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Old 06-20-2012, 08:08 PM   #1
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Flat Towing a FWD while Engine Idling, No Remco Pump

Here's some questions, I've yet to have answered:

Has anyone Flat Towed a Front Wheel Drive Transaxle vehicle while keeping the engine idling and in Neutral?

I've read about some cars being able to be towed like this with the engine running at idle to lubricate the transaxle, but for short distances.

If anyone has done this successful or otherwise, please chime in here.

My toad is a 2006 Scion xB Auto with the FWD transaxle. I have installed the Blue Ox Base Plates and Remco now has recently tested this combination with a Remco Lupe Pump setup.

I will be purchasing a Remco pump over the next few months but while talking to the rep there I asked if I could do the above without the Remco Pump and while at engine idling...the short answer was yes, but he obviously recommended the pump installation.

After I pushed the envelope again with the rep, the only possible issues were the transaxle fluid cooling, and obvious wasting fuel at idle.

While researching the Scion xB's transaxle U340E, which is also used in Toyota's Yaris brand, I discovered from a number of the 06 Scion xB gurus the xB 1.5L engine sips gas at warm idle to the tune of 0.15 gph...no misprint!

Conceivably, if this works, it would take about 4-6 hours of flat towing to burn only one gallon of gas!

So now you can see the reason for the questions...if it's ok to tow the xB with the above trans fluid cooled by the trans fluid being circulated through the pump and trans cooler with the engine idling, and the low fuel consumption, then it would sure be a significant savings compared to the purchase and installation of the Remco Lube Pump.

Since a Scan Gauge II or OBDII gauge will give the trans temp information from the xB's transaxle, it could be easily setup to be monitored from the RV drivers seat.

I do plan on the Remco installation, but this possibility peaked my interest.

Any thoughts, suggestions would be appreciated.
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Old 06-20-2012, 08:17 PM   #2
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Possibly the amount of fluid circulated at idle RPM would not be enough for a roadspeed of 50 or 60 mph. Pump circulation is controlled by engine RPM. I would bet that you could raise the RPM to about 1500 and be safe. Some engine control computers will limit the maximum RPM in neutral. Also, if it happened to flip into gear, the car would apply a fair amount of power and affect braking. A remote ignition kill would be wise.
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Old 06-20-2012, 09:22 PM   #3
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A bit off topic but worth it.
I was camping at Thornhill Broome beach in California which is right next to Pacific Coast Highway. I heard an exhaust sound, like a car with a loud exhaust coming down a hill. As the vehicle went by the campground I was astonished to see a VW Bug being towed by a pickup truck at about 60 mph with the VW still in gear. It sounded like it was turning about 5,00 RPM. Apparently the Pickup driver left the VW in gear by mistake and then never heard the thing roaring behind him !!!!!!!!
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Old 06-20-2012, 10:02 PM   #4
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Yes it is possible to do what you are asking. The chance of transmission damage is minimal since in neutral the clutch packs are disengaged and only the planetary gear shafts are turning and being lubricated. At an idle the amount of fluid flow will be sufficient to keep things cooled and lubricated.

This said, your real problem will be fuel dilution of the engine oil due to the prolonged idle time. Since this engine uses low tension, low friction piston rings the low engine rpm will not produce sufficient combustion pressures to force the rings against the cylinder walls. This will lead to increased fuel in the oil and accelerated wear on the bearing and cam lobe surfaces.
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Old 06-20-2012, 10:14 PM   #5
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I have done this with my Chrysler Town and Country minivan from St. Louis to NJ. I HAVE a Remco pump installed for it but with the heat coming off my DP and a small opening in the grill, the Remco pump could not cool the trans fluid enough. Other than having my wife drive the minivan, this was my only option.

A few things to consider regarding idling while towing:
- your odometer will record the miles while you tow which could reduce resale value if you intent to tow a lot.
- your brakes will have vacuum assist which means an aux braking system like a Brake Buddy will lock up your wheels when you brake in the MH.

I went through about a tank of gas while idling from St. Louis to NJ.
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Old 06-20-2012, 10:16 PM   #6
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I had a friend do this while towing a Ford E250 van behind a UHaul truck. Worked great until the van blew a radiator hose, engine over heated and finally locked up. Then the transmission packed up. He figured the hose broke pretty soon after he started out and he went for hours before stopping for fuel and finding the disaster. :-(
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Old 06-21-2012, 07:28 AM   #7
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Since there is a Remco kit for the vehicel. I would go that route and not chance the possible damage with an engine shutting down. The Remco pump is a lot less money than a rebuilt engine/transmission.

Ken
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Old 06-21-2012, 08:03 AM   #8
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I've towed my Honda Civic with the engine running to charge the battery.

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Old 06-21-2012, 09:05 AM   #9
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Some great feedback so far, thanks for relaying your experiences.

The comments regarding the extended idling times effecting the cylinders in the engine was a new consideration which I'll consider, plus the Brake Buddy locking up the brakes at idle under tow seems like a major concern since I use the Brake Buddy Vantage system...is there any solution for this?
How about changing from proportional to full braking on the Brake Buddy? It seems like two systems fighting each other...the xB is less than 2500 lbs so I could consider not using the Brake Buddy as an alternative.

Appears the Remco pump is the best alternative, just thought I'd "push the envelope" on this since I'd not read anything about the possibilities previously.

Any additional comments, or related experiences greatly appreciated.
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Old 06-21-2012, 09:12 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lllkrob View Post
Yes it is possible to do what you are asking. The chance of transmission damage is minimal since in neutral the clutch packs are disengaged and only the planetary gear shafts are turning and being lubricated. At an idle the amount of fluid flow will be sufficient to keep things cooled and lubricated.

