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Old 08-21-2020, 02:39 PM   #1
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Default High Mountain Travel in a Travato 59K

My wife and I are considering buying a Travato 59K. We are both 71 years old and believe that a Class B might be the right RV for us to travel in.

We live in Northern New Mexico at the 7,500 foot elevation and enjoy the campgrounds in our area, ( some are over 8,000 feet in elevation), I am not sure how well the 3.5 six cylinder engine would work out for us. We are interested in 2019 and 2020.5 models.

We would like to hear from members who travel in the Travato 59K in the high mountain elevations.

Thank you,

Roadtoads
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Old 08-21-2020, 02:59 PM   #2
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My wife and I are considering buying a Travato 59K. We are both 71 years old and believe that a Class B might be the right RV for us to travel in.

We live in Northern New Mexico at the 7,500 foot elevation and enjoy the campgrounds in our area, ( some are over 8,000 feet in elevation), I am not sure how well the 3.5 six cylinder engine would work out for us. We are interested in 2019 and 2020.5 models.

We would like to hear from members who travel in the Travato 59K in the high mountain elevations.

Thank you,

Roadtoads

Hi Roadtoads,

Virtually Any 2019/20 class B rv will be fine, do well at 10,000 feet. There are two class B engines that are turbo charged and maintain sea level power at high altitudes (Sprinter and Transit ecoboost). But any class b has More Power at 10,000 than the Sprinter, the engine rpm will just be higher.

Since you like the K floorplan, there are many choices. I don't really know of any bad choices, just that there may be a better or worse one for each person's application, pocket book, etc.........

I would not choose an engine UNLESS all else was equal which is Unlikely since that is but one feature vs the other 1,000+. Power at 10,000 feet would be in descending order:

Ford ecoboost, Chevrolet Express Van, the other Ford engine, Promaster, Sprinter. I suggest forgetting engine and decide on the best combination of features for the Roadtoads.

Have fun shopping. Wish I were at 10,000' instead of at about 1 foot of elevation, soon maybe.

Bud
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Old 08-21-2020, 03:13 PM   #3
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Ditto
while any motor works better at sea level- high air density, none of them are horrible at high altitude.
Fuel injection and modern controls make as efficient as possible.
Diesels make great torque at low rpms

There is no modern vehicle challenged at 10000'

Generators do have reduced electrical power output at altitude- reduced about 3.5% per 1000' something to keep in mind-


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Old 08-21-2020, 04:13 PM   #4
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We took our Promaster "B+" through the continental divide in Montana, then again in Idaho, and finally through the Bighorn Mountains. In doing so we passed through elevations as high as 9,700 feet, and were over 8,000 feet many times. Some observations:

1.) We ran out of power. Granted, since ours is a small class-C and weighs more than any Promaster B you might not face this. Several times we found that flooring the accelerator produced no increase in speed and left us maxed out at 45 mph or so on steep grades.

2.) Engine temperature rises dangerously on long grades. I use an aftermarket temperature gauge that provides the real reading (the dash gauge does not move regardless of how hot the engine gets - you can overheat and it will never warn you). On long grades I had to reduce speed sometimes as low as 30 mph to keep the temp below 233 degrees F.

3.) On long downhill grades you will get a brake failure warning if you use engine braking to control speed. This scared the daylights out of me when the warning scrolled across the dash message center while I was going down a very long, steep grade (where there was no cell service of course). Once we returned to cell service and I looked it up I found that this is a known issue with Promasters and is discussed extensively on Promaster forums. If you downshift and use the engine to slow the van on a long grade it will throw a brake failure warning, even though your brakes are perfectly fine. The warning clears when you shut the van off and restart.

In fairness however I should add that none of these problems were unmanageable. We certainly saw plenty of larger RVs struggling much more. It was only on the very steepest parts that we couldn't accelerate as much as we wanted. Most of the grades we could easily go up as fast as we felt comfortable with. You will probably not even see these issues with your lower-weight 59K.
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Old 08-21-2020, 04:19 PM   #5
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Most of the time we hear of the elevation power drop at 3-4% per 1000 feet of elevation. This is for normally aspirated engines.



