Element towing a scamp - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-22-2016, 01:53 PM   #1
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Name: Hugh
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Question Element towing a scamp

I've read various things online about towing a scamp with a honda element. The element is rated for 1500/150. I'm sure my scamp weighs 1500+ and the tongue weight is 209.

I have read:
Take out of overdrive
Take out of overdrive when going under 45mph
Never go over 60mph
never go over 3500 RPM
never go under 3500 rpm

I'm confused! I know my element can barely tow my scamp. Does anyone know what is accurate from the above?

Can I just drive (in overdrive) up to a safe feeling speed (65mph) and be fine?
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Old 07-22-2016, 02:18 PM   #2
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So here's some more online advice to further muddy the waters…

Read your owner's manual for use of overdrive when towing. It'll probably tell you to tow with OD off all the time, but check to be sure.

Keeping maximum speeds between 55-60 is good conservative advice. The sky won't fall if you're a little over, but you're asking your Element to do a lot. Air resistance increases as the square of speed, so twice as fast means four times the wind drag. In addition, the faster you go, the more vulnerable you are to fishtailing and loss of control, the more time it takes to stop. And so on...

Keep RPMs up when climbing (and descending) hills. 3500-4500 RPMs is no sweat for a Honda four-banger (we've owned two CR-Vs), but not for too long or in extreme temperatures. The transmission is the weak link. An external ATF cooler would help.

Do you have working trailer brakes and a brake controller?

But you really need to start planning now to upgrade your tow vehicle. Towing with a marginal or under-rated vehicle makes it that much more stressful (which isn't why you have a camper!) and exposes you to liability if something were to go wrong resulting in injury or property damage.

I learned that lesson the hard way. My first tow vehicle was rated for 2000 pounds and my Scamp was less than that. On our very first trip I overheated the transmission climbing a long grade in triple-digit temperatures against a stiff headwind. Thankfully, electronic sensors caught the overheating condition and sent the vehicle into limp mode before catastrophic damage occurred. But waiting on the side of a busy interstate in scorching heat with no AC while things cooled down was not fun! Lesson learned. We have a 3500/350 rated Pilot now.
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Old 07-22-2016, 03:39 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lake_Mich_Scamp View Post
I've read various things online about towing a scamp with a honda element. The element is rated for 1500/150. I'm sure my scamp weighs 1500+ and the tongue weight is 209.

I have read:
Take out of overdrive
Take out of overdrive when going under 45mph
Never go over 60mph
never go over 3500 RPM
never go under 3500 rpm

I'm confused! I know my element can barely tow my scamp. Does anyone know what is accurate from the above?

Can I just drive (in overdrive) up to a safe feeling speed (65mph) and be fine?
Always turn off the overdrive when pulling heavy loads. As you are pulling the maximum weight recommended the answer to use it or not to use it becomes pretty obvious.
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Old 07-22-2016, 04:33 PM   #4
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You don't say which Scamp you have nor do you know for sure what your trailer weighs but Fred's trailer weights in the real world thread says the average 13 footer weighs about 1700 pounds. I, for one, don't wish to say anything that you could construe as endorsing your towing over your vehicle's limit.


But that's just me. I don't know you, your history/experience towing, the condition of your tow vehicle, your tolerance for risk, if you're travelling with someone who accepts your level of risk, etc. Mostly I think people describe what works for them.
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Old 07-23-2016, 08:27 AM   #5
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So I think what I'm hearing is:

Take out of overdrive YES
Take out of overdrive when going under 45mph YES
Never go over 60mph YES
never go over 3500 RPM NO
never go under 3500 rpm NO

Other opinions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
So here's some more online advice to further muddy the waters…

Read your owner's manual for use of overdrive when towing. It'll probably tell you to tow with OD off all the time, but check to be sure.

Keeping maximum speeds between 55-60 is good conservative advice. The sky won't fall if you're a little over, but you're asking your Element to do a lot. Air resistance increases as the square of speed, so twice as fast means four times the wind drag. In addition, the faster you go, the more vulnerable you are to fishtailing and loss of control, the more time it takes to stop. And so on...

Keep RPMs up when climbing (and descending) hills. 3500-4500 RPMs is no sweat for a Honda four-banger (we've owned two CR-Vs), but not for too long or in extreme temperatures. The transmission is the weak link. An external ATF cooler would help.

