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Towing with a Honda Pilot

russbundyrussbundy Posts: 2
edited June 2015 in Honda
Other than the obvious fact of adding a trailer hitch and the electrical hookup, are there any changes/modifications that need to be made to the drivetrain to ensure that the vehicle is ready to tow?

See Also
Honda Pilot Specifications

Comments

  • I'm considering buying a new Pilot. How well will tow a 17ft. boat?

    Thanks!
  • Max towing capacity for the Pilot is 4500 lbs.
  • boatingboating Posts: 17
    I have an 05 Pilot EX-L with towing package (from Honda installed by dealer)

    I tow a 19Ft Stingray Bowrider total weight 3,600 lbs (boat, trailer, full gas-gear) Above post is correct, with factory towing package is 4500lbs. It tows alright but on highway, transmission is constantly shifting gears. The boat is usually docked for summer and boat ramp is 4 miles from my house. We did not want a minivan or a full size pickup and the Pilot is the best compromise!
  • Our Pilot and Odyssey always seem to downshift even on slight grades at highway speed. I think that is the characteristic of this motor that has its power in the mid range RPMs.
  • odie6lodie6l Hershey, PaPosts: 1,173
    When ever I did tow with my Escape, and now with my 06 Pilot, I turn the O/D off so it won't jump gears. The only time I will have the O/D on while towing is during flat straight highways with little / no hills. If I'm going to be in an area that as some hills 5% grade or higher I usually drop to the D3 gear which will give you a little more torque for climbing.

    Hope this helps out any.

    Odie
    Odie's Carspace
  • My 2000 Ody recommends trailer brakes for trailer/cargo weight greater than 1000#. My 2005 Forester requires trailer brakes for the same situation. What is the owner's manual language for the Pilot? I have a boat/trailer combo that is 1600+ pounds, and I'm considering the Pilot. Thanks.
  • oldtomoldtom Posts: 2
    I have been towing a 21 ft. boat with 07 Pilot. I echo the comment on the transmission shifting up/down, but that seems to be the nature of the vehicle as happens without the trailer in hilly areas. Except for one extremely windy day I have been comfortable with the Pilot as a tow vehicle. Just bought a new heavier boat and trailer and don't really expect problems.
  • A transmission cooler and power steering cooler are needed for the complete tow package.
  • I have seen brand new Pilots being set-up with a hitch and electrical at the local U-haul for less than $300, this set-up would easily tow 2000 pounds, except the warranty might be jeopardy. My sister had the Honda dealer installed hitch , electrical and trans and steering cooler installed for well over a thousand dollars on thier pilot, good for 3500 pounds. I decided not to put a hitch on our Pilot, I instead bought a 2006 Ford F150 XLT SuperC. Its good for 8500 pounds of towing.
  • I found a hitch designed for pilot/mdx on eBay for about $140 shipped. It looks easy enough to install. I could just leave it at that and not tow anything heavy since my Pilot is a salvage and the warranty is void anyway. I wonder if a DIY could install the tranny cooler and steering cooler to save a few bucks. Anybody tried it?
  • odie6lodie6l Hershey, PaPosts: 1,173
    I wouldn't risk the DIY on the hitch. Check out the install instructions over at College Hills Honda.

    The dealer that I purchased my Pilot from installed my hitch at no charge.

    Odie
    Odie's Carspace
  • I also found a hitch on Ebay for my 2005 Pilot...It was the Uhaul hitch for the Pilot and still had a Uhaul sticker on it..It looks identical to the Honda OEM accessory hitch...It is probable that both hitches are made by the same third party (neither Honda or Uhaul make hitches)..Anyway, even though I bought it on Ebay, my local Uhaul dealer installed my hitch for $25.
  • absavabsav Posts: 5
    What is the purpose of adding a power steering cooler along with the ATF cooler for towing? is it absolutely necessary, or does the power steering cooler also help out with the transmission cooling? I will be doing the work with a mechanic friend of mine. Can I also use after-market nonHonda parts without compromising the integrity of the transmission?
    Thank you, in advance, for your replies. ABSAV
  • stevationstevation Posts: 15
    I've been towing my 19' boat with an '02 Pathfinder. Want to get a used Pilot now (probably '03). But I'm concerned that the rear shocks/springs on the Pilot might sag after using it for towing the boat. This seems to be the case with the Pathfinder, and it's built on a truck platform, which is more rugged than the Pilot.

    Any experience with this?

    Also, what does it cost to get the factory-approved towing package installed on a used Pilot? Anyone know?
  • stevationstevation Posts: 15
    My two local dealers say adding the towing package to a used Pilot will cost from $1124 to $1310, depending on which dealer. So, I've answered that question.

