2015 Honda Odyssey and Air Bags

Discussion in 'Tow Vehicles, Hitch & Towing' started by Jedd de Lucia, May 28, 2021.

  1. Jedd de Lucia

    Jedd de Lucia New Member

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    Hi all, I'm hoping to hear from Honda Odyssey owners or other mini-van drivers about their experiences putting air bags in the rear suspension. my rear hitch is very low once we put the pope up on it and it feels like the front wheels of the car ride very light. I've searched this topic and read some of the relevant threads but hoping to hear from some experienced drivers out there, especially odyssey owners:
    1- Does it help lift the rear end and keep the trailer level?
    2- Does it ride well? make the ride safer?
    3- Is it a maintenance headache?
    4- I heard somewhere that this is NOT okay to do to a Honda odyssey. why not?

    thanks in advance for all of your feedback!
     
  2. Ratherbecamping

    Ratherbecamping Active Member

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    I have an Odyssey as well but no air bags. Our PUP is about 1900 loaded so pretty light. I am far from an expert, but my understanding is the air bags will help lift the rear end but not help distribute the weight better (so front may stay light). Maybe you could switch to a weight distribution hitch? Maybe your tongue weight is too high? Do you have more than 1 battery or propane tank? You could go to CAT scale to check your tongue weight.
     
  3. Jedd de Lucia

    Jedd de Lucia New Member

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    Thanks for the reply,

    my pup is 2100 dry and I assume around 3k when we fully load it with all gear (we have bike rack over the tongue too). But I try to put most of the weight behind the rear axle.

    I just want to try to get my rig level when towing. Right now my TV rear is low and my tongue is low with the pup rear up in the air. Makes for a wavy ride.

    Honda told me that using a WDH was a no go. Not recommended for Odyssey. Probably because it actually adds load to the hitch. If the rear is lifted, wouldn’t that allow more weight back down onto the front?
     
  4. Ratherbecamping

    Ratherbecamping Active Member

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    Yes that would make sense. I will admit I don’t know much about towing as we are newbies. We didn’t end up needing them, but the hitch place that installed our controller said he could add them if needed. Do you have a hitch shop nearby you could ask?

    @sstressfl
     
  5. Ratherbecamping

    Ratherbecamping Active Member

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    Sorry didn’t mean to hit reply yet. I tagged sstressfl as I know he has a mini van with air bags (love your videos!).
     
  6. MNTCamper

    MNTCamper Well-Known Member

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    On our second ody towing. Air bags will lift the rear and give you a better ride, but they don't redistribute weight. We tow a very similar weight camper to yours and it tows fine, air bags at 25 psi. Getting your camper level is more about hitch height. You will need approximately a five inch lift on your receiver insert to get your ball height to 17" high which is what it will need to be for your camper to ride level.

    You should also work to minimize the load in the rear of the van.
     
  7. Jedd de Lucia

    Jedd de Lucia New Member

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    Thanks MTNcamper! I am not looking to re-distribute weight, just leveling off the camper while towing. You are saying that with the bags I will still need a hitch insert with a 5” rise? Or is that without the bags?

    I think that I have a 4” now.
     
  8. MNTCamper

    MNTCamper Well-Known Member

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    With bags you'll need a 5" rise for level. Set your camper up on a level surface, level it and measure hitch height. Should be 17" +/-. Need to get your ball to that height.
     
  9. TSQ

    TSQ Member

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    I've got a Timbren SES kit on order for my 2019, they seem to be highly rated on other forums.

    Basically they replace your factory bump stops to limit sag.

    https://timbren.ca/

    I believe the are available at etrailer in the US
     
  10. sstressfl

    sstressfl Active Member

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    Good thread! These are tough issues. I found an article on etrailer about using a WDH on an Odyssey.... I don't know your vehicle so I'm only sharing what I see. https://www.etrailer.com/question-246894.html

    For clarity... the wdh will increase your tongue weight carrying ability... alot! And it will level the trailer and rear of your vehicle. It will share the weight of the trailer between ALL 4 WHEELS of the van and the TRAILERS wheels! Its a much safer way to tow.

    Air bags or Timbren's will help hold the back end of the van up higher, but will focus all of the weight onto the rear axle/rear tires of the tow vehicle and that will increase bearing wear, tire wear. But if you can get it up high enough, it will tow better. That's my 2 pennies.
     
  11. sstressfl

    sstressfl Active Member

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  12. Rusty2192

    Rusty2192 Well-Known Member

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    sstressfl likes this.
  13. Jedd de Lucia

    Jedd de Lucia New Member

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    Thanks all for the replies. Very helpful.

    I'm now caught between airbags and a WDH. Has anyone installed both? is that allowed? I understand that the WDH is probably ultimately better for ride, as it will distribute some of the weight back onto the front (drive) wheels, but I have 2x concerns:
    1- Honda specifically does not recommend WDH to be used. In forums that I've read (both in @sstressfl 's line and elsewhere prior) no-one really knows why, but there are two reasonable theories. that it will harm the unibody frame and that it will quickly overload the front axel max weight if too much weight is transfer forward.
    2- I believe that my tongue frame is C-channel, not a tube steel (which I think is a deal breaker..?)

    So, any further advice or experience?

    @sstressfl, I believe that I saw two of your you-tube videos (which were both excellent and enjoyable) any thoughts between the airbags that you had and the WDH you've used? which do you prefer or do you use both in conjunction?

    Final question. Any Odyssey Owners out there who use a WDH? which one should I get?
     
  14. TSQ

    TSQ Member

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    I have used WDH on larger vehicles at work, but not on minivans.

