Tow preparation 01 LX470

Joined
Feb 6, 2020
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117
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FL
Hi All,

In the next couple of months I'm going to be towing a trailer (less than 6000lbs including trailer weight, probably less) across the country from east to west coast. My 01 LX has 183k miles and is completely stock. It already has the tow hitch installed, no clue if the wiring works or not (yet). Recently I flushed the AHC fluid and adjusted the torsion bars, and now my AHC pressure sensors are within spec. The motor oil is fresh, the radiator is topped up and not leaking, the tranny fluid looks and smells fine, I recently changed the fluids in both diffs and the transfer case, I greased the driveshaft judiciously, heater hose tees replaced, and timing belt done within a few thousand miles ago. The truck seems to drive well, at least to me, and seems a tad bit bouncier in back after the AHC fluid and raising of chassis height (to lower AHC sensor pressures) via the torsion bars.

Can you experts point me to some tests (or describe them in this thread) that I should do to test the tow wiring harness, check the suspension for robustness to tow (springs, shocks), etc? I've never towed with this platform before. I'm also in the Orlando, FL, area if there is a local indy shop that can be recommended to give the truck the once over and perform necessary changes.

Any and all help is appreciated. Thanks in advance.
 
Joined
Apr 16, 2019
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Loveland, Colorado
Hook the harness up to a trailer and test it by hitting the hazards. If you don't have access to a trailer, just go to a home improvement store and let them know you're looking to rent/buy a trailer but don't know if your harness works. They will let you hook up and test it before renting something.

Three things that will be important:

TRANSMISSION TEMP: Don't tow in overdrive, keep your speeds down and stay in the right lane and you will be fine. The higher revs on the highway are GOOD for the transmission as the pump moves more fluid and holds temps down while also running stronger gears. Get a cheap OBD2 BT plugin and download the torque app. Have a phone mount somewhere you can see it and just keep an eye on your transmission temps. I would consider exchanging the transmission fluid if you don't know when it was done, but its not necessary.

BRAKING: if its over 3k lbs, I'd recommend trailer brakes. Rent or buy a trailer with surge brakes if you don't want to install a controller. If you have any pulsing, address it now with brake servicing, and make sure pads have meat on them. If you don't know when brake fluid was done, now is a good time to have it done. This is a trickier service, but good tutorials here.

COOLING: replace heater t's, check coolant (exchange if old), and if you're due for the TB Belt, WP, Thermostat, etc. its a good idea to do it now. T-Belts last way longer than the recommended interval, but the WP's are good for about 80-100k. Check your cooling hoses and radiator.

Little things just to do in general:
1. Grease driveshafts and check ujoints for play
2. Bearing service is up to date
3. Swap diff fluids if over 30k and transfer case if over 50

If the tongue weight is kept reasonable (look up a quick guide on how to load a trailer for managing tongue weight) the rear suspension isn't doing anything special. AHC is very cool in that it compensates for load as long as the load is reasonable. Its a very stable towing platform.

I tow often with my LC and it's been a great vehicle to tow reasonable weight with (3-5k lbs).
 

Somebodyelse5

Land Crushers
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Feb 9, 2014
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Phx, Arizona
 
Hook the harness up to a trailer and test it by hitting the hazards. If you don't have access to a trailer, just go to a home improvement store and let them know you're looking to rent/buy a trailer but don't know if your harness works. They will let you hook up and test it before renting something.
Or just use a multimeter on the harness :meh:
 

geanes

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Mar 3, 2017
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Austin, TX
Tow with OD off in ANY hilly terrain. Get a Scangauge2 (or other OBD2 device as suggested above) and input the X-Code for transmission temp (normal operating temp will be around 158, but will fluctuate wildly depending on if the torque converter is locked or not). On flatter terrain, you can run with OD on. I tow a small off-road trailer (1400lbs fully outfitted) behind my 98 LX (4-speed 343f transmission). On flat interstate and state highways, I can easily move along at 70 with the OD on. However, anytime there are hills, I drive with the OD off. When I travel in CO, that means my OD is off at ALL times. Fuel economy isn't adversely effected either way. I maintain about 10mpg regardless of whether OD is off or on. The importance of the OBD2 reader such as a Scangauge (or other similar product that can display transmission temps) is that you don't want to exceed 210 on the transmission temperature. If you ever see it crawling above that, it's best to pull over, leave the engine running in Neutral in order to cool the transmission back down.

Trailer brakes are definitely preferred at almost any weight IMO. I ran my trailer without them last year and, despite it's relative "light" weight, it definitely put a burden on my rigs brakes (especially coming down many of the passes in CO). My LX is definitely overweight already and adding 1400lbs of additional weight behind it did create minor issues. My trailer was already wired for trailers brakes, so I added them and installed a Redarc brake controller. It's noticeably smoother and more comfortable to drive in the hills and especially in the wet with that. I'd imagine a heavier trailer would certainly benefit even MORE from a brake controller.

