Factory installed Transmission Cooler vs. aftermarket - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-31-2015, 09:34 AM   #1
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Name: Martina
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Factory installed Transmission Cooler vs. aftermarket

This is my first time posting and starting a new thread: My husband and I just recently bought a used 19' Escape Trailer. We are totally new to towing a trailer and are searching for a vehicle to tow the trailer. We are looking at the 2016 Honda Pilot and the Toyota Highlander. We were wondering about the pros and cons of a factory installed transmission and oil cooler of the Highlander vs. the aftermarket one on the Honda Pilot. Any thoughts on that?
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Old 12-31-2015, 09:43 AM   #2
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First, be sure either of those vehicles can handle the "real world" tow weight of a loaded up for camping, Escape 19. Be sure they can handle the tongue weight as well. It is fairly common knowledge not to exceed 75% of the tow capacity nor 75-80% of the tongue weight capacity for best results. DO NOT base your decisions soley on weights stated on factory websites as those are way, way off from the real world, for many reasons.

That would be step one before discussing the issue you brought forward. I almost always prefer factory installations, but aftermarket stuff can also do a good job if sourced properly and installed properly.
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Old 12-31-2015, 10:05 AM   #3
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Factory installed transmission cooler vs aftermarket

Thank you for your thoughts. I know we have a lot to learn. Have spoken to someone who has been towing his 2013 Escape with a 2013 Highlander and has had great experiences. Have also spoken with Escape Trailer Industries who had not objections to towing with the Highlander.

We have also noticed some SUVs give you the option of 6 to 9 automatic speed transmission, ex. 2016 Honda Pilot 9 speed. Any thoughts about that?
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Old 12-31-2015, 10:24 AM   #4
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Factory installed Transmission Cooler vs. aftermarket

I think Honda offers a Honda-sourced ATF cooler that can be dealer-installed at the time of purchase. Then it would be covered under the new vehicle warranty.

I got that impression when I downloaded the 2016 Pilot Owner's Manual and read the towing section, something you should do for both vehicles before you make any decision. Don't depend on salesmen or Internet forums...

I wouldn't fixate on the number of gears in the transmission. Typically the top two or three are overdrive ratios that you will lock out under certain towing conditions. The owner's manual will tell you how to use the transmission correctly when towing.

I believe both vehicles can tow up to 5000 pounds properly equipped, so either should be a good match for an Escape 19.
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Old 12-31-2015, 10:33 AM   #5
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Both of your choices have a range of towing limits:
The Honda is rated for 3500-5000 lbs depending on the specific vehicle
The Toyota has an even wider range with a Low of 1500 lbs. to a high of 5000 lbs.
Here's a link that MAY be correct:
Towing Capacity of the New Toyota Highlander

As Jon mentioned, always check the towing limit values in the owners manual for the exact vehicle you are considering.


DO NOT depend on salesmen's or service department answers, check the owners manual.

Also, you will need to know the loaded weight of your trailer. Manufacturers stated weights are usually for the least equipped and empty version of the trailer.
There is one 19' Escape in the real worlds listings that comes in at 3000 lbs. I don't know if that is typical. Here is a link: Trailer Weights in the Real World
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Old 12-31-2015, 10:46 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Miller View Post
Both of your choices have a range of towing limits:
The Honda is rated for 3500-5000 lbs depending on the specific vehicle
The Toyota has an even wider range with a Low of 1500 lbs. to a high of 5000 lbs.
Here's a link that MAY be correct:
Towing Capacity of the New Toyota Highlander

As Jon mentioned, always check the towing limit values in the owners manual for the exact vehicle you are considering.


DO NOT depend on salesmen's or service department answers, check the owners manual.

Also, you will need to know the loaded weight of your trailer. Manufacturers stated weights are usually for the least equipped and empty version of the trailer.
There is one 19' Escape in the real worlds listings that comes in at 3000 lbs. I don't know if that is typical. Here is a link: Trailer Weights in the Real World
I have been adding to an Excel spreadsheet version of "Trailer Weights in the Real World" (with Frederick's permission). There are 10 Escape 19's in the list. Steve LaBroad added a neat filter & averaging function that lets you easily find the average hitch & overall weight for any selection of trailers. Trailer Weights in the Real World Spreadsheet.

I'd appreciate anyone that can provide axle & tongue weights for their trailer emailing me with the information so I can add it.
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Old 12-31-2015, 10:59 AM   #7
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Factory installed Transmission Cooler vs. aftermarket

Bob makes an excellent point. With a larger trailer like the Escape 19, you need the full 5000 pound rating.

For the 2016 Pilot that means a 4WD model with the auxiliary ATF cooler. Not sure about the new Highlander, but Toyota typically offers a towing package with an assortment of cooling and electrical upgrades.
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Old 01-01-2016, 01:33 AM   #8
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Name: Martina
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Factory installed transmission cooler vs aftermarket

I thank all of your for your responses and helpful suggestions. We will have to do some homework. We have shared our options with Escape Trailer Industries. Their recommendation is a minimum of 4,000 lbs capacity. So I would assume that we could be safe with the 5,000 lb towing capacity. The Highlander comes with factory installed transmission cooler whereas the Pilot needs to have an aftermarket cooler installed. We need to find out if the factory installed is the way to go compared to the aftermarket. Honda dealers have told us that the aftermarket unit will not interfere with the warranty of the vehicle.
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Old 01-01-2016, 06:04 AM   #9
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Just to be clear

Be careful with aftermarket stuff, to this extent.

