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#4485415 - 08/11/17 07:54 AM Questions on Camper towing and weight
carguy996 Offline


Registered: 10/26/06
Posts: 261
Loc: Illinois
I am new to towing anything larger than my Harbor Freight 4x8 trailer. We recently purchased a 10 foot pop up camper. I use the Honda Odyssey as a tow vehicle. The Honda has the Honda OEM Class 2 hitch and ATF cooler installed by the Honda dealer, the claimed rating is 3500lbs (3350 with 3 passengers per the owners manual) for towing. The Camper is a 2004, very well maintained and purchased from the original owner, has a 250lb tongue weight with Load Range E 12" radial tires and freshly packed bearings. We took it out and it absolutely felt like an anchor behind my van.

Last weekend we were at a farm of a family member they had a scale, my van with my family in it, half tank of fuel (approx. 10.5 gal) and suitcases was 4950lbs. A couple days later I decided to hook up the camper and go to a truck stop to get a weight on the CAT scale. My numbers are as follows:

Front axle - 2500lbs (2610 max GAWR according to the door label)
Rear axle - 2540lbs (3010 max GAWR)
Trailer axle - 1584lbs (3500 max tow capacity)

Total weight - 6624lbs

When I weighed the van with the camper, the van had a little over half tank of gas, no luggage, empty 5 gallon fresh water tank in the camper and it was just me and my Son in the van. The camper does have stuff like sleeping bags and such in it so it wasn't completely empty. I figure by the time I add water, full tank of fuel, food and gear, probably looking another 200-300lbs max.

I'm looking at the numbers and everything is well within manufacturer limits, I feel like the van should be able to pull the camper with ease but instead it feel like its straining to pull it. I realize my first problem is the fact I'm using a minivan, but I bought the van before we had any intention on getting a camper. Id rather just make this rig work versus spending 50 grand on larger SUV to pull it. Am I doing something wrong here? I've seen Odysseys like mine pulling stuff so I know they can do it. Any thoughts/advice would be greatly appreciated.
_________________________
2018 Nissan Rogue Platinum AWD w/ ProPilot
2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite 3.5
2013 Chrysler 200 Convertible 3.6

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#4485428 - 08/11/17 08:12 AM Re: Questions on Camper towing and weight [Re: carguy996]
ls1mike Offline


Registered: 06/14/08
Posts: 5177
Loc: In the Garage...
What is struggling, as it is all relative. It is going to work harder. Do you mean on hills? Not holding overdrive? Sway?

My 3/4 truck and trailer weighs 14500ish fully loaded for 5 days of camping. I am usually about 1500 to 2000 lbs under what GCVWR is listed as.

On the bigger hills and long grades I let the engine settle out at 4000-4200 rpm which is usually good enough to maintain the speed limit.

You have to be more specific. Also you have to remember you added almost 2000lbs to what is probably a vehicle with gearing setup for gas mileage and not

towing.
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#4485434 - 08/11/17 08:18 AM Re: Questions on Camper towing and weight [Re: ls1mike]
carguy996 Offline


Registered: 10/26/06
Posts: 261
Loc: Illinois
Originally Posted By: ls1mike
What is struggling, as it is all relative. It is going to work harder. Do you mean on hills? Not holding overdrive? Sway?

My 3/4 truck and trailer weighs 14500ish fully loaded for 5 days of camping. I am usually about 1500 to 2000 lbs under what GCVWR is listed as.

On the bigger hills and long grades I let the engine settle out at 4000-4200 rpm which is usually good enough to maintain the speed limit.

You have to be more specific. Also you have to remember you added almost 2000lbs to what is probably a vehicle with gearing setup for gas mileage and not

towing.


It struggles hard to maintain anything over 65, kept shifting in and out of 6th gear. The owners manual says NOT to run it in D4 when towing loads on the highway. Also I was getting a fair amount of sway and the rear sags a lot. I was hoping that perhaps the Monroe Load Leveler shocks would be available for my van but they aren't. The only thing I saw was the Sumospring coil inserts but that doesn't look wise to me since the van has variable rate springs and I don't want to mess around with the spring rate.
_________________________
2018 Nissan Rogue Platinum AWD w/ ProPilot
2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite 3.5
2013 Chrysler 200 Convertible 3.6

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#4485442 - 08/11/17 08:23 AM Re: Questions on Camper towing and weight [Re: carguy996]
skyactiv Offline


Registered: 03/02/13
Posts: 4511
Loc: The Midwest
The Odyssey doesn't have a final drive ratio intended for towing. The ratio is what it is to achieve whatever the EPA fuel economy numbers are.
I bet that engine being a naturally aspirated Honda has it's peak torque at a more lofty RPM which isn't ideal for towing.
You added nearly 1700 pounds of weight for your engine to move plus the rolling and added wind resistance that goes along with towing.


