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Honda Odyssey Towing/Trailer Hitch Questions



  • This is an old question but I wanted to answer for others that may need this info in the future. I researched this on my 2007 Odyssey EX and it may apply to other years as well. I am a former race car fabricator and driver so this stuff is kinda fun for me.

    I had the same need for a backup light on my trailer. On the passenger side the wiring harness exits the deck lid door and comes down under the rear panel. To remove the panel you must first pop out the rear panel as it overlaps the side panels. Remove any finger nuts that hold in the rear panel and the one finger nut on the passenger side panel. Lift the rear panel out at the bottom to pop the 4 buttons and the pull up to pop the top buttons. After that is out you can use a pair or diagonal wire cutter to gently remove the buttons that did not come out nicely and put the back in their slots for reassembly. Once that rear panel is pulled out you can pull loose the passenger side panel at the rear (the panel need not be completely removed) about 6 inches you should be able to access a bundle of wires coming down from above. On my van this bundle also included the rear windshield washer hose. In that bundle there is a green wire with 2 small silver bands on it. That band pattern is repeated every few inches. That is the backup light wire that connects to the lights in the deck lid. I used a wire tap clip to attach to it and it works fine. I'm not a big fan of those clips but there is so little wire slack that this is the best choice for this particular task. I routed the wire over to the driver's side where my other trailer wiring was and exited to the bottom of the car. If you are only dealing with this one wire and need a way to easily exit under the car make note of the left hand most bottom clip hole. Drill a hole 1 inch to the right of it (towards the center of car) and exit the wire. Use a grommet, wire loom covering or wiring putty or something so the wire is protected against any sharp edges of the hole. This hole exits into the bumper cavity and when you feed the wire out the hole it will come out underneath in the area near your trailer wiring harness and plug.

    The only gotcha on our Odysseys is the backup fuse is 7.5 amps. Depending on the size of the backup light or lights you have, this could easily blow that fuse. What I plan to do is to put a 20 amp relay on my trailer that uses the incoming trailer power lead. This is the one that charges my trailer battery when my car is running. That way the power from the green wire will be used to trip the relay and it will handle the power to the backup light so there is no chance of overtaxing the Odyssey's 7.5 amp fuse or wiring. Alternately, you could go up slightly on the fuse size but this would be at your own risk. The backup wire is pretty small and you would not want to use a huge fuse and a huge light as you could damage the harness with a wire meltdown.
  • dsguydsguy Posts: 2
    I plan to tow my classic car with an open car hauler using my 01 Odyssey. Total weight being towed is 3580 lbs., and I will be driving about 925 miles. My van has a distributed weight Type III hitch, and will have a transmission cooler installed prior to this trip.

    I would think that extra 80 lbs. will be OK if I drive conservatively, but wanted to get the wisdom of the CarSpace forum first. TIA for your knowledge.
  • We drove from California to Canada and back this summer with our Ody towing a 16ft travel trailer with electronic brakes and air bags on the rear axle of the Ody. By the end of the trip, we realized that we also needed an additional sway bar (2 total). Several times during the trip we had the "tail wagging the dog".
  • I have a 2008 Odyssey with trans cooler and rear suspension airbags. The problem you are going to have is that 10-12% is recomended tongue weight and that would definitely push you over the weight the Honda recommended number. As far as the brakes - if the trailer has electric brakes that would be best. I just think you are really pushing the edges of the envelope. Also, if the terrain is flat that may be doable but is hilly I would say lookout.
  • dsguydsguy Posts: 2
    THanks for the expertise!
  • I would like to put a tow hitch on my Honda Odyssey to tow a small trailer with a motorcycle. Never more than about 1500 pounds. The dealership say that I must put a Trans cooler which significantly raises the cost. How important is this?
  • You can have a trans cooler installed by an independent trailer hitch installation shop. Mine on my 2007 Odyssey ran about $200 installed. The dealer wanted at least twice that.

    In reality you probably do not need a transcooler for this light load. However if you are under warranty and are concerned this could impact your warranty it could if the trans burns out. A dealer could refuse to honor it as a warranty item if you have a trailer hitch and have not installed a trans cooler. They won't care if you were towing only 1500 pounds. So if you have a warranty on the car I would get an independent shop or mechanic to install it. Also remember that these cars are known for trans issues.

