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Author Topic:   Pulling a boat in overdrive
Tallydon posted 05-01-2002 08:53 PM ET (US)   Profile for Tallydon   Send Email to Tallydon  
I own a Toyota Tundra extra cab V8 along with a Dauntless 16 with an aluminum trailer. I figure the weight I'm pulling is around 2500 lbs. My transmission has a trany cooler but I don't have a trany temp gauge. I have been pulling my boat back and forth to the coast (no hills to speak of) in overdrive. My transmission doesn't lug or appear to be straining. Will I ruin my transmission over time doing this? Thanks in advance for your comments.
Dick posted 05-01-2002 09:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dick  Send Email to Dick     
I have a Ford F-150 and never use overdrive when towing and my Montauk weighs a lot less.
Check your owners manual or call the dealer to get the straight Toyota scoop.
whalernut posted 05-01-2002 09:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for whalernut  Send Email to whalernut     
I have a 1993 Dodge Dakota with a V8 and I can tow my Currituck in Overdrive all day long and don`t even notice it is there. I could probably use overdrive with up to about 2-3000 lbs. I have 3.90 gears, that helps. Jack.
triblet posted 05-01-2002 11:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
I've been towing my Montauk (I figure just
over 2000 pounds) and 300 pounds of dive
gear and two people with a V6 in overdrive.
It is, however a stick. I had to down shift
for the bigger hills with '95, not with the
'01 (more HP).

I presume your Tundra is an automatic. Don't
worry about it -- the computer controls the
shifting, and if it needs to shift, it will.


PMUCCIOLO posted 05-01-2002 11:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for PMUCCIOLO    

I, too, have a Tundra Access Cab Limited V8 to tow my Alert. The Alert is lighter, also, than your Dauntless. I follow the owner's manual's recommendations carefully and turn the overdrive off whenever I'm towing or hauling something heavy in the bed.


gunnelgrabber posted 05-01-2002 11:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for gunnelgrabber  Send Email to gunnelgrabber     
i've been pulling a 16 katama all around your neck of the woods and to the ga. coast for several years in our heat and etc with a well broken in 22re 4 cyl toyota AUTOMATIC pickup ' overdrive,no trans cooler -0-.would love to have your nice forked 8! you should be seems to me anyway.good luck...lm
jimh posted 05-01-2002 11:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Although the owner's manual is not clear on this issue, on the door of my 1995 GMC Suburban K1500 (rated at 7000# tow capacity) there is a sticker which instructs you to NEVER TOW IN OVERDRIVE.

But let's say I think I am pretty smart and I can save a few bucks by towing in OD.

Let's say my gas mileage is 10% better if I tow in overdrive than if I follow the recommendation.

A new transmission is about $2,500. In order to save the $2,500 in gas mileage, I'll have to spend about $25,000 in gas.

If gas is $1.25/gallon, $25,000 of gas amounts to 20,000 gallons of gas.

If I get 12.5 miles per gallon when towing (which is typical for me), then my 20,000 gallons of gas will take me 250,000 miles.

I normally only tow about 5,000 miles a year.
At that rate, to tow 250,000 miles will mean I will have to tow at my average rate for 50 years.

So, I can save the cost of a new transmission over the course of 50 years by thinking that I know better than the guys who engineered the car and ignore their warning to not tow in overdrive. I wonder if my transmission will last that long?

fester posted 05-02-2002 01:20 AM ET (US)     Profile for fester  Send Email to fester     
I tow a 20 foot Outrage which I figure weighs 4500 pounds with a 4X4 Tundra. I spoke to a Toyota mechanic about the Tundra and he suggested several things. First, do not use the overdrive while towing. He indicated the main reason for this was that the engine rpm would help slow the vehicle while going down hills. He also indicated that not being in overdrive would be easier on the engine and transmission. The Tundra owners manual also says not to use overdrive when towing. Second, be sure to have a large transmission cooler installed because the Toyota transmissions normally run a bit warm. As you probably know, what happens is that the transmission fluid gets hot and loses its lubracating ability which in turn damages the transmission. Third, if you tow a lot, change the transmission fluid every 15,000 miles. He also indicated it is best to flush the transmission periodically in that a normal transmission service does not change all of the fluid in the transmission. Fourth, the Tundras eat back brakes when towing. Thus, one should have trailer brakes if towing a significant load and check the brakes periodically. Fifth, most Tundras have a tranmission warning light that will go on when the transmission fluid gets too hot.


