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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 2020 Black Edition AWD is advertised capable to tow 5,000 lbs. I had a tow hitch installed when I bought vehicle and was also given wiring. (At the time planned to just use it for a bike rack). Still need the ball, pins, etc. I want a small camp trailer, dry weight around 3,300 lbs.

Friends (and the dealership) recommend installing a transmission cooler and a brake for the camp trailer. Dealer quoted $670 for cooler. (I didn’t ask about the brake.) What are your thoughts? Do I need cooler and brake?

I’m a bit aggravated because I feel like it is misleading of Honda to offer a vehicle that can tow 5,000 lbs...but not add the fact that there are $1,500+ add ons in order to do so. Am I missing something?
 

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If you are going to tow, then you DO want the cooler. Brake controller you might need to check with your states DOT requirements for trailer weight.. I would install it, they are not that expensive.
 

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Trailers heavier than 1500 lbs should have a brake system. A camper with dry weight of 3300 should have electric brakes already installed by the manufacturer. To safely activate the brakes as you tow, you need a brake controller that is connected to the Pilot's braking circuit. This is not that difficult, but it does need to be set up properly. Yes, you absolutely do need a brake controller!

Honda rates your AWD Pilot for 3500 lbs. without the transmission cooler, and 5000 lbs with a cooler. I would encourage you to get the cooler, for better transmission life.
 

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Agreed with the two previous posters. For the $50k I just spent on my Black Edition I sure as heck put on a $650 Tranny cooler. Transmissions, esp. the 9 speeds in our pilots are not cheap to replace. Also, most states require a brake controller towing anything over ~3000lbs. They’re not too expensive ~$100 - $250 depending how fancy of one you wanna get.
 

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I encourage you to consider adding a weight distribution hitch as well. I know that this is all a bit overwhelming, all these unexpected things that towing requires. You can get by without a WDH, but it makes the drive with a trailer much more stable.

We pull an r-pod 178 behind our 2018 EX-L. It's about 3000 lbs with tanks empty. We use a Fastway e2 hitch to control the bounce and sway that would otherwise make for a very unpleasant drive. You don't necessarily need a WDH. Try a short trip and see how your Pilot handles with the trailer. The Fastway is about $500, and I feel that it's worth the investment, if you are planning on camping trips.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Why would you put something extra on if the vehicle is already capable of towing up to 5,000 lbs as is?

Agreed with the two previous posters. For the $50k I just spent on my Black Edition I sure as heck put on a $650 Tranny cooler. Transmissions, esp. the 9 speeds in our pilots are not cheap to replace. Also, most states require a brake controller towing anything over ~3000lbs. They’re not too expensive ~$100 - $250 depending how fancy of one you wanna get.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
WDH: (y)

I encourage you to consider adding a weight distribution hitch as well. I know that this is all a bit overwhelming, all these unexpected things that towing requires. You can get by without a WDH, but it makes the drive with a trailer much more stable.

We pull an r-pod 178 behind our 2018 EX-L. It's about 3000 lbs with tanks empty. We use a Fastway e2 hitch to control the bounce and sway that would otherwise make for a very unpleasant drive. You don't necessarily need a WDH. Try a short trip and see how your Pilot handles with the trailer. The Fastway is about $500, and I feel that it's worth the investment, if you are planning on camping trips.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Nowhere have I read that the Black Edition can only tow 3,500 w/o and 5,000 with cooler. Sorry—Definitely not trying to be argumentative. Just trying to understand why I have to get one if I tow well under 5,000.


Trailers heavier than 1500 lbs should have a brake system. A camper with dry weight of 3300 should have electric brakes already installed by the manufacturer. To safely activate the brakes as you tow, you need a brake controller that is connected to the Pilot's braking circuit. This is not that difficult, but it does need to be set up properly. Yes, you absolutely do need a brake controller!

Honda rates your AWD Pilot for 3500 lbs. without the transmission cooler, and 5000 lbs with a cooler. I would encourage you to get the cooler, for better transmission life.
 

