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Hello,
We have recently purchased a 20ft Visa Gulf Stream trailer camper, dry weight 2840. Our 2008 has a towing packing (3500 max). Our rav has 111,000 miles. We have installed a brake controller and will be installing an anti-sway bar and distribution hitch. We drove the camper home with no issues and RAV handled it great. It is definitely a large camper compared to the RAV. My husband assures me we are fine towing, but I am curious of any feedback others may have towing with their RAV and this size camper. When we hooked up the trailer and measured the results it had 7/8in sag in the back and 3/8in lift in the front. My husband was really impressed with this. I will note, we live in the Midwest and plan to do most of our camping local (farthest trip planned is about 200mi away). Thank you in advance.
 

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If the Visa Gulf Stream is a full height camper you'll need to keep your speed down and probably add a transmission oil cooler to keep from overheating.
 
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If the Visa Gulf Stream is a full height camper you'll need to keep your speed down and probably add a transmission oil cooler to keep from overheating.
Congratulations on the new camper! I second Doc’s suggestion. There are a number of threads on here about external transmission coolers. If you’re in an area that gets winter (real freezing temps) the members strongly recommend getting an external cooler with a low-temperature automatic bypass - lets the fluid bypass the cooler until it’s warmed up.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
On the 130 mile drive home from picking it up, 60 miles an hour seem to be a sweet spot. Once we got over that, it was really clear by how the vehicle handled.

As far as a transmission cooler, my research has led me to believe that the towing package includes one. It is a full height camper and the gas mileage certainly reflects that.
 

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On the 130 mile drive home from picking it up, 60 miles an hour seem to be a sweet spot. Once we got over that, it was really clear by how the vehicle handled.

As far as a transmission cooler, my research has led me to believe that the towing package includes one. It is a full height camper and the gas mileage certainly reflects that.
The towing package does include one, but many members have reported high temps before installing an aftermarket one. You can go without, but it’s certain to shorten the transmission fluid life. The factory unit is about the size of a hockey puck and in fact acts more like a fluid warmer than a cooler.
 

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The towing package does include one, but many members have reported high temps before installing an aftermarket one. You can go without, but it’s certain to shorten the transmission fluid life. The factory unit is about the size of a hockey puck and in fact acts more like a fluid warmer than a cooler.
Actually, the hockey puck transmission cooler was only on the I4 models. The V6 comes with a larger (thicker) radiator, and the transmission cooler is built in to it on one side.
 

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Hello,
We have recently purchased a 20ft Visa Gulf Stream trailer camper, dry weight 2840. Our 2008 has a towing packing (3500 max). Our rav has 111,000 miles. We have installed a brake controller and will be installing an anti-sway bar and distribution hitch. We drove the camper home with no issues and RAV handled it great. It is definitely a large camper compared to the RAV. My husband assures me we are fine towing, but I am curious of any feedback others may have towing with their RAV and this size camper. When we hooked up the trailer and measured the results it had 7/8in sag in the back and 3/8in lift in the front. My husband was really impressed with this. I will note, we live in the Midwest and plan to do most of our camping local (farthest trip planned is about 200mi away). Thank you in advance.
I think I've read here that you be in 4th gear when towing and not Drive.
Ott.
 

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As far as a transmission cooler, my research has led me to believe that the towing package includes one.
Toyota didn't add a transmission cooler (like Ford did on my Explorer), it just slightly oversized the existing cooler. The core thickness is 7/8" on normal and 1.02" on Tow Package.

I am planning to add one, on my RAV4, that has a low flow resistance (low pressure drop). Where I live (southern VA) there are no cold temperatures and, since I replaced the transmission fluid with synthetic fluid, I would not need a temperature bypass. That might add a pressure drop.
IMO, adding too much of a pressure drop means lowering the trans fluid pressure and that stress the transmission. There is a safety reserve in the pressure regulator, but... I prefer to play it safe.
Lowest pressure drop are stacked plate cooler. Pricier but... A tube&fin type has low pressure too, but is less efficient (needs to be bigger). Probably, as additional cooler, tube&fin is enough for our application. Something like Hayden Automotive 514.
More info:


PS: I would change the transmission fluid immediately in your RAV4. Manual says to do it often when towing.
My fluid was a dark violet color (instead of red) at 70k miles: 2011 RAV4 Limited - SoNic67's Journal
 

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I recommend an aftermarket transmission cooler and changing the transmission oil every 20,000 miles. To address the sag in the back install Toyota coil springs made for the 3rd row model.
 

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I think I've read here that you be in 4th gear when towing and not Drive.
Ott.
I was going to mention that too. But the main factor is not letting the transmission hunt gears and have the torque converter unlocked which generates max heat.
When we towed a Scamp (upright fiberglass) trailer from Anchorage to Prudhoe Bay with my BIL's '08 V6 RAV4 at speeds around 55 mph we'd use 4th on the level, and lock it in 3rd ASA it downshifted on uphills. 5th was reserved for 60 mph downhills. Didn't add any cooling and had no issues, but then the temps were mostly in the 50s (in August). Fuel mileage was cut in half.
 
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I was going to recommend the 4th gear trick too. RPM's at 60 mph will increase from 1800 to 2300 or so, but that's good for the input shaft pump and the torque converter.

And on 50's outside temps indeed no need for a cooler, but if your are in the 90's (like it was here today), the air above pavement is at 110F (stop-and-go traffic) and you are crawling... you want that peace of mind.
 

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I have a 2007 RAV4 V6 AWD. I have towed campers a little bit, but I have way more miles towing a utility trailer. I have a 6x12 enclosed utility trailer, sadly with a very flat front.

I can echo some advice already given, but add to it. On the highway, if you find it shifting up and down on level road, you either need to shift down to 4, or slow down to reduce wind resistance. For slowing down, you need to slow down until it stops downshifting. But if you reach too slow a speed, that's a choice made for you - 4th gear it is.

I have the stock towing package, no additional cooler. I've towed some pretty heavy loads. The very first load - RAV4 brand new and trailer brand new - my wife loaded the trailer and put everything heavy up front instead of balancing the load. When I hitched up, as I cranked the trailer leg up, it just pushed the RAV4 down until the springs were bottomed out! Empty trailer and reload, mixed with much grumbling. So with that heavy load a little better balanced, off for the first trip, part of our move from MN back to MI, a trip of 700 miles one way. Then back. 4 round trips in the first month.

Over 13 years and over 210,000 miles later, still driving the RAV4 for my daily vehicle, still using the same utility trailer occasionally.

One time I towed another vehicle over 50 miles! I bought an older Geo Tracker, complete with tow bar, to be used as a toad behind our RV.

A few years later, we moved again, this time only 3 miles, moving further away from the city. To save some trips, I towed the Tracker with the RAV4 again ... while the Tracker was towing a small trailer.

153976
 

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A few years later, we moved again, this time only 3 miles, moving further away from the city. To save some trips, I towed the Tracker with the RAV4 again ... while the Tracker was towing a small trailer.

View attachment 153976
It's amazing how that Tracker can push the RAV4 while towing the trailer. :rolleyes:
 
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