Clark Roberts posted 05-02-2002 07:44 AM ET (US)     Profile for Clark Roberts  Send Email to Clark Roberts     
It is best also to tow "out of overdrive" with a manual transmission. Reason is that overdrive routes power through the countershaft while normal "high" gear is a straight through/main shaft drive! Much extra pressure/temp/wear will occur if you tow in overdrive. Effect on engine could be lugging/pinging etc. My owners manual (Jeep Grand Cherokee/318V8) recommends to never tow in overdrive (automatic) and to go up in octain one grade (from 87 to 89) when towing! Happy Towing... Clark... SCN
gunnelgrabber posted 05-02-2002 08:34 AM ET (US)     Profile for gunnelgrabber  Send Email to gunnelgrabber     
after reading here i had to check my manual.
od in a manual trans and od in a auto are maybe two different things?
as chuck said, the auto trans "tells itself what to do".i think so.
from the manual: use "drive" to hill climb or hard towing, not "2" or "low".
"When towing a trailer,IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN ENGINE BRAKING EFFICIENCY,(my caps) do not use overdrive."
i'm not really comparable here as i'm well under 2000 lb. with my trailer/boat weight,and i've had no problem with any of it.i'm very cautious,careful and deliberate towing anything ...and from what i can tell so far ,i don't think i'm hurting the's to uneventful trailering...lm
fd3 posted 05-02-2002 01:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for fd3  Send Email to fd3     
Tallydon, We also tow with a Tundra V8 4WD. It has the factory towing upgrade, tranny cooler, etc. We are towing a 21 Conquest. I figure, if the fuel tanks full, we are probably around 5500 pounds. In addition, since we are towing back and forth to Florida (a little over 900 miles each way) for the winter, we have a lot of stuff. I may be off a little but Im guessing were about 6500 pounds in total. I have never manually locked out the overdrive but I find that the transmission takes care of that by itself rather nicely. Any extra load, such as an incline or accelerating back to speed after a work zone, causes the tranny to kick out of overdrive. I think the rear brake wear problem fester speaks of may be more an issue of the tongue weight. There is a proportioning valve for the rear brakes that decreases the rear braking as the weight shifts under braking. With the additional tongue weight the rear doesnt lift under braking, effectively meaning full braking on the rears at all times. Im not sure if there is anything that can be done to eliminate this problem. We have installed airlift springs at the rear to keep the truck level when towing. It probably helps but Im sure were still getting more than normal brake wear. One thing you can do if youre concerned about overheating is to smell the tranny fluid. If its ever been overheated it will have a slightly burned smell. (Compare it to some fresh tranny fluid.) This smell will usually be noticeable well before you have destroyed your tranny. If you think it smells a little burned, change it.
Hoop posted 05-02-2002 01:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoop  Send Email to Hoop     
I tow my Montauk with a Ford Ranger w/ automatic, and always turn off overdrive per the owner's manual. Haven't had problems with the transmission at all.

A buddy towed a Striper 21 with a Ford F350 maxed out with a big alumninum tool box on the truck. He must have been towing at maximum gross combined vehicle weight. He left overdrive on, and went through 3 transmissions in one year. He bought a new truck ... a Chevy. $$$

I recall having heard somewhere (this forum?) that the bearings in an automatic transmission overdrive were small and more susceptible to failure when the vehicle was heavily loaded?

Those of you with Toyota Tundras, do you have 2 wheel drive, and if so, how does the Tundra pull up a slippery ramp at low tide? When I checked, I did not see a limited slip differential offered for the Tundra.


lhg posted 05-02-2002 03:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Evidently, GM's automatic transmission is not designed for towing in overdrive. It is not related to the engine's HP, but rather the inner workings & design of the auto transmission (which I know absolutely nothing about!). This according to my Service mechanic. He insists you will wreck a transmission towing a large boat, like my 25 Outrage, in overdrive. The reason I have asked about this is that I only get about 7 MPG towing in 3rd.
Monnas Rock posted 05-02-2002 03:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for Monnas Rock  Send Email to Monnas Rock     
I used to have a 92 GMC 1/2 ton, 4WD, 350
V-8 and Hydromatic. Towed a 4,800 lb. Sea Ray and, per the owners manual,never towed in OD. When I trades it at 95,000 miles, the trans was still in very good shape. Conversly, my father-in-law (a retired auto mechanic) has a similar truck in a 2WD, towed a 7,000 lb. SeaRay, in OD and fried the trans. Draw your own conclusions but above all follow the owners manuel instructions, not the advice of all the "experts". By the way, I recently traded my old GMC for a new Chevy HD Duramax. It has the Allison 5 speed trans with a "Tow-Haul" mode that re-programs the shift points. What a treat to drive, this transmission is a lot smarter then I am!
skookum point posted 05-02-2002 05:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for skookum point  Send Email to skookum point     
Here's how it was explained to me:
In overdrive a clutch engages that mechanically locks the transmission in a no slip mode (thus, better fuel economy). This mechanism cannot absorb the loads or push/pull shock that the usual fluid connection can.
Per my owners manual (Ford Expedition) I do not tow in overdrive.
dfmcintyre posted 05-02-2002 06:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
You need to check your manual, as different manufacturing dates have different recommendations.

