Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee - Trans cooler?

I’m moving from New Jersey to Florida in a week, driving approximately 1,100 miles in 90° weather give or take. I’ll be towing a 6x12 foot trailer full of my belongings and the jeep packed as well. I have a 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee with 180k miles, automatic transmission. I don’t often tow, but for this move will I be okay without a transmission cooler or should I play it safe and install one for this haul?

You want to play it safe ? Just have a moving container dropped off at your place and then let them deliver it to your next residence .

The tow rating of your SUV is 5000 lbs max WITH the towing package and a weight distributing hitch and 2000 lbs without either. That goes for the 6 and the V8. The trailer you want to rent weighs 1980 lbs empty so you can carry 20 lbs of your stuff. Not so good. And dicey with a 180K mile SUV from the get-go!

You need to know if your Jeep has the trailer towing package. That should include the extra trans cooler, a hitch and wiring for the brake and stop lights. If you don’t have these features and don’t plan on buying or renting a load-equalizing hitch, don’t do it.

If you are intent to tow it, yes do the cooler, also take a longer route and avoid the mountains. I recently rented a skid steer, towing capacity 5500 lbs, skid steer and trailer 1000 lbs above my rating they said, but as it was only a 12 mile ride on flat land for the most part they figured I would be ok. I was ok, got up to 65 no problem, but the biggest surprise was the lack of braking power going down a steep hill with a stop sign at the bottom. Sure I would do it again for 12 miles but if I had to make the trip you are contemplating with that critter dragging behind I would pass if you have a 2000 lb towing capacity, if indeed the trailer is 1980 lbs,and watch your tongue weight, backed the skid steer onto the trailer, bud says too much tongue weight and he guided me going towards the rear of the trailer with the skid steer till it looked about right, thank goodness, as he does a lot of towing also,

Having the transmission fluid serviced before the trip would be more beneficial than adding a cooler.

Because if the transmission fluid doesn’t look good, you’ll be told not to add the tranny cooler, or make the trip.


I’d rent a U-haul truck to put my belongings in and rent a car trailer to tow the Jeep on.


No mountains along the coast between NJ and FL. I would not give a 97 Grand Cherokee much chance of making it to Florida pulling a loaded 6 x 12 , trailer.

I’d install the trans cooler if you intend to haul that much stuff with your Jeep. A few years ago I had to haul a bunch of household stuff from Denver to San Francisco. I rented a 16 foot Budget E350 truck for a week, relatively inexpensive, and had no problems at all. Pleasant drive actually. I flew to Denver, and drove the truck back. Given the expense you’d incur of a break-down mid-way, suggest to consider the rent-a-truck method as an alternative.