Do Toyota Owners tow in Sequential Mode? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-29-2018, 02:38 PM   #1
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Name: Ned
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Do Toyota Owners tow in Sequential Mode?

Just purchased a 2016 Toyota Highlander, V6 with 6 speed trans, to pull my 13' Scamp. On the initial trip I put the trans in "D" and it would shift up and down between 5th and 6th gear, constantly seeking. After some research I think I would be smart to put the trans in Sequential mode and select 5th. Then it should run from 1st to 5th and not go into 6th or OD.


What are others doing with this issue? I imagine other TV have a similar problem.
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Old 08-29-2018, 03:24 PM   #2
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Read your Toyota manual. It will have a section on towing with your vehicle.
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Old 08-29-2018, 03:28 PM   #3
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I always use 5th in our 2015 Highlander. Pretty sure it says in the manual to use that versus D when towing. I also manually downshift on long and/or steep downhills to utilize engine as brake assist. I just installed a ScanGauge II to monitor transmission temp as well. Some ScanGauge users report that they can sometimes use overdrive on level terrain without overheating the transmission fluid, thus saving a bit in fuel. Planning a trip to Wisconsin in October. Should then be able to see if I can use 6th gear with our 19 Escape. Plenty of flat terrain between Colorado and Minocqua, Wisconsin.
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Old 08-30-2018, 05:15 AM   #4
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Agree with Glenn. The owner's manual is the place to start. There can be significant differences in automatic transmission software, even from the same manufacturer, depending on the model and year.
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Old 08-30-2018, 05:32 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Baglo View Post
Read your Toyota manual. It will have a section on towing with your vehicle.
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
Agree with Glenn. The owner's manual is the place to start. There can be significant differences in automatic transmission software, even from the same manufacturer, depending on the model and year.
I actually looked up the manual for the 2016 Highlander. The only reference to transmission setting while towing that I found in the manual was about using engine braking, so it did not answer the question. Time to call Toyota HQ I think but even they get it wrong all too often.

If the tranny "hunts" a lot, I would not use overdrive. In fact its not to be used at all in my Sienna. I would also monitor the tranny temp if possible. With my older Highlander there was no easy way to do that, but using the Torque App with a Bluetooth OBD2 reader and custom setting, I did get what I am pretty sure was a good reading on the temp.
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Old 08-30-2018, 06:56 AM   #6
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Thanks for the responses. I checked the owners manual before and then again after I posted this question. All I saw was what Gordon2 showed (Thanks G).

I appreciate the answers on what other Toyota owners are doing. I was not aware of the relatively cheap ways to connect to the OBDII connection and then output this information. Great idea.

What should the tranny temp be? A quick search showed 175 to 225 F.

Do the experts on this forum agree?
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Old 08-30-2018, 07:15 AM   #7
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I have a 2011 Highlander and just did our first trip with the EggCamper.....Northern Michigan has small hills and no mountains however I used "S" for some of the hilly parts and for most of the scenic driving roads.....I used "D" on the highway.

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Old 08-30-2018, 08:16 AM   #8
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Shiftable

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Originally Posted by GpaNed View Post
Just purchased a 2016 Toyota Highlander, V6 with 6 speed trans, to pull my 13' Scamp. On the initial trip I put the trans in "D" and it would shift up and down between 5th and 6th gear, constantly seeking. After some research I think I would be smart to put the trans in Sequential mode and select 5th. Then it should run from 1st to 5th and not go into 6th or OD.


What are others doing with this issue? I imagine other TV have a similar problem.
We pulled both the 2010 and 2013 Escapes with our 2012 Highlander. Crossing Nebraska, Iowa, northern Illinois, southern Minnesota west of I35, northern Indiana and Eastern 2/3 of South Dakota I would often tow in drive at 62 mph and no headwind. If hilly, headwind or I noticed hunting, Id drop down to 5. Never used cruise unless it was dead flat and I needed to shift around in the seat after a couple hours if my back got tight. I usually go about 150 miles between breaks. On the 2018 with the 21 Im using 7 most of the time. Not Drive on this one it the shift is sooner and would hunt if Id let it. 6,5,4,3 on the steep descents.
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Old 08-30-2018, 08:24 AM   #9
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I tow with a 2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser. On the FJ, towing in "4" is recommended in the manual over towing in "D", as this helps to reduce the temperature of the automatic transmission fluid. I use a Scan Gage for monitoring transmission fluid temperatures and I know from experience that there is a 10 to 20F drop in transmission fluid temperature when towing in "4" as compared to "D".
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Old 08-30-2018, 09:11 AM   #10
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I use the ect button for less shifting, shifts at higher rpm, and more power on my 2016 v6 Tacoma
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Old 08-30-2018, 09:23 AM   #11
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Your Highlander should just be playing with a 13 ft Scamp.
We towed a 16 ft, and now a Parkliner with no prob's.
Yes, you would do well to shift out of 6th (OD) on the up hill and steeper downhill grades.
Even without a transmission temperature gauge, just watch the engine temp dial.
The oil cooler coils are in the bottom tank of the radiator.
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Old 08-30-2018, 09:45 AM   #12
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Never used cruise unless it was dead flat and I needed to shift around in the seat after a couple hours if my back got tight.
Iowa Dave
Iowa Dave's note "Never used cruise..." brings up another question.

