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Old 02-10-2007, 08:42 AM   #1
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I have a 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee which I have used as a Tow Vehicle for my 2000# pop up for about 5 years. The engine is a 1 year old Jasper Remanufactured 318 V8 and the transmission is automatic. The Jeep has about 170K Miles. Because of the reputation of these transmissions I have the transmission checked every year before I start towing, so far no problems.
I have just ordered a new expandable which has an unloaded weight of 4100lbs. Loaded with water on board I expect to be at around 5000lbs. The Jeep is rated to pull up to 6500GVW.
I thought I would need an additional transmission cooler but my Camper Dealer says it's not needed.
Any Thoughts? Is there anything else I need to consider?
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Old 02-10-2007, 08:42 AM   #2
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I have a 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee which I have used as a Tow Vehicle for my 2000# pop up for about 5 years. The engine is a 1 year old Jasper Remanufactured 318 V8 and the transmission is automatic. The Jeep has about 170K Miles. Because of the reputation of these transmissions I have the transmission checked every year before I start towing, so far no problems.
I have just ordered a new expandable which has an unloaded weight of 4100lbs. Loaded with water on board I expect to be at around 5000lbs. The Jeep is rated to pull up to 6500GVW.
I thought I would need an additional transmission cooler but my Camper Dealer says it's not needed.
Any Thoughts? Is there anything else I need to consider?
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Old 02-10-2007, 01:40 PM   #3
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Lou,

Welcome to the IRV2 forum. Congrats on your first post.

When it comes to transmissions, any transmission, I think you would have a hard time finding anyone that has towed more than a little bit that would not tell you that a transmission temp gauge is worth its weight in gold.

Knowing your trans temp is always a good thing and darned important if you have a tranny that might be a little "iffy".

You are going to increase your trailer weight 250%. That is not an insignificant number. Get yourself some peace of mind and put in a trans temp gauge. If it never registers hot you will have confirmed your confidence in the transmission. If it ever does start to get hot you will know and be able to back off before damage is done; well worth it.

I have a question for you. Did you really mean GVW or are you talking about GCWR? The reason I ask is because GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) is the total amount of weight of the vehicle. Meaning its weight plus all its fluids, driver, passengers and cargo. GCWR is the Gross COMBINED Weight Rating for the vehicle weight plus what it is towing.

And another number you need to watch is the GAWR, Gross Axle Weight Rating. It is possible to be within all the other ratings and still exceed the rear axle weight rating. I've seen a number of Grand Cherokees pulling Pop Ups but I honestly do not recall seeing anything heavier.
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Old 02-10-2007, 04:17 PM   #4
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Thanks for the great tip.
I guess I wasn't correct on the terminology. The Jeep rating I was refering to was Maximum Towing Capacity. Since this Jeep was manufactured with the 318 V8 it's rating is 6500 lbs. Many of the Grand Cherokees were shipped with 6 Cly engines and those vehicles are rated for 5000 lbs as the Max Towing Capacity. The temp guage makes sense and I will definately add one. Any thought on beefing up the cooling? Does it have any negative effect when you are not towing?
Thanks again for the great tip.
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Old 02-10-2007, 06:40 PM   #5
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We towed our 1974 Apache pop-up (hard sides, no canvas) and fully loaded (we camped by the week) we were pushing 5K if not slightly over. I have a '95 Jeep Grand Cherokee 5.2L V-8 with Quadra-trac tranny no oil cooler. The pop-up didn't have brakes (a dog ate the wiring right off). It was pushing the limits of the Jeep. We have run hot during the summer (temps were in the 100's) pulling the pop-up up Monteagle Mtn (that really steep grade on I-24 just Northwest of Chattanooga). We pulled over to cool and continued on. We did flush the radiator and replaced the radiator cap because it was the wrong one after that trip. From Chattanooga pulled the pop-up over to Newport News VA with no problems (ran Hwy 76 across the top end of GA), pulled down to Cordele GA, no problems. We would run warm but never really hot like the one time going up Monteagle.
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Old 02-10-2007, 08:03 PM   #6
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It sounds like you haven't had any tranmission problems with you stock drivetrain setup. That's good news for me because I have pretty much the same setup. I rarely expect to haul water so I really expect to keep my traveling weight closer to 4500 lbs total but there are rare times when I will need to carry water therefore I am being cautious in my planning.
Because I have a fairly new engine with an upgraded radiator which was installed at the same time I don't have any worries about the engine overheating. My main concern is the drive train connected to the engine.
Thanks for sharing your experience with a similar vehicle and trailer weight with me.
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Old 02-10-2007, 08:25 PM   #7
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BTW, I have 215+K miles on my vehicle. No tranny probs yet! I drive it fast and hard... many 200 mile trips one way. It has amazed me how well the Jeep has held up with very little maintenance.
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Old 02-10-2007, 09:31 PM   #8
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There is no down-side to installing a A/T cooler, if done per instructions. Towing without one is like playing a Russian roulette with your wallet.
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Old 02-14-2007, 03:50 PM   #9
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If you opt not to go with a cooler, at the least install a transmission temperature gauge. Monitoring your tranny temp under different conditions will indicate if the further expense of a cooler is warranted.
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Old 02-14-2007, 06:54 PM   #10
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Welcome to IRV2. That will have your GC loaded pretty heavily and I'd add the tranny cooler and a tranny temp gauge.

Your MAXIMUM towing capacity is 6500# and based on a stripped vehicle, no cargo, no hitch and only a 150# driver. A "rule of thumb" is only use a loaded trailer weigh of no more than 80% of the max towing capacity or in your case 5200#. This will put you at your limits in theory. You really need to weigh you GC loaded for a trip with passengers and hitch. This is you laden vehicle weight or LVW. Your door sticker will list the GVWR and your manual should have the GCWR for that engine and axle.

GVWR - LVW = max loaded trailer hitch weight.
Normally hitch weight is 10 to 15% of the trailer weight.

GCWR - LVW = max loaded trailer weight.

The GC is a short wheelbase vehicle and has a high center of gravity. You want to get a good weight distributing hitch with sway control built in (Reese Dual Cam or Equal-I-Zer (brand, not type)) and a good brake controller. I prefer the Jordan202, but they are switching production now and may not be available. Next in line would be a Prodigy.

have fun...

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Old 02-15-2007, 05:54 AM   #11
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If you have ANY doubts an auxiliary cooler is warranted, take a look at the Transmission Fluid Temp vs. Transmission Life chart I posted recently:

http://www.casitaclub.com/forums/ind...showtopic=7698

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Old 02-21-2007, 07:58 PM   #12
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Thanks for all of the great input.
I contacted my transmission mechanic and asked for a quote to have an Aux Cooler and Temp Guage installed.
He agreed that both items are a good idea but informed me that my 96 Grand Cherokee already has the Transmission Temp sending unit installed and it triggers a flashing warning light in the dash. This warning appears prior to the temperature getting high enough to cause any damage so as long as I pull over if the warning light comes on there's no long term problem.
For now I am going to have the Aux Cooler installed and if the warning light ever appears then I will have the temp gage installed so I can monitor the temperature closely while towing.
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