    So, how about my other question? How does the Pilot suspension handle towing a boat that may be about 3500 lbs? I know that it's rated OK for that weight, but in real life, how well does it handle it? Does the back end sag and cause your headlights to shine too high (and irritate all the drivers who think you have your brights on?). Yeah, that happens with my Pathfinder.
  • kipkkipk Posts: 1,576
    I'm considering purchasing a travel trailer. It is one of the fiberglass "Egg type. Weight before loading with personal stuff is about 2000#. The Pilot should tow it with no problems.

    The problem is with the electrical plug in the rear of the Pilot. It is a 4 Pin connector for towing utility trailers and boats. Travel trailers require a 7 pin connector and a brake controller.

    Any ideas on who, can install the 7 pin connector or the wiring for the brake controller?

    Thanks,
    Kip
  • we have a 2007 pilot and we were just looking at featherlight trailers. we found an Orbit weighing 3072 dry weight. has anyone had experience towing a light trailer with a pilot?? we aren't sure if this is a good idea or not. we would like to take longer vacations with it. we have a 87 chevy p/u but are torn between putting money into it to tow something lgr, maybe 5th wheel OR putting money into our new pilot, tow hitch, coolers, ect... because we know the pilot is reliable. would like opinions on what you guys think. thanks! :confuse:
  • kipkkipk Posts: 1,576
    terju88,

    See the postings over on the Pilot Maintenance and Repair forum last page.

    Bottom line is that the Pilot has a 4 pin electrical connector. A four pin connector will operate the trailer external lights; tail lights, Running lights, brake lights, and turn signals.

    Travel trailers also require wiring to operate the electric brakes and to charge the "House" battery. That involves a 7 pin connector. Therefore a 7 pin connector is standard for travel trailers and will not plug in to your Pilot. Honda does not offer a 7 pin connector. Or any type of wiring for the electric brake controller that mounts under your dash.

    That type of wiring would need to be done by a trailer or hitch dealer. Any problems that might/could occur with the Pilot wiring could possibly be traced back to the aftermarket wiring and void your warranty on electrical issues. Be careful!

    Common trailer towing practices suggest the trailer weight {loaded} not be over 85% of the maximum tow rating of the (tug) tow vehicle. That would dictate a maximum loaded trailer weight of 2975 pounds. The 15% margin is there to deal with mountains, strong head winds and the like.

    It is real easy to add several hundred pounds to a travel trailer without realizing it. Even at 3072# you are over the suggested "Safe rate"! Many TT published weights are for the basic trailer and do not include options such as AC, Awnings, Stabilizer jacks, antennas, spare tire, and such. So be absolutely sure of your "as equipped" weight plus things you add, such as water, dishes, electric heaters, and such.

    Other Problems! Trailer tongue weights should be at least 10-15% of the TOTAL TRAILER WEIGHT. Therefore a 3000+# trailer could have a tongue weight of 300-450#. Even when loaded properly, upright hard sided trailers will find any excuse in the world to "SWAY". Cross winds and 18 wheelers being the major causes. A sway can get out of control and result in an accident. To deal with the weight and sway there are Weight Distributing Hitches and sway controls available. Good news?

    Not with Honda! For the Pilot and the Ridgeline, They say, "We do not recommend the use of Weight distributing hitches". Yet they say to check with your trailer sales agency for proper equipment. The problems could be that the Pilot is basically a Front wheel drive. Pathfinder and 4Runners, which are rear wheel drive, offer the stuff necessary to tow. 7 pin connector, wiring pig tail for the under dash brake controller, and a serious tranny oil cooling radiator, instead of the pipe with fins offered by Honda.

    Fixing up the P/U truck and towing with it just might be the best bet!

    Kip
  • what is the tow rating of the '05 Pilot, 3500 or 4500?

    We are thinking of TTs now, and are considering one option to stay real small, and keep our Pilot. This is probably our 3rd or 4th potential avenue :)

    used 3/4 truck - 5th wheel
    used suburban - ~30' heavy travel trailer
    used escalade - ~28' lighter travel trailer

    and now I am going to see if we can agree on a 20' hybrid weighing about 3000 lb and stay with the Pilot - going to burst my wife's bubble cause she has been on cloud nine thinking she could get an escalade
  • I know that both the older MDXes and the Pilots are towing rated at 4500 lb for boats and 3500 lb for "other" trailers. I also know about the 4 pin / 7 pin issue. What I want to know is how much they can really tow. We have an "other" trailer that weighs about 4000 lb. We don't tow often...maybe 10 days a year tops, and rarely more than a couple of hours per trip.

