Towing question, need a WDH?

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Getting a small travel trailer after years of camping in a popup. Got a good deal on a 2022 Forest River Wolf Pup 14cc at the RV show over the weekend, so we've got a deposit on one. It's well within my Pilot's towing ability, and I have an electric brake controller. The dealer is pushing to order a weight-distributing hitch, and insisting we'll have to sign a waiver if we don't. Fine, but a look at the Pilot's owner's manual shows Honda recommends against it. Thinking I'll show them the owner's manual and sign it to make them happy, but it seems like overkill anyway for a 3900 GVW (2900 lb dry) travel trailer. It will just be me and the wife, and we travel light.
 
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What is the length of the travel trailer?

There is more to towing that just the weight. Length of the TT and also your tow vehicle's wheelbase. I'm going to guess that Honda is worried about using a WD hitch on a uni-body frame, even though the pilot has perimeter rails.

It you don't run a WD hitch I would at least use a friction bar for sway control. Sway is the biggest problem with short wheelbase vehicles

Braking without a WD hitch , can in some instances take weight off the rear wheels and can be dicey under hard braking.
 

AZjeff

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Most WDHs have sway control built in. Your first trip will quickly tell you if you need a WDH and on a highway with a crosswind and/or passing and being passed by tractor trailers will tell you if you really need sway control. Generally sway control is never a bad thing.

Don't know how Honda AWD works, if it's normally FWD I'd get a WDH to keep full weight on the drive & steering axle. There's some reference to needing an ATF cooler, in some cases dealer installed to get the 4500lb towing capacity.

When you get it load it up in full camping trim and go to a CAT scale and get real numbers to work with. Don't cheap out on safety gear. If you're not completely comfortable driving your combo do whatever it takes to fix it.

Have fun with the new trailer, exciting times. (y)

You can find instructions online on how to weigh your outfit to get the numbers you need . Your Pilot has a published tongue weight of 450lbs. 15% of published dry weight (no propane bottle or battery) of 2900 is 435lbs. You have to add the weight of the hitch. Many references say 10-15% tongue weight. You're going to be in the upper limit.
 
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Many people in your position understandably focus on towing capacity and miss out on tongue weight and its effect on axle weight ratings and total payload capacity. The rule of thumb for ball-hitch towing is that 15% of the trailer weight will be applied as tongue weight - in other words pushing down at the very back of the vehicle. This puts weight disproportionately on the rear axle and lifts the front end, where steering and the majority of braking come from.

Have a look at the axle weight and total payload ratings on the placard inside your driver's door. If you insist on starting without a WDH, take the trailer to a scale and weigh the combination axle by axle. Then calculate additional weight (cargo and passengers) which will be in the Pilot as you embark on a trip. You'll likely find you run out of payload and RAWR (Rear Axle Weight Rating) in a hurry.
 
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Many people in your position understandably focus on towing capacity and miss out on tongue weight and its effect on axle weight ratings and total payload capacity. The rule of thumb for ball-hitch towing is that 15% of the trailer weight will be applied as tongue weight - in other words pushing down at the very back of the vehicle. This puts weight disproportionately on the rear axle and lifts the front end, where steering and the majority of braking come from.

Have a look at the axle weight and total payload ratings on the placard inside your driver's door. If you insist on starting without a WDH, take the trailer to a scale and weigh the combination axle by axle. Then calculate additional weight (cargo and passengers) which will be in the Pilot as you embark on a trip. You'll likely find you run out of payload and RAWR (Rear Axle Weight Rating) in a hurry.
He will be maxed out. The TT will be heavier with your stuff in it ( pots pans, grill ,plates ,filled refrigerator, water, propane tank filled, weight of hitch and people dogs etc in the tow vehicle.

Still the biggest worry is the length. 19ft with no sway control that you would get from a WD hitch.
It's one thing to tow a utility trailer with 4-5k on it. Another to tow a tall trailer that will catch air from passing trucks and crosswinds.

The Honda pilots wheel base is around 110 inches.
 
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Just my opinion-the Pilot doesn't have the strongest rear springs, nor LT tires-if I was going to tow a 4K trailer, likely with passengers & gear, a weight distributing hitch would give me peace of mind. Along with sway control, an external ATF cooler & gauge, maybe even a set of air springs. Too many SUVs are "cars masquerading as trucks "!
 

ls1mike

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110 inch wheelbase is good for about 20 feet, for each additional 4 inches of wheel base you can add one foot on the trailer. Rule of thumb I have seen used on a few towing sites. You will be close to your limits. Figure out why no WDH. I would have one with say control on your setup.
Still the biggest worry is the length. 19ft with no sway control that you would get from a WD hitch.
It's one thing to tow a utility trailer with 4-5k on it. Another to tow a tall trailer that will catch air from passing trucks and crosswinds.

.
This. I have been towing a travel trailer for the past 15 years, first a 25 foot fifth wheel 4 years and my current 35 foot Travel trailer for 11. It is easy to be under trucked, but better to be over trucked.
 

