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Old 02-02-2018, 06:01 PM   #1
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A/T Oil Light 4WD- Toyota

Hi all-

I've had the A/T Oil light come on a couple of times now when pulling the trailer up to a ski area. Only comes on when in 4wd, and I'm usually pretty close to the top when it comes on. I have a 2004 Toyota 4Runner Sport - 4.0. Should I be thinking about a transmission cooler if these are the types of conditions that I will have the rig in?

Thanks,

Dave
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Old 02-02-2018, 06:22 PM   #2
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Hi all-

I've had the A/T Oil light come on a couple of times now when pulling the trailer up to a ski area. Only comes on when in 4wd, and I'm usually pretty close to the top when it comes on. I have a 2004 Toyota 4Runner Sport - 4.0. Should I be thinking about a transmission cooler if these are the types of conditions that I will have the rig in?

Thanks,

Dave

Per the diagnostics for your vehicle odds are high you have exceeded 302F.
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Old 02-02-2018, 06:33 PM   #3
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Do you have an automatic transmission? If so you should be pulling your trailer in 4th not Drive. Especially if your going up hill. I have a scangage II that I use to monitor trans temp and other functions, it also gives me fuel consumption. Hope this helps.
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Old 02-02-2018, 06:41 PM   #4
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I would get a transmission fluid cooler and never tow uphill in Drive ( and don't tow uphill in 3 at 90 kph ( 56 mph ) for any extended time ). That's how I turned on my transmission warning light once. I now leave my RAV4 in 4 when towing.
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Old 02-02-2018, 10:56 PM   #5
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I think both a transmission cooler and a ScanGauge II are good suggestions. I bought my ScanGauge II to monitor my transmission temperature. It works for that, and helps keep track of other things as well.
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Old 02-03-2018, 01:56 AM   #6
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I think both a transmission cooler and a ScanGauge II are good suggestions. I bought my ScanGauge II to monitor my transmission temperature. It works for that, and helps keep track of other things as well.
Ditto on the scangauge. I would check to see if you have a tow package and a transmission cooler.
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Old 02-03-2018, 06:18 AM   #7
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I think both a transmission cooler and a ScanGauge II are good suggestions. I bought my ScanGauge II to monitor my transmission temperature. It works for that, and helps keep track of other things as well.
The Ultraguage MX works well too. I have one set up for our Tacoma that monitors Transmission Pan and Torque converter temps as well as torque converter lockup and a few other items.
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Old 02-03-2018, 08:18 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by davedru View Post
Hi- All

I've had the A/T Oil light come on a couple of times now when pulling the trailer up to a ski area. Only comes on when in 4wd, and I'm usually pretty close to the top when it comes on. I have a 2004 Toyota 4Runner Sport - 4.0. Should I be thinking about a transmission cooler if these are the types of conditions that I will have the rig in?

Thanks,

Dave
Hi: davedru... I might be in the dark about your A/T fluid light... but I bet you already have a Trans cooler. Even our, as some here say, dangerously under powered, over loaded 2010 Nissan Frontier V6 4X4 has a two stage one as standard equipment. We've towed both single and double axle 5.0's and not changed the fluid or spark plugs yet. 160,000 km's or bust!!! Alf
p.s. The moral of the story is don't pull up to a ski area... cause "What goes up must come down".
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Old 02-03-2018, 11:27 AM   #9
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If your vechicle came with an RV trailer plug then it probably has a tow packag, if not then it probably doesn’t have the heavy duty transmission cooler. All automatic transmissions come with at least a cooler that goes through the radiator. A way to monitor transmission temperature is really handy since heat is the transmissions greatest enemy. I know, I used to rebuild them. I would get your transmission fluid changed after getting it overheated, especially if it isn’t synthetic.
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Old 02-03-2018, 11:37 AM   #10
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Since your vehicle is a 2004 or 14 years old you may want to consider buying a newer vehicle. If your present vehicle is not up to the job of towing your trailer, sticking a bunch of money into it isn't going to change anything.
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Old 02-03-2018, 12:48 PM   #11
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Since your vehicle is a 2004 or 14 years old you may want to consider buying a newer vehicle. If your present vehicle is not up to the job of towing your trailer, sticking a bunch of money into it isn't going to change anything.

What's wrong with older vehicles? If it is running good I would have no problem dropping a little money in it?
A transmission cooler and a flush and fill would not be that expensive. They may just need to drop back a gear and go slower up the mountain. However since it did turn the light on I would consider a flush and fill.
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Old 02-03-2018, 01:30 PM   #12
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What's wrong with older vehicles? If it is running good I would have no problem dropping a little money in it?
A transmission cooler and a flush and fill would not be that expensive. They may just need to drop back a gear and go slower up the untain. However since it did turn the light on I would consider a flush and fill.
Nothing ! and I never stated or inferred there was

Again , my only point was , if the vehicle is towing at or over it's towing limits or the vehicle was marginal from day 1
fixing the symptoms is not necessarily going to solve the problem.
I know we had my wife's transmission serviced --- fluid filter changed , valves replaced , etc etc and 5000 miles later the transmission failed. The cost of repairing her transmission exceeded the blue book value of her car . ( REMEMBER this is a 14 year old vehicle )
Until the OP knows what caused the transmission to overheat and if it caused any damage we are all guessing.
Sticking $3 or $4K in a vehicle valued at under $2K does not seem logical or sensible.
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Old 02-03-2018, 02:02 PM   #13
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Dave, is yours a sealed transmission (no dipstick)? So you can't pull the stick and inspect/sniff the fluid?


I'd take it to my Toyota dealer and have the transmission serviced and drive train inspected. You could be building up heat in many ways ... some can be costly to repair if allowed to fail.


