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Will towing a pop-up trailer be tranny suicide for a certain Toyota Camry? Find out.

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Dear Tom and Ray:



I own a 1992 Toyota Camry Wagon V6 automatic with 150,000 miles on it. Recently, I installed a trailer hitch so I could mount a bike rack back there. As I was standing there admiring the way the bikes easily went on and off the rack, I began wondering if I could use this car to pull a very light pop-up trailer. My brother says doing so would be the equivalent of transmission suicide, but several trailer-hitch Web sites say that my wagon is good for up to 2,000 pounds. I bought this car used. What do you think? Should I go for the light trailer or stick with my damp and humid tent? Thanks. -- Mark

TOM: I think you're headed down a slippery slope, Mark. First it's the bike rack, then it's the pop-up trailer. Next time you write, you'll be wanting to tow the Exxon Valdez. I'd quit while you're ahead.

RAY: Towing puts a lot of stress on any vehicle. I mean, I'm likely to wear out after about 80 years, if I'm lucky. But if I had to drag my brother around my whole life, I'd probably expire a lot sooner. Or, at least, I'd WANT to!

TOM: When you tow something, you're asking the engine, the transmission and the suspension to carry -- in some cases -- several thousands of extra pounds. Not to mention the added aerodynamic drag of the refrigerator box you're suddenly dragging around. That's stressful enough on a new car, but here you're talking about a car that's 15 years old.

RAY: So unless you're eager to drive this old Camry into the ground so you can buy something new, I'd limit the amount of towing you do. Stick with your old tent. Splurge instead on a brand-new mosquito netting.

TOM: And when you do buy a new car, that's the time to think about whether you'll be towing stuff on a regular basis. Then you can order it with a big enough engine, a transmission cooler and, most importantly, an extended warranty.
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