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Discussion Starter #1
We just got a 2015 xle and had a hitch and wiring harness installed. Looking to tow a 6x12 trailer from MN to GA for a short term military move.

1st question! I know the van is rated to tow 3500lbs. Trailer is 1200. When talking to uhaul guy (where we are renting from) he mentioned checking to make sure the transmission can handle it. We will NOT be overloading because towing through the mountains sucks big time. Do I need to call a mechanic at the dealership to check on whether the transmission can handle it?

Question #2. I've always driven manual transmission cars. This is my first automatic transmission vehicle, and first time hauling with automatic transmission. Tips, or tricks? I know the van has a manual shift option, but I have no clue how to utilize it due to shifting indicators being different from what I am used to. I relied on engine braking heavily, last time we drove through the mountains and need to know how best to help the transmission of the van while also hopefully utilizing manual shifting for engine brake assistance when needed. Any resources for that?
Hope this hasn't been covered already.
Thanks!


PS, Is there such a thing as a manual Toyota suv or truck. I very much miss my manual transmission. ?
 

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The vehicle is rated for 3500 lbs with no additional modifications needed. The transmission is up to the task and doesn't needed additional cooling, etc.

There should be no issues towing a 1200 lb trailer, you probably won't even notice that it is back there.
 

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The 6x12 U-Haul trailer weighs more than 1,200 pounds empty.

A 6x12 open U-Haul trailer weighs 1,730 lbs: https://www.uhaul.com/Trailers/6x12-Utility-Trailer-Rental/RO/

A 6x12 enclosed U-Haul cargo trailer weighs 1,920 lbs:


Regardless of which type it is and how much you put in it, you are definitely going to feel it behind your Sienna. U-Haul trailers have surge brakes. Follow the hookup instructions carefully - here's a video: https://www.uhaul.com/Articles/Tips/2/How-To-Hook-Up-A-Braked-U-Haul-Trailer/

Check the condition of the trailer and it's lights and tires before you accept it. Get a spare tire if possible. The condition of U-Haul trailers can be poor from my experience. When I helped a friend get a U-Haul trailer for a 500 mile one-way trip a few years ago, we didn't find a single trailer in the size she needed with safe tires at the first U-Haul location we went to and the U-Haul operator was unable to rectify the situation. All the tires had severe side wall cracking and some leaked when inflated to the recommended pressure. We had to go to another U-Haul location 10 miles away to find a trailer with good tires.

If you're renting a 6x12 enclosed trailer, you'll easily be at 2,500 lbs loaded unless you are carrying a load of inflated birthday balloons.

Pay attention to U-Haul's recommended 55 mph speed limit. Reduce speed further on steep downhill slopes. Carry a tire pump ... a really good one is an AC/DC Kobalt: https://www.lowes.com/pd/Kobalt-12-Volt-And-120-Volt-AC-Voltage-Air-Inflator-Power-Source-Car/1000092575

Buy a cheap 12V extension cord if the pump's DC cord isn't long enough to reach from your Sienna's 12V port to the trailer's tires. You don't want to have to unhitch the trailer to pump up its tires.

Verify that you have a lug wrench that fits the trailer wheel lug nuts. At least these are tandem axle trailers - you are more likely to be able to limp to a repair facility if you have a flat tire.

Check trailer tire pressures occasionally during the trip - ain't no TLMS on a U-Haul trailer. That Kobalt tire pump I referenced has a built in pressure gauge.
 

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@Geezer1 Thanks for the info. They gave me the weight for the 5x10 apparently. Good thing I posted here and you saw it. I'll definitely be sure to go have a look at all the trailers before I sign off on them. We did the same kind of move to GA before. Basically took clothes/uniforms and mattresses. Looking to pack a max amount of 1200-1500.
I'll definitely get the air pump you mentioned. Just because we've done the drive 2x before doesn't mean it'll go smoothly both ways this time
Thanks for all the tips. Cross country moves suck. Especially with 2 kids and a huge German Shepherd in the van with me. ?
 

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Obviously this is not your first rodeo but here's a link to instructions on loading a U-Haul trailer including how to minimize the dreaded sway: https://www.uhaul.com/Articles/Tips/122/Trailer-User-Instructions/

1200 to 1500 pounds of cargo computes to a gross trailer weight of 3,120 to 3,420 pounds which is getting close to the Sienna's maximum towing capacity rating. You're going to REALLY notice that trailer behind you. Expect a big increase in fuel usage.

