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Hello all,

New to forum and a 2011 RTL with Nav... have about 800 miles on it now, started towing at about 650 miles.. Just a a small boat, 15ft Key West 1520cc, total weight boat, engine, trailer, gear can't be more than 2,000 lbs max. The ridgeline seems to tow it well, EXCEPT..... The transmission will keep downshifting on the highway, to 4th or even 3rd.. and this is happening at around 64-65mph and above. I could understand if I were climbing a hill, turning a corner, headed into a head wind, but this is traveling here in FL, on a straight road. I've tried the cruise control and at around 62 mph I can get it to stay in 5th, any higher and the transmission will downshift, then upshift over and over again.

I've been very disappointed in the fuel economy and the combined city/highway prior to towing during the 1st 600 or so miles was about 14.5mpg.. Towing, is mostly highway but I'm down to 11mpg and that's staying below the posted highway speeds (70mph).

I've always owned manual transmission trucks, last being a 2000 Tacoma TRD 4x4 which I had for 11 yrs, I thought it's gas mileage sucked, but it was much better than the Ridgeline.

So here's the questions:

1) Has anyone seen the transmission downshifting before and is there a fix?

2) Can the transmission shift points be changed electronically at the dealer?

3) Has anyone modified the Ridgeline to get more HP/ low end torque, and did it help with mileage and towing?

4) Are there any known transmission issues, recalls or TSB's for the 2011?

Thanks for any help you can provide...
 

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Hi, gwendt. Welcome to the ROC. Relax: your new engine is nowhere near to being broken in. It is still overcoming a fair bit of internal friction. This will diminish, but it may take many thousands of miles -- think 3000-12000, depending on your driving habits.

While your city mileage may not improve much over time, your combined and highway mileage (when not towing) should go up quite a bit if you follow the manufacturer's break-in procedure. The mileage while towing that boat should go up to roughly 15 MPG highway. I get about 12 while towing a much bigger boat. On level ground it will downshift a fair bit to 4th, but not 3rd. The main variable after break-in and on level ground will be wind resistance, not weight.

Here are some more things to consider when towing:
  1. Use premium fuel. This is recommended in the manual for towing. It will give higher power and torque from the engine and reduce down-shifting.
  2. Find ethanol-free fuel if possible. It has less energy than pure gasoline and is in effect the opposite of using premium.

There are several threads, including currently ongoing ones, here on the ROC. I recommend doing a search for them and scanning them for anything else that is pertinent and to set expectations.
 

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Welcome to the ROC:cheerleader:
 

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Gwendt - I agree with breaking-in comment. I'm up to 3,500 on my RL (it had 1,800 when I purchased it) and I have recently noticed improvement in the mileage. When I got it, I was averaging 16.7 combined (about 65% city and 35% highway) on my commute and over the last few weeks I'm averaging 18.5 combined. I haven't towed with it yet, so these numbers are from mostly flat regular driving conditions. I've also started coasting in to lights and going easy when starting out per some suggestions on other threads, so it's most likely a combination of breaking in and my driving style...
 

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My Ridgeline mileage really didn't improve until after 15k miles... I mean I had no problem hitting the EPA numbers or slightly higher (22) --- but after 15k I could hit 25-26 with ease.

I agree with the statement of use higher octane fuel. The ECU will advance timing, and you'll gain TQ, and HP - in addition your TQ converter stall speed will raise; lessening the shifting. I got into a habit of always using 89, as the ECU didn't really seem to benefit after 89
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks... I guess I didn't think about the timing advance with better octane gas. You're probably right, with knock sensors and other modern day electronics the engine is probably sensing the lower grade fuel and adapting .. just filled the tank with 87, but will try 93 the next time.. It won't be too long of a wait, been going through a tank in about 3-4 days... Or maybe I'll stop by an auto-parts store and pick up 104 octane boost.

I've seen several replies on this forum and others about switching to a K&N filter. I did it with my old truck and could actually feel a slight difference, I'm definitely going to wait until I need to replace the current filter (guessing 10k - 15k miles), but maybe a couple of small changes can add up to a big difference. If I could run at 70-75 mph in 5th with the boat I would be happy, and of course I would really love 10+ mpg or even 15+mpg.

Thanks again
 

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Ive read most all threads on this same subject and have tried everything possible to know avail. Your truck is to new to even think of using premium (waist of $). Your best bet is no cruise and BE the motor if you know what I mean. I get better mpg's towing from what most are posting on here for their towing mpg's.
 