So at 10K feet you would be down about 1/3 in torque an hp. Our 360hp Chevy 6.0 turns into a 240hp, which is still more than a Sprinter if it lost nothing.


If you are comparing to an ECOboost gas engine in a Transit, that is another story. They will outperform nearly everything in the mountains.


If you have some normally aspirated cars, see how they perform in the areas you want to go to, and then calculate the pounds per horsepower for them (with people and stuff) against what you would get with whatever vans you are looking at. That is a pretty fair comparison, but at faster speeds the high van will have more wind resistance. At 30mph up a mountain in 2nd gear, the comparison will be closer than at 70mph up the Eisenhower (if your van will do that fast).
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Old 08-21-2020, 04:37 PM   #6
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2.) Engine temperature rises dangerously
If ever in "crisis mode" open windows and turn HEAT on full-
heat from the motor and transmission will be removed and instead blow in your face

if your motor has been super heated, consider changing the oil sooner than later

consider adding radiator cooling fans and tranny and oil cooler- some of which have fan kits

Mike
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Old 08-21-2020, 06:32 PM   #7
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We have been at 10,000ft + and up to 12,000 ft in our Promaster for most of the last couple of months in the mountains of central Colorado. It has 137,000 miles on it and never misses a beat.

We have never heard of the issues described here—never even contemplated that altitude could be an issue. It will climb a steep incline as fast as we feel comfortable.

I have been a regular member of the Promaster Forum for nearly six years and have never seen mention of this brake failure warning described above. MrNomer routinely shifts into first gear for steep downhill.
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Old 08-21-2020, 09:21 PM   #8
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"On long downhill grades you will get a brake failure warning if you use engine braking to control speed. This scared the daylights out of me when the warning scrolled across the dash message center while I was going down a very long, steep grade (where there was no cell service of course)."


What a great feature! When the brakes get hot, there is a warning. Great for ignorant folks driving in mountains for the first time. I've been behind them.


"Once we returned to cell service and I looked it up I found that this is a known issue with Promasters and is discussed extensively on Promaster forums. If you downshift and use the engine to slow the van on a long grade it will throw a brake failure warning, even though your brakes are perfectly fine. The warning clears when you shut the van off and restart."

You meant exactly that and did not misspeak? If not, why? Has the problem been resolved?

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Old 08-22-2020, 03:15 AM   #9
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mkguitar, jakegw2, Bud, MsNomer and booster,

Thank you for your replies and great information!

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Old 08-22-2020, 02:12 PM   #10
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I must correct my post. After a search of the PM forum, I found a thread from 2017 discussing the warning issue. The consensus in that thread was the possibility of steep incline affecting the brake fluid level in the reservoir. It does not appear to be a common occurrence.
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Old 08-22-2020, 06:33 PM   #11
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I must correct my post. After a search of the PM forum, I found a thread from 2017 discussing the warning issue. The consensus in that thread was the possibility of steep incline affecting the brake fluid level in the reservoir. It does not appear to be a common occurrence.
Your correction is noted and appreciated.
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Old 08-23-2020, 04:03 AM   #12
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We have a DIY ProMaster making it a "Travato wanna-be".

We find mountain performance to be adequate, but not overwhelming. After driving our turbo diesel Jetta around the mountains, the ProMaster is a bit disappointing. But we've certainly driven far worse vehicles in the mountains. We've learned 'momentum management' and often manually downshift to maintain or increase uphill speed.

On the issue of brake failure warnings (while engine braking downhill) . . . we can confirm this to be 'real' in the sense that we've received such warning numerous times, but apparently of 'no real significance' in the sense that no actual brake failure has occurred. It's a temporary indicator malfunction only.

Overall, we're fond our our ProMaster and would not hesitate to purchase a Travato even where significant mountain travel is expected.
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Old 08-25-2020, 05:26 PM   #13
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I was NOT using the brakes on the downhill grades, I was using engine braking. It works the opposite of what you would expect. If you use engine braking for long enough it throws the brake warning. As far as I can tell if you were to ride the brakes down it would think everything was just dandy.

