Towing Technique - 2015 Colorado Auto

After many years of towing with a manual car I recently bought an automatic 4WD Colorado to tow our 3 tonne van. I've fitted a heavy duty transmission cooler, GVM upgrade & so on. Done a couple of small trips towing in D with no issues (minimal gear hunting) but when talking with a mate who owns a 2018 Triton he mentioned that his manual tells him to tow in manual mode. Can't find anything like this in my manual but it got me a little concerned in case I could do some damage. A large portion of our travel is on fairly corrugated dirt roads. Any advice would be appreciated.


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Reply By: Member - Jim S1 - Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019 at 16:58

Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019 at 16:58
G'day Dave
We tow a 1.1T camper trailer, so a lot lighter than your caravan. Our dealer (service manager) advised us to just let the auto do its thing. It will decide if there's a need to change down or up.

We have done that and had absolutely no problems, over long distances and much gravel.

"Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits." A fisherman.

"No road is long with good company." Traditional

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Reply By: Member - Wildmax - Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019 at 17:16

Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019 at 17:16
The owner's manual for my Hilux is quite specific about towing in manual mode (S4), which I do - generally chug along at around 2500rpm with my camper on the back at a bit over 2 tonnes.
2018 Hilux pulling AOR Eclipse
Black Wolf 210 tent

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Reply By: Frank P (NSW) - Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019 at 17:19

Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019 at 17:19
For my BT50, the manual specifies towing in Sport mode.

In Sport mode there are two sub-modes - auto and manual. It is my impression that most in the current crop of auto utes/RVs/4WDs are all the same, but happy to stand corrected. When you go into Sport mode it's still automatic until you make the first manual shift. The shift pattern while it is shifting automatically is different from conventional D mode. It holds gears longer before upshifting and will downshift sooner under load, both of which are appropriate
when towing a load.

Is your Colorado's behaviour similar to the BT's? If so I'd recommend towing in Manual mode (or Sport, whatever it's called). It reduces stress on the engine and reduces torque converter slip, which in turn reduces heat buildup in the transmission fluid. Heat in autos is the #1 enemy. Your trans cooler is a wise investment.

If there's no Sport auto mode, just pure manual shifting when out of Drive, then I'll leave giving advice to others.

(I'm happy to be corrected on this by those who know more, but that's my take on it.)

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Reply By: RMD - Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019 at 17:45

Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019 at 17:45
Is the auto trans cooler you fitted paced in the exit line, ie, the hottest line to the radiator OR in the return line from the radiator. Placed in the EXIT, hottest line from the auto box will maximize the amount of heat lost to atmosphere BEFORE it can enter the radiator heat exchanger and compromise the ability of the radiator to keep the engine cool. If the cooler is in the return line, ANY large amount of heat is delivered to the radiator where it should be coolest water for engine cooling purposes. That is especially important if towing 3 ton up long hills where sustained heat soak will stress all systems to near max. No good having great auto fluid temp but the radiator cooling the engine water is near maxed out by having to cop full torque converter fluid heat amount. Up hill, slow running, heavy load, tail wind will sure test the total effectiveness. As mentioned above, heat is a killer for autos AND is also for the engine too. Having a reserve of cooling ability for both engine nd auto is beneficial. Travelling on corrugated roads is not important except if speed is slow where forward motion is minimal and all cooling is being provided by the engine fan. Use in sport mode will/should ease the heat load of the auto fluid in most cases.
If you have to operate in torque converter slip under heavy conditions having the cooler in the hottest line gives the best insurance to overheating for both engine and auto.
AnswerID: 628724

Follow Up By: johnny mc - Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 at 16:40

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 at 16:40
My tranny man urged me to bypass the radiator when fitting the aux cooler in my LC200 because the gearbox has a paper filter that, if the tube inside the radiator cracked etc water will get into transmission fluid and destroy the filter and then the gearbox. And he said it happens all to often. Also, with the aux cooler in the radiator will only heat the oil.
FollowupID: 903356

Reply By: Member - willawa - Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019 at 18:41

Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019 at 18:41
Hi Dave
for what it's worth

