Check out ALL the options for towing. They may shock you.

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Well-known member
Feb 7, 2018
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sitting on a river-bridge playing the banjo...
A local asks me to have a peek at a tiny "eggshell" camper from the 80's.
She is going to take off for a multiple-years-long journey from Alaska to Mexico and all in between.
As we travel from my home to the trailer, we chat about what she has thought about thus far.
She has a VERY good head on her shoulders. (...and a stout "Taurus Judge" in her holster purse...GO LADIES!!)

I was very impressed by her basic solar knowledge, her preparedness for toilet needs and pre-planning for Internet, TV, road service plan...etc.
When we get to the trailer, I see a stripped out Casita or Scamp, not really sure which. A previous owner has gutted the thing and done an excellent job at using foam and aluminum to refit.
The fellow passed away last year and was a relative of the seller, so it is all fitted out. Like it was left with contents.
Simple stove/oven, 5 gallon jugs for water with a small pump...outdoor shower tent that attaches to the side, nice awning with screen house that drops down/attaches.
This thing even has three panels on the roof and three AGM's that still looked great. (Turned out to be 300 watts, but the older controller. Still, it would meet her needs.)
Even has a decent compressor fridge and a Honda 2000 just like mine. Little TV and I am shocked to see a rather pricey Alpine hooked to a set of LS35A's, mounted in the front corners. (Someone had taste and a good ear...ahhh the mid-bass "bloom."   :)   )
If I were a single person with height of 5'4" like her, I would seriously think about one of these.
There is a weight slip marked "FULLY LOADED OUT WITH WATER" and a circle around the total..."1680 pounds." From looking at it, I believe the weight.

On the way home, she asks me what kind of truck she should buy.
After doing her homework, she says she likes the Tacoma's.
With a cap, she could have enough space for a genset and misc. stuff.

As we head home, she goes into more detail about the truck she will have to buy if she purchases the "Mork From Ork" camper.
Then we pull into my driveway. I had not really paid attention to it until then.
She is driving a Olds Cutlass Ciera. It turns out to be a 1996 model year, inherited from a relative. The car is a garaged cream puff. A ding in the fender, but mint condition besides that one ding. V6 engine, 74,xxx miles on it.
I take a peek at the car.
They are overlooked by people who only have eyes for Honda/Toyota.
Besides an intake issue that can be fixed for under $300 at any dealer, they are actually a pretty solid vehicle.

So we go on a little Internet frenzy.
A Toyota pickup with the same miles and condition will cost her a bundle.
Then the "JD out-of-the-box-thinking" engages.
That Oldsmobile is a quick car. A relatively heavy car for it's size.
So I make a few calculations.
A set of stiff-sidewalled Michelins. A brake controller. Air shocks for the rear and a high quality receiver hitch. A decent auxiliary trans cooler, lighting in the back and a brand new brake/axle/tire setup for the trailer.
Add to this a decent GPS and audio system for the Olds and the budget came to just under $2600 all-in, including a flush through of engine and trans fluids with good synthetics. (The new axle, gave her the ability to lower the ride height for highway travel by 2 inches on demand. I have yet to see it, but it sounds great.)
$2600 is a LOT less than the Toyota pickup would have cost her.
Besides that, the Olds has more power. A locked trunk and four doors. Cruise Control, a seat like your living room couch.
Even if she smokes the transmission half-way through the trip, she will save money. A lot of money.
The weight of the car is actually a benefit in this situation.
There are a ton of mint-shape Cutlass Cieras out there with V6 power, purchased by an elderly person and driven very little.
They fly down the road and deliver more than 30MPG with the CC set @ 65.
Equip them properly and they are much more comfy than a crank-window Tacoma.
They also have a locked, secure trunk...instead of a cap that any meth-head can break into with a screwdriver.