The brake fluid level was a theory that was discussed, but one I personally find unconvincing because: 1. the grade is long, but not particularly steep compared to something like my driveway, and 2. there is no sensor on the translucent part of the brake fluid reservoir, and even on a steep slope (again, like my driveway), I can see that the top of the fluid level does not fall anywhere near the bottom of the translucent reservoir.
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Old 08-27-2020, 08:28 PM   #14
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I have a fair amount of experience with the Promaster, particularly the 3500EXT used by our WB Travato 59K. I have some limited experience driving Sprinter and Transit. Personally I am not fond of Sprinter handling in cross winds. While none of them are going to be like a sports car hugging the road, one of the reasons I bought the Promaster/Travato 59K was its handling in most conditions plus it's powertrain is frankly a real treat. On the other hand if your travel is mixed with a lot of rough roading, I would look at the Transit or Sprinter. Likewise if you want to tow anything more than say, 2,000 lb's including trailer; Transit and Sprinter is the right machines to look at. As a Travato G or K and not towing, the V6 engine also used in the JEEP 2010 and later JK, JL and Gladiator pickup is a fine engine with lots of hp and torque for it's 3.6 liter displacement. Mileage is very good on the road. Drive it every day around town with a lot of stop and goes and the weight will nail the gas down to 10 or even under 10 mpg. On the road, depending on altitude, hills, aggressive or not aggressive driving, wind, tire inflation, etc; 15 mpg is pretty easy. And you can get 18 mpg average too but thats flat land driving for distance with no winds and your 65mph or less. I can't tell you much about 70 or 75 mph since the times I run that have been met with enough hills, mountains, wind or what have you to not get a good idea.

Solid front wheel drive transaxle and same for the V6 engine is my opinion. Good idea to add an aftermarket meter to watch the coolant temperature. Unless that was fixed in 2020, the gauge on the dash will stop rising if it needs to, at about mid scale. I mean if the engine is actually overheating, you will not see it in the gauge. By the time any other indication presents itself, the engine is probably toast. This is the only real fault in the Promaster that I know of. I use an aftermarket gauge that gets data from the engine temp sensor via the OBD-II port under the dash. My gauge also has an alarm setpoint to let me know if the coolant temp has risen above my comfort zone. Not a common problem so no particular worry but of course its best to know whats going on and the factory dash gauge only tells you what the temp is between cold, and about 214 degrees max before the needle will simply not go higher.

No warranty issues whatsoever in 2 years. 2 factory recalls that did not manifest themselves into a problem for me but of course we should have recalls handled as I did. Which also came with driver door damage by the recall tech on one of these so another week in a paint shop to fix that. Disappointing but sometimes things happen and the dealer took responsibility for, and handled with best grace possible.
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Old 08-28-2020, 04:47 AM   #15
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Storysrvwego,

This is great information!

Thank you,

Roadtoads
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Old 09-08-2020, 06:50 PM   #16
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Good idea to add an aftermarket meter to watch the coolant temperature. Unless that was fixed in 2020, the gauge on the dash will stop rising if it needs to, at about mid scale. I mean if the engine is actually overheating, you will not see it in the gauge. By the time any other indication presents itself, the engine is probably toast. This is the only real fault in the Promaster that I know of. I use an aftermarket gauge that gets data from the engine temp sensor via the OBD-II port under the dash. My gauge also has an alarm setpoint to let me know if the coolant temp has risen above my comfort zone. Not a common problem so no particular worry but of course its best to know whats going on and the factory dash gauge only tells you what the temp is between cold, and about 214 degrees max before the needle will simply not go higher.
Which aftermarket gauge do you use on the Promaster to monitor potential overheating? I recall the FitRV folks inadvertently ruined a Promaster engine because the standard dash temperature gauge doesn't indicate over-temp conditions.
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Old 09-08-2020, 08:30 PM   #17
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I use the OBD Fusion app on my iphone for a number of my vehicles ( none a promaster)


There are posts on promaster forums exactly what to expect from OBD Fusion in practice.


you need a dongle which plugs into the OBDII port and communicates wirelessly by bluetooth or wifi to the phone


for my RV ( chev) , GMC pick up and toyota ( and a neighbor's car) there are various and detailed data streams which can be displayed..


trouble codes read and reset


My default in the RV is tranny temps, and I use my "old" iphone dedicated to that function but the multi display i have set for other things- fuel flow etc



$10 iphone or android, with other functions as premium.
Dongle under $10 amazon


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Old 09-08-2020, 08:34 PM   #18
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The engine failure you reference is a Travato 59G called "Lance" by James and Stef aka FITRV. I do recommend for anyone that has or is interested in a Promaster based Class B to read the story that they posted on their fitrv.com web site if you have or are thinking about a RAM PM.

