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  1. Default Michigan to L.A.--need advice

    Dear all, this is my first post and I sincerely appreciate your help. My wife and I are moving from Birmingham MI to L.A. area in July because of job relocation and we plan to drive to CA. We have a 2007 Honda pilot and we want to use it tow our 96 sedan. We have a five years son traveling with us. Since we need to tow another car, I guess we should not drive too fast. I drove from Eugene OR to Birmingham MI last summer and it took me three days. But I have never towed any car before; I guess I should not go faster than 50 miles per hour? We need to go down to Indianapolis first and head to CA from there. Safety is our number one concern and we prefer flat, easy driving interstate without too many traffic. Can you give me suggestions on route choice. Many thanks.

  2. #2

    Default The tail wagging the dog?

    Hello Hsu,

    The first thing I'd do is check on the maximum towing capacity of the Pilot. If it's the vehicle I think it is, it probably has a very low capacity to tow. That capacity should be described in terms of weight, and it would not surprise me to find a 1,000 to 2,000 lb limit. Most any other automobile is going to weigh 3,000 lbs or more, so I've got serious doubts the Pilot is rated for towing another car, and absent those ratings, you run the risk of voiding your liability insurance coverage and a whole host of poor outcomes. In fact, if you were to attempt to rent either a towbar or tow dolly, you may find that the rental firms will refuse to rent the equipment to you if you are truthful about the towing and towed vehicles (make and model, etc).

    And even if you find you can tow the car, you will find that you cannot tow a vehicle, whether "4 wheels down" or via a tow dolly, and have any potential to back up the vehicle without disconnecting the tow. That simply means you've got to "drive through" all fuel stops and other stops along the way--no reversing. It's a royal pain in the neck.

    And that completely ignores the poor quality of the experience of towing a heavy load. Which also completely ignores the profound difficulty of stopping a heavy tow--you will be stopping two vehicles with the brakes of one. And even if "legal" and within the ratings of the Pilot, I would personally cringe at the mere thought of a multi-day heavy tow with no brakes on the towed vehicle. Creeping along at 50 mph while tractor-trailers and everybody else is running 80 mph + is a terrible way to spend a day behind the wheel, not to mention it's very dangerous.

    So, have I discouraged you from undertaking this part of your trip? Seriously, look into shipping the second car. I imagine your cost would run somewhere around $00.35 (35 cents) per mile, possibly less. It's not much more than the extra fuel your Pilot would burn, plus the towbar rental and other costs (which would actually include another night or two in hotels since you'd have to drive so slowly).

    Best of luck to you and your family,


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Not quite that bleak

    The Pilot is mid-sized SUV and has a towing capacity of 3500 lbs, so it is capable of handling the trip and you wouldn't void the warrenty or anything by attempting this trip.

    That said, many of Foy's other points are still valid. This would be a pretty big undertaking for both you and your Pilot. Shipping is something I would look closely at, not only because of the costs of towing, but it would also take a fair bit of life off of your Pilot simply because you'll be forcing it to work very hard for a long trip.

    If you do decide to tow, your best bet would likely be I-70 to I-44 to I-40. Its not perfectly flat, nor does it completely avoid traffic, but its about the best option you've got.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default There is another option!

    You could drive one vehicle and your wife could drive the other. You could switch off who has your child between the two of you. There is something to be said for driving long trips solo and this would give each of you that opportunity for portions of the drive. During this time you could listen to whatever music you want, sing at the top of your lungs, whatever. :) And this would also give each of you time to spend some quality one-on-one time with your son. You could pick up an inexpensive pair of FRS radios so you could communicate regularly with each other. Of course, cellphones for each of you would be good, too, if you get out of distance for good radio contact. Personally, this would be my first choice, even if shipping turned out to be a tad bit less expensive.

  5. Default many thanks

    Many thanks to all your suggestions! I think we will have our sedan towed by a company and drive our suv to L.A.

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