Your gonna feel it.


Me? I'd live with it. It's not worth spending 10K's of thousands on something actually meant for towing for your
little pop up camper. Everyone I've know/known with a pop up camper gets tired of them after a few years anyways.


Edited by skyactiv (08/11/17 08:26 AM)
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#4485443 - 08/11/17 08:24 AM Re: Questions on Camper towing and weight [Re: carguy996]
ls1mike Offline


Registered: 06/14/08
Posts: 5177
Loc: In the Garage...
1. Why are you going over 65? Most trailer tires are rated to 60-65mph. It is rare I go over 60 and my trailer tires are rated to 81 MPH. I only go faster if

I have to get over to let someone on the highway.

2. You are not going to maintain OD. It will shift in and out, not much you can do about that either. Unless you have diesel be prepared for that. Like I said

it is all relative. My truck will hold OD often and then there are times I am down in second to maintain the speed limit.

3. You should probably look into spending some money on a nice weight distribution hitch with say control.
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#4485445 - 08/11/17 08:25 AM Re: Questions on Camper towing and weight [Re: carguy996]
redhat Offline


Registered: 12/07/12
Posts: 1734
Loc: Anywhere, USA
Pull that gear selector down and let that J35 eat!

Run some higher RPM on the grades in a lower gear.
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#4485449 - 08/11/17 08:27 AM Re: Questions on Camper towing and weight [Re: ls1mike]
skyactiv Offline


Registered: 03/02/13
Posts: 4511
Loc: The Midwest
Originally Posted By: ls1mike




You should probably look into spending some money on a nice weight distribution hitch with say control.




For a pop up camper!


Edited by skyactiv (08/11/17 08:28 AM)
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#4485451 - 08/11/17 08:30 AM Re: Questions on Camper towing and weight [Re: ls1mike]
carguy996 Offline


Registered: 10/26/06
Posts: 261
Loc: Illinois
I keep it at 65 if I'm on the interstate, with the way people drive around here, its dangerous even driving 65! My tires are also rated to 81mph but I'm not chancing it! Stopping is the other issue since the Honda Odyssey uses the same brakes as the Acura TL sedan....I let the weight of the camper slow me down to minimize braking. It would be nice if Honda allowed manual gear selection like my old Grand Caravan. AutoStick was great for engine braking. I only have the option of Drive, D4 and L.

I appreciate the insight and advise!
_________________________
2018 Nissan Rogue Platinum AWD w/ ProPilot
2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite 3.5
2013 Chrysler 200 Convertible 3.6

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#4485455 - 08/11/17 08:34 AM Re: Questions on Camper towing and weight [Re: carguy996]
KrisZ Offline


Registered: 12/23/06
Posts: 7508
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Yes, you're going to feel it and that's normal. People in Europe tow campers with regular sedans that have 150hp on tap, your Odyssey is more than capable, you just have to be smart about it. Slow down and give yourself extra distance for braking. Also, slow way down for the turns and watch out for the cross wind.
These are the things that have to be kept in mind, even when using a pickup.

Edit:
Also, since your Odyssey come with independent rear suspension, to give the vehicle that raved about handling, be prepared to wear out the insides of your rear tires much sooner when loaded.

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#4485499 - 08/11/17 09:11 AM Re: Questions on Camper towing and weight [Re: carguy996]
meep Offline


Registered: 02/20/07
Posts: 3583
Loc: Southeast
Towing is a different animal, and doesn't require the testosterone that alot of folks fall victim to. Your setup doesn't sound that bad. to compare, my "7/8" fullsize tundra has a tow rating of 6900 lbs. We pull a 4000 lb loaded 19' camper and 65 is about the max comfortable on level ground, and 45-50 can happen on interstate climbs, and 25-30 in 2nd on steep mountain roads. I'm perfectly fine blending in with tractor trailers, as they generally have about the same climb and cruise habits. I can pass them on climbs if I want to, but in traffic I won't because I'll be in the left lane blocking faster traffic to do so, and it's usually not worth it unless the conditions are right.

You can't tow like you're driving a car.

The reason the odyssey sags is that the rear is coil-sprung. Minivans, SUVs and even pickups with coils in the rear give more than leaf springs. We had a pathfinder with a 5,000 lb (5500?) rating and it was a dog at 3,000, riding on the bump stops and yaw-unstable. Yet we then towed the same load with a minivan rated for 3500 and it was infinitely better - the miniv had a longer wheelbase and leaf springs in the rear.

