Getting the most from auto trans

ford
focus

#1

The vehicle is a 2004 Ford Focus, and I’ll soon be towing the maximum allowed (1000 lbs) 800 miles. I don’t want to burn up the transmission.

Is a transmission temperature gage available so that I’ll know when to shift to a lower range?

What other precautions should I take?

All the best,
Kufsteiner


#2

If the trans fluid has never been changed, then it is overdue by over 10 years for that vital service, so that would be an excellent way to help ensure more miles from that transmission.
Rather than installing a trans temperature gauge, you would be much better-off installing a transmission cooler.
If you take your car to an independent transmission shop, you could have the cooler installed and have the fluid (and filter changed) at the same visit.
(Do NOT take the car to a chain-run trans shop like Lee Myles, Cottman, Mr. Transmission, or–God forbid–AAMCO, unless you want to be overcharged for substandard workmanship!)


#3

It wouldn’t hurt to upgrade your transmission fluid cooler with one that has more capacity. That would be more valuable than a transmission fluid temperature gauge, although the gauge couldn’t hurt.
My personal take on this is to ask if this car is so dispensable that it would be worth blowing the transmission or some other component by towing with it. A one-way U-Haul rental would likely be worth the cost in my opinion. Rather than spend money on upgrades, spend it on a rental.


#4

Though I do agree with everyone else that a tranny fluid cooler would be a wiser choice to spand money on, I would be concerned with the terailer itself.

A tow weight of 1000lbs is a lot for a little focus. If this is a trailer that is much taller than the roof of the focus, there would be a lot of wind resistance.

Yosemite


#5

1000 pounds really isn’t that much but I just wouldn’t let the car bog down. You don’t want to lug it without going to or using a lower gear. Now there are lots of trailer parts on the side of the road, so check and grease or replace bearings, check and maybe replace the tires, check the fit of the coupler, lights, etc.


#6

You may want to keep it out of overdrive in addition to the tranny cooler as some have suggested.


#7

A little common sense advice maybe. Suggest to abandon this plan. . Not w/a Focus. Especially not a Focus with an automatic transmission. You’d be money ahead considering the potential wear and tear and associated repair bills on your poor Focus by towing whatever needs towing w/a rental truck; then come back and drive your Focus to your destination.


#8

[quote=“GeorgeSanJose, post:7, topic:96251, full:true”]
A little common sense advice maybe. Suggest to abandon this plan. . Not w/a Focus. Especially not a Focus with an automatic transmission. You’d be money ahead considering the potential wear and tear and associated repair bills on your poor Focus by towing whatever needs towing w/a rental truck; then come back and drive your Focus to your destination.
[/quote]I think a Focus with a manual transmission would be even worse. I love the smell of a clutch burning in the morning!

Another suggestion: Rent that truck and a tow dolly for the Focus.


#9

Another tip when towing with a small car is make sure that the weight is distributed evenly.


#10

Another tip when towing with a small car is make sure that the weight is distributed evenly.

Wouldn’t that also apply to any size vehicle?


#11

Just a clarification. You want more weight on the tongue to avoid fish tailing of the trailer. Can’t remember the brand anymore but we borrowed a camper that was almost perfectly balanced so you could lift the tongue with one finger. It was a nightmare on the road until you loaded more gear in the front.


#12

Just make sure you are pre-approved for a car loan to replace the Focus at your destination.


#13

In Europe you’ll see all kinds of little cars pulling their campers to the hills for the weekend. And they aren’t exactly going slow either. A thousand pounds in a trailer will be maybe 50# on the tongue for the suspension issue and really I’ve pulled a thousand pounds of rock around the yard with my lawn mower.


#14

For those in seek of a bit of a chuckle, look at that photo of someone trying to tow a trailer with a small car on the lower right hand side of the main Car Talk page. “Summer Driving Tips: This isn’t one of them.”


#15

Well, he’s towing “800 miles” by his estimation, so that implies limited access highways. Shouldn’t be too hard on a clutch to get going–once–and keep going until fuel is low. Rinse, lather, repeat two more times! I’d much sooner have a MT than an AT here.

…and 1,000 lbs? That’s equivalent to three fat passengers and a full tank of fuel! Not an undue burden (although I guess it’s safe to assume if you’re towing a trailer, you probably already have the passenger compartment stuffed.)

Finally some of you need to price out a one-way rental of a box van. Approaches the blue book on a 10 y.o. Focus…


#16

Most trailers have a LOT of wind resistance and drag…You get up to 40-45 MPH and it’s like hitting a wall…Your temperature gauge will let you know when you have reached the speed limit for this tow…


#17

I’ve been towing trailers for over 30 years. The temp gauge never went any higher then when I take a trip without a trailer.


#18

Some Focus models are extremely basic

I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them don’t even have a coolant temperature gauge. I’ll have to check next time I service one at work

They definitely don’t have an automatic transmission fluid temperature gauge


#19

Between the profits of doom on this thread and the use of the top part of my trailer as a bargaining tool for selling my house, I reached the following solution:

  1. Ship as much as practicable by Amtrak package services.
  2. Reduce the trailer to its original flatbed design, and use a tarp to cover what I absolutely have to tow. I originally was planning to use a Suncast shed, with adapter pallet, as the top of the trailer.

I’ll still be towing about 500 pounds, and per the owner’s manual, the car is rated to tow 1000 (I have towed at least that much for shorter distances). It was approximately with the 2008 model that Ford stopped recommending the Focus for towing.


#20

What’s that?