Do most people not use cruise control when towing? And why or why not?

I just found this info - very helpful.

http://www.fiberglassrv.com/forums/f...dea-67709.html
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Old 08-30-2018, 10:32 AM   #13
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The answer is "sometimes." First let me discuss the Toyota manual and provide information about descending hills, then I'll discuss normal operation, ascending hills, and ATF temperature. Since your Highlander hunts between gears, I would recommend S mode whenever it does that - otherwise D is fine. We don't have an ECT button to push (makes upshifts happen at higher RPM) so we have to decide on D or Sequential.

We tow a 17' Casita with a 2017 4Runner (4.0L/5-speed auto). Our owner's manual has the exact statement noted above WRT using Sequential mode. My interpretation is that recommendation is made for DESCENDING - there will be almost no engine braking in top gear. While the transmission is "smart" and will hold gears on descent in D, it won't do that in all circumstances. Therefore it's better to use sequential mode, and manually control it. There likely is little to no engine braking in 6th or 5th gear, which is why Toyota suggests 4th or lower. As long as you keep engine RPM below redline, you can use all the lower gears - use the brakes periodically to prevent this from happening.

We normally tow in D around town and on flat roads. Our transmission can hunt between gears, but also WITHIN gears - the torque converter locks (when load decreases) and unlocks (when load increases, before it downshifts a gear). A locking torque converter is used to increase fuel mileage; when it is locked, the engine and drive wheels are directly connected - the ATF isn't doing anything but lubricating - it's not performing any work, and it's not getting hot. When the torque converter is UNlocked, the transmission is in fluid drive - the engine powers an impeller, which spins the fluid, which in turn drives an impeller connected to the drive wheels. This is not 100% efficient (hence the locking feature) - and any inefficiency is turned into friction/heat. Your engine is only between 20-40% efficient - the rest of the fuel energy consumed becomes heat, lost through your radiator.

The next question one might ask is, how much heat is created - what's reasonable? I was concerned about this myself, so I bought a ScanGauge code reading device that plugs into the OBD2 socket under your dash. That's where smog agencies connect their equipment, and where you would connect an engine code reader. Besides ScanGauge, there are lots of others; I just chose it based on good reviews. These devices use the electrical system of the vehicle to read various engine parameters; in my case, I read ATF temperature at the torque converter output, and also at the transmission's oil pan. The former gives me an instant temperature at the hottest point; the latter provides overall fluid temperature. As hot fluid returns to the pan, it will heat the existing fluid, and vice versa.

We don't have an external cooler on our 4Runner either - a big part of the reason I bought the gauge (the other part is that transmissions are really expensive). Trying to research "how hot is too hot," I looked in Toyota's Information System (subscription; can't buy a shop manual) and found the warning message for too-hot ATF comes on when the temp exceeds 302 coming out of the torque converter, or 285 in the pan. Also, there is a way to measure ATF oxidation electronically, using Toyota's diagnostic port, located under the hood. I'd imagine only the dealer can do this.

I'm going to abbreviate the two ATF temperatures - TQ for torque converter output, pan for oil pan.
We live at elevation 1000' above surrounding areas with elevation 100'-200', so we get some hill climbing most times we drive. With no trailer attached, on flat ground, we get temps about 75-80 degrees above outside temperature - in the spring, this can be 130-140 degrees; in summer - 160-180 degrees. TQ and pan temperatures are identical. Once climbing, temp goes up rapidly, usually to 200-220 (TQ) and 190-200 at the pan. So we hit 200 degrees just climbing our hill, with no trailer attached.

