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Question about towing capacity, I recently purchased a bass fishing boat which weighs just over 1,500 lbs. which is what my E is rated for.

My question is this, is there any mod I can make to my 2005 Honda Element EX AWD to increase the towing capacity? I am not worried about day to day towing but the steep boat ramps and the prolonged towing my be an issue so I was curious if there was anything I could do to improve my E's ability to tow the boat.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 

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Pulling out the rear seats oughta shave off a few pounds.

But generally, just stay slow and don't beat on it while towing and you should manage.
 

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You will probably do fine over short distances (I have towed more with my E), but, your biggest "weakness" on towing capacity is the frame the hitch is attached to. If, and I don't have the knowledge to say otherwise, you reinforce the frame, theoretically you could tow a bit more. But, I stick with my original statement - you'll probably do fine towing over relatively flat and short distances. :razz: :)
 

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I always wondered if they rated them by how much they can tow, or how much they can stop...
 

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I always wondered if they rated them by how much they can tow, or how much they can stop...
It's a combination of a good many things on each individual model vehicle. Weight, wheelbase, stopping power, how much the vehicle can handle going around a curve, on a hill, the durability of the transmission over time, the brakes and how they apply, the suspension, traction, etc. It's not derived from some complex formula as much as simply testing the finished design with different loads. In the past, the ability of the test driver to keep from screaming in panic was a good test... but these days, the lawyers do the screaming too.

Never forget that the Element is not a small truck, but actually a car with a utility body on top. It's only built like a car with a car's limitations. The greatest thing you CAN do to increase towing ability is put in a transmission cooler. Past that? You basically have to live with the vehicle you bought.
 

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Already towing a boat over 1500#'s, then adding the water weight (when exiting the lake) and slanted boat ramp, I think you're asking for trouble.
 

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Already towing a boat over 1500#'s, then adding the water weight (when exiting the lake) and slanted boat ramp, I think you're asking for trouble.
Add gas, motor, trolling battery, tackle, incidental gear, and the cooler with the 65lb bigmouth inside that you generously put back in the water (after admiring it in private one last time)... Even leaving the fish behind (which is why you don't have it now but can still describe in detail) - that's a lot of weight past the number on the sticker.

I used to wisely lose most of my heavier lures and use up all the gas to save weight on the way back. You'd think the gas was a problem but I lost the prop a few times too. (I live on a river.) We didn't have depth sounders back then. We had oars - and by golly, we LIKED em!
 

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There was a thread about adding Sumosprings to the rear springs to provide some increase in durability, which might help - it looked like it didn't even involve removing the springs/shocks.

Since youve got an AT, you can monitor your transmission temperature using Scangauge/Torque Pro.

I'd also change your transmission fluid more frequently (probably the rear diff also) and look into adding a transmission cooler bigger than the one in the stock radiator.
 

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I always wondered if they rated them by how much they can tow, or how much they can stop...
It's a combination of a good many things on each individual model vehicle. Weight, wheelbase, stopping power, how much the vehicle can handle going around a curve, on a hill, the durability of the transmission over time, the brakes and how they apply, the suspension, traction, etc. It's not derived from some complex formula as much as simply testing the finished design with different loads. In the past, the ability of the test driver to keep from screaming in panic was a good test... but these days, the lawyers do the screaming too.

Never forget that the Element is not a small truck, but actually a car with a utility body on top. It's only built like a car with a car's limitations. The greatest thing you CAN do to increase towing ability is put in a transmission cooler. Past that? You basically have to live with the vehicle you bought.
Missed throwing the smilies in for sarcastic flavor.
Add brakes. And the cooler. Your transmission, insurance agent and the rest of us will thank you
 

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The rated towing capacity has everything to do with liability and is dictated by the insurance folks. The Same exact Element is rated to tow 3236lbs in Australia when using trailer brakes. I towed 2500 lbs with my 04 Civic 800 miles no sweat.... also no weather and no traffic to deal with.

If trailer brakes are an option they really help even with trailers within the weight limit. Stiffer compliance bushings will help you out and if A/T a transmission cooler as well.

Common sense and patience is the key with towing, You should be just fine but at the same time, it IS much easier to find trouble.
 

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if you are towing at your capacity a lot and want it to be "better", there are a few things to do.

If your talking suspension, then adding a spacer, maybe 1/4-1/2" between the spring and perch will preload the spring, increasing the spring capacity dynamically. When you're loaded, at that particular height, the spring will be more compressed, so it will be higher on its scale of linear load rate. Really, you could look for higher spring rate springs but they might not be easy to find.

