Starting the search: new tug, which transmission? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-24-2009, 03:38 PM   #1
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We have a 1972 compact junior and presently tow with a 1997 subaru legacy with 2.2 l engine, 5 speed. I am beginning the search for a new vehicle, I want it to be an economical daily driver, not far distances, and it also needs to tow the trailer. Some have said else where that an automatic transmission is better for towing. The salesman says automatics are so much better now, very smooth etc. What are the opinions out there:
automatic, automatic with sport shift( inplications when towing), or with the manual 5 speed.

Both drivers are very comfortable with five speeds. Thanks for sharing your opinions.
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Old 07-24-2009, 08:49 PM   #2
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Manual 5 speed would be my choice. Automatics have come a long way, but I think direct physical connections will always have less energy loss than a torque converter.
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Old 07-24-2009, 10:35 PM   #3
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Yes, I agree that 'direct physical connection' is the way to go. That is why I have modified the 4L60E automatic transmission in my Escalade for manual control amd to lock up the Torque Converter Clutch when towing (engaged over 40 MPH).

This provides a direct connection with a final ratio (in forth gear - drive) of 0.7. Also increases MPG about 1.5 on long trips.
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Old 07-26-2009, 12:15 PM   #4
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The Toyota FJ Crusier might be worth looking at, I tow with a Tacoma
but the FJ has the same 4 liter engine that has plenty of power and the
automatic transmission works just great.
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Old 07-26-2009, 12:56 PM   #5
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Hi Kent,

Are you planning to upsize your trailer too? If not then why not look at the Toyota Rav 4 (6 cyl), Toyota Venza (6 cyl) or another Subaru? When we were looking at getting our TV for our 13' we really narrowed it down to the Rav or the Subaru but we could not find a 6 cyl under 25k at the time. Personally I like having the automatic as it's once less thing to focus on when you are towing the trailer in a city.
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Old 08-01-2009, 08:55 PM   #6
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Virtually all manufacturers rate automatics higher than stick-shift. Both transmissions are strong, but on a stick the clutch is the weak point. I would not even consider a stick.
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Old 08-03-2009, 07:55 PM   #7
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I don't know all the specs you would be looking for but the vw jeta tdi, the new one, has a towing capacity of 2,000 pounds. that is plenty for the compact jr and all the stuff, about 1,600 pounds. with room to spare. I have talkded with several owners and the one I think is for me is the tdi sport wagon. it has the same tow rating and more room for camping. the TDI engine in them has really improved over the years. they don't stink and no more glow plugs and thet are verry quiet. oh, and they don't smoke that black cloud like they used to. And the last 2 pluses are the mileage of 35 city 45 highway and they last forever. just my 2 cent.
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Old 08-03-2009, 10:09 PM   #8
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I don't know all the specs you would be looking for but the vw jeta tdi, the new one, has a towing capacity of 2,000 pounds. that is plenty for the compact jr and all the stuff, about 1,600 pounds. with room to spare. I have talkded with several owners and the one I think is for me is the tdi sport wagon. it has the same tow rating and more room for camping. the TDI engine in them has really improved over the years. they don't stink and no more glow plugs and thet are verry quiet. oh, and they don't smoke that black cloud like they used to. And the last 2 pluses are the mileage of 35 city 45 highway and they last forever. just my 2 cent.
Heath G: I am assuming this is with a standard transmission because the automatic is a DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox) transmission, if I am correct, with a lower towing capacity. Again I am not totally familiar and when I talked to salesmen, they didn't know.
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Old 08-04-2009, 02:45 PM   #9
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Kent, that might be correct, last week when I went to look at them the salesman told me it was 2,000 lbs but in doing a bit more reaserch it might only be 1,650. It seems that the towing cap. in the EU is almost twice what is in the states and from what I read it was because of the liability issue in the us. The post I read on another site stated that the car was made for towing trailers, as the germans love their trailers. Being a truckdriver myself the Jetta TDI is more that capable of pulling a compact JR. and best of all is legal. I also have a compact JR and pull it with a 2002 GMC Sonoma. it has about 20 to 30 less torque and I don't even know it is back there. Larry that post on this site did a ground up on his compact JR and added supports and several other things to his and he said that his is right at 1,600LBS. I can tell you this, when my truck is paid for that is my goal, a new or maybe 1 yr old Jetta TDI sportwagon. Gas will go back to $4 a gallon . it has b-4 and will again. and I for one want to be ready with something I can afford to continue to take trips with and not take out a loan to do it. Best of luck and have fun with your JR.
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Old 08-04-2009, 03:51 PM   #10
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Only thing I'd weigh in on if I were deciding on a new TV which we recently did, is that especially with the smaller trailers, I'd get a pickup. After two years towing with a Jeep Liberty and taking extended trips of 30+ days, we began to see the reasons in favor of a pickup with a locking covered bed. We just completed a 31 day trip from San Diego to WA with the new to us 2007 Nissan Titan and the difference of having a pickup with a covered bed to haul the camping stuff and supplies is amazing.

