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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,
We have a 2016 Ody (no tow package) and are thinking of buying a small teardrop trailer to tow.
Anybody have any experience with this?
The manual says towing capacity is 3,000 lbs.
We think we can keep everything under that, but should we get the Transmission Cooler installed just in case?
Would so appreciate anyone's input/experience/insight!
 

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First, the official word from Honda: Owners Manual for | 2016 Honda Odyssey | Honda Owners

See page 401 of the owners manual: 3500lbs max with two occupants, each weighing 150 lbs + 15lbs of cargo each. It reduces from there with more passengers / cargo in the van.

Definitely get a transmission cooler. The OEM hitch is the most hidden and gives the most clearance, but is more expensive and harder to install. You will also want a brake controller (and trailer brakes) for anything over 1500-2000lbs (legally required in most states above those levels).

Make sure the transmission fluid is changed regularly (more often thank the 30k drain/refill cycles the factory recommends).

How much towing experience do you have otherwise? All the normal towing recommendations also apply...

-Charlie

PS. Crazier things have been done:

 

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First, the official word from Honda: Owners Manual for | 2016 Honda Odyssey | Honda Owners

See page 401 of the owners manual: 3500lbs max with two occupants, each weighing 150 lbs + 15lbs of cargo each. It reduces from there with more passengers / cargo in the van.

Definitely get a transmission cooler. The OEM hitch is the most hidden and gives the most clearance, but is more expensive and harder to install. You will also want a brake controller (and trailer brakes) for anything over 1500-2000lbs (legally required in most states above those levels).

Make sure the transmission fluid is changed regularly (more often thank the 30k drain/refill cycles the factory recommends).

How much towing experience do you have otherwise? All the normal towing recommendations also apply...

-Charlie

PS. Crazier things have been done:

Lol love the picture, I have towed some sketchy things in my previous 2006 odyssey as I'm sure many have, without issue, but of course like mentioned stay within the limits set by manufacturer.
On my current 2012 I since installed an aftermarket transmission cooler, power steering cooler, and magnefine inline filters for both tranny and power steering as well, you can buy everything off amazon and install in a couple of hours easy, but I currently use my Ridgeline to tow though :p
 

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Discussion Starter #5
First, the official word from Honda: Owners Manual for | 2016 Honda Odyssey | Honda Owners

See page 401 of the owners manual: 3500lbs max with two occupants, each weighing 150 lbs + 15lbs of cargo each. It reduces from there with more passengers / cargo in the van.

Definitely get a transmission cooler. The OEM hitch is the most hidden and gives the most clearance, but is more expensive and harder to install. You will also want a brake controller (and trailer brakes) for anything over 1500-2000lbs (legally required in most states above those levels).

Make sure the transmission fluid is changed regularly (more often thank the 30k drain/refill cycles the factory recommends).

How much towing experience do you have otherwise? All the normal towing recommendations also apply...

-Charlie

PS. Crazier things have been done:

Thank you so much! And wow!! Amazing pic! You can really do that?!?! Is that a 2016 Ody? We're pretty sure we can stay under 3,000 (small teardrop trailer, just two passengers) but you still think we should get the Transmission Cooler anyway? Also, we are new to towing- no experience so far. The Honda Dealership will install the hitch and harness for $1155 and it would be an extra $561 for Transmission Cooler. You think it's worth it even for a small teardrop? My regular mechanic (not at dealership) seems leary of towing much of anything due to potential transmission issues with the Ody. He said he's install the hitch and harness for $865, but doesn't think we should try to tow anything that would require the transmission cooler...he recommends getting a different vehicle (which we don't want to do right now).... So I'm feeling kind of torn! You haven't had any issues?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Definitely add a transmission cooler. It does not have to be the OEM one. Tow capacity takes into account your cargo and passengers in the vehicle as well.
Thanks so much! Even if we plan to stay under 3,000, you think we should still get the transmission cooler? We're planning on just a small trailer (~1000 lbs) and we'd only have 2 people...and we'd be careful with cargo. Still worth getting it you think?
 

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Thanks so much! Even if we plan to stay under 3,000, you think we should still get the transmission cooler? We're planning on just a small trailer (~1000 lbs) and we'd only have 2 people...and we'd be careful with cargo. Still worth getting it you think?
I believe it is absolutely worth it when considering it as (relatively) cheap insurance. Install it now, when your transmission is still in good condition (and the bolts and hoses are not rusted/ or cracked or otherwise hard to remove).

As for the prices quoted by the dealer and your mechanic, those seem high. If you can turn a wrench and read a book, you can install a hitch and harness on your own. You might need a second pair of hands to move the hitch into place; I used an extra hydraulic jack. The transmission cooler (and power steering cooler) I left to my local trusted shop to install, mainly because I did not want to play with fluids. But that is just me. Again, the installation process is straight-forward. The hardest part would be gaining access to where the hitch, harness, and cooler/s install.
 

