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Yes, there are paddle shifters that work in normal Drive and Sports mode, but manually selecting gears on a 9-speed can be tiresome.

When buying the OEM hitch it comes with a replacement section of the bumper fascia, with the towing limit (3500lbs) on a label. When buying the OEM transmission cooler one gets a replacement sticker with the 5000lbs rating. Personally I much prefer the OEM hitch arrangement, which not only looks tidier but keeps the ground clearance higher. The OEM cooler kit is designed for an easy and robust install, but the heat exchanger does seem a bit small - still, it keeps the warranty valid for the 5k lbs limit.

I am planning on upgrading the pads and rotors when they need servicing; I have the annoying shimmy sometimes when hard braking, as many have reported, which goes away with decent rotors. I would not want to be towing much with these brakes, to be honest. YMMV

Unless I were towing a lot I wouldn't mess with the tires. I am currently using Goodyear WeatherReady tires but would have (slightly) preferred the Nokian WR tires, in the stock size. The thing to be very careful about is installing aftermarket wheels: they often don't even state the load ratings, and those that do rarely are as high as the OEM rims. Acura's rims have high load ratings and thus seldom have failures from potholes and other hazards; those beautiful spider rims are often weaker and more prone to failure.

And please get rid of the space-saver spare and buy an OEM rim+tire. NEVER tow anything with the space-saver mounted.
 

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Here is the reinforcement to my receiving hitch. They had to drop the spare down to make it work. I now have about 800 lbs on the receiver distributed over 4 wheels. Doesn’t leave a lot of payload.






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I just went though this for my 2003 MDX.
Most web sites post higher rating but it depends on the type of item you are towing.
See this (Unfortunately I can't find the link that spelled out the details of two weights).
The 3500 lbs is for high wall trailer due to wind resistance.
The 4500 lbs is for low profile (pop-up or small boat trailer).
Because of this I ended up purchasing MB GLE350 to tow my Lance trailer that is dry (4250) and max loaded (5500 lbs).
Also it's just not the raw towing weight number. You have to consider suspension and type of load.
Anything above 3500 lbs you must use weight distribution hitch so it's balanced between trailer and rear wheel of the Tow Vehicle.
I had Startcraft popup (2500 lbs dry) which I towed with my 03 MDX and didn't break a sweat (just a regular hitch 2" ball and I had installed transmission cooler).
I have 2019 Hybrid MDX which I love but I could not tow with it.
MB GLE350 4MATIC can tow 7200 lbs. It came with factory hitch/wiring.
I towed Lance trailer 1500 miles and I can see engine rev up on the hills.
03 MDX with popup I hardly felt engine rev-up, but then it was low profile and way under 3500 loaded.
 

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Discussion Starter #25
Kudos for the test run! Yes, it takes a bit of getting used to as far as the effort the car makes to tow something. As for the braking, I am assuming you didn't have an electric brake controller installed so you weren't set up properly for that. Done right the trailer brakes take care of the trailer, so you are back to the car taking care of itself which is the way it's supposed to be. I'm not disagreeing with your decision to look for something smaller/lighter, but at 3,750 max you were within the limits the MDX is designed for. The point made earlier about wind resistance is absolutely correct, though as for the 20% reduction that is more of a ball park. Some manufacturers actually print a frontal area chart for calculating the reduction, but Honda does not which is a shame. I've pulled a pop up all over the US with my Honda Odyssey (same power train just less horsepower) 500 lbs over the the rated max with no issues even in the mountains, but the low profile is what makes that work. An enclosed cargo trailer at half the weight (1,800 lbs) pulls much harder and the van struggled to hold 65 mph on flat ground without dropping a gear while the camper rolls right along at 75 mph no problem.

The bottom line is a proper set up and realistic expectation is the key. If you plan to do most of your camping 100 miles or less from home and understand that 55-60 mph max might be all you can comfortably go then the 3,750 lb trailer is fine, but if a cross country trip is what you are looking to do then going lighter or lower profile would be wise. Also, spend some time on the RV Itch forum. Lots of good people there to help. Besides traditional pop up campers there are travel trailers that compact like this Tow Lite
We purchased a s smaller TT the Winnebago 1700 BH (dry weight is 3000lbs and GVWR is 3800). Its just the two of us and two small dogs. We had the Acura Dealer install the hitch and ATF allowing us to tow up to 5000 lbs. We also added a break control and a weight distribution hitch. I'm new to this so i'm being abundantly cautious. We drove it to a nearby parking log so I could practice driving and backing it up. I did surprisingly well but have not gotten the courage to go over 30 mph yet. I did notice clunking noises and a few odd knocks every now and then around where the hitch is when I went over a speed bump, stopped quickly and occasionally when I put it in reverse. My head says that's normal but it still freaks me out a bit. Are these noises normal?
 

