Pontiac Vibe And A Coleman Columbia

Discussion in 'Tow Vehicles, Hitch & Towing' started by CampermanDan, Jun 19, 2018.

  1. CampermanDan

    CampermanDan Member

    Jun 18, 2018
    Hello to all. We recently picked up a 1984 Coleman Columbia that was just far too cute and well kept to pass up. It was a Craigslist find. The sellers bought it from the original owners in 1988 and used it for 30 years. So we're the third owners in all that time.
    The people we bought it from maintained everything extremely well. It was garage kept, absolutely zero rot, and not a drop of rust anywhere. Smelled fresh inside. They even had the original owner's manual.
    The canvas is in average to good condition considering they really used the camper. No leaks they say, and no torn areas. I called a friend with an Expedition and we raced up to get it before the sellers were inundated with calls. $600 later and it was ours.

    Here's my concern. Towing. I've towed small boats and modest trailers over the years but I've always had a decent tow vehicle. At the moment (try not to laugh) my TV is a 2005 Pontiac Vibe. Okay, stop laughing. Really.
    The thing is rated to tow 1,500 pounds. The little Coleman is 1,100 before we add stuff. So even with a hundred pounds we're still under the limit.
    We're not big people, average heights and weights - wife and two teenage kids.

    So...is it safe to use the Vibe (stop laughing again) with this set up or is it just not a good idea? Feel free to pass along any thoughts. I just joined the forum and appreciate all the great threads and support. I plan to share my renovation and updating projects soon.

  2. xxxapache

    xxxapache Well-Known Member

    Jul 30, 2008
    I don't know the answers, but am glad you don't mind the laughter....lol

    Good luck with your rig.
  3. CampermanDan

    CampermanDan Member

    Jun 18, 2018
    Gotta keep it light, life gets too serious.

  4. Dan from Troup

    Dan from Troup Well-Known Member

    Apr 25, 2018
    Troup, Texas
    Sounds like you'll be close to your towing limit. Will you be towing in hills or mountains as it will work hard there. Perhaps not for cross country trips but maybe more local camping trips.
  5. jnc

    jnc Welcome from New Hampshire

    I would keep it off the interstate and stick to short trips until you get a better TV.
  6. xvz12

    xvz12 Well-Known Member

    Apr 6, 2017
    New Plymouth, ID
    If your TV is an auto trans, I would highly recommend a trans oil cooler, if not already equipped. Keep the loading light, don't try to set any speed records, & I wouldn't plan any trans-continental trips, you should be OK. I have an '84 Cape Cod, the Columbia's bigger brother, & I wouldn't hesitate to pull it with a 4 cylinder TV, as long as it had the tow rating.
  7. myride

    myride Well-Known Member

    May 14, 2015
    Edmonton, AB
    Believe it or not a couple of us have done that exact same thing. I towed a 1994 palomino pinto (1000 lbs) with my Vibes, a 2007 AND a 2010 Vibe GT. Every year we made a trip into the mountains with no trouble. Just stay at a safe speed and allow for braking distance. Never use 4th (both automatics) and add a tranny cooler.
    I know davekkk pulled his PUP with a vibe at one time and another member (name excapes me) hauled an Aliner all over the place with a Vibe also.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2018
  8. Snow

    Snow Well-Known Member

    Jul 19, 2007
    Even using low average weights of 100lbs per person, and adding anything to the trailer puts you over the vibes tow raiting...
  9. Arruba

    Arruba Active Member

    Nov 28, 2014
    Central Oregon
    Don't know if a Gross Combination Vehicle Weight, GCVWR, is posted for a Vibe, though you have a tow rating, so I'll guess it is. How does, trailer, gear, people and all compare to that figure?

    6 big bills for a Columbia? Nice find!
  10. CampermanDan

    CampermanDan Member

    Jun 18, 2018
    Thanks all for the comments. My main trip goals are for visiting places on relatively flat ground (Maryland beaches) but we do have friends in Virginia and would like to take some runs towards the mountains. The more I research it the more iffy it becomes in my mind. We purchased the Vibe used a while ago and it has about 130,000 miles. Runs strong but how it was treated before we got it is a question. Probably has original shocks and no cooler. It's the automatic.
    Arruba - Yeah, the price was a sweet deal. The guy had a lot of calls while we were there - could have charged a lot more.
  11. 1380ken

    1380ken Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2013
    I would make sure the brakes are good. I am doing our TV brakes tonight for our July 4 trip. New front rotors, front and rear pads, less than $150.Advanced Auto parts
  12. Customer

    Customer Well-Known Member

    Jun 5, 2014
    I towed a 2009 Aliner Sport with a 2009 Vibe with the 1.8L motor. The 2009 - 2010 had different engines and maybe different transmissions than the earlier ones. Check the specs on yours.

    My Aliner weighed 1,400 empty actual weight from the truck scales. The brochure weight was 1,100 pounds, get your pup weighed.

    Loaded we were normally just under the Aliner's GVWR of 2,000 pounds.

    During the seven years we had the rig we towed over 15,000 miles and often thru the Appalachian mountains. We had a problem two times.
    1. Towing in a national forest we came to a steep hill on a gravel road. The front wheel drive lost traction and we could not proceed. I had to back down a single lane with a ravine on one side and rock face on the other. It was very stressful and with the occasional sliding I feared slipping into the ravine. We eventually found a wider spot, jackknifed the rig, unhooked from the trailer, moved the Vibe below the trailer and hitched up heading down hill.
    2. The other time we were descending a steep mountain road and due to gravity I was concerned about overheating the brakes. The automatic transmission was in first gear with the engine screaming and I had to keep stabbing and releasing the brakes.

    Your problem will be magnified by the extra passengers, it was only two of us and we packed light. Four people and all the extra gear and food is going to add a lot of weight.

    I was comfortable towing 2,000 pounds and the engine had plenty of power. I loved the rig but the Vibe got totaled when hit in the rear by an inattentive driver. I sold the Aliner about 8 months later and now have a larger rig.

    I added a brake controller and transmission cooler to the car. The Aliner had brakes. DO NOT drive your rig without trailer brakes and a controller. When pushing any rig up to or beyond its limits, trailer brakes are absolutely mandatory.
  13. CampermanDan

    CampermanDan Member

    Jun 18, 2018
    Many thanks for the detailed comments. I'm perusing listings for a different tow vehicle. It seems like it's just too close to the limit and being stressed doesn't add to what the whole thing is supposed to do; be fun and relaxing.
    BigRedTruck likes this.
  14. CampermanDan

    CampermanDan Member

    Jun 18, 2018
    I truly appreciate the comments and suggestions. I really regret selling my old Explorer 4x4 last winter. It needed about $3k worth of repairs and we were on the fence about fixing or selling. I should have fixed it. It had the full Eddie Bower tow package and could pull over 5,000#. Live and learn.
  15. jumpoff

    jumpoff I'm in a camping state of mind

    Nov 3, 2015
    North East Florida
    I love the Vibe... It shares the same platform with Toyota Matrix....we have one of those. I think you came to a good decision, you would be overloaded which would be potentially unsafe.
  16. CampermanDan

    CampermanDan Member

    Jun 18, 2018
    Well, for anybody still following the thread, I bought a 2007 Eddie Bauer Ford Explorer with the factory tow hitch. I think we should be more than fine by a long shot to pull the little Coleman Columbia pop up.
  17. SteveP

    SteveP Well-Known Member

    May 21, 2015
    Good for you. You'll have a much happier camping experience.

Share This Page