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Can You Flat Tow a Honda CR-V?

Can You Flat Tow a Honda CR-V?Honda vehicles are a popular choice among RV’ers as a tow behind dinghy but, can you flat tow a Honda CR-V? We did some research to determine if this lightweight crossover can be safely flat towed by a motorhome.

The best way to tow any vehicle in order to avoid potential transmission damage is by using a flatbed trailer to keep all four wheels off the ground. Flatbed trailers are not practical for most RV’ers. However, flat towing known as “dinghy-style” is very common. Although Honda does not specifically approve every CR-V model for flat towing behind a motorhome, the CR-V drivetrain seems to be generally strong enough to withstand being towed. Manufacturer recommended procedures enable the Honda CR-V to be flat towed safely without sustaining damage.

Safety is key to keeping a reliable vehicle in tow while you venture via motorhome. Let’s take a look at Honda’s recommended procedures for towing the CR-V so that your vehicle will not sustain damage.

Can a Honda CR-V be Towed Behind a Motorhome?

Not all CR-V’s are manufacturer approved by Honda to be towed behind a motorhome. Many older models are manufacturer approved, but newer models such as the 2019 CR-V are not. It is possible that due to concerns regarding liability, warranty coverage, or the expense of strenuously testing each model Honda does not approve each vehicle model.

It is most important to check your owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer recommendations for towing your CR-V model behind a motorhome. If your CR-V owner’s manual does not recommend towing behind a motorhome, contact Honda’s regional customer service department (800.999.1009). Honda will provide flat towing instructions per request for CR-V models.

If you do not yet own a Honda CR-V but are considering this vehicle as the dinghy for your motorhome, you can refer to Honda’s online owners manuals to determine if the towability of the CR-V you are considering agrees with your rig set-up and towing intentions.

Can You Tow an AWD CR-V?

Vehicles should be not be towed by their drive wheels. For example, the standard CR-V has front-wheel-drive and should be towed by the rear wheels.

If your CR-V is equipped with an AWD system, to avoid transmission damage it should be flat towed with all four wheels on the ground. Refer to the owner’s manual for flat tow procedures.

All-wheel-drive vehicles should only be flat towed if the vehicle has neutral (N) position on the transfer case. Without the neutral (N) position, flat towing of AWD vehicles can result in damage to the transmission. Modifications are necessary to flat tow AWD vehicles that do not have neutral (N) position.

How to Safely Flat Tow a Honda CR-V?

According to Honda’s technical information, specific procedures must be followed to safely flat tow the CR-V.

Manual Transmission CR-V

Check that the manual transmission fluid level is full, but not exceeding the fill line. To prepare the CR-V for flat towing, first release the parking brake. Shift into neutral. Leave the key in the ignition, and set the key at the ACCESSORY position. The ACCESSORY position of the ignition will prevent the steering wheel from locking. Switch off accessory power features such as the radio and interior lights to avoid unnecessary draw on the battery while ACCESSORY is ignited.

Automatic Transmission CR-V

Check that the transmission fluid level is full, but not exceeding the fill line. Start the engine. Engage the brake pedal and simultaneously shift through all gear positions; park (P), reverse (R), neutral (N), drive (D), second (2), and first (1).  Shift to drive (N) then to neutral (N) and let the engine continue to run for approximately three-minutes. Shut off the engine. Release the parking brake. Leave the key in the ignition and set the key at the ACCESSORY position. The ACCESSORY position of the ignition will prevent the steering wheel from locking. Switch off accessory powered features, such as the radio and interior lights, to avoid unnecessary draw on the battery while ACCESSORY is ignited.

For extended towing, Honda recommends you to repeat the start-up procedure every 300-miles or approximately eight (8) hours. You can repeat the procedure during routine stops, such as after refueling or after a stop for a meal or rest.

How to Avoid Damage While Flat Towing?

Honda suggests you take several precautions to avoid damage to your vehicle while flat towing.

Avoid Transmission Damage

  • Do not tow a CR-V above legal speeds of 65-mph.
  • If the CR-V is shifted from reverse (R) to neutral (N) during the start-up procedure transmission damage can occur. Always shift from drive (D) to neutral (N) during the start-up procedure and let the engine idle for approximately three (3) minutes prior to engine shut-off.
  • If you cannot shift the transmission or start the engine during the start-up procedure prior to towing, the CR-V cannot be flat towed and must be transported by flat-bed or trailer.
  • Tow AWD CR-V models with all four (4) wheels on the ground.
  • For AWD CR-V models towed behind a motorhome, change the transmission fluid every two (2) years or 30,000 miles.

Avoid Steering Damage

  • If the steering wheel is locked while flat towing steering damage can occur. Leave the key in the ignition and set the key at the ACCESSORY position to allow the steering wheel to turn freely.

Avoid Unnecessary Battery Discharge

  • Switch off features that use accessory battery power, such as the radio and interior lights. While towing with the ignition key set at the ACCESSORY position these features will draw power and drain your battery. You can also remove the fuse associated with these features (see owner’s manual for instruction) or professionally install a switch to disengage the accessory fuse while towing.

Do I Need a Tow Bar to Flat Tow My Honda CR-V?

Honda recommends selecting a tow bar from a reputable manufacturer and installing the tow bar to prepare your motorhome prior to towing your CR-V. A tow bar uses the least amount of equipment to flat tow your CR-V on all four wheels. There are different types of tow bars. All are relatively simple consisting of one piece mounted to the motorhome and one piece mounted to the towed vehicle. Once affixed, the tow bar secures the vehicles together providing additional safety cables and compatibility with lighting and braking electrical systems.

As you can see, with a few prior preparations the Honda CR-V can be safely flat towed behind a motorhome. Check out our RV guides for other flat towing tips and towing equipment recommendations.

Bobby Vincent

Tuesday 1st of September 2020

I am looking for the same answer for a 2017 Honda CR-V Front wheel drives we already own to flat tow & where to get correct parts?

Tim Keppler

Tuesday 18th of August 2020

I called the number for Honda's Regional Customer Service Department that you provided. The only thing they would tell me is what is written in the Owners' Manual. I'd be interested in hearing from other owners of 2018 2-wheel drive CR-V's before I decide to trade for 2014 or older CR-V. [email protected]

Bill Tuxhorn

Sunday 11th of October 2020

You may already have your answer. You are correct that the 2014 is the last model year that can be towed. We have a 2008 than we towed without any problems. The Blue Ox tow plate works great. Be sure idle the car 5 minutes before each towing day and every 300 miles or 6 hours of towing. Run thru each of the forward gears stopping 5 seconds between each before going to neutral. Leave the ignition in the accessory mode to keep the steering wheel from locking up. Make sure your electric cable from the towing vehicle had a 12v line to keep a trickle charge on the CRV battery Use a braking system. We sold our motorhome and will be selling the CRV but would use the same system again if we ever got another rv. One more thing - never back up while hooked up.

William Brand

Monday 27th of April 2020

can a crt with a cvt transmission be flat towed?