If the vehicle is not equipped with a factory tow rating of 5000 lbs, the addition of the aftermarket cooler, etc, will not turn a 3500 lb vehicle into a 5000 lb tow vehicle. These things would just make it a better 3500 lb TV.

Also, trailer builders and particularly trailer sales people would tell you just about anything is OK, so grain of salt there. They don't have to live with the results, you do.
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Old 01-01-2016, 06:30 AM   #10
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I put a after market one in my 1999 Silverado. Very easy to do,only 6 bolts to remove the grill to get a better access to the front end.
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Old 01-01-2016, 06:52 AM   #11
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If I were shopping for a new tow vehicle then there is no way in heck I would buy one that needed an aftermarket transmission cooler. My experience with adding a brake controller and trailer lights on a Toyota Sienna was that Toyota would not provide any assistance or advice and specially stated that they do not recommend aftermarket parts, that there use may void your warranty or put you in danger, and that Toyota did not make the parts needed for a trailer brake controller or lights for this vehicle. The reply I got was obviously written by lawyers and left me totally on my own. I can only imagine what they would say if I added a transmission cooler. I expect that most any driveline problems would then be attributed to the aftermarket and unapproved modification, and a legal battle would follow. Even though the Sienna tows my 2700 lb Scamp well, I would not recommended you buy one for towing just because it is so much trouble to set it up for towing, and Toyota will not support you at all if you do. Other than that issue, the Sienna is rated to tow 3500 as is, no additional transmission cooler is needed or recommended.

It’s good that Honda told you that that you could add a transmission cooler without voiding your warranty. I hope you have that in writing.

If I had a vehicle already and thought that a supplemental transmission cooler would help, then I would consider adding one. But if shopping, then buy a vehicle that is equipped with all the major components required to tow your trailer and that does not need major additions. That includes a plug in harness for trailer lights and brakes if at all possible.

The Highlander that is rated at 5000 lbs towing would be good for you. I had a Highlander and liked the car but I do know of one case where the timing belt cover gasket started to leak at about 80 k miles. The gasket is only a few dollars but the entire engine has to be removed to get to it. Toyota’s estimate for this repair was near $2000. Unless you run into something that like, it’s a good car.
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Old 01-01-2016, 07:03 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin K View Post
I put a after market one in my 1999 Silverado. Very easy to do,only 6 bolts to remove the grill to get a better access to the front end.[/ATTACH]
Another thing to consider with some vehicles, and especially the highly defensive Toyota Motor Co, is that adding a transmission cooler could affect the efficiency of the OEM engine and transmission cooling. In fact, in the case of my Highlander which did not have the tow package, I was told that a supplemental transmission cooler would in effect over cool the fluid and cause it to not perform as intended. Poppycock perhaps, but when Toyota told me that, I elected to leave the car alone. Perhaps Chevrolet would be more reasonable but if you put a cooler in front of the radiator in a Toyota then I could see them claiming that it blocks the air flow and causes the engine to overheat. I'm not saying that it actually does, just reiterating that when you do these mods, the car companies can give you a hard time when problems develop. Sometimes they look for any excuse to avoid paying for repairs and I prefer to limit the excuses they can claim.
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Old 01-01-2016, 09:09 AM   #13
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To clarify:
The 2016 Honda Pilot does have a factory tow rating of 5000 pounds on 4WD models. It requires the addition of a transmission cooler. That's straight from the towing section of the 2016 Pilot Owner's Manual.

Martina, are you saying your Honda dealer does not offer the required transmission cooler as a dealer-installed accessory at the time of purchase? If that's really the case, I'd walk away from the Pilot (or maybe find a different dealer). But I think there is some misunderstanding here.

Forum member Norm recently bought a new Odyssey and Honda installed a transmission cooler when he bought it. It's discussed somewhere in the lengthy thread "Honda Odyssey Towing." If Honda installs it at the time of purchase, it it fully covered by the new vehicle warranty. It's not a big deal, and I wouldn't consider it any worse than one installed at the factory.

The word "aftermarket" may be the source of the misunderstanding. For most people, it means something you buy at a car parts store and install yourself, or something your local independent mechanic buys from the parts store and installs. Done correctly it would be just as good or better than a dealer installation, but if something did go wrong, there is the possibility you could end up in a battle.

In this case, if your dealer used the word, it may only mean that Honda does not make the part. Manufacturers outsource many vehicle components from other companies (think Takata). Assuming the dealer sources it and installs it at the time of purchase, you're covered.
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Old 01-01-2016, 10:26 AM   #14
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Identify the actual weight of the trailer.

To determine the actual weight of your trailer, I suggest you look at the different methods that can be considered, on this site:

https://www.etrailer.com/faq-how-to-...ue-weight.aspx

Then you will have a good evaluation to handle towing.

Have a good day,
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