How suitable is an Element as a tow vehicle? - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-02-2006, 10:05 PM   #15
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actually, my tires are truck and snows, and they are brand new, well, a month old. Just about the same for the trailer tires, tho in time, they are older by a couple months, they had maybe 1k miles on them at the time of the ride.

hydroplaning can happen regardless of vehicle/tire condition. Tho admitedly, less likely if all is as good as it gets.

Growing up in Oregon, my experience did come into play, yes, moreso than my towing experience. I was in prime hydro conditions, on a gentle uphill slope (And I mean, a grade so gradual that you wouldn't have known it was there except for the straight way ahead revealing the grade) with a thin sheet of water coming down it, making a micro river.

I recognized it as a danger zone way before this happened, so I may have had a quicker reaction time than others.

I was also nearly brought to a blinding stop on I5 near Grants pass, at nite, when a big rig passed me and threw up so much water that I could not see and the force hit the front of the Element so hard it actually slowed it down on it's own. Another situation where the electric brakes may have played an important role. (It was on a curve too, the swine. I traveled maybe 50 feet totally blinded.)
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Old 01-03-2006, 07:32 AM   #16
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The material I have looked at indicates that the T@B dry weight is 1320lbs and as has been pointed out, the Element is rated for 1500lbs max.
Check the T@B website specifications. The T@B - bare bones, no options, nothing loaded - weighs between 1500 and 1600 pounds. You can probably add a couple hundred pounds in food, propane, personal gear. The website specifically recommends 2000 pounds or more for towing capacity.

Tow ratings are not a joke - they are serious. Sure, you can tow a trailer with a garden tractor, but that doesn't make it safe. Tow capacity takes into account braking and handling. And because the total weight of trailer and tug is pushing on your brakes, you can't duck the GVWR by transferring more weight from one to the other.

Exceeding rated tow capacity can open you up to legal penalties on the road, and liability in case of accident. It can also kill you, your passengers, and maybe some innocents sharing the road with you.
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Old 01-03-2006, 08:32 AM   #17
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My avatar is proof of Jack's assertion that you can tow a FGRV with a garden tractor. I can tell you that his other assertions are right on the money.

I am extraordinarily impressed with Gina's recognition of wet driving hazards, her skills while driving under those conditions, and her ability to explain when hydroplaning is likely to occur. I have investigated many accidents caused by hydroplaning, and I've actually witnessed three accidents caused by hydroplaning personally in my driving career. There's nothing quite so exciting as watching a vehicle ahead of you begin to lose control and then spin around and around bouncing off things at 70mph on a wet freeway. I'm continually amazed at how little the average driver understands about how precarious their ability to control their vehicle hurtling on the freeway at 70mph really is.

Back to the issue at hand, few (none?) of us hitch up our trailers and go out to a skidpan to test our skills and our rigs for handling when either the drive wheels or the trailer wheels lose traction. Frankly, even if we wanted to practice our skills doing that, I can think of few places in the country it could be done. So, what we do is look at tow ratings, GVWR, GCWR, our hitch setup, our loading, and the rest of our equipment (tires, tire pressure, wiring etc.), try to make it the best and most balanced we can and hope for the best.

Starting out with an unbalanced rig, questionable towing equipment, or a tow vehicle that is marginal or just plain too small to begin with puts you and everyone around you at serious risk. Consider carefully what you tow with, what you tow, how they're matched, and what equipment you need to tow safely and uneventfully. Bad things happen fast when towing, and happen even faster with short wheelbase, light-weight tow vehicles. That's not to say you can't do it, you just need to give yourself every advantage you can, and don't cut any corners or push any limits.

Roger
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Old 01-03-2006, 09:43 AM   #18
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Ah yes, one of my favorite topics, Elements and Towing Capacity.

First, let me state for the record, that I would never condone anyone doing something illegal, unsafe, immoral or contrary to Honda or public policy, with certain Federal Income Tax exceptions.

We are currently at 20,000 miles towing our 13' Scamp with our 2004 2WD Element, with an average 17.1 mpg. (Upated Sept 2006)

Conclusion: The Element is an excellent towing vehicle for this trailer. Plenty of power, pulling up long mountain grades at 50-60 mph with ease. With electric brakes on the Scamp (a must!, and "required" by Honda for any trailer over 1,000#), easy and safe braking.

On our trip to Oregon in 2004 I used several of the free scales (thank you OR taxpayers) to weigh my rig. We had water in the Scamp tank, refrig, full of stuff, clothes (4x more than needed), gear, food, etc. Our Scamp was bought fully loaded with A/C and awning.

