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  1. Default Driving from Houston TX to Seattle WA, please help me to take the right decision!


    I'm driving from Houston to Seattle after 10 days. This is my first long trip in the US and I'm very excited and a little bit stressed about it.
    I'm driving my Mazda 5 mini van (4 Cylinder) pulling a 5*8 trailer with very light load, I will be with my wife and 3 years old son and we have time to spend up to 6 days on the road.

    I read too many threads about the best route, could be : (Houston, Dallas, Wichita, Denver, SLC, Seattle). or (Houston, Amarillo, Denver, SLC, Seattle)

    Indeed I'm highly concern about my 4 cylinder car strength and its ability to make it with the load of he trailer through the Rocky's mountains and the hills around Denver and SLC!!

    I'm trying to find another simple plain route to be at the safe side; I could come up with this route and I appreciate if you guys can share your thoughts, suggestions with me:

    Houston - El Paso through I 10 (Stop)
    El Paso - Phoenix through I 10
    Phoenix - Las Vega through US 93 (Stop)
    Las Vegas - Twin Falls through US 93 (Stop)
    Twin Falls - Seattle through I 84, I 82, and I 90.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default I wouldn't

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I'll be honest, I would really advise you not attempt this trip while towing. There is no such thing with as a "very light load" in a 5x8 trailer. Assuming you're talking about a UHaul box trailer, completely empty that trailer is 900 lbs. Mazda officially says you should not tow anything with the Mazda 5. Especially with a 4 cylinder, I wouldn't consider towing anything over 1,000 lbs (which is the typical towing capacity of a car, and I wouldn't ever tow anything over the mountains, which simply aren't avoidable on this trip. Realistically, you're going to be putting an incredible amount of stress on the drivetrain, significantly increase your risk of a breakdown on the road, and shorten the life of your vehicle.

    If you do decide to move forward with your plans, I would strongly recommend against your proposed route. US-93 up through Nevada involves crossing several mountain passes, it does not have the grade restrictions that you'll find on the interstate, and perhaps most importantly, it is a very remote road and you would have major problems if you did suffer a breakdown on that road.

    I would strongly recommend that you stick to interstates the entire way. Straight up I-35/I-135 into Kansas, over on I-70 to Denver, up I-25 to Wyoming, I-80 to Utah, and I-84 to Oregon. Yes, you will go through Denver, and you will go near, but not through SLC, but those really aren't your concern. The mountains passes of Colorado are west of Denver, and you won't go near them, and you'll actually be going downhill from Wyoming into Utah. There are some mountain passes on I-80 in Wyoming, but as mentioned, some degree of mountains is not avoidable on this trip. At least on I-80, you'll have more gradual climbs, and plenty of other traffic around if you have a problem.

    This is also a trip where you need to plan to stop a minimum of 4 times overnight. With a trailer you should not look to travel any more than 500 miles in a day, and that would be pushing it. Even without, 600 miles is a long hard day on the road and not recommended when traveling with kids. Your original plan had you doing multiple days of 750 miles - which is not safe or reasonable at all.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri


    Another thought: How about renting a U-Haul truck (assuming you're planning to tow a U-Haul type trailer) and towing the car on its own trailer? You can fit 3 (including a car seat) in a U-Haul or Penske truck.

    I've done a lot of towing over the years and would never tow anything with a Mazda or any type of 4-banger vehicle. It simply will not have the power you need, and you can wreck your tranny, wreck your vehicle (possibly killing yourselves with it). I have seen too many small cars towing U-hauls sitting on the side of the road with their hood up, and at least once I've seen one jack-knifed at the side of the road. Hmmmmm.....scary!!!!


  4. Default

    Thank you Michael and Donna!
    It looks like it's time to change the plan!
    I was really concerned about putting my 3 years old son at the front seat in the U-Haul truck and towing my car! would this be safe for him and legal through all these states?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Uhaul trucks have bench seats with 3 seatbelts, so you absolutely can have him buckled into his car seat and be perfectly safe and legal. I've done in myself when ours was about your son's age.

    When it comes to safety, being in a Uhaul truck vs. being in a small minivan pulling a large trailer - the truck is the winner, and it really isn't close!

  6. Default

    I've changed my bad plan into the truck option, thanks guys. Please if you can help me with some points:
    - Is there a big practical difference between U-Haul trucks and Budget trucks as there is a considerable difference in price?
    - Other than the tires wear, is it safe to use a tow dolly for this trip?

    Thanks again.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    1. The trucks both companies use for their one way rentals are very similar.

    2. No, you need to use a trailer. Even a minivan is a bit large for a dolly, and you can't back up a rig with a dolly.

    Any reason why you can't drive both the truck and the van?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    The biggest difference in trucks between Uhaul and Budget that will be of concern for your trip is the number of seats. Uhaul trucks have 3 seats in nearly all their trucks (the smallest, 10ft truck might only have 2, but I don't know if I'd want to tow with that truck anyway.) I believe with both Budget and Penske you have to be using their largest trucks before you get a 3rd seat.

    If one is significantly cheaper than the other, the companies will usually be willing to price match.

    While I think you could safely tow your minivan on a tow dolly, I think you'll find it is much easier to get the full sized trailer. As GLC mentioned, with a tow dolly you can't back up at all, which can be a big pain on a long distance trip like this, and just in general, the full sized trailer is going to handle better.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 05-28-2014 at 05:00 AM. Reason: spelling

  9. #9


    I know it's been a while, but I find U-Hual trucks to usually have more problems then Budget trucks.

    I would also second getting a trailer for the van instead of the tow dolly. In addition to it being easier to back up and tow, it'll also save uneven wear on your tires.

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