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Do you think it can make it?

I have a 1993 Toyota Pickup (that is actually what it is called) 4x2 2.4 4 cylinder engine. We are moving from Minneapolis to LA in August and have to load it up and tow a UHaul 5x8 trailer. It is well maintained, but I still have little confidence. It seems weak and pathetic… should I look into trading it in for a highly used F150?

How much will the trailer weigh? Are you going over the mountains or have you mapped out roads that avoid them as much as possible?

Does the AC work well? If not, dump it now and buy something that has good AC.

It has no AC… no Mountains. We will go through New Mexico. We were thinking of driving at night.

Neither of these are good options. Those U-Haul trailers suck to tow, especially for such a small truck. You would probably be working it beyond its rated capacity. At that age, you could also have frame rust issues with that Toyota. Trading it for a highly used F150 is not that great an idea either. It may tow better, but it is a vehicle you are not familiar with, and you intend to immediately hook a trailer up to it and drive it halfway across the country. That has ‘adventure’ written all over it, and not in a good way. You would be best off renting a U-Haul box truck and using that to tow your Toyota pickup across the country. It would be much safer and easier.

Why take it to LA if it doesn’t have AC?

I had an '89 for 17 years, a '79 before that. They’r great vehicles. You have the 22RE engine, one of the most bulletproof engines on the road.

My recommendation would be to rent a U-haul truck and tow dolly and tow the pickup behind the U-haul.

Remember that the brakes have to be as capable of safely stopping the added load as the drivetrain is to pull it, and the truck’s weight has to be able to handle the tendency of the load to swing the tail around when stopping. Your pickup would be risky in these regards. Safety dictates renting the Uhaul.

Keep the vehicle, however. Trading for a highly used pickup of any kind is unlikely to gain you anything but problems.

Thanks everyone. Looking over the budget I don’t even think I could trade up for the F150. Our economic situation has left us with the Toyota and I think it will have to do. I will post a follow up in a month to give you all the details. I am sure it will be a slow 2000 miles though. :stuck_out_tongue:

Be aware that if you are going through New Mexico, you are going through mountains. If you’re on I40 through Albuquerque, you wont’ have any immediate insane climbs, but you will already be a mile up.

That is good to know. I have driven in the mountains before, so I am ready for slogging. I have a manual have a class B license, so I know a few things about downhill driving.

I’m going to go in the opposite direction of everyone else, and tell you that if your truck has been as well maintained as you say it has been, then I don’t see an issue with you towing a trailer cross country in the truck.

As long as you stick to the speed limit with the truck, you won’t be taxing it too bad.
At the most, you might want to have the cooling system flushed before the trip, and possibly even have the manual transmission fluid replaced.

The U-Haul 5x8 trailer isn’t that bad to tow.
At least you’re not thinking of pulling a 6x12, double axle job with the little 4 cylinder engine, fully loaded.

Just make sure you distribute the weight in the trailer properly, and it will be perfectly fine.


I know we Americans are getting soft and spoiled, but having no A/C should not be a deal breaker. We managed without it in cars for a long time, in all climates. Dress for it, and expect to be hot. You"ll do just fine.

I bought a '91 Toy P/U on Cape Cod for $100, 160K miles, 4-speed, I put $600 in it, (tires, brakes, a new radiator) and drove it to Denver without any trouble. The 22R 4 cylinder engine is one of the best ones ever made. In Denver, it has pulled a single unit snowmobile trailer up to 11,000 feet without breaking a sweat…

Yes, this time of year, drive across the southern desert at NIGHT…

You will be going through some mountains (even in CA and AZ) so the truck will probably be wheezing a bit on the uphills. There will likely be a number of people passing you but so what.

Just my opinion but there are 2 critical areas to keep an eye on. Overheating, especially in August, and the transmission if it has an automatic.
If the truck does have an auto I would strongly suggest that you change the fluid in it first and add an external transmission cooler to it.
External coolers are cheap, easy to install, and worth their weight in gold.

How much does the trailer weigh and what type brakes does it have? I-40 is tough through New Mexico and Arizona. I took that route last month and there are some loooooong grades. No one has more respect for the early Toyota pick-ups than me but if you aren’t careful the tail can wag the dog as mountain bike warned. If loaded trailer outweighs the truck I would personally advise against the pull. If the loaded trailer weighs under 2,000lbs and has electric brakes and you use good judgement it could be difficult but doable… But also, who will be riding with you? Children can make a difficult drive a dangerous drive.

No I would try it, your biggest problem will be about an inch short on the gas pedal to get up the mountains, pick the flattest route possible. Any potential repairs will be outweighed by highly used f150 in gas savings alone. It should not seem weak and pathetic, I towed a 1800 lb boat 565 miles and really found it adequate as I had a manual trans. Do all the maintenance, fuel filter air filter, hoses, and plugs and If I still had my truck I would do it. If your truck is weak and pathetic that is not the truck I had 4x2 2.4 fi engine and needs some looking into.

Hopefully I’m not about to ruin your whole day here, but have you looked into the issues with registering your truck in California? I believe that this generation of Toyota pickup still had a California version, and if yours isn’t one it might be very difficult to get it to pass the smog test. It should say on the sticker under the hood if it’s the CA-approved version.

Do you live in LA?

We made it! We towed a 5x8 U-Haul trailer filled with furniture and had the pickup bed filled with boxes. I am not sure what my weight was, but I am sure I was moving close to 2000 - 2500 lbs. The truck labored over the slightest grade and had a lot of difficulty maintaining speed at high elevation. But in flat areas in the lowlands I was able to go 65 and averaged 19mpg. The braking required 4 to 5 seconds of stopping distance, but they were pretty durable and didn’t fade on me as I went down steep grades.

And whoever said you must have AC going through the desert wasn’t joking. Yuck.

While my experience was a positive one there were few things to be learned. You must drive like you are driving a commercial vehicle. My respect for truck drivers grew a lot during the trip. That means you must be very alert when towing and must be content being passed. You will need to be aware of semi trucks that pass you because they will blow you around a bit. The real danger is making evasive moves, so I only recommend driving during daylight. By the end of the day you will be psychologically exhausted.

Lastly, I must echo what was said about the 22RE: it is simply bombproof. I wound it up so many times to 4,500- 5000 RPMs and kept it running at the ceiling for sustained periods I thought it would break apart or at least start leaking oil substantially. It took it all in stride. Even with 140,000 miles on it, it worked like a charm. The tranny is built tough too. I have never replaced the clutch, and it looks like even after this hard trip I won’t have too either.

YEE-HA. Thanks for posting back and glad that all is well.

It was the Tundra pick-ups with frame rust issues. The Hi-lux trucks, renamed Tacoma in 1994, didn’t have this problem.