Element - 4,050# (including people and parrot, rear seats removed before trip saving 85#)
Scamp - 1,850# (incl tongue weight of 150#)
Water and Gear included in Scamp weight: maybe 200#-250#

Element GVWR - 4,450# - Actual 4,050# (with trailer attached)
GAWR - Front 2,300# - Actual 2,050#; Rear 2,205# - Actual 2,000#

I believe a Scamp could be brought into the 1,500# range with careful selection of options and minimal packing. Honda defines the 1,500# limit as the weight of the trailer and all content, so what's in the Element doesn't count against this limit. I also believe, although many knowledgable people may disagree, that a few hundred pounds over that number is not significant. First, I think all such "limits" are very conservatively set by engineers, probably on a magnitude of 50%-100%, and second in the case of the Element there is evidence that America Honda understates the towing limit for unknown reasons.

The evidence is the Honda CRV which also has a 1500# towing capacity, and has the same engine and drivetrain as the Element. However in Australia, with the CRV there being exactly the same as the U.S. (as best we can tell), the towing limit is 2,645# with auto trans and trailer brakes, 3,306# with manual, and only 1,322# if the trailer doesn't have brakes. So it appears the U.S. just assumed the lowest common denominator and went with 1,500#. See my Element Owners thread on the topic here: http://www.elementownersclub.com/forums/sh...read.php?t=7829

However, I recommend everyone stay at 1,500# for all the reasons stated in previous posts, and that is my constant goal too.

Patrick
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Old 01-03-2006, 10:29 AM   #19
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However in Australia, with the CRV there being exactly the same as the U.S. (as best we can tell), the towing limit is 2,645#
Ah, well, obviously the Coriolis effect works favorably for towing limits south of the equator!
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Old 01-03-2006, 03:10 PM   #20
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Ah, well, obviously the Coriolis effect works favorably for towing limits south of the equator!
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Old 01-03-2006, 03:55 PM   #21
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....does anyone know the factors that contibute to the rating? For example I can not find ANY tow rating for the subaru. Is the weight concern regarding the ability of the vehicle to get the load moving and keep it moving regardless of up or down hills, or is it a function of the ability of the unit to a safe stop, or is there something else that goes into the equation.
Tow ratings are determined by the vehicle manufacturer according to several criteria, including engine size, transmission, axle ratio, brakes, chassis, cooling systems and other special equipment.
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Old 01-03-2006, 08:59 PM   #22
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Tow ratings are determined by the vehicle manufacturer according to several criteria, including engine size, transmission, axle ratio, brakes, chassis, cooling systems and other special equipment.
I think I read somewhere, when I was researching tow vehicles, that each component of the car may have a different "Tow Rating." The manufacturer then uses the "weakest link" theory to set the vehicle's rating at the lowest rated component's rating...
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Old 01-03-2006, 09:12 PM   #23
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I am glad to say that I have had the dealer actually weight the trailer and check the capability of my hitch and tongue.
It would appear that the trailer, with load of propane and battery and all other items being purchased will come to less than 1500#, and the hitch and tongue are rated class 2 so the remaining concern that I had was the need for a transmission cooler....and the local Honda dealer just kind of waived it off on the basis that if it hunts for the right gear pull in a lower gear....his comment was "it's a Honda....doesnt care if it revs at 5000rpm all day...it will only cost a little more gas"
He also said dont worry about a transmission cooler....in our winters at 30 below it could cause more problems than it helps with in the summer.

So at this point I will be meeting with the T@B dealer to talk about wiring for the Element tomorrow.

At this point I have the small inline 4 pin wiring harness that is connected in behind the passenger side rear inside quarter panel......that was a bugger to put in last year! So they are recommending new wiring as he put it "from the front back" for the trailer including a charge line.

So hopefully I will be set to go before the week is out! Then waiting months for acceotable weather for a trip!!!!

Thanks for the replies and great source of information to all of you.

Ken D
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Old 01-03-2006, 09:43 PM   #24
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Ken,

Go find another T@B dealer now. RUN away as far as you can. This guy is trying to bilk you, or at the very least, he is totally unknowledgable about your Element.

I question you Honda dealers wisdom too

I have the 4 wire set up on my E as well. I installed it myself, using aftermarket harness and with considerably less annoyance than Honda makes it out to be (Or half the guys on the Element club ) Took me less than an hour, and my passenger side panels stayed put.

If you are going with a TAB, you only need a charge line. Surge brakes.. no electric controller. No line needed. ONE run from your battery. Everything else is ALREADY THERE. They are trying to convince you of something you don't need. What would you possibly need to replace working lines for?

