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Old 11-11-2020, 12:46 AM   #1
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New to towing

My wife and I will take ownership of a new 17B trailer sometime in the beginning of March. This will be our first trailer. Other than pulling a small utility trailer, I have zero experience towing a trailer and Iím a bit nervous about the whole thing.
My tow vehicle for now will be a 2009 Honda Ridgeline, which I believe is rated at 5000 lbs. My questions: Should i get a WDH? Should I get sway bars? Both?
Thank you in advance for the help. norm
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Old 11-11-2020, 01:42 AM   #2
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Congrats, Norm, on your impending Escape 17B!

Indeed, your AWD Generation 1 Ridgeline (Gen 1 is model years 2006-2014; all Gen 1 are AWD) is rated for up to 5000# Trailer Weight and up to 600# Tongue Weight while also carrying 2 occupants of 150# each along with 15# of cargo for each occupant. Even with 5 occupants the Max. Trailer Weight rating is 4,500# (Tongue Weight rating 516#), well-over that of the Escape 17B gross weight rating and likely tongue weight.

The Ridgeline's GVWR and GCWR can certainly be exceeded if you carry a great amount of cargo in the vehicle, those limits are fully explained in the Owners Manual (download from the Honda Owners Website if you don't have it).

You'll also note this statement in your Gen. 1 Ridgeline Owner's Manual in the "Towing a Trailer" section:

"Weight Distributing Hitch
A weight distributing hitch is not recommended for use with your vehicle, as an improperly adjusted weight distributing hitch may reduce handling, stability, and braking performance."


Some have interpreted that statement as meaning that a WDH should not be used on the Gen.1 Ridgeline at all; other's have interpreted it as a warning that a WDH should be properly installed and adjusted if used. [Aside - the Gen 2 Ridgeline Manual has different text making it explicit that a WDH may be used when properly installed and adjusted.]

In any case and FWIW, on the Ridgeline Owners Club Forum there are a number of Gen. 1 Ridgeline owners reporting positive experience towing trailers similar to the Escape 17B without a WDH and another faction reporting great satisfaction and improved overall towing experience (smoother and more relaxed driving) with a WDH for many years and miles. Again, all just anecdotal reporting FWIW.
_____

One thing for certain about the Gen. 1 Ridgeline .... they all have an in-radiator transmission fluid heat exchanger and the incidence of corrosion-related failure at the fittings where the fluid lines enter the radiator is increasing with the passage of time. If one of those fitting fails the consequence is mixing of coolant with transmission fluid resulting in almost immediate and very expensive-to-repair transmission failure.

That's not a function of, or exacerbated by, towing, but please ensure your tranny fluid line fittings are in good-shape (not exhibiting any visible corrosion at all). The pre-emptive long-term fix is relatively inexpensive replacement of the radiator with a new unit (both OE and quality aftermarket radiators are available). [Aside - the Gen 2 Ridgeline uses a different heat exchanger arrangement external to the radiator so doesn't suffer this weakness.]
_____

The Gen 1 Ridgeline is widely reported to be a great tow-vehicle for trailers like the Escape 17's as long as you stay ahead of the mentioned weakness. Many consider its long-proven 5-speed transmission more internally robust for towing duty than the 6-speed found in the Gen 2 Ridgeline through the 2019 model year.

Hope that helps, enjoy your new trailer and Ridgeline combo!

[I'm the owner of a Gen 2, 2019 AWD Ridgeline and love it! Personally I'd go with a WDH on any Gen Ridgeline towing an Escape 17, but that's just me.]
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Old 11-11-2020, 01:49 AM   #3
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I think you'll be more comfortable towing with a WDH. I towed my 17B for 12 years with a RAV4 V6 Sport ( 3,500 lb. tow / 350 lb. tongue ) with a Pro Series WDH ( without sway option ). I found that the combo performed as a unit.

I had cause to make radical lane changes a couple times and experienced no sway.

I now have a 2020 Highlander XLE AWD ( 5,000 lb tow ) and plan to tow my 17B with the same WDH.
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Old 11-11-2020, 09:11 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Norm_in_BC View Post
My wife and I will take ownership of a new 17B trailer sometime in the beginning of March. This will be our first trailer. Other than pulling a small utility trailer, I have zero experience towing a trailer and Iím a bit nervous about the whole thing.
a 17B is really not far removed from a utility trailer, kind of like the 8' enclosed units from Uhaul but just a bit bigger.

