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Old 09-05-2007, 09:44 AM   #1
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Anybody towing with a minivan?

Hi, I'm going to be towing my latest A/S (yet to be aquired Bambi/Caravelle etc) with my 2001 Honda Odyssey. It has the factory towing package
incl trans. cooler and PS cooler as well as Class III and wiring. It's rated for 3500# but I know these things are pretty much maxed out at top rating. Anybody else already learned what I'm going to have to know? I've owned and towed Airstreams before but not with a Honda minivan. Thanks in advance. Bob
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Old 09-05-2007, 10:22 AM   #2
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Hi Bob -- Look in your owners manual. There will be a towing section. Also look to see what your 'Payload' or 'Load Capacity' is* -- this is the maximum weight of options, passengers, cargo (incl tongue weight) that you can put on the vehicle. You will need to subtract all options above the base model. Estimate the weight of people you'll be carrying. Even though the Airstream site has temporarily "lost" the model weights chart ... those tongue weights listed are for empty trailers without options, LP gas, weight distribution gear, etc. You'd be wise to allow as much as 500# tongue weight for a camping-ready smallest vintage (vintage = lighter) Airstream out there. You cannot tow with this vehicle if over payload capacity -- it will wear your vehicle out but, more importantly, it is very unsafe in any emergency braking or accident avoidance situation. Better minds than mine have said you should actually not exceed 80-85% of any maximum payload or tow capacity numbers.

Tongue weight will quickly exceed your rear axle's load rating. So weight distribution gear is a must-have. Honda Odyssey... hmmm. Unibody or frame vehicle? Check that owners manual. Unibody vehicles sometimes say they can't be used with weight distribution gear.

I think you would find this vehicle to be underpowered anyway. It certainly has a short wheelbase and is less effective at controlling a trailer. I think Odysseys are more in the range of towing a fishing boat or the lightest of pop-ups -- shooting from the hip here and I'll admit I'm not informing myself fully on all the details.

*Payload (a.k.a. load capacity) = GVWR minus vehicle empty curb weight.
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Old 09-05-2007, 11:37 AM   #3
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I have to concur with CanoeStream. I would be very, very careful towing any Airstream with any minivan. Front wheel drive unibody vehicles do not good towers make. Such a combination would be way out of my comfort zone.
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Old 09-05-2007, 11:51 AM   #4
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You might enjoy this thread specifically about towing little trailers

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f238...mbi-35172.html

A caravel weighs about 2800# fully loaded (water, propane, etc), a vintage Bambi weighs even less.
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Old 09-05-2007, 12:18 PM   #5
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The last minivan made with a frame was the GMC Safari/Chevrolet Astro.
I am sure that you will find the Honda to be very softly sprung as well.
My 2000 GMC Safari pulled my Minuet like it wasn't even back there.
If you want to pull with a minivan look for a good used GMC Safari or Chevrolet Astro. During the last 5-7 years of production they were all equipped to tow 5,000-5,500 lbs. They are good for well over 200,000 miles. I have yet to see one die a premature death.
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Old 09-05-2007, 01:52 PM   #6
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This is a 'sensitive' topic. People that try to discuss towing with under rated vehicles tend to get hounded off the forums.

One of the better sources of practical information about what you can do and what you need to do it is Can Am RV. There are also some good articles on this topic in the Canadian RV magazine by Andy at Can Am.

You can do a lot more than the numbers would incidate.
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Old 09-05-2007, 01:58 PM   #7
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Towing a 2500# trailer with a vehicle rated for 3500# doesn't sound particularly underrated to me. I think on this forum sometimes people don't consider the size of the trailer, and insist on the biggest, baddest tow vehicle. There's a big difference between towing a Bambi and towing an Overlander. That's part of the reason I started that thread specifically for small trailers.
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Old 09-05-2007, 02:33 PM   #8
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Here is another thread that discussed towing with the Honda Odyssey.
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Old 09-05-2007, 03:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stefrobrts
Towing a 2500# trailer with a vehicle rated for 3500# doesn't sound particularly underrated to me.
The Ody is, like many minivans, rated to tow up to 3500# trailers but it will safely tow trailers up to 5k or a bit more. That is why 'under rated' is an appropriate label as the vehicles are not rated for the capacity they are able to handle.