The experience above made me think about other situations.
There are late model, relatively low-mileage Crown Vics all over the place.
Did you know the tow rating for a Crown Vic is the SAME as a Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix/Toyota Corolla?
In the USA, manufacturers downed their tow capacity because they wanted to push towards trucks.
In reality, a Crown Vic with the police package has stiff suspension, big sway bars...about the best RWD car tow setup you can get at present.
(A lot more heavy duty than any Tacoma pickup truck...that is for damned sure.) Same thing with a Buick Roadmaster.
The Chrysler minivan, that still rolls on "K-Car" bearings/spindles...has a 3600 pound capacity however. (Put 3500 pounds behind either...and I'll take the Crown Vic, thanks. Talk about silly ratings...)

When looking around for a touring rig to tow with, check out those light trailers and see what a car can do.
That lower to the ground roof saves more fuel than you think.
With the trailer set up properly, you might find a good solution without needing a truck.
V6 or V8 sedans/wagons are pennies on the dollar compared to pickup trucks.
Never been to Alaska or Mexico and have no plans to do so.  However what I hear from others about road conditions involved in those trips I think I would go with a pickup or SUV that had more ground clearance.  I'm with you on the Tacoma.  You can buy a Chevy pickup for a lot less that will get similar fuel mileage and much more room.  That old Cutlass needs to stay with some old lady who will just drive around town.
I hope you meant change transmission fluid and not really a "flush".  For what it's worth.
From that link:

Flush vs. Change

A flush uses a professional grade machine to completely flush all the transmission fluid from your vehicle and remove some grime and contaminants from the torque converter and cooler lines to prevent them from causing transmission problems. This process involves running a special solution through the lines until they come out completely clean and then fills up the system with new fluid.

A fluid change on the other hand simply drains it using natural gravitational forces. Not all the fluid in the system is drained using this method and it does not flush out contaminants. Most say it only drains between 20%-40% of the total volume.

The goal of both changes and flushes is to improve and extend the life and performance of your car.
I would advise someone doing that to travel a bit slower with that rig, and if it has a way to lock out overdrive, do so, especially on any hills and grades. 

With passenger cars, the rear axle ratio is not really designed for towing.
This "lock it out of OD" is an old urban legend.
If it pulls the hill fine in OD, let the ECM shift the car. You are well within the range of what the car was designed to do.
It it oscillates back and forth (shifts UP/DOWN UP/DOWN on the hill), then yes, lock it in drive or the lower gear till you top the hill...then right back to OD again.
That old wives tale is form 35 years ago, when torque converters used to heat up in high gear from slippage.
The best thing for your transmission is to have the torque converter locked in top gear.
If it needs to downshift, the computer knows when to do so.

(This olds is front wheel drive with a 2.97 ratio.)
Actually, in an effort to explain further, think about what the "trailer towing" button does to a newer auto trans.
It holds the shift points longer.
It allows you apply more throttle in higher gear before it kicks down into the lower gear.
(To take more advantage of the torque.)
In the old transmissions, before they had lock ups, dropping a gear made the RPM's come up and the slippage lessen in the converter.
(Even the first overdrives were really a "switch pitch" converter, not a true lockup.)
When the converter is locked up, it is just like a clutch fully engaged in a manual.
It makes very little heat like this.
Many of the old Allisons needed more RPM to get the pump pressure up so they would "climb the hill tight" with as little slippage possible.
That is where the habit came from in the larger RV's and the RV people telling owners to drop out of high gear on the hills.
This "lock it out of OD" is an old urban legend.
If it pulls the hill fine in OD, let the ECM shift the car. You are well within the range of what the car was designed to do.
It it oscillates back and forth (shifts UP/DOWN UP/DOWN on the hill), then yes, lock it in drive or the lower gear till you top the hill...then right back to OD again.

Wive's tales and urban legends?

You just agreed with me in your third can't be fact AND an old wives tale at the same time. 

This technique still applies on an older passenger car, like a 1996 Cutlass, probably with a 4 speed auto, as well as my 2009 Ford E-250, which has the 4.6L small V-8, 4 speed auto, and 3.55 rear axle, no tow/haul mode, and when pulling a hill with a taller trailer attached. 

