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anyone installed an aftermarket tow package?

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Old 02-24-2014, 10:35 AM   #1
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anyone installed an aftermarket tow package?

ok so from the start i have got the runaround from toyota,factory,mechanics etc.

i didn't get the tow package with my truck.so far the magic ingredient they say i can't duplicate easily is: a factory wiring harness with heat sensors in the transmission.(they say it wasn't installed on mine.)
but the towing bible on here say's that i can install an aftermarket tow package.(6500 max towing weight). which is what i want to do.
so what i would like to know is:
1. what else do i need to install?
2.how much can i haul?
3.has anyone else done this?and what is your experience with it?

i want to be able to haul a trailer that is 4500 lbs. unloaded and 5500-6000 lbs fully loaded.
so far i have installed:
a frame mount hitch from you haul.
a dorman transmission cooler.DORMAN #: 918-241
a tekonsha prodigy brake controller and 7 pin conector plug.

the mechanic told me i already have the bigger battery.
so i am still missing. the engine oil cooler and the bigger alternator.
btw my truck is the 4.0 6 cylinder 4wd axcess cab.
he says that's a lot of weight for this truck.but i don't have money for a new truck.
so i'm not buying one.
worse comes to worse i'll get a smaller trailer.but i want one with a double axl.(that doesn't cost 20,000). i'm only going to spend 5 to 10 k max.
sorry for the rant.and any info on this project will be greatly appreciated.
thanx.
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Old 02-24-2014, 01:42 PM   #2
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You didn't mention the distances or speeds you plan to tow, but you've done nearly all you can do and I personally don't think you'll have a problem if you're careful. An engine oil cooler would be great, but at reasonable speeds I don't think it's a show stopper. I use a different oil in warmer weather when I tow (5W-40 Shell Rotella or equivalent from any major player) and used my first gen Tacoma ('95, 3.4V6 & MT) that way for thousands of miles without a factory package with no issues. Good luck.
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Old 02-24-2014, 04:33 PM   #3
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the trips i plan to do are about 200 miles one way.down to assateague national seashore. it's a pretty flat run.no mountains.and not that many hills.
speeds get up to highway.at least 55mph.
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Old 02-24-2014, 05:02 PM   #4
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I added a tow package minus the tranny cooler to my old Nissan truck. Never had an issue with it but I also don't push the envelope. For kicks, I would look under your bumper and see if the connectors are there for the wiring harness. My guess is that it will be there.
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Old 02-24-2014, 07:25 PM   #5
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I added towing capabilities to my base model truck.

Wiring in the 7-pin harness is easy. I used one of those 4-pin tail light splice kits and ran the other wires indivually (for the brake controller). I did that a while back, so I don't remember the specifics, but it was easy. I didn't run the reverse wire or a charge wire from the alternator (my trailer doesn't have reverse lights or an onboard battery).

I also picked up an OEM hitch on this site with all the mounting hardware for about $100. Added an aftermarket tranny cooler as well for about $50. Since I'm not charging another battery, I didn't worry about my charging system (alternator/battery).

Yeah, the oil cooler would be nice to have, but the nice OEM ones are expensive, don't show up that often on the for sale forum, and isn't that big of a deal for occasional towing duty IMHO.

Just make sure you get a weight distributing hitch if you're going to pull that heavy a trailer and get ready for your fuel mileage to take a serious hit (like 8 mpg, seriously). Really makes you wish someone made extended range fuel tanks for our trucks.

Also, look into Firestone Ride-Rite airbags for your rear leafs. I air mine up before taking out the camper (about 4800 lbs wet) and they make a huge improvement in ride quality.
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Old 02-25-2014, 06:36 AM   #6
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i will check into the air bags. i might get another leaf spring also.
i've been buying my parts new because i want to make sure i get the right stuff.but i've also been saving a lot of money using amazon.com
the local prices are double what i can get the parts for online.
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Old 02-25-2014, 07:28 AM   #7
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When I first joined up here I wrote a big thread in the "Towing" section about my experiences with my 1st Gen truck and the aftermarket towing package. Maybe things have changed since then, but with that truck I easily went through 7+ of the spliced in wiring harnesses. They would last 14 months on average. I tow a lot, all year, around 500 miles a month, usually even more in the winter. So to the point... all the plug and play wiring harnesses have a serious flaw. I didn't find this out until about 8 years into owning my truck and maybe my 5th replacement harness, when I finally found someone who knew what they were talking about to tell me why they keep failing. The plug and play harnesses use a converter box that basically jumpers the rear signal bulb sockets. This converter box takes all those wires and converts them to your trailer plug, usually a flat-4 plug for lightweight trailers without brake equipped axles. You have 4 circuits in your basic harness- running lights, right turn, left turn and stop. The converter box has only one ground wire, this is the fatal flaw. With a factory setup, either with our without a tow harness, each circuit is individually grounded. You may not think that there is much current flowing through just for simple trailer lights, but add all 4 circuits on one ground and even a simple lightweight boat trailer now has a lot of current grounded on that one, weak, 18ga wire.

Let me qualify that I am no electrical expert, it's actually my very weakest link in wrenching. Just to be fair, the above very well may be incorrect, but I don't think so. I'd be happy to have someone with more knowledge correct me. What I do know, and don't have to be an expert for, I had these god damn harnesses failing on me constantly. My truck and trailers were wired and grounded properly, it's just the design of the plug and play harnesses.

The plug and play harnesses are somewhat cheap- about $40 at the place I bought them. And after the fact I discovered you can replace just the converter box for about $12 (there is a reason they sell just those converters...) But here is the thing to keep in mind... your truck tail lights will be grounded and working just fine through the week. Then Friday night you are rushing to get out of work, a 3 hour trip ahead of you up north to camp... load up your truck- load up the gear- get the dog and the girlfriend in the truck- snap the snowmobile or 4 wheeler trailer on and yep- you got no trailer lights. I got really good at replacing those harnesses quick, and kept a spare on hand. But man it can really add an element to your Friday night you don't want.

So to conclude- in a nutshell and I'm sorry about the monologue here- I was more than happy to pay the $700 for the Toyota factory tow package with the factory harness. I probably would have paid twice that if I had to.

On the subject of all the other things (trans cooler, alternator, battery, hitch) I didn't have any of that and didn't find it nessecary. I had a 4 banger 1st Gen. and it was still running great when I let it go with 230k miles on it. I never towed more than 2000 lbs with that truck.
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Old 02-25-2014, 01:45 PM   #8
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I know these trucks are rated to two 6,500 lbs, but personally I don't like to tow something that weighs more than the tow vehicle, but if your going to do it make sure the trailer has brakes or your going to have problems!
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Old 02-25-2014, 01:58 PM   #9
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I was told a long time ago and never verified it, the fan clutch is also different. Spins faster on the towing package. Again I didn't bother to verify that. I'm pretty sure once its locked up its only gonna spin so fast regardless. Also have you ever pulled that much weight with the Tacoma? I pulled a 4.5k (dry weight) 6k GVWR travel trailer home from the dealer and realized I needed a new truck, and traded in my 05 for a 08 Tundra. Yeah the Tacoma pulled the weight, but boy it didn't like to, 55 was hard to do.
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Old 02-25-2014, 07:16 PM   #10
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Better be sure what receiver you bought for your truck. I believe that the only way to get the 6500 lb tow capacity was with the tow package from Toyota. If I remember correctly they are the only one to make a class IV receiver for the Tacoma and it is not for sale as an add on. All others are class III and rated for only 5000 lbs. Check to be sure before you pull any really heavy trailers.
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