Flat towing, also known as dinghy towing, is the easiest way to tow a vehicle behind your RV. The dinghy vehicle allows you to navigate narrow streets when you go sightseeing or park in small spaces in shopping malls and leave your motorhome in the campsite. However, not all vehicles are flat towable.
Can a Lexus GX 460 Be Flat Towed?
Unless you fit aftermarket parts, there is no model of the Lexus GX 460 that you can flat tow. You can tow it with a dolly or a trailer, but it is not possible to flat tow it as you will damage the transmission system.
Lexus is among the automakers that do not engineer their vehicle for flat towing. The Lexus GX 460 is a luxury model engineered to drive on the road. While it is a powerful SUV, it is not among the first of many that come to mind when you think of adventure.
Why Can’t You Flat Tow a Lexus GX 460?
A while ago, most vehicles had a manual transmission system that made them easy to dinghy tow. Again, most four-wheel drive systems with manual transfer cases were also dinghy towable. The rise in automatic transmission systems meant that most vehicles could not be towed with all four on the ground.
This is not to say that all vehicles with automatic transmission cannot be flat towed. There are vehicles engineered for dinghy towing even if they have an automatic system.
The Lexus GX 460 has a standard four-wheel drive with an automatic transmission system. The engine is powerful enough for the SUV to venture of the road, but it is not configured for dinghy towing. In fact, all automatic vehicles from Lexus, Toyota, and Scion are not dinghy towable.
The problem is in the transmission lubrication. For your Lexus GX 460 to drive smoothly, it needs a pump to continuously operate inside the transmission to keep it lubricated. If you tow the Lexus all four down, the transmission will not be lubricated, and it will sustain damages.
The Lexus GX 460 has pump-dependent manuals and it is automatic. When dinghy towed, the driven wheels run on the ground and the drive shafts turn, causing the damages. They are only safe with the engine running.
Vehicles that you can dinghy tow have systems not dependent on pump lubrication. With these vehicles, you may only need to run the engine at least five minutes a few times every day and the vehicle will have enough lubrication to last for at least six hours.
Can You Make Your Lexus GX 460 Flat Towable?
Unless the engine is running, the transmission system doesn’t get lubricated. This can lead to system overheating and can even result in a fire.
Install a Lube Pump
To make the Lexus flat towable, you can add an aftermarket lubrication pump. The lube pump draws transmission fluid from its pan and channels it through the radiator and then back through the lubrication system.
Most of the pumps draw power from the home batter of the motor through a cable. This ensures that the pump doesn’t drain the battery of the dinghy vehicle.
Advanced lube pumps feature an electronic monitor installed near the driver. From the monitor, the driver can see how the pump is operating.
Installing a lube pump requires a professional or the pump will not work. In most cases, you will need to disconnect then reconnect the various lubrication system hoses. After disconnecting, mount your valve and the pump, then drain and refill the transmission fluid.
You may also need to drill a hole through the transmission fluid pan through which you will pass one of the new hoses. After that, reinstall the pan and seal it.
Once the pump is ready, you will need to install the electrical components. You need to create the best wiring plan and the circuitry for the lubrication pump. You need to connect the monitor sensor and the taillights then connect the wires to your motorhome.
When wiring your lube pump, remember you will also need to wire the brake system and the lights of your dinghy vehicle. As such, it is easier when you create a complete dinghy towing wiring system.
If you do not install the lube pump properly, you may void its warranty. Further, you may damage the transmission system you were trying to protect. Unless you have the skills, and you have handled your vehicle’s engine severally, you need to let a mechanic help you.
Installing a lube pump is a great way to tow a non-towable vehicle, but you void your car warranty once you choose to install the pump. As such, it is advisable that you only do it on older vehicles. If your car is still new, consider other forms of towing.
According to automakers, your vehicle is still not flat towable and installing a lube pump and flat towing it void the warranty.
