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Overload springs for towing? (2004)

1359 Views 6 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  warpedrotor
I did a search and found all kinds of things for lowering, but didn't find anything for increasing towing capacity. I've got a query in with Spring Works, but won't hear back from them for a couple of days. I did see that there's a spring company in Australia that makes overload springs for their version of the Camry, but there's no guarantee that they'd fit a U.S.-built version and no word on cost or shipping time. I've already added a transmission cooler, so I have that taken care of.

Yes, I saw all the "get a truck" comments from other towing threads, but it's $1100 to rent a truck for 1400 miles and buying one is ridiculous for anyone who doesn't need a work truck for a living. People used to tow with sedans all the time with much worse engines, suspension, and brakes, and did it with aplomb, so I'm not worried about longevity as long as I don't exceed the capacity of the hitch. I just need to keep the back end up with 350 pounds sitting on the ball. If need be, I'll get some heavy rubber spring spacers from O'Reilly, but I'd prefer a better solution. Thanks.
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Spring Works in Santa Rosa, CA wrote back. $328 plus shipping for custom-wound heavy duty rear springs for stock ride height. 3 weeks lead time. Unless I find something that can get here sooner (I could really use them before the 10th), I'll probably go with that.
I tow a heavier boat trailer when I go camping with everything stock, I guess the tongue weight is about 120 lbs, trailer total weight around 1200. I am careful to put all the heavy stuff in the back of the boat and not in the trunk. The car bottoms out on bigger bumps anyways.. If you install those springs, you will probably find yourself switching them back out after your trip as they will ride rougher them you want the rest of the time. The sedans that used to pull heavy trailers had solid rear axles, with coil springs and shocks you could upgrade for a total of $250. The Camry rear end just isn't cut out for this application.
I ended up using 2.5" rubber spring spacers for the trip. I haven't pulled them out yet, since it's almost time to go get a few trailerloads of compost. I'll probably order the custom springs tonight, since the spacers change the coil geometry in a way I don't like.

I pulled a 6x12 U-Haul 1400 miles last weekend. 700 miles to Columbus OH, and 700 back to Kansas. I rolled across a set of truck scales on the trip up and had a gross trailer weight of 3300 pounds. The car with me in it was up around 3800. It got a little squirmy at speeds over 65 when loaded, but 75 was fine on the return. The transmission fluid stayed at a nice temp with the auxilliary cooler installed, but fuel economy dropped to 16. I'd do it again, maybe with a bit more tongue weight, but I would not try to pull the Rockies or Sierras with this rig. If I absolutely had to make a west coast run, I'd go south through NM and AZ to avoid the high passes.

If I pulled this kind of load all the time, I'd get something with at least a V-6. The four worked, but had to work at it.
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We know now how tough the 4 cyl. is! Did you turn off the overdrive while pulling the trailer? Was it a cargo style trailer or an open one? Let us know how those springs work out.
I had a longish reply typed up last night, but the forum software ate it.

The trailer was an enclosed 6x12 U-Haul with a declared empty weight of 1920 pounds. I left the overdrive off on the trip up, but was able to use it for long stretches on the trip home.

The car has 70k on it. I've had it since 28k, and learned after I bought it that those 28k were spent as a SoCal rental. It has not had the TimeSert job done on the head bolts yet, but I figure it's just a matter of time.
I don't think you should worry about the head bolt issue, these cars have stellar reliability records, about as good as it gets. I got mine as it came off a coworker's lease with about 50k miles, now it has over 90 and still seems fine. Sure, I'll probably look for a V6 vehicle next time around, but only for a bit more power to pull a trailer.
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