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Towing with the 2.7 liter

Discussion in '1st Gen. Tacomas (1995-2004)' started by bobinyelm, Jun 28, 2020.

  1. Jun 28, 2020 at 11:47 PM
    #1
    bobinyelm

    bobinyelm [OP] Member

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    1998 Extra cab 4WD 2.7 liter 176k

    I was looking to find a 3.4 l 4dr truck to tow with, but a 2.7 liter popped up I couldn't pass up.

    My first thought was to clean up the 2.7 and sell it a profit and keep looking, but the truck is kind of growing on me and I was wondering if the truck will really handle towing 3500 pounds as the manual states it can.

    I am looking to tow a Scamp molded fiberglass 5th wheel trailer that grosses right at 3500 pounds, but should actually weigh a bit less as equipped. I usually like to have a healthy margin between actual towed weight and towing capacity, but since the chassis and running gear are so similar on the two trucks, I thought it was worth looking into.

    So my question is whether the 2.7 liter engine is up to towing that 3500 pounds only locally and under duress, or whether it can stand up to long distance hauling of such a load. I am OK with modest performance, and don't need to race up hills at the posted speed limit. I have hundreds of thousands of towing miles, and typically cruise at 57-63mph and am OK with dropping way below that on grades and dropping gears to keep the engine happy.

    My main concern is the driveline (engine and transmission both) holding up in very conservative driving (I do not ever ""flog" the horses," BTW.). I know the 3.4 liter is up to that task as I have friends with 300k of towing 3500 pound trailers behind that engine, but I know absolutely nothing about the 2.7, so am looking for advice based on those who have real world experience with this engine so I can make a good decision.

    Thanks,
    Bob
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020 at 12:01 AM
  2. Jun 29, 2020 at 2:31 AM
    #2
    Wyoming09

    Wyoming09 Well-Known Member

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    How much will you be spending to bring the rest of the truck up to speed??

    The 3500 hundred pounds is your weight all loaded out ready to go for the weekend??

    There is moving the trailer down the road 10 miles a few times a year then going on a 10,000 mile adventure for 2 months .

    The first not a problem we do what we have to at times

    I drove one of these engines for a week while it was better then the 22re series for hauling and towing for what I do it was lacking .

    To the point I avoided Interstates if possible 2nd gear climbing hills towing around 2000 pounds another 500 or so in the bed.

    For my serious towing I have a Ford F250 7.3

    It comes down to what your used to towing with .
     
  3. Jun 29, 2020 at 3:21 AM
    #3
    nik1093

    nik1093 Member

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    Does the Scamp have brakes?

    I would be concerned towing 3500 lbs without brakes on the trailer but I have pushed that 3500 limit with my first 2.7/5 spd. I was probably pulling closer to 4000, with a tow dolly (with brakes) and an Edsel station wagon, from Kansas to PA. You will definitely be changing gears regularly, but I am used to that with the 2.7 anyway. Not too many hills in between though, the engine/trans handled it fine. I wouldn't want to tow that thing again anytime soon though.

    The truck doesn't weigh much more than 3500 lbs itself so the brakes on the dolly were key. If the Scamp is under 3500 you're in good shape.

    Sadly, that truck was rear ended and totaled about 30k miles after that trip so I am not sure if I did any lasting damage, but I am guessing it was alright.
     
  4. Jun 29, 2020 at 6:35 AM
    #4
    six5creed

    six5creed

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    It'll do it , but it won't be happy. I had a 4 cyl Toyota truck, it was okay for going from point A to point B but it was sick when I pulled my 4 wheeler. Friend of mine had the same truck lifted with a V6, it was night and day difference.
     
  5. Jun 29, 2020 at 6:54 AM
    #5
    cruiserguy

    cruiserguy Well-Known Member

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    These guys are giving you wise advice. I have the 2.7L and have driven it across the country a couple of times. It is a dog. Very durable and reliable dog, but a dog nonetheless.
    I wouldn't tow anything more than a couple thousand pounds, not necessarily safety but you can't move very quick at all. I can't move quick even without towing and an empty bed :laughing:
    But I do love this 3RZ engine. Such a durable over engineered Japanese beauty :D

    To consistently tow a Scamp or similar trailer, I'd only be looking for a 3.4V6 model. I
     
  6. Jun 29, 2020 at 8:18 AM
    #6
    0xDEADBEEF

    0xDEADBEEF This statement is false.

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    Its gonna be slow. And you won't have much extra capacity for any stuff to go a long. I'd go with a V6.
     
  7. Jun 29, 2020 at 9:30 AM
    #7
    bobinyelm

    bobinyelm [OP] Member

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    Yes, which is why I asked the question the way I did-

    I am not interested in across-town towing, but regional for camping. As I said, I am fine with slow, but not with destroying equipment if that's the only way it can move the load. My day job for 35 years was flying military and airliners, so my "need for speed" has long passed, so slowing down and smelling the flowers is the goal now.

