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Old 06-09-2019, 08:09 AM   #1
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towing with air conditioning

Hey everyone... I'm towing a Salem 27RKSS (7000 lb range loaded) with a GMC Sierra 1500. Does anyone experience any adverse effects with overheating or power loss running the trucks ac while towing?
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Old 06-09-2019, 08:19 AM   #2
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If all systems are working correctly, you should not overheat or loose power. If you are, then there should possibly be a computer code.
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Old 06-09-2019, 08:41 AM   #3
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if your pulling on some real steep hills on a hot day she may run hot BUT if all is working well and you have a proper equipped truck with a towing package you should be ok. Now what I did was put in a different trans cooler so hot oil was not going thru my radiator and I went from a 190 thermostat to a 180 and I went from running on the temp gauge at 195 to 180 almost all the time
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Old 06-09-2019, 09:33 AM   #4
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thanks everyone.... Wasn't sure, have always just played it safe on hot days and toughed it out with the windows down. Thought I'd ask for opinion in the likely hood that I'm forgoing comfort for no reason
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Old 06-09-2019, 09:44 AM   #5
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With modern automobile a/c compressors, the hp drain on the engine is negligible. So you shouldn't see any engine temp changes while towing due to the a/c. If you do, then by all means, shut it off and then have it looked at soon.
We tow fairly often from NM to Phoenix AZ during 105 days. I would expire if we couldn't run the a/c for the whole trip
I do remember those days of having to turn off the a/c for just normal highway driving in very hot days to ensure you made it to your destination. Thank goodness those days are gone!
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Old 06-09-2019, 10:02 AM   #6
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If you turn off the AC and still have an overheat issue, an “old” trick I learned from Dad, is to turn on the heater full hot. Yup, vehicle interior will become even warmer, but, the heater core will be shedding some additional heat from the engine cooling system and may be just enough to avoid a boil-over.

This worked when I was going to visit my brother with the station wagon loaded with stuff and towing a boat close to “too big”. Fortunately the wagon had a manual transmission so that was a non-issue.

If you have a “AC “ button on the HVAC controls, make sure it is turned off. Some modern vehicles run the AC compressor and blend hot and cold air to control temp and moisture, particularly in the defrost position.
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Old 06-09-2019, 10:47 AM   #7
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NM is correct. If the vehicle is equipped to tow the load then it should tow pretty well...assuming the cooling system is “up to par”. There are additives that help. If the vehicle is not equipped with an electric fan...you can add one to assist if desired.
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Old 06-09-2019, 10:48 AM   #8
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How many miles on the GMC? Mine would get pretty warm pulling long hills in 2nd gear with AC on. Only four or five minutes of no AC was the cure. I had to replace the radiator for a leak, not for over heating. The new radiator helped it run cooler. Old one was probably partly plugged.
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Old 06-09-2019, 12:00 PM   #9
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My truck and trailer are almost identical to yours and I've towed in 100 degree days with no issues.
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Old 06-09-2019, 12:06 PM   #10
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How many miles on the GMC? Mine would get pretty warm pulling long hills in 2nd gear with AC on. Only four or five minutes of no AC was the cure. I had to replace the radiator for a leak, not for over heating. The new radiator helped it run cooler. Old one was probably partly plugged.
It's got around 105,000 miles on it. Have never had any issues with it heating up at all. It's got the whole tow package,oil\trans coolers..tow mode...Etc. I guess I'm just always over cautious,only have 2 seasons of towing a bigger trailer under my belt. I always come here and get experienced opinion before I try something I'm not positive of. Thanks again everyone
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Old 06-09-2019, 12:08 PM   #11
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My 2005 F-150 would tow better with the A/C off. With ambient temps above 90 F, the truck would begin to overheat up small grades at 6,000 - 8,000'. Temps would climb into the 225 F range and higher. Turning off the A/C would shed 10 degrees pretty quickly.

I changed the radiator to a dual core. Ran a thinner blend (80% DI water). I replaced the water pump (old one looked brand new, though). Added a HD fan clutch. Added a B&M transmission cooler in series after the factory tranny cooler.

None of those things ended up doing much. Truck was just overmatched.

So, if you're running at the limits of your truck, yes, running the A/C will make a significant difference in performance and engine temperature. At least, it did on my F-150 5.4L 3V.

You have told us very little about your TV. Depending on year, drive, trim level, and myriad other factors, you could be pushing your limits with a 7,000 lb TT or well within your capability.
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Old 06-09-2019, 03:12 PM   #12
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Some issues

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Originally Posted by greggcowan View Post
Hey everyone... I'm towing a Salem 27RKSS (7000 lb range loaded) with a GMC Sierra 1500. Does anyone experience any adverse effects with overheating or power loss running the trucks ac while towing?
We towed our 233s Roo with our 2014 Suburban, and experienced some of the same last summer. This was in extreme heat. We would pull over and let it cool down for a bit. It did help turning off the A/C.
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Old 06-09-2019, 03:56 PM   #13
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Refrigerant can be 300 deg entering the condenser. You better know the hotter the air to the radiator the less efficient the cooling. They make extreme cooling radiators for most TVs these days and at a nominal cost(till the tariffs hit that).

I can see a 10+ degree rise when towing a little hill in my old Dodge...it cools down quickly after unloading. I added a fan to mine for the a/c when idling as the fan clutch does it’s own thing and the cooling suffers idling.
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Old 06-09-2019, 04:18 PM   #14
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My 2005 F-150 would tow better with the A/C off. With ambient temps above 90 F, the truck would begin to overheat up small grades at 6,000 - 8,000'. Temps would climb into the 225 F range and higher. Turning off the A/C would shed 10 degrees pretty quickly.

