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Discussion Starter #1
No, for you non RV'ers, this has nothing to do with frogs.

I will soon be towing the MDX 4 down behind a MH I just purchased and I am in the process of researching which tow bar, brackets, and braking system to purchase. There are few older threads concerning MDX Dinghy Towing but not any specifically about what products work best to tow the MDX.

Anyone have experience towing the MDX or any other vehicle behind a motorhome and if so what towing products do you recommend?

I know of a handful of members that tow the MDX but suspect there are more on the board that have or will be towing. With the expertise and good advice that I have seen on this board I am hoping there is someone here with helpfull information.

I have spent the last few months researching and negotiating the purchase of a motorhome and that has been quite the experience. Wound up getting $25000 trade in for my Hilary tent. Talk about discounts off MSRP on a MH. But that perhaps could be the topic for another thread. Mark up on motorhomes is about 40% so it is real important to shop for the best price.

Thanks for any help anyone can offer.
 

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Baldeagle:

I towed my '03 X behind my Blue Bird all last winter. Only problem I had was the battery going flat after about 24 hours.

I use the Road Master (RM) 5250 tow bar. I installed their mounts myself (not sure you can do that anymore, I understand they only sell to authorized distributors now). The installation took me about 6 hours with a lot of help from a friend. Our X had about 20 miles on it when I took it apart, whole front end and all the inner panels sitting all over the garage. My wife thought I was nuts. Installed wiring from RM the next day, about 2 hours. Left for Albuquerque the next day. The X had less than 50 miles on it but it had been towed 1400.

Anyway the X, for the most part towed great. I had a blank (won't start the truck) key made and then switched keys so that I can lock the truck without leaving a "good" key in the ignition.

Little trick here. The instructions have you go through the gears with the truck running and then shut it off and leave it in N. Only problem is you can't get the key out. So after turning it off, shift to P, take the "good" key out, put the "bad" key in, turn it to the 1st position that unlocks the steering wheel (#1, I just checked it in the owners manual to be sure). Then shift back to N. You have to manually lock the doors from the outside and the security system will not arm.

Another tip; I use padlocks rather then snap over pins on all 4 points on the mounting plates. I had the snap over pins come out one time and nearly lost the car. Very cheap insurance and it also makes ripping off the car a little harder.

RM's mounting plates can barely be seen, they come through the grill and sit back a couple of inches. I use RM's chrome covers on the square tubes to dress it up a bit. Had to grind a total of 0.25" off the top and bottom edge of the covers to make them fit into the grill.

I use the RM tow shield and have the 3M Clear Bra system on the entire front of the X. I looks just a bit funky up close, but, it's a hell of lot better than the very serious "road rash" I had on my previous Jeep GC.

Still can't trace down the problem with the battery going dead with the key in the #1 position. I turned everything off that I could reach. I start it and run through the procedure every 8 hours and leave the X running for 15 to 20 minutes to try to put some charge on the battery. still went dead.

I highly recommend RM, great folks, very helpful and they've got the best products on the road. My tow bar, from another manufacture, broke on the road a few years back and they won't take care of the problem. Won't mention their name, but, it's very close to a type of cattle in one of natures prime colors.

Towed several Jeep GC prior to the X and it's at least as easy to tow, maybe easier. We're very satisfied.

If you've got any questions drop me a note.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hello Lance, Thanks for all the information.

I'm currently looking at Roadmaster's web site. They show the retail cost of the (1544-1) at $329. I'm assuming better prices are available if I do some shopping. Normally manufactures show list with high M/U.

Install instructions per Roadmaster estimate 3 hours to install. Sounds like that may be optimistic after reading your experience installing and the instructions.

They show a picture of them installed on a Pilot and as you said they are not very noticeable with the arms out.

Roadmasters web site is at: www.roadmasterinc.com

Now I'll start on the toad brakes. I seem to recall you mentioning months ago that you do not have toad brakes. With that Bluebird they probably are not necessary but I will be using them on my MDX towed behind a more conventional MH.

Thanks again for your input.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Lance Crowley said:
Still can't trace down the problem with the battery going dead with the key in the #1 position. I turned everything off that I could reach. I start it and run through the procedure every 8 hours and leave the X running for 15 to 20 minutes to try to put some charge on the battery. still went dead.