If you want it to stop better, then adding stainless lines in place of the rubber hoses will increase ultimate pressure at the calipers without fade and change the brake pads to a better compound.

If you want it to pull better, then any modification to get air in and out of the engine, better air filter, different muffler. Add a transmission cooler for sure if its an automatic and use a performance fluid, not just a parts store brand fluid.
 

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if you are towing at your capacity a lot and want it to be "better", there are a few things to do.
Add a transmission cooler for sure if its an automatic and use a performance fluid, not just a parts store brand fluid.
Just a couple of notes. Transmission cooler advice good - fluid advice VERY bad.
Element transmissions really need the OEM Honda transmission fluid. If you added either a "parts store brand" or ANY "performance" fluid, then you can get the best towing capacity by cleaning all of that gunk out and going back to the Honda fluid. Like any transmission fluid, the trick under heavy service is to keep it cool and change it more often. It's not the base stock that wears out - it's the additives and Honda transmissions die without those additives.

BTW, the Honda transmission fluid is made with synthetic "performance" base stock. It's still the additives that do the work.
 

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Unbraked towing capacity was closer to ours (I think it might have been 1600lbs. maybe even less on the AT) and the vehicle comparison is the CRV. unfortunately the Element didn't make it over there for them to rate. =(

Love the commentary.

Folks over at CanAm are towing full length airstreams with torus sho's and ford flexes. They were most concerned with my request for information based on our lack of power and torque. Otherwise he thinks the car suspension is a much better experience towing (he likes to show people how fast he can take on and off ramps with his airstream/tarus combo... that sounds like a good enough set up for me.)

I've also been pushing my lifted E more to see what the lift does to our center of gravity and I can say I've broken the back end loose a few times and never seen two wheels ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

So sue me.

In conclusion, don't exceed the weight rating of your hitch, and don't tug more than you can pull out of it's own way (which some days feels like the car, with a mild load in it.)
 

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i like the activity on this thread too... way too much contradicting information out there on towing ability, I think.

Curt Class 3 Hitch for Element: 3500lbs / 350lb Tongue
Draw Tight Class 3 Hitch for Element: 3500lbs/ 350lb Tongue
Reese Class 3 Hitch for Element: 3500lbs/350lb Tongue

Honda Manual: 1500lbs/ 150 lbs Tongue

Doesn't make sense... or does it?

Only thing that makes sense to me is that Honda only offers a Class 1 Hitch on the Element. Which when I look and think about class 1 hitches, I wouldnt trust them to hold weight either. So since Honda only offered a class 1, they probably just maxed out that class 1 rating in the manual.

Class 3's are a different ball game with thick steel and multi-mounts to the frame. I trust and believe the rating for 350lb tongue weights, as I've loaded mine up. And I'd say that the Class 3 Hitches themselves would easily handle the 3500lbs, but I dont think the Element engine and tranny would like that very much.

I've easily towed well over the 1500# mark with no problems. Probably pulled near 2500# and the E does just fine. But getting up to 3000-3500#, I'd say the trans cooler wouldn't be a bad idea since you'll be going super slow up any incline.
 

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i like the activity on this thread too... way too much contradicting information out there on towing ability, I think.

Curt Class 3 Hitch for Element: 3500lbs / 350lb Tongue
Draw Tight Class 3 Hitch for Element: 3500lbs/ 350lb Tongue
Reese Class 3 Hitch for Element: 3500lbs/350lb Tongue

Honda Manual: 1500lbs/ 150 lbs Tongue

Doesn't make sense... or does it?

Only thing that makes sense to me is that Honda only offers a Class 1 Hitch on the Element. Which when I look and think about class 1 hitches, I wouldnt trust them to hold weight either. So since Honda only offered a class 1, they probably just maxed out that class 1 rating in the manual.

Class 3's are a different ball game with thick steel and multi-mounts to the frame. I trust and believe the rating for 350lb tongue weights, as I've loaded mine up. And I'd say that the Class 3 Hitches themselves would easily handle the 3500lbs, but I dont think the Element engine and tranny would like that very much.

I've easily towed well over the 1500# mark with no problems. Probably pulled near 2500# and the E does just fine. But getting up to 3000-3500#, I'd say the trans cooler wouldn't be a bad idea since you'll be going super slow up any incline.
Your logic makes little sense to me about the Class 1 rating of the E ?

If the E could tow more than a Class 1 rating Honda certainly could have designed the hitch to match that capacity.

To presume otherwise is simply bizarre.

