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Old 08-23-2009, 03:05 AM   #1
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2002 4Runner w/o tow package

Hi All,

Just out of curiosity: I bought my Toyota 4Runner new in 2002 without tow package. Is the max towing allowed still 5000 pounds or is it less, since I don't have the tow package? The tow package apparently included stronger alternator and transmission cooler. I got confused looking through other forums saying that having the tow package would increase the tow limit for some trucks.

I am asking in this particular forum, as people around here seem to have quite compatible taste with regards to vehicle choices, and must have had similar questions earlier on....

I should be fine by just getting the class III hitch, harness and brake controller I assume. I also will get the 17'B with equalizer hitch. But I start wondering whether an added transmission cooler is also necessary for my 4Runner, reading through all those forums.
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Old 08-23-2009, 11:17 AM   #2
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Re: 2002 4Runner w/o tow package

The tow package in most Toyota vehicles just gives you the transmission cooler,
high out put alternator, hitch, wiring for a 7 pin connector and things like that.

Your vehicle will easily pull the Escape 17, I would add a transmission cooler
and use the equalizer hitch.

The only other thing you will have to add is a brake controller, which your
Toyota may or may not be pre wired for (the owners manual will tell you where
to look for the connector)
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Old 08-23-2009, 12:22 PM   #3
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Re: 2002 4Runner w/o tow package

Your 4Runner is a 3rd Generation which includes the 1996-2002 model years. I have a 1999 4Runner V6 (w/tow package) which is the same generation as yours. The first thing to ask is whether or not yours is a 4 or 6 cylinder. In 1999, the 4 Cylinder max tow rating is 3500lbs whereas the V6 max is 5000lbs. Back in 1999, both engine types were available - I'm not sure about 2002.

The tow package for 3rd Generation 4Runners did not include a transmission cooler & were not pre-wired for brake controllers. The tow package basically came with a Class III hitch and 4-Pin electrical wiring (which would only operate a trailer's brake lights and turn signals but not the brakes themselves). I believe that the tow package for 4th Generation 4Runners (2003-present) are prewired for brake controllers to be plugged in with a simple adapter.

As for tow hitch, you definitely want a class III hitch if you want to have 5000lb tow rating.

My 4Runner has the factory tow package so I already have a Class III hitch and the 4 Pin wiring. I had to do similar research to you to see what else I might need. What I found was that a transmission cooler isn't absolutely require but strongly advised. It will make your transmission last longer & reduce the risk of it burning out when towing in stressful (to the car) situations such as extra heavy load, mountains, hot weather, etc.. A common comment was that the relatively small preventative cost of installing a trans cooler is better that the cost of potentially having to replace your transmission if it burns out. On the flip side, I know of a current Escape 19 owner who tows with a 2000 4Runner without a trans cooler and they said that they haven't had any problems so far.

Since my 19 Escape will be ready at the end of Sept, I recently had a transmission cooler (heavy duty - rated to 5000lbs) installed at UHaul. The total cost of the cooler including the installation was approx $175. In addition, I had them install a Prodigy brake controller with the required wiring and 7 Pin connector. The cost of the controller including installation was approx $200.

Hope this helps.

Brad
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Old 08-23-2009, 01:52 PM   #4
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Re: 2002 4Runner w/o tow package

Hi All,

My 4Runner is the V6 engine, 3.4L. I know that I need the brake controller and electrical wired all the way, and also the class III hitch. I think I will also go with the transmission cooler then, just to be on the safe side. Would like to keep the ride for another 10 years, if I can manage... Do you guys think that U-Haul is trustworthy to do the installations? I read some not so good reviews about them here in town (Madison WI).
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Old 08-23-2009, 02:38 PM   #5
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Re: 2002 4Runner w/o tow package

I was leary of it for the same reason. However, I had spoken to a few people who said that it's good to call around &/or go to a couple to talk to them b/c some are good & some not so good. In my case, I didn't use the UHaul that was closest to me but rather one a little bit across town that was classified as a "Hitch Supercenter". I made sure to talk to them first to get a good feel.

If you have other hitch places near you that people recommend, I would certainly talk to them too as well as compare prices. Another option is that you can order the hitch, cooler, & brake controller via online shops & have a mechanic install them for you. This is a good way to get low prices & might be desirable if you have a mechanic that you already use and trust.

fyi... I had checked with Camping World as a potential option. They said they could only do the brake controller & that they don't do tran coolers. They also estimated more than double the installation cost for the brake controller with all the wiring compared to UHaul. Their estimate for the brake controller + installation alone was higher than what I paid at UHaul for the brake controller & tran cooler with installation.

I'd suggest shopping around for someplace you feel comfortable with that also has reasonable prices. Other peoples reviews/recommendations can be helpful but shouldn't take the place of talking to each place yourself too.

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Old 08-23-2009, 02:59 PM   #6
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Re: 2002 4Runner w/o tow package

Hi Brad,

Thank you for all the valuable input! It sounds like a really good idea to go to several places in person, get quotes and get feels! I like also the idea of ordering the materials online and just have it installed at a place. I must say, this forum has so far been very helpful and fun for me! You just cannot imagine how excited I am about getting my first travel trailer, and for it being an Escape!! )

Gerda
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Old 08-23-2009, 06:21 PM   #7
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Re: 2002 4Runner w/o tow package

Sorry to hijack this thread but my questions seem to be on topic.

I also have a 4Runner 2003 with a tow package and am planning for a 19. It has the 7 pin outlet for wiring as Brad points out. This is interesting information but I still do not understand the electric brakes portion of the Escape and the tow vehicle (TV).

OK, the Escape has electric brakes that need to be controlled from the TV; the fourth generation 4Runner must have some capability in those 7 pins to control the brakes on the trailer. Am I correct so far? Where and why does this Prodigy Brake Controller come into the mix? Is this essential? Is it just a safety device? Doesn’t the 7 pin controller and its connections turn on the electric brakes on the trailer?

I guess the same question goes for the weight distribution hitch. If you have a factory hitch as a 4Runner might have, do you still need a WDH?
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Old 08-23-2009, 07:56 PM   #8
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Re: 2002 4Runner w/o tow package

The brake controller controls the amount of braking the trailer does.
It does this by this by sensing the amount of deceleration in the tow
vehicle and applying a proportional amount to the trailer (this can be adjusted by
the vehicle operator).

The Equalizer or WD hitch simply distributes the tongue weight of the
trailer over both the front and rear axle of the tow vehicle, thus making
for a much nicer ride (and a bit more control)
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Old 08-23-2009, 08:26 PM   #9
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Re: 2002 4Runner w/o tow package

Couldn't have said it better myself...
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Old 08-23-2009, 10:09 PM   #10
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Re: 2002 4Runner w/o tow package

OK I see the benefits of a brake controller. It really is a safety feature.

What about the WDH, if your vehicle has a factory installed hitch is that cut off or removed and the new WDH installed?
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