Mine is a 7 pin now. My installer for the brake controller and charge line simply tapped off my 4 for the standard lights (And left me the 4 pin plug in case I needed to tug a utility trailer etc) and ran the brake and charge line back from the front. 2 lines. Thats all. They all bundle neatly together nicely in a 7 pin socket welded to my hitch.

I am sure U Haul can do the same for you at very little cost, or you can even do it yourself if all you are running is the charge line. How hard can ONE line be?

I take it the T@B has a 6 pole connector? Adaptors and connectors are easy available at Wal Mart for a few dollars. (Under 15) If you installed your 4 pin, this will be a peice of cake compared to that.

Were you actually there and witnessed the weighing of your trailer yourself? What he said is contrary to everything commonly known of these T@Bs and very much lower than T@Bs own published specs, which, as mentioned, are usually on the LOW end.

Caveat Emptor on this one.

A tranny cooler is very cheap insurance. I paid 140 or so, installed, at U Hual. A new tranny is what? How many 1000s? Once it is in, there is nothing else to do. The E tranny is sealed.

It IS a Honda, and just my opinion, a very durable auto, but I certainly wouldn't rack it to 5k rpm for more than a second, much less all day.

I think there is a yahoo group for T@B owners.. do some searches and read what real owners have and how they are doing. My gut feeling is that they are much closer to reality than what this dealer is trying to tell you. Especially with his wiring recommendations.. something does not smell right here.

Oh wait, my dog is on the couch with me...
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Old 01-03-2006, 09:47 PM   #25
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Ken, good luck with that tab!

I think the 4-wire connector you already have can be used in conjunction with a battery charge line from the front, and a brake controller (if needed) from the front. No need to completely rewire. Adapters are available to covert it to the round plug needed by most trailers.

Honda does not require a trans cooler for the Element and 1,500#. Doesn't even offer one. But a lot of people believe they are must have items. I'm still on the fence on the need and haven't installed. Gina being smart had UHaul install one for about $100 as I recall.

My water temp gauge (transmission fluid is cooled in the bottom of the radiator) has only moved up slightly three times when towing - when it was 115F and traveling at 30mph!

Patrick

Oops, just read Gina's reply and do agree on her opinion on the Honda dealer, as I thought his statements were idiotic, and yeah the Tab dealer sounds like he's trying to generate more income. And yeah, I'm not a big fan of the Tab either having looked at one carefully. Much more restrictive than a 13' fiberglass, but to each his own.
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Old 01-03-2006, 10:17 PM   #26
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Gina The reason I am going to the dealer is to talk with his installer in person. He said the installer felt it might be simpler to run new lines.....my immediate reaction was "why I have a proper set there now that can be re-routed!" The other thing I want him to tell me is how he would run a charge line. Do you simply fuse your charge line or use a breaker?

Another point I found out was that the T@B I am looking at is last years model, fibreglass and with 15inch wheels rather than the 16s they put on the new ones. As far as weighing, he took them to a local scale where the staff of the scale sign off on the weight....I am gonna be looking at that too!

Anyway the deal is that last years model means a fairly significant price drop and they include a tent room addition that doubles the usable sheltered space when set up camping...so I will proceed with caution rather than run away!! But thanks for your concern

Ken D.
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Old 01-03-2006, 10:27 PM   #27
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I have very little faith in what dealers tell me.I looked at a T@B and the dealer told me my little car could pull it.

I told him in words that I can't use here what I thought of him.

Here is a advertisment of my car.
http://www.toyota.com/matrix/
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Old 01-03-2006, 10:32 PM   #28
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Ken,

There is a simple inline fuse on my line. I don't recall the value. It is inline right after the terminal and easily accessed from the engine compartment. The line then drops down and is tied off on various beams and chassis junk, and brought to the proper pin on the 7 pin socket. Cable wrap is used, even for the single line.

My tap from my 4 wire is also simple. The plug is cut off about 10 inches back, right under the hitch where everything is easily accessible, 4 wires are tapped in and then the plug end and tail are also tied in (solder, crimps AND heat shrink) The 4 wires run in wrap over to the socket, also tied to the hitch.

Everything can be accessed out in the open, nothing needs to "Come Out".

I have no problem with taps and crimps if they are done properly. They will last for years, and frankly, it's easier to fix a failed crimp (If needed) and less expensive than running all new lines.

You can also buy a 4 to 6 adaptor. Check it out. Most of the adaptors can be opened and lines added. You could do the same with your charge line.

I ran with a 4 to 7 adaptor for a couple years!
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