The Truth About Cars » transmission cooler http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 02 Sep 2015 20:14:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » transmission cooler http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Piston Slap: Minivan or SUV to Take the “A” Liner? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/piston-slap-10/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/piston-slap-10/#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 11:30:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1074810   Clark writes: Sajeev, We plan on buying a hard-side folding camper (a.k.a. an Aliner) with a dry weight of about 2,100 lbs. Which minivan or SUV would you recommend? Sajeev answers: I would be remiss if I didn’t admit I kinda want a pop-up camper to tow behind my Ranger. Kinda the same thing…sorta. Anyway, if […]

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Get to where you’re goin’ in a hurry. (photo courtesy: roamingtimes.com)

Clark writes:

Sajeev,

We plan on buying a hard-side folding camper (a.k.a. an Aliner) with a dry weight of about 2,100 lbs. Which minivan or SUV would you recommend?

Sajeev answers:

I would be remiss if I didn’t admit I kinda want a pop-up camper to tow behind my Ranger. Kinda the same thing…sorta.

Anyway, if you stick with an Aliner and don’t totally overload both the trailer and exceed the tow rig’s GVWR, almost any late-model V6 powered CUV or minivan is fine. I’d go vanning, for practicality and stretch out comfort; ideal for a small family, a couple, or just one person with mucho outdoor stuff. And their boxy shape (usually) punches a larger hole in the air for the trailer to “rest” inside.

Consider these minivan parameters, in no particular order:

  1. The option for a large, standalone, transmission cooler. And maybe the same for power steering. Or, as previously discussed, a super trick bolt-in setup in the aftermarket. Or perhaps give up and get the largest universal-fitting tranny cooler you can slap in. The latter could be the best and most affordable alternative.
  2. Size of brake discs and, to a lesser extent, any variance in caliper surface area between manufacturers. While I’m not holding my breath for a minivan with 4-piston front calipers, that would be sweet.
  3. Towing Capacity: checking the manufacturer websites, Chrysler wins the minivan towing race for MY 2015. Not only does it have available trailer sway control, there’s an extra 100 lbs of tow rating beyond every 3,500 pound rated minivan. But is that extra rated 100 lbs a tangible improvement?
    1. Another option: The Nissan Quest offers the same 3,500 pound towing capacity, but is the CVT gearbox is a good or bad thing? Good: CVTs work so well to put down power with efficiency, no steps for downshifting must be nice with the extra demands from towing. Bad: well, who here actually knows people who tow with CVT gearboxes over long periods of time?
  4. Tires: with all that load, finding the van with the most tow-worthy rubber is also important. Or switch to LT tires.
  5. Ease of adding aftermarket camping accessories: if you want it, can you get it for non-Chrysler minivans?
  6. U-body with LS4-FTW. Obviously, the rightest of the most righteous answers, if not the easiest to acquire. How sad for everyone!

What say you, Best and Brightest?

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Piston Slap: Crossing over into Minivan Tow Ratings? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/piston-slap-crossing-over-into-minivan-tow-ratings/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/piston-slap-crossing-over-into-minivan-tow-ratings/#comments Thu, 19 Apr 2012 11:35:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=440618   Mike writes: Dear Sajeev, I have been a fan of TTAC for a while now. I am motivated to write by the recent responses to towing with a 2005 Odyssey. Two years ago I bought a 2008 Toyota Sienna and a 21 foot (actual total length) travel trailer. The trailer has a GVWR of […]

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Mike writes:

Dear Sajeev,

I have been a fan of TTAC for a while now. I am motivated to write by the recent responses to towing with a 2005 Odyssey. Two years ago I bought a 2008 Toyota Sienna and a 21 foot (actual total length) travel trailer. The trailer has a GVWR of 3500 lb, which the Sienna is rated to tow with its towing package. I had an independent shop install a fluid-to-air ATF cooler, unfortunately, perhaps, choosing the smallest model as it was recommended for a 3500 lb tow. I was concerned about getting too much cooling in the winter. The van already had an ATF cooler in the radiator. I had them put in an ATF temperature gauge (before the radiator) at the same time. The towed weight of the trailer is several hundred pounds below the GVWR, but it has a front profile that is basically vertical. I have towed the trailer about 20,000 km (yes, I’m in Canada) and done what Toyota calls an ATF change three times. That’s actually a drain the pan and refill with 4 L of ATF, not really a change. Of course, I have no way of knowing how accurate the gauge is, but the highest it’s been on the highway is 220 F on a couple of grades in the BC mountains (Coquihalla highway). The temperature went down as soon as the grade did. It went up to 240 F or so for a few minutes while backing up a steep hill and around a bit of a corner into a storage yard. The van had 38,000 km on it when purchased and is now at 82,000 km.