The tow/haul mode in newer autos changes the shift points, but most older passenger cars don't have that option. Sometimes they have something like a performance/sport/economy setting, which does something very similar, it changes the shift points.

The normal passenger car or light truck or van without tow/haul mode will VERY often hunt back and forth for the right gear when ascending a grade with a trailer attached. Causing slippage, and heat. 

Forcing the tranny to stay out of OD is still needed, and especially with a taller rear ratio, and pulling a trailer. 

If not, why would the manufacturer bother to put that lockout button right there where you might need it? And printed plainly in the owner's manual?

Because the engine/transmission/rear axle ratio might not be optimal when pulling a trailer.

In fact, a passenger car towing a trailer will work twice as hard (compared to not pulling a trailer) and a 22 year old passenger car with a V6 engine, tall rear gearing, and pulling the large frontal area of even a smaller travel trailer is going to be working pretty hard even on level ground trying to maintain 75 mph...but maybe the Crown Vic with a V8 won't struggle that much up the mountain grades. 

Plus, slowing for exit ramps, downhill grades, and such, the driver is much safer hitting that button (or moving the lever) for the OD lock out, which will provide some engine braking. 

For 20 years I drove a 1994 Chevy half-ton stepside with a V6 and this is exactly how I had to drive it in the mountains with a trailer, I kept it out of OD most of the time, or even on level ground with strong headwinds...the motor and transmission were not happy unless I did exactly that. 

Hence my advise stands ESPECIALLY for an older passenger car, with a V6: Slow down, drop out of overdrive on hills, and save that old transmission from overheating. 

Of course we can argue whether or not pulling ANY travel trailer full time with a V-6 passenger car is good idea or a bad idea...but sometimes that is what someone has to work with. 

Personally I would not recommend it.
I explained the reasons why and when you SHOULD pull the shifter down.
However, if you notice the way a "TOW" mode changes the shifts, it does not "hold it out of OD."
It takes MORE advantage of OD and usually shifts out of it LATER than normal.
(Want to take a ride in my Silverado to prove this???)
If it makes you happy to downshift for engine braking, have at it. I never said you shouldn't.

The facts remain:
1. When a converter is locked up, the trans generates the least heat.
2. What you quote in the manual is precisely to combat the constant shifting in and out of OD (a bad thing.)
3. "TOW" mode makes FULL use of OD in trucks. Again, FULL use of overdrive. The OD lock out you speak of is precisely for the in/out upshift/downshift oscillation I have now described a few times. (Yawn.)
4. Leave it OD unless it begins oscillating.
Of course, you could also speak to the one of the engineers at Allison. Or one of the guys who was on the design team for the L80. (Like I did.)
We made up a training course for the step van drivers using their information. (I am repeating what they said.)
(Think about the load against a step van @65MPH. Do you really think GM would use an OD trans if it was not designed for heavy use? Think a minute now... The wind load on one of those is a lot more than a pickup/trailer. They are one of the toughest boxes to push through the air. The engines/transmissions work harder in that application than any other. They NEVER get a break from "heavy load.") Why doesn't GM program those ECM's to hold those automatics out of OD? Why doesn't GM use a direct trans in step vans? Same thing with RV's. Exact same thing. They always tow more than a trailer in wind load. Always. Why not use a T400 for those? If OD is bad, why install it in the machine in the first place? To go downhills maybe?? Do you now see the point? Your manual is no different from the manuals handed out with trucks that were ordered with a 4:11 ratio.

Because the manual is made for the masses and the masses drag their knuckles when they walk and read at grade-school levels.
Think about how hard it is to describe an oscillation scenario to a herd of people through text. THAT is why you see the default "with heavy loads, downshift the transmission out of OD" in your manual.
This is post three for me here and those who want to pull their shifter down, go for it. I thought it was worth the effort to explain but sadly, twenty years from now, there will be engines running at higher RPMs down the road for no reason.
Yank it down into second gear and hold it at redline the whole time if it makes you feel better...the vehicle belongs to you. Do what you like.
I'm done with this thread now. I tried to pass on some knowledge.
Hostility is not welcome here, only clarity.