Setting up and breaking camp is so much quicker and easier, nothing is being hauled inside the trailer anymore, nothing is in the way inside the cab, cooler stays put in the bed by the tailgate and never has to be moved, we resupplied the trailer from rubbermaid buckets of supplies cutting the necessity of running to the store all the time, etc. You can also leave all the camping stuff in the bed when you get home and not have to unload if you don't want to. Then you are ready to leave at a moments notice.

Never been a pickup kinda fella myself, but now with hauling the trailer and camping all the time you'd never get me in anything else.
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Old 08-15-2009, 07:09 PM   #11
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Kent Depending on the vehicle I would go with the standard tranny. I have pulled with both autos and standards with quite a few trailers ( over our traveling span we have pulled everything from 29 foot fifth wheels to now a 13 foot Burro and many others in between ). It is true that, as previously mentioned on this thread , the clutch is probably the weak link but I have never had any problems with clutch failure although I have read about many cases of autmatic transmission failure. If one did experience clutch failure you could probably replace roughly 4 clutches for the cost of one automatic transmission . Also the standard doesn't require a cooler or the monitoring of transmission temperature, that kinda makes it's own statement. Just an aside, I have been following the developement of small diesel engined vehicles and note that many will not even be available with automatic transmissions which could speak to the standard's tranny's ability to handle increased torque. On the other hand given my lack of mechanical ability that could mean absolutely nothing. Lee
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Old 08-15-2009, 08:33 PM   #12
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A compelling reason to avoid an automatic transmission is that when a part fails, such as a Torrington bearing, a fourth gear planetary or a rivet in the torque convertor lock-up mechanism, pieces of the failed part begin to circulate within the works and damage all the other parts. Therefore a repair is a major expense, each time. Don't Ask Me How I Know!

On the other hand, when a clutch goes out it is either a worn friction plate, relaxed pressure plate springs or a bad throw-out bearing. These are minimal cost items and when failure happens, there is no collateral damage, so the repair costs are minimal in comparison.

Since you both are comfortable driving with a manual transmission, I would think that should be your choice within the tow rating needed.
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Old 08-15-2009, 10:25 PM   #13
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On the other hand, when a clutch goes out it is either a worn friction plate, relaxed pressure plate springs or a bad throw-out bearing. These are minimal cost items and when failure happens, there is no collateral damage, so the repair costs are minimal in comparison.
Well you only named three of the multitude of things that can fail in a manual transmission. The last time I had a manual transmission fail it was 1) under warrantee, 2) only cost $25 dollars to repair, 3) had multiple failures, 4) none of which you named, 5) took a month to get parts, 6) I will be the first to admit that I have lost a lot of strength in my right arm, and 6) I will never have another manual transmission.

Fortunately, the last time I had an automatic transmission fail it was 1) under waranty, 2) cost $25 to repair, 3) had multiple failures, 4) none of which I can name, 5) took two days to have it replaced, and 6) automatic transmissions really are great when driving in todays traffic (compared to 50 years ago).

To each his own.
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