    If you don't have a warranty it is probably not an issue and you could get away without it.
  • I am looking at purchasing a 2011 Odyessy with the towing package. My boat and trailer weigh 2600 lbs. I have never pulled it with anything but a truck or SUV. My question is whether or not there will be difficulty towing the boat, getting the boat out of the water,etc, or will the odyssey pull like my current SUV that also has a 3500 lb towing capacity? Thank You in advance for answers, we will probably decide on the purchase within the next couple of days.
  • You are probably pushing the edges of the envelop of what the Odyssey can handle. I'm towing a small T@B travel trailer at 2000 pounds and think that is getting near the upper limits of what the Odyssey can handle. In your situation you have the additional issues of needing the power to pull up a steep boat ramp and I'm not sure the Odyssey can be counted on to do that. The current Odyssey models like my 2007 all have known transmission problems and motor mount breakage problems. How the new one perfroms in those areas is unknown. If you decide to get the Odyssey don't get the dealer installed tow package. It is way overpriced and rated for less weight than the third party ones. You will want a good quality hitch, a trailer wiring convertor with a powered adapter, air bags installed on the rear suspension and a transmission cooler. You can get this installed at an independent trailer hitch installer shop for about 1/2 of the dealer pricing.
  • Hi,
    I am planning to move from Atlanta to Denver.
    I have Honda Odyssey 2010 EX-L.
    Like to know how much weight I can place in the Car and How much weight I can place in the Hitch.
    I have browsed UHaul and came to know that I can hitch 1500LB cargo weight.
    Like to get advice from people what trail to use and what is the right weight in the van and the trail.
    Advices are appreciated.
    Thanks in advance.
  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 8,862
    Your owner's manual will have all that information. Further, look inside the driver's door for a plate with some information in it.
  • steelhedrsteelhedr Posts: 6
    Has anyone had any problems with Honda warranty service after installing aftermarket coolers, etc.?

    I have talked with my local service mgr and with Honda directly, and they both said that if i install any aftermarket tanny cooler, etc. and something happens to the tranny that they will not honor the warranty. their argument is that the aftermarket part has not be proven by Honda and therefore is most likely the problem. My argument is that that is BS because an aftermarket oil filter will not void the engine warranty.

    Honda told me something about i could have a detailed analysis done and if it was not due to the aftermarket parts then they would cover it, but if the cannot complete confirm then i also have to pay for the analysis (which is "intensive and most garages don't like to do it" Honda's words).
  • Curious as to how many people went with the Honda dealership wiring harness vs aftermarket and why. I haven't yet made my purchase, was hoping to get some insight here. thanks....
  • richardl5richardl5 Posts: 8
    If your car is under warranty you may be best at the dealer for the reason mentioned above. I have had the Honda dealer blame an ordinary accessory I had for problems with another Honda car I owned. When the accessory was removed the car still exhibited the problem. Some dealers are good and others are not. The risk of a trans repair issue is too expensive to give them the opportunity of a weasel situation. My 2007 Honda was out of factory warranty when I purchased it used. I went to trailer hitch specialty shop and it cost 1/2 of what the dealer wanted but in my case that made sense. You should spend the extra $300 - 500 (for hitch, wiring and cooler) from the dealer.
  • If you have a costco or sams club membership; go through them to both buy a dealer certified used or new car, as well as accessories. You get a one price, no haggle deal. I'd start there and then try to bargin with the dealership.
  • elargozaelargoza Posts: 1
    Hello! I was wondering which Fleetwood trailer you have been towing? We have a 2007 Odyssey EXL and were going to purchase a 2004 Fleetwood Hemlock UVW 2890 lbs, GVWR 3770 lbs. Do you think the Odyssey can handle such a trailer? Thank you! This is our first trailer purchase.
  • pagaldesi4lifepagaldesi4life Posts: 1
    edited August 2011
    I have a 09 Odyssey and we're moving from GA to CT next week (900 miles, 16 hrs). I need to rent a small U-Haul trailer (either the 4'x8' or 5'x8' trailer, their gross weight is 2700 lbs but I don't think we'll have anything over 2000 lbs) and unfortunately we never got the tow hitch package because we have never towed anything period.