    My $0.02:

    Correctly set up WDH can be great. There are even pictures on the internet of FWD cars towing trailers without rear wheels (obviously stunts, but it shows how well the system can work). Plus the [crazy] guys at CanAm. But there are just as many images of bent trailer frames, bent vehicle frames, cracked unibodies, and destroyed hitches. So if you go the WDH route make sure you understand what you are doing and how the additional stresses may impact your vehicles.

    WDH "transfers" weight to the front of the tow vehicle by imposing massive twisting forces on the hitch attachment points which is why Honda does not recommend WDH - the vehicle unibody was not designed to handle those forces. Can it handle those loads? Probably. But Honda is not opening themselves up to that liability.

    What is your current tongue weight? The 2003 brochure shows the 725d has an dry/empty tongue weight of 375 lbs so I'm thinking you are probably well over 400 lbs loaded (if not closer to 500 lbs), well above Honda's weight limit (350 lbs). You are most likely already doing one thing that the manufacturer does not recommend - in my humble opinion you should not do a second thing (WDH) that they recommend against to try and fix the symptoms of the the first thing (overweight tongue) without a professionally engineered custom solution.

    Start by determining the actual loaded tongue weight and ensure that is in the 300~350 lbs range (assuming total trailer loaded weight is ~3000 lbs - I'd verify that as well).

    If your tongue weight is <350 lbs (or reasonably close to it) and you find the rear sag excessive then look at suspension enhancements (airbags/Timbrens/custom springs) or reducing weight in the Odyssey (I've read that removing the third row seats saves you ~150 lbs).

    If your tongue weight is significantly >350 lbs and you find the sag excessive then you really need a 5000/500 class tow vehicle, not the 3500/350 class that the Odyssey is.
     
  15. Jkoht

    Jkoht Member

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    Sounds like you've got too much cart and not enough horse IMO. Towing comes down to payload capacity and the ability to control that load. If you're really 3,000 lbs loaded trailer you're putting 15% of that in tongue weight, which is 450lbs. What is your vehicle payload capacity? A quick search shows a general range of 1,400 to 1,600 lbs. That means every person in the vehicle, all of their stuff, and some vehicle addons (because they factor a dry weight at the factory before some things like AC). Also loading things behind the rear axle of the trailer is going to impart a whole lot of tail wag into the equation. Your hitch should be level, and failing that slightly down, but too much up or down will result in wag. If honda says no WDH and you use one and get into an accident chances are insurance will reject your claim. I'd look at lightening the load or changing vehicles.
     
  16. Spridle

    Spridle Well-Known Member

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    My first step would be to run your setup across some CAT scales to get the weight of all 3 axles while loaded. There is other info that would be helpful, like loaded weight of camper by itself and tongue weight of camper. But just rolling it across the CAT scales is a quick way to see what you are really doing. You could also unhook the trailer and run the car over it by itself. This will tell you how much weight you are pulling off your front axle with your setup.

    There are several ways to raise the back to get it level. Air bags a good one and adjustable, which is nice. Timbren, sumo springs etc can also work and are generally simple to install. Some experimentation may be needed. As was said several times, that will level the load but it won't move weight back to the front, but it often returns the suspension to correct geometry which can be enough to solve the problem. Again, A couple runs across the CAT scales will let you know what changes the bags made.

    WDS hitches are great but they add weight and complexity. There are several newer ones though for smaller trailers that aren't very heavy and don't have as much impact on ground clearance. If you go that route, the key is not not over do it on the tension. If you crank in major pretension on the load bars then you are putting major stress on everything, which your light duty car and equipment is not rated for. However, some mild tension can make a major difference in handling. This is especially true when you hit bridges and things like that where everything wants to go up and down at different times and create some white knuckle moments. With that WDS hitch, the car and trailer act more like one long wheelbase vehicle and you end up with far less drama.
     
  17. ColoradoLizzy

    ColoradoLizzy New Member Silver Supporting Member

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    I just want to thank you for this laugh. :)
     
  18. sstressfl

    sstressfl Active Member

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    The c-frame is definitely a no go anyway for a wdh. So in regard to air bags, they worked marvelously and the drive was excellent especially towing our 1700 lb ‘97 Starcraft. They added up to 1000 lbs of lift. But the ones I bought (air lift 1000) were low quality and did not last thru 1 Vermont winter. They dried and cracked. I replaced under warranty (nice people!) and they dried and cracked again. So look for higher quality units I have no experience with other brands.

    Later I added Monroe load adjusting shocks to our dodge minivan and it advertises 1000 lbs of lift as well but in reality it added nowhere near the lift thst I needed with our new popup (2400 lbs, 300 lb tongue weight) so I ended up with a wdh. I hope that helps! And I hope you find a good solution. Once you get the rear end up, and the nose up nice and level, it makes towing enjoyable!
     
  19. jtrav

    jtrav New Member

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    I have a 2007 Honda Odyssey with Timbrens and a 600 pound weight distribution hitch on my 4-in C Channel frame pop up (Palomino M Series 6149/Mustang). For trailer brake control I have a Tekonsha Primus IQ electronic brake controller. The older Honda Odysseys recommended weight distribution hitches for trailers over 1850 lbs.... I've heard the newer odysseys shy away from weight distribution hitches in the owner's manual.

    I've run this setup for well over 10,000 kms of towing.

    A weight distribution hitch makes the tow so much smoother.

    See link for more info:

    https://www.odyclub.com/threads/my-...r-with-2007-odyssey-ex-l.357795/#post-2361781
     
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