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Author Topic: Towing a Vehicle  (Read 3097 times)
JerryH
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« on: August 20, 2006, 06:38:54 AM »

Ok, yeah ... it's time to move forward on doing a toad.  I don't want to purchase any other "engined vehicle" -- so before we go down the road of buy this or buy that type of vehicle, we can pass on that notion.

I have a 1+ year old Honda Element.  I love this vehicle, it's a great little vehicle for me (for us).  Been looking into whether (transmission-wise) it can be towed.  Don't have a definitive answer on that.  The vehicle weighs 3,600#.

The other thought is buying a flat, open car trailer and simply drive it on.  I am more than capable with a trailer, but frankly ... haven't used a 40-foot "tow vehicle" with an 18-foot trailer.  Clearly a bit different that a 20-foot tow vehicle with an 18-foot trailer.  But unless I am mistaken, I believe backing and actually (reverse) steering with a (non-trailered) toad is somewhat difficult (no?).  I would think that a conventional trailer is (despite the tow vehicles length) is a bit more forgiving.

Your thoughts?  Again, I am NOT gonna buy another engined vehicle (only a trailer is an option).

Thanks,
Jerry H.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2006, 06:42:30 AM by JerryH » Logged
Len Silva
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« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2006, 07:09:49 AM »

Check the owner's manual. Many Honda's are tow-able even with an automatic.  The major disadvantage with a flat bed trailer is what to do with it when you arrive at your destination.  Most campsites will not have enough room to store the bus, car and trailer.

The Element may not be capable of towing even the empty trailer to put it away someplace.

While less convenient than flat towing, a tow dolly is easier to deal with when you arrive.
If the Element cannot be flat towed as is, there are lube pumps, axle locks, etc that may be available for it.

Len
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Ross
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« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2006, 09:01:59 AM »

A trailer is not easy to back behind a bus.  You can back it a little, but backing it into parking spots as you would with a smaller vehicle is not easy.  You'd probably be disconnecting anyway....and as long as you're disconnecting, a four down toad is way easier.  Also no trailer to deal with when you arrive and no tongue weight on the bus.

I can't comment on the element, but as Len says, if it's towable it should be in the manual.  If it has a neutral position on the transfer case, it's probably towable.  If it's all wheel drive, it's probably not.  If it's not, you may have to install a pump of some sort, which should still be cheaper than a car trailer.  I wouldn't look at a trailer as an option.  Just look at what the Element requires to make it towable.

Ross
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« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2006, 09:32:29 AM »

While less convenient than flat towing, a tow dolly is easier to deal with when you arrive.

I recently returned from picking up my bus and used a tow dolly to bring my pickup back.  In that experience I found that backing a loaded tow dolly with a bus was not easy, for me anyway.  With a tow dolly there are two pivot points.  First the hitch, and then the platform the front wheels ride on also pivots up to about 45 degrees.  I imagine it can be done, but I was never able to master backing it.
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« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2006, 09:58:24 AM »

Backing is not really an option with a tow dolly or tow bar.

Len
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« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2006, 10:37:16 AM »

Jerry ...I would check the owners manual and see if it sez anything in there. It looks like some of the old 2000's can be flat towed but the newer ones can't be. I have seen them being flat towed.

If you take a look at the bottom of the home page for http://www.motorhomemagazine.com, you'll find a link to their guides for dinghy towing. Otherwise, I suggest you follow manufacturer's recommendations regarding towing.
Ron
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JerryH
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« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2006, 01:38:08 PM »

Thanks for the feedback everyone. Yes, I had NOT thought about what to do with the trailer once at your destination.  Ron, thanks ... I did check with http://www.motorhomemagazine.com/dinghytowingguide/2005/DinghyRatings_p16_25.pdf and yes the Honda Element is listed as a viable tow vehicle.  Ross, although I've not tried backing a trailer with a 40-foot vehicle, yes ... I can imagine the challenge of it.  So, that said ... gonna move forward with using the Element flat towed.  Looking forward to having a vehicle once we arrive at destination.

Thanks,
Jerry H.
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« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2006, 03:48:10 PM »

I'm somewhat biased, but backing a trailer witht the bus is no more difficult than backing it with a pickup.

I pulled a 6x12 uhaul back from CO last week. When we arrived home at 10:30, I backed it into the driveway where I usually park the bus next to the garage because I didn't want to unhook it and I figured that would be easier then pulling in forward and trying to back it out onto the road the next day. Took me three passes, which I consider a failure, but as I mentioned in another thread, my wife was impressed as were the  couple people waiting in the street to get by.

