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Old 07-30-2021, 10:04 PM   #1
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Location: Renton, Wa
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Excited to have our first TOAD vehicle. Element

So yesterday we bit the bullet and purchased a new to us 2003 Honda Element to pull behind our 30 Class A. Super excited. The Element has 42k miles. So it should have a great life with us. Now we get to set it up for towing. Im looking at $6k cost at our local shop to put it all together. Wondering if I should just try it myself. Worse thing would be is I take it in.

Now to choose from a lot of options to buy. I really need it to be simple to use. If I buy used, what do I worry about. Do I need to stay with all the same brand? Braking thingy? Base plates. Tow bar. Wiring. Safety chains. Anyone around seattle want to point me in the right direction? This should be fun to be able to go sight seeing once camp is setup. Also need to get two fishing kayaks on top of the element.
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Old 07-31-2021, 02:36 AM   #2
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bcnix00-

I tow a Honda Fit Sport, but my other car is a 2003 Element. It has over 175,000 miles on it; in another seven years I can get "antique" plates for it. It's a great "truck" for someone who doesn't need a pickup. Here is a link to the 2003 Honda Element owner's manual. Read and follow the instructions that begin on page 198, "Towing Your Vehicle Behind a Motorhome."

I would have set the Element up for towing, but its weight was over what my former Class C could tow, so I modified the Fit instead.

You can mix baseplates and towbars, as long as you work through the details and (if you buy used equipment) you get all the parts. We use a Roadmaster baseplate and Roadmaster Sterling All-terrain towbar. There are fewer reports of Roadmaster failures here on iRV2 vs. some other brands, but there are few reports of towbar failures in general. I had our trusted auto mechanic install the baseplate.

For braking system, I installed a Demco Stay-in-Play Duo. It is easy to set up. Another popular choice is the NSA Ready Brute Elite/Elite II, which is a towbar with the brake built into it. If you can get the cable through the firewall to the brake pedal (on some cars this is easier than others), the mechanical brake on the Ready Brute Elite is supposedly easy to set up, too. NSA also sells the brake separately to add to other makes of towbars, such as the Roadmaster.

For lighling, you'll find that there are no plug-and-play harnesses for the Element. Your choices are a magnetic lightbar, extra bulbs in the tail light housings, or wiring in diodes to the Element's tail lights. I suggest the last. Many folks can do the wiring installation themselves.

For kayaks I use the Thule "Hull-a-Port" carriers attached to the dealer-installed roof rack bars. I put a folding 3-step ladder in the Element to make tying the kayaks to the carriers easier, as the racks are fairly high off the ground.

Finally, you may want to consider the Honda-branded neoprene seat covers for the front seats. I have had then since our Element was new. With the age and mileage I'd be looking at beat up seats, but not so with the covers. Similarly, if you have rust on your Element, have it undercoated ASAP. That's what will keep mine going until I get those "antique" plates!
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Old 07-31-2021, 08:57 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bcnix00 View Post
So yesterday we bit the bullet and purchased a new to us 2003 Honda Element to pull behind our 30 Class A. Super excited. The Element has 42k miles. So it should have a great life with us. Now we get to set it up for towing. Im looking at $6k cost at our local shop to put it all together. Wondering if I should just try it myself. Worse thing would be is I take it in.

Now to choose from a lot of options to buy. I really need it to be simple to use. If I buy used, what do I worry about. Do I need to stay with all the same brand? Braking thingy? Base plates. Tow bar. Wiring. Safety chains. Anyone around seattle want to point me in the right direction? This should be fun to be able to go sight seeing once camp is setup. Also need to get two fishing kayaks on top of the element.
I had an 07 element I towed. I did the work myself. $6K seems a lot. Anyway if you are handy with a few tools you can do it and save yourself big bucks. Take you time. If it states 3 hrs-wrong. I really like the element but traded my son for a civic.
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Old 08-01-2021, 09:55 AM   #4
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I recently purchased a new Demco Tow Dolly Model 9713049 (pre-assembled) for approx. 3K locally. Also has surge brake so no additional braking system needed. Just returned from a trip from TX to Glacier NP and return with a Class B+ Renegade MH towing an '11 Honda Accord. No issues whatsoever with the Dolly (other than remembering the increased length and turning radius). Mileage was approx. 14+ vs. 18 not towing. Only modification I did was to add some reflective red/white adhesive tape to the fenders since the fenders are grey and were hard to see in the mirrors against grey roads, otherwise, happy with purchase and performance.
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Old 08-03-2021, 12:27 PM   #5
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We pulled an Element for several years all over the country. Loved it! Like a bowling alley with the rear seats up. Problem was, it was almost as noisy. We would buy an new one today if we could find one.
Service it regularly and make sure you go thru the pre-tow procedure each time. We usually stopped and did the pre-tow thing every couple or three hours just to be safe. Great towed car
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