Towing accessories question - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-12-2016, 09:45 AM   #1
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Name: Sue
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Towing accessories question

I am a few years out from getting an RV. I am anticipating buying a 13' fiberglass RV. I need to get a new car now. I have decided on the Honda Pilot LX 2016 4WD 3.5 V6. It does not come with a factory installed towing package. It has to be installed at the dealership. They have a tow package that if you put it on when you buy the car, it has a 3 year warrantee. I am trying to decide if I should put everything on at that time or just the basics and add what is needed when I actually do have an RV. I will not be able to do any RVing prior to retirement in 2 years so that would only give me one year of use under the 3 year warrantee if I do the whole thing when I buy the car. They are recommending the following in the tow package:

Trailer Hitch (5,000b) 6 speed AWD -$925.00
Trailer Hitch Harness - $291.00
Trailer Hitch Receiver - $40.00

There was also a trailer hitch Locking Pin -$35.00

Any thoughts on the information they gave me? Appreciate any feedback!
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Old 03-12-2016, 10:05 AM   #2
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You don't mention the required transmission and power steering cooler. IMHO if the towing package isn't FACTORY installed, then you are better off at a well regarded hitch specialist. I paid $600 for a full package at Uhaul, fully installed, and a lifetime warranty. It could void your new car warranty though. Mine is a 2008 Pilot.
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Old 03-12-2016, 10:06 AM   #3
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Way overpriced, as are most dealer installed items. You can do far better at etrailer.com and any rv shop could do the install. Most parts/installs come with a warranty, but the risk of failure is really low.

Etrailer has very good prices on the other items. You should also plan for a brake controller. I'd wait until closer to trailer time to outfit the tow - what if it get totaled between now and then?

A hitch rated the same for $170:

2016 Honda Pilot Trailer Hitch - Hidden Hitch

It's a bolt on, so you're not going to spend the difference on labor to install.
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Old 03-12-2016, 10:43 AM   #4
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Name: Sue
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towing accessories

Good point in both replies. I pretty much figured that the price was way over what I could get somewhere else. I had not thought about anything happening to the car, prior to being able to tow or for that matter something happening to me! Good point there. I will check on the car warrantee issue and whether it would void the general warrantee for the car, if I put on the towing stuff several years down the line. I know we did talk about the transmission and power steering cooler but can't remember what was said. I know I talked with them about wanted that in the tow package as well. Would it be better to at least have them install the transmission and power steering cooler prior to driving it off the lot and leaving the rest of later or can the transmission and power steering cooler be added later as well? Appreciate all information!
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Old 03-12-2016, 10:45 AM   #5
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I agree to wait on the install. Only reason I would get set up now is that if you plan to buy a used RV, there is some need to be able to jump on the right one when it comes up, even if you can't start using for another year. You need to at least have a hitch and hitch wiring to get it home.

But if you're buying new, I would wait until you're ready before doing anything to your tow vehicle. You might even decide you want a different vehicle by then.

I would also absolutely not have the dealership install their package. I would work with a trailer shop. I did all my own work but not everyone has the desire or current skills to do that.

Installing a hitch is pretty simple. The wiring is actually pretty simple. Probably the most complicated thing is the brake controller and even that is pretty simple, but any auto shop could do it for just a couple hours labor.

Do these quotes include labor? My "trailer hitch harness" cost under $50...And took me 1/2 hour to install.
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Old 03-12-2016, 11:46 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bookernoe View Post
You don't mention the required transmission and power steering cooler. IMHO if the towing package isn't FACTORY installed, then you are better off at a well regarded hitch specialist. I paid $600 for a full package at Uhaul, fully installed, and a lifetime warranty. It could void your new car warranty though. Mine is a 2008 Pilot.
Excellent point. I read the 2016 owner's manual and don't recall anything about a power steering cooler (could be wrong, though), but I do recall that a transmission cooler is required (with AWD) to get the full 5000# rating. Otherwise, it's 3500# across the line.

BTW, don't trust what salespeople tell you about towing (or anyone else at the dealer, for that matter). You can download the complete 2016 Honda Pilot Owner's Manual and read everything about towing. It's very thorough.

I believe the transmission cooler is added by the dealer, not the factory, but if installed by the dealer at the time of purchase it is covered by the new car warranty.

Going aftermarket for the hitch and wiring will not void your warranty, but neither will it be covered by your warranty. I am wondering if the current Pilot already has the trailer wiring and brake controller port and the $291 is just for the connector at the bumper. That's how the 2009-2015 models were set up. I had the dealer throw in the overpriced connector as a last minute deal sweetener on our certified used 2011 LX 2WD.

