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I'm in the middle of a 5,000 mile road trip pulling a 4300 lb trailer with my 2018 RT-L. I installed a Scan Gauge II for the trip so I could monitor transmission temps.

I am NOT a car geek and am relatively new to towing. This is the second season towing (last year the trailer was around 800 lbs lighter). My trip takes me up and down the Rockies, Sierra's, California Coastal Range, and the Cascades. . . lots of up and down - some of it long and shallow, some of it steep.

Coming through California last week, the outside temps were around 100 degrees. The tranny temps topped out in the mid-230 Fahrenheit range going up the steep coastal mountains. I've read that transmission temps over 200 degrees decrease the life expectancy, and that for every 20 degrees over 200, you cut the life expectancy significantly.

The temps drop back to 215 or so relatively quickly after the grades relax, and eventually drop below 200 once I start down the mountains. Are these temps normal while towing? Is there a technique driving up these mountains that would help keep the transmission cooler? . . . Or is it simply not a worry if the time spent over 230 is not a lot?

So far I've tried to keep the engine rpm's around 4,000 on the big climbs, which keeps my speed in the low 40 - 48 mph range. Is that a mistake? Is there a better way to drive these mountains?

TIA
 

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The numbers sound okay compared to my 2018, but I would change transmission fluid (3x drain and fill) after that kind of trip.
 

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First off, good job for watching Trans temps closely. That is step one. I also tow the same size trailer and have been in similar situations, maybe not as steep of mountains as you. The way you drive matters and if hadn't been careful to this point I'm certain you would had seen even higher temps. As you stated, you are at the edge of the danger zone and going much higher would not be good.

My strategy:
  • Use D4 to minimize unneeded shifts while towing. It also keeps you in the torque band up the hill. The engine will be louder as a consequence.
  • Go as slow as needed to control temp - seems like you are doing that already. That would include stopping and cooling down if needed. I have seen 230 and I am definitely nervous there.
  • Change ALL your fluids more frequently.

I've come to the realization that this just how the truck is engineered and without changing something there is not a lot you can do besides being careful. The ability for the Ridgeline to generate heat is much greater that the removal capacity - bottom line for me.

I have installed and aftermarket trans cooler with electric fans which has helped. On average, I have been able to reduce temps 20-30F. However, if i push it I will see a temp spike. The trans cooler won't prevent the heat spike, but can start you at a lower temp and help to recover faster - bit even an upgraded cooler has limitations.

That being said, it doesn't mean you can't tow successfully as long as you are careful. But you are going to have to deal with this issue to some degree. The long term effects are still largely unknown due to newness of G2 - which is why I have doubled the frequency of the fluid maintenance.

If you want true worry free towing in mountains, you need a more capable truck.

Sent from my SM-G998U using Tapatalk
 

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2019 RTL awd, MSM
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Good advice posted above. One other thing I would try is to try towing near 55mph and see what your temps are.

I did some temp monitoring last fall and found that trans temp started to increase at speeds below 50mph, but that was while not towing anything, so YMMV, or rather, YTMV.
 

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First off, good job for watching Trans temps closely. That is step one. I also tow the same size trailer and have been in similar situations, maybe not as steep of mountains as you. The way you drive matters and if hadn't been careful to this point I'm certain you would had seen even higher temps. As you stated, you are at the edge of the danger zone and going much higher would not be good.

My strategy:
  • Use D4 to minimize unneeded shifts while towing. It also keeps you in the torque band up the hill. The engine will be louder as a consequence.
  • Go as slow as needed to control temp - seems like you are doing that already. That would include stopping and cooling down if needed. I have seen 230 and I am definitely nervous there.
  • Change ALL your fluids more frequently.

I've come to the realization that this just how the truck is engineered and without changing something there is not a lot you can do besides being careful. The ability for the Ridgeline to generate heat is much greater that the removal capacity - bottom line for me.

I have installed and aftermarket trans cooler with electric fans which has helped. On average, I have been able to reduce temps 20-30F. However, if i push it I will see a temp spike. The trans cooler won't prevent the heat spike, but can start you at a lower temp and help to recover faster - bit even an upgraded cooler has limitations.

That being said, it doesn't mean you can't tow successfully as long as you are careful. But you are going to have to deal with this issue to some degree. The long term effects are still largely unknown due to newness of G2 - which is why I have doubled the frequency of the fluid maintenance.

If you want true worry free towing in mountains, you need a more capable truck.

Sent from my SM-G998U using Tapatalk
Great write-up......would really like to see some pics of your tranny cooler/fan set-up.

Seems like there have been posts here of 230F TFT triggering the overheat warning message......it now appears that it takes an even higher temp to set the overheat message.:eek:
 

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2019 RTL awd, MSM
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Why would increasing the speed from 45mph to 55 mph help to reduce temperatures?
More airflow being pushed through the engine / transaxle compartment.

The engine may run higher rpms, but that may be counteracted by the higher airflow. Once up in the 65mph range, the engine heat production under heavy load might exceed required airflow cooling. You won't know until you try it. As I said, YTMV.
 

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As I have related before, I believe that shifting is the biggest contributor to transmission heat production than speed itself. Find the speed in which the transmission shifts less often, use D4 when climbing them hills, (again, to reduce the shifting), and I am thinking you have licked most of the problem.

Anyways, in a couple of weeks I will be testing this theory while pulling a "weighed" 4600 pound trailer from SW Oregon to central Montana.

Bill
 

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Great write-up......would really like to see some pics of your tranny cooler/fan set-up.

Seems like there have been posts here of 230F TFT triggering the overheat warning message......it now appears that it takes an even higher temp to set the overheat message.:eek:
I have tp dig them up but will post some here soon

Sent from my SM-G998U using Tapatalk
 

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As I have related before, I believe that shifting is the biggest contributor to transmission heat production than speed itself. Find the speed in which the transmission shifts less often, use D4 when climbing them hills, (again, to reduce the shifting), and I am thinking you have licked most of the problem.

Anyways, in a couple of weeks I will be testing this theory while pulling a "weighed" 4600 pound trailer from SW Oregon to central Montana.

Bill
Good info. I'm subscribing to this thread to see your results.
 

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Here is my aftermarket cooler. The main goal was to get the allow for ATF cooling for stop and go traffic - a weak point for all naturally air cooled coolers. I removed to stock cooler, so the lower air dam is all main radiator flow now. I went with a tube and fin kit because of the slim design and tight mounting. Others have done a plate and fin - I probably would have done this with no fans. But this basically drops in without having to remove the front fascia which is a p.i.t.a.

The fans come on automatically on thermostat (not really accurate but a fail safe) or by switch on blue center console by brake controller. I pretty much leave it on when towing, although I don't think the fans doing anything at highway speed.

I've had if for a year and going strong. Glad I did it but If I was to do it over again, I would have mounted it a little lower (about an inch or so) to remove some minor interference issues with the air intake plenum. I was able to resolved it, so not an issue.

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