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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm in the middle of a 5,000 mile road trip pulling a 4300 lb trailer with my 2018 RT-L. I installed a Scan Gauge II for the trip so I could monitor transmission temps.

I am NOT a car geek and am relatively new to towing. This is the second season towing (last year the trailer was around 800 lbs lighter). My trip takes me up and down the Rockies, Sierra's, California Coastal Range, and the Cascades. . . lots of up and down - some of it long and shallow, some of it steep.

Coming through California last week, the outside temps were around 100 degrees. The tranny temps topped out in the mid-230 Fahrenheit range going up the steep coastal mountains. I've read that transmission temps over 200 degrees decrease the life expectancy, and that for every 20 degrees over 200, you cut the life expectancy significantly.

The temps drop back to 215 or so relatively quickly after the grades relax, and eventually drop below 200 once I start down the mountains. Are these temps normal while towing? Is there a technique driving up these mountains that would help keep the transmission cooler? . . . Or is it simply not a worry if the time spent over 230 is not a lot?

So far I've tried to keep the engine rpm's around 4,000 on the big climbs, which keeps my speed in the low 40 - 48 mph range. Is that a mistake? Is there a better way to drive these mountains?

TIA
 

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The numbers sound okay compared to my 2018, but I would change transmission fluid (3x drain and fill) after that kind of trip.
 

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First off, good job for watching Trans temps closely. That is step one. I also tow the same size trailer and have been in similar situations, maybe not as steep of mountains as you. The way you drive matters and if hadn't been careful to this point I'm certain you would had seen even higher temps. As you stated, you are at the edge of the danger zone and going much higher would not be good.

My strategy:
  • Use D4 to minimize unneeded shifts while towing. It also keeps you in the torque band up the hill. The engine will be louder as a consequence.
  • Go as slow as needed to control temp - seems like you are doing that already. That would include stopping and cooling down if needed. I have seen 230 and I am definitely nervous there.
  • Change ALL your fluids more frequently.

I've come to the realization that this just how the truck is engineered and without changing something there is not a lot you can do besides being careful. The ability for the Ridgeline to generate heat is much greater that the removal capacity - bottom line for me.

I have installed and aftermarket trans cooler with electric fans which has helped. On average, I have been able to reduce temps 20-30F. However, if i push it I will see a temp spike. The trans cooler won't prevent the heat spike, but can start you at a lower temp and help to recover faster - bit even an upgraded cooler has limitations.

That being said, it doesn't mean you can't tow successfully as long as you are careful. But you are going to have to deal with this issue to some degree. The long term effects are still largely unknown due to newness of G2 - which is why I have doubled the frequency of the fluid maintenance.

If you want true worry free towing in mountains, you need a more capable truck.

Sent from my SM-G998U using Tapatalk
 

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2019 RTL awd, MSM
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Good advice posted above. One other thing I would try is to try towing near 55mph and see what your temps are.

I did some temp monitoring last fall and found that trans temp started to increase at speeds below 50mph, but that was while not towing anything, so YMMV, or rather, YTMV.
 

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First off, good job for watching Trans temps closely. That is step one. I also tow the same size trailer and have been in similar situations, maybe not as steep of mountains as you. The way you drive matters and if hadn't been careful to this point I'm certain you would had seen even higher temps. As you stated, you are at the edge of the danger zone and going much higher would not be good.

My strategy:
  • Use D4 to minimize unneeded shifts while towing. It also keeps you in the torque band up the hill. The engine will be louder as a consequence.
  • Go as slow as needed to control temp - seems like you are doing that already. That would include stopping and cooling down if needed. I have seen 230 and I am definitely nervous there.
  • Change ALL your fluids more frequently.

I've come to the realization that this just how the truck is engineered and without changing something there is not a lot you can do besides being careful. The ability for the Ridgeline to generate heat is much greater that the removal capacity - bottom line for me.