    My "real" truck is a Ram 3500 Cummins dually that I have now had for 10 years (It replaced a 1-ton E-350 7.3 Powerstroke van I towed a Casita travel trailer and various heavy cargo trailers with). But trying to match a Scamp 5th wheel to the Cummins would be ludicrous (I got lots of laughs using the Cummins for the Casita, but at least there I could match hitch heights). I don't think I could raise the Scamp suspension high enough to match the bed-rail height of the Dodge, hence the Toyota idea. (Hopefully see attached image for seeing what I mean about height). I had a full sized 5the wheel for a time, and even it I had to use spacer blocks under the springs to use it w/ the 2WD Dodge dually.

    Fuel economy wise, the Cummins is BETTER I get 26+ highway solo, and 23 around town with my 6 spd manual and a feather-foot throttle), but it's not a great size match for the Scamp.

    The Tacoma I found has many miles (175k) but is in nice shape. I just did a cranking compression check and all cyls are 200 +/-2psi, and the trans accepted the fluid change nicely (I know some advise NOT to do fluid changes at high mileage). If I could do it economically, I'd consider a swap to a larger engine, but those usually end in grief, which is why I asked about using the 2.7 as-is (except for a trans oil cooler and maybe smaller tires, since the truck has 10.50-31 tires, and something like 225/75 or 235/75-15 would put the engine in a more favorable torque rpm range perhaps.

    So now you better know my "needs" and intent. The unknown is the powerplant in the Toyota at 2.7 liters. I have a Mercedes Sprinter van with a 2.7 liter, but it's a turbodiesel, and it also towed the 3500 pound Casita OK, but even that was anemic, and I imagine a NA gas would be far "worse." (It's all relative).

    [​IMG]
     
    cruiserguy likes this.
  8. Jun 29, 2020 at 9:31 AM
    #8
    Tacotruck7

    Tacotruck7 Well-Known Member

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    I love my truck and love its reliability but the 2.7 is a dog when it is going uphill. I'm running C rated BFG's (probably overkill for how much I actually go on dirt) and when my truck is loaded with all my camping gear I'm doing like 50mph in 3rd gear going up a really steep grade. You're gonna be laying on it in second gear with that big of a trailer. I would pull a trailer like that probably 50-100 miles if it was flat but not up and down a ton of hills.

    Edit: I've also never heard of not wanting to change fluids at high milage on the trans. I've actually heard the opposite.
     
  9. Jun 29, 2020 at 9:47 AM
    #9
    bobinyelm

    bobinyelm [OP] Member

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    Yes, absolutely it has brakes! I would install a proportional Brake Controller as I use with my other vehicles I tow with (Dodge 3500 and Sprinter van), and for the transmission an oil cooler and gauge.

    Speaking of the transmission (auto trans in the Toyota), my understanding is that they are reasonably stout (I have a friend with a 2001 4-Runner 2WD who has over 300k, almost all towing a 3500 pound Casita travel trailer, and he has had NO trouble with his vehicle, but he has the 3.4 V6 and maybe it has a beefier transmission inside the case since it has a 5000 pound towing limit?

    The hitch-weight of the Scamp (taken just forward of the rear axle in the bed) is only 400 pounds, so shouldn't tax the "balance" of the truck appreciably I hope as well.

    I LIKE having an auto trans because of its torque converter, because even with my Cummins dually, starting off can be hard on the clutch with a heavy load despite the "granny" 1st, and with a small motor (2.7 l) and 3500 pounds, I fear a manual (my normal preference) would be taxed.
     
  10. Jun 29, 2020 at 9:52 AM
    #10
    bobinyelm

    bobinyelm [OP] Member

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    Yes, even empty the 10.50 31s leave the truck somewhat gutless (of course in OD it's only turning 1800rpm though never tow in OD). so I've thought of going smaller on the tires (225/75).

    With many cars, changing the fluid at high mileage can dislodge crud accumulated over time (I don't know if my truck ever had its fluid done before) that blocks small passages in the valve body. New fluid has more active solvents and detergents that can loosen those old deposits is the fear.

    But so far, so good. The old fluid was DARK, but smelled good (no burned smell) and no visible solids in the drain (I was amazed I got 4 qts out as the manual says expect 2.1 quarts on a drain/refill).

    Bob
     
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  11. Jun 29, 2020 at 10:15 AM
    #11
    0xDEADBEEF

    0xDEADBEEF This statement is false.

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    I don't think you'll break anything. But relative to your diesel, towing will be far more of a chore and more tiring for you as the driver.

    That said, if you're set on it, you should see what gears are in it. Something low like 4.30 or lower would be beneficial, especially with the auto transmission.
     
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  12. Jun 29, 2020 at 10:36 AM
    #12
    Abeyancer

    Abeyancer Well-Known Member

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    What gears are in that 2.7? The axle code on the door will give a number like B03A .. there's a chart under the stickys (I think) that will tell you the ratio.

