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Old 03-14-2012, 09:09 PM   #1
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Speed limit on flat towing -- why?

Just wondering why some vehicle manufacturers (e.g., Honda) recommend speed limit on towing their vehicles behind motor homes -- the limit most often seen appears to be 65 mph. This speed, for plenty of good reasons, makes good sense for the motor home speed, but why for the toad?

Bottom line question is this: Is there any real risk of damage to the toad if the manufacturer's speed recommendation is not strictly adhered to?

I have seen plenty of postings in this and other forums where manufacturer speed recommendations for toads were exceeded on occasion without apparent problems, but I am wondering -- purely from an engineering standpoint -- if speed in excess of the manufacturer's recommendation is most likely to cause vehicle damage -- and if so, why?

Thanks.

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Old 03-14-2012, 09:22 PM   #2
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When towing, I always try to follow the trucks as I travel on the Interstates. In CA that means I usually drive 58 to 62 max. The first time I drove in to AZ I was following the trucks and not paying attention to my speed. When the wife asked "how fast are you driving?" I looked down and saw that I was doing 75 just like the trucks. I don't know how many miles that was but I now have 70,000 miles on the CRV without any apparent damage.
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Old 03-15-2012, 07:46 AM   #3
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The Honda technical people (I think they are in CA) have been quite helpful to me when I called about some other tech stuff. They actually connected me to a real tech. You could tell because he had no "public relations" in him and was brutally honest. It took me a bit of effort to find the right phone number but once I got to them the answer was available. Why not call them?
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Old 03-15-2012, 07:54 AM   #4
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And you're not willing to share his answer with us !!!!!!!
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Old 03-15-2012, 08:06 AM   #5
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And you're not willing to share his answer with us !!!!!!!
Sorry, did not call about the towing speed limit. My question was about pulling the fuse as stated in the manual when towing. His answer was that pulling the fuse should not be necessary unless towing for more than 8 hours. He said if it were him he would get a separate power supply for Brake Buddy (like those sold as jump starters) since wiring for lighter plug was a bit small and start the CRV and run it for 15-20 minutes each 4 hours while towing.
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Old 03-15-2012, 08:35 AM   #6
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As to a speed limit.. I can think of some things.. The transmission is being operated in a non-standard mode.. Normally (I will use rear wheel drive termonology here) power comes in the front, this turns a pump with circulates lubricant (Transmission fluid) through the beast keeping everything cool (relative) and lubricated. and power eventually is sent out the rear.

But when towing power is coming in the rar, there is no pump. No lubrication, hence the requirement you run the engine from time to time.

The higher the speed.. The hotter the rear bearings and such get, and no fluid to cool and lubricate, the faster the oil that clings to them is lost and... Well, slow down is all I can say.

Of course if you use a lube pump, or drive shaft disconnect (Axle lock on Front wheel drive) then disregard all the above, either the lube pump circulates transmission fluid for you or.. NO power to the trans at all. (Tow in park in fact)

Side benefit of disconnect/lock; Thief jumps in, key after all is in ignition, He Fires that sucker up, puts the pedal to the metal and goes..... To jail cause the car does not move under its own power in "Towed mode".
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Old 03-15-2012, 08:56 AM   #7
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I was told by a Honda transmission tech. that the honda does have a pump that is driven by the output shaft. That is why it can be pulled 4 down. There is something about the pump being run in a unnatural condition when being towed and can start turning the engine if towed over 65 mph. I did have a customer who loaned his Honda to a friend. He told the friend not to exceed 65 mph. The friend towed at 75 to 80 and damaged the transmission. The owner had towed for 8 years with no problem.
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Old 03-15-2012, 09:03 AM   #8
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It is also my understanding the pump is being turned by the drive shaft but is not as efficient and therefore extra precautions are needed.

I have never had a problem with mine and I have exceeded the 65MPH limitation many times but not for very long. Like others have stated that's my speed limit anyway.
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Old 03-15-2012, 09:20 AM   #9
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With friends like that who needs-------------?