I have a2018 all standard Colorado Trailblazer and tow a 3t o/r van.
I use'D' on long flat sections and manual the rest of the time mainly in 5th and it has never given me any problems. change down only when required, corrugations drive to the conditions i.e 2nd @ 20kph for really rough stuff etc sand ,bulldust what ever you find comfortable and don't over rev and rush
and enjoy the scenery
only blew the turbo booster hose once on the way from Tumbarumba to Kiandra. Reason- loose hose clamp! lost a bit of power for a little while!
hope this helps

AnswerID: 628725

Reply By: Rob J8 - Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019 at 21:01

Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019 at 21:01
G'day Max
Toyota recommend to tow in S4 with the 2018 200 series Landcruiser.
AnswerID: 628727

Follow Up By: Gronk - Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019 at 23:13

Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019 at 23:13
I tow in S5 in my 2009 200 series. At 110 k/ph, S4 would be revving too high. It locks up fine in S5....revs are approx 2100 at 110 k/ph.
FollowupID: 903222

Follow Up By: flipje - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 at 06:41

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 at 06:41
Gronk if you pull a caravan at 110 km/h than there is something very wrong in your head.
People like you are the ones that lay upside down on the side of the road.
I only hope that no other people get involved in your stupid actions.
FollowupID: 903223

Follow Up By: RMD - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 at 07:24

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 at 07:24
You can't use a 200series towing ability and characteristics with a Colorado 2.8 L 4 cyl. The revs and the gear and the possible speeds are simply not relative to each other.
FollowupID: 903224

Follow Up By: Gbc.. - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 at 07:57

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 at 07:57
Conversely if you are driving a rig that cannot sit safely on the road at the speed limit, or worse, you do not have the confidence or ability to do so, I would argue it is very much you who are carrying out the stupid action. I see such people every day forcing their ineptitude onto the rest of us. Worst still are the clowns doing 70 just to save fuel. You assume he is towing some 3.5 t behemoth wobbling death trap that so many insist on towing. I have towed my campers all over the outback and highways at the speed limit, like trucks and all other roadworthy vehicles do. To have some keyboard clown suggest it might be dangerous with no prior knowledge of me would be laughable. I know who id rather share a highway with.
FollowupID: 903226

Follow Up By: Member - Bigfish - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 at 11:21

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 at 11:21 would do better to get facts before assuming. Gronk could be towing a 1500kg camper in the NT (WHERE SPEED LIMIT IS 140 ON HWY)...

Best to engage brain before mouth...
FollowupID: 903227

Follow Up By: OzzieCruiser - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 at 11:59

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 at 11:59
But the OP does not have a Lancruiser
FollowupID: 903229

Follow Up By: Gronk - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 at 18:50

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 at 18:50
I actually tow a hybrid that MAY touch approx 1800kg.....and I'd probably do 120+ if in the NT.

But if I had a Colorado like the OP, I wouldn't tow a 3t van with it, but that's just me, I don't believe in towing near the max limit.

For someone to say another person shouldn't tow at the speed limit is showing they may have a problem with their ability to drive.
If someone feels a combination of vehicle and van are not stable or safe at the speed limit, then they need to fix the problem.....get a bigger tow vehicle or a smaller van....or get off the road.
FollowupID: 903239

Reply By: TracksNMax - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 at 05:24

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 at 05:24
Thanks for all the responses. As the majority seem to favour manual mode I think I shall basically do the same, in pretty much identical fashion to Ed.


AnswerID: 628728

Follow Up By: Gbc.. - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 at 07:48

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 at 07:48
I end up driving the ranger manually. You’ll feel when each gear no longer pulls and wants an up shift. It is a much more relaxed affair than letting the box do its own thing.
FollowupID: 903225

Reply By: Darian - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 at 09:24

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 at 09:24
Consider a Scanguage...monitors a whole lot of parameters (displays 4 in each of several views)...simply plugs into the under-dash OBD port...I use mine just for the auto trans fluid temp...allows me to see if I'm keeping the trans happy (2.8t van in tow...I do a lot of towing in manual mainly in 4th). Good luck with it.
AnswerID: 628729

Reply By: DaveO*ST-R - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 at 09:33

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 at 09:33
If you have not already done so, could I recommend you install either a Scangauge II, Ultragauge, or one that has the ability to read and display your auto transmission temps? It gives a very helpful insight into how hot your transmission is getting with different gear/rpm combinations etc as well as when the torque converter is locked/unlocked.

