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Towing tips for SUVs



  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    All you really need is a bathroom scale put the tounge on it and then you'll know the tounge weight.

  • chris56chris56 Posts: 1
    I think Tongue weights of 300 - 900 + lbs would obliterate a bathroom scale.

    Motorweek had a Pat Goss Segment on a product called SenZBar here is the link...

    they have it on the Moterweek website but do not indicate who sells them. Any auto/truck retail outlets carrying them?
  • Hey everyone...

    I'm not a Pilot owner, but I'm interested in buying one soon.

    However, I will be doing a TON of towing in the Pilot. I know it's not the best vehicle for towing, but when I say a TON, I mean a ton of time, not weight.

    In fact, less than a ton of weight! The loaded 5X8 cargo trailer I'll be hauling will probably weigh in at 1600-1700 pounds. With 4 people in the vehicle (this is for a touring band), that's about 2000 lbs, which, from what I understand, is well within the Pilot's limits, even following the 70% rule.

    Has anyone here towed smaller loads like this? Cargo trailers? I know the Pilot isn't great with 3000 lb. boats, but I was wondering how it towed smaller loads. And keep in mind I will be towing this load 5-7 hours a day for 30-day stretches several times a year!

    We used to tow with a Tahoe, but got in a terrible accident this summer (flipped off the highway; trailer and Tahoe destroyed; luckily, everyone was ok). Obviously, safety is the *most* important thing to us. The absolute most important. So in terms of Pilot vs. Tahoe, which would be best consdiering our safety concerns? I know the Pilot is safer all-around, but the Tahoe is better suited for towing and is longer, heavier, and more powerful. Therefore, considering that we will *always* be towing, does this make the Chevy a safer choice?
  • chuck1chuck1 Posts: 1,405
    "I know the Pilot is safer all-around, but the Tahoe is better suited for towing and is longer, heavier, and more powerful. Therefore, considering that we will *always* be towing, does this make the Chevy a safer choice?"

    The Pilot IS NOT SAFER if you plan to do a lot of towing. The front wheel drive vehicle is not well-suited to a lot of towing. It seems that there have been many who have had transmission problems towing trailers with the Pilot. If you want to be safe-you need a body on frame vehicle. This setup is much more suited to towing. You don't have a true frame on the Pilot. The entire "stress" of towing is put on every wield, every joint, every door. NOT GOOD for towing. If you want to stay with a smaller tow vehicle, take a close look at a 4Runner. You could get the V6 and be just fine. This come equipped from the factory ready to tow and are built for it. You could also take a look at the Tahoe.
    Good luck!
  • li_sailorli_sailor Posts: 1,081
    I agree that the Pilot is not a great towing vehicle, in general. But 1600 lbs is a very light load. I highly doubt that folks that have had problems towing with the Pilot have had such low loads.

    Hmmmm...1600 + 4 folks = 2000 lbs? Pretty lightweight folks...a all (small) girl band? :)

    IMHO, if your numbers are right, you should have no trouble with the Pilot.
  • Is there any advtanage or disadvantage to having the tow hitch installed when you get the car or having it done after the purchase? Or maybe having it done at the dealer or somewhere else?
  • I have a Ford Escape 2005 4WD, and I want to tow it behind my Motorhome. Problem is, FORD has no information on the best means of towing the SUV. I would REALLY appreciate any information that can be provided, i.e., Do I need a special tow dolly? Equipment, etc.... :confuse: :confuse:
  • Here's a link to the information you need:

    Scroll down to the Truck/SUV category to see the Ford Escape. Looks like you have a 55 mph speed limit, no distance restriction, and can tow 'wheels down' if it's a manual tranny.

    Hope this helps.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    If you get it installed by the dealer then there would be no question if there are warranty issues later on. I have installed my own hitches and haven't had issues. Some cars are harder to install your own than others. I like the Hidden Hitches best for aftermarket.

