Towing small trailer necessary requirements - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-16-2006, 11:33 PM   #1
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Now that I've received some great advice about the trailer hitch I need I would like to ask about the other requirements that will be placed on my tow vehicle. I own a 2001 Nissan Quest V-6. It doesn't have a tow package. I will be getting a class II hitch installed. The minivan is rated for a 3500lb. towing capacity. The trailer is a 13' 1991 Scamp.

1. I will probably be installing a tranny cooler in the future but I won't have one initially to bring the trailer home, is this reasonable if I'm extremely careful? How much do tranny coolers average and where is a reputable kind of place to have one installed?

2. The trailer doesn't have brakes as far as I know but my minivan is 5,000 will this be safe again for initial transport?

Thanks for all the "real world" knowledge the board provides.
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Old 01-17-2006, 12:04 AM   #2
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i would add a tranny cooler as soon as you can ..but you should be ok with your tug check to see if it has breaks and if it does do add the brake controler you would not beleave the diff in haveing them...you will be fine to bring it home as well as useing it just drive like you are hauling a trailer good luck...
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Old 01-17-2006, 12:56 AM   #3
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I suspect your rig should pull 1000 lbs home without a tranny cooler, just take it easy and watch the engine temp. If the engine temp rises, the xmsn is not far behind. I'd get a cooler installed before doing any serious up hill travel. They don't cost much and will reduce the wear and tear on your tranny. High temps are rough on an auto xmsn.

As an aside, some vans and trucks have a tranny cooler built right in to the engine radiator. This seemingly elegant combination is a poor idea because tranny fluid temp should never be allowed to get as high as the engine temp can. External coolers are best. A gauge is a good idea.

The new 13' Scamps don't have brakes listed in their specs. Here in CA, brakes are required when the trailer gross weight exceeds 1500 lbs. I'll leave it to a 13' Scamp expert to talk specifically about the wisdom and practice of pulling without brakes. ( But it gives me the willies ... ....)

Good luck with your new trailer. It'll be a blast!
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Old 01-17-2006, 07:20 AM   #4
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don't tow in overdrive , if you have automatic overdrive drop it down one gear
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Old 01-17-2006, 08:11 AM   #5
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You should check with UHaul as they install transmission coolers.

I like having trailer brakes and think they should be standard equipment, but you will probably be just fine towing a 13' if you remember you have that thing back there.

The bottom of the radiator on my Honda is the transmission cooler. I'm sure the engineers knew what they were doing when they did that. No extra cooler is required for the towing limit of 1,500# on my car, although most knowledgeable people recommend one for that extra measure of safety.
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Old 01-17-2006, 09:14 AM   #6
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Quint, I tow our 16' Scamp, that has about all the extras you can get on it, with a 2002 Mercury Villager, which is a twin to the Quest. It does the job very well. You should have no problem with the 13' Scamp. I did have a transmission cooler installed and the electric brake controller because the S16 has brakes as standard. You should have the transmission cooler installed, but you should be OK for the trip home if you take it easy. It is cheap insurance. I towed a small cargo trailer to Tennessee and back before I got the cooler with no problem. The cargo trailer weighed about the same as a 13' Scamp.
If the trailer has brakes, hook them up. Having trailer brakes can save you some anxiety too.
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Old 01-17-2006, 01:16 PM   #7
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Quint, I'm surprised that the earlier Quest would have a 3500 lb tow rating by Nissan without the towing package; most similar minivans are rated for only 2000 lb without the package, which is usually mostly that transmission oil cooler. If it were my rig, I would read the owner's manual carefully. Fortunately, even at a 2000 lb rating, it appears from the reports of other 13' Scamp owners (whose trailers almost all weight under 2000 lb loaded) that the trailer would be within the van's capacity.

Personally, I'm not concerned about a transmission oil cooler being placed in the bottom of the radiator, if it is a vertical-flow rad, since that is the "cold" (okay, less hot) side. The regulated engine temperature (at the thermostat) is the hot side. I lean toward the "factory knows best" approach in this case, and I frankly don't even know exactly where the transmission oil cooler is in my van, which has a horizontal-flow radiator.

Finally, while the maxium gross vehicle weight rating for the Quest could certainly be 5000lb, I hope it is nowhere near that heavy empty. The curb weight of larger current Quest is 4209 lb or less, like my very similar 2004 Toyota Sienna, and the 2001 Quest is significantly smaller. It appears that a heavily loaded 13' Scamp could be almost half the weight of an empty (except for driver) 2001 Quest.
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Old 01-17-2006, 02:16 PM   #8
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The bottom of the radiator on my Honda is the transmission cooler. I'm sure the engineers knew what they were doing when they did that.
... and they doubtless agreed with the engineers that designed my GMC: Integrated coolers are cheaper to build than separate ones.

