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Do I really need the manufactures tow package?

I own a 2005 Honda Pilot, that does not have the Honda tow package. I have recently purchased a 1969 travel trailer that is about 14 feet. No where on the trailer or it’s title is the weight or make/model listed. I have purchased the extended warranty for my Pilot. The Honda dealership told me that the Pilot can only haul 1500 lbs without the tow package installed; which will cost $1200. Uhaul will install a tow hitch for $300 that is guaranteed to up to 5000 lbs. Do I really need to purchase the tow package from the dealership or can I have Uhaul install the tow hitch.

I am planning to use the trailer to attend the Burning Man Festival August 30-Sept. 6th.

Jennie B.

The tow package may include a transmission cooler which is important if your Pilot has an automatic transmission. The tow package may include helper springs in the back so that the vehicle doesn’t sit too low when the trailer is attached.

Years ago, my brother and I bought a small aluminum boat with a 20 hp outboard motor. We put a hitch on his 1963 Studebaker Lark. The Studebaker had plenty of power–it was a V-8.
However, the rear end rode too low with the boat attached. We had to put helper springs around the rear shock absorbers. That solved the problem when we towed the boat. However, without the boat, the ride was really harsh with the helper springs. I would vote for going with the dealer package, rather than the U-Haul hitch.

It is not just the hitch receiver load capacity that is the issue here. Sure, U-Haul will install a class 4 receiver, but Honda only rates the 4wd version of the Pilot at 4500 lbs and 3500 lbs for the 2wd version.

The other thing to consider is that you will most likely still need the kit from Honda to get the connection to the lights and trailer brakes without messing up the operation of the stability control system. Almost all new vehicles with stability control systems need to “know” that a trailer is attached to work correctly.

The hitch may be guaranteed up to 5000 pounds but that doesn’t mean the rest of the car is. The first gen Pilots were rated for towing (with the factory towing package) 3500 pounds max (4500 pounds if you were towing a boat, due to the difference in surface area) Your trailer probably doesn’t weigh much though. It should be mentioned that there’s more to a towing package than just the hitch. They usually include a transmission cooler, a bigger radiator, bigger radiator fans, and trailer wiring.

Seeing how this vehicle is under warranty. Should you get the U-haul hitch, tow your trailer to Burning Man and then a week later have transmission issues. The Honda dealership is going to take one look at the hitch and invalidate your warranty on the spot. With that said the trailer doesn’t sound terribly heavy and I imagine your Pilot can probably tow it without much trouble. Alternatively you could just rent/borrow a truck for the trip.

You can read what your Pilot requires for towing here, at the bottom of the page.


Find someplace where you can weigh the trailer.

I’d want an extra transmission cooler. Try not to void your extended warranty.

This is hard on your Pilot. I’d get the factory package.

There is no 2WD 2005 Pilot. They are all AWD. The towing ratings are 3500 pounds for a typical trailer and 4500 pounds for a boat (boats don’t have the same frontal area as typical trailer and are therefore easier to drag through the wind.

You can’t possibly know what you need until you know how much the trailer weighs loaded. I suggest you load it and take it to a truck stop with a scale and weigh it. Once you know how much it weighs, post it here and I will give you my advice.

The brand “Honda” and the purpose “tow vehicle”, just dont go together for me.