When towing, the same temperatures, maybe +5 degrees, prevail. The most noticeable thing is when the TQ unlocks, usually climbing a slight grade. When this happens, the TQ temp goes up 5 degrees a second, up to 200-210 or so. When I see this, I back off on the throttle, to re-lock the TQ, and if that won't work, I use S mode (it starts in 4, usually) to re-lock the TQ. If that seems like a bit of work, it is, but it gives me something to work at. The TQ can lock/unlock in gears 3,4, and 5.

Climbing hills, I still leave the lever in D, but at the slightest hint of locking/unlocking, I use the Sequential mode and just keep an eye on the gauge. We recently climbed a 3000' grade over 7 miles, with 93 degree temp (low humidity) and the highest TQ reading was 251, the highest pan reading 230. I also read coolant temperature, and it only went up 5 degrees, from its normal 188 to 193. Our vehicle speed was 25-45 MPH.

So that's my experience, with about 8000 towing miles, predominantly on the West Coast and over the Cascades. I usually don't push more than 40MPH on the steep grades, and never more than 55.

Tow ratings are now actually based on reality; there is an SAE spec for it, stating what is to be towed, for how long, and what can fail (basically nothing). So a 5000# rating today actually means something.

13' on a Highlander set up for 5000# towing is no big deal at all. Our Casita has an axle weight of 3000, and we feel quite comfortable with that margin of safety.
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Old 08-30-2018, 11:02 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Ice-breaker View Post
I tow with a 2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser. On the FJ, towing in "4" is recommended in the manual over towing in "D", as this helps to reduce the temperature of the automatic transmission fluid. I use a Scan Gage for monitoring transmission fluid temperatures and I know from experience that there is a 10 to 20F drop in transmission fluid temperature when towing in "4" as compared to "D".
I had the same experience with the Sienna (on flat highways).. so for some vehicles, even if you think overdrive is OK because the tranny is not hunting, dont assume that the tranny temp is not higher and perhaps higher than it should be.
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Old 08-30-2018, 01:12 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Ice-breaker View Post
I tow with a 2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser. On the FJ, towing in "4" is recommended in the manual over towing in "D", as this helps to reduce the temperature of the automatic transmission fluid. I use a Scan Gage for monitoring transmission fluid temperatures and I know from experience that there is a 10 to 20F drop in transmission fluid temperature when towing in "4" as compared to "D".
It should be noted that a FJC has a 5-speed transmission, all part of the retro experience I suppose.

My Lite House is so small I tend to use D in my 2010 FJ Cruiser, but if it downshifts on a hill I move the shift lever to hold it in 4 until the climb is over so it doesn't hunt gears back and forth. I also installed an auxiliary transmission cooler for good measure.
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Old 08-30-2018, 01:20 PM   #16
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I believe the FJC's 5-speed is the same one I have in my 4Runner. The 4.0 engine is also a holdover. Both are a big reason why I chose the 4Runner - proven reliability.

The 2011 FJC manual says the same thing my 2017 4Runner's does about using D: " In order to maintain engine braking efficiency, do not use the automatic transmission in D." That sounds like liability avoidance to me. That FJC manual also advises against towing faster than 45MPH, regardless of speed limit, due to increased tendency to sway. That sounds liability-related to me also.

I will have to try towing in 4 rather than D on the freeway next time, and see if my ATF temp drops 10-20 degrees. If it does, I would guess it's due to more fluid flow through the cooler. The engine coolant temp is thermostatically controlled, and unless it's really hot out, I'd not expect to see the coolant temp change. On our last trip, the ATF was running 170-180 towing in D on level ground, which I would think is just fine. The fluid is synthetic and able to take a bit of heat.
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Old 08-30-2018, 01:56 PM   #17
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I believe the FJC's 5-speed is the same one I have in my 4Runner. The 4.0 engine is also a holdover. Both are a big reason why I chose the 4Runner - proven reliability.
Yep, it doesn't bother me a bit that it is a 5-speed, but I have seen some reviews of the FJC and 4Runner that describe the transmission as "antiquated" or some such.