My 04 CR-V reqires 65 mph speed and I have learned to like it very much. It caused me to slow down and receive the continuing benefits of driving slower. My purchase was based on being able to tow four down and later some techs would say contradictory things about speed, changing fluid intervals etc; I would folow up with service manager and others to "get the real story" which was often contradictory in itself. I just stick with the manual, do not question why and so far at 83000 miles and an additional 30000 towing our CR-V preforms as new.

As a hedge since new I have maintained a log book of every time I have towed date, time and distance starting point and ending. Essentially if you know how far it was towed and how long it required you can determine the speed was below 65. I once produced it for the service manager and he said such a log book has led to quick resolution of transmission issues for Honda CR-V's in the favor of the owner.

I have no way of knowing other than his comment but I'm glad I keep the log. Of course it is moot now since warranty has long past but I can see where we went and when and it is a nice reminder.
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Old 03-15-2012, 11:50 AM   #10
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The answer is actually very simple. Manufactures (Honda) did not do extended high speed 4 down towing tests on any of it's vehicles. The models they did test did not exceed 65 mph during testing. As of this date, only 2 Honda's have been driven and tested in 4 down driving conditions at 65mph. That is the CRV and the Fit.
Other models like the Accord and Civic have had no manufactures testing, so they limit recommendations to 35 mph and 50 miles for distance.
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Old 03-15-2012, 07:24 PM   #11
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This is all interesting and I really appreciate the feedback.

I have thought that Honda is missing something valuable by not paying more attention to RV applications with its vehicles. The same applies to other popular toad vehicles such as Jeep.

Hondas have been extremely popular with RV'ers for several years and it would seem like they would want to be invested in carving themselves out a niche with easy set up options for towing -- perhaps engineering the car to accept a tow plate without major surgery to the front end of the car; maybe making it easier for lights to be wired without gymnastics; something to make toad braking more easily adaptable to both the towed vehicle and the motor home.

All of these things, I would think, could easily be offered as options at the time of order or sale. Who wouldn't like to have a new car that would be available for pick up from the dealer with motor home towing set up ready to plug in?

I have long thought that there is a real opportunity for car manufacturers to sell larger numbers of a popular model (e.g., CR-V) if they would pay attention to the details we need to have the toads set up properly without giving all the work away to after market jobbers and installers. As it is, we are faced with several choices that have to be figured out -- the right set up, wiring, vehicle tow weights, supplemental brakes -- when all we want to do -- at least most of us who aren't engineering dailed in -- is pack up and go off to enjoy the national parks and all the other great places that our motor homes allow us the unique opportunities to see. Sure, there is still plenty that all of us have to pay attention to ourselves in order to stay safe on the road while traveling in our motor homes, but the manufacturers are, I think, missing an opportunity by not stepping in to help.

This is directly related to the subject I posted on -- manufacturers' speed limit restrictions on their cars being towed. If, as was said above, Honda and the others have spent little to no time testing four down towing -- and if there is so much conflicting information from their service representatives when asked, the manufacturers are doing nothing to help us figure these things out.

Precisely why having this forum is so helpful for others' advice!

Keep the comments coming .... and thanks.

Deek
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Old 03-16-2012, 09:57 AM   #12
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It's all about heat, and higher towing speeds generate more heat in the transmission. And the normal transmission cooling via the car radiator isn't working while towing either. That's the reason for keeping spees down and also for the advice to stop and run the car for a few minutes every couple hours - it gives the cooling and lubrication a chance to catch up.

The reason that some automatics cannot be towed at all is simply that their lube pump does not run unless the engine input shaft is turning, so no lubricating effect and no cooling at all. Those cars can usually be towed with the addition of an external lube pump (Remco Towing makes them).

So, can you exceed the recommended speed? Probably, especially for short periods. But the higher the speed and the longer you do it, the greater the risk that excessive heat will build up. This isn't a single catastrophic event - heat damage builds up over time. Heat also deteriorates the transmission fluid, so it's a good idea to change the fluid more frequently if you tow at high speeds, or even for long terms at the max recommended speed.

It is likely that the car manufacturers recommended speed is conservative. They don't know how hot the ambient temperature is going to be, or how well you will maintain your transmission, or how much or how often you will "cheat", so they tend to err on the low side. That's just a guess, of course.
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