Example, the GM vehicle manuals recommended avoiding using overdrive, while the later models recommend that you should tow in overdrive.


dfmcintyre posted 05-02-2002 06:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
previous post was obtuse....

You need to check your manual, as the same company and same model but different manufacturing dates may have different recommendations.

Example, earlier GM vehicle manuals recommended avoiding using overdrive, while some later (late 90's) models recommend
that you _should_ tow in overdrive.

simonmeridew posted 05-02-2002 07:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for simonmeridew  Send Email to simonmeridew     
My 2000 Tundra is 4wd, in fact here in Northern New England you can't find a 2wd for sale. On a slippery or potentally slippery ramp I always engage the 4wd button before I pull the boat out.
As of today I have towed my Montauk with OD engaged, but may reconsider pushing the lockout button at the base of a hill based on this discussion. Through Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and North Carolina last week it just loafed along, 16 plus MPG, so how hard could I have been pushing it? Different story in the Green Mountains. This Tundra(after 40,000 miles) is the best vehicle I've ever owned and I don't want anything to happen to it.
Tallydon posted 05-02-2002 08:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tallydon  Send Email to Tallydon     
Thanks for all of your replies. My owner manual states "When towing a trailer, in order to maintain engine braking eficiency, do not use overdrive." Thats it. I'm still confused about if any harm is being applied to the auto transmission when towing and in overdrive. Its not like I need the engine to help break. There are no hills.
Dick E posted 05-02-2002 08:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dick E  Send Email to Dick E     
Tallydon you wrote:
I'm still confused about if any harm is being applied to the auto transmission when towing and in overdrive.

Yes, if the load is too heavy for your truck
Think of it like this, you are riding a 5 speed bike. Once you get going it's fine to shift it in high gear. Now all of sudden someone hooks a 500 lb wagon to your bike.You will probably want to use a lower gear or you will got exhausted . Same thing can happen with your transmission.

InHerNet posted 05-03-2002 09:17 AM ET (US)     Profile for InHerNet  Send Email to InHerNet     
I just checked the manuals and what a surprise between two of my vehicles.

1999 Chevy Suburban C-2500 states "You should tow in OVERDRIVE (D).

2002 Chevy Suburban C-1500 states "You can tow in DRIVE (D).
Note: The 2002 Suburban has a Tow/Haul Mode.

The key word "Should" -vs- "Can". It very well could be based on the transmission difference between them or I would assume that they made a legal corporate decision to change the language.

I have not towed the 23 OR with the 2002 yet.

Riparian posted 05-03-2002 11:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for Riparian    
Have 2001 Toyota Tundra acc. cab 4wd TRD pulling a 21 Conquest. Never use overdrive when towing based on Toyota mechanic advice/warnings about adverse effects from doing so. Great truck. Such a smooth, quiet ride, with all the power you need. I love it. Treat these trucks right and you will probably drive them forever. Really wet, steep ramp, then may have to move into 4wd to get the boat out, but have rarely had to do so. Tundra does come with limited slip. fd3, the back of my Tundra sits higher then the front when not hooked up to boat and trailer. When locked up to boat and trailer and ready to go the truck then sits perfectly level. Figured that was because of the TRD package (heavy duty shocks etc.) The back of my 4Runner used to squat quite a bit when pulling only a 16 Dauntlas.
fd3 posted 05-23-2002 09:33 AM ET (US)     Profile for fd3  Send Email to fd3     
Riparian, Our Tundra also has the TRD package. It does sit a little higher in the back unloaded. I think the difference may be that we normally also have the bed filled with the stuff we take to Florida for the winter when we are towing the boat. That adds a lot of weight to the truck. Yes, the Tundra is a great truck! Im a little biased towards Toyotas though having had them for 20 years. We currently have three the Tundra and two 4-Runners. Before we got the Tundra we actually towed the Conquest short distances with the older of the 4-runners. Its a 91, rated for 3500 lbs. towing capacity. It wasnt pretty, the poor thing was working its heart out. But it never complained and its still going strong.
donel posted 05-23-2002 11:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for donel  Send Email to donel     
jimh - you are priceless
my towing mentor, joel the transmission shop owner and guru, makes his bread, butter and much gravy from towers in overdrive of all makes and towing packages.
whalerron posted 05-24-2002 09:31 AM ET (US)     Profile for whalerron  Send Email to whalerron     
I have had more than one transmission guy tell me that overdrive is always the "weak link" in an automatic transmission.

Another interesting thing is that most manufacturers don't bother to tell you to follow "heavy duty maintenance procedures" when a vehicle is used for towing. Under these procedures, the tranny and rear fluids should be changed every 30K miles.


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