Transmission fluid begins to degrade over 170 deg F. Since it is perfectly normal for TV engine temperature to run in excess of 200 deg F., especially in hilly country, an integrated cooler forces the xmsn to run at a higher temperature than it should. Here's a nice graphic that tells more.

This isn't a life or death issue, just one of longevity. My last transmission rebuild cost me $2400. A hundred dollars of that was a new external transmission cooler.
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Old 01-19-2006, 08:36 AM   #9
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... and they doubtless agreed with the engineers that designed my GMC: Integrated coolers are cheaper to build than separate ones.

Transmission fluid begins to degrade over 170 deg F. Since it is perfectly normal for TV engine temperature to run in excess of 200 deg F., especially in hilly country, an integrated cooler forces the xmsn to run at a higher temperature than it should. Here's a nice graphic that tells more.

This isn't a life or death issue, just one of longevity. My last transmission rebuild cost me $2400. A hundred dollars of that was a new external transmission cooler.
The coolant temp and the engine temp are two different things. The engine temp is measured (and regulated by the thermostat) at the point of discharge to the radiator. The radiator reduces the temp from the thermostat setting (about 195F for most of the newer engines) to a temp much closer to the air temp. The volume of flow thru the engine is only sufficient to keep the engine outflow temp at 195. The factory in-radiator cooler is at the bottom of the radiator where the coolant temp is the lowest. Unless the fluid temp is measured directly you can only assume it's lower than the engine temp and closer to ambient.
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Old 01-19-2006, 09:00 AM   #10
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Now that I've received some great advice about the trailer hitch I need I would like to ask about the other requirements that will be placed on my tow vehicle. I own a 2001 Nissan Quest V-6. It doesn't have a tow package. I will be getting a class II hitch installed. The minivan is rated for a 3500lb. towing capacity. The trailer is a 13' 1991 Scamp.

1. I will probably be installing a tranny cooler in the future but I won't have one initially to bring the trailer home, is this reasonable if I'm extremely careful? How much do tranny coolers average and where is a reputable kind of place to have one installed?

2. The trailer doesn't have brakes as far as I know but my minivan is 5,000 will this be safe again for initial transport?

Thanks for all the "real world" knowledge the board provides.
Why not put the cooler on before pu, its better to be safe than sorry. at the very least you would save you xmsn fluid from getting burnt. As for brakes I pulled a Scamp over 10000 miles with out trailer brakes(Mercury Marquis/Toyota Tundra) without any problems. Just remember its back there(which you should do anyway) Good luck
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Old 01-19-2006, 09:56 AM   #11
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I've towed my 13ft. UHaul about 20,000 miles across the continent. That includes a lot of mountain driving and every road and traffic condition imaginable, with no problems. It doesn't have brakes, but it does have a very conservative driver.
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Old 02-17-2006, 07:26 PM   #12
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Quint - I pull my 13 foot 1982 Perris Pacer with a Jeep Cherokee. 6 cylinder... I haven't pulled any large hills for extended periods of time, but it seems to tow just fine without a Trans Cooler. No trailer brakes either. You just need to drive carefully, allowing normal braking distance.

So my experience is that if you don't have to rush out right away, but probably a trans cooler is a safe addition if you are hauling in hilly areas or really hot places.

Have fun!
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Old 02-18-2006, 05:09 PM   #13
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If it makes you feel better to install an auxillary transmission cooler, then do so. Just make sure all of your fittings, lines and hoses are top quality and it never hurts to double clamp the hoses and only tighten to the torque recommended. I have towed with Rambler wagons that only had an air cooled tansmission without problems. I have also towed with in radiator collers both on the side and in the bottom. No difference, if it starts to run hot, stop and investigate! In my case even with the transmission completely reqorked and set up for towing my fifth wheel, I later discovered it was running warm because of an overtemp thermostat for the country I was in. I had a 188 degree as opposed to a 160 degree that I really needed. The factory transmission cooler is a separate unit in front of the radiator on my Ranger, so therefore it should not be dependant on the thermostat but it did make a difference. Go figure. I have had a long career in aviation and automotive along with electrical and I still find out often that there are variables to the accepted rule. Harold
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Old 02-18-2006, 08:10 PM   #14
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"The factory transmission cooler is a separate unit in front of the radiator on my Ranger, so therefore it should not be dependant on the thermostat but it did make a difference. Go figure."

My 98 Ranger 4.0L V6 has both the factory external transmission cooler on the front of the radiator AND the relatively standard factory transmission cooler in the bottom of the radiator. It also has a power steering cooler. These, plus the "camper adapter relay" for running and brake lights lead me to believe it has the factory tow package, but I can'd find a code for it.

AFAIK, the only vehicles I have ever owned that didn't have a transmission cooler in the bottom of the radiator were manual transmissions.
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