Toyota Tundra: How Competent is the Tundra 4.7 V8 for Towing

So you have decided that another vehicle is going to provide you better towing and you are considering a Toyota Tundra to pull that new family camper. In the following article, we will look at the Toyota Tundra and its towing capabilities.

By August Barrett - January 20, 2016

This article applies to the Toyota Tundra (2000-Present).

Right off the bat, here are the hard numbers. The 4.7L 2UZ-FE V8 in the early trucks made between 245 to 280 horsepower, and 313 to 315 lb/ft of torque depending on the year and model, as Toyota made changes to the engine throughout its service life. The 2UZ-FE is a 32-valve engine (four valves per cylinder in the cylinder head), and introduced Toyota's now common terminology "i-Force," which describes the V8 engines in Toyota's more powerful models. Towing capacity for the Tundra 4.7 liter engine is 6,500 pounds. Tongue weight 540 pounds. So, plenty of power and torque to do most towing jobs. But, there are some issues when pushing the limits.

Figure 1. The Toyota Tundra.


The first issue when towing are the tires. If you are going to tow heavy trailers for a long distance, then you may need to change the tires, because they might bubble on the sidewall and give out. All tires have a listed load rating stamped on the sidewall. Common load indicators include "LL" (light load), "SL" (standard load), and "XL" (extra load). XL-rated tires are better able to handle the extra weight being carried. Additionally, bumping up your tire pressure a few PSI will keep more evenly disperse the load on the tire. If you normally roll around on 34psi worth of tire pressure, try bumping it up to 38psi or so next time you're hauling.

Next, there is the issue of tongue weight.

Tongue Weight

You must make sure you know how much weight the trailer will be putting on the hitch. If your camper has been filled with water, all your camping gear, two propane tanks, a couple of extra batteries, you could be getting close to the 540 pound tongue weight.

4.7L V8 2UZ-FE Engine towing
Figure 2. Tongue weight.


When towing heavy loads for an extended period of time, this will of course cause your engine and transmission to work much harder. So with the Tundra, you might have to consider changing your oil every 3,000 miles for regular oil and 6,000 if your using a synthetic. As for the transmission fluid, keep a close eye on it by pulling the dipstick regularly and looking for any changes. Also, if you are towing in the mountains or live in hilly terrain, you will have to replace your brakes more often. You may want to consider an upgrade depending on how steep and how often you are going up and down.

4.7L V8 2UZ-FE Engine towing
Figure 3. Maintenance.

A Note on Max Payload

When it comes to pushing the Tundra's limits, it is a given that the Toyota engineers have under-spec'd the Tundra. Anecdotes in the forums indicate that people have safely towed loads greater than what Toyota has initially stated to be the maximum payload. Some of these stories are just crazy and would not suggest that you do what some of these guys do with their trucks, but I would feel fairly confident that if you went say a few percentage points over the max, your truck will do just fine.

4.7L V8 2UZ-FE Engine towing
Figure 4. Pulling to the max.

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