado would be a very bad idea, because of the amount of elevation change - however, there really is no way you can make this trip without dealing with mountains. Even if you go all the way down to I-10, you're still going up to 5,000 feet in NM/AZ, and then have more mountains to deal with again in California.

    I would strongly recommend you look at another approach for this move, be it having your belongings shipped and/or renting a truck and towing your car behind. When you factor in the almost inevitable damage to your car, and the difficulties you'd have safely controlling such a large load with such a small car, it really is not worth it and will very likely cost you far more in the long run.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    We are in the process of getting one of our daughters and her family ready to make a move that includes mountain issues, and we gave them exactly the advice that Michael gave you: you can't avoid the mountains, no you should not try to tow that much trailer and stuff behind one of your cars, etc.

    Renting a truck IS more expensive, no doubt about that. And the only kind of trailer that you should use to haul your car is a 4-wheels up trailer, a car hauler (NOT a tow-dolly, which can wreck transmission and woe to you if you have to back up!). Pare down your stuff as much as you can -- a move is the best time to get rid of all of those silly plastic cups that restaurants seem to hand out, half-used bottles of things that you tried and didn't like, etc. If it's old and worn out, it might be a nice time to decide that it's time to replace it, even if it means you sit on lawn furniture in your new place until you replace that beat-up sofa!

    I'm glad you're already used to a higher cost of living, if you live in DC, because California is also that. AAMOF, California has the highest cost per gallon of gasoline, and DC is a little further down the Top 10 list that I read online just yesterday. But still .... that said ... welcome to California, early!


    Donna

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    From what little info I can find, a 2014 Civic is only rated to tow 1000 lbs. You have a no-go here, rent a U-Haul 10 foot box truck and car carrier.

  6. Default Thanks for the fast response!

    Thanks guys! This is helpful. I was mistaken, according to the manual, the towing capacity is 1000lbs.

    I'm looking at other alternatives but the main thing I want to tow is my motorcycle and shipping both a car and motorcycle will be too expensive. I think I can come in right around that 1000 limit. I'll go chat with a mechanic tonight.

    Other than the capacity, sounds like route 70 strait across would be my best bet?

    Thanks again!

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    You need to check with your owners manual, but I really can't imagine that a Civic is rated for 2,000 lbs of towing. That's a lot of weight for a small car - where what you'd be towing would weigh almost as much as your entire car. Not only would that be hard on your brakes, transmission, suspension, etc, it would be very easy to get into a dangerous situation where the "tail is wagging the dog" and could easily cause you to lose control, especially when talking about mountains.

    I'd guess that your car is actually not rated for any towing, so doing a trip like this could do lasting damage to your car and will likely void the warranty.

    As far as routes go, this is one case where taking I-70 through Colorado would be a very bad idea, because of the amount of elevation change - however, there really is no way you can make this trip without dealing with mountains. Even if you go all the way down to I-10, you're still going up to 5,000 feet in NM/AZ, and then have more mountains to deal with again in California.

    I would strongly recommend you look at another approach for this move, be it having your belongings shipped and/or renting a truck and towing your car behind. When you factor in the almost inevitable damage to your car, and the difficulties you'd have safely controlling such a large load with such a small car, it really is not worth it and will very likely cost you far more in the long run.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    A 5x8 trailer all by itself, completely empty, is 900 lbs, so unless your motorcycle weighs less than 100 lbs, that won't work. Even Uhaul's lightest weight flatbed/utility trailer still comes in at nearly 700 lbs. What kind of motorcycle do you have and how much does that weight all by itself?

    Mind you, the 1000 lbs is maximum capacity - assuming your car is otherwise completely empty. Are you planning to bring any of your belongings with you? If your car is filled with cargo, that further reduces the amount of weight you can safely tow.

    I really think you're going to be asking for problems if you try to tow cross country with your civic. It's just not designed for the job you need it to do. Either pay to ship the motorcycle or rent a truck, put the bike in back and tow the car behind.

    Other than the capacity, sounds like route 70 strait across would be my best bet?
    No! My exact previous words were: taking I-70 through Colorado would be a very bad idea! You'd be practically begging to either destroy your civic's transmission or completely lose control while the trailer pushes your car down the mountains. If you have a proper setup for towing, with a moving truck that's designed for such a drive, then go ahead and take I-70, but don't even think about it with your car.

    I-10 probably would be your best bet if you decide to try to do this with your car - but the point is even that has some downsides that adds even more miles (and more wear on your car) and it still has some mountains that will be a problem (in other words there is no easy way to do this), but trying to do this with a compact car, and taking a route that goes over 10,000 feet is the ultimate bad idea.

    I should also add in, I haven't even mentioned weather - if the roads are slick at all, that's another spot where it would be very easy for a heavy trailer to overwhelm your small car.

    Just to put everything together, the only way I would think about doing this is if your car is completely empty, and even then taking I-10, which increases the distance to about 3300 miles, plan to never go above 55 mph, and plan to stop anytime there is even a little bit of bad weather. Realistically, to complete this trip, under those constraints, you'd need to plan for this trip to take at least 10 days, minimum.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    This is what you need:

    https://www.uhaul.com/Trucks/10ft-Mo...uck-Rental/TM/

    https://www.uhaul.com/Trailers/Auto-...ort-Rental/AT/

    Even with those, I wouldn't take I-70 in the winter. I would probably take I-40 because I-80 is prone to heavy crosswinds and black ice across Wyoming and frequently requires chains over Donner Pass. Take I-66 to I-81 to I-40 to CA-58 to CA-99 to CA-46 to I-5.

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