I think I have an answer to that one. Acura had a letter published in MH Magazine last year on that problem. They said to remove the #9 fuse from the passenger side fuse box. Then with the key in the accessory position, required for towing, most power draining accessories are disabled. It does not power the memory for the audio or navigation system.
 

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Tried that, didn't work!

BaldEagle:

Pulled the #9 fuse from the passenger's side fuse box. Battery still went dead. One of my projects, that I haven't gotten to yet, is to put an ampmeter in the circuit and try to run down where the draw is coming from.
 

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Being merely an engineer, and not towing anything, I may be way off base -- but can't you run +/- wires from the MH to the battery posts of the MDX to keep the battery charged? Or is this asking for more trouble than it's worth?
 

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Thought about doing that. You'd have to go to a 6 wire harness instead of the 4 wire most commonly used. I think you'd also have to have a couple of fairly substancial diodes to isolate the 2 systems.

Just thinking, it appears the battery goes dead in about 24 hours. Guessing that the battery is something in the 400 amp-hour range, that means that there's something in the range of a 15 amp draw. Not a major problem. Has anyone looked through the electrical diagram to see what's on when the key is in the #1 positon? I've wondered if the NAV system is the problem? I blank the screen, but, I assume the DVD drive is still running. Got to check, is there a switch on the DVD drive itself, or could it be unplugged?

Going out to wash the X this AM, I'm going to check a couple of things. Planning on leaving home for the winter in a couple of weeks so this topic is very timely.
 

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Even though, I have our MDX set up for towing with baseplate, we have not towed as yet. However, I do have the Acura Electrical Service manual and it shows that passenger side fuse #9 only effects the vehicle accessory plug (lighter plug). Fuse #13 controls the nav. system, among other things, so maybe that is one to pull. It also controls door security, clock memory, so will have to reset those things.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Lance Crowley said:
Baldeagle:



I use the Road Master (RM) 5250 tow bar. I installed their mounts myself (not sure you can do that anymore, I understand they only sell to authorized distributors now). The installation took me about 6 hours with a lot of help from a friend. Our X had about 20 miles on it when I took it apart, whole front end and all the inner panels sitting all over the garage. My wife thought I was nuts. Installed wiring from RM the next day, about 2 hours. Left for Albuquerque the next day. The X had less than 50 miles on it but it had been towed 1400.


Lance, I also purchased and installed a RM tow bar and 1544-1XL base plate. You are correct, the install is a real chore, took me at least 6 hours. I received a bid of $600 to have it done (including price of base plate), thought it was high, so did it myself. After installing it I now know why they charged $600.

One problem I experienced was that the short safety cables supplied to connect the baseplate to the tow brackets were too short. Called RM and the sent me longer ones at no charge.

The base plate is almost invisible when the brackets are removed, one of the reasons I decided on the RM instead of the Blue Ox.

I went with the RM Blackhawk tow bar. It is rated at 8000 lbs and may be overkill but I liked the added safety and I may someday tow my heavier P/U. Base plate installation for the P/U looks very easy compared to the X. That Blackhawk tow bar is very sturdy, built like a tank.
 

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Must be quite a sight to see your X pushing your motorhome down the highway!

MSK
 

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BaldEagle:

Congrat's, tough job. Seems like a couple of hundred of the snap fastners to get out and then put back in. Think there's 3 different sizes, which makes it even harder.

Did you use the 4 or 6 wire harness?

Your right the base plates almost disappear. I haven't seen another truck with a neater installation. I use tennis balls to keep the safety cables from marking up the grill, also use them on the wiring harness. Slit them, painted them black and tuck them back into the grill when I'm not towing. If I'm going to stay somewhere more than a couple of weeks I take the tow bar off, like to make the X look as neat as possible.

Good choice on RM, they are the dominate tow bar in the market. The 8000 lb bar may be a bit of an overkill, but, my 5250 is just a little marginal. My tow bar is 4 years old and has towed by X and the previous Jeep GC about 50,000 miles. I'm watching it very closely and probably will replace it with RM's 6000 lb aluminum bar. The 5250 doesn't have the upgraded release catches and if I'm not straight and level getting disconnected can be tough. That plus I had to do a "on the road" repair of the bar last year makes me think hard about replacing it. We're in Boulder City, NV right now, about 8 miles from the Las Vegas camping world, going to stop tomorrow and check out the unit.

