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Old 04-09-2012, 05:00 PM   #1
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Why does Honda GCWR tow rating decrease 2% for every 1000' in altitude?

I live in Colorado Springs (6000') and will be camping as high as 9000'. As posted in my earlier thread, my combined truck and trailer weigh 9380 lbs. If you follow the Honda Ridgeline owners manual guideline of reducing GCWR by 2% for every 1000' of altitude, then at 6000 ft I should reduce my GCWR by 12%. That puts it at 8877 lbs (10,088 lbs * .88 = 8877 lbs). In other words I'm technically over the limit at my house, never mind driving up into the mountains. So...

What exactly is the Honda guideline pointing at -- the fact that the engine loses so much power at altitude that it simply cannot pull very much weight? Assuming I go anyway, and keep my speed down so that I'm not revving over ~4000 rpm, do I *really* need to worry? Of course I may be taking some lifespan out of my motor, but so be it.

Just curious what the real-world restrictions / concerns are when it comes to towing at altitude. And no, there are no turbo kits for Honda Ridgelines so that's not an option
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Old 04-09-2012, 05:02 PM   #2
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Loss of power in the engine. At least Honda acknowledges it and tells you about it.
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Old 04-09-2012, 05:07 PM   #3
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Loss of power in the engine.
I get that, but other than the fact that I won't win any drag races and may burn a little oil, is there an outright problem with exceeding the GCWR at altitude? I drive like a granny so I'm thinking there's nothing to be worried about, but just wanted to get some input.
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Old 04-09-2012, 07:32 PM   #4
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doesn't matter if you drive like a granny
A fully loaded trailer will stress an engine and tranny at higher altitudes there for making it more detrimental to your engine and tranny .
Think of it this way .
Say the capacity of your honda is 5000 lbs . And you decide to tow 10,000 lbs .
would it matter if you drove like a granny ? no .
To be safe you still have to maintain a safe speed not only for you but other motorists . And if you have overloaded your capacity because of altitude thats good for nobody !
good luck !
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Old 04-10-2012, 09:03 AM   #5
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I understand loss of power at altitude on engine, but do not understand how altitude can affect the tranny.
PG.... I don't see any issues pulling your rig around the mountains with the Ridgeline. I pull a few different trailers with mine all over the place and have no issues other than loss of power on the high passes.
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Old 04-10-2012, 09:49 AM   #6
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I understand loss of power at altitude on engine, but do not understand how altitude can affect the tranny.
PG.... I don't see any issues pulling your rig around the mountains with the Ridgeline. I pull a few different trailers with mine all over the place and have no issues other than loss of power on the high passes.


Whats not to get. I just explained it.
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Old 04-10-2012, 09:56 AM   #7
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There is a pretty cool video of a car pulling a camper up a hill being filmed by bikers. I will track it down and post it. Explains in very graphic terms why exceeding a tow vehicle's recommended limits is a bad idea.

The tow vehicle in the video actually made it quite far before it "gave up the ghost".

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Old 04-10-2012, 10:22 AM   #8
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Herk, that's one of my favorite all-time videos -- even brings my 3 and 4 yr old kids to tears! lol

So the bottom line is the engine makes less power at altitude (nobody is disputing that), and that effect MAY or MAY NOT have an impact on overall driveability and engine durability (certainly some dispute there).

For me, as long as it's not an outright safety issue I'm not going to worry about it. I'm willing to take my lumps with whatever engine issues may (or may not) arise a year or more down the road (if nothing else it'll be an excuse to get a bigger truck ).

One thing's for sure -- I know my rig isn't SO over the limit that I'm going to end up like that poor SOB in the video! lol
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Old 04-10-2012, 10:36 AM   #9
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That really is a funny video. I guess the trailer didn't have brakes either.
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Old 04-10-2012, 10:42 AM   #10
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That really is a funny video. I guess the trailer didn't have brakes either.
I am sure the trailer brakes came on when it flipped over and the breakaway let go.
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