Quote:
My tow vehicle for now will be a 2009 Honda Ridgeline, which I believe is rated at 5000 lbs. My questions: Should i get a WDH? Should I get sway bars? Both?
Thank you in advance for the help. norm
The 17B is a pretty easy unit for a Ridgeline, even though the Ridgeline has somewhat low capacities compared to other compact pickups. My biggest item to note is that you should check your curb weight and GVWR. The Ridgeline has a low cargo weight limit in the neighborhood of 1000 pounds. That is your tongue weight, hitch weight, stuff and all people in the car added together and it isn't all that hard to get to 1000 pounds if you are a family.

Honda doesn't seem to like WDH. My suggestion, given the low tongue weight of the 17B, would be to pull it on a bare ball and see how it rides. If you find it porpoising and giving you sea-sickness, then add a low weight WDH.

You can also add a sway bar without WDH if needed.
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Old 11-11-2020, 09:28 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by JeffreyG View Post
The Ridgeline has a low cargo weight limit in the neighborhood of 1000 pounds. That is your tongue weight, hitch weight, stuff and all people in the car added together and it isn't all that hard to get to 1000 pounds if you are a family.
Just FYI the Gen 1 Ridgeline has a 'payload' ranging around 1550#, the exact number depending on trim level. Source, along with other weights and capacities, is this Honda publication:

https://hondanews.com/en-US/releases...specifications

But yes, as with any tow vehicle, one should verify that weight limits are not exceeded.

Norm, your vehicle's specific 'payload' and other critical weight ratings can be found on the driver's side doorframe stickers, with guidance on how to ensure compliance with those ratings when towing in the Owners Manual.
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Old 11-11-2020, 09:53 AM   #6
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Just FYI the Gen 1 Ridgeline has a 'payload' ranging around 1550#, the exact number depending on trim level. Source, along with other weights and capacities, is this Honda publication:
Wow, I admit I was going from the 2nd gen numbers which I know, and I assumed 1st gen was similar. Interesting that Honda gutted the cargo capacity of their pickup with a redesign.

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Norm, your vehicle's specific 'payload' and other critical weight ratings can be found on the driver's side doorframe stickers, with guidance on how to ensure compliance with those ratings when towing in the Owners Manual.
One other tidbit unique to the Honda that I've not seen before, but in the 1st Gen Ridgeline manual (now that I pulled one to read) it says the GCVWR (10,088 lbs) must be reduced 2% for every 1000 feet in elevation. So if you plan to drive I-70 west from Denver your GCVWR is actually only 7,868 pounds. That's a potential loss of 2220 pounds from the tow capacity!

I do not think Honda should be saying things like "tows 5000 pounds" when they put such huge caveats in the owners manual.

They have that one, and they also have the other caveat that the tow rating drops to 4500 pounds if you have 825 pounds in the vehicle.

So the actual tow rating of a Gen 1 Ridgeline is somewhere between 1818 pounds (Truck at GVWR at 11,000 feet elevation) and 5000 pounds (Truck carrying 330 pounds of people/cargo at sea level).

That's not a reasonable way to present guidelines, IMO. They are expecting too much from owners trying to puzzle this out.
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Old 11-11-2020, 10:00 AM   #7
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Wow, I admit I was going from the 2nd gen numbers which I know, and I assumed 1st gen was similar. Interesting that Honda gutted the cargo capacity of their pickup with a redesign.
Just FYI, the VIN-specific door-sticker 'payload' for my 2019 (Gen 2) AWD Ridgeline is 1447#. That's an RTL-E (all-options upper trim level) with probably the lowest payload rating in the AWD lineup (noting that lower-rated FWD is available on the Gen 2, but all Gen 1 are AWD).

Not sure I'd consider that "gutted", but in any case it is what it is.

FWIW I've done minimal short trips with my 17' Casita behind the Gen 2 Ridgeline (covid and other issues have precluded much travel this year). That without a WDH as I never used one towing with my F150 so don't have one on-hand. It managed just fine, was certainly a 'safe' rig, but if I were to do much towing of that trailer which is likely a bit lighter than the Escape 17's I'd install a WDH just for increased towing comfort, maintaining better headlight aim, and a more relaxed overall towing experience. But, YMMV.
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Old 11-11-2020, 10:31 AM   #8
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Just FYI, the VIN-specific door-sticker 'payload' for my 2019 (Gen 2) AWD Ridgeline is 1447#. That's an RTL-E (all-options upper trim level) with probably the lowest payload rating in the AWD lineup (noting that lower-rated FWD is available on the Gen 2, but all Gen 1 are AWD).

Not sure I'd consider that "gutted", but in any case it is what it is.
Nope, you're right. I had that really confused in that I was thinking about the Passport. Very off base there.

What carries over from the Gen 1 to Gen 2 is the altitude limit. That's really interesting. I had to make a small spreadsheet to figure this out, but if you start with the 2, 3, 4, and 5 passenger two limits / cargo weights from Honda, then a Ridgeline can actually only tow the listed weights up to about 1,500 feet altitude. Above that, and the reduced GCVWR will become the limiting factor.

