Towing in Fifth Gear.

Submitted: Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 00:10
ThreadID: 54653 Views:13384 Replies:21 FollowUps:12
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There seems to be varied opinion on towing in fifth gear. My previous truck was a Mazda Bravo Ute, on a trip across Australia towing a reasonable heavy trailer I lost fifth gear. The Dealer in Adelaide strait away said it was because I was towing in fifth gear. But Mazda replaced the gear box very quickly with no questions asked. I asked the dealer what was Mazda's policy on towing in fifth and as far as they were concerned they didn't see a problem if the motor was coping ok.
I now have an 80 series and the first thing my own mechanic said was ... " Don't you tow in fifth with this one either".
But there must be a lot of people towing vans all around the country in fifth.
So does anyone have any firm thoughts on the matter.
Thanks
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Reply By: Motherhen - Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 00:19

Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 00:19
Yes kevancoll, I have firm thoughts. Unless it is a very light trailer, do not tow in 5th gear manual, or in overdrive auto. They are not towing gears. Doing in your gearbox can be expensive at any time; more so if you are stranded in the middle of Australia or some remote location. Not worth the risk.

Some people have done so successfully, and may shoot me down in flames again.

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Reply By: stevie1947 - Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 00:19

Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 00:19
I have a Nissan Pathy and was told by the dealer not to tow in overdrive (auto) because of the small bearings involved in that gear. Just came home from a trip around the block and didn't use overdrive whilst towing the caravan and the car handled beautifully.
It is probably different with a manual gear box?
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Reply By: Davo_60 - Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 00:41

Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 00:41
Hello kevancoll,

Depends on the gearbox, the H150 (or 151?) in the 80 will be fine as it is a very strong design with 5th gear on the mainshaft. In most cases it is not advisable but you should be more worried about labouring your engine.

Cheers,
Dave
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Follow Up By: Cruiserman1961 (QLD) - Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 07:41

Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 07:41
I agree with you kevancoll,
I've got an 80 series with 503 000 km's and we tow our camper trailer in 5th whenever possible. So for we had never a problem. It's the first gearbox and motor by the way.
Cheers, Udo
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Follow Up By: Davo_60 - Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 11:58

Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 11:58
There really is no hard and fast rule, it depends on the gearbox design and strength for the application. The old H55F landcruiser gearbox had 5th gear as an add on and it was no no to tow in 5th generally or you risk premature failure but they were otherwise a strong box. The 80 series box is designed differently and is over engineered for the task and should not have any problems.

Dave
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Reply By: Member - Doug T (FNQ) - Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 08:55

Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 08:55
kevancoll

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Reply By: Steve from Top End Explorer Tours - Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 09:40

Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 09:40
I've been towing trailers up to 1 tonne almost daily for 15 years.

Towing in 5th is ok IF you are on the flat and at a speed of 90/100 kph, this way you aren't labouring the motor or Gearbox.

Cheers Steve.
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Reply By: Gob & Denny - Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 10:01

Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 10:01
not towing in 5th gear is a heap of crap
2 patrols gq now gu tow in 5th in both
as long as you listen to the motor there should never be a problem
we have done thousands of ks with both trailers and vans and never a problem


+ it adds $$$$$$$ to your towing bill
i have only heard of 1 person who had a problem and he had 1 of the nissans that had the faulty gearbox the rest of them have only been hearsay and a mates brothers cousin ????

steve
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Reply By: Paul Grabonski. Vic - Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 10:17

Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 10:17
Purchased a Mitsubishi Triton 3.2L turbo diesel especially to tow my caravan. I sought as much information as possible on the best vehicle. 2 of the professional vehicle engineers pointed to the fact the Mitsubishi Triton can tow the maximum load in 5th gear and the gearbox was rated well in excess of the towing capacity.
I am just so happy with the Triton and in all facets is twice the vehicle of my previous vehicle.
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Follow Up By: Off-track - Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 20:42

Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 20:42
If that is the current model you couldnt pay me enough to be seen in one. Hideous!!
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Follow Up By: Member - Doug F (SA) - Monday, Feb 18, 2008 at 14:30

Monday, Feb 18, 2008 at 14:30
Thank you Paul for that valued info. I have just bought a 3-5 petrol Triton. V.R. This years model and am very pleased with it. I bought it for the same reason you did. To tow a caravan. I've just got it back from from the auto sparky after electric brakes etc.
You are the first person that has mentioned a Triton and it was good to read your report.
Thank You
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Reply By: Member - barry F (NSW) - Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 10:47

Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 10:47
Hello there, we have a Mazda BT50 manual & recently did a trip of about 3000 Ks in the Victoria area mostly towing in fifth. When we got home I put in a post on this forum about how pleased I was with the vehicle performance & especially the ease it towed in fifth and fuel consumtion figures.
However, I came under a bit of flak from other forum members regarding the dangers of towing in fifth. In fact I had a response from one member who has the same vehicle with the Ford badge who told me that the vehicle manufacturer advised against it.

I contacted Mazda head office technical Dept. & asked the question. The answer was a very emphatic. NO, do not tow in fifth.

