I towed a U-Haul trailer with a Mini Cooper Hardtop for 430 miles a few weeks ago. It was fun, and I would like to share my experience and take-aways as I could not find something like this around.
Luckily, U-Haul has a service to install a hitch receiver. For a Mini Cooper, they expected installation to be around 3 hours, however it took good 5 hours. Observing the part of work mechanic did, I do not think installation is something an average person can do. So I suggest to leave it to a professional. Worst part was they had to open a hole in the back bumper. But, you can buy a hitch cover like this later on.
On the road;
- Cargo trailer. I towed a 5′ x 8′ one. I tried to get 4′ x 8′, however they were difficult to find around. Anyhow, their weight difference is only 50 lbs, so it was not much of a difference.
- First reaction. Towing an *empty* trailer is really difficult. Car becomes extremely unstable and shakes a lot. Towing a *non-empty* trailer is ok. Definitely, acceleration suffers a lot but you still feel safe.
- Transmission. Please use manual transmission all the time. Car stalls when going uphill, which can cause engine to over-heat. Also, car accelerates unnecessarily when you go down-hill and applying engine break rather than normal break is safer.
- Performance. Legal speed limit is 55mph, and Mini drives perfect around 60mph. Get used to other cars and trucks passing you. I think I only passed ~5 trucks throughout the drive. (Next time, I will put a poster behind saying “Catch me if you can when I am not towing”)
- Gas consumption. Increases around 30%. I would guess that Mini will have around 38mpg when you drive ~65mph. However with trailer, my average was 26mph. Also be careful with on screen computer about number of miles you can drive with gas left. Its error margin was really high when towing a trailer.
- Community’s reaction. Throughout the trip, many people were really surprised when they see a car towing a trailer as big as herself. I received many positive and smiley gestures from other drivers. Thank you people.
This was the second time I was really nervous behind the wheel. But everything was fine. Just trust yourself, plan ahead, follow the rules and do not risk anything. Happy towing!