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Thanks... I guess I didn't think about the timing advance with better octane gas. You're probably right, with knock sensors and other modern day electronics the engine is probably sensing the lower grade fuel and adapting .. just filled the tank with 87, but will try 93 the next time.. It won't be too long of a wait, been going through a tank in about 3-4 days... Or maybe I'll stop by an auto-parts store and pick up 104 octane boost.
Oh, I should have said that anything past octane 90 is probably a waste. By that, I mean that I recalling something specific that I saw here on ROC some time ago, but don't have the specific reference. "Premium" around here is 91 and only certain places carry 93. You can expect octane to ONLY help when the vehicle is under unusual load, such as hauling or towing. I ran only premium for the first year, but later testing showed that I could still get 24 MPG with 87 octane just fine.
I've seen several replies on this forum and others about switching to a K&N filter. I did it with my old truck and could actually feel a slight difference, I'm definitely going to wait until I need to replace the current filter (guessing 10k - 15k miles), but maybe a couple of small changes can add up to a big difference. If I could run at 70-75 mph in 5th with the boat I would be happy, and of course I would really love 10+ mpg or even 15+mpg.
If you had a pre-2009 Ridgeline, K&N filter, cold air intake and a throttle body spacer might help a bit. However, with the 2009 revision, it's pretty much tweaked out from the factory.
Thanks again
You are welcome. Best wishes on a good engine break-in and mileage improvement.
 

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I'm new to the site also and have similar comments. I just got back from a 10,000 km (6,200 miles) tour through the USA towing a 5,000 lb Airstream with my 2010 Ridgeline. I weighed my rig at one of the truck stops ... Front axle 2700 lb Rear axle 2920 and trailer 4640. The truck bed was full of stuff, including a 2000watt generator. I use a load leveler and anti sway bar. I was personally not sitting in the the truck during the weighing ... I'm 200 lbs. I almost always used the cruise control set at 100 km/hour (62 mph). There are 65,000 km (40,000 miles) on the odometer.
Here is my experience ... (Here goes!!)
1. The transmission constantly hunts. In a head wind of any kind the torque converter almost never locks up. In a strong tail wind it will lock up going down hill or on the flat.
2. Gas Mileage: Without a trailer I average about 12 liters/100kms (20 mpg) highway. Pulling the trailer I get between 17 (14 mpg) and 21 (11 mpg) depending on the head wind. I found no appreciable difference between 87 89 or 91 octane ... although in Utah, where normal seems to be 85, I always used at least 87.
3. Climbing Mountain grades: Think Vail Colorado. Going up a 6% grade the engine settles into 2nd and with the engine screaming at 4,500 I'm going maybe 35 kms/hour. The peddle is to the metal. On an 8 mile grade you could smell something was hot although all the gauges were normal. A few times the transmission settled into 3rd and would not drop down into 2nd even when the vehicle slowed to something like 10 km/hour. It would not shift into 2nd even if I floored it, or even if I moved the gear lever into 2nd. So eventually I pulled over to the shoulder and stopped, put the transmission into 2nd manually, and started up again. This happened several times.
4. Braking on mountain grades. I have a very good electric brake system on the trailer. On my first down grade, I left the gears in Drive. After about 5 minutes the brakes began to 'judder' so I pulled over and stopped to let the brakes cool down. I remember reading somewhere that hot disk brakes can warp. After about 30 minutes I started up again and this time with the gear lever in 3rd. Eventually on the really steep grades I would put it into 2nd. Using downshifting I never again had a brake problem.
Here are my thoughts/questions ...
1. I've heard it said that 'hunting' is bad for the transmission. Is that true ? and if so, why ? And what can be done about it ? As I understand it, modern auto transmissions change gears by grabbing and releasing spinning drums. Isn't that what they are designed to do ?
2. There is always a big improvement in gas mileage when the torque converter locks up, yet I've heard that this too is bad for a transmission when towing. I thought that an unlocked torque converter is where all the heat comes from, all that transmission fluid churning away in there, and why the Ridgeline has these huge coolers. Isn't a locked torque converter a good thing ? My trailer dealer says that if I drop down a tire size it will lock up a lot more often ... hence better gas mileage (and an incorrect speedometer). Anyone have any thoughts on this ?
3. In preparation for a trip like this I always change the transmission fluid (all of them) as well as the engine oil ... using full synthetic for the engine. And then I do it again afterwards. Am I wasting money here ?
4. What harm am I doing the engine/transmission going up an 8 mile 6% grade with the engine at 4,500 and flat out ? I'm pulling the rated load (just), is the Ridgeline OK with this or should I start thinking about an F150 ?
5. Why did I get that weird downshifting on an upgrade when the tranny would stick in 3rd ?
6. Is it OK to shift as low as 2nd gear for engine braking ?
7. As a vehicle to get around in I love the Ridgeline. I live in snowy Eastern Ontario and can't think of a better vehicle. But I'm starting to wonder if my winter sojourns to warmer places pulling the trailer is too much for a 6 cylinder Ridgeline.
If you actually read to the end here, thanks for your patience :)