Interesting enough a recent trip of only about 500 Ks towing in fourth at about 90 / 95 Kmh we returned better fuel consumption than the Vic trip.
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Follow Up By: Member - barry F (NSW) - Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 11:00

Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 11:00
Sorry I should have said that it is not a power problem or one of labouring the motor ( provided you are pulling in the torque range ) We were advised that you simply run the risk of damaging the gear box if fifth is used for towing.
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Follow Up By: T-Ribby - Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 11:23

Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 11:23
I was told the same by Mazda. Tried it out on the highway with a loaded trailer and found the auto was hunting for a gear everytime the terrain went slightly up and down. Locked out overdrive and the revs stayed constant around 2500rpm at 85-90kmph which was fine for fuel economy.
cheers
T.R.
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Wednesday, Feb 20, 2008 at 19:46

Wednesday, Feb 20, 2008 at 19:46
Did you ask Mazda to guide you to the page in the owner's manual where it warns against towing in 5th gear?
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Reply By: Louie the fly - Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 10:50

Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 10:50
I tow an 1.8T boat with my Adventra. I let the car do the work. If it doesn't like towing in top gear it will change gears accordingly. One of the joys of an auto I suppose. I do use the mode shift at times when climbing a steep hill.

I'd say it all depends on where you are towing and at what speed.
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Reply By: Baz & Pud (Tassie) - Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 11:05

Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 11:05
G'day
We tow a 2.5 t Van (loaded) and use 5th gear when ever possible, but you have to listen to the motor and don't let it labour.

Baz
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Follow Up By: Member - DAZA (QLD) - Monday, Feb 18, 2008 at 17:39

Monday, Feb 18, 2008 at 17:39
I agree with you Baz, we tow a 2300kgs off road van, always in 4th
gear, some times on flat /level roads I might slip it into 5th, just
listen to the motor and watch the tacho, also 4th gear is a good brakeing gear re compression its a good gear in traffic.
We also had a Toyota which stated in the owners manual, always tow
in 4th gear. it was a 97 hylux 4wd.

Cheers
Daza.
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Reply By: kevancoll - Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 12:07

Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 12:07
Hi every one
Thank's for all your input, especially Davo, I have a bit more confidence now know that I have the H151 gearbox. Even so after my Mazda problems I am a little more conscious of the fact that it might happen again, so I tend to change down a little more that I would have before.
The answers have been as expected and follow the same trend as my asking around... " A lot of divided opinions".
It's an interesting thing though... there is never any mention of not towing in fifth in the owners manual... well certainly not in the 9 or 10 different vehicles I have had.
Cheers
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Reply By: Crackles - Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 17:45

Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 17:45
Tow in 5th gear anywhere an auto gearbox will tow in top in other words if you have a strong head wind, a particually heavy load or are climbing a hill then drop it back a cog. In the past it was never an issue as the engines were all under powered & we had to but with the modern ones with power to burn many get lazy and don't change back stressing the gearbox unnecesarily.
Cheers Craig.................
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Reply By: Member -Dodger - Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 17:55

Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 17:55
I'm of the old school. IE. I never tow in 5th gear always 4th. Van weighs 1.8ton loaded.
Have tried 5th and then 4th and found fuel consumption about 1ltr per 100k more in 4th so to be sure will stay with 4th and not 5thOD.
And yep mines a Nissan 4.2td.

Regards Dodg.
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Reply By: Member -Dodger - Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 17:55

Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 17:55
I'm of the old school. IE. I never tow in 5th gear always 4th. Van weighs 1.8ton loaded.
Have tried 5th and then 4th and found fuel consumption about 1ltr per 100k more in 4th so to be sure will stay with 4th and not 5thOD.
And yep mines a Nissan 4.2td.

Regards Dodg.
I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.

Cheers Dodg.

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Reply By: firestorm - Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 19:08

Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 19:08
A lot of opinions, and a lot of war stories... ( you know what they say about opinions don't you ...)

Anyway lets deal with a few facts.

Overdrive or fifth gear is just that, its a smaller gear to reduce engine revolutions for a given speed. Being a smaller gear it's not a "direct drive" from the engine and is not as strong. Simply put...

Now before you all start howling about how done it for years and years , been to Timbuktu and back, think about this.

You might well get away with it, and good luck to you if you can, but fourth gear is a stronger gear to tow in.

If you don't believe me, obtain the design specification on YOUR vehicle and have a look at the gear and bearing sizes for overdrive and compare them to fourth gear.

Happy travels
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Follow Up By: _gmd_pps - Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 20:24

Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 20:24
I agree partially.
My overdrive is a 5th and 6th gear and when I switch my auto tranny to tow mode the computer will not switch to 6th (Well never below 130 anyway.. and I have not been faster with my big boat trailer yet)
more importantly in tow mode the computer does not let the revs go under around 1700 (1800 with original tyres). Without tow mode the low revs in 6th are around 1450 with my larger tyres.
You can feel how the tranny is lugging when you go up a hgill in 6th at 1500 rev. I try to avoid that and put either the foot down or switch back manually with the electronic controls.