Read your original post in this thread, about pulling a camper with a V-6 Cutlass. Then read my response to pulling a trailer with a V-6 Cutlass, or any small engined 20+ year old passenger car with a tall ratio rear set up for economy.

I was not referring to Allison transmissions, or diesel trucks, or any modern vehicle with tow mode. I did not say that tow/haul mode will lockout overdrive...why would I? It does not normally do that. Some newer trucks have manually selectable top gear mode, for towing, in addition to tow/haul mode...but again, in this thread the topic is pulling trailers with cars, sedans, etc.

But you have made the assumption I was referring to modern trucks...which I was not.

Trust me, I know how this stuff works. 

The 'fail' here is that you are applying my recommendation about towing with passenger cars to everything else on the road.

Please don't misquote me, it's not what I said.

My advise stands: If towing a camper with an older v-6 passenger car, it is advisable to use a proper lower gear when needed.

Period. I'm not referring to trucks, or buses, or ambulances, or motorhomes, or anything else designed to haul cargo, pull trailers, or deal with a heavy payload.

Only passenger cars. As stated by you in your last paragraph of your first post:

[font=Verdana, Arial, sans-serif]When looking around for a touring rig to tow with, check out those light trailers and see what a car can do.[/font]
[font=Verdana, Arial, sans-serif]That lower to the ground roof saves more fuel than you think.[/font]
[font=Verdana, Arial, sans-serif]With the trailer set up properly, you might find a good solution without needing a truck.[/font]
[font=Verdana, Arial, sans-serif]V6 or V8 sedans/wagons are pennies on the dollar compared to pickup trucks.[/font]

Are we clear on that?

Thank you.
I'm just glad she doesn't have my phone number when she breaks down.
tx2sturgis said:
I would advise someone doing that to travel a bit slower with that rig, and if it has a way to lock out overdrive, do so, especially on any hills and grades. 

With passenger cars, the rear axle ratio is not really designed for towing.

Clarity? Okay.
Read what you typed in above.

Am I reading it wrong, Brian?

No explanation. No defining info about oscillation. Just a black/white statement.

In my "urban legend/wives tale" reply, I said exactly the correct way a transmission should be used.
A bit later, I attempted to clarify more...and give a bit of background, where many RV people and truck people took on the blanket statement. I went into pretty full detail. your reply, after use the word oscillation. (implying that is what you meant all along? perhaps?)

Now if  you want to insist I am reading everything wrong...well then the fault lies with me and that is fine.

...but climb down off that high horse as far as hostility goes. Your own reply in this thread is loaded with it.

Now I am really done with this thread. Yet another thread here has been turned into a crap-fest by sniping with one sentence partially correct "clarifications."
Just focus on clarifying by writing precisely as possible, let go of personality-driven disputaciousness.
knock it off.

if either of you continue with name calling or even quoting name calling I will delete the post and give you warning points.

you can state your opinion until the cows come home but no name calling. highdesertranger
I am still waiting to be shown where TX2STURGIS or I have called each other a name...

...and if I am allowed to "state my opinion till the cows come home" does that include "stating my opinion" when I think another members "advice" is not appropriate?
I've decided to use the Jeep Grand Cherokee for my tow vehicle. The Ranger would do it but I really don't want to take the ladder rack/tool box off of it and with the low tow capacity I'd probably be at the max limits. I think it's around 2400 pounds for the Ranger vs. 5000 for the Jeep. So I'll probably do about a 3" lift on the Jeep and replace the axle on the trailer with that timbren type suspension with a lift on that and put matching Jeep wheels and tires on it. Should give me more an enough ground clearance for anything I might encounter.