Prepping my 2012 Odyssey for towing

Discussion in 'Camper Pre-Purchase Questions' started by SpeeVan, Mar 16, 2018.

  1. SpeeVan

    SpeeVan New Member

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    Hello!

    We're looking to buy a tent trailer in the next week or so, and I want to make sure our 2012 Honda Odyssey is ready to pull one.

    I've read the thread on how to tow with a minivan here (http://www.popupportal.com/threads/how-to-tow-with-a-car-small-suv-or-minivan.31187/). It was super helpful. It did lead me to a couple of questions:

    1. The post does not mention installing a transmission cooler. Is it recommended? I've heard that it can extend the life of the transmission.

    2. Do certain models come with electric brakes? Are they required after a certain weight? We're looking to get a pup in the 1500-2000 dry weight range. From what I read on the thread I linked above, electric brakes sound like a necessity. We live in Utah and will often travel through mountain passes (the Rockies, Glacier National Park, etc).

    3. If electric brakes do not come standard, are they difficult or expensive to have installed?

    4. Last summer we installed this hitch receiver on our van: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000RNW5HQ/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    We put a cargo holder on it. After all our gear for a weeks worth of camping was loaded, it made the rear of the vehicle ride low, to the point of it bottoming out on some very normal dips. Is it possible to prevent this with a tent trailer? Would a weight distribution hitch (WDH) help?

    5. If we do use a WDH, is there an easy way to tell if tent trailers are compatible with it?

    I apologize- that's a lot of questions, I know. I'd rather make sure we do it correctly than have our car break down on the highway, or worse, have an accident. Feel free to point me to a certain thread if it answers my questions.

    Thanks in advance for any help! We're excited to get our pup!
     
  2. crackerJack

    crackerJack Well-Known Member

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    Welcome Spee, Utah is a beautiful state. I originally pulled my camper with an Oddy. I added a hitch receiver, brake controller, 7-pin connector, transmission cooler, and power steering cooler. I also used a WDH hitch. My camper had a dry weight around 2500lbs, and the Oddy capacity is 3500lbs. Fully loaded for camping I was close to max. The WDH solved the sagging rear end, and helped a lot with control. After all that, I still did not enjoy pulling my camper. I now tow with a Burb.
    Some things to consider, Coleman camper frames are compatible with WDH, I can’t speak for other manufacturers. Reese made discontinued a WDH just for pop ups, a mini 350. You could find all the parts on Etrailer to make one though.
    There are many complicated calculations and formulas to figure towing capacity. Others will chime in soon on that.
    Good luck.
     
  3. Rusty2192

    Rusty2192 Well-Known Member

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    Replies added in bold above.
     
  4. Raycfe

    Raycfe Waterford Ct.

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    He is may take:
    Talk to a transmission guy, your Honda may already have a cooler, or a small cooler.
    Not a lot of trailers in your weight range come with brakes.
    I like brakes and have added them to small camper I had years ago. Not a big deal as long as the axle have the mounting flanges.
    A trailer axle will hold 85% of the weight of the trailer, but you have to keep the tongue weight to be not too much. You van may still sag but maybe not as much.
    Most light trailers can not use a WDH and I could not find a quick answer if your Honda can use a WDH. The towing spec is 3500 lbs w/trailer brakes.
     
  5. Orchid

    Orchid Sharp Shootin' Grandma

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    We tow with a much older Odyssey.

    We had to add transmission cooler, hitch w/wiring, brake controller, and suspension air bags. We bought the air bags from eTrailer and DH installed them fairly easily. We have a little valve, that looks just like a tire valve, on our rear bumper. We fill them up when towing so everything rides level.

    We bought this adjustable hitch and turned it upside down so we could raise the trailer, as our van sits pretty low.

    Our camper has a dry weight of 2150 lbs and, even with passengers and gear, it tows great. Our tow capacity is 3500, but we took the whole set up to the scales and we are well under the big number, which is what the total weight can be. I honestly forget what it's called, but it's on the door I think.
     
  6. SpeeVan

    SpeeVan New Member

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    Thanks for the answers, everyone! The information is really helpful. I've read all there is in my Oddy's owner manual, and I have a few follow up questions (of course [:D]):

    I'm definitely planning on getting a transmission cooler installed. I called up the local Honda dealer, and a guy quoted me about $500 to install one over the phone (I'm sure that number might change if I took it in). Is this something that I could install myself? Also, do I have to use the actual Honda part, or is there a third-party part that will do just as well (The Honda part looks a lot more expensive)?

    My owners manual doesn't mention needing a power steering cooler, and I've never heard of that. Is it necessary?

    According to the owners manual, a WDH is not recommended. Do airbags or timbren springs achieve the same result? Are they easy enough to install?

    Would a sway bar like this work with my Oddy (and any pup out there): https://www.amazon.com/Pro-83660-Value-Friction-Control/dp/B0016KJ5MC Or are different pups compatible with different sway bars?

    Thanks for the info on electric brakes. The manual says they are recommended for any trailer with a total weight of 1000 or more. Since we're looking for a pup in the 1500-2000 total weight range, we'll need them. Above, Rusty mentioned:

    Is that easy to see on the tent trailer? I'm really not sure what I'm looking for. Maybe there's a youtube video out there [:D].

    Really, thank you all so much for the answers. Hopefully I'm not annoying with too many questions.
     
  7. Orchid

    Orchid Sharp Shootin' Grandma

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    Honda dealers are pricey. We took ours to a local shop and transmission cooler was installed for just around $200. It may be something you can do yourself, although we didn't do ours.

    WDH is overkill and heavy for an Odyssey. The sway bar you linked to is like what we have. You only need it on one side.

    Don't know if springs and bags are the same, we have bags and they work fine. Those are definitely DIY.
     
  8. ny_rocking_chairs

    ny_rocking_chairs Active Member

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    We have a 2014 Odyssey, I installed the transmission cooler myself, took an hour and half (assuming you have the tools and an extra set of hands). Plenty of youtube videos on how to do it.

    Ours did not have any of the wiring running for the electric brakes or 12V constant voltage wire, our camper has surge brakes but I did run a 12Vdc line back to the hitch from the battery with an in-line fuse. The most difficult part of this was getting the wire through the firewall (there already is a wire harness with gasketing there, have to be gumby to get to it though and ensure it gets resealed after getting the new wire through it. Had already installed the 4-wire jumper kit in the back of the van for trailer lights so it was a simple matter of hooking up the new 7-pin adapter to that with the 12Vdc line coming from the battery.

    We choose to install Timbren helper springs rather than air bags, while more expensive I think the springs give better peace of mind and performance than the air bags. Air bags are susceptible to failure (leaking) and have to be tuned/inflated to the correct air pressure for the load.

    The current Odyssey manuals specifically say NOT to use a WDH but this might be more to prevent a mis-tuned system from tweaking the body of the van, we do not use one and our setup drives fine.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2018
  9. crackerJack

    crackerJack Well-Known Member

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    Check with Etrailer. They have an excellent inventory and offer plenty of assistance.
     
  10. Halford

    Halford Well-Known Member

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    Please IGNORE dry weight, this information is meaningless for anyone here. Focus on the GVRW (max tow weight).

    If you do not have the factory tow weight, you would need to add thicker radiator, tranny cooler, rear suspension support, etc... the next time you can buy a tow vehicle with tow package that comes with it.
     
    Snow likes this.
  11. Orchid

    Orchid Sharp Shootin' Grandma

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    Sorry, but you'll be needing a semi to tow a pop up camper.

    That is, unless you actually know how to drive well, then your van will do. [8D]
     
    popupguyMN likes this.

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