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Can A Honda Pilot Be Flat Towed?

Honda Pilots are excellent adventure SUVs and the perfect vehicle for a long road trip. They’re also great vehicles for city driving or running errands.

Unfortunately, all vehicles break down sometimes, which means getting them to a mechanic. Alternatively, maybe you’re vacationing in your RV and want a more convenient vehicle for day trips or grocery shopping.

Either way, the question remains – if you can’t drive it, how do you get your Honda Pilot where it needs to go?

Unfortunately, you cannot flat tow a Honda Pilot made after 2005, regardless of whether it’s front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. Any Honda Pilot from 2006 onwards will suffer severe damage to the drive train if they are towed with the drive wheels on the ground.

Why You Shouldn’t Flat Tow A Honda Pilot

A black Honda Pilot parked on an icy road.

Flat towing a vehicle is towing it with all four wheels on the ground. 

When a car is flat towed, all four wheels rotate, which is a major problem for Honda Pilots, regardless of whether they’re four-wheel or two-wheel-drive.

2005 and older models of the Honda Pilot have fewer problems being flat towed, as long as they’re towed safely and in neutral. 

Any model from 2006 on should never be flat towed. These vehicles are either front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive and as of 2006, Honda updated their transmissions, making flat towing a major issue. 

Because the lubrication pump in the new transmissions is connected to the engine, the vehicle must be running whenever the drive wheels are rotating. That means you can’t just pop a 2006 (or newer) Pilot into Neutral and tow it. 

Even in Neutral, the drive wheels turn gears in the transmission and other parts of the drive train. Without the engine running, those parts don’t receive proper lubrication, and any friction can cause severe damage. 

You also can’t run your vehicle while it’s being towed.

For the safest ways to tow your Honda Pilot, check your owner’s manual. 

Likely, the owner’s manual will advise the owner never to tow the vehicle themselves. 

Flat towing is always strongly discouraged, though depending on the model you own, you may be able to tow it in other ways. 

The only time it’s recommended to self-tow a Honda Pilot is in an emergency. If you must tow the vehicle, keep the distance under 50 miles (80 km) and do not exceed 35 mph (56 kph). 

If I Can’t Flat Tow a Honda Pilot, How Can I Tow It?

For Honda Pilot owners with front-wheel-drive, towing the SUV is a bit simpler. 

A tow dolly can safely tow the SUV by keeping the drive wheels off the ground. The dolly raises the front end so only the rear wheels are in contact with the road. 

With the drive wheels off the ground, there is no force on the drive train, and the gears in the transmission don’t rotate. 

Unfortunately, not everyone has a tow dolly. They also won’t work on an all-wheel-drive model, since the rear wheels will still be in contact with the ground. 

For Honda Pilots with all-wheel-drive, the only safe option is flatbed towing. None of the wheels touch the ground, and the SUV is securely fastened onto the trailer. 

You can do it on your own if you have a large enough flatbed trailer, but in most cases, you’ll need a professional to take care of it. 

Finally, if you have no other option, you can flat tow your Honda Pilot, but this is only recommended for emergency situations and is limited. Even if it’s theoretically possible, you must take extra precautions to minimize the damage to your Pilot. 

How to Flat Tow a Honda Pilot

If you can avoid it, you should never flat tow a Honda Pilot, even if you follow these next steps. 

A Honda Pilot from 2005 or older can follow these steps and be flat towed without fewer issues. 

2006 and newer models should only do this in emergencies, such as after an accident or a breakdown when the car isn’t safe to drive, and you can’t call a professional. 

  1. Turn on the engine and shift to the lowest Drive (D) setting. 
  2. Allow the vehicle to run in this setting for at least thirty seconds. Hold down the brake to keep the SUV in place. 
  3. Shift through all transmission and drive positions, allowing the SUV to idle for at least thirty seconds in each. 
  4. Shift to Neutral and allow the engine to idle in this position for at least three minutes. Then shut the engine off. 
  5. Turn the ignition key to the Accessory position (Roman Numeral “I” on the ignition). Ensure all electronics are turned off to keep from draining the battery. 
  6. You can then hook up the Honda Pilot and proceed to tow it. 

Remember that this should only be done when no other options are available. If you must tow a 2006 or newer model this way, do not exceed 35 mph (56 kph), and do not drive over 50 miles (80 km). 

For models older than 2006, repeat this process every eight hours you tow it to keep the drive train lubricated. Never exceed 65 mph (104 kph). 


If your Honda Pilot is from 2006 onwards, you should avoid flat towing it outside of emergencies. 

The transmission lubrication pump is connected to the engine, so it won’t lubricate the drive train when the vehicle isn’t running (and you can’t run your engine while towing a vehicle). Without proper lubrication, you risk severely damaging your transmission.

Older models (i.e., 2005 and older) can be flat towed if you follow the proper steps to run the transmission through every position and lubricate it properly.

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