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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know a lot of you have installed transmission coolers. Asking for opinions regarding my setup:

I will be towing a small overlanding camper regularly starting this summer. Me and my girlfriend will be living on the road out of our FJ/camper for a year.

A lot of towing, I know but the camper is small (4'x8') and light - less than 700 lbs dry weight. Even loaded up with a few hundred lbs of gear it's still so light that you can't even notice it's there - the FJ sure doesn't!

My question is do I need a transmission cooler if I'm towing such little weight? My FJ is pretty much stock, no heavy bumpers, armor, etc. It will have some gear weight but my whole rig is still way under gross weight.

Any advice/input would be appreciated.
 

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Not towing anything I would occasionally see torque converter outlet temperatures of 240F when climbing long grades in the mountains. This is with very conservative driving, never more than 50% throttle, 4th gear, 50-60 MPH.

This is too hot for long term transmission life. I added a transmission cooler and peak temperatures immediately dropped by 30-40 degrees.
 

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A decent aux trans cooler is cheap insurance for your transmission.
Don't cheap out, and make sure it's installed properly - ATF spraying everywhere is not ideal, nor is the resulting fire.
Also make sure it's not blocking your other radiators / condensors. Depending on the spec of your FJ, in addition to the engine radiator & AC condensor, you may also have oil & power steering coolers as stock (I do anyway).
While you're installing the cooler, you might as well replace the ATF with nice fresh Toyota WS ATF.
 

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A decent aux trans cooler is cheap insurance for your transmission.
Don't cheap out, and make sure it's installed properly - ATF spraying everywhere is not ideal, nor is the resulting fire.
Also make sure it's not blocking your other radiators / condensors. Depending on the spec of your FJ, in addition to the engine radiator & AC condensor, you may also have oil & power steering coolers as stock (I do anyway).
While you're installing the cooler, you might as well replace the ATF with nice fresh Toyota WS ATF.
planning on doing this shortly. is there a recommended brand of cooler? i see several at around $50 which seems "cheap" to me.
side note, what does your oil cooler look like? i had a pipe burst on the side of my motor (2012) and the part i bought to replace it was called "oil cooler, right" or something like that. there is a similar pipe on the other side. curious if this is what toyota always does or if yours has some kind of radiator due to the hotter climate?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Not towing anything I would occasionally see torque converter outlet temperatures of 240F when climbing long grades in the mountains. This is with very conservative driving, never more than 50% throttle, 4th gear, 50-60 MPH.

This is too hot for long term transmission life. I added a transmission cooler and peak temperatures immediately dropped by 30-40 degrees.
Thanks for the response. Would you (or anyone else reading this that added a trans cooler) mind sharing what cooler you went with and where you bought it from if it's not to much trouble? Also any notes on the install (I assume pretty easy.... hopefully) would be appreciated.

P.S. the FJ in question is an '07
 

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Some people here have installed Tru Cool transmission coolers, either LPD4452- 5 3/4x11x 3/4" (9,800 BTU's) or LPD 4454- 7 1/4x11x3/4" (13,000 BTU's). There are others, of course, and hopefully someone else will chime in. Al

PS- @toyo22r documented his installing a Hayden trans cooler here- Another Transmission Cooler Install
This thread AT Transmission Coolers ... talks about using Toyota parts from the tow package from a Tacoma or 4Runner but is quite expensive for what you get.
Another thread with observations- Automatic Trans & fluid observations/towing
@Loosetoe 's install thread- Installing a Transmission Cooler - instructions with pics Unfortunately his pics seem to have disappeared.
More reading- Fj Trans cooler line size the gist being to toss the 11/32" hose, buy 3/8" and make sure it's transmission hose.
Tranny Cooler and fan installation by @Sand Crawler Tranny Cooler + Fan Installation
More reading Transmission Coolers
And Transmission Cooler Sizing/Brand Selection I think @Moonbuggy 's install description halfway down and @fairbro's immediately after are valuable.
more reading what BTU rating for trans cooler needed?
and last Recommended Tranny Cooler?

I'm sure there's more but I'll let you find them on your own...
 

