Transmission Coolers: Hype or Help



I’m moving 500+ miles in a 2001 Honda Civic EX. I’ll be towing a small trailer the last week of August. On the Uhaul website, they recommend a transmission cooler to prevent against any transmission damage.

Now, I don’t plan on towing on a frequent basis, so I would assume I’ll be fine without one. But taking into consideration my car’s age, mileage (just under 100k), the weather and overall lack of towing capacity, should I seriously look into one of these coolers?


Rent a truck. That car can’t handle a trailer pulling turning or stopping.


I agree with Rod Knox. It’s much cheaper to rent a truck and tow your car than it is to damage your car’s powertrain by towing. Even a full size van from a car rental place would do.


While I tend to agree with the other posters regarding the advisability of renting a truck or van, I must also point out that my daughter in law has a 1998 Civic, automatic transmission, that she frequently tows with. She pulled a U-Haul trailer from Florida to Atlanta with her apartment contents when she moved here, then loaded up a bunch of stuff when she and my son moved to North Carolina. They regularly tow a pop-up camper and she tows a trailer with an ATV for her work. Car currently has 130,000+ miles, no extra cooler, and seems to be running OK. I would still rather use a heavier vehicle for this use.


A transmission cooler is a great idea even if you never tow anything at all. Heat is the great destroyer of automatic transmissions and what better way to get rid of heat than an external cooler.


U-Haul agents that I have dealt with want you to make the move without problems. This is in your interest as well as U-Haul’s interest. Relative to the cost of a transmission, the transmission cooler is cheap. If you insist on towing the trailer as opposed to renting a truck, I would certainly go with the cooler, particularly the last week in August.


If you are towing on absolutely flat terrain, you might be crazy not to try towing, but if you have any steep ups and downs, you shouldn’t try it. The downs can be terrible.

Scared of everything.


Honda specifically recommends against towing with any Civic within the last 14 years at least.

Your 500+ mile move may turn into $1000-$2000 transmission repair. The tranny’s in this vintage Civic are more on the “delicate” side.


The transmission coolers themselves can cause problems if not installed correctly. You could do a transmission fluid change just before the trip, using only Honda transmission fluid, then do another one right after if it shows any sign of discoloration.

Although Honda does not recommend towing anything with this car, you can if you don’t exceed the max GVW. The little placard on the door post should give you the max weight of the vehicle with passengers and luggage. Generally four people max this little car out, unless two are children, then you can throw in a suit case.


You do have an automatic transmission??

I agree the damage you could do to the car greatly out weighs the benefit…

Rent a truck.


How big is the trailer? How much are you going to tow?


OK hit it right on the head. Even if you dont tow, an external cooler definately wont hurt especially in hotter climates. The cooler you can keep the trans, the longer it will last. The next best thing you can do for your trans is to change the fluid on a regular basis… Every 25k…



I agree with the others, towing with a civic isn’t a great idea. I would use the “transmission cooler” money to either rent a truck or pay someone to move your stuff. I also agree that routinely changing auto transmission fluid/filters is the best way to maximize your transmissions life.


It depends on the vehicle. Some have better transmission cooling than others. You could install a transmission fluid temp gauge and monitor the temp. If it goes too high you know you need to install a cooler. That does not make a lot of sense, however. Just install a cooler if you must use this inadequate tow vehicle. A good quality, properly installed cooler can’t hurt. I’d rent a truck and tow the car. It is safer.


How big is the trailer? How much are you going to tow?

Someone here asked about towing a U-Haul trailer a few months back…The LIGHTEST covered trailer U-Haul rents is OVER 1000lbs. The lightest UNCOVERED trailer is OVER 700lbs.

There is no way the Civic can SAFELY tow ANY trailer UHaul rents.