Like I said, sensitive topic. Can't even describe it without having to explain very very carefully. and even then ...

See the links: there are some good posts by folks who have been there and done that. Check the Can Am 'seminars' page about the Freestar towing an Airstream on an ice rink. See if you can find Andy's column in the Canadian RV magazine. Some good stuff not burdened by preconception.

Airstream has approached this with their new Safari Sport model.
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Old 09-05-2007, 04:25 PM   #10
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Before he retired, my business partner towed a 3500 pound enclosed utility trailer, plus several hundred pounds of overstock, with a 2000 Odyssey. He still has both the trailer and the Honda, he towed/tows without weight distribution. He has never had any powertrain or suspension related problems with it, and it now has 99,000 miles on it.
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Old 09-05-2007, 06:22 PM   #11
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Several of our racing friends have been towing their racecars and equipment with Astrovans for years and are very pleased with their performance. I dont know anything specifically about the Odyssey, sorry!

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Old 09-06-2007, 01:37 AM   #12
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Talking

Hell...I just spent months trying to justify towing almost anything with my '03 Honda Pilot...with tow pkg....There is sooooo much information on the subject...and oh so many opinons....I took all into consideration....ended up not wanting to take the risk.. safety reasons and the damage that most likely would happen to my Pilot....so we sold my husbands CRV...I kept the Pilot and we purchased a TOY Tundra....and soooooo glad we did...goood luck
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Old 09-06-2007, 02:44 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leipper
The Ody is, like many minivans, rated to tow up to 3500# trailers but it will safely tow trailers up to 5k or a bit more. That is why 'under rated' is an appropriate label as the vehicles are not rated for the capacity they are able to handle.

Like I said, sensitive topic. Can't even describe it without having to explain very very carefully. and even then ...

See the links: there are some good posts by folks who have been there and done that. Check the Can Am 'seminars' page about the Freestar towing an Airstream on an ice rink. See if you can find Andy's column in the Canadian RV magazine. Some good stuff not burdened by preconception.

Airstream has approached this with their new Safari Sport model.
If we can use CanAm as a resource then I would like to supply the following as another resource.
RV Towing Tips
Please be sure to read what happened to his mother when an emergency manuever was made while towing a pop-up with a minivan.
I have towed 6 Airstreams/Argosys, ranging from a '63 Bambi to a '73 31 footer. I have 26 years of towing experience using more than my fair share of tow vehicles. I have matched tires, wheels, trans cooling, larger radiators, WD hitches (welded and bolted heads), extra leaf springs, air bags, etc....
I have never towed one unsafely as my father would have never let me.
I have had full size pickups, vans and station wagons that would slow when pulling up a grade of any size. The temp gauge would climb as well.
I know the schtick about the 34 footer pulled with an Intrepid. Pulling it across the continent, etc.... I can probably get my Vibe to do something similar. That does not necessarily say that it is good for the car or towing the trailer safely.
Face it; you have 8,000 lbs behind you and you have a small vehicle trying to control that. It is like the tail wagging the dog, no matter what kind of rocket science you use for a hitch.
There is something to be said about having the weight and horsepower to perform any type of emergency manuever that could arise.
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Old 09-06-2007, 04:21 AM   #14
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I appreciate all the contributions and help offered here. Obviously some have their strong opinions and some lost track of the question at hand. I already own the Honda so buying another brand is not part of the project. Some were talking about "all that weight" and "8000 lbs" etc. I'm talking about handling a Bambi or Caravelle here. Nothing bigger. Actual weight pulled would be closer to 2500#-3000#. My conclusion after reading all of the above and the links provided is that it will work fine as long as I get a load dist hitch and don't overload the mother-ship. Thank you all.
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