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Towing in automatic transmission? #5102085 05/10/19 09:37 PM
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maverickfhs Offline OP
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So I plan to tow a motorcycle with a motorcycle trailer, using my Honda Civic and weight of whole package would be ~1200 lbs.

I am planning to take local roads and will be driving slow, have to tow for a short distance too.

Question is, should I use 'D' gear or stick to 'D3' and user higher rpms?
Appreciate any help and advise thumbsup


2006 Civic EX 205K/AT
2006 Acura TSX 187K/AT
2007 Accord VP 151K/AT
Re: Towing in automatic transmission? [Re: maverickfhs] #5102094 05/10/19 09:43 PM
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Inspecktor Offline
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I would keep it out of overdrive. In addition to the weight, you will also have aerodynamic drag to deal with.


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Re: Towing in automatic transmission? [Re: Inspecktor] #5102097 05/10/19 09:45 PM
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maverickfhs Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Inspecktor
I would keep it out of overdrive. In addition to the weight, you will also have aerodynamic drag to deal with.

Don't think my car has an overdrive, does it mean I stick to 'D' ? Thanks


2006 Civic EX 205K/AT
2006 Acura TSX 187K/AT
2007 Accord VP 151K/AT
Re: Towing in automatic transmission? [Re: maverickfhs] #5102101 05/10/19 09:47 PM
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gathermewool Offline
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What distance will you being towing and at what speeds?


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Re: Towing in automatic transmission? [Re: maverickfhs] #5102102 05/10/19 09:48 PM
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maverickfhs Offline OP
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That's what manual states: This position is similar to D, except only the first three gears are selected. Use D3 when towing a trailer in hilly terrain,or to provide engine braking when going down a steep hill. D3 can also keep the transmission from cycling between third, fourth, and fifth gearsin stop-and-go driving.

Mostly 45-55 mph and less than ~35-40 miles


2006 Civic EX 205K/AT
2006 Acura TSX 187K/AT
2007 Accord VP 151K/AT
Re: Towing in automatic transmission? [Re: maverickfhs] #5102113 05/10/19 09:57 PM
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gathermewool Offline
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Seems like you have your answer.

Are your brakes up to the task? If you get into an accident, you will be found at fault, since your Civic is not rated to tow. Keep that in mind and be ULTRA conservative.


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Re: Towing in automatic transmission? [Re: maverickfhs] #5102131 05/10/19 10:18 PM
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joegreen Offline
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Once you are going and on a flat surface I would have no problem using D as long as the engine feels happy and you are not imputing to much throttle. Use D3 otherwise.

D is overdrive by the way

Last edited by joegreen; 05/10/19 10:19 PM.

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Re: Towing in automatic transmission? [Re: maverickfhs] #5102165 05/10/19 11:00 PM
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bunnspecial Offline
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Originally Posted by maverickfhs
Originally Posted by Inspecktor
I would keep it out of overdrive. In addition to the weight, you will also have aerodynamic drag to deal with.

Don't think my car has an overdrive, does it mean I stick to 'D' ? Thanks


"Overdrive" is any gear where the output shaft of the transmission is turning faster than the input shaft. Older transmissions sometimes had the overdrive unit separate from the main transmission(the factory-optional overdrive on my MG, which I don't have, is that way-the top standard gear is 1:1, and the O/D has an electrically operated cone clutch that can be engaged in top gear), but on modern transmissions-both auto and manual-the top gear is almost always an overdrive gear. I don't think it's unheard of-especially with some autos now having 8+ gears-to even have multiple overdrive gears.

In any case, every car auto box I've had has specified towing with O/D disabled, although the way it's labeled has changed over the years. On older Fords(and Lincolns) for example, the standard "D" position had a circle around it to designate overdrive, while there was a separate D position that disabled overdrive, or sometimes a instead a button on the end of the stalk(column shifter) or floor shifter to turn O/D off. I had a Nissan that was that way also. My dearly departed Lincoln LS had "D5" for normal driving and "D4" for O/D off.

In any case, though, I default to "read the manual and do what it says." Chances are it will also specify a maximum "safe" speed in D3/OD-off, and it's probably a good idea to follow that.


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Re: Towing in automatic transmission? [Re: maverickfhs] #5102166 05/10/19 11:01 PM
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Originally Posted by maverickfhs
That's what manual states: This position is similar to D, except only the first three gears are selected. Use D3 when towing a trailer in hilly terrain,or to provide engine braking when going down a steep hill. D3 can also keep the transmission from cycling between third, fourth, and fifth gearsin stop-and-go driving.

Mostly 45-55 mph and less than ~35-40 miles



"3". Also ease of the gas when it shifts, that will mitigate heat build up.


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Re: Towing in automatic transmission? [Re: maverickfhs] #5102170 05/10/19 11:07 PM
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mk378 Offline
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1200 pounds is a lot of weight to attach to a Civic. I don't know if you can find surge brakes on a trailer that small, but any help stopping would be good.

Re: Towing in automatic transmission? [Re: maverickfhs] #5102207 05/11/19 12:19 AM
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Silk Offline
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Not a nation of towers - you need a truck to pull a massive load like that. In NZ we pull bigger loads than that, with smaller cars than that, and we have lots of hills. Totally capable, don't sweat about it, our roads aren't littered with small cars that carried big loads.


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Re: Towing in automatic transmission? [Re: maverickfhs] #5102266 05/11/19 04:22 AM
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Linctex Offline
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Originally Posted by maverickfhs

Mostly 45-55 mph and less than ~35-40 miles


If you were driving cross country.... but 45-55 mph and less than ~35-40 miles? the RPM's really won't be too bad.

My Ninja 650 runs at 6,000 RPM alllll day long.


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Re: Towing in automatic transmission? [Re: maverickfhs] #5102290 05/11/19 06:16 AM
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eljefino Offline
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You're fine. Take it slow. You could manually shift back and forth between D and OD if you hit a true flat cruise.

Your RPMs at 45 MPH in D should be less than OD at 70.

Re: Towing in automatic transmission? [Re: maverickfhs] #5102318 05/11/19 07:14 AM
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atikovi Offline
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Originally Posted by maverickfhs
Question is, should I use 'D' gear or stick to 'D3' and user higher rpms?[/b] Appreciate any help and advise thumbsup


It's not called an automatic for no reason. Put it in drive and let the transmission pick the gear. If the engine feels labored, then drop it down one gear.

Re: Towing in automatic transmission? [Re: maverickfhs] #5102329 05/11/19 07:39 AM
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joekingcorvette Offline
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You didn't mention how many miles however if you are only going about 10 miles I would take it very easy and use drive. Those Civics are not really made to tow anything but themselves and the passengers. You could easily have 3 more people in the car at 200 lbs each which is 600 lbs therefore you are not overdoing it too much. I would take it super easy because that little Civic is not really made to tow anything.


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