A small weight-distributing hitch will weight the front of the van and roll some of it off the rear, but it may be hard to find one small enough for the camper. A steering stablilizer is wonderful on the interstate, and you can do that with or without the WDH. You could consider airbags inside your rear spring coils as an easy compensation. But frankly, unless your banging the bump stops, I wouldn't worry about it.

Don't tow in OD. Not just due to the shifting but also due to how the gearing generates internal heat in overdrive transmissions - the driven gear has a lot of work to do and the heat buildup and stress is high. Keep it out of OD.

And finally, don't get in a hurry. It's not the same as just driving 4 wheels. Yes, you will see those guys that "need" a 2500 to pull 5,000 lbs because they insist that 70mph uphill is a requirement to live, but some of that is just for love of getting a larger tow vehicle and not because it's needed or even safe. For us gearheads, it IS fun to think about bigger and better equipment, but it's not always for the stated reasons.

Enjoy the camper, watch your tire pressures, maintain the trailer bearings, and keep new brake fluid in the minivan every 2-3 years for stopping confidence. Camping has been a great for forming family memories!

m


Edited by meep (08/11/17 09:14 AM)
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#4485524 - 08/11/17 09:30 AM Re: Questions on Camper towing and weight [Re: carguy996]
Brons2 Offline


Registered: 09/16/03
Posts: 3052
Loc: Austin, Texas
Found this at:

http://forums.trailerlife.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/thread/tid/27331496/page/2.cfm

Quote:
I have been towing our 19' HTT (2,700 lbs dry weight "whatever that means") for 2 years now with a 2005 Odyssey EX-L.
Yup, I installed the hitch, 7 pin wiring harness, transmission cooler, steering cooler, weight distribution hitch, fresh transmission fluid every year and the van has been doing great!
We do live in Florida which is mostly flat lands and we never drive to campgrounds that are more than 3 hours away.
Yes, you will feel the wind resistance with the frontal area of the HTT and that's why we drive at no more than 55mph.
Our setup is totally maxed out with 3 bikes on top of the van and 5 children under 8.
I don't know if you were asking about the max tongue weight, but I believe it is 350lbs.


I think your van can do it, but don't expect to go 70. Put a sticker on the back of the trailer indicating the speed you drive at. I would recommend 60. I don't know anything about Illinois but down here in the South, large RVs are a fixture on the Interstate and they're usually going 60-65. People just go around.
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#4485531 - 08/11/17 09:41 AM Re: Questions on Camper towing and weight [Re: skyactiv]
ls1mike Offline


Registered: 06/14/08
Posts: 5177
Loc: In the Garage...
Originally Posted By: skyactiv
Originally Posted By: ls1mike




You should probably look into spending some money on a nice weight distribution hitch with say control.




For a pop up camper!


Yep. It will transfer some weight to the front. They work well and will address some of his complaints. I have seen Mini Vans with them before at campsites they make them. Worth the money.
_________________________
Mike
00 Trans Am WS6 5.7 LS1
02 Silverado 2500HD 6.0
14 Caprice PPV 6.0
15 Malibu LTZ Turbo
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#4485536 - 08/11/17 09:43 AM Re: Questions on Camper towing and weight [Re: carguy996]
BryanTDI12 Offline


Registered: 05/15/14
Posts: 28
Loc: Phoenix
Shift to D4 if the transmission shifts frequently. These Honda V6 loves to rev. My aunt's Honda Pilot towed a 4,000 lb boat with no issues once shifted to D3 (5 speed auto).

From page 406 of the Odyssey manual: "Shift to the position D4 if the transmission shifts frequently."


Edited by BryanTDI12 (08/11/17 09:44 AM)
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#4485542 - 08/11/17 09:56 AM Re: Questions on Camper towing and weight [Re: carguy996]
Todari09 Offline


Registered: 01/19/16
Posts: 29
Loc: Bothell, WA
Make sure to have your tire inflated properly when you tow.
I would use maximum allowed air pressure on your rear tire of your Odyssey.

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#4485552 - 08/11/17 10:03 AM Re: Questions on Camper towing and weight [Re: carguy996]
Traction Offline


Registered: 06/04/13
Posts: 999
Loc: iowa
If the trailer doesn't have brakes, that would be the first thing I would address. If you think it takes awhile to accelerate the extra mass, you will wish you had better braking in an emergency, and going downhill it will be even worse. Try a practice maximum brake run so you will now what to expect. I think without trailer brakes it would at least triple the distance to make a safe hard stop.
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