    I can't help with towing specifics because I've never done it in this truck, but having put over 1k of weight in the back.. and having only 3.56s in the rear end... I strongly discourage the idea. The gas milage will go below 14mpg and you'll be close to 4k rpms on the highway trying to get up to speed.
     
  13. Jun 29, 2020 at 10:59 AM
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    Tacotruck7

    Tacotruck7 Well-Known Member

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    Thats crazy your gears are so long. Mine are 4.56's.
     
  14. Jun 29, 2020 at 12:38 PM
    #14
    BartMaster1234

    BartMaster1234 American Auto Horns

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    It’ll tow 3,500 pounds. But it will absolutely hate you.
     
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  15. Jun 29, 2020 at 12:49 PM
    #15
    se7enine

    se7enine MCMLXXIX

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    I loaded the 5-lug over the weekend full of lumber and actually had to downshift to 4th in order to cruise at 70mph up hill. And that's a V6 but you know that.
     
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  16. Jun 29, 2020 at 12:56 PM
    #16
    bobinyelm

    bobinyelm [OP] Member

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    Is the axle code part of the vehicle VIN sticker, or a separate small tape sticker?

    On the Toyota vs the Ram, obviously the Ram is more stable and comfortable (though with the pontoon rear dually fenders it's clumsier), but my main objection is the Dodge bed rail height may be too high to get the Scamp up high enough to clear. Some Scamps used welded-on Dexter rubber torsion axles that have to be cut off the trailer frame (and re-welded) and some use bolt-on axles (easier to change).

    I elected to raise my Casita on its suspension for use behind my TVs, and it had the welded-on type and it required careful use of a plasma cutter to get free, then I welded in rectangular tubing between the axle and the frame to raise the trailer chassis. At some point, you get to where the trailer looks "tippy" and you need an extra step to get onto the installed trailer step.

    I know the Cummins would do better on fuel since it did 16+ mpg towing a full sized 10,000 pound 5th wheel by being careful, but for local regional use in tight Forest Service campgrounds the smaller Tacoma would be handy and worth a bit more fuel cost.

    I need to do some research on the height of the Scamp stock, and what year Scamps have "bolt-on" axles (that are FAR easier to fit spacers between the axle and the frame than welded axles).

    I am at this point trying to do some preparatory study to see if the Toyota is even suitable with the small engine. Not sure if the 3.4 has the same bell housing bolt pattern and would be plug and play (with a new ECU and wiring harness, maybe radiator) or if it too different basically to make it practical. I know if it were a 2WD truck a total swap (eng/trans) would be more practical (though still not practical if I didn't have a full shop and had to pay for the work), though as I started out saying engine swaps are seldom practical even with free labor unless they are close to plug and play). Something as "simple" as oil-pan and cross member/steering rack location conflicts can be a LOT of engineering and work, making them impractical.

    I never drove my friend's 3.4 liter 4-Runner/Casita to "feel" how adequate or "doggy" it would be (he lives 1500mi away now) to know if a Tacoma 3.4 truck would even be a good match, but I know a lot of folks use the 3.4 for that weight class trailer. I have a friend with a 2005 Tacoma 4dr 4WD with the 4.0 Liter V6 and I KNOW it has enough power (though trading up to a 4 liter year model would be pricey).

    I appreciate the ideas forwarded here to help me come to a conclusion.
     
  17. Jun 29, 2020 at 1:15 PM
    #17
    Abeyancer

    Abeyancer Well-Known Member

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    On the driver door jam sticker, lower right hand side will be a line that say A/TM the digits after that will be your axle code
     
  18. Jun 29, 2020 at 1:20 PM
    #18
    BartMaster1234

    BartMaster1234 American Auto Horns

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    When I went up to Reno to buy my transmission, transfer case, and differential - my truck haaaaaated me going back over the Sierra-Nevada. It didn’t want to go faster than 55. I was in the truck lane with my flashers on. I didn’t even have a trailer, that’s just weight in the bed.
     
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  19. Jun 29, 2020 at 1:22 PM
    #19
    BartMaster1234

    BartMaster1234 American Auto Horns

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    Engine swap is definitely not even close to plug n play. You’d need to weld new engine perches and run completely new engine and dash harnesses along with a new computer.

    Gear code is on the vin decal. I have a B07A, which is 4.30 - I think B03A is 4.10
     
  20. Jun 29, 2020 at 1:40 PM
    #20
    hr206

    hr206 Well-Known Member

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    I have a 98, 2.7L, 4x4, 5 speed, regular cab with the 225 tires and 3.58 axle and live in the hilly PNW. I've towed ~2600 pounds with it dozens of times about 200 miles each time. It does it's job acceptably in the 55-65mph range. Can comfortably run in 4th on flat ground getting ~14mpgs.

    I know things deteriorate quickly while approaching tow limits, so take it for what it's worth.
     
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