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Old 04-19-2015, 01:15 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, 06:47 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, 58 views)
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Old 04-19-2015, 06:55 AM   #3
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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.

Jim
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Old 04-19-2015, 09:39 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, 10:20 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, 03:52 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, 05:28 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, 10:09 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, 07:10 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, 10:30 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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Old 04-25-2015, 11:08 PM   #11
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Arrived home today from 2 weeks going up Eastern Slope of Sierra then up to S. Lake Tahoe then Quincy. 1400 miles and every time I see a Highlander I both miss it to some degree then am thankful I traded to a full size. Not even close if you're doing any distance and climbing any significant mountain passes. Also really appreciated the aggressive engine braking while descending. Heck, I had to stop 3/4 up Monitor Pass for a cooldown as the trans temp gauge was reading 215 and it was only 55 outside temp. Left it running for about ten minutes to get down below 200F.

Trust your instincts; if it sounds too good....
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Old 04-25-2015, 11:30 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by papasm2 View Post
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.
I had added one to my old GMC pickup, an easy job but if I were to need one again I'd go for a powered cooler as opposed to the passive ones that rely on the wind.

Something along these lines. Amazon.com: Derale 15800 Electra-Cool Remote Cooler: Automotive
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Old 04-26-2015, 08:35 AM   #13
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There is an alternative to the Scan Gauge II and it is quite a bit less expensive. It is called the Ultra Gauge and only available through the manufacturer. They just recently added transmission temperature monitoring to their unit. With any unit it is important to check that they can properly measure tranny temps. Like anything there are some exceptions, with the older the TV, the more likely their to be issues. Usually your car model will have a forum devoted to those aficionados who do mods on cars like Escape owners do on trailers. Just Googling the model with transmission temperature monitoring may work or each of these models mentioned above have web sites with rather lame tables of comparability.
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Old 04-27-2015, 09:44 AM   #14
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Good advice. At the moment I am housebound due to a recent surgery. Soon as I am recovered I will try to find a good mechanic and have him install the cooler as well as the scan gauge.
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Old 04-29-2015, 08:31 AM   #15
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Folks:
While this thread has focused on the need for transmission coolers and gauges for monitoring transmission fluid temperatures, I have some additional questions about towing with a 4Runner. I have a 2008 V6 and have placed an order for a 17B. My owner's manual indicates max. towing weight of 5,000 lb., with 500 tongue wt. The 17B is well within these limits. My question has to do with the need for a WDH. My owner's manual calls the factory installed receiver hitch that came with the vehicle a "Weight Carrying Hitch" and states that WDH cannot be used with the receiver hitch that came on my 4Runner. Thus, it appears that if I will need a WDH to tow the 17B, I'll need to replace the receiver hitch. What experience do people have with the need for WDH for 17Bs? Another issue is the need for a "sway control device". Toyota says that this is required if the trailer weighs over 2,000 lb.--which the 17B clearly does. What information have folks found regarding these questions? Thanks for your help.
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Old 04-29-2015, 09:40 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Dave & Penny Smith View Post
Folks:
While this thread has focused on the need for transmission coolers and gauges for monitoring transmission fluid temperatures, I have some additional questions about towing with a 4Runner. I have a 2008 V6 and have placed an order for a 17B. My owner's manual indicates max. towing weight of 5,000 lb., with 500 tongue wt. The 17B is well within these limits. My question has to do with the need for a WDH. My owner's manual calls the factory installed receiver hitch that came with the vehicle a "Weight Carrying Hitch" and states that WDH cannot be used with the receiver hitch that came on my 4Runner. Thus, it appears that if I will need a WDH to tow the 17B, I'll need to replace the receiver hitch. What experience do people have with the need for WDH for 17Bs? Another issue is the need for a "sway control device". Toyota says that this is required if the trailer weighs over 2,000 lb.--which the 17B clearly does. What information have folks found regarding these questions? Thanks for your help.
Dave
Dave,
I did some studying on Toyota's "weight carrying hitch" then took mine off and replaced it with an aftermarket hitch for our 21'. The WCH appears to be fully capable for downward forces, but was bolted only to a rear cross-member, not the frame rails. The bolts used appeared very strong but were concentrated in an area about 4 by 5 inches. The receiver I installed also bolts to the same rear cross member and also to each of the frame rails. According to my Toyota owner's manual, this more complete receiver design allows a higher tow rating, and more importantly allows a weight distributing hitch, which is what I was after. My guess is the Toyota engineers thought a WDH would put too much strain on the what is essentially the single mounting point of the WCH.

My 4Runner has very little squat from the trailer, with or without the WDH, so I'd get info from other 4Runner owners on the need for the WDH at all with their 17s. I just thought I could help out with the definition and description of the factory Toyota receiver. I ended up with the Andersen hitch which also serves as sway control. Other less expensive sway controls are available, including one ETI sells and installs. I didn't know whether I needed one. With the weight of the 21', I just did everything to try to be safe. I might not have gotten the Andersen or the new receiver with a 17.
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Old 04-29-2015, 09:45 AM   #17
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My experience with the 4Runner and an Escape 19 was very positive, this being without a WDH. I never had a loss of control or felt any sway. That said, the 19 is a different animal than the 17, dual axle being a dramatic difference. I am sure the tracking on the 19 is better due to four feet on the ground versus two.

My opinion is to try it without any modification. Then if you felt there was a sway issue add the anti sway or if the vehicle sagged a great deal go with a WDH. My point is not to over plan the issue. It is a great tow vehicle and I believe it can handle what you are purchasing without modification. However, if it gives you peace of mind you need to follow those instincts.
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Old 04-29-2015, 10:00 AM   #18
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I have towed our 17B with a 98 4runner V6 for two years, and a 2011 the past year - without WDH or sway control. I never experienced a sway problem with either; the trailer is stable and tracks well. The back end drops slightly with the tongue load (less on the 2011), and I have noticed some increased front tire feathering that I suspect is a result of changing-weight-distribution effect on toe-in.
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Old 04-29-2015, 10:12 AM   #19
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Thanks! This was exactly the sort of information the I was looking for.
Dave
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Old 04-29-2015, 10:32 AM   #20
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I'm still trying to get Toyota to explain the statement about WDH in the manual for my RAV4 ( which is unibody, not frame ). It's been several years, with emails to Toyota and discussions with my dealership.
It appears that they are investigating my complaint that they won't give me an answer. Would be a lot easier if they would just give me the answer:

Dear Mr. Baglo:

Thank you for your most recent correspondence.

Your file, bearing case number (xxxxx) , is being sent to our Review team and pending the outcome of our review with your dealership, you may expect a call back from a member of our Review Team.

We would like to thank you again for taking the time to write.
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