Will carrying heavy weight a long distance damage my car?
November 19, 2008 7:04 AM   Subscribe

Will transporting a weight set weighing roughly 600 lbs in my car for a long distance damage the vehicle in any way?

I have a 2002 Honda Civic EX coupe and I need to transport my weight set (weighing about 600 lbs) over 520 miles because I am moving.

I was wondering: is this going to damage my car in any way? A friend of mine was saying that it might damage my struts, but then again he has a biased opinion because he wants the weight set.
posted by misled to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Shouldnt think so. That's roughly equivalent to having four 10 stone passengers with luggage.

Spread the weights around the car; dont just have the whole lot in the boot. Dont hit any speed bumps or potholes too fast and take it easy down any dirt tracks.
posted by BadMiker at 7:13 AM on November 19, 2008

Find the sticker on your car that looks like the one mentioned in this article. That sticker will tell you how much weight your car and tires are able to carry. Do not exceed that weight.
posted by odinsdream at 7:15 AM on November 19, 2008

I'd spread the weight around. To check and make sure look at the little sticker on the inside of your drivers door frame. It should list the paylod capacity. I'd guess the payload capacity of a Civic is around 800lbs. You have to remember to add in your weight too. That said with that much weight you will notice your car is riding lower, using more gas and braking slower. I'd probably do it anyway.
posted by sanka at 7:17 AM on November 19, 2008

Went on a trip in an overloaded car with lots of braking on steep inclines. Brakes weren't the same afterwards. So you may want to check your route isn't in a mountain pass/similar for an extended time.
posted by ejaned8 at 7:30 AM on November 19, 2008

I gather that 2008 Civic has a kerb (unloaded) weight of 2,921 lbs, and a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 3,814 lbs. That means you can handle 893lbs of passengers and cargo.

So if you've got 600lbs of weights, you should be OK as long as you don't carry more than 293lbs of other stuff, yourself included.

Also that weight limit needs the weight evenly distributed around the car, like BadMiker says, so it's evenly distributed between both axles and all four tyres. Also, if your car is due for maintenance/replacement tyres/whatever it would pay to do it before your journey.
posted by Mike1024 at 7:36 AM on November 19, 2008

Yeah I did the whole overloaded car + mountain pass thing... that was not fun. My brakes were also not the same afterward.

Otherwise, you can overload a car. That GVWR is just a guideline. You could screw up the car 1 pound under the rating as easily as you could 1 pound over. Go 300 pounds over, and now you're talking something significant.
posted by zhivota at 7:44 AM on November 19, 2008

It's generally a good idea, when carrying the load maximum for your car, to inflate the tires to the high end of the recommended inflation rating. Your car's owner's manual should have a section about this.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:51 AM on November 19, 2008

You can rent a car for a day for under $60. If I had the extra scratch laying around, I'd avoid taking a chance on my own vehicle. Most rented cars have unlimited mileage, although you'll have to stay within the same state. Take all the same precautions with the rented car as you would your own, and I don't think you'd even be doing something ethically wrong. Just prudent. You can also do some research and make sure to get a model car or truck that would be particularly robust for this sort of thing.

I don't have any real context or experience, but this seems like something that could easily cause excessive stress or damage to the car's shocks and/or breaks and/or whatever.
posted by Nonce at 7:54 AM on November 19, 2008

Are you moving alone or is there someone else going with you? If you can I would put lighter things in your Civic and then just rent a U-haul for the heavy stuff. It might cost more to move but in the end an extra 100$ or so could be a lot less than the cost to replace brakes, struts and such. If you don't have any extra mover with you then I would spread the weight around evenly as possible.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 8:14 AM on November 19, 2008

Make sure the weights are secured, no matter where they are placed in the car. A sudden stop or start could put them into motion and that could easily damage the car or (more importantly) you.
posted by tommasz at 8:20 AM on November 19, 2008

I'll expand on tommasz's advice. There's a risk that the weights will shift and damage the inside of you car or do surprising things to your car's handling during a sharp turn, so make sure they're not going to move around.
posted by zippy at 8:44 AM on November 19, 2008

I second Nonce's idea about getting a rental vehicle to do that with. Why take a chance on your own car?
posted by lrkuperman at 8:52 AM on November 19, 2008

Oh, for the love of Christ...many people don't know how to drive over a mountain pass with an unladen swallow, I mean car. An extra 30% weight, and you're gonna fuck up the brakes even more than you'd fuck 'em up unladen, if you would fuck 'em up anyway. (how much brakes could a woodchuck fuck, if a woodchuck could fuck brakes?) But for normal, highway driving, 600 pounds is not going to be a problem.

I used to drive around with 800 pounds of tools, and 200 pounds of pipe, in a smaller car than yours (honda CRX). And I regularly drive out to Utah and come back with 10-12 cases of beer, bikes on top, a hundred pounds of camera gear, and a week's worth of road trip junk for two people, no problem, in a Mazda Protege. Just drive intelligently - it's not gonna stop, nor go, like it would without that stuff in the car. You might have to turn off the a/c to maintain speed up hill. Downshift on downhills. Give a little extra room between you and the guy in front of you.
posted by notsnot at 10:30 AM on November 19, 2008

I drove 1,500 miles from Houston to Los Angeles in a 2000 Saab 9-3. It was loaded with a few hundred pounds of crap, AND I towed a U-haul trailer behind. What did I learn? Unless you want new struts, rent a truck or van or borrow somebody's car who you don't like.

It made some sense at the time. I'd driven from Albuquerque to Houston with one of those big Budget rental trucks only about three months before, and knew I couldn't handle driving one of those things again (especially for an extra 1000 miles). I knew I was risking my safety and a lot of wear and tear. I didn't even notice that the shocks were shot it first, but I wasn't surprised when some friends got in the back seat and the rear of the car sagged like a dog dragging its butt across the carpet (thought it didn't ACTUALLY drag on the ground). And you also can't imagine how stupid a Saab looks with a trailer hitch attached.

So rent or borrow. Spend a little up front and you'll save some money and humiliation later on.
posted by rybreadmed at 10:18 PM on November 19, 2008

600 lbs is 3-4 good size guys, nothing really to be concerned about in all but the weakest of cars. The real risk is that in an accident unsecured plates flying around will really do a number on you. Personally I'd put all the weight on bars and then secure the bars to the car's seats (short in the front, long straddling the rear seat) with the seat belts.

Having said that the resale market on steel weight is pretty good. The couple of times I've had to move 500+ pounds of weight I've just sold it at point A and repurchased it at point B and only had to pay a premium of a few cents per pound.
posted by Mitheral at 1:08 AM on November 24, 2008

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