AZjeff

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@DaveSherman, You put a deposit on one, do a bunch of research now before you own it and decide if you want to tow near the upper limit of the Pilot's capacity because that's where you'll be. Guys aren't trying to discourage you, just want to make sure you're towing safely. All of us who tow went through the learning curve about the important numbers. It's a different game towing a travel trailer compared to a pop-up. You don't want to be up on the wheel all day keeping your outfit going down the road straight, it's too stressful.

If you're going to go by published numbers Forest River shows a tongue weight of 400 lbs, UVW 2880 and GVW of 3900. Add the weight of whatever hitch you use and a battery if it sits on the tongue and you're over tongue weight. An option package on the trailer raises the UVW as well. FYI most WDHs weigh around 100lbs +/- unless you get an Andersen.
 
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You have to be careful with what the TT salesman tells you. Some will be honest about your set up, some only want to sell the trailer, and say " sure ! You'll be fine". Some of the don't care If you buy the trailer then end up having to turn around and trade up to more of a tow vehicle.
 
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A WD hitch weighs 100Lbs, add that to the tongue weight of your trailer and you will be over the unibody tongue weight.
 

Dave Sherman

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Straight from my owner's manual: "A weight distributing hitch is not recommended for use with your vehicle. An improperly adjusted weight distributing hitch may reduce handling, stability, and braking performance.". Now it doesn't say they are forbidden, but it certainly implies it is unnecessary and more likely to cause problems.

Also from same owner's manual, tow rating is 4500 pounds for the 4WD versions with 2 occupants, the 2WD versions need an additional ATF cooler to get that rating. I take from that that the 4WD versions are already equipped with the additional cooling.

A 2800 lb UVW trailer, well under 200 pounds of camping supplies, 15 pounds of LP gas, empty holding tanks, and we'll say a 50 pound battery. Sounds like about 3065 pounds to me, and it's just my wife and me, so we're still well under the 4500 pound rating and 450 tongue weight. Yes, it's a higher profile trailer than my popup and it's heavier, but "maxed out" is a bit of a stretch. Hardly the first time I've been towing, actually towed my 1460 lb UVW popup for years with a Honda CR-V (believe it or not). I found out the CR-V was very conservatively rated for the U.S. version, the UK version had more than twice the towing capacity despite being nearly identical with a smaller engine and lower curb weight (and right-hand drive).

Horrors, RV manufacturers make smaller and lighter travel trailers to target the towing capabilities of SUVs, and the SUV manufacturers make their SUVs capable of towing them, but how can they possibly tow them if the naysayers say otherwise? Just a hunch, but maybe the engineers know a thing or two, and maybe in today's highly litigious society they aren't going to go publishing owner's manuals that say what they are capable of towing if they weren't. Would a 5000 pound tow rating be better? Absolutely! Would 1-ton dually pickup with a diesel do a better job? Heck yes! Is it necessary? Not really, but that's the myth.
 

GON

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Make sure you install the optional factory trans cooler on your Pilot if one is not already installed.
 
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Straight from my owner's manual: "A weight distributing hitch is not recommended for use with your vehicle. An improperly adjusted weight distributing hitch may reduce handling, stability, and braking performance.". Now it doesn't say they are forbidden, but it certainly implies it is unnecessary and more likely to cause problems.

Also from same owner's manual, tow rating is 4500 pounds for the 4WD versions with 2 occupants, the 2WD versions need an additional ATF cooler to get that rating. I take from that that the 4WD versions are already equipped with the additional cooling.

A 2800 lb UVW trailer, well under 200 pounds of camping supplies, 15 pounds of LP gas, empty holding tanks, and we'll say a 50 pound battery. Sounds like about 3065 pounds to me, and it's just my wife and me, so we're still well under the 4500 pound rating and 450 tongue weight. Yes, it's a higher profile trailer than my popup and it's heavier, but "maxed out" is a bit of a stretch. Hardly the first time I've been towing, actually towed my 1460 lb UVW popup for years with a Honda CR-V (believe it or not). I found out the CR-V was very conservatively rated for the U.S. version, the UK version had more than twice the towing capacity despite being nearly identical with a smaller engine and lower curb weight (and right-hand drive).

Horrors, RV manufacturers make smaller and lighter travel trailers to target the towing capabilities of SUVs, and the SUV manufacturers make their SUVs capable of towing them, but how can they possibly tow them if the naysayers say otherwise? Just a hunch, but maybe the engineers know a thing or two, and maybe in today's highly litigious society they aren't going to go publishing owner's manuals that say what they are capable of towing if they weren't. Would a 5000 pound tow rating be better? Absolutely! Would 1-ton dually pickup with a diesel do a better job? Heck yes! Is it necessary? Not really, but that's the myth.
Best of luck, enjoy your new travel trailer.
 
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Sign the waver.
Tow it than you can decide.
You may decide to buy a bigger suv or truck.
Brake controller is a must
Single wheel trailer will pull you around all day at speeds over 55 even with a weight distribution hitch.
I have a 17 foot tt dry weight of 3800 loaded my guess 4500 I don't even like towing it with my full size Tahoe(too short of a wheel base). My Avlanche towes so much better
 
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I’d get a WDH for sure. You are going to be squatting quite a bit with a properly loaded trailer if you don’t run one. Congrats on the trailer and post up some pics when you get it all settled.
 
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