I am not saying I think our cars can or can not tow beyond rating but I am not planning to experiment when it is not too tough to just use a big enough rig rated appropriately as I need to.

I tow a lot and belong to several forums where this topic is a constant source of argument and I can not comprehend the argument for towing past the rating for the vehicle and am always amused when there are comparisons about the "Same" car in another country or some "Knowledge" from somewhere about the way the ratings are skewed to result in lower capacity for whatever reasons?

I have a friend who is a tire engineer for Ford and he assures me that there is actual engineering involved in these ratings and calculations for all manufacturers and I sure hope this is the case,don't you?
 

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Just a couple of notes. Transmission cooler advice good - fluid advice VERY bad.
Element transmissions really need the OEM Honda transmission fluid. If you added either a "parts store brand" or ANY "performance" fluid, then you can get the best towing capacity by cleaning all of that gunk out and going back to the Honda fluid. Like any transmission fluid, the trick under heavy service is to keep it cool and change it more often. It's not the base stock that wears out - it's the additives and Honda transmissions die without those additives.

BTW, the Honda transmission fluid is made with synthetic "performance" base stock. It's still the additives that do the work.
I dont really want to get into this here, but dont worry its not a bad idea! Between originally specified fluid to discontinued, updated fluid, you can absolutely change your fluid type. DW for example usually doesnt work well in z1 trans. Backwards compatible fluid issues are present due to the properties of the fluid, shear weight, additive blend, base stock, etc. Believe it or not i've had wonderful luck with mercon and lucas additive blend in hondas! Even type F (one of my favorites LOL). I would absolutely consider royal purple or redline for better performance and long life. Just remember you have to change it!! Anyways, its not a bad idea, do your research and consider your trans mileage and condition.
 

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Your logic makes little sense to me about the Class 1 rating of the E ?

If the E could tow more than a Class 1 rating Honda certainly could have designed the hitch to match that capacity.

To presume otherwise is simply bizarre.

I am not saying I think our cars can or can not tow beyond rating but I am not planning to experiment when it is not too tough to just use a big enough rig rated appropriately as I need to.

I tow a lot and belong to several forums where this topic is a constant source of argument and I can not comprehend the argument for towing past the rating for the vehicle and am always amused when there are comparisons about the "Same" car in another country or some "Knowledge" from somewhere about the way the ratings are skewed to result in lower capacity for whatever reasons?

I have a friend who is a tire engineer for Ford and he assures me that there is actual engineering involved in these ratings and calculations for all manufacturers and I sure hope this is the case,don't you?

So you're against towing above class 1 even with a hitch rated at class 3? It is a tough argument. Sure, be safe, dont tow more than honda rated. But, if there is a hitch designed for your car rated higher, then why is that? Why didnt they use a lower rating?

Suspension, tires, brakes, engine are what determine a tow rating... not how well a hitch is bolted to the car. Aftermarket probably pulls 4k lb and if it didnt rip THEIR hitch off, then the rating stands. Surely a slippery slope!
 

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So you're against towing above class 1 even with a hitch rated at class 3? It is a tough argument. Sure, be safe, dont tow more than honda rated. But, if there is a hitch designed for your car rated higher, then why is that? Why didnt they use a lower rating?

Suspension, tires, brakes, engine are what determine a tow rating... not how well a hitch is bolted to the car. Aftermarket probably pulls 4k lb and if it didnt rip THEIR hitch off, then the rating stands. Surely a slippery slope!
Nothing that I said flies against anything you suggest either except that "They" (Honda) did not make that hitch.
Anyone can make a hitch designed to bolt onto any vehicle but this does nothing to enhance the vehicle manufacturers rating for the vehicle towing capacity,it just lets you attach a trailer with a bigger ball and load capacity.

There are accessories for hitch mounting that do require the larger ball diameter that you can only get in the higher class hitches for one.

I am simply saying that for me the rating from the car maker is what it is and I am no kind of mechanical engineer to decide to run beyond those ratings period.

I am fairly sure that few others who choose to are either?

Can-Am seems to act as though they are and if you are OK taking that chance for yourself and others around you on the road while taking it,then this is the part I have problems with.

My position is pretty simple really just not as convenient as some people prefer.
 

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This whole conversation has gone WAY off rails because you're making one big wrong assumption. There's no such thing as a class 3 hitch for an Element. There are class three hitches, but as soon as you mount it on an Element, it's only as good as the sheet metal frame that it's bolted to.

I agree that paying Honda $600-800 for an undersized drawbar hitch is stupid, but you can't expect a standard class three hitch to suddenly turn your Element in to a more capable towing vehicle.
 
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