It helps to know that this couple still likes (maybe loves) their PM even with the hassle that began with a dealer regarding the engine problem. The story continues and as one will see, a very good ending. I think this helps to realize that regardless of brand of vehicle, there are still dealers out there that will take advantage of our misfortunes. James was on the ball re getting input from others. Makes for a very good read whether a PM, Sprinter, Transit, or anything you drive.

I purchased the ULTRA GAUGE BLUE, OBDii adapter-monitor that James uses. It works very well. However, if I had to buy again, I would go a different way. Why?

This device plugs into the OBDII computer port-connector under the dash of any modern vehicle will have. Data collected by this adapter is transmitted to, and displayed on iPhone or Android phones. No other gadget mounted, glued or stuck on the dash. You can adjust the position and style of the provided set of default "gauges" which can be also be altered between numeric or analog style gauges on your smartphone. Depending on what you want to see, you can re-arrange the gauges into a few different display screens that you can swipe left or right to view. And you can add gauges that are not already provided in the default set. Like a Coolant Temperature Gauge which is a good idea for all vehicles.

You can set alarms for individual gauges to notify you. Have a max RPM you do not want to exceed? Set an alarm. MPH max? Set an alarm. Coolant Temp getting too high? There you go, set that one for sure. If coolant temp goes sky high and a light comes on the instrument panel, that light probably means the engine is already toast beyond saving. Unfortunately the panel gauge of the FIAT/RAM Promaster which reads temperature just fine below center scale, will simply not register readings beyond mid scale. You will never see how hot the engine got. The sensor on the engine is providing valid information because we can plug in instrumentation like the ULTRA GAUGE and other devices into the OBDII port to read it there.

In practice, I have found the ULTRA GAUGE Blue to be a bit hard to position gauges on the smartphone screen. Adding a new gauge such as the Coolant Temp is not exactly intuitive either. While I get this all worked out ok, it takes some practice and good dose of patience. And then many months later, the darned thing stopped working alltogether. Bluetooth connectivity to the smartphone setup screen was good. But the App itself said there was no BT connection. There are steps to take to recover this and yet the steps did not work with several tries. And then one day, the thing began to work again and honestly, I had not touched the settings since the last gosh darned puzzlement. I cannot explain why it stopped working on my PM, JEEP and Subaru (can plug into multiple vehicles) but suddently it was back on all three. Has to be Human cockpit error? Probably. I just cannot tell you why.

If I had to do this again, I would get a device that has a panel I could stick or bolt somewhere on the dash, and live with the cable snaking down to the OBDII port. BT pairing and maintaining connections sometimes give fits to I think many people, and a "hard wired" device would be better than messing around with BT.

ULTRAGAUGE makes a hard wired version. And there are a few others on the market. As long as they have the ability to set Alarms, that would be a feature I would demand the device does. Your choice to use the alarm function. It would be nice to have a running log of data points, perhaps to a micro SD card.

ULTRAGAUGE is a company that has no telephone number or physical address. You read them/him by email only. Very nice fellow and fairly prompt to respond. And I totally get why some companies do business this way. Not my preference; I tend to hunt for products that have an established place of business. But things worked out ok, even if I can't explain in my case why this befuddled me for a few weeks and I am pretty good with all manner of electronics gadgets, down to the components level. Clever product for sure and definitely provides t least an opportunity to avoid a catastrophic issue.

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Old 09-08-2020, 09:29 PM   #19
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I was aware of the problem the FitRV had with their Promaster, so I bought a cheap gauge shortly after I got my RV. I got the Autool X50 from Amazon (~$35). It works fine, nothing to gush about, but can be configured to show a few different readings on the screen alongside the coolant temp.
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