    Here are my questions:

    1) If I get the tow hitch & wiring kit installed by U-Haul, will it void the vehicle warranty?
    2) The vehicle is leased and due to be returned in a few weeks. Will Honda accept the vehicle back with the hitch installed or would I have to remove it prior to returning it?
    3) And since its a one time tow, would I need to get the tranny and ps coolers?

    Thank you in advance for your help.
  • I called Honda about this specific thing a few months ago. The short answer is yes. If you have a hitch installed, you need the tranny cooler. If there are any issues with your tranny after the hitch is installed and the cooler is not on, then they will not cover it under warranty. I am not exactly sure how leases work in this regard as I am a buyer not a leaser, so i cannot speak to what will and will not be accepted for sure, but i would guess that you will be charged a fee (probably equal to the cost of installing the coolers).

    Here is the interesting thing, STRAIGHT FROM HONDA. If you have a cooler installed by a third party, they will still not cover the warranty on any transmission issues unless they can absolutely prove it was not related to the cooler. Their thinking is that they cannot confirm it was installed correctly so they will not cover any issues. My dealer told me they could run some checks and determine cause (but it is an expensive test) and if it turns out to be non-related to the cooler, they will cover the test and the work, if not, than you pay for work and now the test too.

    I would recommend asking your dealer with the lease their thoughts, but i am guessing they will tell you it voids any warranty. You could always have the hitch and wiring removed after you are done. Should be relatively easy to do yourself.
  • I have a 2007 Honda Odyssey EX, with no towing package on it at this time. I plan to be towing some ATV's that we just purchased on various trip lengths of one hour on flat ground to 4-5 hours on hilly terraine. Wtih the ATV's and trailer, the combined weight will be around 3000lbs, and we will have two adults and 3 children in the van with luggage as well...probably around 650lbs of weight in the vehicle. Before I invest in a towing package for this vehicle, do you think it my odyssey can handle this workload without having major engine problems?
  • I have a 2006 without the tow package. We are moving and I would like to install a hitch to pull a
    small trailer only once to our new place, to carry items we will need until the movers deliver our stuff. After that I would use the hitch only for a bicycle rack. Anyone think I'll be ok with just a hitch and no tranny cooler?
  • First, sorry for the delayed response.
    Your engine will be worked but should not be a concern much there. It is the transmission that you should be more concerned with. It will be at the limit of the capacity for sure, but i tow nearly that amount with our little camper and three kids and the Odyssey does fine with it. Uphill climbs are a lot longer and more challenging than without anything behind you, but slow and steady wins the race here. I like to try and get a little extra momentum going downhill to aid in the next uphill when possible.

    A few things you should definitely have with that much weight behind you:
    - a trailer with brakes that are connected to your braking
    - upgraded transmission cooler (required if any part is still under warranty and you are concerned about using said warranty)
    - load distributing hitch with anti-sway bars. I have the Equal-i-zer hitch. There are others, but this one works nice for me. I barely feel anything when passed by a semi. Of course wind gusts are a little more evident than not towing, but not as bad as they would be. I think it does a real good job.
    - upgraded power steering cooler is recommended. I have one, but not sure it is completely necessary.
  • It really depends on how much you are planning on towing and where.

    With a 2006, I would guess that your warranty is pretty much done, so you do not have to worry about nullifying that (Honda requires a tranny cooler when a hitch is present or the warranty is voided). If you are only looking at the amount of material that I would consider typical luggage for an extended trip (you must include the weight of the trailer too mind you), then you may be okay. I am by no means a transmission expert, but do have some mechanical inclination. Bikes for sure you don't need one for, but if your weight is getting up into the 1000+lb range with the trailer weight and supplies, you may start to consider one. It is not worth losing the transmission over for sure. The total towing capacity is 3500 lb for the Ody, which includes passengers (driver excluded), luggage, trailer, hitch, and trailer load. So you must consider all of that.

    Think of it this way...The Ody seats 7 passengers (excluding driver). At an average weight of 150 lb, that is 1050 lb, throw in luggage at say 50lb per person you are at 1400 lb. That would be standard operation for the van on a trip with a large family. You would not use a transmission cooler for that without towing anything, so that may be a guide. These are just some numbers I threw out there.