  • chuck1chuck1 Posts: 1,405
    All car makers have maximum recommended towing capacity for their products. So, if they say a car can tow a certain weight, one is going to assume you need to put a hitch on it. The only thing I would caution is putting the right class number hitch on the vehicle. If you put a heavier hitch on it than what is recommended to tow, then you could have issues should a warranty concern come up. They will say, "Well you have a class one instead of a class two-you apparently have been towing for than you should!"
  • I recently bought a 2006 Honda Pilot. I want to put a towing package on it but have run into some questions. Having a towing packaged installed by someone other than the dealer, they said they could install one only if I did not have a full size tire. I called the dealership and they said if I purchased the Honda one that was not an issue, however, the recommended installing an automatic transmission cooler and a power steering cooler. THis basically quadrupled the price of a trailer hitch. We pull a small pop-up camper and a utility trailer on occasion with yard/landscape supplies for our home.

    My previous vehicle was a 97 toyota 4-runner, we had no problem pulling with it. Did it have coolers on it from factory? Are these really necessary? Help before a fall prey to a scare tactic.
  • chuck1chuck1 Posts: 1,405
    If the towing is less than 1000 pounds, I would just go with the transmission cooler. This helps the tranny in heavy stop and go traffic as well.

    I have an '05 4Runner with the V8. It came ready to tow from the factory with brake controller wiring harness, transmission cooler, power steering cooler, etc. I don't know about your '97 though. I tow a 4,500pound-21 foot travel trailer with my 4Runner.

    Make sure you get someone who has been in business a long time to install your hitch. These guys generally know what they are doing. This (hitch install) is all they do. Stay away from people who install hitches and rent trailers!

    If I remember correctly, if the hitch came with the Pilot from the factory, I believe the transmission cooler is installed as well. I wouldn't sweat the power steering cooler for light duty towing.
  • hammerheadhammerhead Posts: 907
    Heat is the number one enemy of a transmission. Get the tranny cooler & change the fluid annually. Cheap insurance, IMHO.

  • tahoedavetahoedave Posts: 9
    I recently traded up (way up) from a '97 F-150 to a '07 Tahoe LTZ. I need to find the proper ball mount to tow my Floe gull-wing style enclosed snowmobile trailer. With my F-150, I used a straight ball mount (little to no drop). The Tahoe, however, appears to sit much higher off the ground. From the ground to the top of the ball mount hole is 25" but from the ground to the bottom of the trailer coupler is only 13". Do I really need a 12" drop ball mount? I'm not even sure they make such a thing. What I would ideally like is an adjustable, cushioned ball mount. Being that the F-150 is the only vehicle I've ever towed with, can someone with more towing experience give me a hand? Thanks.
  • zahrezahre Posts: 3
    I am new to this forum and need some help. We have just ordered a horse trailer. I have a 2002 Toyota 4Runner 6 cyl. 2 wheel drive. We have had a class III hitch installed rated 5000lbs., which is our maximum towing capacity. We plan on having a transmission cooler and a trailer braking system installed this week. Would the weight distribution hitch and Air shocks be a good idea also? Or should we just go out and get a used truck for trailering? Trailer weight empty is about 2500lbs. We will be mostly hauling 1 horse (1000lbs.) around town for lessons etc. occasionally 2 horses for about 4500lbs. max. I am new to trailering and I just want everyone to be safe. Any advice would be appreciated.
  • hammerheadhammerhead Posts: 907
    You need to be very careful here, as you're approaching the maximum rated towing capacity for your 4Runner. As a rule of thumb, you don't want to exceed about 75-80% of your rated capacity - lest the tail start wagging the dog.

    Trailer brakes & the weight distributing hitch would be absolutely mandatory. The tranny cooler would be money well spent, otherwise you'll be spending more for a fried tranny later. :) Air shocks? maybe, but the weight-distributing hitch should take care of most of that issue. Be sure to add air to the 4Runner tires when towing to compensate for the extra load.