    Would either a Pilot or an older MDX be able to handle that amount of towing? Has anyone had experience with towing slightly outside the ratings?
  • Hi everyone -

    I have a 2006 Pilot with the dealer installed tow package. I will be towing a boat and trailer weighing around 2800-3000 lbs. The electrical connection at present is a 'four-flat'. One male ground and three female power for lights, turn signals, brakelights, etc.

    The surge brake actuator on the boat trailer comes with a solenoid lockout that, when you place the vehicle in reverse, the solenoid engages and inserts a pin behind the coupler and prevents the actuator from engaging the brakes so you can back up. This configuration requires a 'five-flat' plug.

    My question is: Can I safely tie into the reverse light wiring without screwing up something in the vehicle to provide the voltage to the solenoid to engage the pin?

    Are there any other options? The parts guy at Honda didn't know what the term 'five-flat' meant. I found that curious though not unexpected.

    Thanks,

    FC
  • Hi everyone -

    I have a 2006 Pilot with the dealer installed tow package. I will be towing a boat and trailer weighing around 2800-3000 lbs. The electrical connection at present is a 'four-flat'. One male ground and three female power for lights, turn signals, brakelights, etc.

    The surge brake actuator on the boat trailer comes with a solenoid lockout that, when you place the vehicle in reverse, the solenoid engages and inserts a pin behind the coupler and prevents the actuator from engaging the brakes so you can back up. This configuration requires a 'five-flat' plug.

    My question is: Can I safely tie into the reverse light wiring without screwing up something in the vehicle to provide the voltage to the solenoid to engage the pin?

    Are there any other options? The parts guy at Honda didn't know what the term 'five-flat' meant. I found that curious though not unexpected.

    Thanks,

    FC
  • mark960mark960 Posts: 1
    Hi, I have a 2003 Pilot that I have been happy with. Typically it gets 20-23 mpg on the highway. However, I recently was towing an 6 x 10 enclosed trailer from NY to Florida. The mileage dropped to 10 mpg for the whole trip. I kept the speed below 60 mph to reduce wind drag.

    Is this normal???? I had a Chevy Astro van that would get 15 mpg while towing a similar size trailer.

    Tx.
    Mark
  • Anyone know what we have to do to be able to tow our Honda Pilot behind our RV? If not flat tow, what other suggestions?
  • trekstreks Posts: 4
    edited March 2011
    Hi guys,
    I am getting ready to ditch my 1994 Pathfinder and I am looking at the Honda Pilot as a replacement. Does anyone have experience with towing off road? I have a weekend cabin where 8 to 10 times a year I need to tow a garden tractor on a utility trailer. I know there shouldn't be a problem towing 20 miles to the cabin, but I have about 100 yards of a (fairly solid) gravel and dirt lane that is moderately up and down hill. The total towing weight of the tractor and trailer etc. is 2000 to 2500 lbs.
    Occasionally my tractor will fail (from dead battery etc.) and I will need to drive to a spot where I have been mowing and pull the tractor out in order to get it on the trailer and in for service.

    So what do you think, is the Pilot up to this kind of task? (95% of the time this will be an around town vehicle).
  • JBaumgartJBaumgart Posts: 890
    With that combined weight you should have no problem whatsoever.
  • trekstreks Posts: 4
    Thanks for the reply JB.
    I thought that might be the case as I never needed the 4L on my Pathfinder for getting up, down and around.
    We were looking for something nice around town, esp. in the winter, and the better half wished for a car like crossover before she thought about the needs at the cabin.
  • trekstreks Posts: 4
    Just wanted to post an update in hopes of being helpful to someone else.

    I purchased a 4WD EXL a couple of weeks ago. While I am sure the vehicle will suit my needs for the little off-road towing I need, the manual does state that the weight limit for towing off-road is 1000 lbs.
  • JBaumgartJBaumgart Posts: 890
    1,000 lbs. seems very conservative. I suppose it depends on how you define "off road". For unimproved, bumpy "roads", without steep hills and over short distances, I would think you'll be fine if you're not in a hurry and take it easy. Obviously if you're trying to tow up or down steep hills that are truly "off road" it would be a different story.
  • I have a 2008 Pilot with the dealer installed tow package. I will be towing a boat and trailer weighing around 2800-3000 lbs. The electrical connection at present is a 'four-flat'. One male ground and three female power for lights, turn signals, brakelights, etc.

    The surge brake actuator on the boat trailer comes with a solenoid lockout that, when you place the vehicle in reverse, the solenoid engages and inserts a pin behind the coupler and prevents the actuator from engaging the brakes so you can back up. This configuration requires a 'five-flat' plug.

    My question is: Can I safely tie into the reverse light wiring without screwing up something in the vehicle to provide the voltage to the solenoid to engage the pin?