Ordered a DC ammeter, supposed to be here today. Going to run down the draw that's running my battery down in less than 24 hours when towing. I've tried pulling fuse #12 on the passenger side and that didn't work. I'll post whatever I find.

Headed to Quartzsite in mid-January and will be here in Boulder City most of the rest of the winter. If your near place drop me a note and we can get together.
 

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towing help

What manufacturer's wiring harness did you guys use to connect the MDX's rear lights to the MH? I have been using remote lights, but hate taking them off when using the car. BTW, my roadmaster parts were installed for $50 at the Discount Hitch dealership in Austin.
 

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Light connection near the rear gate?

As an aside, I was told that the car is not pre-wired for towing lights. Anyone have any different information? I find it hard to believe that a car like this wouldn't have a harness built in somewhere near the back specifically for this purpose.

MSK
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Re: towing help

harv said:
What manufacturer's wiring harness did you guys use to connect the MDX's rear lights to the MH? I have been using remote lights, but hate taking them off when using the car. BTW, my roadmaster parts were installed for $50 at the Discount Hitch dealership in Austin.
Hello Harv, Welcome to the "towing the MDX behind a MH group.

When I bought my Roadmaster Towbar I also purchased the accessory kit that came with safety chains, locks, and a cover for the towbar. It also included the harness to connect the MH to the MDX. The harness was a 4 pin connector, I removed one end and put on a 7 pin connector to match the plug on the MH. It was not a wiring kit, only a harness to connect the connetor on the MH to a socket I had installed on the front of the MDX. I did not do the wiring for the MDX tail lights. Paid an RV guy $115 to have them wired including materials. He used diodes and ran the wires from the tail lights under the MDX. Included in the $115 was a charge to install and wire the brakeaway switch for my Brake Buddy. One positive by having it done with diodes and using the MDX lights is that when functioning the front turn signals and amber running lights also work, all powered by the MH wiring. One warning when using the lights of the MDX with diodes. Be sure to unhook the wiring from the MDX to the MH when starting up the MDX as required every 8 hours. I have read that failing to do so has caused problems with the toad electronics in other vehicles.

What did the $50 charge for hooking up the towbar include? If he installed the base plate for $50 that was a real bargain. Takes hours to do even by someone that knows what they are doing. It took me over 6 hours.
 

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Like baldeagel I installed the MH baseplates myself and took about 6 hours to do. Not an easy job and I'm not sure I'd do it again. A local MH approved shop in my area quoted me $350 to do it.

I did the wiring myself with help from my better 1/2. By far and away a much easier job. Took us about 1 1/2 hours using the MH diodes and 4 wire kit. I already had the 4 wire plug on the back of my coach so it was a matter of running the 4 wire cable supplied under the X using wire ties to secure it. Popped off the taillights and ran the wire up into the passenger's side taillight, cut the X's turnsignal and stoplight wires wired them into diodes and then ran the wires over to the drivers side and put in the required diodes there. The MH kit's got everything you need. Be sure you get 6 diodes if you do it. If I remember correctly, in the 4 wire harness the white is the ground, I cut that off near the front of the X and ran it done to an existing ground lug just under the cooling fan. The way I have it setup only the rear lights work.

I should note that the diodes from MH have 2 input lugs and 1 output lug. So, you cut the X's wire and attach it to 1 side of the diode with the connector supplied, attach the correct wire from the coach to the other side and then attach the X's wire you just cut to the output side of the diode.

Believe me, after doing the base plates the wiring was a laugher.

Going to run down the power draw when towing the X today. Finally got a clamp on DC amp meter and will do test to determine what's running my battery down so fast. I've got myself 1/2 convinced that I'll need to change to a 6 wire harness and run a +12 wire to the battery of the X to keep it's battery charged while towing. I'm not happy with the thought of pulling fuses and not having the 12v outlets available for the Brake Buddy.

I'll post the results when I'm done.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Lance Crowley said:
Going to run down the power draw when towing the X today. Finally got a clamp on DC amp meter and will do test to determine what's running my battery down so fast. I've got myself 1/2 convinced that I'll need to change to a 6 wire harness and run a +12 wire to the battery of the X to keep it's battery charged while towing. I'm not happy with the thought of pulling fuses and not having the 12v outlets available for the Brake Buddy.