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+1 on the trans cooler. The added weight, really added stress, needs to be compensated for with additional cooling capacity. You should also change your transmission fluid more frequently. I change my fluid just before towing season every year.
 
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The Honda dealer quote is high. I bought the tow package when we bought the van new in 2012 and IIRC it was around $1100 for the hitch, wiring, and cooler. That was 8 years ago so prices may be higher, but I can't imagine that much higher! Regardless, the Honda ATF cooler is not particularly robust but appears to be sufficient. I tow a 2500 lb boat (+ family and stuff) throughout the summer and never had a problem. If I had to do it over I would get an aftermarket cooler (Derale, Trucool, etc), but I don't know whether these more efficient coolers really increase ATF longevity. Regardless of which cooler you choose, just change the ATF every year as @pkrface said, and the transmission will be happy.
 

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And wow!! Amazing pic! You can really do that?!?!
You can do anything you want. But it does not make it good for your Ody, your Ody's engine, transmission, suspension, and even you, your family, or others you might come across on the highways, parking lots, or campgrounds!!! Let your honda manual be your guide. Take it out of the glove box and read it!

Oh, you seem to have a smart mechanic. Keep him!!!
 

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Thank you so much! And wow!! Amazing pic! You can really do that?!?! Is that a 2016 Ody? We're pretty sure we can stay under 3,000 (small teardrop trailer, just two passengers) but you still think we should get the Transmission Cooler anyway? Also, we are new to towing- no experience so far. The Honda Dealership will install the hitch and harness for $1155 and it would be an extra $561 for Transmission Cooler. You think it's worth it even for a small teardrop? My regular mechanic (not at dealership) seems leary of towing much of anything due to potential transmission issues with the Ody. He said he's install the hitch and harness for $865, but doesn't think we should try to tow anything that would require the transmission cooler...he recommends getting a different vehicle (which we don't want to do right now).... So I'm feeling kind of torn! You haven't had any issues?
The Odyssey in that photo is a gen 3, probably 2008-2010. I remember reading the story of that setup - that van is heavily modified to be able to handle that kind of load with an extremely skilled and experienced driver. And even with all that I'd stay the hell away from that rig if I saw it out on the road.

Your mechanic is erring on the side of caution and that is commendable, but you really don't need to worry about something the size of what you're considering if you have a good hitch and trans cooler and understand that the transmission fluid needs to be monitored very closely during and after the trip.
 
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The Odyssey in that photo is a gen 3, probably 2008-2010. I remember reading the story of that setup - that van is heavily modified to be able to handle that kind of load with an extremely skilled and experienced driver.
That is definitely not a bolt-on and go setup... Very expensive hitch, modified frame/tow bar, triple axle brakes on the trailer, etc. It is a ~7500 lbs trailer (all aluminum AirStream) It was a fully engineered setup and approved by the Canadian road safety authorities. I would trust that exact rig on the road, but not some random setup that might just look like it at first glance.

-Charlie
 

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That is definitely not a bolt-on and go setup... Very expensive hitch, modified frame/tow bar, triple axle brakes on the trailer, etc. It is a ~7500 lbs trailer (all aluminum AirStream) It was a fully engineered setup and approved by the Canadian road safety authorities. I would trust that exact rig on the road, but not some random setup that might just look like it at first glance.

-Charlie
Agreed. Setting up a trailer, even within the tow rating, is frequently far more complex than most people realize. The OP is actually proposing a fairly straight forward scenario, though rear sag could be an issue that will need to be dealt with.

My setup actually exceeds the ratings, but not anywhere near the pic of the Airstream. All loaded up we typically cross the scale at 9,350 ish lbs combined when the rating is actually 8,850. With my weight distributing hitch that is the only spot I am over the limit as both van axles and the camper axle is within spec. I still have a slight sag in the rear, but if I adjust the WDH to level the van I actually go over on the front axle. The only reason my setup works as well as it does IMO is because my pop up trailer is lower than the van and about the same width. There is minimal additional wind drag and when were out west on flat ground and wide open roads all around I had not trouble running 75 mph+ and got about 16 mpg. Plenty of power for hills and never had to drop below 40-45 mph which was passing the big trucks. With trailer brakes my stopping distance was pretty good too. Some of the teardrop trailers will be taller than the van which isn't helpful, so if it were me I would try to stick to the lower profile trailers.
 

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We're pretty sure we can stay under 3,000 (small teardrop trailer, just two passengers) but you still think we should get the Transmission Cooler anyway? Also, we are new to towing- no experience so far. The Honda Dealership will install the hitch and harness for $1155 and it would be an extra $561 for Transmission Cooler. You think it's worth it even for a small teardrop?
Yes, definitely get a transmission cooler. For some reason, the OEM cooler is ridiculously expensive. Higher capacity aftermarket coolers can be found for under $100 in parts, and would generally be a better choice. There is a great thread on here about various trans cooler options.

