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I have an '09 Sport with complete towing package, not just the prep package. We bought it to tow a camper. The Rav4 is rated for towing at 3500 lbs. with the complete towing package. I bought an R-pod trailer and it was essentially empty bringing it home which was probably a 80 mile drive with minimal hills. But any incline made a huge difference in the performance of the vehicle. I typically cruise at 70 mph without the trailer at 1900 RPM's and I get close to 30 mpg. Towing the trailer, driving at 60 mph my RPM's doubled or close to 3800 RPM and my gas mileage dropped to around 12 mpg. I should mention that the trailer is rated at 2039 lbs. and it is relatively aerodynamic. There was little to no wind that day. My temperature gauge did not budge, however, something smelled a little hot, which I assume was the transmission. Any thoughts? I just joined the forum in an attempt to get some answers. I should also mention that the Rav 4 was previously owned by a couple of ladies on Drummond Island and only has 46K miles on it. The vehicle is in immaculate condition.

Thank you in advance for any help.
 

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Your Humble Administrator
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If you're serious about towing, I would recommend changing the transmission fluid and adding an auxiliary transmission cooler.
 

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Below is a quote from a Toyota document. I don't think it is correct as it states that the tow prep package has this. But I think only the full tow package have these features which includes the transmission cooler.

"Tow prep package includes larger radiator, fan coupling, transmission oil cooler, and 150A alternator (V6 only)"

But thank you for your response. Could problem be a result of older transmission fluid only?
 

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I agree with JuneBug to get an aftermarket transmission cooler installed. Also change your transmission fluid more frequently. It does not take much to over heat the transmission pulling a heavy trailer especially when you load it up and driving during very hot weather . Also use a lower gear. I hope you are adding trailer brakes.

As for the gas mileage it will be very poor. I read a pickup truck can get better fuel economy while towing than the RAV4 even.
 

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The towing prep package was an optional factory install for generation 3 RAV4 V6s and included a higher capacity radiator and alternator, and an under-dash towing wiring harness connector. Anything more than that was aftermarket, either dealer installed or installed by someone else. As mentioned the towing capacity for the U.S. is 3500 lbs. which is the total capacity including the necessary hardware. Towing more than 600 lbs. Toyota says that a trailer brake controller is needed. Your RAV's behavior while towing the 2039 lbs. trailer(maybe somewhat more than that) seems to be normal, and towing that weight will decrease gasoline mileage considerably. If you suspect that the transmission was overheating the fluid can be inspected for signs of having been hot, such as a burnt smell and fluid appearing burnt. It is recommended that when towing that sort of weight the transmission should be allowed to shift to no higher than 4th gear. As JuneBug notes you may wish to install a supplemental transmission cooler, especially if you note a problem with the transmission fluid.
 

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Below is a quote from a Toyota document. I don't think it is correct as it states that the tow prep package has this. But I think only the full tow package have these features which includes the transmission cooler.

"Tow prep package includes larger radiator, fan coupling, transmission oil cooler, and 150A alternator (V6 only)"

But thank you for your response. Could problem be a result of older transmission fluid only?
I don't know what document you're quoting from, but it's wrong. There is NO "full tow package", at least not from the factory. The tow prep package includes a larger radiator, fan coupling with ECM, 140A alternator, and a fused wire that terminates under the dash. The alternator has a 140A fuse, and the transmission cooler is part of the radiator. I would recommend an auxiliary cooler and also use the Torque app to monitor your transmission temperature.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
tow package confusion

I guess I was wrong with the interpretation of the tow package, the proof is n the behavior of my vehicle. I bought it from a GM dealer and they lead me to believe that it was a complete package. It was my understanding that the tow prep package was one that was ready to accept aftermarket devices and that the tow package meant that it was all set to go. Thanks for your comments, I will upgrade. I also have the R-Pod sold and have bought a smaller, lighter fiberglass trailer.
 