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I just purchased this cooler and filter, will be installing this weekend.


 

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Transmission cooler - YES - for the reasons posted.

I had the Hayden 699 installed at the last trans service. I think the 698 was recommended.

Hayden Bypass Trans Coolers

Transmission Coolers on Amazon

Sometimes I wish I had gone with the Derale with the fan but the Hayden does the job, no problems. The bypass coolers allow the trans fluid to warm up in cold weather (about 180 degrees F) and then keep the temp down.
 

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planning on doing this shortly. is there a recommended brand of cooler? i see several at around $50 which seems "cheap" to me.
side note, what does your oil cooler look like? i had a pipe burst on the side of my motor (2012) and the part i bought to replace it was called "oil cooler, right" or something like that. there is a similar pipe on the other side. curious if this is what toyota always does or if yours has some kind of radiator due to the hotter climate?
Hayden, Derale, Tru-Cool, B&M, and multiple other manufacturers offer a wide selection of cooler types, sizes, BTU ratings, and inlet/outlet connection types. Many of the coolers offered by different vendors are nearly identical dimensionally and functionally.

The aluminum stacked-plate type generally has the largest total surface area and heat transfer efficiency for a given physical size.

Probably the most important thing is not the exact size or BTU rating of the cooler, but the stability and reliability of the mounting method. Many of these coolers come with a kind of plastic zip-tie that you are supposed to use to clamp the cooler directly against the front of your AC condenser. While this might be barely acceptable for a street-driven vehicle, it is totally inadequate for an off-road vehicle, where vibration and shock will eventually wear a hole in the cooler or the condenser, or both.

The only well-designed, off-road suitable cooler mounting bracket for the FJ that I have found is the heavy duty, laser-cut steel bracket offered by Wholesale Automatic Transmissions in Australia. However, that bracket positioned the cooler so that it contacted the stock bumper mounts on my US-spec 2014, which obviously made it unusable with the stock bumper. Maybe the Oz FJs have a slightly different front bumper, or everyone there just runs aftermarket bumpers. I liked the general design of the WA bracket, so I fabricated a similar bracket out of aluminum that positioned the cooler further back, away from the bumper mount. A year later I installed a DeMello front bumper that eliminated the stock bumper mounts, so now I have plenty of bumper-to-cooler clearance.

I have seen many really bodged-together home-made mounting brackets fabricated from random pieces of pipe strap, scrap angle-iron, etc. that look hideous and likely don't support the cooler adequately against shock loads and long term vibration. Remember, a split cooler or a hose connection that slips off can nearly instantly drain all your ATF and leave you stranded miles from anywhere you are going to find 12 quarts of WS ATF.

I used a Hayden #679 (I think that was the model, I'll verify) mounted on a custom aluminum bracket that I fabricated. It is a somewhat similar to the Wholesale Automatics bracket, but it locates the cooler back an additional 1" from the front bumper mounts and reduces the gap between the rear of the cooler and the front of the AC condenser, which improves airflow through the cooler.

A general introduction to transmission coolers, covering several different brands and types, is here:
https://transmissioncoolerguide.com/best-transmission-cooler/

I'll post a complete write-up about the trials and tribulations I went through to get a bracket designed and fabbed, and the details covering the actual installation. In the mean time, here are some photos.

Here's the aluminum bracket I made:
IMG_8123~photo.JPG


And with the cooler mounted:
IMG_8129~photo.JPG


IMG_8130~photo.JPG


I also fabricated hoses with nylon anti-chafe sleeving secured by shrink-fit tubing, On the return line to the transmission, I included a 'tee' fitting so I could add fluid from the top of the engine bay, rather than having to open the transmission filler plug and poke in a hose during transmission fluid changes or flushes. This photo shows a pipe plug in the tee, but I replaced that with an aircraft-type AN fitting with AN cap.