Dave
 

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I'm new to the site also and have similar comments. I just got back from a 10,000 km tour through the USA towing a 5,000 lb Airstream with my 2010 Ridgeline. I weighed my rig at one of the truck stops ... Front axle 2700 lb Rear axle 2920 and trailer 4640. The truck bed was full of stuff, including a 2000watt generator. I use a load leveler and anti sway bar. I was personally not sitting in the the truck during the weighing ... I'm 200 lbs. I almost always used the cruise control. There are 65,000 km on the odometer.
Here is my experience ... (Here goes!!)
1. The transmission constantly hunts. In a head wind of any kind the torque converter almost never locks up. In a strong tail wind it will lock up going down hill or on the flat.
2. Gas Mileage: Without a trailer I average about 12 liters/100kms highway. Pulling the trailer I get between 17 and 21 depending on the head wind. I found no appreciable difference between 87 89 or 91 octane ... although in Utah, where normal seems to be 85, I always used at least 87.
3. Climbing Mountain grades: Think Vail Colorado. Going up a 6% grade the engine settles into 2nd and with the engine screaming at 4,500 I'm going maybe 35 kms/hour. The peddle is to the metal. On an 8 mile grade you could smell something was hot although all the gauges were normal. A few times the transmission settled into 3rd and would not drop down into 2nd even when the vehicle slowed to something like 10 km/hour. It would not shift into 2nd even if I floored it, or even if I moved the gear lever into 2nd. So eventually I pulled over to the shoulder and stopped, put the transmission into 2nd manually, and started up again. This happened several times.
4. Braking on mountain grades. I have a very good electric brake system on the trailer. On my first down grade, I left the gears in Drive. After about 5 minutes the brakes began to 'judder' so I pulled over and stopped to let the brakes cool down. After about 30 minutes I started up again and this time with the gear lever in 3rd. Eventually on the really steep grades I would put it into 2nd. Using downshifting I never again had a brake problem.
Here are my thoughts/questions ...
1. I've heard it said that 'hunting' is bad for the transmission. Is that true ? and if so, why ? And what can be done about it ? As I understand it, modern auto transmissions change gears by grabbing and releasing spinning drums. Isn't that what they are designed to do ?
2. There is always a big improvement in gas mileage when the torque converter locks up, yet I've heard that this too is bad for a transmission when towing. I thought that an unlocked torque converter is where all the heat comes from, all that transmission fluid churning away in there, and why the Ridgeline has these huge coolers. Isn't a locked torque converter a good thing ? My trailer dealer says that if I drop down a tire size it will lock up a lot more often ... hence better gas mileage (and an incorrect speedometer). Anyone have any thoughts on this ?
3. In preparation for a trip like this I always change the transmission fluid (all of them) as well as the engine oil ... using full synthetic for the engine. And then I do it again afterwards. Am I wasting money here ?
4. What harm am I doing the engine/transmission going up an 8 mile 6% grade with the engine at 4,500 and flat out ? I'm pulling the rated load (just), is the Ridgeline OK with this or should I start thinking about an F150 ?
5. Why did I get that weird downshifting on an upgrade when the tranny would stick in 3rd ?
6. Is it OK to shift as low as 2nd gear for engine braking ?
7. As a vehicle to get around in I love the Ridgeline. I live in snowy Eastern Ontario and can't think of a better vehicle. But I'm starting to wonder if my winter sojourns to warmer places pulling the trailer is too much for a 6 cylinder Ridgeline.
If you actually read to the end here, thanks for your patience :)

Dave
I did rear to the end but as I have never towed with the RL I will just say this.
I would not use 2nd from a stopped position while towing. When in 2nd the transmission is lock in 2nd. It does not start in 1st, it starts in 2nd.
I don't see a problem using the lower gears (D3, 2) for engine braking, the manual encourages it.
Good luck with the rest, I'm sure someone with towing experience will chime in.
 

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We pull a bit less weight than your Airstream with probably a bit more wind resistance with our 2006 RL and experience exactly the same results. Still better than the 6-mpg our Winnebago motor home used to get. We're currently happy campers but are beginning to look towards a larger rig.
You're 2010 has got a bit more power and torque that our older 2006 Ridgeline so we'd probably tie in a drag race up the mountain!

Happy and safe camping!
 

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We pull a bit less weight than your Airstream with probably a bit more wind resistance with our 2006 RL and experience exactly the same results. Still better than the 6-mpg our Winnebago motor home used to get. We're currently happy campers but are beginning to look towards a larger rig.
You're 2010 has got a bit more power and torque that our older 2006 Ridgeline so we'd probably tie in a drag race up the mountain!

Happy and safe camping!
Thanks for that 5S Dude. I'm starting to think I'll need to move to a V8 ... hate the thought of selling my RL !!
 

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I find it best to not use cruise control when towing with RL (unless you're on a really long flat stretch of road doing 60 with no wind), otherwise it will hunt for gears.
I recently did the transmission update (TSB O6-062) and didn't notice any improvement, actually quite the opposite - my city mpg dropped to 11 mpg (it has improved since to about 14).
My towing mpg ranges from 11.5 to about 12.5 mpg, unless I'm towing my light boat, then I get about 14-15 on the highway.
My best highway mileage with three people on board was about 20.5, and I was really taking it easy most of the time setting the cruise control right on the speed limit (55-65).
My truck has about 70K miles right now on it.
 
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