I have a Scangauge II fitted to my LC200 and constantly motitor temps whilst towing my 2.6T van. FWIW, I always tow in Sports mode and 4th (6 speed trans) If I leave the vehicle in Drive, the TC will rarely lock and the auto temps rise considerably. The extra RPMs by going back a gear or 2 make not a lot of difference comfort/noise wise and surprisingly, fuel economy is not affected.

As stated, heat kills auto transmissions and in my case, 5th & 6th are overdrive gears so need to be treated with caution if used when towing.

P.S - Submitted my post just after the previous one also mentioning Scangauge !!


AnswerID: 628730

Follow Up By: Member - Bigfish - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 at 11:23

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 at 11:23
I have the Ultragauge which is a far better visual gauge than the scangauge and it is amazing how hot your transmission gets whilst towing. I also fitted a torque converter lock up kit and my tranny now runs at around 70 instead of 110+..
FollowupID: 903228

Follow Up By: RMD - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 at 15:09

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 at 15:09
The temp sender in the auto is only there to detect and inform the ECU what viscosity the fluid is so it can operate correctly. It is ONLY a reading of the auto fluid temp reentering the auto after whatever cooling happened, not the exit temp from the torque converter. Just knowing the temp in the box isn't any indication of the heat value being given to the cooling system. A lockup clutch can stop converter slip but may not be the long term answer for many. Knowing the exit temp, has to be a 3rd party NTC sensor on the exit line and digital readout in cab, for you to really know what temp the auto is producing and what temp you are creating in the fluid. That way you can then drive according to the temp. Scan Gauges and the like don't tell the full story at any time.
FollowupID: 903230

Follow Up By: DaveO*ST-R - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 at 16:37

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 at 16:37
At least the Scangauge in my case gives me a real good indication of temperature fluctuations. I have settings on my Scangauge to show temperatures at both the pan and the torque converter. Whether that is as near to good as a "NTC sensor on the exit line", I wouldn't know, but at least in the circumstances I am doing the best I can to look after my transmission. I'd rather have the gauge than not. Hopefully I am not getting too far off topic of the original post !!
FollowupID: 903232

Follow Up By: Member - Bigfish - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 at 16:45

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 at 16:45
RMD...My Pajero gives 2 readings...Pan temp and exit pipe temp. The alarm goes off at 147 degrees. The lock kit that many Pajero owners have fitted have been a huge success with no failures. It was developed and sold by a Pajero enthusiast with a smart technical mind. When using the converter we never see high temps and allows us to drive in full auto a lot more. Definitely a mod that makes for more relaxed driving and increased tranny oil life. It is also worth remembering that once the load has come off the unlocked torque convertor, after climbing a steep hill and descending the other side of the hill, the ATF temperature can continue to rise because the torque convertor is not locked up when there is not accelerator input. When the torque convertor is unlocked and the vehicle is "coasting" the ATF does not circulate through the ATF coolers so the ATF is stationary and sitting in a hot torque convertor. This is done to decrease fuel consumption but at the penalty of overheating the ATF. So the ATF takes a long time to cool down, particularly in very hilly country and especially when towing.

Lockup Mate keeps the torque convertor locked up even when there is no accelerator input, this allows the ATF to circulate through the ATF coolers after the load has been reduced and results in ATF temperatures dropping rapidly. Auto Mate works slightly differently as it unlocks the torque convertor when coasting down hill, however there is a special feature that locks the torque convertor up to provide downhill ATF cooling if the ATF is over 85C.
FollowupID: 903233

Follow Up By: Gronk - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 at 18:59

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 at 18:59
Even though my 200 series is "only" towing a 1800kg max hybrid van, I have found bugger all difference in towing in S5 or in normal auto.
Unless going downhill, forget 6th never gets used. But the auto will lockup in 5th or S5 on a flat road and up slight inclines.
At less than the speed limit...usually 110k/ may have more problems holding ( locking) in 5th or S5, so 4th or S4 may be better for those who travel at slower speeds..
FollowupID: 903241

Follow Up By: johnny mc - Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 at 16:46

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 at 16:46
Gronk, in my 2017 200 LC towing in S4 results in a lower fuel burn than in S5. This is because in S4 the tranny locks up and it revs slower than in S5 at the same speed and load buy up to 2 to 3 Lts/100. You have to see it to believe it, it does not sound right but it is.
FollowupID: 903357

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