This said, your real problem will be fuel dilution of the engine oil due to the prolonged idle time. Since this engine uses low tension, low friction piston rings the low engine rpm will not produce sufficient combustion pressures to force the rings against the cylinder walls. This will lead to increased fuel in the oil and accelerated wear on the bearing and cam lobe surfaces.
Is the last paragraph the reason for why I've read some car manufacturers recommend stopping every 50 - 100 miles and revving the idling engine during the toad mode?
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Old 06-21-2012, 10:26 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikeflyme View Post
Is the last paragraph the reason for why I've read some car manufacturers recommend stopping every 50 - 100 miles and revving the idling engine during the toad mode?

No, that is to increase the fluid pressure / volume being circulated in the transmission to provide additional lubrication. The Asian Warner model transmission in your Scion would not require this additional lubrication.

This is also an additional requirement to make it more of a PITA to tow this way and thus discourage this type of towing.
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Old 06-25-2012, 06:45 PM   #12
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Several years ago (in 1996) I did this exact thing.

I went to U-Haul to rent a dolly for the purpose of loading up my 1983 Buick Riveria ---- for the trip from Springfield Mo back up to northern iowa. When I told the U-haul folks what the car was they flat refused to rent me the dolly saying the car was too heavy. Maybe, because it is a full sized front wheel drive vehicle with the V-6 engine (yes, that is not a misprint, V-6).

Finally gave up and wanted then to rent a tow bar - well U-haul said the Riv was not towable 4 down and refused that request also.

I went to Pep Boys and bought a tow bar, went home and bolted the tow bar to the Riv front bumper using the bolts from the chrome bumper - then hooked the Riv up to the rear of my 1987 Chevy station wagon, plugged in the magnetic lights and then everything worked. The next morning we left then I started the Riv up and warmed her up a few minutes, then put it in neutral and left. 12 hours later we were in northern iowa and the gas gauge had not moved from full, car was still idling nicely and nothing wrong.

We drove the car several more years afterwards with no issues.

PS - the station wagon was the Chevy 307 with 140 HP. Believe it or not the old wagon towed that Riv rather nicely at highway speeds and it only sucked the mileage down to the middle teens....

Old adage ----- there is always a way to "Skin the cat".

Do I advocate this as a regular practice? No - but sometimes one must do what one must do.

God Bless

Bill
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Old 06-25-2012, 07:43 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Sepisllib View Post
Several years ago (in 1996) I did this exact thing.

I went to U-Haul to rent a dolly for the purpose of loading up my 1983 Buick Riveria ---- for the trip from Springfield Mo back up to northern iowa. When I told the U-haul folks what the car was they flat refused to rent me the dolly saying the car was too heavy. Maybe, because it is a full sized front wheel drive vehicle with the V-6 engine (yes, that is not a misprint, V-6).

Finally gave up and wanted then to rent a tow bar - well U-haul said the Riv was not towable 4 down and refused that request also.

I went to Pep Boys and bought a tow bar, went home and bolted the tow bar to the Riv front bumper using the bolts from the chrome bumper - then hooked the Riv up to the rear of my 1987 Chevy station wagon, plugged in the magnetic lights and then everything worked. The next morning we left then I started the Riv up and warmed her up a few minutes, then put it in neutral and left. 12 hours later we were in northern iowa and the gas gauge had not moved from full, car was still idling nicely and nothing wrong.

We drove the car several more years afterwards with no issues.

PS - the station wagon was the Chevy 307 with 140 HP. Believe it or not the old wagon towed that Riv rather nicely at highway speeds and it only sucked the mileage down to the middle teens....

Old adage ----- there is always a way to "Skin the cat".

Do I advocate this as a regular practice? No - but sometimes one must do what one must do.

God Bless

Bill

Thanks for the experience, Sepisllib, it appears it's possible on certain vehicles, caveats included. Interesting the Riv's idling didn't move the gas gauge off of Full.

Rep told me no problem with the overheat problem as the front of my xB's fascia has large openings for air input to the radiators, and the fan would possibly come on if the temps rose to where additional cooling of the radiators were needed.

Since the car is under 2500 lbs, I'm going to next toad it without the Brake Buddy and see how that goes.

During the test drive of 10 miles with a stop in between, the DW sat in the toad's PS and monitored the gauges and any new noises...DW stated there appeared to have some tugging from the xB, which I now know was caused by the Brake Buddy and a "too short" distance of the BB's arm to the brake pedal...all was ok after the round trip, but I didn't realize the BB's short arm length and the toad's brake system made for an overly sensitive tow with the engine idling in neutral.

Hadn't considered the toad's power-assist brakes playing into this, but it appears clear now where the "tugging" was coming from... the toad's braking pedal interacting with the Brake Buddy input.

So that should resolve itself when the Remco Pump is properly installed and engine off with the Brake Buddy adjusted with a longer arm adjustment for movement.
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Old 06-25-2012, 09:52 PM   #14
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If the engine temp gets over 180 I'd guess the oil dilution would not be that big a deal - the gas should boil off. But - at idle the engine makes minimum oil pressure and flow rate and it's generally not enough to adequately protect the cam and mains. That's why you see warranty disclaimers about police and taxi service.

Once and a while, no big deal, but if you towed a LOT you'll probably see reduced bearing and cam life.

That's why you hear race cars blipping the throttle on the grid and in the pits. It keeps the OP up while minimizing heat rise when sitting still.
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