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I tow a 1952lb Popup Trailer with my 07 Sport. It does very well and even though the book indicates keeping the transmission in 4rth gear I keep mine id "D" while on the flats and then shift down when approaching anything of an incline. I find this maximizes my poor fuel economy. When my Rav is dead I am actually switching over to a F150 5.0. Hate the idea of going domestic but as I plan on towing a lot figure it is best to upgrade to something that can easily handle it. What I found interesting/frustrating is, unloaded the 5 liter F150 when driven sensibly is getting the same fuel mileage as My Rav does now and it will even be a bit better when towing this kind of weight as it is designed for a much higher load.
 

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The factory oil cooler is a joke, I would get 195F temps in normal driving, and 240F+ towing,

with my aftermarket cooler, I dropped the temps by about 25F, still change the fluid once a year.

fuel consumption doubles when I tow my travel trailer, so that's normal.
 

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My experience, altho it was only one trip, 1650 miles in AK towing a Scamp-style camper with my BIL's '08 V6 RAV4, was very similar to Octane's and Canon101's.

Towing at an average of 55mph gave 15mpg, about half of normal. The power of the V6 does make it tempting to go faster but I'm sure it would've dropped much lower had we done that. We manually downshifted when conditions warranted to keep the transmission from hunting.

By comparison my F-250 with truck camper and towing my 20' trailer gets 11mpg at 68mph and probably would get 15mpg at 55. But it's designed for towing & hauling and only gets 18mpg empty.

Oil temps weren't a concern only because temps on the Dalton Highway rarely hit 50F - and that's in August! I'm sure summertime towing in the lower 48 or "outside" as the Alaskans call us, would require more cooling.
 

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There's no "tow package" option for 4th gen Rav4s that I'm aware of, just a factory receiver hitch.
 

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The tow prep package was only available for the 4.3 V6 RAV4, raising the rated towing capacity to 3,500 pounds.

If the V6's alternator fuse is 140A, you have the tow prep package. If it is 120A, you do not.

.
 

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The larger fuse is because the 4.3s with the tow package have a larger alternator as when towing there are additional loads placed on the charging system due to trailer lights and some trailer braking systems.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Towing problems

Thanks again for all the info. The quote I posted was from a Toyota publication. It was a nine page document Rav4 Information sheet that I downloaded. I swear there was a difference between a tow prep package and what I felt was a complete or full tow package, but I am getting old and maybe I'm mistaken. I called a dealer today, but did not have my VIN available. He said when I have that, he can give me a quote on an aftermarket cooling system. The trailer I bought is in New Mexico so I won't chance going there without the appropriate upgrades.
 

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As several have explained the factory tow prep package adds electrical and cooling items but DOES NOT include the big metal hitch receiver mounted under the rear of the car, the wiring for trailer lights or brakes, or a brake controller which are needed to be tow ready. If yours has all that it was added by a dealer or towing shop. Toyota sells a kit with the hitch receiver and wiring but not the electric brake controller. Many members including me use aftermarket hitch receivers.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Mine does have the 140A fuse, I also have what appears to be the termination of wiring under the dash. I spoke with Toyota this morning and the larger radiator with two fans is a single unit, so Octane was correct in that the transmission cooler is a joke. Toyota stated I needed to go after market with an auxiliary tranny cooler. Any suggestions on brands or where to buy? My receiver hitch is rated for the towing capacity, so I should be fine there. Octane is probably aware of the Trillium 4500 trailer that I bought right after I was disappointed with towing the R-Pod. They are rare in the states, but I found one 24 hours from me in New Mexico. It will be lighter and more aerodynamic. Thanks again for the help.
 

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The Trillium 4500 looks very similar to The Scamp/Castia we towed in AK. You'll need a brake controller with a 7-round connector trailer connector and want the wiring to include 12V power to the camper to keep its battery charged. Another tip: We unplugged the trailer connector overnight so the RAV4's battery wouldn't get drained.
 
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