Do you have working trailer brakes and a brake controller?

But you really need to start planning now to upgrade your tow vehicle. Towing with a marginal or under-rated vehicle makes it that much more stressful (which isn't why you have a camper!) and exposes you to liability if something were to go wrong resulting in injury or property damage.

I learned that lesson the hard way. My first tow vehicle was rated for 2000 pounds and my Scamp was less than that. On our very first trip I overheated the transmission climbing a long grade in triple-digit temperatures against a stiff headwind. Thankfully, electronic sensors caught the overheating condition and sent the vehicle into limp mode before catastrophic damage occurred. But waiting on the side of a busy interstate in scorching heat with no AC while things cooled down was not fun! Lesson learned. We have a 3500/350 rated Pilot now.
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Old 07-24-2016, 07:35 AM   #6
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Our 2011 Honda CRV has a D3 button on the shift lever.

That is what we usually use for towing.
It locks out the top gear(s) and usually has the engine turning about 3500 RPMs @ 60 mph.
Although the engine sounds a bit fast, that RPM gives better torque for towing. 😊

Ray


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Old 07-24-2016, 08:04 AM   #7
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And shift the tongue weight by adding heavier things behind the axle. If water is in front of the axle travel with it empty (otherwise dry weight is more).
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Old 07-26-2016, 08:24 AM   #8
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I have a 2005 Element. I just bought a 1981 13' Scamp this last weekend. Bringing it home was a 3 hr trip through some really hilly terrain in 90+ degree heat. Towed like a champ. I didn't do anything special (I don't know how to turn off the OD). I maybe had to go over 4000 RPM 3 times to get up hills. I kept it around 65mph, topping hills around 60mph. That was my experience anyway. Oh and my temp gauge on Element stayed pegged just below midway. Never showed signs of getting hot That was my experience anyway. Thanks
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Old 07-26-2016, 08:46 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jzaman1 View Post
I have a 2005 Element. I just bought a 1981 13' Scamp this last weekend. Bringing it home was a 3 hr trip through some really hilly terrain in 90+ degree heat. Towed like a champ. I didn't do anything special (I don't know how to turn off the OD). I maybe had to go over 4000 RPM 3 times to get up hills. I kept it around 65mph, topping hills around 60mph. That was my experience anyway. Oh and my temp gauge on Element stayed pegged just below midway. Never showed signs of getting hot That was my experience anyway. Thanks
Your temperature gauge measures engine coolant temperature. Transmission fluid temperature is more likely to give problems. I described a transmission overheating incident in an earlier post that left me sitting on the side of the freeway. The engine temperature gauge never moved.

I recommend reading everything your owner's manual says about towing. It will tell you how to turn off overdrive. Our 2006 CR-V (same engine and transmission, but different shifter set-up) has a button on the shift lever.

I also recommend checking your transmission fluid more frequently when towing. In addition to the level, look for a change in color to a brownish shade, which indicates overheating. If you tow more than just occasional, short trips, you should service the transmission according to the severe use schedule.

Do you have working trailer brakes on your set-up?

I'm guessing the trailer was pretty much empty when you pulled it home, so it was likely well within the tow rating of your Element. It would't be a bad idea to weigh it at a commercial scale and get the tongue weight with a bathroom scale. That may influence how you load the trailer for camping.

Congratulations on the new trailer, and safe travels!
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Old 07-26-2016, 09:14 AM   #10
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Good advice, Thx.
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Old 07-26-2016, 09:44 AM   #11
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Jim, if you plan to do much towing with this vehicle, you may want to add an external transmission fluid cooler.

I was towing with a 2000 Toyota Sienna when I overheated the transmission, rated for 3500 with a factory tow package and 2000 without. Mine did not have the tow package, and my local Toyota dealer talked me out of adding an auxiliary ATF cooler, since my Scamp is under 2000 pounds loaded. I should have gotten a second opinion on that one.

Weight is not the only issue when towing; frontal area makes a difference as well. When Honda slapped a 1500 pound tow rating on the CR-V and Element, they were probably thinking of a small cargo trailer, a fishing boat, or a couple of jet skis, maybe a small tent trailer. By comparison, a Scamp catches a lot of air.

An ATF cooler is a relatively inexpensive way to protect a very expensive component.
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