CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Boat trailer pulling

I have been borrowing a Honda Ridgeline from a neighbor to launch and retrive my boat. It has a button marked lock 4 wheel drive, which I have been pushing but it does not light up. I asked him about that and he said that meant that it was in front wheel drive only. It has been wroking fine.

Sadly for me the lease is up and I need to find another tow vehicle. I already own a Honda Odyssey, of course front drive only. If the Ridgeline was only using its front wheels it would seem that should work. I am really only concerned about getting up the ramp since it is <1/2 mile from the house. Thoughts anyone? Thanks!

How HEAVY is your boat / trailer combo??

Honda Ridgeline is an awd substantial near truck like vehicle that varies the torque to rear wheels on demand automatically, not with respect to the lock button. The lock button locks the front/ rear wheels in at 50/50. The Ridgeline can in awd handle substantial tow weight and add torque to the rear as needed; the owner is sadly wrong and doesn’t even read his own manual…Fwd only, esp on a boat ramp may not perform nearly as well. Don’t compare what the Ridgeline can do with a fwd only vehicle. You could be in a world of hurt, the first time you use a fwd only car on a steep slippery ramp with a tow of substantial weight regardless of the tow weight of the Odyessey. I would test tow and start and stop on steep hill with load equal to boat before I assumed a mini van could handle a ramp launch w/o traction loss…assuming the boat was near tow limit. If it’s a lighter boat…the heavy Odessey should be fine

Yea, how much do the boat and trailer weigh? What is the towing capacity of your Odyssey? Did you get the one with the tow package?

I already use the Honda to tow a 17 footer which weighs 2700 lbs on trailer and it does fine. I trail it a lot, like 5000 mi per year.
The Honda is rated for 3500 lbs.and does have the tow package and the trans cooler.
This other boat is a 22 foot Grady with 225. I estimate the weight to be 4500 lb.
I just need to get it up the ramp, I will not use it on the road since it < 1/2 mile from the house. That rig is set up very light on the tow bar, which seems like it would be helpful.
Thanks for your thoughts already!

The Gtrady White 225 Tournament weighs 2875# dry with no engine. Add engine weight, fuel, gear and the trailer to figure the full load.

Here’s the owner’s manual!!

http://www.gradywhite.com/customer/manuals/download.php?modelyear=2005&name=Tournament&model=225

If this isn’t your boat, change the year. Just look for the specifications. I’m sure that you can find the motor weight in it’s owner’s manual, too.

You could always mount a winch to the front of the ridgeline and use it (and a stout tree) as an assist if you have a problem on the boat ramp.

If the towing capacity of the Odyssey is 3,500 lbs., and the boat and trailer weigh more, you can’t use the Odyssey to tow it, even short distances. It doesn’t matter if the tongue weight is low. Don’t do it.

Make no mistake. The 3500 lbs tow limit of the Odyssey is optimistic and does not take into account the foibles of fwd which make towing up hills and ramps with substantial weight problematic and unsafe…get a two wheel drive truck at the least or a real SUV. Even the Honda Pilot with the same tow weight rating is safer and better suited to tow than a front drive Od.

Re: Dagosa comments:
The Pilot or Acura MDX are the obivous alternatives and do have a higher tow rating, I believe 4500 lbs. I have been trying to avoid that since I already have the Odyssey, it gets better mileage, and has more space inside it, and I am going such a short distance.
However, it does sound like the consensus of opinions is that that is not a good idea, and that is what I have been seeking and much appreciate.
Thanks for all of your comments, and any other you may wish to add!

Shop around for an older Dodge Powerwagon. W-250 4-WD pick-up. '92-'98 318-360 engine. They can be had for $1000-$1200 in operating condition. Why screw around spinning your tires and making a fool out of yourself on a slippery boat ramp while the crowd enjoys themselves taking your picture and posting it on the web??

The Honda Odyssey dosen’t have the most robust transmission in the first place. Since boat ramps are very steep pulling the boat out of the water will be the big test. You can try it. Perhaps you’d be wise to price out a new transmission for the Odyssey first.

I’d advise paying a teenager with a plow truck $20.00 twice a year to put the boat in the water, and again to take it out. A little gas money for the kid, and no wear and tear on your Oydssey.

Like someone else replied, if you are only a half mile from the ramp, get a substantial tow vehicle. You will look more foolish sliding back into the water with the Grady on the vehicle than sitting in an older, stronger vehicle safely, easily pulling up the ramp.

How often will you need to launch and retrieve the boat? You might have better luck renting a truck form Uhaul, local dealer, or Home Depot. Got to be cheaper than a tranny.

I can see which way the wind is blowing and thank you all for your thoughtful comments!

Many of us here have and will continue trying to get away with less then optimal towing practices…but when it comes to giving advice on a forum, I think we all err on the side of caution. Be safe…it’s a good step, just airing out your concerns.