Disconnect The Driveshaft
The other option is to disconnect the driveshaft. There are driveshaft disconnect kits that allow you to disconnect the transmission system. This way, the transmission will not run at all and there will be no damage of parts.
The advantage of using a disconnect kit is that your car may not add mileage when towed. The kit will disengage the drive train in tow mode to put the transmission system in park mode. This means that the vehicle does not detect any rotational movement in the transmission and so the speedometer and the drive gears do not turn.
Disconnect kits work for rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive vehicles. They are easier to install compared to lube pumps, but you may still need a professional to help you install them.
What Options Do You Have If You Cannot Dinghy Tow a Lexus GX 460?
If you do not want to void your SUV’s warranty, you need to avoid lube pumps and transmissions disconnect kits. These aftermarket add-ons will void your warranty and this is not something you may want for your new vehicle.
A Lexus GX 460 is a four-wheel drive vehicle, so you cannot use a tow dolly on it unless you disconnect the transmission system. Because you want to avoid anything that will make you void the vehicle warranty, you need to go for a trailer/car hauler.
These car haulers have two axles that make them so stable. They also do not have any rails and when present, the rails are short on their edges. This normally helps keep the weight of the trailer down.
When shopping for a trailer, you need one that can support at least 3,500 pounds on every axle. This will be enough for your Lexus GX 460, which is between 5,130 and 5,198 pounds in curb weight. Most trailers feature hidden ramps and may have a braking system or two.
If your trailer has surge brakes, you may not need brake controllers. However, if your trailer has electric brakes, get a brake controller. Brake controllers give you the convenience of operating the brakes from your motorhome other than relying on the pressure of the trailer against the hydraulic cylinder as in the surge brake.
To start towing with a car hauler, you will need ramps in case the hauler doesn’t feature them. You will also need ratchet straps to tie down your vehicle and a brake controller if your trailer has electric brakes. Purchasing and installing an electric brake controller will cost about $300.
Note that you will need licensing for your trailer. And once you get to the campsite, you will need to disconnect the trailer and store it somewhere separately. If storage is a problem for you, you can visit a pull through campsite.
Why is Trailering Not an Ideal Option?
Trailering helps you keep your warranty alive, but it is not an ideal option in some cases. For instance, to tow a 5,130-pound SUV, you need a powerful RV. If you have a class B motorhome, you may not tow your Lexus GX 460 as some only have a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds.
If you have a class A or class C motorhome, you may be able to tow your Lexus GX 460 behind it on a trailer. Most of these motorhomes can tow up to 15,000 pounds. Using a car hauler adds the weight of the trailer and the weight of the car.
If the trailer is 2,000 pounds, you add that to the curb weight of your Lexus GX 460 and you have approximately 7,200 pounds to tow. You may also need to consider the cargo in the motorhome as it may reduce the towing capacity of the coach.
When you tow more load with your motorhome, it consumes more fuel, and it is more challenging to control.
Another challenge with trailers is in initial buying cost. When you dinghy tow, you only pick a baseplate, tow bar, and a few other items. These items will only cost a fraction of the cost of a trailer and its licensing. You can rent a car hauler from a company such as U-Haul to avoid the cost of buying.
The last challenge is in storage. Trailers are bulky and after disconnecting them, you need a parking space away from your campsite. If the campsites are small, the trailer will become a challenge for you.
When connected right and your motorhome is powerful enough, you will enjoy using a trailer on your trip. There are no complex setups with the trailer.
Lexus is one of the automakers whose vehicles are not dinghy towable. However, you can make them towable using a lube pump or a transmission disconnect kit. If your Lexus GX 460 is old and the warranty is expired, you can use these two methods.
If your Lexus is new, I do not recommend any transmission system modifications as you will void the warranty. Instead, go for a trailer. The trailer will be costly when you rent or buy, but some damages that your warranty can cover may be more costly.
If you choose to modify the transmission system to dinghy tow the Lexus GX 460, allow a mechanic to do the job unless you know what is under your car’s hood.