1.8 towing capacity

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Nova Scotia, Canada

    1.8 towing capacity

    Hey everyone.

    I am a new passat owner and enjoy reading the forums (when i should be working) .

    I have a 2001 1.8t and I am considering buying a tent trailor for camping and i am wondering what the towing capacity is and if there are any other things I should consider before buying. ie. can the transmission handle it.. over heating issues.. etc.

    Any help would be great.


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  3. #2
    1st Gear
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Manchester, United Kingdom
    Check out your handbook, think it's 700kg un-braked, about 1600lbs.

  4. #3
    3rd Gear
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Austin, TX '99 1.8T Estate

    with a full back. no issues at all.

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  6. #4
    3rd Gear
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Haver-hill, MA
    Quote Originally Posted by flying_scotsman

    with a full back. no issues at all.
    Those Tangos?

  7. #5
    1st Gear
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    The stated towing capacity from the owner's manual will depend on the year. The early B5's had fairly generous ratings and as time went on, the US ratings in the manual were reduced or removed. The ratings are still in the European manuals as I understand, so it likely has to do with fear of litigation here in the US.

    As I recall, my '99 1.8T has like a 3600lb or 3900lb trailer rating assuming the trailer has brakes. If you look at the GVWR and GCVWR, you'll see that the above rating is actually more than the difference between the GCVWR and GVWR, meaning you could tow the 3600 lb (or 3900 lb) trailer with the car loaded to GVWR.

    The hitch (sorry, couldn't resist) is that the hitch/tongue weight limit is like 160 or 170 pounds. For most campers, the recommendation is that you need 10-15% of the overall camper weight on the tongue to prevent sway (tail wagging the dog).

    The Class 1 hitches available for the Passat have 200 pound tongue and 2000 pound trailer limits.

    To be safe, you should use the lesser of the car/hitch ratings which would mean ~160 pounds tongue weight and 2000 pounds max trailer weight.

    When you start looking at those numbers, you'll find that only the smallest popups and Aliners/Chalets/Kamaproos fall safely within all of these limits. For safety, look at the GVWR of the campers you're looking at and assume that may be the weight you'll have to tow. Propane, a battery, water, air conditioning, and stuff inside will make a camper weight significantly more than the dry weight most manufacturers state.

    All of that said, you might make the choice to push some of those numbers a bit. I tow a Fleetwood Yuma with my 99 1.8T tip wagon. Its tongue weight is about 170-180 with propane. I don't dry camp much so don't have a battery on the tongue which would easily add another 40 or 50 pounds. The GVWR of the camper is like 2400 pounds. I haven't had it weighed yet, but since we have never had water in the tank and don't have a battery or furnace, I'm guessing it's in the 2000-2200 lb range. While my numbers are a bit over the lowest rating of hitch/car, they're both within ~10% which I'm comfortable that there is some safety margin in those specs.

    I've towed this setup maybe 1500 miles so far. Lack of power hasn't been an issue (I have a Wett chip). Heavy crosswinds can induce sway between 65 and 70. I usually tow at 65 but have had it up to 75 for brief periods with no problems. The rear sits a little lower than I'd like but not too bad.

    Some other comments... Don't tow without trailer brakes and a good brake controller (Prodigy). The trailer may weigh 2/3 of the Passat's weight and it needs brakes to help stop the combo safely. This will be more severe duty on your car. Use very good oil, run the larger oil filter, stick to the maintenance schedules, and install a tranny cooler if you have the tip trannny. I've towed in moderate weather without the tranny cooler but it's next on my to-do list. Check your tire pressures of the car and camper before each trip. Basically, since you'll likely be near the rated limits of the vehicle, be a little more meticulous that everything is in as good of condition as possible.

    While the Passat is by no means an ideal tow vehicle, it can do it competently if you make the right choices, account for the more severe service, and adjust your driving style accordingly while towing.


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