Is a factory "tow package" better than retrofitting?

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Is a factory "tow package" better than retrofitting?

Postby catinmoon » Tue Apr 05, 2016 7:50 pm

HI again, I'm still considering tow vehicles (have been using my friend's Tacoma to pull my td trailer since I got it). My latest idea is a Honda Odyssey van for reasons that include I don't want an SUV and my older dog won't jump up into one, but also want something that will carry things in comfort when I need to carry things, and I don't want a truck.

I have found some 2009-10 Odyssey vans with reasonable mileage and price. Some of them don't have a hitch. I realize adding a hitch can be done, but I'm wondering if there is something better about a factory tow package vs. adding after the fact.

The good news is that I know the vehicle (90K miles) hasn't been abused with towing! However, there is no transmission cooler or other coolers (not sure what they would be) that help define a "tow package"

1. What is in a factory "tow package"
2. is the factory version any better than adding the components later?
3. Any thoughts on towing a tear with an Odyssey?

I know I'm asking a lot of questions, but am interested in your ideas.

thanks
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Re: Is a factory "tow package" better than retrofitting?

Postby Woodbutcher » Tue Apr 05, 2016 8:24 pm

Most factory tow packages have the wiring and hitch installed and most include a transmission cooler. You might google that make and model and see what came with it from the factory when it was new. Also check the tow rating to see how many lbs it is rated to tow.
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Re: Is a factory "tow package" better than retrofitting?

Postby catinmoon » Tue Apr 05, 2016 8:46 pm

Woodbutcher wrote:Most factory tow packages have the wiring and hitch installed and most include a transmission cooler. You might google that make and model and see what came with it from the factory when it was new. Also check the tow rating to see how many lbs it is rated to tow.


3500 lbs is the rating, my tear is 600# empty

I didn't have much luck figuring out what the original tow pkg is, but can keep looking.

The mechanic said there is room for a cooler; I saw several listed on the e trailer website for approx $50 for the cooler. I have no idea how much the install would cost for the cooler. hitch around $250 I would guess.
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Re: Is a factory "tow package" better than retrofitting?

Postby MtnDon » Tue Apr 05, 2016 8:56 pm

1. Factory tow package equipment varies. Of course a hitch and a wiring connector. But then some will include HD battery, HD alternator, HD cooling system parts, automatic transmission cooler, engine oil cooler, change of final drive gear ratio better suited to towing..... Best to check the manufacturer's lists.

2. The factory package can increase the tow ratings over the non tow package with aftermarket tow things added...

If you are going to tow a light weight TD it probably does not make as much difference in the end. But that is just a guess based on no research at all.
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Re: Is a factory "tow package" better than retrofitting?

Postby Gettin Started » Tue Apr 05, 2016 9:30 pm

I added tow packages to two odyssey's, a 2003 and 2012. On the 2012 I put in an automatic transmission fluid cooler, hitch, and 4 pin wiring harness (then added a 7 pin because my trailer has brakes). etrailer.com is where i purchased most of my parts (amazon may have similar or better prices). On the 2003, the OEM Honda tow package included a power steering fluid cooler so I added that as well. The 2012 didn't seem to call for one. Recommend searching for what the OEM kit is for the make/model you purchase then search etrailer or any other auto part store and you can buy the parts for likely 25%-30% of the cost of the OEM kit if you're willing to do a little work yourself.

I'm towing a 6 x 12 v-nose enclosed trailer that weighs somewhere around 1,800 pounds. I'd prefer to use a truck, but a minivan makes sense for every use other than towing the trailer so that's what we use. With an odyssey you can even fit full sheets of plywood inside (with middle seats removed) which may be convenient for your build. If you're towing a smaller teardrop you shouldn't have any problems with an Odyssey.

P.S. anecdotes that I read said the OEM fluid cooler is not as good as aftermarket...and you pay a lot more for the OEM kit.
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Re: Is a factory "tow package" better than retrofitting?

Postby troubleScottie » Wed Apr 06, 2016 12:43 am

If you are really considering a van, the Dodge Caravan may be a good idea. Especially since they have fold down seats. We use our mostly to haul dogs, crates, table, pens, grooming equipment, luggage, or basically any thing that fits in the back with the two front seats open. Our current popups can be loaded across the car, so close to 4ft across interior. Although you are limited in height, it is nice to have a enclosed water proof container.

The deck is flat when the seats are down. And the seats come up/down very quickly. So if you need to carry people rather than cargo, the transition is easy and quick. And each seat can be set separately. They are popular, so there should be a fair number around.

The larger 6 is a bit better for pickup. However, the standard 6 is more than adequate.

The glass all the way around makes for good visibility when backing -- assuming you have not filled in all the space.

Did use the electric door version as a rental. The latest versions have nice small motors so they do not take up too much space. Although nice when carrying things in both hands, the side doors open/close very slowly. Not the best thing if there is driving rain.

The hitch might be a bit low as compared to truck placement. I have not ever towed anything with it.
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Re: Is a factory "tow package" better than retrofitting?

