Do I a trans cooler and can I make it?

toyota
corolla

#1

So my girlfriend and I are shifting locals from Chicago to southern California. Now we want to tow a 5 x 8 trailer with as much furniture as we can get into it and the towing vehicle is a 2004 Toyota Corolla LE with 60,000 miles on it.



I talked to my rather knowledgeable brother about this plan and he told me that I will need a transmission cooler. Something that U-Haul didn’t say I need. So do I need it?



Also some are telling me that towing with a four cylinder engine is no good on anything but a flat surface. Even though the toyota specs for the car say we can pull up to 1500 lbs. Our load total at this point will not exceed 1400 lbs and will most likely be less. So do we have to worry?



I will also say at this point we are taking the least mountainous route we can.


#2

Need is maybe not depending on how many hills you plan to climb. Recommended, in my opinion yes as a $125 add on could save a $2000 problem.


#3

These things are always a tough call but I would say that a transmission cooler would be a necessity. They’re cheap, easy to install, and worth their weight in gold whether you’re towing anything or not. Change the fluid before leaving and after arriving.

Even the least mountainous route is going to involve some serious grades so you can count on slowing down on the uphills. You should make sure the brakes are good before leaving, control the speed on the downhills, and keep an eye on the temperature gauge. The SW is not completely flat as some may think.

Some people cross the AZ and CA desert at night when it’s cooler. That stretch from Needles to Barstow is an oven and just about as hospitable and populated as an oven.


#4

If there is any way around this, I would go that route. Towing with a car like this is not a very good idea. It was never intended to do something like that, and just because the owner’s manual says it can do it doesn’t mean it should be made to do it. U-Haul will put a trailer hitch on anything, whether it is realistically capable of surviving towing a trailer or not. A transmission cooler will help prevent your fluid from overheating and destroying your transmission, but if it were my car, I would look into renting a U-Haul truck, loading that up, and using their truck to tow the Corolla. Their trucks are actually designed to tow trailers or vehicles (generally rated to tow 10,000lbs) and there will be no wear and tear on your car. The price difference is worth it in my opinion, for the increased peace of mind of not having to worry about replacing your transmission (or other major component, like the engine if it overheats and blows) and knowing your car is now in California in the exact same condition it was in when you left Chicago.


#5

As good sounding as this plan is, I’m looking at nearly doubling of my costs if I tow my car with the truck. Including fuel etc this plan is about $3200. My plan is more like $1700 since I’m freighting my boxes. I guess it’s time to look at freighting furniture too.


#6

Unless there is something special about the furniture items you could just sell it and not even fool with moving it. Furniture can be had anywhere and chances are the offset from not having to transport it would pay to replace it when added with what you get out of selling it.


#7

With the box truck, you won’t have to freight your boxes. I don’t know how much that costs, but not having to ship things will save you some money. Alternatively, have you looked into a PODS unit to get all your stuff out there, and just drive the car without towing anything with it?

The only reason I’m so adamantly against towing a trailer is because you have a small economy car that is simply not cut out for the job. It’s like taking a 110 pound kid from the chess club and trying to use him on the football team as a linebacker. There is a good chance the results will not be good.


#8

Sadly that doesn’t cut costs at all, the freighting is quite cheaper. For $700 I can freight what would take a 17ft truck to transport. Which by itself for rental, fuel, tolls, food, and housing is $3000. And I’m trying to pinch pennies since I’m off to be a poor grad student for the next three years.

Also in Chicago PODS can only be used if you have a parking lot or yard to place it on and that is accessible from the streets since they are not allowed on the road itself. We live in a dense neighborhood with no streetside yard and the garage blocks the read of the house and the alley is no go for these as well. So that lovely option is no good for me either.

And the furniture contains some family heirlooms that i can’t unload and personal storage is excessive for us.

Thanks for the suggestions though.


#9

Sadly that doesn’t cut costs at all, the freighting is quite cheaper. For $700 I can freight what would take a 17ft truck to transport. Which by itself for rental, fuel, tolls, food, and housing is $3000. And I’m trying to pinch pennies since I’m off to be a poor grad student for the next three years.

Also in Chicago PODS can only be used if you have a parking lot or yard to place it on and that is accessible from the streets since they are not allowed on the road itself. We live in a dense neighborhood with no streetside yard and the garage blocks the read of the house and the alley is no go for these as well. So that lovely option is no good for me either.

And the furniture contains some family heirlooms that i can’t unload and personal storage is excessive for us.

Thanks for the suggestions though.


#10

If PODS would be a cheaper alternative, you might look into finding somewhere else to put it, or even shuttling your stuff to your nearest PODS location, if it isn’t too terribly far away. You could rent or borrow a pickup truck to do this. I’m trying to come up with creative options for you.

Renting a large van could also get you comparable storage space to the 5x8 trailer you are considering. Avis, National, Alamo, or some other car rental firm may be able to provide something like this. Then you could either tow the Corolla with the van or drive separately. Towing will not be an option with a van from a rental firm unless you can find one with a factory receiver, but I thought I would throw that idea out there anyway.


#11

Install the cooler and move westward. Remember you may have to stop if the hill is too steep and allow the engine/trans to cool. Easy enough to remember. Fit as big a cooler as you can manage. I don’t think you’ll have troubles.


#12

Since the OP is evaluating various options to save money, here’s a thought:

I’m a big believer in transmission coolers because heat accelerates the breakdown of transmission fluid. However, the driver is only driving 2000 miles with a trailer load that fits within his car’s towing limits. If he changed his fluid before he left Chicago and then again when he got to southern Calif, wouldn’t that be acceptable?

Does anyone really think his transmission fluid will get hot enough to breakdown and cause damage in 2000 miles?


#13

Are you sure you calculated the weight correctly? With the trailer weighing 900 pounds empty, it sounds like “as much furniture as we can get into it” will put you over the limit.


#14

If you install the cooler, bring the engine cooling system up to scratch, and drive carefully, you’ll be OK. You will need to STAY OUT OF OVERDRIVE!!!

Also, use at least 5W30 oil weight; Toyota dealers are now putting 5W20 in cars and that’s too thin for your use. Check the oil with every tankful of gas.


#15

Agree - along with cooler, fluid changes, and no OD, I would limit speed to 55-60 mph.


#16

This will mainly be low weight high bulk items, so the weight of the load will not exceed 500lbs at max. My long experience packing trucks has paid off in weight calculation thankfully.


#17

Thank you folks for the reassurance. At this point I plan to hit the road and engage the cruise at 55 and stay awake and aware as long as we safely can. Fortunately we have two drivers to swap off with. And in a couple hours i go see how much it will cost to put the hitch, mod the wiring, and install the cooler. If it breaks a certain amount then I pick another option for transport.


#18

If you think the furniture weighs in at 1400 it probably weighs a little more, than add the weight of the trailer, and the weight of anything you put in the car and you are over weight. In my opinion a 3000lb.(+/-)car loaded and pulling over 1500lbs, even if you can get up the mountains that are in your way it will have barely adequate brakes to get down the mountains. I just don’t think it is a wise idea.


#19

All this assumes the fully loaded trailer is 1400 lbs. That’s a must.


#20

If it was my Corolla, I wouldn’t tow with it…at all. Instead, I would rent a truck and a tow dolly to pull the car behind it.