Quote:
The 2011 FJC manual says the same thing my 2017 4Runner's does about using D: " In order to maintain engine braking efficiency, do not use the automatic transmission in D." That sounds like liability avoidance to me. That FJC manual also advises against towing faster than 45MPH, regardless of speed limit, due to increased tendency to sway. That sounds liability-related to me also.
Toyota has some weird stuff in their owners manuals about towing, they must be liability-shy about it. I had a 2008 RAV4 that said in the owners manual that the trailer hitch should be removed when not towing. They weren't talking about the ball mount, they were talking about the entire hitch! Like anybody is going to do that.

Quote:
I will have to try towing in 4 rather than D on the freeway next time, and see if my ATF temp drops 10-20 degrees. If it does, I would guess it's due to more fluid flow through the cooler. The engine coolant temp is thermostatically controlled, and unless it's really hot out, I'd not expect to see the coolant temp change. On our last trip, the ATF was running 170-180 towing in D on level ground, which I would think is just fine. The fluid is synthetic and able to take a bit of heat.
FWIW I don't think Toyota WS fluid is synthetic.
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Old 08-30-2018, 02:52 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by GpaNed View Post
Just purchased a 2016 Toyota Highlander, V6 with 6 speed trans, to pull my 13' Scamp. On the initial trip I put the trans in "D" and it would shift up and down between 5th and 6th gear, constantly seeking. After some research I think I would be smart to put the trans in Sequential mode and select 5th. Then it should run from 1st to 5th and not go into 6th or OD.


What are others doing with this issue? I imagine other TV have a similar problem.
We tow a 1991 Scamp 16 (2400 pounds on the axle and 200 lbs on the ball) with a 2014 V6 Honda Odyssey with a 6 speed automatic transmission. In addition the Odyssey switches cylinders on and off automatically, ECO, running from 3-6 cylinders.

As most know I'm not a rule follower. The manual calls for towing in D (I recall that's 4th gear). As well on Highways I typically run on cruise control assuming reasonable traffic. My typical speed is 55-62 mph. We have averaged anywhere from 16-21 mpg depending on the road and weather, typically in the 18s.

We travel 7 months of the year in our Scamp. The Odyssey now has a 100,000 miles on it. Never a problem.

The transmission shifts as necessary, simultaneously and silently switching the number of cylinders on and off. We certainly have a heavier trailer than you and have had no issues.

I admit when I bought the Odyssey I was very concerned about the cylinder switching function. We bought it because we had towed for 250,000 miles with our previous Honda CRV without any problems, going on Faith with the Odyssey.

IF we are in steep terrain the cylinders management stays out of ECO mode except on the downhills, as well I generally stay out of cruise in rough terrain, either steep or curvey. (Though the Odyssey seems to handle well I don't like surprise curves at speed.)

I tend not to Rev the engine beyond about 3000 RPM, though it seems to be happy at higher revs. Typically the Odyssey runs about 1500 RPM. In steep terrain I manage the transmission through accelerator control. I'm willing to slow down and speed up appropriately.

I will say the Odyssey seems to be willing to go as fast as my trailer tires allow on just about any terrain.

We do have a large transmission cooler, Honda standard, and the temperature never moves.

I know I break rules. Many FRV members did not like me towing our Scamp 16 with out Honda CRV. That said I am a careful RVer, I have pressure and temperature sensors on my trailer tires, a fulltime trailer camera, a breakaway switch, an anti-sway bar and change my tires every 3 years. This is our 18th year as fulltimers.

In conclusion, the Odyssey system seems to work though I do not follow the 'book'. I do not have a lot of shifting up and down with terrain. I suspect some of this is hidden by the cylinder management system adding cylinders with changing load.

Interestingly a friend and FRVer recently had his frame strengthened to tow a much heavier stick built trailer. He used to tow a Scamp 13.
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Old 08-30-2018, 05:38 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by GpaNed View Post
Just purchased a 2016 Toyota Highlander, V6 with 6 speed trans, to pull my 13' Scamp. On the initial trip I put the trans in "D" and it would shift up and down between 5th and 6th gear, constantly seeking. After some research I think I would be smart to put the trans in Sequential mode and select 5th. Then it should run from 1st to 5th and not go into 6th or OD.


What are others doing with this issue? I imagine other TV have a similar problem.
I use SM when going down hill a lot, rarely going up. My 2018 does not have problems in normal drive.

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Old 08-30-2018, 07:25 PM   #20
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I would also monitor the tranny temp if possible. With my older Highlander there was no easy way to do that
Just for the record, transmission temperature display is now available on 1st generation Highlanders like mine ('06) with the Scangauge.
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