I'll post the results when I'm done.
Lance I also have a Brake Buddy and when I removed the #9 inside passenger side fuse per Acura it killed the two front 12 volt outlets. The cord on the BB was not long enough to reach the back 12 volt outlet that was still hot. I just left the fuse in and did not have a problem with a dead battery. I did however only go 4 hours max. without starting up the X and running it through the gears as required every 8 hours in the manual. I purchased a 15 foot extension to plug it in the back but then the BB would shut down after partially compressing with air. I'm going to contact BB to see if they have a solution.

If I recall correctly you said you had a battery drainage problem even with the #9 fuse out?? How many hours does it take for you to develop problems?

Also, a poster on the RV.net forum stated that when he towed the MDX it registered miles on the odometer. When I towed mine no miles were logged on the X? Wonder if he has his ignition in the #2 position instead of the #1?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
BaldEagle said:
Lance I also have a Brake Buddy and when I removed the #9 inside passenger side fuse per Acura it killed the two front 12 volt outlets. The cord on the BB was not long enough to reach the back 12 volt outlet that was still hot. I just left the fuse in and did not have a problem with a dead battery. I did however only go 4 hours max. without starting up the X and running it through the gears as required every 8 hours in the manual. I purchased a 15 foot extension to plug it in the back but then the BB would shut down after partially compressing with air. I'm going to contact BB to see if they have a solution.

Update on the above problem:

Called BB and they sent me free a 12 volt socket kit that hooks up direct to the battery.

Have not installed it, will post the results when I have it installed and have a chance to use it. May be a few weeks because the MH is winterized and in storage now. We will be moving out of our home soon and staying in the MH for months while a new home is being built. Planning a long trip as soon as all our stuff is moved and in the storage unit.
 

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I am a new member of this group. I am purchasing a 04 MDX to tow behind my Foretravel. I am replacing a 98 Mercury Mountaineer I presently use. Towed it for over 35,000 miles without any trouble.

I have been reading with interest all the posts on this Forum about the MDX setup for towing. I was going to install the base plate myself but after reading the posts from Lance and BaldEagle I am going to let Camping World install it. I ordered the kit from them $396.10 + $165.00 to install. Not worth my time to mess around with it for $165.00

As far as the lights go I have a question. I would like to install the bulb type not with the diodes. Is there enough room to drill a hole and install the socket?

I will do the installation myself. Since I cannot look until I get my X around 1-5-04 maybe someone can give me the answer. I will install a 6-wire plug in order to charge the battery on the X. My present setup is with a 4-wire plug. I use the Brake Buddy so I need the power at the lighter plug plus pulling a fuse doesn’t excite me. .

Lance could you go into a little more in detail on your charger wire installation. Where are you putting the diode and the breaker? Also connecting the wire at the coach. I found a website selling a trickle charger for this purpose but I think the idea from Lance would also work. CHARGER


Les
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Update on 12 volt socket/Battery drain issue.

Thought I'd update the information on the separate 12 volt socket I installed 6 weeks ago to overcome the problem using the Brake Buddy with the #9 fuse pulled. Have been traveling/moving and have not had internet for the last 6 weeks (except slow cell phone connection that I only use for emails).

Since installing the extra always on 12 volt socket and towing the MDX behind the MH for about 1100 miles I have not had a problem with excessive battery drain. A few times that I was only towing for a few hours I did not remove the #9 fuse. When I made a 550 mile trip that took about 10 hours of driving time I did remove the fuse and had no problems with battery drainage. On that trip as per the owners manual I started up the MDX after 7 hours and ran it through the gears.

Concerning the Brake Buddy except for testing I have yet to have it activate while traveling. I set the sensitivity at three so it will not activate unless making a hard stop, something I fortunately have not had to do yet.
 

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MDX brushguard

I talked to guys at Camperworld re our 04X. They said likely not available to tow if it has brushguard. They came out and looked at our MDX and said the plastic plate that extends back a couple feet under the front bumper is a brushguard. Looks to me like it could just come off--and probably be cut to fit around brackets and reinstalled or just left off. Has anybody had a simialr experience? We bought the X particularly because we thought it was the perfect toad. It is the touring model with Navigation, BTW. The Roadmaster site also shows "without brushguard." What's the deal? Anyone know?
 
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