At first I made this video as a joke for my friends who like to make fun of my cars (many of them also like to blow ridiculous amounts of money on over priced gas guzzlers too). Anyway, then I got to thinking, there are probably a lot of people out there that donít realize what a small economy car can doÖ so I put this video up on the internet to show people that you donít need an overpriced gas guzzling SUV or truck to get some work done, on or off road. In this video I take a Toyota Echo into the woods to pickup a half cord of firewood. My friends and neighbors think Iím nuts of courseÖ The first time I did this it was surprisingly exhilarating/amusing, mostly because there is a steep hill which doesnít come out great in the video, and you have to turn pretty sharply right at the top of the hill while maintaining momentum, not to mention dodging trees the whole time.
Some people will assume if you do this kind of stuff you will kill your transmission prematurely. I wish there was more info out there about transmission life, but it seems like a major source of misconceptions to me. I know people with big trucks that donít even pull anything very often and the transmission has needed service after just 50k miles (some trucks need transmission work every 80,000 miles).
Small cars are often rated for 1500-2000 lbs towing capacity (like the Toyota Echo for example) - so my 1000-1500lb loads of firewood shouldn't strain it much. These cars also come from the factory with pre-drilled mounts for adding a hitch, so obviously the manufacturer thinks its OK. Iíve been hauling firewood for 3 years with the car in the video, it has 170,000 miles on it, and so far no problems whatsoever. If the transmission goes out next week, I still wouldn't know if it was because of anything Iíve done, because Iíve had cars (Honda accord) with fewer miles on them than this Toyota whoís transmissions have died despite the fact that I never took it off road or even had a hitch to haul anything with it.
When I haul stuff I just go slow and keep overdrive off. When it's in the woods, I keep it in 1st gear (L) the whole timeÖ Iíd love to have a nice quad for the woods, but heck a used Toyota could be had for cheaper than a decent new quad and you can do a lot more with the Toyota.
From Manfest 2010, here's the echo against a Kioti tractor in a pull off: