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Old 06-19-2011, 06:20 AM   #1
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1973 31' Sovereign
charlotte , North Carolina
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Overdrive while towing?

Do folks tow while in overdrive? I've heard that you don't use overdrive while in hills, but it's ok to use overdrive while towing on relatively flat land. I got a ford f150 V8 5.4L triton and pull a 73 31' AS internationial......

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Old 06-19-2011, 06:33 AM   #2
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1968 30' Sovereign
1959 18' "Footer"
1954 22' Flying Cloud
Brussels , Wisconsin
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I don't pull in OD as I have a 6 speed transmission and the truck just won't hold the gear. If it kicks in and out too often that is hard on the trans.

I'm NOT an old man.............
54 Flying Cloud
59 Traveler
68 Sovereign
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Old 06-19-2011, 06:38 AM   #3
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2007 31' Classic
Kansas City , Missouri
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And I lost the transmission towing in OD with an Expedition and just out of warranty. I was only towing a 4,000 lb boat but in the very rugged hills around Table Rock Lake in the Ozarks. So my advice is, don't do it.
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Old 06-19-2011, 06:42 AM   #4
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In non hilly terrain I pull in OD. GMC allows this with the transmission that is in our 6.0 liter, 4.10 rear axled GMC van. Usually the owners manual will give you the information regarding this. That's is where I got my info. On my half ton van the manual said no OD towing.

Jack Canavera
AIR #56
'04 Classic 30' S.O.,'03 GMC Savana 2500,'14 Honda CTX 700
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Old 06-19-2011, 06:56 AM   #5
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Oswego , Illinois
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Jack has it right. Use common sense...if it only down shifts when going up inclines, it's fine in OD. If it downshifts and upshifts frequently just riding along, drop out of OD. Terrain, wind direction and speed all play into this.

Always read your owner manual.
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Old 06-19-2011, 08:13 AM   #6

2003 25' Classic
Zanadude Nebula , Milky Way
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On the late model GM's, the tranny will tell you when it wants to be in D.

Like the DW... it just can't make up it's mind.


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but Im the Husband, so we went to Cleveland. 😂

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Old 06-19-2011, 10:05 AM   #7
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2002 31' Classic
Houston , Texas
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To minimize heat and wear ideally the transmission should be in overdrive, if the computer will keep it in overdrive. In overdrive the transmission's torque converter clutch should be "locked-up", i.e. in direct mechanical drive just like a manual transmission. When the torque converter is “un-locked” the transmission is fluid coupled to the engine. The churning of the fluid in the converter multiplies the torque but also generates fluid friction heat.

As an example, my 2001 BMW X5 transmission has a "manual" mode (which I use 95% of the time), in which the computer will "lock-up" the torque converter in 3rd, 4th & 5th gears IF the indicated speed is above 60 mph. When pulling a grade I will down shift to 4th above 60 mph so that the torque converter will stay in “lock-up”. If 3rd is required I again try to stay above 60 mph in “lock-up” (rpm above 3,500+).

If the X5 torque converter is “un-locked” I will keep the engine at full throttle taking the speed above 60 mph, then lift the throttle to allow the computer to “lock-up” the converter clutch under minimal engine torque thereby reducing clutch wear; I then resume full throttle till I can maintain 63+ mph at which time I engage cruise control.

When accelerating from a stop I also lift the throttle when shifting so that the clutches can make up under minimal torque, thereby minimizing both wear and heat. This has all become second nature and I don’t have to give it much mental anguish.
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Old 06-19-2011, 10:15 AM   #8
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I have tow/haul that prevents overdrive and uses a lower gear for starting out.
Michelle TAC MT-0
Sarah, Snowball

Looking for a 1962 Flying Cloud

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Old 06-19-2011, 10:18 AM   #9
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i love my diesel...only drop out of od when in the mountains.
Illegitimous noncarborundum(dont let the bastards wear you down)

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Old 06-19-2011, 11:37 AM   #10
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Menlo Park , California
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I've always pulled trailers in overdrive on our 1996 F250; if the conditions are such that the engine cannot pull the hills in overdrive, I disable it to prevent cycling in and out which
does increase wear & tear.

The E40D tranny will lock the torque converter in either 3rd or overdrive; I wish it would also lock in second to hold down transmission temps on those long grades where we cannot quite pull 3rd.

- Bart
Bart Smaalders
Menlo Park, CA
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Old 06-19-2011, 12:48 PM   #11
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1973 25' Tradewind
waynesboro , Virginia
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With a 6 speed manual, in my 6cyl Tacoma, I never use the 6th....(while towing)
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Old 06-19-2011, 02:09 PM   #12
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2011 23' FB Flying Cloud
Perry , Florida
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Personal experience:
I have a 2004 Ford F-150 w/5.4 V8 engine that I purchased new. Since day one I towed a 17' Casita (~3700#) in overdrive. Got the 23' Flying Cloud in May 2010, and towed it in OD without a thought. While up in Maine, it started acting as tho it would jump into neutral, then fall back into gear in 10 or 15 seconds. I nursed it home to Fla gently. My local Ford dealer, dropped the oil pan on the transmission and found boocoo little chunks of metal. It was $2800 estimate to tear it apart and fix what ever was broken with a 12K mile warrentee, or $3K to just pull it and replace it with a rebuilt with a 100K mile warrentee. I chose the latter, so I don't know for sure what broke or why. The mechanic took a best quess that the problem was my towing in OD.

Bottom line:
I now punch the little button on the shift lever end and see the light on the dash that tells me the OD is off, EVERY time I start up with the AS attached.

I am fixing to buy a new tug, ( Chevy, Dodge, or Ford 3/4 + ton)and I note that none of the 2011 models pose this problem.

My advice:
Read all about it in your owner's manual; I didn't, thus my tale of woe.
"If you don't know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else." Yogi Berra
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Old 06-19-2011, 07:27 PM   #13
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Put her in Tow\Haul mode and let the transmission figure out the rest...
John "JFScheck" Scheck
2015 Roadtrek CS Adventurous XL
2015 Mercedes Sprinter 3500 XL Chassis with Mercedes BlueTec V6 Diesel
**I Love U.S.A.**
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Old 06-19-2011, 08:06 PM   #14
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1976 Argosy 24
-- , Georgia
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Our motorhome transmission temps are always 10* hotter in overdrive than 3rd gear. When we tow a car behind the motorhome, get into the hills or the transmission temps exceed 190*, I lock out overdrive. No reason to stress the transmission more than necessary. The engine and it's cooling systems have a far greater capacity to absorb the extra load.

Also, not all of us are fortunate enough to have KITT in our tow vehicle.

I had to settle for Bonnie instead.


1976 24' Argosy
1973 International Harvester Travelette 1210 4x4 'Bernard' 164" WB
1997 Georgie Boy 30' SuperDuty v10
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