    Considering that, plus the trip length, and geography (flat, hilly, mountainous), perhaps you can make a judgement call for your situation.
  • I have the full tow kit on my 06 Odyssee. I use it to tow a pop-up camper. Every thing seems ok, except that it makes my van squat badly. So badly that the front wheels sometimes have trouble getting traction on gravel.

    How much real difference would a weight disti uting hitch make?
  • jmarsch,

    A weight distributing hitch, if set up correctly, would make quite a bit of difference, IMHO. First off, if you are driving where your front wheels lose traction, that would seem unsafe, and it could cause an accident. :surprise: The weight distributing hitch will take some of the load and push it back through the frame allowing the tow vehicle to equalize.

    Imagine that you put a lot of weight on the very back of your camper. This would push down the back of the camper thus pushing up the tongue. This, in turn, lifts the back end of the tow vehicle which puts more weight on the front end of the TV pushing it down (i.e. weight distribution)...thus giving more traction to your front (pull) tires. This is what the WD Hitch does. It lifts the tongue and back of the TV allowing the weight to distribute throughout the entire package (TV and camper).

    I use the Equal-I-zer. Equalizer Website There are others that are just as good though, I just like this one. It also is an anti-sway. For all WD hitches, there is some adjusting that needs done initially and a small learning curve to set them up each time, but pretty straight forward.

    Hope that helps.
  • Hi
    Just read a message you posted regarding towing.
    We were wondering what you tow on your Odyssey? We have a 2010 and had a tow ball attached thinking that it would be more than capable of towing our little pop up caravan that weighs in at 1200kg / 2650lbs...but when we checked out it's specs we accepted that our Holden sedan was going to have to be the camping car, as we didn't want to take the risk with the Honda!
    We are now considering upgrading our suspension to help with the load, so that we can use the Honda, but it doesn't like you did that. Are towing a reasonable size caravan/camper?
    Any more advice for someone who would really like to use their Odyssey a lot more!!
    Thanks for your time.
  • I'm not sure what the capacity for the 2010 is (is that a different model year?). My camper weighs 1950LBS according to the coachmen site. Suspension is the biggest problem -- it squats badly, and that can cause traction problems going uphill on gravel (no weight on the front wheels). On the highway it does fine -- at 65mph, I get 14-16mpg. It noticeably increases stopping distance, so leave plenty of space.

    One other thing -- you mentioned the hitch ball, but do you have the heavy transmission and power steering coolers (they are add-ons)? I wouldn't try towing without those, from what I've read, the transmission really won't tolerate towing without the heavy cooler.
  • steelhedrsteelhedr Posts: 6
    edited November 2012
    I tow a TrailManor Bifold Camper. It is about 2600 lb I think. The rating for my Ody is about 3400 total i believe (gear, people, tow). Our kids do not weigh too much, yet. :-) So we can use it fine for a while. jmarsch is correct about the squatting, but with a load distributing hitch you can shift that weight quite well and eliminate (or significantly reduce) the squatting. I highly recommend that. As for pulling, it does great. I did get the heavy duty coolers installed. Ody trannys are not something you want to mess with too much, so the extra cooler is certainly worth it. I get the same mileage that jmarsch does when pulling (13-16 mpg). Of course that is in the Appalachians. Probably better on flatter ground. Oh, and get the electric brakes installed. It greatly helps with the stoppage. Some states require them, like mine, but it is about safety and a must for me.

    Honestly, I am very surprised with how well the Odyssey handles things with the right hitch. Very good tow vehicle. Now if I were camping year round every weekend it may be a bit much for wear. Unfortunately, we are probably going to have to upgrade in a couple years or sooner since our family has added a couple more additions, and with them growing larger, that adds weight. ;) That is a good thing though. :D So a bigger camper, and a bigger TV?$?$?$ :cry: IMHO, there just is no other minivan, so we will keep it for day trips, etc.
  • niosakiniosaki Posts: 1
    I was offered a 2011 genuine Honda trailer hitch, but my Odyssey is a 2008. Could it be made to fit without too much trouble, or is this completely out of the question? The hitch would have to be shipped to me, so I am unable to answer this with my own visual inspection. I'm not planning to tow anything with it: it's purely to carry a hitch-mounted bike rack.
  • In the fit list from eTrailer the fit for a 2008 and 2011 model are the same. This is not probably a 100% guarantee but it would indicate you have a good chance it will fit.
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