Towing With Toyota 4Runner - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 04-19-2015, 02:15 AM   #1
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Towing With Toyota 4Runner

I have an Escape 19, and my tow vehicle is a 2010 Toyota 4Runner, Trail Edition. I was wondering if there are other people towing with a 4Runner. I'm starting to have some concerns about a strain on my transmission. Would I be better served by having a transmission cooler installed? Also, the vehicle does struggle a bit on hills.
Any thoughts, or experience with my trailer and tow vehicle combination.
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Old 04-19-2015, 07:47 AM   #2
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Your 19 in well within the towing limits of your 4Runner and I think you’re wise to consider adding a transmission cooler. Before towing my 17B I added one plus a ScanGauge so I can see the transmission temperatures and not rely on the idiot light. When it comes to hills I’m more concerned about the transmission temperatures than speed so if the temperature starts climbing too much I back off the throttle and drop to a lower gear. And unless on flat ground, which is seldom in our neck of the woods, the overdrive is locked out, (transmission in the “S” mode).

It’s normally recommended you don’t use your cruise control when towing; well, I do until the transmission starts searching for a gear then it’s disengaged and I’ll either back off the throttle or manually drop to a lower gear, again watching the transmission temperatures.

In the picture the 3 temperatures ScanGauge is showing are the Transmission Pan Temp, and Torque Converter Temp and the engine Water Temp.
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File Type: jpg Before Transmission Cooler.jpg (157.6 KB, 48 views)
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Old 04-19-2015, 07:55 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by papasm2 View Post
I have an Escape 19, and my tow vehicle is a 2010 Toyota 4Runner, Trail Edition. I was wondering if there are other people towing with a 4Runner. I'm starting to have some concerns about a strain on my transmission. Would I be better served by having a transmission cooler installed? Also, the vehicle does struggle a bit on hills.
Any thoughts, or experience with my trailer and tow vehicle combination.
Hi Papasm2: I have a 2010 Toyota 4Runner and tow the 19 and have had the same questions you are wondering about. There is some good information at this thread Towing an Escape 21: 4Runner or Tacoma? on this forum.
I can advise that the 4Runner has a transmission cooler as part of the tow package, at least in Canada. My own experience is that I initially wasn't sure there was sufficient power, especially on hills. Others on this forum have pointed out that when not towing, these vehicles in overdrive are only running at around 1800- 2000 rpm, but develop much more power at higher revs. So it is important to lock out your overdrive, so that your transmission isn't switching as often, and not be concerned about higher engine revs- and reduced gas mileage. Several on this forum have suggested transmission fluid temperature gauges to give you accurate feedback on transmission fluid temperatures. I asked the Service manager at the dealership where I get service, about adding a gauge. He indicated it would give you peace of mind, but felt that the vehicle was designed to tow, and wasn't convinced it was necessary. He did recommend changing transmission fluid more frequently when towing, and as others on this forum have suggested, consider switching to synthetic transmission fluid which withstands higher temperatures without breaking down.
I think you will find the above thread to have lots of good information.

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Old 04-19-2015, 10:39 AM   #4
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If I were towing an Escape 19, I would likely still be using my 2011 4Runner Trail Edition. The extra 500 pounds of weight that our Escape 21 entails means the choice is not as simple. After a 4-week trip last fall, much of it in the Rockies, we traded the 4Runner for a 2012 Tundra, which is a lot more comfortable towing the 21.

The mountain passes on multi-laned Interstates and highways with frequent passing lanes should not be a problem for the 4Runner with a 19-foot Escape in tow. A transmission cooler, if one is not already installed, a Scangauge, and switching to synthetic transmission fluid would all help keep temperatures lower, and your peace of mind higher.

The 4Runner's "S-mode" transmission means you can control the shift points optimally when heading up or down a mountain pass, and can keep it out of 5th. Cruise control is best avoided.
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Old 04-19-2015, 11:20 AM   #5
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I tow our 21' with a V-6 4Runner. I installed an external transmission cooler and use a Scanguage II. I echo what the others have said about adequate power and using cruise. My recommendation would be to start with the Scanguage. If trans temps are ok, you wouldn't need to add a cooler. Now, what are maximum allowable temps. When I contacted Valvoline (whose synthetic fluid I use from Walmart) the tech said not to exceed 230F for more than a few minutes--the fluid could take it, but transmission components would not.
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Old 04-19-2015, 04:52 PM   #6
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Gee, some good advice here. The last group of members mentioned installing a ScanGauge before doing anything else. That is an excellent recommendation. Once installed and in monitoring mode, you have a definitive answer to the need for any further modifications to your TV. Now you are testing everything under your driving conditions and not someone else's style. Plus, I think it is an excellent product to have no matter what.

I would not worry about a vehicle struggling a bit on hills, if you can maintain the same speed as trucks on long hills you are doing well.
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Old 04-19-2015, 06:28 PM   #7
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Thanks to all for the great suggestions and advise. I was on the verge of buying Tundra. I'm not sure if my 4Runner has a transmission cooler, but I will most definitely check that out. I will also take the advise of switching to synthetic transmission fluid. Thanks again for the help.
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Old 04-25-2015, 11:09 AM   #8
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Your 1GR-FE dual overhead cam 4.0 V6 makes peak torque (278 ft-lbs.) @ 4400 rpm (according to Edmunds). It's OK to wind it up. Don't feel like you should be able to climb hills at 2k rpm in 5th gear. As others have said put it in Sport (manual) mode and shift down when climbing a grade. Also turning off the air conditioning on a major grade is not a bad idea either.

Wear and tear on the transmission is a valid concern and also as others have suggested monitoring trans temp is likely the best (and only?) way to monitor how hard it's working. A temp gauge will tell you if you need to add supplemental transmission cooling.
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Old 04-25-2015, 08:10 PM   #9
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Thanks T&R. I'm trying to get some information on which Transmission cooler to get for my TV.
As for the gauge to monitor the temp, I have looked at the Scan gauge on Amazon. It seems to do more than just monitor the Transmission temp, unless I was looking at the wrong thing.

I thought about buying the cooler on line, and having a local mechanic install for me.

On a scale of 1-10 on mechanical aptitude, I'm a minus 5. So some one else will have to do the install for me.
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Old 04-25-2015, 11:30 PM   #10
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The one you’d want is the ScanGauge II which does monitor many engine functions; coolant temperature, tranny temperatures, RPM, Volts from the alternator, horsepower currently being used and on and on.

So far as the tranny cooler goes letting a good mechanic buy and install one probably wouldn't cost any more than if you brought your own to him. His labor won’t be cheap but at least you can feel comfortable it was installed correctly.
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