Postby catinmoon » Wed Apr 06, 2016 9:53 am

troubleScottie wrote:If you are really considering a van, the Dodge Caravan may be a good idea. Especially since they have fold down seats. We use our mostly to haul dogs, crates, table, pens, grooming equipment, luggage, or basically any thing that fits in the back with the two front seats open. Our current popups can be loaded across the car, so close to 4ft across interior. Although you are limited in height, it is nice to have a enclosed water proof container.

The deck is flat when the seats are down. And the seats come up/down very quickly. So if you need to carry people rather than cargo, the transition is easy and quick. And each seat can be set separately. They are popular, so there should be a fair number around.
.


Thanks for the thought. Do all of the seats fold down? I guess I should go and try and find one. How has it been mechanically? Are there better years for the Caravan? I like the name!

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Re: Is a factory "tow package" better than retrofitting?

Postby gudmund » Wed Apr 06, 2016 10:01 am

te Caravan's seats fold down on the newer ones - like from 2004/5 models on to present. The older models did not have this feature. Their seats bolted in and had to be lifted out to get them out of the way,
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Re: Is a factory "tow package" better than retrofitting?

Postby Kaz » Wed Apr 06, 2016 8:32 pm

Adding your own hitch and wiring can be a good thing. It;s all new and not rusted. Wiring is a simple plug in harness from Curt/ETrailer. Adding a tranny cooler, a must for longevity is probably about 250 if you hire a mechanic. Great time for a tranny service. 5 to 600 bucks will put on the road ready to go.
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Re: Is a factory "tow package" better than retrofitting?

Postby flboy » Sun Apr 10, 2016 8:56 pm

I've added aftermarket tow packages to my old Ford Pickup and it was just as good as factory. A tow package is a hitch, wiring, transmission cooler, and in some cases, a mirror package. The thing you need to pay attention to, at least with pickups (not sure about vans) is the differential gear ratio. Some have higher gear ratios for better highway mileage, but they suffer from a lack of torque and will actually have to work harder ( and use more gas) to pull the same load. :thumbsup:
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Re: Is a factory "tow package" better than retrofitting?

Postby catinmoon » Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:46 am

flboy wrote:I've added aftermarket tow packages to my old Ford Pickup and it was just as good as factory. A tow package is a hitch, wiring, transmission cooler, and in some cases, a mirror package. The thing you need to pay attention to, at least with pickups (not sure about vans) is the differential gear ratio. Some have higher gear ratios for better highway mileage, but they suffer from a lack of torque and will actually have to work harder ( and use more gas) to pull the same load. :thumbsup:


Good to know. Can you break it down for me? I'm clueless as to which differential gear ratios are better than others. is there a rule of thumb? Is this a spec that will be listed for the different vehicles?

Thanks,
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Re: Is a factory "tow package" better than retrofitting?

Postby flboy » Mon Apr 11, 2016 7:50 pm

catinmoon wrote:Good to know. Can you break it down for me? I'm clueless as to which differential gear ratios are better than others. is there a rule of thumb? Is this a spec that will be listed for the different vehicles?

Thanks,
Stephanie


Stephanie.... Differential Gear Ratio determines the number of times the drive shaft (or pinion) will rotate for each turn of the wheels (or ring gear). So if you have a 3.73:1 gear ratio the drive shaft turns 3.73 times for every turn of the wheel. A gear ratio of 4.11 drive shaft turns 4.11 times for every turn of the wheel.

Think of your 10 speed bike. The bigger the sprocket in the rear or smaller in the front, the more times you pedal for each rotation of the wheel... but it is better for going up hills and etc...

That is all I am referring to. Truck manufacturers advertise this ratio as it is a trade off between gas mileage and the ability to pull heavier loads.


BTW... I forgot to mention that tow packages will also often times include a trailer brake controller. These are also straightforward to install and are just as good as factory except in some newer vehicles where they include some new anti-sway technology that modulates the brakes to counteract sway.
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Re: Is a factory "tow package" better than retrofitting?

Postby Padilen » Mon Apr 11, 2016 9:53 pm

Also the higher the number is a lower gear.
4.10 is numerically higher but lower gearing than a 3.55 etc.
My pickup set up as tow vehicle from factory,is 3.92, 6 speed with a tow/haul setting that locks out the higher gears.
A non tow factory set up might be a 3.21
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Re: Is a factory "tow package" better than retrofitting?

Postby flboy » Tue Apr 12, 2016 6:57 am

Padilen wrote:Also the higher the number is a lower gear.
4.10 is numerically higher but lower gearing than a 3.55 etc.
My pickup set up as tow vehicle from factory,is 3.92, 6 speed with a tow/haul setting that locks out the higher gears.
A non tow factory set up might be a 3.21

Exactly. Something to pay attention to if you plan on hauling anything heavy.

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Re: Is a factory "tow package" better than retrofitting?

Postby catinmoon » Tue Apr 12, 2016 8:57 am

Thanks for the discussions on gear ratio. I had heard the terms but was never sure what they meant, exactly.

Best,
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