Shipping weight allocations for TDY moves are ridiculously low to the point of insulting.
 

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@Geezer1 Oh yes, we have packing down to a fine art. Thank God I've never had to deal with the dreaded sway.

Looking at actual trailer weights (instead of relying on employee knowledge) and considering costs of buying a mattress or two and a couch, I'm definitely going to suck it up and go with a 5x8. Just not in the mood for yet another white knucked drive through the mountains (let alone risking the lives of my kids, dog and myself).

Yup, thanks to reserves it's a pcs tdy move. So all costs come out of our pocket. But, considering that deployments tend to follow these GA schools, I'll suck it up. Being together as a family is pretty much priceless.
 

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The 5x8 is worse because it doesn't have brakes. The surge brakes are nice to have. I pulled a 6x12 UHell trailer with our 2007 Sienna as part of a move (albeit on flat ground), including a motorcycle in it, and it did great. Furniture and household items really don't weigh all that much given the space they take up.

And a lug wrench won't do you any good as UHell trailers don't come with spare tires. Another reason to stick with the 6x12, since that one has tandem axles.

When towing in the mountains, use the same gear to go down as you used to go up.

-Mike





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@floridanative
I am most concerned about braking and getting back up the crazy grades in the mountains of Tennessee and GA. Last time, the 5x8 pushed my Saturn down and it was NOT a good situation. Only thing that saved it from being complete fubar was that my Saturn was manual. How do surge brakes function on a trailer? Never pulled one that had them.
 

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The 5x8 has no brakes at all. The 6x12 (and I think the 5x10 also) has surge brakes. Surge brakes are way better than no brakes, especially in the mountains.

Surge brakes work with a two piece coupler on the trailer. When the trailer pushes against front of the coupler (that is attached to the ball on the van) it applies the brakes in the trailer. The brakes are hydraulic with the master cylinder on the coupler.

So... when you are accelerating or going a constant speed, or going up a hill, the van is pulling on the trailer and the trailer brakes are off. When you slow down or are going down a hill, the trailer is pushing on the van and it puts the trailer brakes on.

They are common on rentals because they don't require any extra connections or setup on the tow vehicle. I am used to electric trailer brakes (which operate completely differently), but found the surge brakes better than I expected. I thought they would be very jerky but it wasn't too bad.

If towing in the mountains and you're worried about it, definitely get a trailer that has brakes.

-Mike

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Just not in the mood for yet another white knucked drive through the mountains (let alone risking the lives of my kids, dog and myself).
Assuming you are going to Ft. Benning from central MN, maybe go through Iowa City and St. Louis turning east at Memphis to Birmingham. I think you would avoid the worst hills and the travel time doesn't look much different per Google map estimates.

I rarely think about it but I left the Army almost 47 years ago - pretty much discharged myself over my superior's objections! Be sure to get the military discount if you buy that Kobalt air compressor at Lowes: https://www.lowes.com/mylowes/login?context=military
 

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Assuming you are going to Ft. Benning from central MN, maybe go through Iowa City and St. Louis turning east at Memphis to Birmingham. I think you would avoid the worst hills and the travel time doesn't look much different per Google map estimates.

I rarely think about it but I left the Army almost 47 years ago - pretty much discharged myself over my superior's objections! Be sure to get the military discount if you buy that Kobalt air compressor at Lowes: https://www.lowes.com/mylowes/login?context=military
Fort Gordon actually. Every time I play with Google maps I am not able to avoid some of the mountains. We are going down through Illinois and stopping there for a night before driving the last half.
I'll have to play around with Google maps again and see what I can figure out.

Yeah... I had a vision of only being married to the army for a few years. Somehow that changed to 13 years. Now it makes no sense for him to leave with 15 years in. Funny how that works. ?
Thanks for serving. Seems that hardly anyone can make it these days.. which is sobering.
 

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Read the manual. It's the best advice on towing, IMHO.
 

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. Every time I play with Google maps I am not able to avoid some of the mountains. We are going down through Illinois and stopping there for a night before driving the last half.
I'll have to play around with Google maps again and see what I can figure out.
Old thread, but for the benefit of anyone following up: Use MapQuest to figure out routes. It's far better. You can just drag the route over to another highway and it will reroute. It's not better for the actual drive-time navigation, but for pre-planning, it's much better.

I hope Ann made it okay.
 
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