IMG_8140~photo.JPG


To avoid any chance of the hoses kinking when hot, I used 3/8" stainless-steel tube elbows to get smooth flow around tight bends.
IMG_8137~photo.JPG



Here's the AN fitting used in the tee, along with the AN cap and the AN adapter used to fill ATF.
IMG_8396~photo.JPG


And finally, here's where the ATF filler port ended up, just in front of the battery. The AN cap is easily removed to allow addition of fluid.
IMG_9139.JPG
 

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I don't know why I even try - :) :p
 
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I just purchased this cooler and filter, will be installing this weekend.


Do not, DO NOT use the funky nylon fasteners to strap the transmission cooler directly against the front of your AC condenser.

This mounting method is TOTALLY unacceptable for an off-road vehicle. Movement of the cooler against the condenser due to shock and vibration will eventually wear a hole in the cooler or condenser, and you'll not be happy.

You need to buy or fabricate a structurally solid bracket for the cooler, and that may be a little more difficult than you might think.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Do not, DO NOT use the funky nylon fasteners to strap the transmission cooler directly against the front of your AC condenser.

This mounting method is TOTALLY unacceptable for an off-road vehicle. Movement of the cooler against the condenser due to shock and vibration will eventually wear a hole in the cooler or condenser, and you'll not be happy.

You need to buy or fabricate a structurally solid bracket for the cooler, and that may be a little more difficult than you might think.
Thanks for all the replies so far. I came across this video on YouTube where a guy mounts his on the crossbar/number frame behind the grille. Seems like it would be very solid to me, what do you guys think? I would like to keep the cost/effort down as much as possible since I have a long to-do list for my truck and camper that's getting up there in $. Ofcourse I want it done right most importantly so I sure won't zip tie it on or anything like that.

Guy shows how he mounts it at 1:30 if anyone cares to take a quick look at the video and chime in on weather this looks legit or not.

 

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Do not, DO NOT use the funky nylon fasteners to strap the transmission cooler directly against the front of your AC condenser.

This mounting method is TOTALLY unacceptable for an off-road vehicle. Movement of the cooler against the condenser due to shock and vibration will eventually wear a hole in the cooler or condenser, and you'll not be happy.

You need to buy or fabricate a structurally solid bracket for the cooler, and that may be a little more difficult than you might think.
thanks for all the info. i've seen the zip tie thing before and thought it was insane. i was planning on making a bracket (i work in a machine shop). i'm stealing your design as long as you don't have it patented! :D
 

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Thanks for the tip, I had no intention of using the provided mounting bits based on research on this site.
Your bracket looks great, I"M sure I can make something close to mount mine. While I do this I will have to consider that I will be adding a power steering cooler as well, soon.
 

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Great mounting bracket, @FJtest, and thanks for your input! I'll be doing this soon so your (and everyone else's) tips are invaluable. Where did the 3/8" ss tube elbows come from?
 

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Great mounting bracket, @FJtest, and thanks for your input! I'll be doing this soon so your (and everyone else's) tips are invaluable. Where did the 3/8" ss tube elbows come from?
It took a lot of searching, but I eventually found them on eBay.
 

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Thanks for all the replies so far. I came across this video on YouTube where a guy mounts his on the crossbar/number frame behind the grille. Seems like it would be very solid to me, what do you guys think? I would like to keep the cost/effort down as much as possible since I have a long to-do list for my truck and camper that's getting up there in $. Ofcourse I want it done right most importantly so I sure won't zip tie it on or anything like that.

Guy shows how he mounts it at 1:30 if anyone cares to take a quick look at the video and chime in on weather this looks legit or not.
No, you definitely DON'T want to copy this guy's installation.

First of all, he's got the cooler plumbed incorrectly - the cooler should be installed downstream of the integral cooler in the radiator. Transmission > radiator > auxiliary cooler.

Second, you don't want to use three puny little self-tapping or sheet-metal screws to mount something as critical as a transmission cooler, especially on an off-road vehicle. The cooler should be through-bolted using a minimum of four 1/4-20 or M6 screws and lockwashers or Nylok nuts. I used 8 1/4-20 stainless-steel bolts to secure the cooler to my bracket.

Third, it would be strongly preferred not to mount the cooler in a 'free-standing' manner ... it should be mounted on a full size perimeter bracket (like a picture in a picture frame) that completely isolates the cooler from any mounting stresses.
 
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