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We purchased a s smaller TT the Winnebago 1700 BH (dry weight is 3000lbs and GVWR is 3800). Its just the two of us and two small dogs. We had the Acura Dealer install the hitch and ATF allowing us to tow up to 5000 lbs. We also added a break control and a weight distribution hitch. I'm new to this so i'm being abundantly cautious. We drove it to a nearby parking log so I could practice driving and backing it up. I did surprisingly well but have not gotten the courage to go over 30 mph yet. I did notice clunking noises and a few odd knocks every now and then around where the hitch is when I went over a speed bump, stopped quickly and occasionally when I put it in reverse. My head says that's normal but it still freaks me out a bit. Are these noises normal?
Yep. those added noises are normal. You just can't eliminate all of the play out of the draw bar pin and ball hitch. You will also get some creaking and groaning when transitioning from one level to another such as going from the road into or out a parking lot that causes a slight elevation change.

Did you set up the WDH yourself? It's critical to get the hitch height right and then to get the proper amount of weight transfer. Also suggest you go to a scale once you are loaded the way you intend to travel to check individual axle weights to make sure everything is distributed right. On my set up I can actually overload the front axle of my Odyssey with too much transfer.
 

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Discussion Starter #27
Yep. those added noises are normal. You just can't eliminate all of the play out of the draw bar pin and ball hitch. You will also get some creaking and groaning when transitioning from one level to another such as going from the road into or out a parking lot that causes a slight elevation change.

Did you set up the WDH yourself? It's critical to get the hitch height right and then to get the proper amount of weight transfer. Also suggest you go to a scale once you are loaded the way you intend to travel to check individual axle weights to make sure everything is distributed right. On my set up I can actually overload the front axle of my Odyssey with too much transfer.
Yes we put it on outselves. He tried connecting at various levels but did this one felt the best.
 

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Yes we put it on outselves. He tried connecting at various levels but did this one felt the best.
It's not about "feel", it's about measuring and getting it right. Check out this tutorial

If you don't do it right you can have the tongue weight under weight and cause really bad sway. Too much and you can overload the tow vehicle.
 

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If you use a clevis pin (with hitch pin), or a locking pin, to connect the ball carrier (or equivalent) to the receiver it can clunk when moving around. It is possible to get pins that can tighten into the receiver and stop that particular clunk. I bought a locking pin that can do that: it screws into a nut mounted on a spring arrangement that fits inside the ball carrier.
 

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If I’m pulling a trailer without WDH (such as a utility or cargo trailer) I definitely get lots of clunking from the receiver inside the hitch.

However if I’m pulling a trailer with a WDH setup, I don’t get any of that clunking. Just some creaking from time to time when turning especially if the sway bars are tight. The WDH puts a lot of torsion on the receiver, so it’s pretty much impossible for it to move around and clunk.


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Like others said WDH is about fine tuning it by measuring height of fender at front wheels.
I have attached my WDH manual. Read page 18-21 on setting height.
True story - I picked up my trailer 1500 miles from home. The hitch was setup for his truck.
When I drove first 500 miles car front was little high and every large SUV/Truck passed by it would pull my car on their lane. Literally there was no sway control.
That was under adjustment of WDH.
However OVER adjustment where car front is pushed down is WAY too dangerous.
Trailer can push the car down and jack-knife.

First camping stop I read the manual and adjusted the L bars on the hitch.
That improved by 75%.
The noises you hear are WDH. You can put lithium grease on some parts to make it quiet.
Also proper adjustment as per instructions will reduce the noises too.
All the best.
 

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Lithium grease is too messy and often separates the oil from the "soap", meaning spreading the oil and leaving the "soap" residue. I much prefer using SuperLube as it is a synthetic that does not separate and seems to last forever. It is also food grade so safe to use for all manner of things. I keep a one pound tub on the boat and use it for many things, including the winches which are exposed to the elements - it lasts for years. I keep a tube in the car for lubing the hitch ball.
 
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