I guess people towing heavy trailers with a Ridgeline should check the altitude of their intended routes. Note to the OP - your 17B is light enough that none of this matters to you, it's just an aside.


Further down the rabbit hole, I found that Ford has the same recommendation for their naturally aspirated engines. Now I'm wondering if any other OEM's do. Hmmmm.....
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Old 11-11-2020, 10:40 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Norm_in_BC View Post
My wife and I will take ownership of a new 17B trailer sometime in the beginning of March. This will be our first trailer. Other than pulling a small utility trailer, I have zero experience towing a trailer and I’m a bit nervous about the whole thing.
My tow vehicle for now will be a 2009 Honda Ridgeline, which I believe is rated at 5000 lbs. My questions: Should i get a WDH? Should I get sway bars? Both?
Thank you in advance for the help. norm
Hi Norm,
My personal opinion is that you can get away without a WDH if you have a way bigger truck than needed for the trailer you are towing. You are not in that category if you ask me. The newer 17B's can have 450lbs tongue weight depending on how many options you have selected. Don't believe the tongue weight ESTIMATE that Escape tells you. It will likely be higher. I'm going to assume your Ridgeline has max 500lb tongue weight? If so, you could be approaching that weight and that is where a WDH will make the towing safer and less stressful.

I went with the Fastway E2 trunnion style with sway control. The bars are part of the sway control. I like it except it is noisy when making sharp turns. It makes a loud groaning sound as the bars slide in the support brackets. Fastway does make a nylon insert that the bars can slide on to quieten it down, but I would think that would at least partially defeat the sway control.

The prior owners of my 17B towed with a Ridgeline and used a WDH without sway control.
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Old 11-11-2020, 11:11 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by JeffreyG View Post

What carries over from the Gen 1 to Gen 2 is the altitude limit. That's really interesting. I had to make a small spreadsheet to figure this out, but if you start with the 2, 3, 4, and 5 passenger two limits / cargo weights from Honda, then a Ridgeline can actually only tow the listed weights up to about 1,500 feet altitude. Above that, and the reduced GCVWR will become the limiting factor.

I guess people towing heavy trailers with a Ridgeline should check the altitude of their intended routes. Note to the OP - your 17B is light enough that none of this matters to you, it's just an aside.
Curious as to where or how you are finding altitude limits.
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Old 11-11-2020, 11:23 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Bobbie54 View Post
Curious as to where or how you are finding altitude limits.
Just FYI, this is found in the ">>Towing a Trailer>Towing Preparation" section of the Gen 2 Ridgeline Owners Manual:

"• The maximum gross combined weight (4) decreases by 2% for every 1,000 feet (305 meters) of elevation."

Acknowledgement of the estimated power-loss experienced by all naturally-aspirated (non-turbo/super-charged) engines with increased altitude / 'thinner' air. Perhaps Honda is just a tiny bit more forthcoming about the phenomenon that some others.
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Old 11-11-2020, 11:30 AM   #12
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Curious as to where or how you are finding altitude limits.
Page 292 of the 2013 Ridgeline manual, and page 368 of the 2020 Ridgeline manual. The wording is almost identical.

It's true that engine power drops with increasing altitude, but power is not always (or even usually) the prime limit for GCVWR.

As an example, the new Ford Bronco offers the 2.7 Ecoboost that is used to tow a lot in an F150. In the Bronco? 3,500 pounds. So the Bronco is not limited by power.
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Old 11-11-2020, 11:45 AM   #13
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It's true that engine power drops with increasing altitude, but power is not always (or even usually) the prime limit for GCVWR.

As an example, the new Ford Bronco offers the 2.7 Ecoboost that is used to tow a lot in an F150. In the Bronco? 3,500 pounds. So the Bronco is not limited by power.
Noting that is of course a turbocharged engine ("EcoBoost"), inherently less susceptible to altitude related power-loss than naturally aspirated engines.

True that many naturally-aspirated vehicles do not specify a GCVWR 'correction' for altitude effects, that because the GCVWR rating for those vehicles is already reduced as appropriate in anticipation of the elevations encountered in their market areas. Honda's approach allows the owner to understand those effects and determine their bearing on situational-specifics. And yes, it also allows more superficially favorable but still technically accurate 'marketing claims'.
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Old 11-11-2020, 11:59 AM   #14
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Noting that is of course a turbocharged engine ("EcoBoost"), inherently less susceptible to altitude related power-loss than naturally aspirated engines.
My point is, in an F150 the 2.7 Ecoboost is rated to tow 7,600 pounds. The same engine and transmission in a Bronco is rated to tow 3,500 pounds. So something, not power, is limiting the Bronco by a lot.

