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Towing with an automatic? Even light loads?

Posted: October 24th, 2016 08:24 PM
by Hoosier96EX
Right now my 96 EX Wagon is my only vehicle. (I've been looking for a pickup but it may be a while before I find something decent in my price range!)

I've thought about adding a hitch and using a trailer for relatively light loads but I can't find any information on load limits or tongue weights and I do see some general admonitions about not towing anything with an automatic.

Can someone provide a little guidance here?

Re: Towing with an automatic? Even light loads?

Posted: October 24th, 2016 09:30 PM
by John
You can definitely tow with the wagon. In fact, my wagon had a trailer hitch on it when I bought it 3 years ago (although I had to take it off to get the Mustang GT muffler to fit).

The owners manual says you shouldn't tow more than 1,000 pounds and the tongue load shouldn't exceed 100 pounds.

No mention of transmission, so this applies to both manual and automatic transmissions

Re: Towing with an automatic? Even light loads?

Posted: October 24th, 2016 09:43 PM
by Hoosier96EX
Thanks, John. I've seen some nay-saying but not with documentation and some folks describe towing light loads with no problem. Also saw some recommendations to install an auxiliary trans cooler. I think I'll just take it easy when towing and keep an eye on the tranny fluid to make sure it's not getting smoked.

I need to haul some light loads that just won't fit in the back of my wagon (lawn tractor, motorcycle, lumber, etc.) All would be under 1,000 lbs including trailer weight. I've been looking for work truck but it occurred to me I could do about 90% of what I want the truck for with a small trailer.

I'm going to go shopping for a hitch and a trailer.

Re: Towing with an automatic? Even light loads?

Posted: October 25th, 2016 09:20 PM
by John
As long as you aren't going up a long hill or try to accelerate hard, you won't have any problem with transmission temperatures or fluid. Look at it this way - towing 1,000 pounds is about the same load as 4 people plus luggage. And no one says there are any problems with this.

If you wanted to tow 2,500 pounds or something like that, then you should be concerned about the transmission. But it won't even notice 1,000 pounds.

Re: Towing with an automatic? Even light loads?

Posted: October 26th, 2016 01:44 AM
by Hoosier96EX
Thanks, John.

I don't plan of exceeding the factory towing recommendations.

Re: Towing with an automatic? Even light loads?

Posted: December 12th, 2016 11:08 PM
by Hoosier96EX
Just a couple of notes. I bought the hitch from Amazon (best price) and had my regular shop install it and the wiring. Total cost around $300, which was substantially lower that what I was quoted by the local RV dealership.

1) Apparently when I had the muffler replaced they used a "universal" type muffler that turned out to be a bit bigger than the factory muffler. The hitch still went in but it is touching the muffler and buzzing a bit at certain engine speeds, must notably just above idle. I'm going to have that fixed.

2) I bought a "Tow Ready 118336 T-One Connector Assembly with Converter" through Amazon. Despite the claims, the adapter WOULD NOT pass through the existing holes and I wound up having them cut and splice it to run it correctly. It could have been installed without doing that by running it through the vent, but that would have held the flap open and would have compromised the waterproofing.

Re: Towing with an automatic? Even light loads?

Posted: December 14th, 2016 09:31 PM
by John
Glad to hear you found a reasonable solution.

Re: Towing with an automatic? Even light loads?

Posted: February 6th, 2017 07:20 PM
by Hodag
I have one and tow a little. Wood and things. Had a Little Guy trailer. Stick but no problems. Muffler had to be adapted and eventually I went to a pretty much straight pipe and a cherry bomb from Fleet Farm. NICE!

Towing capacity is not based on tranny or motor in our case but (according to an experienced parts and service person at a Honda dealership) "You'll tear the rear end off the car!" Which means, the body and where we attach is not reinforced or strong enough for that weight.

You could probably baby a heavier load, but no big bumps, fast starts or anything that would jerk the trailer or, separation could occur.

That's my interpretation of the limit. Purely structural.

Re: Towing with an automatic? Even light loads?

Posted: December 22nd, 2017 08:17 PM
by LokRobster
Quick Tip for an Old Post:

If you're going to tow stuff with your wagon (and you should! it's awesome!) be sure to check under the carpet on the drivers side in the back of the cargo deck area. On all 3 of my wagons (94 EX, 94 LX and 97 EX) I found an unused wire harness; electrical connections for trailer tail lights, brakes, and turn signal hookups under there...

Re: Towing with an automatic? Even light loads?

Posted: March 5th, 2018 11:31 PM
by Sven
I towed with my automatic, 500 to 1200 lbs probably 15 times in town and cross country. The last big move finally broke the tranny. Got a used one at the junkyard, $300 later I’m rolling smooth. (But will not tow anymore unless I really have to).