If you can back a trailer with a pickup using your mirrors, backing it with the bus is not any more difficult.

The bigger problem, though, as pointed out, is what you do with the trailer at your destination. Also, you need to be aware of your hitch weight, if your hitch is attached only to the engine cradle.

4 down is the easiest way to go, but you can't back up at all that way. With the newer towbars, though, unhooking and rehooking are simple procedures, so if you get in a bind, that's an easy option.


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DrivingMissLazy
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« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2006, 05:15:23 PM »

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4 down is the easiest way to go, but you can't back up at all that way.

Not necessarily so. I could back my Tahoe straight back for quite a long distance as long as I went straight back. If I had to curve a little I would have the wife in the Tahoe, with it running, and she could maintain the steering so that the wheels did not jackknife.
Richard


I'm somewhat biased, but backing a trailer witht the bus is no more difficult than backing it with a pickup.

I pulled a 6x12 uhaul back from CO last week. When we arrived home at 10:30, I backed it into the driveway where I usually park the bus next to the garage because I didn't want to unhook it and I figured that would be easier then pulling in forward and trying to back it out onto the road the next day. Took me three passes, which I consider a failure, but as I mentioned in another thread, my wife was impressed as were the  couple people waiting in the street to get by.

If you can back a trailer with a pickup using your mirrors, backing it with the bus is not any more difficult.

The bigger problem, though, as pointed out, is what you do with the trailer at your destination. Also, you need to be aware of your hitch weight, if your hitch is attached only to the engine cradle.

4 down is the easiest way to go, but you can't back up at all that way. With the newer towbars, though, unhooking and rehooking are simple procedures, so if you get in a bind, that's an easy option.


craig

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JerryH
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« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2006, 09:04:49 AM »

Ok, checked with the owers manual and, few few caveats, yes ... it can be done.
There's a proceedure one must follow before towing and must be done every 8 towing hours.
Someone mentioned something about recirculating the trans. fluid???
Can anyone elaborate on this please.
I couldn't find anything doing a Google search.

Jerry H.
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« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2006, 11:17:25 AM »

Jerry, I couldn't find if you indicated the type of transmission on your Element. Auto or manual? Let me echo the others, it can't be said too often...don't try to back the bus with your Element attached! I've got a couple of hundred thousand miles with dingy's on the back. It just don't work.

If your Element has a manual transmission, and warranties aren't an issue, check with a couple of local transmission shops about flat towing. I have a 2003 S-10 with a 5-speed standard. Chevy didn't recommend towing but didn't recommend strongly against it either. One of those companies that sells driveshaft disconnects assured me that the S-10 could not be towed flat without ruining the tranny unless I bought their device. I talked with a couple of local transmission shops and they both couldn't find a reason why the S-10 could not be towed flat with the stick in neutral as long as I kept plenty of gear oil in it. I've got over 30K miles towing it now and I've had no problem.

From time-to-time I have been a bit put out. Like the time I had to pull into a small gas station to get some diesel, and I couldn't get out again without backing a couple of times to make the tight turn. I had to unhook the dingy, make the turn with the coach and then rehook. If I'd had a trailer, I'd have made the turn without unhooking. If you hunt around, you can find some nice all aluminum trailers that don't weigh too much.


I've also put about 20K miles on a tow dolly. Backing still ain't no fun! Many states don't consider a tow dolly a trailer and still require lights on the vehicle. I was stopped in Wyoming one time and let off with a warning on the condition I stopped at the Flying J and purchased a set of magnetic lights.

My next endeavor will be a motorcycle with one of those fancy bumper carriers.  Wink

Darren
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« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2006, 11:45:15 AM »

I tried the link listed, but what about older vehicles? I have a 1995 Beretta we want to tow 4 down, and the manual says ok but not over 55. Anyone know if that's a safety or a mechanical issue?

Wayne
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JerryH
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« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2006, 06:46:29 PM »

Da Book from Honda says ok with Automatic trans.
Don't travel over 65 MPH, no more than 8 hours per day, unless you follow a pre-towing process.

Jerry H.
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« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2006, 08:24:50 AM »

Have you thought of the REMCO lube pump?  You can tow any vehicle with 4 wheels down.

http://www.remcotowing.com/
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Len Silva
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« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2006, 11:23:03 AM »

Da Book from Honda says ok with Automatic trans.
Don't travel over 65 MPH, no more than 8 hours per day, unless you follow a pre-towing process.

Jerry H.

As I understand it, the eight hour limit is only because there is some current draw when the ignition switch is in the accessory position.  It is meant to prevent killing the battery.

My mashing dadly across the country days are over, hope I never see eight hours between stops again.

Len
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