In my mind I would expect GCVWR to be much more tied to cooling capacity (coolant, transmission, charge air cooler) or stability (probably the Bronco's problem)

Quote:
True that many naturally-aspirated vehicles do not specify a GCVWR 'correction' for altitude effects, that because the GCVWR rating for those vehicles is already reduced as appropriate in anticipation of the elevations encountered in their market areas. Honda's approach allows the owner to understand those effects and determine their applicability for situational-specifics.
If the Honda altitude adjustment to the limit was mild, I'd be OK with their approach. But travelling a major US interstate highway in Colorado can take away 40% of the vehicle tow capacity. I don't think that's a reasonable caveat to stick in an owners manual.

I'd bet 90% of the world reads the marketing literature "tows 5000 pounds" and then the "dry weight" of their trailer and if the dry weight is below the marketing limit they are G2G.

Sorry, I just don't like it. I know N.A. stoichiometric engines lose 3% power per 1000 feet gained. But if that really drops what can safely be towed then I think it needs to be made much more apparent in the recommendations.

If I'm loaded to 10,000 pounds in a Ridgeline at 11,000 feet am I unsafe, wearing out the vehicle, or just going real slow?
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Old 11-11-2020, 12:06 PM   #15
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Mine (2019) says GCVWR reduces by 2% for every 1000 feet. So if it starts at 9987 lbs, and I drive to 6000 feet, it drops to 8788. At 10000 feet is is about 8000 lbs. The curb weight of the RTL-e is 4515, delivery weight of my 17b was about 2900 lbs, So at 6000 feet that still leaves about 1000 lbs of cargo (divided between trailer and truck) and at 10000 feet it would need to be more lightly loaded. (Not that I ever drive that high.) But it does make some sense not to tow more than a 17b (unless you aren't going to visit the west.) Although you can cross the US on I 90 and never hit 6000 feet.

(I had trouble finding the info as it is listed as elevation vs. altitude so searching altitude gave me no relevant results.)
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Old 11-11-2020, 12:07 PM   #16
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Oh, and the other point for the OP is that the 5000 lbs may be just AWD models so check.
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Old 11-11-2020, 12:12 PM   #17
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(I had trouble finding the info as it is listed as elevation vs. altitude so searching altitude gave me no relevant results.)
I think elevation is the height of the ground from sea level. Altitude is where you are at, which is above the elevation for a plane but at it for a car.

We were using the terms interchangeably here, but that's because we are talking ground vehicles.

There are almost no roads anyone will tow on in North America above 12,000 feet. There are roads above 15,000 feet in Peru and Chile, but that's probably not an issue for most Escape owners.
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Old 11-11-2020, 12:19 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by JeffreyG View Post
....If I'm loaded to 10,000 pounds in a Ridgeline at 11,000 feet am I unsafe, wearing out the vehicle, or just going real slow?
I think you know the answers to those questions, but for the benefit of others that may be following this 'discussion' I'll offer the following opinions ....
  • "Safety" may be a function of ability to maintain speeds comparable to accompanying traffic in some situations; none of this altitude-effect bears on braking, handling, or suspension/chassis capabilities of the vehicle at any given speed.
  • The vehicle has other systems (e.g. PCM programming) designed to protect the drivetrain in high-stress situations; but yes, any higher-stress operation (e.g. towing at all) may have an impact on any vehicle's ultimate longevity. Whether that potential impact is significant ....? (noting most, but not all, folks who own RVs are likely to 'retire' their tow vehicles for other reasons long before the drivetrain 'wears-out')
  • Yes, the inherent effects of reduced power-output with increased altitude will likely mean less-vigorous performance (e.g. lower maximum speeds and rate of acceleration); whether that means "real slow", a subjective expression ....?
No comment on your dislike of Honda's approach to disclosure on these matters, that's certainly your prerogative.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobbie54 View Post
Oh, and the other point for the OP is that the 5000 lbs may be just AWD models so check.
Per his OP Norm has a Gen 1 (2009) Ridgeline. Restating: unlike Gen 2 all Gen 1 Ridgelines are AWD and have the same 5000# maximum tow-rating.
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Old 11-11-2020, 08:20 PM   #19
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Hi All,
Thank you very much for all the replies. Cheers, norm
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Old 11-19-2020, 02:46 AM   #20
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I'd say no WDH given your description. KISS principle. Just make sure you have ENOUGH tongue weight. Not enough tongue weight is way worse than too much. Don't overload the bed of the truck. Maybe add some Helwig helper springs to the rear leaf springs on your PU. Do that later on if you think you need to add them to keep the truck level. That is a very simple and economical install that works wonderfully in my experience. My Helwigs have 60k of towing and still going strong.
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