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Old 07-18-2016, 12:14 PM   #1
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New Owners of a 2008 Escape 17B

I just got back from picking up our new to us 2008 17B in Central Alberta yesterday. It was a whirlwind 3 day trip that involved 2150 km of driving, 1050 km of towing and even a round of golf! We left Calgary yesterday at 05:45 MST, stopped in Golden and Kamloops for fuel and arrived in New West at 15:30 PST. Total distance traveled was 950 km and time was 10:45 which works out to an average speed of 88 km/h. We only stopped for gas and bathroom breaks!

The family (wife and kids 6 and 3) were very excited when we arrived! They have tentatively named it the Thinga-ma-jigger after the Cat in the Hat show. I think the name might stick!

The 4Runner pulled the trailer like a dream. It was very stable without a weight distributing hitch and you barely noticed the trailer was there. The major climbs on the Coquihalla (particularly heading south out Kamloops) were not as bad as I expected and the truck held 90 km/h in 3rd gear without any problems.

We have been tent campers (front and backcountry) for many years and are first time RV/trailer owners. We have been lucky enough to borrow a VW Vanagon in the past and like the extended camping season that goes with it.

Our first shakedown trip will be Otter Lake this weekend. Later this summer we hit the road to southern Alberta, Montana and Idaho.

Thanks to everyone who answered our questions on the forum in advance! And a big thanks to Tworainy who gave us a tour of his trailer on very short notice to allow us to complete the long distance purchase of the used trailer.
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Old 07-18-2016, 12:16 PM   #2
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2 kids and a wife...I hope you got the bunk bed option.
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Old 07-18-2016, 12:20 PM   #3
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2 kids and a wife...I hope you got the bunk bed option.
Yep! That's why I drove to AB to get it!
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Old 07-18-2016, 12:34 PM   #4
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Congrats Michael. The excitement of new owners is contagious. Happy trails.


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Old 07-18-2016, 12:37 PM   #5
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Don't know the details of your tow vehicle, but I recommend you read the towing section in your manual.
Mine ( RAV4 ) says not to tow up a grade in 3 or 2 for any extended time ( which is vague ). Says to tow in 4, not 4D.
I ignored that and dropped down to 3 going up the Coquihalla at the snowshed and caused the transmission warning light to light up.
I now keep it in 4 and when I need it to downshift, I hit the accelerator.
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Old 07-18-2016, 01:51 PM   #6
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Don't know the details of your tow vehicle, but I recommend you read the towing section in your manual.
Mine ( RAV4 ) says not to tow up a grade in 3 or 2 for any extended time ( which is vague ). Says to tow in 4, not 4D.
I ignored that and dropped down to 3 going up the Coquihalla at the snowshed and caused the transmission warning light to light up.
I now keep it in 4 and when I need it to downshift, I hit the accelerator.
Thanks for sharing your experience! I will be heading up the snowshed hill on Friday so it is timely advice!

The 4Runner Owners Manual is a bit weak on the towing procedures and doesn't seem to comment on the transmission shifter position while towing. The 4Runner transmission has an S mode that restricts the upper limit of the gear ranges and prevents unnecessary upshifting. Everything I read on the 4Runner forums in advance recommended to tow in S mode in 4th to limit unnecessary upshifts because the overdrive gear will not be available. I assume that this is the same as the RAV4 being in 4 not 4D.

While towing I used a OBDII bluetooth transmitter and the Torque app on my phone to monitor the transmission fluid temperatures both at the torque converter outlet and in the pan. The ideal situation was when the torque converter locked up and there was no slippage in the fluid. I could tell this happened because the RPM dropped a few hundred without the transmission shifting and there was either no or only a small differential in the fluid temperatures (a few degrees).

I found that by listening to the transmission shifts and monitoring whether the torque converter was locked up I could manually shift the vehicle to maintain the best fuel economy. I towed for long sections with the vehicle in S5 with the torque converter locked up and the fluid temperatures remained low. As soon as I hit a bigger hill the torque converter would unlock and I would downshift to S4 and get the torque converter to lockup again.