I have installed and aftermarket trans cooler with electric fans which has helped. On average, I have been able to reduce temps 20-30F. However, if i push it I will see a temp spike. The trans cooler won't prevent the heat spike, but can start you at a lower temp and help to recover faster - bit even an upgraded cooler has limitations.

That being said, it doesn't mean you can't tow successfully as long as you are careful. But you are going to have to deal with this issue to some degree. The long term effects are still largely unknown due to newness of G2 - which is why I have doubled the frequency of the fluid maintenance.

If you want true worry free towing in mountains, you need a more capable truck.

Sent from my SM-G998U using Tapatalk
Great write-up......would really like to see some pics of your tranny cooler/fan set-up.

Seems like there have been posts here of 230F TFT triggering the overheat warning message......it now appears that it takes an even higher temp to set the overheat message.:eek:
 

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2019 RTL awd, MSM
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Why would increasing the speed from 45mph to 55 mph help to reduce temperatures?
More airflow being pushed through the engine / transaxle compartment.

The engine may run higher rpms, but that may be counteracted by the higher airflow. Once up in the 65mph range, the engine heat production under heavy load might exceed required airflow cooling. You won't know until you try it. As I said, YTMV.
 

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As I have related before, I believe that shifting is the biggest contributor to transmission heat production than speed itself. Find the speed in which the transmission shifts less often, use D4 when climbing them hills, (again, to reduce the shifting), and I am thinking you have licked most of the problem.

Anyways, in a couple of weeks I will be testing this theory while pulling a "weighed" 4600 pound trailer from SW Oregon to central Montana.

Bill
 

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Great write-up......would really like to see some pics of your tranny cooler/fan set-up.

Seems like there have been posts here of 230F TFT triggering the overheat warning message......it now appears that it takes an even higher temp to set the overheat message.:eek:
I have tp dig them up but will post some here soon

Sent from my SM-G998U using Tapatalk
 

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As I have related before, I believe that shifting is the biggest contributor to transmission heat production than speed itself. Find the speed in which the transmission shifts less often, use D4 when climbing them hills, (again, to reduce the shifting), and I am thinking you have licked most of the problem.

Anyways, in a couple of weeks I will be testing this theory while pulling a "weighed" 4600 pound trailer from SW Oregon to central Montana.

Bill
Good info. I'm subscribing to this thread to see your results.
 

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Here is my aftermarket cooler. The main goal was to get the allow for ATF cooling for stop and go traffic - a weak point for all naturally air cooled coolers. I removed to stock cooler, so the lower air dam is all main radiator flow now. I went with a tube and fin kit because of the slim design and tight mounting. Others have done a plate and fin - I probably would have done this with no fans. But this basically drops in without having to remove the front fascia which is a p.i.t.a.

The fans come on automatically on thermostat (not really accurate but a fail safe) or by switch on blue center console by brake controller. I pretty much leave it on when towing, although I don't think the fans doing anything at highway speed.

I've had if for a year and going strong. Glad I did it but If I was to do it over again, I would have mounted it a little lower (about an inch or so) to remove some minor interference issues with the air intake plenum. I was able to resolved it, so not an issue.

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
OP here . . . here's my update after we returned home. Based on suggestions from others here, I used D4 frequently when climbing. At first I thought it helped, but eventually, doubt crept in. Temps still would quickly escalate to 220, 224, etc. This was at very moderate speeds. Through the mountains of Utah and Wyoming, I probably was driving around 45mph. At this speed, I was able to keep the transmission temps in a range that seemed OK (around 215 to 220), but oddly, after we hit western Kansas, the temps jumped to nearly 240 while my wife was driving. We were in the rolling hills that have shallow grades, but can be long. She was cruising around 60mph and I think using cruise control, but I was asleep in the passenger seat at the time. She pulled over. I popped the hood to dissipate heat, let everything cool down, then drove the last 150 miles home, but really went slow - 52 to 55 mph. That kept the heat down.

The experience in Kansas (close to sea level, nothing steep, going 60mph or less) was really odd. I can't believe that truck can't handle that without starting to heat the transmission excessively.