Since you have AHC, air bags such as the AirLift1000 could be a big benefit. Make sure you load the trailer correctly and tongue weight doesn't exceed spec.

As always, smooth throttle and braking (anticipating significant increase in stopping distance) makes towing very easy with these rigs.

IMG_3990.JPG
 
Joined
Feb 6, 2020
Messages
117
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FL
Ok, basic airbags mentioned above ordered, excellent suggestion. I knew my truck has the antiquated 4-pin harness, but was unaware of the ramifications. I have not bought any trailer yet.

Am I correct at assuming I should shop for a trailer with (electronic) brakes, buy an appropriate brake controller, and wire in a 7-pin harness? I am good with electrical and mechanical things. I would guess a parts list and how-to vids are a good thing to ask for from the experts on here? Also good for archival purposes I suppose.

Oh and 1000s of thanks for the help thusfar!
 

geanes

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Ok, basic airbags mentioned above ordered, excellent suggestion. I knew my truck has the antiquated 4-pin harness, but was unaware of the ramifications. I have not bought any trailer yet.

Am I correct at assuming I should shop for a trailer with (electronic) brakes, buy an appropriate brake controller, and wire in a 7-pin harness? I am good with electrical and mechanical things. I would guess a parts list and how-to vids are a good thing to ask for from the experts on here? Also good for archival purposes I suppose.

Oh and 1000s of thanks for the help thusfar!
Trailer brakes, IMO, should be on any trailer. I had a 7 pin wired into to my 4 pin factory harness. The brake controller line along with the trailer battery charging lines were then run separately up thru the cab. The brake controller line goes into the center console where the Redarc controller is mounted (no more AHC controller). I'm not much of an electrical guy, so I had local trailer place do the wiring. I cut the hole in the bumper to mount the 7-pin receiver.
 

gregnash

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Carson City, NV
 
I am slowly getting my LC up to snuff for towing. From what I have read, there are some potential issues with the OEM factory tow harness. Some say there major issues and others not so much. For me, I will be upgrading the towing harness as a complete separate unit and have a local shop do it for me. Will have them install a 7pin harness to do everything and actually I am looking at doing one of the Bluetooth Wireless brake controllers instead of having one hard mounted into my truck.

While the LC will do the majority of the towing, our '11 4Runner will be able to do some as well (has similar towing capacity), so the benefit of the bluetooth module will be the ease of moving between vehicles (4Runner already came with 7pin installed from factory) without having to rewire anything.
 

hoser

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When you wire your 7-pin, make sure the charge cable is a minimum of 10 gauge and use a battery isolator solenoid so your trailer won't discharge your vehicle battery when parked.

If you are still on P-Metric tires, switch to LT's. If the trip is all on-road conditions, consider a weight distribution hitch.
 

geanes

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When you wire your 7-pin, make sure the charge cable is a minimum of 10 gauge and use a battery isolator solenoid so your trailer won't discharge your vehicle battery when parked.
EXCELLENT points there!
 
Joined
Mar 8, 2017
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855
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NH
Towed a 3500 Ib camper trailer with my '05 last summer. Top off fluids, brake controller for hills, and check wiring. The AHC will automatically raise the rear end level to the front regardless of weight (it leveled out a 7500 Ib boat trailer just fine).
 
Joined
Feb 6, 2020
Messages
117
Location
FL
Given the fact that I won't tow much at all, any opinions/experience with this Bluetooth brake controller Amazon product
I like this idea since it is a temporary device which can be stored when not in use
 
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MJK

Joined
Mar 14, 2020
Messages
67
Location
Tucson
You still need to wire up a 7 pin plug like @geanes and @hoser suggested. Link to old thread on this topic. The Curt bluetooth thingamabobber would then plug into that. Or you could hardwire in the Tekonsha or similar upstream of it.
CONVERSION.jpg

I think the image on the left is "before" and to the right is "after", but double check your truck with a voltmeter.

Edit: info above stolen from Hopkins site. Lots of good info there.
 
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Joined
Feb 6, 2020
Messages
117
Location
FL
It's essentially a cross country tow of stuff from my parents house (east coast) to my sister's house (west coast). I'm relocating to the west coast too. I've helped a parent with quality of life and the time has come to sell the parental unit's house and distribute the house contents accordingly. After the move, I don't plan on any towing (for now).

Go big or go home, right?!
 

hoser

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Oh, a storage/transport trailer and not a recreational trailer... well most everything said still applies. Carry-on...
 
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