Common Australian 4WD are lacking all these controlls especially auto switch back when descelerating. My advise is not to ask too much torque in low revs from the tranny but as soon as you are over 2000 you should be right and probably out of 5th anyway.

EGT is a good indicator and you will see very precisely how much the engine has to woirk in low revs and high power demand. It's healthier to avoid that for both engine and tranny.

Same thing applies to sand and gravel driving. I always limit to 5th on gravel and 4th in sand which makes driving more responsive and faster to react when you need to keep up the momentum.

have fun
gmd

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Reply By: Gone Bush (WA) - Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 21:07

Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 21:07
I was going to post this info separately, but now it belongs here.

I just got back from a 1000klm return trip to the south coast of WA. Now here are my thoughts on towing in 5th gear (fwiw).

I have a current model TDV8 manual Cruiser trayback. I tow a Trakmaster van nudging 2500kg. I recently installed a Scangauge, which, amongst other things, can give me an instant fuel consumption readout in litres per 100k's.

A few weeks ago I rang Toyota to ask about towing in 5th. They are dead against it.

On the Old Coast Road back to Mandurah, mostly flat bitumen, I was sitting on 90k's in 5th at 2050rpm. Fuel consumption was 16.5 l/100k. Now 5th gear is a lazy, coasting overdrive gear. It is definitely on the wrong side of 1:1, so when you are towing, or putting any sort of load on it, you are definitely behind the 8 ball to start with.

Fourth gear is on the RIGHT side of 1:1 and makes the engine feel quite happy about handling a load. So I changed down to 4th, maintained 90kph, sitting on 2400rpm and guess what?

The fuel consumption was identical at 16.5 l/100k, despite the engine revving higher. You see, the gear ratio was making the job easier for the motor.

So if you are wary about towing in 5th, and I believe you are risking an expensive gearbox failure, you can, according to my very basic research above, tow in 4th and not suffer any increased fuel consumption.

cheers

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Reply By: Gone Bush (WA) - Monday, Feb 18, 2008 at 00:07

Monday, Feb 18, 2008 at 00:07
For those in this thread who see no danger in towing in 5th, look at Thread 54663 about gearbox problems.

There are a few posters swearing off towing in 5th.
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Follow Up By: Davo_60 - Monday, Feb 18, 2008 at 06:32

Monday, Feb 18, 2008 at 06:32
The issues refer to R151F, which is not a strong enough box in the first place.

Dave
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Reply By: Dunco (NSW) - Monday, Feb 18, 2008 at 17:04

Monday, Feb 18, 2008 at 17:04
I rang Toyota about this and received two replies from "experts"

Bottom line is DO NOT TOW in Overdrive.

D-4 will allow for the best gear and revs etc etc and the D-4 also allows normal engine braking.

And I have NO difference in fuel consumption as long as I don't sit on 120km/h :)

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Reply By: Member - DOZER- Wednesday, Feb 20, 2008 at 19:34

Wednesday, Feb 20, 2008 at 19:34
Bottom line is....5th gives more relaxed cruising.... but it is mostly in the head...try an economy run, and if you are 1km/l worse than towing in 4th, that will be all, and the motor wont wear our revving instead of labouring with more accelerator input......compare that to the $$$ of what if something goes wrong, plus the people it has happened to before, and its not worth doing.
Everyone has different skill levels as far as knowing when to change down....in power mode with a cruiser 4 speed auto it wont let it into od unless you are doing 100km/hr and when the accelerator goes down a little bit, its out of od....it does that for a reason. That gearbox lasts as long as the car if maintained.
Andrew
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Follow Up By: Gone Bush (WA) - Wednesday, Feb 20, 2008 at 20:43

Wednesday, Feb 20, 2008 at 20:43
Re economy, see my post above.
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Reply By: Member - DOZER- Thursday, Feb 21, 2008 at 08:26

Thursday, Feb 21, 2008 at 08:26
Kevandcol
To specifically answer your post, mechanically speaking, towing in 5th will wear the box out faster, as all the load is transmitted through the lay shaft and bearings that hold all the shafts. With 4th, it comes in the front and goes out the back like through a straight shaft.
If we are talking 80 series or later gearbox, you wont blow it up like the Mazda, as they have been engineered tough. Most complain about 5th being too high, but on the other side of the coin, they tow in 5th usually without a problem. Just be mindfull that the motor and box actually do more work pulling that gear, especially if it is a petrol, whose max torque is at 3500...so they actually fair better in 4th.
Andrew
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Reply By: oldtrack123 - Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 22:34

Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 22:34
Hi
I am enterested in any problems experienced with toyo hj75 gear box when towing in 5th.
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Follow Up By: Davo_60 - Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 07:52

Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 07:52
Hello Oldtrack

You would have the old H55F 5 speed. 5th gear tends to be a bit of a weak link due to the design and can fail. The box is good otherwise but towing anything heavy or uphill in 5th should probably be avoided.

Dave
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