4Runner w/o Tow Package - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 05-18-2012, 03:24 AM   #1
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4Runner w/o Tow Package

I have a 2003 Toyota 4Runner V8 without a tow package. Paul's comment below on the FJ Cruiser thread got me thinking about what I may need to add, and I didn't want to hijack ice-breaker's thread with responses from all of you 4Runner owners out there.

Do I really need to add any towing package options to beef things up, will will my standard SR5 do just fine? How critical is a larger radiator or a transmission cooler?

"I am a believer in towing packages, factory installed is the best but it can be done aftermarket.
Some packages include oversize radiator, tranmission cooler, overize alternator, 7 pin plug, hitch and brake controller ready."

I should mention that I will be installing a Tekonsha P3 brake controller, and am not worried about needing an oversized alternator since I hope my solar panels will do more than enough recharging while driving.

Will be doing a fair amount of mountain driving, but the local Cascades and Coast Ranges do not have too many long, steep grades.
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Old 05-18-2012, 07:33 AM   #2
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Re: 4Runner w/o Tow Package

David
You are posing a difficult question. It is hard because there are not many who have that experience of a package or not a package. Considering the age of your 4Runner - 2003 and my guess that you are over 100,000 miles I would want to be frugal in spending much on upgrades. With your 19 and the brake controller you will have a very stable and safe combination. The issue is longevity and/or failure due to towing.

When I first started towing I looked into a very inexpensive sensor package that could be connected to a plug on most vehicles, similar to the brake controller. It was a new company and they were just developing a list of readable codes for each vehicle. These codes were using sensors that were already installed in the vehicle, just displaying them in a digital format. Some measurements were items like alternator output, coolant temperature, transmission temperature and many more. All dependent on the vehicle and what was built in. The problem was the 2003 4Runner does not have a transmission sensor included, for that single reason I did not purchase the sensor. However, such a sensor might be installed aftermarket and with all the other measurements might give you a method of monitoring your 4Runner. Since peace of mind is really what you are looking for this might be the ticket.

These products are called OBDII sensors and the two major players are Scan-Gauge and Ultra-Gauge. I cannot recall which of the two I was considering. There were some substantial differences in price.
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Old 05-18-2012, 07:34 AM   #3
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Re: 4Runner w/o Tow Package

Hi: David R... I shouldn't really comment but I would think the 4Runner is beefy enough. A good RV Tech can add the wiring harness or plug in the brake controller and a good hitch. Of course Toy. would love to add a tow pack as it ups the price of the vehicle...but you already got one!!!
Our new tug didn't have a tow pack either. It would have added 200lbs. of tow cap.(6300#vs.6100#) and a hitch we couldn't use. My RV dealer got an after mkt. wire harness for the truck cab to complete the circuit already in the truck and we swapped the 5th. hitch from the old truck. Alf
escape artist N.S. of Lake Erie
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Old 05-18-2012, 09:28 AM   #4
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Re: 4Runner w/o Tow Package

I too would think that the stock 4Runner should be good enough as long as I am using common sense and taking my time up and down grades. It has 90K miles on it and still going strong after 10 years. I would like to see it last another decade in its second life as a tow vehicle and do not want to cause an earlier demise.

I was not aware of the aftermarket monitors - thanks Paul! Having the feedback would certainly aid the decision making and as you wrote add peace of mind when towing in stressful conditions. One more thing to look into before picking up our trailer!

BTW, we will soon be in your neck of the woods with our "Escape Pad". My wife and I are originally from Madison and will be taking the kids out there to see relatives this summer. I expect to be giving many tours of the trailer.
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Old 05-18-2012, 10:27 AM   #5
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Re: 4Runner w/o Tow Package

Since you are hoping your 4Runner will last for another 10 yrs, I'd recommend getting a transmission cooler installed if your vehicle isn't already equipped with one.

We have an older 4Runner with the factory tow package which did not include a transmission cooler for some reason. We opted to have one installed prior to picking up our trailer - our route required crossing the continental divide multiple times. Although we could possibly be fine without one, IMO it is better to be safe than sorry. The tranny cooler costs (ours was $175 installed) far less than a new transmission if it gets fried not to mention possibly getting stranded somewhere. I'm hoping as a bonus that it will increase the longevity of our transmission in general.
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Old 05-18-2012, 12:29 PM   #6
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Re: 4Runner w/o Tow Package

After reading Brad's observations, and they are good ones, I looked a little further on sensors. It appears that the user forum at ScanGauge, Toyota 4Runner or whoever has a posting of getting their device to work with '02 4Runners and obtain the tranny temps. I cannot say for sure this applies to the 3rd Generation 4Runner, like we have, but everyone says it will. Supposidly ScanGauge or a user has available the codes to determine transmission temperatures, I just am not finding a 3rd Generation user stating that as fact.

Here is a link to the discussion:
http://www.toyota-4runner.org/3rd-ge...tion-temp.html

I do not have a ScanGaugeII, nor do I work for or have an interest in them. From what I read you have the ability to enter non standard codes, the gauge comes with the published codes, others have been found by users. You need some skill at entering these new codes so keep that in mind. Some people avoid DVD recorders, smart phones and anything with the letters GPS in them. If you fall into that category this is probably not for you.
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