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I've had my 2004 Honda Pilot for about three years. Drove it cross-country and back loaded but not towing. I've also towed a cargo trailer with light camping gear. Now I'm thinking of getting a Scamp or Casita 17' trailer. It looks like I'll meet the weight specifications, but I've heard some people say that Pilots just don't make good towing vehicles, that the transmissions will go out, even with the cooler for the transmission fluid. With the fiberglass trailer, I would expect to make trips of several hundred miles and include mountain driving (I live in western Oregon and would travel across the Cascades, into the Sierras, possibly the Rockies).

What's the wisdom out there? Would I be expecting too much of my Pilot? Risk burning out the transmission?
 

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I bet it would suck. I pull a 4 wheeler on occasion on virtually flat land and it lets me know its back there. gas mileage would be in the single digits probably. i mean, you can but you probably shouldnt if you want it to last.
 

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Would I tow a 2000 trailer plus probably 700lbs of stuff in it including fluids with my 2005 Plus all the gear and people inside the car....would I worry? A friend with a 2005 with a poor maintenance habit just about killed the transmission when he towed a car 60 miles. I've been far better really a bit over the top when transmission services are needed.

One problem could stop you in your tracks. The factory fitted tow hitch threads are probably rusted out after 14 years. Trying to chase them out now might just cause them to get lose.
I have a hitch on my 05 but one look at the rust on the hitch and subframe tells me it's time as a tow vehicle is pretty much done. I'm in New England and have over 244k on it. Your experience may vary.
You could do fine. But be prepared with a plan B.
 

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I have 98 Dodge Durango as a spare car and for towing. I wanted to switch to awd Pilot but changed my mind. I can repair transmissions but hate doing it. I'll buy 05-08 Durango, they go cheap, I rebuilt transmission in my Durango about 5 years ago and it was working fine for towing. 03-05 Pilot transmissions die all the time w/o any towing!!!
 

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03-05 Pilot transmissions die all the time w/o any towing!!!
This is the key bit of information.



BTW, I tow with an 09, but only about 1500 lbs + wife, 3 kids 9-13yrs., & gear in the cargo area. I monitored my ATF temps going up a 10-mile 6.25% grade and topped out above my comfort level (about 132 deg) even with the stock ATF cooler that comes on the 09's. I'll be putting on a bigger ATF cooler for sure.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
These are helpful comments!

As my wife said, if several people with 03-05 Pilots attested to regular towing at maximum capacity with no trouble, we would be in a solid position to consider this possibility. But with the various warnings and no evidence that others regularly do such towing, it's probably ill advised.

But if anyone else has further information, pro or con, I'm happy to receive it.
 

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I have to agree with car5car on this one ! .. There's a reason why i keep my tahoe around just for towing :) I must have rebuilt that tranny with that crap of a 4L60E so many times BUT its cheap to do..
These days its cheaper just to go to the bone yard and pluck one out . We have sewing machine transmissions for the pilots
 

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I have a 2005 Pilot that I tow with maybe 6 times a year and about 300 miles each round trip for the last 9 years. I tow a 3500lb Airstream with a weight distribution hitch. I do go overboard with fluid changes as I get it done once a year whether it needs it or not. I also use a larger aftermarket trans cooler. We don't have mountains here like maybe you do, but we have some pretty decent hills in the Ozarks. Hope this helps.

Sent from my SM-N910V using Tapatalk
 

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I will make my comments here.....but I will not call them Pro or Con.....

I did a lot of towing with my Pilot over it's 221,000 miles.....small trailers.....medium trailers.....tow dollys with various cars and trucks on it.....several motorcycles also.....(as you can see in my signature).....

I towed probably an average of two days a week.....over the last 12+ years that I have had my Pilot.....

I have 2 extra large aftermarket transmission and power steering coolers on my Pilot since the month that I bought it.....

My Pilot has the original engine and transmission in it.....I use "Royal Purple" engine oil and transmission fluid.....

I don't have a lot of mountain travel.....but I do have a lot of hills and a lot of heavy traffic in my area.....

I never felt like I could not control what I was towing.....

When towing vehicles of equal or larger size.....you definitely know that it is back there.....but I never had a problem getting from point "A" to point "B" safely.....
 

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These comments are helpful to me as well. Thanks all!


PabloSammich & Getfurious, I would love to know what make/mode/size of aftermarket tranny cooler you have put on. Also, I am quite puzzled why a larger PS fluid cooler might be required for towing. How does towing impact the load on the PS pump?


Thank you!
 

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these comments are helpful to me as well. Thanks all!


Pablosammich & getfurious, i would love to know what make/mode/size of aftermarket tranny cooler you have put on. Also, i am quite puzzled why a larger ps fluid cooler might be required for towing. How does towing impact the load on the ps pump?


Thank you!
It has been such a long time ago.....that I don't remember what brand coolers that I used.....but I will see if I can find my old photos and maybe the box will be in the background.....I used aftermarket coolers because I wanted coolers that were bigger than Honda's stock coolers.....

As for the power steering cooler.....Honda requires the power steering cooler when installing the trailer hitch in order to maintain the warranty.....in my opinion.....keeping the power steering fluid cool is important while towing.....you are puting more weight on the steering system.....thus.....it is working harder.....cool fluid keeps the rack and pinion cool and working properly.....

If you look at most large Pickup Trucks and S.U.V.s you will see that most of them have power steering coolers.....it is just not talked about as much as transmission coolers when discussing towing.....
 

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I tow our pop-up camper with two kids and wife for trips often and never have a problem. No issues driving over passes as 10'000+ ft. I did install a secondary trans fluid cooler as a precaution but never had a problem. I think it works fine as a tow vehicle.
 
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