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Agreed with the two previous posters. For the $50k I just spent on my Black Edition I sure as heck put on a $650 Tranny cooler. Transmissions, esp. the 9 speeds in our pilots are not cheap to replaces. Also, most states require a brake controller towing anything over ~3000
Why would you put something extra on if the vehicle is already capable of towing up to 5,000 lbs as is?
So you can safely tow up to 5,000 lbs only with the ATF Cooler. The manual (screen capture below) specifies max towing capacity WITHOUT the cooler is 3,500lbs and only WITH the cooler is the maximum towing capacity 5,000lb. As you can see also, this number quickly goes down based on number of passengers and luggage.
As for why you would be wise to get one (even if your towing less than 5,000lbs), is that towing puts increased the demand and work on the tranny with this thus causing the tranny fluid temp to rise thus becoming less protective of the inner workings of the transmission. So, putting the cooler keeps the fluid running at a lower temp, and therefore better over all. Do you NEED a cooler for towing under 3,500lbs, no....but for what you spent on the car $650 +/- would be cheap protection, especially if you plan to tow consistently. Hope this helps out.
140477
 

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Also, If you bought your Pilot within the past 6 months you can order, for free, the COMPLETE Owner’s Manual which will do a deeper dive into the details of towing (setting up the hitch etc,) with your Pilot than the “Quick Reference” manual. The complete Manual is about 2” thick and should greatly help you with towing (not that we won’t! :) ).
 

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Nowhere have I read that the Black Edition can only tow 3,500 w/o and 5,000 with cooler. Sorry—Definitely not trying to be argumentative. Just trying to understand why I have to get one if I tow well under 5,000.
The 3500 no cooler/5000 with cooler tow rating for AWD Honda Pilots has been standard for several years. I confess that I assumed this rating to still be applicable to your Pilot. Your owners manual would be the place to verify this.
I suggest that you verify what is installed on your Black Edition. IDK, perhaps an auxiliary transmission cooler is already part of the package with that trim level.

And I still suggest that an auxiliary cooler should be part of your towing equipment for your 3300 lb trailer. Towing puts a heavy load on your vehicle's power train. Heat degrades the ATF, and leads to early transmission failure.

Excess heat will harden the o-ring seals that keep all the hydraulic valves and actuators in the transmission operating. The heat makes the hydraulic system age prematurely. Neglect and heat are what kills automatic transmissions. The auxiliary cooler makes a difference.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you!! This is great. Helps me understand.

The 3500 no cooler/5000 with cooler tow rating for AWD Honda Pilots has been standard for several years. I confess that I assumed this rating to still be applicable to your Pilot. Your owners manual would be the place to verify this.
I suggest that you verify what is installed on your Black Edition. IDK, perhaps an auxiliary transmission cooler is already part of the package with that trim level.

And I still suggest that an auxiliary cooler should be part of your towing equipment for your 3300 lb trailer. Towing puts a heavy load on your vehicle's power train. Heat degrades the ATF, and leads to early transmission failure.

Excess heat will harden the o-ring seals that keep all the hydraulic valves and actuators in the transmission operating. The heat makes the hydraulic system age prematurely. Neglect and heat are what kills automatic transmissions. The auxiliary cooler makes a difference.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Ah! I found that part in my manual! Thank you for your help. The problem is Honda is not up front/clear about the necessity to put an ATF on in order to tow the maximum weight. At least with all the material I read.

It’s like telling people I can fly. But I just need an airplane.

Thanks again for the confirmation in print that I can verify.


Agreed with the two previous posters. For the $50k I just spent on my Black Edition I sure as heck put on a $650 Tranny cooler. Transmissions, esp. the 9 speeds in our pilots are not cheap to replaces. Also, most states require a brake controller towing anything over ~3000

So you can safely tow up to 5,000 lbs only with the ATF Cooler. The manual (screen capture below) specifies max towing capacity WITHOUT the cooler is 3,500lbs and only WITH the cooler is the maximum towing capacity 5,000lb. As you can see also, this number quickly goes down based on number of passengers and luggage.
As for why you would be wise to get one (even if your towing less than 5,000lbs), is that towing puts increased the demand and work on the tranny with this thus causing the tranny fluid temp to rise thus becoming less protective of the inner workings of the transmission. So, putting the cooler keeps the fluid running at a lower temp, and therefore better over all. Do you NEED a cooler for towing under 3,500lbs, no....but for what you spent on the car $650 +/- would be cheap protection, especially if you plan to tow consistently. Hope this helps out.
View attachment 140477
 

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Ah! I found that part in my manual! Thank you for your help. The problem is Honda is not up front/clear about the necessity to put an ATF on in order to tow the maximum weight. At least with all the material I read.

It’s like telling people I can fly. But I just need an airplane.

Thanks again for the confirmation in print that I can verify.
Sweet, glad you found it...definitely read through it, less possible headaches later. It definitely is frustrating and frankly would take nothing for them to instal the cooler right at the factory....like other manufacturers do. Best of luck, enjoy the car.

‘Oh btw, you may want to review in the manual the maintenance section for special requirements if you tow....ie. Rear Differential fluid, etc...
 
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