    Are there any other options with the existing Honda 4 pin wiring that I can tap and connect to a blue wire of the 5 pin connector.
    Thanks,
  • Got a great deal on a tight 2003 Pilot with tow package and 135k miles. It has been used for towing before as can be seen from wear on the hitch and screw holes from what is more likely trailer brake controller.

    It will be used to tow a small box trailer with my Harley and some other kit in it, 2.5k lbs max. Newly handicapped I'm towing rather than riding my bike around now.

    Then I read about the trans problems w/2003 :-(

    Is there an easy way to see if the necessary transmission modification has been made?

    The Honda Service Department hasn't seen the car since 90k mile check-up. Copies of their service records are on the way. They want $2k for timing belt, water pump etc. and once they have it they'll surely hit me up for brakes, shocks, etc. My trusted mechanic can do this for much less of course and I'm leaning that way.

    Thoughts solicited. Thanks!

    Bill
  • jeffrimjeffrim Posts: 1
    Have a 2009 Pilot EX-L and want to tow a 2800 lb. 16' travel trailer.Bought the trailer but afterwards realized the DGVW is 5000# and the Pilot's rated at 4500#. Did I screw up and buy a trailer that's too heavy fully loaded? If I add a throttle body spacer for torque and load it lite, will I be okay or should I sell my new trailer? HELP!!
    Also, I read that I shouldn't use my included anti-sway weight distribution bar with the Pilot...is that true?
  • Jeff: I hate to say this, but I tow a small enclosed trailer and I don't think that the Honda Pilot is well suited for towing, and certainly NOT a 16 foot trailer. Even the 4WD model like I have says 4500 lbs.

    You will kill your transmission and need $7K in repairs in 6 months. That is my prediction. Should you sell your trailer? Yes, or your Honda. If you tow something that exceeds the rating of your vehicle, you will void the warranty, and put yourself and your passengers at risk of injury in an accident.
    By the way, we rented a large Toyota Sequoia SR5 and that thing had a hellacious towing capacity. Maybe you need a different SUV or a pickup truck. Just saying.
  • odie6lodie6l Hershey, PaPosts: 1,173
    Well.. looks like I will be getting a new toy to have along with "The Beast". I'm looking at a 15' Gillgetter Micro Pontoon (Gillgetter website) and I should have no problem pulling it with him. I have the full towing package along with the off-road package, so this looks to be like a fun time ahead. I've had campers and boats before, so this willbe nothing new for me. I'll post pictures when I do get the boat.

    Odie

    p.s. - the main picture on the website is a GMC Terrain pulling it, which in turn is smaller than the Pilot anyway.
  • tmacytmacy Posts: 1
    I've got a small, hardshell camping trailer that weighs about 1500 lbs (I think) and has a tongue pull attachment. I'm thinking about getting a 2002-2005 Honda Pilot with decent mileage (probably 140k+), and am wondering if the two would be compatible.

    Do I need to look for a particular kind of hitch on the Pilot?

    Would towing wear be extremely detrimental to the Pilot?

    Thanks for any advice; I don't know very much about the topic.

    Cheers,

    Travis
  • odie6lodie6l Hershey, PaPosts: 1,173
    If your looking at a used Pilot and want to tow with it, make sure it had the towing package. Anyone can put a hitch receiver under the back of one, but with the package you also get the Oil Cooler, Tranny Cooler and heavier duty suspension and gearing for low range pulling from stop.

    Odie
  • smash591smash591 Posts: 2
    Howdy All, after reading a lot of the early comments in this thread, I wanted to add my two cents. I personally added an OEM style hitch to my 08 Pilot SE and DIY installed an electronic brake controller and 7-pin RV connector for the purpose of towing a 4k lb Fleetwood pop-up camper. I even used a weight distributing hitch to level the ride and had absolutely no problems at all for the multiple trips to Ohio from Georgia. The electronic brake controller is a life saver in those instances when sway takes over, a tap on the manual electronic brake actuator and the trailer snaps in line and then I slow my roll and pay attention to my speed and conditions. :-). I have also towed a 1978 Dodge Aspen on a tow dolly from Ohio thru West Virginia to Georgia with no problems, and that was without the electronic trailer brakes. So, enjoy your very capable , well built Honda Pilot, but drive and tow responsibly.
  • DIY Towing ready in 4 hours...

    With a good set of opposable thumbs, the hitch and wiring harness can be installed. Three bolts on each side. Open the rear driver side tire jack compartment to find the plug n' play harness wiring receiver. ~$140 eBay, 1 hr

    As for the tranny cooler (VIP) & Power steering cooler (LIP; Less Important Piece), one must progress to the Anthropithecus Era. See this great install vid ~$50 eBay, 2-3 hrs (curse you bumper clips!)
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