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RVing message boards => Towing and towables => Topic started by: TCReddy on May 13, 2016, 09:11:38 AM

Title: Flat Towing 2016 Mazada 3
Post by: TCReddy on May 13, 2016, 09:11:38 AM
I will soon be purchasing my first Class A motorhome.  I want to tow my 2016 Mazda 3 w/ 6 speed manual transmission behind it.  I have some reservations and have been doing some research but can not find a clear answer.  Is flat towing generally OK for cars with front wheel drive and manual transmissions or are there exceptions.  Any advice will be greatly appreciated.


C Reddy
Austin Texas
Title: Re: Flat Towing 2016 Mazada 3
Post by: Gary RV_Wizard on May 13, 2016, 11:26:31 AM
Generally, yes. Exceptions? Also yes. FWD manual trannys are still a trans-axle and may have components that are not adequately lubricated under tow.  It's not common, but there have been a few. I don't know if Mazda would answer a question about that or not, but it's worth asking them, dealer or Mazda customer service, or both. However, the fact that no Mazda is listed in the FMCA Dinghy Tow Guide suggests that Mazda has refused to comment, pro or con.

I believe the Mazda owner manual has a section on towing, including "Recreational Towing". What does it say with respect to manual trannys (if anything)?
Title: Re: Flat Towing 2016 Mazada 3
Post by: TCReddy on May 13, 2016, 03:39:23 PM
Thanks for the reply. I checked the manual and it says that towing the vehicle behind a motor is not recommended because the transaxle is not designed for towing on all 4 wheels. The manual does not distinguish between manual vs automatic transmission. I will continue to check other posts maybe someone has pulled a manual mazda with no problems. I have a feeling if I call Mazda they will tell me it is not recommended.
Title: Re: Flat Towing 2016 Mazada 3
Post by: Gary RV_Wizard on May 13, 2016, 07:44:15 PM
I suspect that as well. If it was a rear drive like a Miata, I would say "no worries", but front transaxles are a different animal. It's "probably OK", but Mazda isn't going to say so without highway testing and they have not done and are not doing any such tests. The testing is not trivial and there are examples of car makers who got burned (literally!) when they approved towing based on a paper analysis that proved wrong in actual practice. The Chevy Cruze comes readily to mind

The safe solution is to use a tow dolly and get those front wheels off the road. Anything else is a gamble. Note that you could find someone who has towed theirs for 20k miles with no apparent tranny issues, but yours could die after the first couple hundred miles. Or theirs could fail a few weeks after they told you "no problem". There are a lot of variables and damage comes from excessive wear and heat, so it tends to be cumulative rather than immediate.

Automotive engineers also worry about the stresses that a tow bar puts on a unibody front end, which lacks any strong structure up front. They didn't design it to be yanked around by its nose.  Big unibody vehicles have a fair amount of mass up front, but smaller guys like your Mazda 3 are at a disadvantage.
Title: Re: Flat Towing 2016 Mazada 3
Post by: TCReddy on May 14, 2016, 04:47:11 AM
Thanks so much a tow dolly sounds like the way to go. I do not want to take any chances with a new car.
Title: Re: Flat Towing 2016 Mazada 3
Post by: Gary RV_Wizard on May 14, 2016, 06:58:09 AM
I really hate to be all "doom & gloom" about this sort of thing, but given the lack of info and Mazda's unwillingness to take a position on the manual tranny, I think that's the wisest choice on a brand new vehicle. It avoids warranty issues should you ever have tranny or front end problems.
Title: Re: Flat Towing 2016 Mazada 3
Post by: 20FromNow on August 21, 2017, 03:51:53 PM
I now have a 2016 Mazda3 aka Scion iA with 6-spd MT.
I'm considering RVing again, thus the seearch for this thread.

My experience:
My wife and I RVed full time for 2 years. We towed a 5-MT Honda Element which is officially OK to tow 4 down.
Towing is allowed. However, after 10K or so miles, the 5th gear in the tranny disintegrated and the tranny body was actually messed up pretty badly due to heat and the whole thing need to be replaced = $4500.
1. I bought the element with 130K miles so I don't know how badly the MT was driven.
2. I expected the Honda major components to last 200K+ so I was pretty pissed to have an expensive transmission replacement at 140K.

Unfortunately, I can't say definitively if towing contributed to the early demise of the trans-axle.
However, the mechanic was pretty surprised to see the damage to the transmission housing interior and blamed it on excessive heat. Turning the output shaft with towing could have been the problem.

I think I will pay it safe and get a tow dolly for our Mazda3.
Dollies are a hassle, but so is replacing a transmission.
Title: Re: Flat Towing 2016 Mazada 3
Post by: healeyman on August 22, 2017, 10:58:19 PM

12 years ago, after RVing for 3 years without a towed, I wanted to tow a Mazda Miata.  The Miata owners manual said the same thing, "not recommended" without specifying manual or automatic transmission.

I bought a 2000 Miata 5-speed manual (already out of warranty) and sourced a replacement transmission for $250 and I have the ability and tools to replace it if necessary.  I made a $250 gamble.

Being an engineer, I designed and fabricated my own baseplate and tow bar and towed that Miata over 35,000 miles.

I towed a 2010 Miata over 25,000 miles and have now towed a 2012 Miata over 20,000 miles.

In the ensuing 12 years, I have helped more than 125 other Miata owners to get their cars flat towable.  In that time, I have NOT had ONE report of driveline damage from flat towing a Miata.

My point here is that Lawyers, NOT engineers, speak for auto manufacturers and lawyers do not like ANY liability.

I know that a Miata is a rear wheel drive car and not what you have and there may be precautions that you can take (e.g overfilling the transmission) to tow yours.

Personally, I would check with Roadmaster, Blue Ox and Demco to see if any of them make a baseplate for your car.  If any of them DOES make a baseplate, you can rest assured that SOMEBODY is towing them.