Towing in Overdrive

copperbear

Member
Sep 26, 2011
55
I recently came across a discussion about NOT towing a trailer when the car is in overdrive. I have a 2004 Pontiac Vibe that I tow a Taos with. Plus, there was even discussion...the car really isnt designed to pull a trailer...even though the owners manual says 1500lbs is ok. Any feedback guys? Thks
 

adrianpglover

Super Active Member
Jul 8, 2014
1,525
Texas
On towing capacities, go to a truck scale and weigh your setup. One with and once without the camper attached. Do the math to figure out your GCWR, GVWR, GAWRs, and TW to make sure you're within the limits listed in your TV manual and on the label in the driver door opening.

I did this and found out I was over in both TW and GCWR when loaded for camping.

As for overdrive, every manufacturer has different recommendations so read your TV manual.
 

Customer

Super Active Member
Jun 5, 2014
2,435
My Aliner weighs just under 2,000 pounds and I have towed it around 20,000 miles with a 2009 Pontiac Vibe 1.8L.

For anyone unaware, the Vibe is a Toyota Matrix under the Pontiac skin.

If the transmission is regularly shifting up and down, keep it out of overdrive. I use OD everywhere except secondary mountain roads.
 

copperbear

Member
Sep 26, 2011
55
WOW........and u havent had any issues? I know they are only rated for 1500 lbs...and mines kinda seems to stuggle at times. I cant imagine in hilly areas(Iam in Fl...all flat) , 20,000 miles!!!!!! U must have been almost everywhere twice!! Next time ..I will try with OD off...too see if it handles any easier. I really just go to locla places close to home..so...Thks for the info.
 

davido

Super Active Member
Jul 17, 2014
1,347
copperbear said:
I recently came across a discussion about NOT towing a trailer when the car is in overdrive. I have a 2004 Pontiac Vibe that I tow a Taos with. Plus, there was even discussion...the car really isnt designed to pull a trailer...even though the owners manual says 1500lbs is ok. Any feedback guys? Thks

Does the owners manual also have a suggestion on whether or not to tow in Overdrive?

Wikipedia describes Overdrive as follows:

The most fundamental meaning is that of an overall gear ratio between engine and wheels, such that the car is now over-geared and can no longer reach its potential top speed, i.e. the car could travel faster if it were in a lower gear, with the engine turning more quickly.[1] The purpose of such a gear may not be immediately obvious. The power produced by an engine increases with the engine's speed to a maximum, then falls away. The point of maximum power is somewhat slower than the absolute maximum speed to which the engine is limited, the "redline" speed. A car's speed is limited by the power available to drive it against air resistance — so the maximum possible speed is obtained at the engine's point of maximum power, or power peak, and the gear ratio necessary to achieve this will be the single ratio between these two speeds. As the power needed increases dramatically at high speeds, most cars will be capable of achieving a fast cruising speed slightly less than their maximum, but with far less power being required. This power is available well below the engine's power peak and so the ideal cruising gear is an overdrive gear, a ratio higher than that for absolute top speed.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overdrive_%28mechanics%29)

Per that description, Overdrive just means that the gear runs the engine at lower RPM for a typical cruising speed, and that this range may not be optimal for the vehicle reaching its top speed, but is optimized for fuel economy at the expense of power.

That being the case, assuming there is adequate power to pull the trailer in overdrive at the desired cruising speed, and if its use doesn't cause excessive shifting (which can overheat and overwear the transmission), using Overdrive should be fine. But the term "Overdrive" is used differently by different manufacturers, so it's probably worth checking the owner's manual to verify that there is no prohibition against using Overdrive while towing.

My old Ford Bronco (may it rest in peace) was happy to tow a 3800 pound boat/trailer in overdrive unless I was in hilly terrain. In the hills, I preferred to shift it out of OD. My current Chevy Traverse doesn't have a gear named "overdrive", but it does have a six-speed automatic transmission. And it has a "Tow Mode" button. One of the effects of this button is to alter shift patterns for more power. And when in "tow mode", I've never seen it drop into 6th gear; it stays in 5th.
 

vinmaker

Super Active Member
Aug 22, 2014
862
I think it would be best to avoid overdrive during those few times you tow the unit. Best to be safe.
 
Mar 4, 2014
36
According to the owners manual on our truck you only have to lock out overdrive (6th) if it constantly hunts - as long as the vehicle stays in overdrive while towing on-grade it is recommended that you let it do so for better MPG (this is specifically stated in the manual.) While I can lockout any given gear if needed, so far I have not had any issues towing in 6th, even up long, steep grades. Obviously my experience is anecdotal and based on our truck/camper combo, but since my transmission temperatures have stayed well within the acceptable temperature limits and I have not seen excessive hunting when towing our camper up steep grades I plan on continuing to use 6th while towing.

- Randy

[ALPU] [PUT]
 




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