That generation of 4runner is very well built!
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Old 02-03-2018, 06:22 PM   #14
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Sticking $3 or $4K in a vehicle valued at under $2K does not seem logical or sensible.
The older 4Runners hold their value well and are sought after at least in my area. Paid $13k for a low mileage 2005 and my father paid $14k for a low mileage 2007 a couple of years ago. A 2004 is worth much more than $2k.

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Dave, is yours a sealed transmission (no dipstick)? So you can't pull the stick and inspect/sniff the fluid?I'd take it to my Toyota dealer and have the transmission serviced and drive train inspected. You could be building up heat in many ways ... some can be costly to repair if allowed to fail.
That generation of 4runner is very well built!
Yes, they are sealed transmissions. It wouldn’t hurt to have the dealer or good mechanic take a look. I wonder if the combination of the grade, duration of climb and being in 4 wheel drive is the issue. I would do some research. Not sure of the exact mode you were in, but maybe depending on conditions davedru can get away with 4 HI with center differential unlocked? The 4Runner is well built and the V6 has plenty of power so should have no problem towing a 17A in most any circumstance.
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Old 02-03-2018, 06:38 PM   #15
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Old 02-03-2018, 09:34 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Fun&Sun View Post
Do you have an automatic transmission? If so you should be pulling your trailer in 4th not Drive.
In the towing section (on page 314) the 2004 4Runner manual says:
Quote:
In order to maintain engine braking efficiency, do not put the transmission in D.
... but this is to keep engine speed up for engine braking, not for transmission cooling.

The 5-speed automatic transmission section (on page 152) for normal driving says
Quote:
Always use the D position for better fuel economy and quieter driving.
Subsequent sections go on to describe the use of lower gear selector positions for engine braking, including this note:
Quote:
Do not continue hill climbing or hard towing for a long time in the 3, 2 or L position. This may cause severe automatic transmission damage from overheating. To prevent such damage, 4 position should be used in hill climbing or hard towing.
This is a warning against using too low a gear, not against using "D". The 4-speed automatic transmission section is similar, but warns against sustained use of "2" or "L".

So in the manual, Toyota does not warn against the use of "D" while towing to avoid overheating. If the transmission unlocks the torque converter in the top gear (5th if it is the 5-speed), rather than running locked up in 4th, there will be more heat production. Other than that, there is no reason for the top gear to be worse for overheating. Specific gears are better for handling load, but which one depends on the specific transmission design. If it's the 5-speed, this is presumably the Aisin-Warner A750F... anybody familiar with the internals of that one?
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Old 02-03-2018, 09:50 PM   #17
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Most of my trips are up and over the Coquihalla, so I use 4. If I lived on the prairies, I'd use D.
The one time I used 3 heading to the summit, I got the yellow transmission warning light. I shifted to 4 and got off the accelerator. Next service I had the transmission fluid replaced, even though it looked OK, according to the service manager.
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Old 02-03-2018, 10:15 PM   #18
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I took a look, the Scanguage and Ultraguage companies seem to only give codes for the 1995 and newer vehicles. But this code for the scanguage is supposed to work on the 1994. I found it on one of the 4 Runner forums.

TXD: 686AF101B4
RXF: 044105B40000
RXD: 2808
MTH: 00090005FFD8

I did not look to see if Ultraguage codes were also given for the 1994.

With our Tacoma I normally leave it in drive and only drop back to 4th if I see the torque converter is unlocked or the torque converter temperature is rising. For some reason lots of folks think Toyota's cannot use Drive when towing. I asked a Toyota rep who checked and said its fine. He said if you notice the RPM jump while towing consider dropping back a gear. I can monitor the lock unlock and temperatures so I feel fine leaving it in drive as much as possible.
And your right, no where is the manual does it say to tow in a lower gear. Just to use one for engine braking when needed.

One problem is the temperature gauge does not light until the transmission pan temperature is 302 degrees. By then you have shortened the lifespan of the fluid and possibly done some damage to seals and gaskets.So a way to see how hot things are getting is nice.
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Old 02-03-2018, 10:25 PM   #19
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Old 02-04-2018, 01:34 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
In the towing section (on page 314) the 2004 4Runner manual says:

... but this is to keep engine speed up for engine braking, not for transmission cooling.

The 5-speed automatic transmission section (on page 152) for normal driving says

Subsequent sections go on to describe the use of lower gear selector positions for engine braking, including this note:

This is a warning against using too low a gear, not against using "D". The 4-speed automatic transmission section is similar, but warns against sustained use of "2" or "L".

So in the manual, Toyota does not warn against the use of "D" while towing to avoid overheating. If the transmission unlocks the torque converter in the top gear (5th if it is the 5-speed), rather than running locked up in 4th, there will be more heat production. Other than that, there is no reason for the top gear to be worse for overheating. Specific gears are better for handling load, but which one depends on the specific transmission design. If it's the 5-speed, this is presumably the Aisin-Warner A750F... anybody familiar with the internals of that one?
I know the AW 4-speeds of the 80s/90s (used in early Toyota Pickups, as well as cars like Toyota Turbo Supras, Volvo 240/740/940, etc, Toyota called these A43D, Volvo called them AW70/71), the 4th gear is considered quite weak, and should never be used for towing.

Towing with my Tacoma 4x4 6 speed stickshift (4.0L V6), there's plenty of long hills I've traversed where there's no WAY you can maintain any speed in 5th gear, and HAVE to go into 4th to maintain even 50-55MPH, and yet others where 4th won't hold 50, and I end up in 3rd. In 3rd gear, 2000 RPM is about 30MPH, and 3000 RPM is about 45 MPH, 4000 RPM is about 60MPH, and the truck will go up a hill all day long at 4000rpm guzzling gas but not overheating, even in 100F weather.
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