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2008 Honda Element

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I just purchased a new Class "A" Coach, and already owned a 2008 Honda Element. Does anyone have any experienc towing a 2006-2009 Element, as Honda no longer certifies them as towable, even though the 2005 before Elements are towable. I'm hearing and want to verify there is no problem, as long as you run it through the gears every 250-300 miles.

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Several years ago you could tow just about any Honda vehicle, although the company only approved certain models for towing. In fact, at one time Honda provided a letter to FMCA (and had it posted on its Web site) detailing how to tow vehicles other than those that the company officially approved for towing.

That all changed beginning with 2006 models when the company decided to only approve certain vehicles (the CR-V and more recently the Fit) and specifically say that other vehicles should be not towed four wheels down. From what I was told, there were no significant changes to the driveline or transmission of these other vehicles to cause the company to make this decision. Apparently, the problem was that individuals were not performing the setup procedure correctly, thereby causing transmission damage to the vehicles. Then they were bringing the vehicle to Honda expecting it to be fixed under warranty. So Honda decided that unless you own a CR-V or Fit, they will not be responsible for any transmission problems related to towing.

Remco's Web site says the vehicle is towable as is, so there should be no mechanical problem with towing it provided you perform the setup procedure correctly. However, do realize that towing it could void the entire warranty on the vehicle, not just any driveline or transmission problems. If you show up to the dealership with a warranty issue and they find that the vehicle has been towed, they can void the warranty.

As for setup and towing procedures, here is the information that was provided by Honda and was included in FMCA's 2002 towing guide. From what I know, the information still applies to newer models.

Automatic transmission models:

Do the following every day immediately before you begin towing. Follow the procedure exactly. Otherwise, severe transmission damage will occur.

Start the engine

Press on the brake pedal. Shift the lever through all positions (P, R, N, D, 2, 1).

Shift to D, then to N. Let the engine run for at least three minutes, then turn off the engine.

Leave the ignition switch in the "Accessory" (l) position so that the steering wheel does not lock. Make sure the radio and and any items plugged into accessory power sockets are turned off so you do not run down the battery.

If you tow the vehicle for more than eight hours in a day (including stopping time), you must stop and repeat the above procedures

NOTICE: The steering system can be damaged if the steering wheel is locked. Always leave the key in the "Accessory" (l) position to prevent damage to the steering system when towing behind another vehicle.


Notice: Improper towing preparation will damage the transmission. If you cannot shift the transmission or start the engine, your vehicle must be transported on a flat-bed truck or trailer.

If you tow a Honda vehicle with an automatic transmission, the transmission fluid must be changed every two years or 30,000 miles, whichever comes first.

From what I was told, the most important step is to make sure you move the gearshift lever from "D" to "N" to set the transmission in the forward position. Going from the "R" position to "D" sets the transmission in the reverse position. This is what causes the transmission damage.

Hope this information helps.

Doug Uhlenbrock

Associate Editor


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Doug, thanks for the post. I'm having my CRV serviced today and I had missed (or forgotten) about changing the transmission fluid. These forums sure can save a lot of headaches.

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Doug is right on with the procedure outlined. I tow a 2009 Honda Fit with automatic trans and the procedure Doug provided is word for word right out of the Honda Fit Owner's Manual. The only additional instruction is to remove two fuses so as not to deplete your battery with the ignition switch in the accessory position. I find that it is just as easy to simply dissconnect the battery ground cable. I recognize when this is done it wipes out the computer memory and the radio memory. The computer will reset when the engine is started and the radio can be reset by entering a code. This will not restore any pre-set stations. Hope this is helpful.

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