  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    You have to consider how occupants and gear were accounted for when comparing vehicle towing capabilities.

    varmint, "Acura MDX" #6363, 19 Sep 2006 10:10 am
  • lbotrlbotr Posts: 3
    I am exploring my options: open to new or two to three year old SUVs or Trucks that are $25,000 or less. I am towing a fish and ski boat with a 90 HP engine and of course trailor. Can't find the weight of the boat/trailor, but I know I can take it to a weigh station to weigh. My qst is what do I want to be sure the SUV or Truck is equipped with for towing? And does anyone have any suggestions as to some vehicles to look at? I was thinking at the least an AWD/V6 (really don't want a V8) vehicle, I would like ESC, and compatible safety features. ( I do alot of traveling). I just don't want to be "fooled" by a sales person trying to convince that their vehicle "can tow". thanks!
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    And it's just a guess would be that it weighs in at around 3000lbs for the boat, motor and trailer. So you'll want to get something that tows about 25% more than that.

  • lbotrlbotr Posts: 3
    thank you so much for the info mike!
  • Folks,
    I have a 19.5 ft boat that weighs 3300 lbs. It came with a single axle trailer with no trailer brakes. I am considering buying a Toyota 4runner V8 to tow this boat.
    Is this enough vehicle to tow this boat, and do I need a double axle trailer with brakes, or am I o.k. with the trailer it came with?

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Most Tow vehicles require brakes over 1500lbs. Depending on how far you are towing, the terrain, and the speeds, you should be ok to tow it.

  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    "Achieving better fuel economy and energy independence are critical national imperatives. But let's do it in a thoughtful, balanced way that ensures millions of Americans won't lose their outdoor lifestyle,"

    99% of Car Towing Capacity Lost Since 1970s

    I always found a small tent hauled in my minivan more versatile myself, especially for those times when you want to walk 5 minutes into the woods to get away from the RVer's running their noisy generators so the occupants can watch the latest episode of The Simpsons. :P
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I however like to go even further than you. I prefer to tow my boat to the lake and then rent an island campsite that is REALLY far away from everything. Unfortunately I need my 5.6L v8 to tow the 33ft cig boat that has twin 502 engines :)

  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    I use canoes for that, and they ride on top of the minivan.

    Usually camp on gravel bars anyway and go places where there aren't any picnic tables around for umpteen miles. ;)

    It would be nice to have a hitch for hauling the occasional load of mulch or straw to the ranchette.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    hmm I wonder if we had a picnic table on the islands we rent from the state. Good fun though. Put it this way, on my cigarette boat/performance boat boards last year they posed the question of when you would stop using them based on fuel costs. I think until it hits $8 or $9/gal most of us won't be effected. I guess when a new 30ft cig boat costs close to $200k and $40-50k for a tow vehicle, the gas is the least of the problems :)

  • gdog6gdog6 Posts: 17
    For the longest time I have believed that the tongue weight of the trailer was subtracted from payload in order to see the remaining Max load But lately I have seen suvs with low payloads hauling large trailers and carrying a full cab of
    people :surprise: . am I right? or is there something i'm missing out on.

    Gdog6 ;)
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    You are correct.

    Payload Max - Tounge weight - passengers - gear in vehicle = Payload balance

    So if the payload is 1000lbs

    -500 lb tounge weight
    -500 lb passengers
    -200 lb gear
    = 200 lbs over payload

    Trailer weight is not subtraced from the Payload however.

    Most people (including myself) don't always follow this rule.

    I am glad to say the Armada which is rated at 9100lbs towing has successfully been towing my 9100lb performance boat so far this summer.

  • gdog6gdog6 Posts: 17
    glad to know i was right. but feel sorry for the people who
    do not know they are damaging their SUV :(
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    It could also turn into a liability issue in the event of an accident as well.

This discussion has been closed.