I changed the radiator to a dual core. Ran a thinner blend (80% DI water). I replaced the water pump (old one looked brand new, though). Added a HD fan clutch. Added a B&M transmission cooler in series after the factory tranny cooler.

None of those things ended up doing much. Truck was just overmatched.

So, if you're running at the limits of your truck, yes, running the A/C will make a significant difference in performance and engine temperature. At least, it did on my F-150 5.4L 3V.

You have told us very little about your TV. Depending on year, drive, trim level, and myriad other factors, you could be pushing your limits with a 7,000 lb TT or well within your capability.
I also wondered about this. What year GMC 1500? Which engine? 2WD/4WD? Neither my 5.3L nor my 6.2L trucks have had trouble towing that weight while running the A/C.
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Old 06-09-2019, 04:39 PM   #15
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We have a 2009 Flagstaff 828FKSS TT. We have towed it with our 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2014 F150's. All towed the Flagstaff easily with no problems to note. Our 2014 with the 3.5 ecoboost, max tow, HD tow package, 3.73 rr end was the best of the four. Based on our past experience, I would not buy anything but a Ford for our towing needs. We always stay between 28 and 30 feet long and 6000 to 7000 dry weight. It is just Carol and I, no children, no pets, no firewood, minimal fresh water ( couple of gallons to flush and wash hands). The F150 3.5 ecoboost properly equipped is an amazing vehicle in that length, weight range. I don't think I would go larger for long hauls. I only use good quality American made E rated 10 ply tires on both the truck and trailer. I did get bit once by a set of E rated Towmax trailer tires. (China Bombs)
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Old 06-09-2019, 05:42 PM   #16
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It's got around 105,000 miles on it. Have never had any issues with it heating up at all. It's got the whole tow package,oil\trans coolers..tow mode...Etc. I guess I'm just always over cautious,only have 2 seasons of towing a bigger trailer under my belt. I always come here and get experienced opinion before I try something I'm not positive of. Thanks again everyone

Have you ever replaced the fan clutch ? at 105,000 it my be time and can make a big difference . a weak fan clutch will cause some over heating at times when it shouldn't
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Old 06-10-2019, 09:23 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by greggcowan View Post
It's got around 105,000 miles on it. Have never had any issues with it heating up at all. It's got the whole tow package,oil\trans coolers..tow mode...Etc. I guess I'm just always over cautious,only have 2 seasons of towing a bigger trailer under my belt. I always come here and get experienced opinion before I try something I'm not positive of. Thanks again everyone
Would like to help you out, but we need to know some particulars of your TV. Such as engine/transmission and gear ratio. Without that info everything is hunches, guesses and maybes. In actuality, you need to run it while towing and see what it does. You will be able to see your temps and determine if you have a problem.
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Old 06-20-2019, 10:11 PM   #18
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Modern vehicles, meaning anything from about 2000 or newer, with an electric radiator fan, will actually run cooler with the AC on. When AC is on the radiator fan will come on based on AC requirements. That keeps the fan on more than the radiator really needs. This keeps the coolant temperature close to the thermostat temperature, usually 195f, instead of the radiator fan turn on temperature, usually about 225f. So keep that AC on, your engine will run cooler!
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Old 06-21-2019, 08:50 AM   #19
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Modern vehicles, meaning anything from about 2000 or newer, with an electric radiator fan, will actually run cooler with the AC on. When AC is on the radiator fan will come on based on AC requirements. That keeps the fan on more than the radiator really needs. This keeps the coolant temperature close to the thermostat temperature, usually 195f, instead of the radiator fan turn on temperature, usually about 225f. So keep that AC on, your engine will run cooler!
All true at low speeds. Forced air at highway speeds is much more than a fan can pull or push. When pulling a long grade I watch my temperature gauge. If it even starts to move hotter the AC gets shut off. YMMV
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Old 06-21-2019, 02:15 PM   #20
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One area of maintenance many, if not not almost all, people overlook is cleaning the radiator fins on a regular basis.

Sure, lots will hit the front with a stream from a hose nozzle to get all the bugs they see washed off but what about all the mud and dirt that's accumulated between AC Condenser, Transmission Cooler (often sandwiched between condenser and radiator on newer factory tow packages, and radiator itself.

Drive a lot on muddy roads or mountain highways that get heavily sanded? When the muddy water hits the hot radiator a lot of that mud instantly dries and can block air passage.

Having removed many radiators over the years it's amazing what you'll find built up between it and the Condenser.

For the DIY crowd a simple "back flush" tool can be made from a piece of copper tubing and an adapter to attach it to a hose. Take a length of tubing and flatten one end so it makes a sharp, fan shaped, spray. Put a 90 degree bend in the tubing so the fan shape now is out to the side. Attach to hose and working BEHIND the radiator direct the spray to so it flushes from behind the radiator out the front. If you remove the top support bolts on most radiators they can be pushed back toward the engine enough to get your flush tool between and do likewise for the trans cooler and or condenser..


For those who think "Pressure Washer" it sounds good but unfortunately if you don't have the spray exactly 90 degrees to the fins it often bends them over which now block air flow.

Back to A/C, many vehicles are equipped with a WOT (Wide Open Throttle) switch which cuts off the compressor when the throttle is either wide open or close to it. When towing up hills this could occur when you need more power and the A/C will shut off until you back off. Often there is residual cooling left in the evaporator so it's not all that noticeable unless you're at Wide Open Throttle for several miles.


Last note, if your tow vehicle is sensitive to whether or not the AC is running while towing ------ to paraphrase the line from Jaws "you're going to need a bigger truck".
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