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I was planning to tow a 6x12 ft. Uhaul trailer, class 3, so I bought online a square tube, Rigid mfr. hitch receiver for our 2010, 3.8L Sienna. The webpages and the included 32nd generation photocopy instructions assured me it should install with no problems. The Rigid did not fit the seat wells in front of the rear bumper; too tight side to side. After I had a local shop use a lift to force fit the hitch, I found the welds on the rectangular cross beam cracked and the receiver hanging 2.75 inches below the rear bumper. Disgusted, I came to this forum and found that the tubular design Curt hitch was much better made with pictures to prove a better fit. Bought it on Etrailer, it fit like a glove, all the right mechanical clearances and the receiver was up against the bumper. I will not even try to second sell the Rigid hitch to anyone.

Before the trip, I received some advise which proved to be solid. The Nissan mechanic specifed: 1. Stay out of overdrive. Put the automatic transmission select in 4th gear and drive under 55mph, no airconditioner. 2. Unless on a flat run, no cruise control. Get in the right hand lane and use the Haz blinkers if on a steep slope. 3. Lights on while driving, day or night. 4. When stopping for gas and pee break, idle the engine for 10 to 15 minutes to cool the trans down to less than road pulling heat.

I did 1543 miles in three days (DC to Columbus, OH to Charlottesville, VA and back to DC), daytime temperatures in the 60s, with some six and 8 percent slopes in West Virginia that allowed 32 mph with the engine at 2100 rpm, 3rd gear. Guesstimated trailer total load around 4200 lbs. I'm now a believer in this advise. Of course, the cool weather helped to the point of no comparison with summer driving, but I'll do it this way in the future. Hope it helps you.
 

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Ming,

A few things to note:
1) It's a 3.5L, not a 3.8
2) You need to take a close look at a few of these threads to determine whether your 3.5 has the engine oil cooler installed that qualified it to tow up to a maximium of 3500 lbs. Without that oil cooler, you are limited to 1200 lbs.
This is the short version where we cut right to the chase on the 2008-2010 vans with the 3.5L engine.
http://www.siennachat.com/forum/69-towing-hauling/9372-sienna-2009-towing-question.html Post #7 has some pictures, but you might not be sure exactly what they are referring to.

This is the long version that also includes info on the earlier Gen 2 vans with the 3.3L motor. If you go to post #30 in this thread, you will see a bright silver disk peeking out from under the exhaust cover: http://www.siennachat.com/forum/95-...ienna-gen-ii-towing-capacity-2004-2010-a.html Compare this to the other thread's photos for clarification.

Basically, my fancy hitch is reduced to use for a bike carrier and a cargo tray. I didn't even bother doing the lights as it is not really a tow-capable vehicle as currently equipped. Adding this feature is quite expensive and not easy. Toyota's new filter makes the old method of adding a cooler impossible.
 

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The Nissan mechanic specifed: 1. Stay out of overdrive. Put the automatic transmission select in 4th gear and drive under 55mph, no airconditioner. 2. Unless on a flat run, no cruise control. Get in the right hand lane and use the Haz blinkers if on a steep slope. 3. Lights on while driving, day or night. 4. When stopping for gas and pee break, idle the engine for 10 to 15 minutes to cool the trans down to less than road pulling heat.

I did 1543 miles in three days (DC to Columbus, OH to Charlottesville, VA and back to DC), daytime temperatures in the 60s, with some six and 8 percent slopes in West Virginia that allowed 32 mph with the engine at 2100 rpm, 3rd gear. Guesstimated trailer total load around 4200 lbs. I'm now a believer in this advise. Of course, the cool weather helped to the point of no comparison with summer driving, but I'll do it this way in the future. Hope it helps you.
These things may all be reasonable advice when towing 700 lbs over the vehicle's limit, especially if the van is loaded with passengers and cargo as well. For me, they don't make so much sense.
  1. You can put the transmission selector in 4 or 5, but the transmission will operate in 4th gear (or lower) almost all the time anyway. There's nothing special about "overdrive".
  2. I agree that cruise control is generally pointless when heavily loaded. I towed a U-Haul 6x12 through the mountains of British Columbia (highway slopes up to 8%) and was never forced to go so slowly that hazard flashers were appropriate... but I had only loaded it to about 3500 lb, plus stuff in the van. Those U-Haul cargo trailers are low and narrow compared to travel trailers of similar loaded weight, so they are not very hard to pull.
  3. Here in Canada, everyone has Daytime Running Lights. Driving with all lights (including tail lights) on all the time is fine, but I've never been a hazard on the road with our Sienna and a trailer so that I thought extra lighting was appropriate.
  4. I see no point in idling the engine - and certainly not for 10 minutes or more - to avoid heat soak. This reminds me of the old guys in RV parks who idle their diesel pickup trucks for long periods, because a couple decades ago that was required to avoid cooking turbocharger bearings.
I don't know why people hold up highway traffic by climbing grades at very low speed. At 2100 rpm, the engine is still well below even its torque peak, and only one third of redline. I climb those grades at 70 km/h (44 mph) or more, never exceeding about 4000 rpm for any sustained period. On lesser grades (such as only 6%), I generally just keep to the speed limit (90 km/h or 55 mph on most B.C. highways).
 

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  1. I see no point in idling the engine - and certainly not for 10 minutes or more - to avoid heat soak. This reminds me of the old guys in RV parks who idle their diesel pickup trucks for long periods, because a couple decades ago that was required to avoid cooking turbocharger bearings.
Actually, this is the point that I would actually support. I had an Isuzu Rodeo and did much towing. My tranny went after a very long return trip in which I had simply turned off the car....it essentially overheated because all the cooling systems were turned off as well.

So yes, if you have done a long trip...leave your vehicle running so that the tranny cooler can continue circulating and cooling. Otherwise, the heat can boil the fluids and you'll come out to a large puddle of fluid under your vehicle. And a few thousand dollar repair bill.

Now mind you, I'm talking about a long haul trip. Not sure if it's an issue with a 1 hour drive unless you're pulling an overload.
 
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