On the climb out of Kamloops to Surrey Lake summit there was a section of 18km at 6% or greater. I downshifted to S4 but the torque converter would not stay locked up on some of the higher grades so I tried S3 for a while. The temperatures did get hot but I don't remember the exact numbers. Of the entire trip this was the place where the fluid temperatures got the highest but I didn't get any A/T warning lights. I did find that they seemed to stay lower when I forced the transmission to 3rd gear on that part of the climb. The fluid temperatures seemed higher when lugging at lower RPM without the torque converter locked up such as in S4 instead of S3. I need to look into this more.
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Old 07-18-2016, 02:34 PM   #7
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I agree that it's important to follow the vehicle manufacturer's directions regarding transmission operation, but at the same time I would not expect any similarity between specific restrictions for the RAV4's transaxle and the 4Runner's transmission. Other than both being conventional automatic transmissions with a Toyota logo, they're unrelated designs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by msweet View Post
While towing I used a OBDII bluetooth transmitter and the Torque app on my phone to monitor the transmission fluid temperatures both at the torque converter outlet and in the pan. The ideal situation was when the torque converter locked up and there was no slippage in the fluid. I could tell this happened because the RPM dropped a few hundred without the transmission shifting and there was either no or only a small differential in the fluid temperatures (a few degrees).

I found that by listening to the transmission shifts and monitoring whether the torque converter was locked up I could manually shift the vehicle to maintain the best fuel economy. I towed for long sections with the vehicle in S5 with the torque converter locked up and the fluid temperatures remained low. As soon as I hit a bigger hill the torque converter would unlock and I would downshift to S4 and get the torque converter to lockup again.

On the climb out of Kamloops to Surrey Lake summit there was a section of 18km at 6% or greater. I downshifted to S4 but the torque converter would not stay locked up on some of the higher grades so I tried S3 for a while. The temperatures did get hot but I don't remember the exact numbers. Of the entire trip this was the place where the fluid temperatures got the highest but I didn't get any A/T warning lights. I did find that they seemed to stay lower when I forced the transmission to 3rd gear on that part of the climb. The fluid temperatures seemed higher when lugging at lower RPM without the torque converter locked up such as in S4 instead of S3. I need to look into this more.
I think you have an excellent handle on the situation. As a rough rule of thumb, when a torque converter is running without torque multiplication - so it would be better bypassed by the lockup clutch - it slips by about 10%. That means if you're running at 3500 rpm engine speed and unlocked, you would expect lockup to reduce the engine speed by about 350 rpm... as observed here. Two ratios of a 5-speed automatic would never be only 10% apart; a fourth-to-fifth upshift of the 4Runner's transmission decreases engine speed by about 30% (and the other steps are larger).
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Old 07-18-2016, 02:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msweet View Post
I need to look into this more.
I did some reading on the 4Runner forums. The torque converter will lock-up in 3rd, 4th and 5th gears unless the transmission is in S3. I think I will try leaving it in S4 and downshift with the pedal and see if I can get the torque converter to lock in 3rd on the snowshed hill this weekend.

I checked my app history and the transmission temps reached about 235 deg F at the torque converter outlet and 220 deg F in the pan on the Surrey Summit climb. One of the posts quotes a Toyota technician as not being concerned at temps as high as 270 deg F. The A/T light goes off around 305 deg F at which time you should consider getting your ATF replaced because the elevated temperatures will significantly shorten the fluid life.
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Old 07-18-2016, 03:08 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
I think you have an excellent handle on the situation. As a rough rule of thumb, when a torque converter is running without torque multiplication - so it would be better bypassed by the lockup clutch - it slips by about 10%. That means if you're running at 3500 rpm engine speed and unlocked, you would expect lockup to reduce the engine speed by about 350 rpm... as observed here. Two ratios of a 5-speed automatic would never be only 10% apart; a fourth-to-fifth upshift of the 4Runner's transmission decreases engine speed by about 30% (and the other steps are larger).
My recollection of the numbers while towing: travelling in 5th gear at approximately 100 km/h the engine was running around 2200 rpm with the torque converter unlocked and 1950 rpm with the torque converter locked. I wasn't paying close attention to the exact numbers just the torque converter status.

I am very happy with the 4Runner so far and the only drawback is the slightly harsher ride. For highway cruising (not towing) it does well but can struggle maintaining 120 km/h on the bigger hills (snowshed) on the Coquihalla and will continually downshift between 3rd and 4th. The shift down to 3rd is quite loud but it has lots of power to accelerate!

My last car was a Subaru Outback 2.5L manual that had to go up the bigger climbs Coquihalla in 4th gear at 4000 rpm to maintain 100 km/h. With a full load (roof box, camping gear, family) it would have to drop to 3rd. Obviously we weren't going to be able to tow with it so we picked up the used 4Runner earlier this spring.
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Old 07-18-2016, 03:19 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by msweet View Post
My recollection of the numbers while towing: travelling in 5th gear at approximately 100 km/h the engine was running around 2200 rpm with the torque converter unlocked and 1950 rpm with the torque converter locked. I wasn't paying close attention to the exact numbers just the torque converter status.
For someone not paying attention to the exact numbers that's pretty clear!

That all sounds as expected.
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