I've read this forum with great interest, because I'd like to put a hitch on my 2013 RX350 AWD to haul a small convertible on a rental trailer. One issue is that the rental company says my car needs to be rated for 5,000 lbs. The dealer says it's rated for 3,500 lbs. Is this a problem?
We had a nightmare experience hiring a guy to install a hitch on a '99 RX, pulling a trailer a I-95 at night and the wiring harness failed. No lights, and it shorted something that cost me $600 to fix. I'm hesitant to use anyone but the dealer for this car. HOWEVER, I took it to the dealer yesterday for a quote.
He tells me that there is no towing package on this car, so I need the wiring harness, the hitch AND a transmission cooler. I haven't seen anyone else on this forum mention a transmission cooler. Is this necessary? The total estimate to do this is $2,081!!! Holy Moly.
I'm not very car savvy, so any guidance would be greatly appreciated. My alternatives are shipping the convertible for $700 one-way, or driving both cars 1,100 miles one-way.
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jedowdle, welcome to CL. The RX has a towing package available which includes the trans cooler. That's located inside the driver side wheel well looking through the vents. Price was less than $1K IIRC. I don't know the cost installed after the fact. Have you double checked your window sticker to make sure your RX didn't come with it? It's a pretty common option to have.
IF you had a towing prep package the rated weight would be 3500 lbs, without it it's 2000.
Even at 3500, it would have to be a pretty small convertible and a lightweight trailer to sneak under 3500 pounds, and you're not likely to find a lightweight trailer (aluminum) for rent. If you could get the package below 3500 I'd tow it even without the towing prep package unless you're going in the mountains or Death Valley. But as you said, U-Haul won't rent you a trailer unless you meet their criteria.
I don't think towing prep packages are common - in the mid atlantic region they're special order, the dealers just don't order them on their cars.
The dealer estimate sounds like I would expect from a Lexus dealer. That said, I don't think I'd have an independent shop install a transmission cooler on a car that was under warranty, I don't think Lexus would look kindly on any future transmission claims. The dealers do overcharge mightily for hitch installation, anybody can do that.
Ship it, unless you like driving a lot and don't value your time highly.
Just received my 2015 RX 450h with towing prep package and receiver installed. I didn't want the typical black painted hitch ball mount that was going to rust in three years up here in Cleveland like the one on my Highlander did. Found this on Amazon. Mount is lighter weight aluminum and the 2" ball is stainless.