Towing without overdrive - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-26-2013, 10:26 PM   #1
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Towing without overdrive

Just returned from a marathon drive to attend a rally in Nebraska this week and wanted to make some observations. I drove 2800 miles over a period of 8 nights, left on a Sunday night and arrived in Nebraska, Tuesday at noon, left there on Saturday, noon and arrived home tonite at 9 pm. Took the northern way out and the southern way back thru 8 states.
I drove a Dodge Ram 1500 with the Hemi engine towing the 19' Escape with the Andersen hitch. The hitch performed flawlessly, particularly in the plain states with 20-30 mph winds. My trailer weighs around 3400 lbs loaded.
I drove with the trans mission in normal drive on the way out and checked my mileage at every fillip. I was getting between 10.5-11.5 mpg consistently with the engine cruising around 2400rpm under load and 1800rpm cruising. I used mid range and E-90 gas mid range. There were strong headwinds going out and returning.
My return trip I engaged my "Tow Mode" which locks out the overdrive and changes the shift points. Surprising I averaged 11.5-13.5 mpg on the return trip. Other than Missouri in lieu of Iowa, I went thru the same states. I noticed the rpm stayed at 2200 under load and would occasionally drop back to 1800 while cruising.I also noticed it did not shift into the higher rpm range as often as the trip going.
This 200 rpm difference gave me a 20% increase in my mileage, which in my case was about $100 savings.
I wonder if anyone else has done a comparison of the two towing modes, with or without the overdrive. My owner's manual says that you should use the tow mode while towing.
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Old 05-26-2013, 11:01 PM   #2
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I haven't had personal experience but a friend of mine towing a 17' Casita just returned from a long trip and said he got better mileage driving in tow mode also. It's also easier on the transmission. I usually use a combo of the two. If in flat country I use drive mode. It really lowers the RPM. If you are in hilly terrain and use drive mode, all that extra shifting is hard on the mechanics.
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Old 05-27-2013, 06:43 AM   #3
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I have a 2011 Dodge Ram 1500 with the 5.7 Ltr Hemi engine , On our trip to and from Scamp Camp last February I got about 1.1 more MPG towing in tow mode than in overdrive and the transmission seemed to shift less frequently .
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Old 05-27-2013, 08:48 AM   #4
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Initially I thought that the tow mode was for those big trailers that the Ram could tow, I think up to 10,000 lbs. and with my 3500# unit I did not think it would make much difference.
Now I'm thinking it will.
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Old 05-27-2013, 09:25 AM   #5
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Head wind vs tail wind will account for a large part of that
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Old 05-27-2013, 09:28 AM   #6
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Jim ; Have you looked at the 2014 Ram 1500 with the ECO 3.0 Ltr turbo charged diesel engine and an 8 speed automatic transmission. 240 HP- 420 lbs of torque- 30 MPG highway If it lives up to the hype in may be the way to go . They have not published the tow ratings but 420 lbs of torque should be able to get any fiberglass trailer up and moving. I would think the mileage while towing would be in the low 20's
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Old 05-27-2013, 10:02 AM   #7
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Jim, you may need to the test a few more times to get a better idea as to whether or not the mpg savings in tow mode is consistent/valid. As Dave mentioned the wind can play big time into MPG's, even a light one you dont even notice. I did a similar length trip last year and the MPG going was 8 mpg's lower than the return trip.... all due to wind factor which wasnt even noticeable unless on got out of the car.
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Old 05-27-2013, 10:22 AM   #8
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I have a 2009 4 cyl 4wd Canyon with standard shift I bought new. I tow our classic boat and small Sunline trailer with it, but it only has a 2100# capacity. The truck came with 2 options - trailer package (7 pin connector, higher numerical rear, other tow package stuff) and a locking rear differential. When I'm in regular non-towing mode, I get about 22 mpg on the highway in 5th gear, which is OD on my standard. When towing, I only tow in 4th gear, and keep it on cruise on 4 lane highways so it's pretty much always at a constant rpm. Got 73,000 miles on it now and other than replacing the cruise control a month ago, have not had any problems of any kind with it.

With an automatic they say it has a 3100# capacity. I figure the difference in capacities is mostly that GM figures people don't know how to drive a standard, and that they would be up and down shifting all the time. Whatever. Not me.

Next year we're looking at buying a Traverse with 5200# capacity before we buy an egg.

Frank
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Old 05-27-2013, 11:31 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frank_a View Post
With an automatic they say it has a 3100# capacity. I figure the difference in capacities is mostly that GM figures people don't know how to drive a standard, and that they would be up and down shifting all the time. Whatever. Not me.

Frank
Could it be that the automatic has an tranny cooler that the manual doesnt?
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Old 05-27-2013, 11:45 AM   #10
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No clue, other than I've never had any problems with it, temp never goes up, even when towing a distance in the summer heat, which we often do. Next TV will have a much higher rating!

Frank
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Old 05-27-2013, 01:17 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carol H View Post
Could it be that the automatic has an tranny cooler that the manual doesnt?
It is my understanding, (I'm no expert) that manual transmissions do not generate heat like automatics, so should not require a cooler.
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Old 05-27-2013, 01:29 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by David Tilston View Post
It is my understanding, (I'm no expert) that manual transmissions do not generate heat like automatics, so should not require a cooler.
Most of the heat generated in an automatic transmission is in the torque converter. Manual transmissions use a clutch, which doesn't generate heat under steady driving, instead of a torque converter.
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Old 05-27-2013, 01:32 PM   #13
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Well Tom, just like I said, I don't think GM believes people in general know how to drive a standard, and are going to be up and down shifting all the time. Ergo, lighter tow capacity. Not me, steady as she goes. I been driving sticks most all my life, but that is about to change (I think)...

Maybe an egg too next year. You guys got me excited already!

Frank
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Old 05-27-2013, 01:34 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by frank_a View Post
Well Tom, just like I said, I don't think GM believes people in general know how to drive a standard, and are going to be up and down shifting all the time. Ergo, lighter tow capacity. Not me, steady as she goes. I been driving sticks most all my life, but that is about to change (I think)...

Maybe an egg too next year. You guys got me excited already!

Frank
I think that you are right.
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