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I am contemplating the purchase of a tow package from hondacuraworld and wonder whether I will need professional installation. The instructions for the ATF and power steering fluid coolers say professional installation expertise is required. Thoughts?

Also, do I absolutely need the coolers if I am only going to put a bike rack on the trailer hitch? Could I get away with an aftermarket trailer hitch?

Thanks in advance.
 

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Easy install if you are comfortable with tools

I did mine (OK, it is a Pilot, but same parts).

The hitch is no problem, but 2 people make it a lot easier due to the weight.
Take your time and get all the bolts started before tightening it up or you will not beable to get the last one in.

THe coolers are easy too. The hard part is getting the bumper off. Or should I say, getting enoungh nerve to pull hard enough to get the bumper off.
The fittings are standard hose clamps, just lik ethe factory hoses have. There is no need for anything better, as these are fluid retun lines, not pressure lines.
They are completely under the front bumper and in front of the radiator so they present no change to engine access or ground clearance.

You do not need coolers for carrying bikes or other low weight / low drag loads, but do need them for ANY towing.

One note about aftermarket hitches.
Since the MDX (and Pilot) are unibody rather than frame vehicales it is important to have the hithc supported in the center in addition to the ends. I have not seen an aftermarket hitch that has the center connection like the Honda/Acura hitch.

I have an aftermarket hitch on my CR-V. and noticed some flex at the attachment point under high tongue loads (Load platform with 200LBs). I added a center pick up like the factory had and it fixed the problem. The MDX/Pilot frame rails are heavier than the CR-V, but still way lighter than most frame based vehicals.
 

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mikerorick said:
I am contemplating the purchase of a tow package from hondacuraworld and wonder whether I will need professional installation. The instructions for the ATF and power steering fluid coolers say professional installation expertise is required. Thoughts?

Also, do I absolutely need the coolers if I am only going to put a bike rack on the trailer hitch? Could I get away with an aftermarket trailer hitch?

Thanks in advance.
You might be thinking only bikes for now, but. . .

Once you have the trailer hitch installed, there will invariably come a time when you are temped to tow a load of some sort. (yeah, go ahead and borrow my jet skis this weekend - can you tow anything with that expensive thing?) You will either kick yourself for not installing the coolers, or just chance it and try to tow conservatively. I think it is worth the peace of mind to know that you have maximum steering and tranny cooling capability, like a good SUV should, and that if a situation arises (wife kicks you out, etc) you can tow a trailer at a moments notice. Plus, the coolers will give you more confidence when you take an unplanned off-road trip. They came in handy when the dirt road I was on turned into an ATV/dirt bike trail.
 

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More on installation

I just installed a hitch package on my '02 X. Here's some additional thoughts and tips.

1. Drop the spare, move it out of the way, and then reel the cable back into the spool so the cable won't be in the way.
2. Job can be done single-handedly. Hitch is heavy, but using a floor jack I was able to raise the center enough to swing the main hitch brackets up into place to catch the first bolts.
3. Tip: Remove the chrome exhaust tips. That way you won't risk ruining them. And you get more room to work with.
4. Instructions indicate two rubber muffler hangers. There are three.
5. Start the right side bolts first. You have to work the main hitch bracket around the muffler heat shield. This is easier when nothing else is attached yet.
6. Don't tighten anything until all bolts are in place. And don't forget to put the two shims in before you snug everything up.
7. Tip: The power steering cooler ships with two caps on the tube to keep debris from getting in. Remove them so you can cap off the stock cooler WHILE you remove it. Less fluid will drain from the cooler you're removing. Set it aside and drain it later by removing the caps.

Hope this helps.
 

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An 03 Installation today

I did my install today. Couple things I'd do differently next time.

1. Spray silicone on the muffler rubber hangars. They were hard to pull off and to put back on. And yes, there are 3 hangars not two as in the instructions.

2. I put a little oil on the 8 main bolts to help them get started in the threads. I did this after fighting with a couple of them. I started by letting the hitch hang from the center bolts while I put the side ones in.

3. Passenger side before drivers side for sure. Then go to the driver side. The muffler is not the problem - it's the heat shield that is in the way. As well as the pass rear splash guard. Can work around all, just not as easy as the drivers side.

4. Many of the clips holding the splash shield and front bumper were hard to get off. I'd try a little lube on some of those as well.

5. The P/S cooler was a piece of cake. I poped the hose off and pointed it up and lost little fluid. I didn't think to use the caps to close the ends off to stop fluid from draining. Great idea here! :D

6. After installing the cooler, I need 1/2 a bottle of P/S fluid added.

7. The ATF cooler was a little more work. I only had one hose in my box and used the other hose still on the car. I found my long hose to be a bit too short. I lost virtually no fluid when I added the cooler. I'm down a little on trans fluid, but I need to drive a bit more to check again.

8. Getting the bumper back on was a snap. No problems at all. Watch the black strips on the bumper between the metal body and the bumper at the front wheel openings. Don't tear of fold that strip over.

Is a professional tech required? I'd say no if you have the tools listed on the instructions. I used 1/2 drive sockets with a long handle so I was able to get the bolts off and new ones on no problem. The coolers are pretty easy as well, you just have to work in small spaces. The P/S connections are all out front. The AFT you have to reach in and under. As said previously, yanking to get the bumber off is the worst. Don't pull the bumper away too hard and fast as you don't want to damage the fog light connectors.

My HID's aren't here yet, but with the bumper off this install would have been a bit easier as well I think).

In summary, if you have some mechanical aptitude, you can do this job yourself.
 

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Don't forget!

When you are done you MUST turn the steering wheel slowly from one stop to the other and back with the engine running.

This gets all the air out of the system.
Seems to a be a step many (especialy dealers) forget! (Dealer mechanics are exempt from reading instructions)
 
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