Enough background. I am writing to ask why it is apparently okay to tow a larger trailer (5000 lb rating) with a Highlander but not a 3500 lb trailer with a Sienna. As far as I can tell, the engine, transmission and weight of the vehicles are basically the same. The internet is rife with posters who advise against towing with a minivan but seem to have no qualms about doing so with a SUV, except the very smallest.

What do you think?

Thanks very much for helping me out with this. I can find no answer to my question on the internet.

Sajeev answers:

Wow, you actually put an ATF temperature gauge (among other things) in a minivan?  This is why I love TTAC: our readers do some rather brilliant and enlightened things outside of their computer time.  Well, at least some of you.  I kid, I kid!

There are crucial elements that go into a tow rating: the vehicle’s weight, braking capacity and rear spring stiffness.  The 2012 Sienna is about 200lbs heavier than the 2012 Highlander, for starters.  Who knows, maybe the brakes aren’t good enough for a Highlander sized trailer and the Sienna body.  Ditto the rear springs.

I never had much faith in manufacturer tow ratings, until the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) came up with their Surface Vehicle Recommended Practice J2807: which supposedly standardizes these figures.  Is J2807 is be all, end all of towing standards?  Maybe so, but this terribly formatted article gives you more insight.  Definitely cut and paste this one into Word before reading.

While this many not fully answer your question, hopefully this will tow you (sorry) in the right direction.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

 

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Piston Slap: If you must tow with a Minivan… http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/piston-slap-if-you-must-tow-with-a-minivan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/piston-slap-if-you-must-tow-with-a-minivan/#comments Mon, 09 Apr 2012 11:50:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=438904 TTAC Commentator 70Cougar writes: Dear Sajeev: My wife has a 2005 Odyssey with 50,000 miles.  To date, we’ve had no problems with the transmission, but I keep reading about how the transmission on the Odyssey isn’t cut out for a vehicle that heavy.  I’ve been contemplating getting a utility trailer for it (although, shockingly, my […]

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TTAC Commentator 70Cougar writes:
Dear Sajeev:

My wife has a 2005 Odyssey with 50,000 miles.  To date, we’ve had no problems with the transmission, but I keep reading about how the transmission on the Odyssey isn’t cut out for a vehicle that heavy.  I’ve been contemplating getting a utility trailer for it (although, shockingly, my wife isn’t too hip on having a utility trailer in the driveway) and, in the course of my research, I’ve found that a transmission cooler is recommended if you’re going to haul a trailer. Is it worthwhile to install a transmission cooler even if I don’t get a trailer?  Is there any downside to transmission coolers (e.g., the trans runs cold for too long)?

My wife has a 5 mile commute (10 miles round trip) and we hope to keep the van at least another 5 years.

Sajeev answers:

Before we start, it’s time to change your transmission fluid.  The reason is twofold: transmission fluid has a finite lifespan, and it will die at the mere sight of a utility trailer attached to its minivan home. I love minivans for their efficient use of space and command seating position, but their transaxles are never good enough.

I think every minivan needs the largest external transmission cooler possible behind the front bumper.  That is almost as important as regular fluid changes.  If you plan on towing anything, carrying enough people/cargo to make the rear springs sag, and/or live in a climate that’s brutal on transmission fluid temperatures, both are mandatory. I’d consider annual transmission fluid changes on any minivan that tows on a regular basis, at highway speeds.

A downside to transmission coolers?  Not that I can think of. Because transmission fluid gets far hotter than engine coolant (hence why many tranny coolers are just a heat exchanger inside the engine radiator) the odds of being too cold aren’t a big concern.  But if you aren’t a Houstonian like yours truly, maybe you will need a radiator block-off pad for your front bumper…in the Yukon Territory.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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