The Toyota FJ cruiser is arguably the best used Toyota SUV to buy in the market if you don’t already own one. I am terming it as a used vehicle because it was discontinued for most parts of the world. Models currently produced are sold to markets such as South Africa, Chile, the Philippines, and the Middle East. Part of the reason for discontinuation in the United States was because of plummeting in the sales after the great recession and also because Toyota wants to revamp the model to a new hardcore vehicle that is more off-road oriented that will debut in the coming years.
Still, this boxy off-road retro machine is highly sought after in the car market and has a devoted following worldwide, fetching high prices in the used car market. A lot of this has to do with its reliability, which stems from it being a Toyota. The majority of the owners take advantage of this and take them off-road where they thrive. I couldn’t stop to wonder whether this vehicle can be pulled on all fours behind a motor home. That is why I embarked on a quest to find out if it can be done safely, and below were my finding
Can Toyota FJ Cruiser be flat towed?
So, can Toyota FJ cruiser be flat towed? Yes, but not all models can and has to do with the transmission and the drive train setup. 4×4 models with automatic transmissions are the ones that can be flat towed with ease. As for the manual transmission, the vehicle cannot be flat towed as they come with a full-time AWD system meaning you cannot pull it on all fours without possibly causing damage to the transmission.
Before you go flat towing your Automatic 4×4 FJ cruiser, there are specific steps that you should follow to do it safely and not damage your transmission. First, you should always put the transfer case in a neutral position and put the transmission in the park.
Placing the transfer in neutral means that no power will be sent to the front or rear wheel tires enabling them to rotate freely when on the ground. On the other hand, putting the FJ cruiser in park, unlike other vehicles when flat towing, is very important to prevent the transmission from spinning and overheating.
Putting the transmission into park should come after you switch off the vehicle and ready to flat tow, otherwise leave it in neutral. The next step is putting the ignition in the ACC position.
It is crucial to hook up the battery to the motor home’s 12-volt system to prevent the battery from draining while you are towing it. The rear output shaft would greatly lubricate the transmission if you were worried about it.
You can even test this by seeing if you can drive your vehicle when the transfer case is neutral. If it does not move, you have done your set up correctly.
Are there any advantages of flat towing my FJ cruiser over other methods?
Before securing your FJ cruiser behind a motor home, it is vital to know the advantages that this method brings.
It might not always be the best option for the nature of your trip or your vehicle, but if it is, below are several advantages you might enjoy as you pull your car to your next adventure location.
First, flat towing is arguably the fastest way to connect and disconnect a vehicle for towing, provided you have the flat towing kit already installed. All you have to do is carefully position your FJ cruiser behind the RV or truck that you intend to tow it with, set up the coupling that is relatively easy provided you follow all the steps, and you are ready to go for your adventure.
Once you get to your destination, all you need to do is decouple your FJ cruiser, and you are ready to drive around in it since all four wheels are on the ground.
Another significant advantage is the convenience that flat towing brings with it. This can be significantly experienced when you need to drive the towed vehicle frequently. The sight of flat towing in action on normal roads is increasingly becoming popular because it allows you to take short trips to the nearest town on your secondary vehicle with ease.
Motorhomes are uniquely large and are difficult to navigate in narrow trails where the FJ cruiser thrives. The speed at which you can unhitch and hitch back your vehicle when you are done with your errands or off-road expeditions is a massive advantage for flat towing.
Additionally, Flat towing saves on space compared to using tow dollies and trailer beds, and here is why. For flat towing, all the gear that you might need to properly secure your FJ Cruiser to the back of the RV is most times limited to a tow bar, some links, and some accessories and tools you need to use.
All these equipment are relatively light and non-bulky, especially if you need to store them indoors when you are not flat towing. The other two methods mentioned earlier require a trailer or dolly that would take much of your space in your driveway.
Are there possible disadvantages when it comes to flat towing the Toyota FJ cruiser?
Every towing method has its own disadvantages, and flat towing is not an exception. Perhaps one of the most significant downsides is cannot just simply flat tow every model you wish.
This is owed to the fact that different vehicles have different drive systems and transmission lubrication systems. For instance, the manual variants on the FJ cruiser cannot be flat towed even if the automatics can. This can be a drawback.
Secondly, flat towing can only be used on functioning vehicles and not on disabled ones. What I mean is that if you are out there and your vehicle seizes up on you and you need to tow it to a safe location for repair of storage, flat towing is not an option.
For you to flat tow your vehicle, most parts of it have to be roadworthy to prevent further damage to your car. Trailer beds and trailers can even tow wrecked vehicles, but the same cannot be said for flat towing.
Another major problem that you might experience while flat towing is the modifications you need to make to your vehicle before you can flat tow it. You cannot just flat tow at will if you haven’t done it before without making changes to your vehicle.
Depending on the modifications you need to make to your vehicle, it can either be a one-time procedure or one you will need to keep an eye on every time. Depending on the changes you need to make to your vehicle, it might cost you more than purchasing a tow dolly and sometimes even a whole trailer bed.
Flat towing might save you time in the long run when hitching and unhitching but might be a hindrance if you have different FJ cruisers that you might want to flat tow.
You will have to sacrifice time and do modifications across all the vehicles you need to tow this way. Compared to methods such as a flatbed that can fit different cars with no modification, this may be a hindrance.
Finally, Your FJ cruiser will undergo wear and tear when you pull it with all tires on the ground. Your tires will be the first to show this. Flat towing also adds miles to your suspension as it is still dampening the bumps on the vehicle.
For those who choose to tow their FJ Cruisers by just setting the car into neutral, significant wear and tear will also be experienced on the transmission, which will reduce its useful life and might break earlier than expected.
What are the tips and tricks for flat towing?
To begin with, it is good to know the requirements of your vehicle. Some vehicles require you to stop the RV after a certain distance and switch on the engine to enable the transmission to be adequately lubricated before continuing with the journey. Some might even require you to pull some fuses before you begin to disconnect some components that might interfere with flat towing.
Secondly, cars whose steering lock is triggered by input on the ignition and prevent the wheels’ turning cannot be flat towed.
This is because they will lock in one direction when being towed and might cause an accident when they pull in one direction. It is crucial to keep the key in the ignition and move it to the ACC position for the steering wheel to be unlocked.
Lastly, some states require that you fit the flat towed vehicle with an auxiliary braking system that works hand in hand with the motor home to provide smooth braking. The reason for the additional braking system is to abide by the laws that require the component when the towed object is above a specific weight limit.
The Toyota FJ cruiser is a more than capable off-road vehicle; however, it is not entirely rated for flat towing, but owners report doing so for thousands of miles by following the steps mentioned earlier to prevent damage to the transmission.