Anybody have more input? I am beginning to think I have a problem of some kind that needs attention. If the truck doesn't have a mechanical problem, and I've simply pushed the limits of what my Ridgeline can tow, then I really need to rethink whether this is the most appropriate truck for me.

Is it possible that my Scan Gauge is not giving accurate data?
 

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I would think the ScanGauge being in error is unlikely, but anything is possible. My understanding of the ScanGauge is it simply displays info received from the ECU.

Looks like max TFTs the last trip were very similar to the TFTs in the OP. Presuming the overheat warning never displayed, all should be good.

As suggested/recommended do frequent tranny fluid drain & fills to be on the safe side. Towing at 80+% of capacity can be tough on any vehicle. The weight being towed may be <50% of the capacity of a full size p/u but that full size p/u sucks gas/rides rough 24/7, towing or not.

What Mr. smuook did, installing a BATC, would make a big difference, I would think. I did.
 

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Anybody have more input?

Is it possible that my Scan Gauge is not giving accurate data?
My understanding, based strictly on casual reports on this board, is that Honda raised the temperature at which the tranny overheat light turns on with the G2. That's one way to 'solve' the problem.
(-:

As far as your Scan Gauge, I see no reason to think it is malfunctioning. It is displaying to you the ECU data. If what it displays to you is off, then it's off for everyone because the programming to display that data is specific to the vehicle.

If you don't like the temps you're seeing, I see two fairly-easy strategies for dealing with that:
1) Stop looking,
2) Add cooling capacity.

Option 1 may seem somewhat glib, but it really isn't. You don't have all that many choices, and I am CERTAIN no dealer will replace parts with no Honda-indicated sign of a problem.

The 'best' strategy IMO would be to put much less-sloppy torque converters into these pickups, but that's not going to happen.
 

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Does the G1 have a tranny overheat warning light? What temp activates it? Maybe some G1 owners have some observed TFTs?
 

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Yes, it does, but you’ll have to dig around the site to find posts about activation temp. I don’t bookmark that kind of thing.
 

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OP here . . . here's my update after we returned home. Based on suggestions from others here, I used D4 frequently when climbing. At first I thought it helped, but eventually, doubt crept in. Temps still would quickly escalate to 220, 224, etc. This was at very moderate speeds. Through the mountains of Utah and Wyoming, I probably was driving around 45mph. At this speed, I was able to keep the transmission temps in a range that seemed OK (around 215 to 220), but oddly, after we hit western Kansas, the temps jumped to nearly 240 while my wife was driving. We were in the rolling hills that have shallow grades, but can be long. She was cruising around 60mph and I think using cruise control, but I was asleep in the passenger seat at the time. She pulled over. I popped the hood to dissipate heat, let everything cool down, then drove the last 150 miles home, but really went slow - 52 to 55 mph. That kept the heat down.

The experience in Kansas (close to sea level, nothing steep, going 60mph or less) was really odd. I can't believe that truck can't handle that without starting to heat the transmission excessively.

Anybody have more input? I am beginning to think I have a problem of some kind that needs attention. If the truck doesn't have a mechanical problem, and I've simply pushed the limits of what my Ridgeline can tow, then I really need to rethink whether this is the most appropriate truck for me.

Is it possible that my Scan Gauge is not giving accurate data?
I wonder if wind was more of the cause in Kansas?
 

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Thunder works, it’s not clear to me from your Kansas post if you received a transmission overheat warning from the RL. Did you?
As others have asked, were you getting significant headwinds in Kansas? That could make 60 mph fell like 70-75 workload for your truck.
It may be that the 6AT just runs really this hot under those loads and parameters? Definitely would follow the extreme maintenance interval for ATF.
Curious what model of travel trailer you have. Wondering if the front profile is contributing to the workload.

also probably another dumb question but you do have AWD (not FWD) model, correct?
 

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I recommend changing the ATF filter with the ATF fluid if towing.

Here is what the filter insides looks like at 30k:


And here is how to do it:


Sent from my SM-G998U using Tapatalk
 
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