Towing with a Honda Element

tmeiditmeidi Member Posts: 2
edited August 2014 in Honda
I have a 2004 Honda Element EX AWD and love it. I'd like to purchase a small trailer for it to separately transport a small 11-foot sailboat, a John Deere lawn tractor, or lumber, drywall, etc. My questions about towing with it are three-fold: 1) Is the 1,500 pound maximum noted in the owner's manual absolute?; 2) What has your experience been in towing with the Element?; and 3) What challenges, if any, have you experienced in purchasing a non-Honda towing kit and having it installed outside the Honda-dealer network? Thank you.


  • elementmanelementman Member Posts: 11
    I have a 2006 EX-P AWD Automatic with a dealer installed hitch. I tow a utility trailer that weighs about 850# empty. I can load it with a Polaris quad and some camping gear and the car tows heavy but stable. I've made short hauls (30 miles) with 1 to 1.2 ton loads of river rock - totaling almost 3,000 pounds. Again, the car felt heavy, and I stopped carefully, but it got the job done. Regular trips to Home Depot with lumber and concrete are not a problem. I'm not making recommendations, only sharing personal experiences. My hitch, by the way, is the new (looks like) one inch square tube, not the traditional size. Looks puny, but seems to work OK.
  • bft4x4bft4x4 Member Posts: 12
    I have a 05 EX AWD. I have two Honda Rincon ATVs that weigh 600lb each. I have towed them so it probably exceeds the limit with the trailer. I had the factory hitch installed when I purchased the E. I laughed at the 'puny' size when I picked it up. I use an extension on the hitch to attach the 2" ball. Of course stopping and climbing steep grades is an issue. I do not feel comfortable doing this all the time so I may have to break down and buy a more suitable truck or SUV. I wish Honda made a bigger E with a V6 and that would solve all towing issues. A small trailer with a boat will be fine.
  • fred102fred102 Member Posts: 1
    I have an element and I need to tow my 19 ft boat. Do you think it is going to be an error? Let me know/
  • solobosssoloboss Member Posts: 2
    2007 EX Manual, 4wd. I've towed my 5 x 10 aluminum trailer with a TroyBuilt 6.5 hp chipper shredder on it at 60 mph. I tow that 100 miles each way with no problems at all. I have towed my 670 pound motorcycle for short hauls easily and I loaded my Triumph Spitfire (1500lb sports car) on that trailer and hauled it 40 miles at interstate speeds. That was not a good idea. It handled the car well enough but there was clearly no reserve for stopping or handling in an emergency. As others have said, overloads seem to be OK with due care and low speeds. Notice that this same vehicle in Australia tows 3000lb. But in AU the law requires trailer brakes and that's a good idea at 3000 lb.
    I'm looking for advice from someone concerning a long tow. I want to take my 670 lb motorcycle to Florida from NE Indiana. That's nearly 1100 pounds. I'll watch my tongue weight carefully even if I have to move my trailer axle a bit. The E turns about 3400 rpm at 70 mph and I can pull the grades in TN and KY in 4th if I have to. I need to weigh the entire gross package to ensure I am within the limits of the E.
    comments are welcome. Soloboss
  • elaine101elaine101 Member Posts: 1
    I would like to tow my 13' Scamp camper that weighs 1200 pounds with a 2004 Honda Element that only has two wheel drive. Can this work? Does it matter if a car has 2wd or 4wd as long as it has enough power to tow a vehicle? Thank you.
  • elementmanelementman Member Posts: 11
    Hello. I don't speak from a whole lot of knowledge, but I will offer an opinion. I've towed an 800 pound trailer with everything in it from Quads to canoes to camping gear to rocks and building supplies. I've towed from 40 miles to 400 miles, up hills and down. My gross towed weight has run anywhere from 900 pounds (nearly empty) to 3000 pounds (one ton of river rock). At 3000 pounds I feel real heavy. I drive slow, watch the road carefully and allow lots of room for stopping. I wouldn't want to be that heavy on long trips. But at, say, 1500 pounds I don't seem to have any issues. Other than climbing, which will obviously require lower gears depending on grade. I'd hook up the trailer and take it for a few spins. Try driving on the same type of roads you will be traveling on longer distances and see how it feels. If the car handles safely and pulls OK I'd guess you would be OK on a weekend outing. Just feel the car and don't exceed common sense. Don't stop fast, don't drive too fast, etc. Try a few hard stops in a short trip to get the feel. Like I said, just an opinion. As for 4WD and 2WD, the only difference I see would be traction for pulling. 4WD is safer on ice and rain, certainly on mud and sand. Avoid roads where you could get stuck, or take them with caution. Steve
  • el_tigreel_tigre Member Posts: 4
    And, after the accident in which someone is killed or seriously injured, you will tell the court that you justified towing overweight because...
  • foggymountainfoggymountain Member Posts: 1
    For anyone reading these posts on towing with a Honda Element I wanted to share that our experience has been very disappointing. We have a 2007 2wd and tow a 1300lbs Fleetwood Cobalt popup. I weighed the contents of the additional cargo in the camper to make sure that it did not exceed the 1500lb E tow limit. We have trailer brakes (and braking/control was not a problem because of the trailer brakes) The E struggled pathetically towing the popup over mountain passes in Colorado (like VW van struggled if you've been lucky enough to experience that). The engine got hot and I had to pull over and let it cool down on more than one occasion. The absolute worst problem though, was the lack of traction. If you plan on pulling anything with the E on gravel roads (think all those forest service campground roads), on muddy roads, on ANYTHING but asphalt or concrete pavement---forget it.
    I wish that I would have known this before purchasing the E as we needed our 'new' car to be able to do double duty as the tow vehicle--I still would buy an Element because other than NOT being a good tow capable vehicle, it's a great car. I'll have to go back to the drawing board to find another vehicle with good gas mileage for towing the popup on those camping trips out West. Maybe a Suburu Outback??
  • morin2morin2 Member Posts: 399
    FWD vehicles do not make good tow vehicles. Its simple physics. The trailer tongue weight raises the front drive wheels - exactly the opposite effect that you want for your drive wheels. Traditional rear wheel drive (RWD), all-wheel drive (AWD) or traditional part-time 4WD are all better options. Personally, I would not tow without a true limited slip rear differential. I own a subaru outback which is rated to tow 2700 lbs - but I don't tow with it. I tow with a full-size v-8 Ford pickup with true limited slip.