I personally purchased the OEM hitch and wire harness and did the install myself. It is pretty straightforward to do the work, and you can probably find parts deals to make the process cheaper. I have attached the OEM install instructions so you can get an idea of what is involved for each necessary item (hitch, wiring, trans cooler). The aftermarket equivalents of each part will install similarly. My trans cooler is arriving today... I don't even specifically plan on towing much with the van, I just want to be ready if the need comes up. Heck, I have a hitch (and have towed many things) with my '89 Camry...

Start doing your reading/research on towing forums. Do your best to find a place that doesn't immediatly tell you go to buy and 3/4 ton+ truck to tow anything. Do it safely - you have a lot to learn. Plan on local shakedown runs. Practice driving/backing up in a safe place. Check your local laws for towing requirements. Seriously consider trailer brakes for anything over 1000lbs (your "1000lb" trailer will be at least 1500lbs by the time you are done). Write up a checklist to go through before every trip (safety checks, maintenance, supplies).

-Charlie
 

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I regularly tow a dual axle trailer with my 2011 six speed. Large TruCool fin and plate cooler and change fluids 3x every 30k miles. Most important thing is to NOT make sudden lane changes towing. Got to be gradual. Tried to avoid a retread on interstate traveling 65MPH... Darn near jack knifed the thing and glad my old days of driving in snow kicked in! Was able to recover.



That all being said I recently got a real tow vehicle. Diesel Silverado.
 

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To add to all the good advice above, ...

I have never towed in my 2011 LX, may never tow (I do have a tow hitch installed, but only for a bike rack so far), and installing an aftermarket cooler (Tru-cool 4544) was one of the first things I did after getting this car. I previously had a '99 that went through 3x AT failures, so may be extra cautious because of that.

On my '99, after the first AT failure (I think), I put on the Honda AT cooler, which for that year at least, is really weak. When I thought I was beyond any hope of Honda warranty, I swapped that out for the Tru-cool 4544 (same model as I have on the 2011). Huge upgrade.

So assuming the Honda cooler for your 2016 is similarly weak, I would not waste my time with that. I'd get a good aftermarket cooler, whether or not you tow. If you do tow, I'd do the full list given by alzeal above. I don't have a PS cooler, but I do have Magnefine in-line filters on both AT and PS systems.

The other general advice would be to make any and all of these changes well in advance of any road trips you're planning. You want to shake everything out locally and carefully. Good luck.
 

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I will give the unpopular opinion: don't tow if you don't have to. I personally like the driving experience too much to have to worry about having a trailer back there. And I have towed. Mostly with trucks more than capable and mostly cars on trailers. It is kind of a white knuckle experience, especially if you have never done it or do it infrequently. There are new tents that go up in seconds and quite comfortable double height mattresses. I use an old thick sleeping bag unzipped as a pad, a deep pocket sheet and bring the down comforter from home. Really comfortable actually. I like driving fast and having fun in curves. And getting a motel with a pool (and hot showers without quarters) once in a while.
 

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Thank you so much! And wow!! Amazing pic! You can really do that?!?! Is that a 2016 Ody? We're pretty sure we can stay under 3,000 (small teardrop trailer, just two passengers) but you still think we should get the Transmission Cooler anyway? Also, we are new to towing- no experience so far. The Honda Dealership will install the hitch and harness for $1155 and it would be an extra $561 for Transmission Cooler. You think it's worth it even for a small teardrop? My regular mechanic (not at dealership) seems leary of towing much of anything due to potential transmission issues with the Ody. He said he's install the hitch and harness for $865, but doesn't think we should try to tow anything that would require the transmission cooler...he recommends getting a different vehicle (which we don't want to do right now).... So I'm feeling kind of torn! You haven't had any issues?
Ah the Honda quote is in the ballpark if it includes oem parts. I have oem hitch (worth it cuz it gives more ground clearance and is hidden cleaner) and oem cooler installed. I bought the parts online and took it a well known rv machine shop And think my totals where around what you were quoted for all. Think the part cost for the hitch was around $500 and the oem cooler around $200. So $700 in parts and there is a lot of labor to takeoff both bumper skins, and for the rear cut to fit the hitch to hide up in there plus run the wire harness.

cooler is a must have With towing! Saw high tranny temps around town without towing. I tow apopup camper weighs 1,700 lbs and when heading out camping around 2,100. Tows great with low profile trailer-imagine a teardrop trailer also the same
 

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Good reason for that is just sit in traffic and actually monitor the trans temp. You can use an OBDII reader and your phone to acquire the trans temp Code. Once you actually observe the temp rising well in excess of 200F you will realize Honda should have had a huge cooler on there from the beginning.
 
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