Towing advice for first trip - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-09-2016, 09:23 PM   #1
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Towing advice for first trip

Hi All,

Excluding a couple of practice runs going up and down the parkway and a shakedown night at the local KOA less than 3 miles from our house, we are getting ready to make our first significant trip next week. We are going to the 9th Annual Eggscursion Rally in Townsend, TN at the KOA (Smoky Mountains)!!!

Hitch set! Brake controller set! Will check tire pressure along with a multipoint check before heading out on Thursday. It will be about a 240 mile trip with a little hill work as we get into the Smoky Mountains.

Our tug is an '09 Kia Borrego V8 2WD rated to tow 7,500 lbs, so I have plenty of tow capacity. Our limited towing practicing up and down the mildly hilly parkway has been easy and non-eventful. The Borrego has a 6 speed transmission. It does not have an overdrive nor a tow mode; however, it does have a sport shift mode that I can manually shift if desired.

Questions. Should I just hitch, tow, and go and not worry too much about the minor hill work knowing that I will be driving conservatively at 55 to 62 mph? On the other hand, does it make sense to use the sport shift to hold a lower gear going up a hill AND down a hill to use the engine/transmission to assist with keeping speed under control. Also, I don't have an auxiliary transmission cooler, but I do think my tug is more than capable.

Thoughts?

Thanks,

Dean
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Old 04-09-2016, 09:44 PM   #2
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From what I hear, you're going to want that transmission cooler. It's just part of the towing "package", regardless of whether you're well within your capacity. Others can correct me if I'm wrong.

Other than buying my camper and driving it home (270 miles), I'm on my first real trip now.

No surprises so far. I have a manual transmission, and I keep it in 4th. I notice that even on some pretty darn steep downhills on mountain passes, I actually have yet to use the brakes. Kind of surprising. But that's what using the gears will do for you.

Hills are no big deal. On this trip I've hit two major mountain passes with no issues. "Worst" case has been 3rd gear, 45mph, flashers on, going uphill. And I've just got a V6 with a 5,000lb capacity.

So long as you check & double check that everything is connected and working, things will go really smoothly.
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Old 04-09-2016, 09:55 PM   #3
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Not sure how the trans in your Kia works, but our 08 Subaru Outback also has a transmission that can be shifted manually or just placed in the "Sport" mode. Our owners manual actually recommends placing it in the "Sport" mode when towing even if not shifting manually, as that changes the shift points for better towing.
We did add a transmission cooler to the Subaru just to be on the safe side, although we did not add one to our Dakota truck with the V-8.
Just be cautious on the downhills so you don't build up speed that can lead to trailer sway.
Have fun!
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Old 04-10-2016, 02:38 AM   #4
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You should be fine although you don't say how high or long the hill roads are. I would keep an eye on the rpms and engine temp and drop it down a gear if needed.
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Old 04-10-2016, 08:29 AM   #5
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If you have to brake to scrub speed going downhill, downshift. With experience you'll learn to gauge a grade.

Zach is right: you shouldn't be using the brakes much. I pull our Scamp through Salt River Canyon, about 8 miles of twisting 7% grades, down and back up, every time we go anywhere. Only need to brake at a few of the sharper curves. It kills me when I watch RVs and the occasional semi braking almost continuously all the way down. Then comes the smoke...

As to climbing, listen to your engine and watch the RPMs, as Dave says. If it sounds unhappy, straining, downshift. If the transmission keeps switching between two gears, lock in the lower.

Knowing you, Dean, I'm sure you've already read whatever the owner's manual has to say about using the transmission when towing.

As to the tranny cooler, you'll probably be okay for this trip, as it doesn't sound too taxing, and you're only pulling half the rated capacity. But for the long haul, there's simply no reason not to. Having a V8 doesn't guarantee anything about the transmission.
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Old 04-10-2016, 10:00 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
If you have to brake to scrub speed going downhill, downshift. With experience you'll learn to gauge a grade.

Zach is right: you shouldn't be using the brakes much. I pull our Scamp through Salt River Canyon, about 8 miles of twisting 7% grades, down and back up, every time we go anywhere. Only need to brake at a few of the sharper curves. It kills me when I watch RVs and the occasional semi braking almost continuously all the way down. Then comes the smoke...

As to climbing, listen to your engine and watch the RPMs, as Dave says. If it sounds unhappy, straining, downshift. If the transmission keeps switching between two gears, lock in the lower.

Knowing you, Dean, I'm sure you've already read whatever the owner's manual has to say about using the transmission when towing.

As to the tranny cooler, you'll probably be okay for this trip, as it doesn't sound too taxing, and you're only pulling half the rated capacity. But for the long haul, there's simply no reason not to. Having a V8 doesn't guarantee anything about the transmission.
LOL!!! I am a trucker, and I can tell you if you are smoking your brakes you are doing it wrong. There are so many dangerous and negligent truckers and RVers out there it drives me crazy.

Yes, absolutely use your gears as much as possible. I have a Jake brake and trailer brakes, and there is seldom a need to use more than 10 to 15 lbs of air brake application ( meaning litle). The guys you see smoking their brakes are going too fast, and hence are in the wrong gear to control their descent speed. Slow and steady my friend.!
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Old 04-20-2016, 10:26 PM   #7
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Hi All,

Quick update. Back from our trip to the Smoky Mountains. The tow experience was non-eventful. Nice! It I is my understanding that my 6 speed transmission has 5th and 6th set up as overdrive gears, so I spent most of the time towing in 4th gear loping along at 2,500 rpms. I learned a great deal about using the transmission going up and particularly down grades. Dealt with some 4% and 5% grades that were easy to handle by using the right gear.

Unfortunately, my trailer tires were shot by the time I got home, but that is a story for another thread. The bottom line, my first tow experience went smoothly!

Thanks!

Dean
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Old 04-21-2016, 12:57 PM   #8
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Glad to hear it went well.
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Old 04-22-2016, 05:24 AM   #9
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The towing support documentation for my 6 speed auto trans Ford Flex mentions being aware of whether it's shifting frequently. Shift down if so. On my routine trips (back and forth to Indiana, 5-6 hours) I've experimented with going the whole way in sport (5th gear max) or 6th (overdrive). The fuel economy was basically the same and the transmission fluid temperature also the same. Since it's a little noisier in 5th because of the higher engine RPM I just tow in overdrive. Most of it's a flat trip but I will drop to 5th in up and down hilly areas. I'll even use cruise control along the flat-ish stretches.

I'm travelling solo so fussbudgeting by listening to what the transmission is doing or searching the radio for interesting local AM channels keeps me occupied and awake so being aware of the transmission is not a problem.
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Old 04-22-2016, 08:13 AM   #10
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I'm not sure if it's the same with automatic transmissions, but at least with a manual transmission, the recommendation to keep it out of overdrive is a gear-strength issue, not a heat issue. In a 5 speed anyways, 4th is the strongest gear. 5th is not meant for high loads, it's meant for cruising nice and easy.

Just something to take into consideration. I'm sure plenty of people tow in 5th gear with their manual transmissions too.

I always use cruise control
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