    Its not specifically the fault of the E, especially the 2wd version, that it is a poor choice for towing. Its no better or worse than any 4 cyl minivan for that purpose. My son owns an AWD E and I would highly recommend against towing with this vehicle. Its low HP, small brakes (fine for normal driving but not for towing), and unibody construction are all negatives for towing.

    I hypermile with my 09 Outback and get great mpg. Its rated at 20/26, but I've averaged 29.7 for the first 37K miles, ranging from a low of 25 to a high of 34. But few people drive like this (I coast & rarely touch the brakes). If towing, and I would not recommend it for towing long distance, I would expect the mpg to drop like a rock (maybe 16-18 mpg). Remember that you must not tow in overdrive or without a trans cooler or you will cook your transmission. And it will be considered abuse - not covered under warranty.

    I do not recommend towing with your E. But if you insist on doing it, then you can look into reducing the trailer tongue weight (weigh it first with a bathroom scale). The easiest way to do that is to move the trailer axle forward. But you have to be very careful because shifting the load may increase the tendency for the trailer to fish-tail. And you'll need to have an auxiliary transmission cooler installed at the very least and not use 5th gear.
  • el_tigreel_tigre Member Posts: 4
    I tow a Trillium Travel Trailer with my 2000 Subaru Outback with manual xmission and average 19.8 mpg. The Subaru is rated at 2000# and I probably fill that out. The trailer follows like it is on rails. Of course I keep the speed down. In CA you are limited when towing to 55mph and I usually follow the truck speed limit or less. Of course I am retired and usually don't have a strict schedule to follow when traveling like I did when I worked. :)
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