I'd be inclined to let Honda install the transmission cooler but go aftermarket for the rest. U-Haul did good work on a previous vehicle, but for my Pilot there was nothing to be done. That was one nice thing about the oft-maligned second generation Pilots: hitch, transmission cooler, and most of the wiring were standard on all models and trims.
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Old 03-12-2016, 12:00 PM   #7
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I really question the need for a power steering cooler to tow a 13 or even a 16' trailer, but would definitely install a transmission cooler. Nothing should ever go wrong with a trailer hitch set-up, so don't worry about the warranty, and do have U-haul or some other reputable shop do the install of the hitch. Having it there to be able to pick up a good deal on a trailer is wise. Prodigy makes a wireless brake controller, so that is something that you could install yourself. Best of luck.
Dave & Paula
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Old 03-12-2016, 12:10 PM   #8
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I wouldn't tow anything without a transmission cooler, or at least a temperature gauge. I still don't understand the requirement for a power steering cooler on the earlier Pilots. The reality is a transmission cooler extends the life of any transmission towing or not. Most cars have a small one these days in towing packages usually put in a larger one. I like the advice to wait a while. U-Haul is not going anywhere and they handled my install professionally with one minor screw up that they quickly made good on. It is also good advice you could have hitch and wiring done now and the coolers later. There was no package discount at U-Haul but everything was very reasonably priced. FYI I did not get a power steering cooler because Uhaul doesn't offer it.
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Old 03-13-2016, 08:34 AM   #9
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Great advice from everyone. thanks to all of your advice I will hold off on the tow package for now but will check on the transmission cooler issue. By the way, you guys ROCK!
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Old 03-13-2016, 02:14 PM   #10
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The dealer price is a rip-off. Just before you buy your trailer and have confirmed that the Honda will handle the real weight...Note: Real weight is the total weight of the trailer fully loaded with water, propane, all cargo etc PLUS the weight of all passengers and cargo placed in the tow vehicle!!

My advise is to consider something that the manufacturer rates at 5,000 pound towing and not 3,500. That will give you an excellent safety margin.
An excellent alternative to the Honda Pilot would be the reliable Toyota Highlander V6 all wheel drive that is rated to tow 5,000lbs. Another is the Toyota 4 Runner also 5,000 lbs. an even larger choice in a 4X4 SUV is the Toyota Sequoia rated at thousands more than 5,000+++(but that is overkill for a small trailer). Toyota also offers certified Used vehicles with 100,000 mile extended factory warranties at significant savings over new!

Note: If adding a tow package to any vehicle do not use dealer service but go to someone who specializes in the product or products....use a quality transmission shop for the transmission cooler...a trailer speciality dealer for the hitch and brake controller. RV dealerships specialize in this work and will match the product to the trailer including sway control if you need it. They will give you complete instructions on hooking and disconnecting your trailer including leveling and all required connections. That is the real pitfall to buying direct from the manufacturer...dealers preform valuable services that can save your life.
IMHO a good dealer is worth his weight in gold to a Newbee.

Happy Safe Towing and Camping!!!
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Old 03-13-2016, 02:29 PM   #11
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A whole lot cheeper at Trailer Hitches & Vehicle Accessories (800)298-8924

My hitch was made to bolt right on and I did it all by myself.
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Old 03-13-2016, 02:46 PM   #12
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I would, and I did, buy my new 2008 Toyota RAV4 V6 with the factory tow package, which included transmission oil cooler, larger alternator and radiator. It did not include the hitch receiver or wiring for the brake controller.
I didn't want the factory hitch as it was only Class 2 so the dealer brought in an installer who did the hitch receiver ( Hidden Hitch, Class 3 for weight distribution ) and brake controller ( Prodigy 2 ) for $650. The Toyota factory hitch alone was going to cost almost $1,000 so I got better for less.

My recommendation is to get the factory tow package ( cooler etc. ), and get the hitch itself and wiring done by U-Haul or some other hitch shop.
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Old 03-13-2016, 05:12 PM   #13
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A Honda Pilot is plenty of tow vehicle for a 13 foot trailer. We have towed with a Honda Odyssey and Honda CRV, in our case mostly a Scamp 16. The Odyssey has the same V6 engine and transmission as the Pilot.

We had the Honda Transmission cooler, harness and hitch installed by the Honda dealer. They did not charge us the list price, they have plenty of margin in option pricing. With the CRV we used after market equipment. I's all worked fine without any failures.

I keep reading mention of a power steering cooler. To my knowledge it's not necessary. In over 100,000 miles of towing we've never had a power steering issue towing.

I don't lose any sleep over warranty. With over 10 Hondas I've never had any issues during the warranty and never a driveline issue.
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Old 03-14-2016, 09:54 AM   #14
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Towing accessories question

Quote:
Originally Posted by honda03842 View Post
...I keep reading mention of a power steering cooler. To my knowledge it's not necessary. In over 100,000 miles of towing we've never had a power steering issue towing...
I'm thinking the best way to protect your power steering is to learn to back up your trailer smoothly with minimal steering corrections. Repeated hard left-hard right maneuvers are not good for your power steering pump.

Is there any other reason for added demand on the power steering system when towing?

In any case, it is a non-issue on the Pilot. Honda does not offer or require it.
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