Good Sam Club Open Roads Forum: Towing: Towing with a Ford Explorer
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Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area

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Posted: 06/25/20 11:51am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

"Any idea what my vehicle can safely pull?"

Safely PULL and, spouse, kids and stuff in the Ford plus tongue weight and hitch weight.

Winnebago 2101DS TT & 2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 LTZ Z71, 300 watts solar-parallel & MPPT, Trojan T-125s. TALL pole for flags. Prefer USFS, COE, BLM, NPS, TVA, USF&WS, state & county camps. Bicyclist! 14 year Army vet - 11B40 then 11A - (MOS 1542 & 1560)

dodge guy

Bartlett IL

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Posted: 06/25/20 12:19pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Convington wrote:

ugh. ok. sounds like we will be looking at lighter popups for right now and if we really want to do this - invest in a truck, I guess. Kind of a bummer.

I agree. And I am far from a member of the weight police, but with the current gen Explorers they just aren’t up to the task of a tall trailer. You would be OK with a 3500lb loaded PuP.

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Black Diamond, WA

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Posted: 06/25/20 01:11pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Agree with the posts thus far.
On the flip side if you’re good with towing it easy, keeping to say 55mph and not running through mountains, I believe 100% that the vehicle will not have any issue with it.
But personally I don’t have the time nor self control to putz down the Highway for days at 55mph.
Another option, is rent a truck for a couple weeks. Either a rental outfit and lie to them about towing or rent from an Equipment rental place. May cost you $700-900 to rent the truck but you can drive the wheels off of it and turn the keys in when you’re done.

"Yes Sir, Oct 10 1888, Those poor school children froze to death in their tracks. They did not even find them until Spring. Especially hard hit were the ones who had to trek uphill to school both ways, with no shoes." -Bert A.


Corvallis, OR

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Posted: 06/25/20 02:01pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

OP - A truck isn't absolutely necessary. Your current vehicle just isn't equipped properly. My sisters Explorer Sport does fantastic towing the ski boat. A new 2020 Explorer (which is RWD-based) equipped with the towing package would be even better for towing 5,000 pounds.


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Posted: 06/25/20 05:08pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

It would be a whole lot cheaper just to install a transmission cooler. They can he purchased and installed for a few hundred or less.

My Tahoe didn’t come with the factory HD towing package. I added a transmission cooler that is about 2x the size of a factory job.

Trans temps do not get over 189 and typically stay at 176° Towing a 7,000 lb loaded TT. My engine temps stay at 220° same as not towing.

The chassis are the same Despite what coolers are installed, maybe different shocks—-cheap. Maybe different cooling packages but radiators and coolers are cheap too if you need to upgrade them.

Anyway, you don’t have to spend an extra $20k just to tow a trailer. It doesn’t take that much HP to pull a TT... aerodynamics play a much bigger role IMHO...a 20 ft long full profile trailer has to punch the same hole In the air as a 30 ft full profile trailer so the aerodynamic load is the same between the two.

Setting up the WD hitch properly is important.

Thanks and JMHO


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Broken Arrow OK

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Posted: 06/25/20 11:21pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I'm the type who would find out exactly what my vehicle lacked versus the ones with tow package, and add the components which are needed to protect the drive train. That said, with the non-turbo 3.5L I'd be hesitant to tow anything with a frontal area greater than 7' wide by about 100" high or over 3500 lbs dry. And if I were pushing those limits, I'd keep my speed at 60 mph or less and lock out overdrive.

About the weight... 3500 lbs dry is likely to be 4200-4500 lbs when loaded. Even more critical is the hitch weight, which your vehicle can probably only handle 500 lbs and this is very easy to exceed. I once had a 23' Rockwood of (IIRC) about 3400 lbs dry and 380 dry hitch weight. But the fresh water tank was up front. I bent a rear spring on my 2000 Mountaineer (rated for 6000/600). You'll want to get a scale (Sherline makes a good one) and weigh the hitch before starting out. BTW, for safety you always want at least 10% of the total TT weight on the hitch for proper handling.

Mike G.
--for now, using a cargo trailer for camping--
Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. --Benjamin Franklin
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Upstate NY

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Posted: 06/26/20 04:26am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

dodge guy wrote:

I have a 2013 Explorer Limited with the factory tow PKG. I was towing 3 snowmobiles (around 2k lbs with the trailer). the engine will not stay in 5th gear, you`ll be lucky to keep it in 4th most of the time. I wouldn't tow anything more than a large PuP. I`ve seen people tow TT`s with them, I don't know how they do it.
The 4th and 5th gen Explorers are nothing like the 1st and 2nd (and even the 3rd gen for that matter). they are car based. the early ones were more truck based.

This is your answer ^^^. We have a 2014 Explorer (with tow package) and before we bought a M/H we "tried" to tow our 3,500lb camper and the Explorer 3.5 would struggle just to go 60 mph and would stay in 4th and even downshift to 3rd on slight inclines. Luckily, we still owned our 1 ton diesel dually and used that as this generation Explorer won't get out of it's own way towing anything heavy. I couldn't imagine what fuel mileage would have been. Not to mention wear and tear.


SE Michigan

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Posted: 06/26/20 05:33am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I would not recommend any high walled RV without the HD tow package. At a minimum, get a heavy duty transmission cooler. Even with the HD towing package, Ford has a limit that excludes any high walled RV. Check out Page 13 on frontal area.

Stick to popups or replace the tow vehicle. Your Explorer has market value. And equivalent valued more capable TV can be found, but it will probably be a couple years older.

* This post was edited 06/26/20 02:17pm by APT *

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Posted: 06/26/20 02:36pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Lots of information in there, appreciate it everyone. I still contacted Ford, 2 Ford Dealerships (total, contacted another one today) - Ford says 5000# but requires a transmission cooler, Dealer said 5000# (I don't trust his answer at all, BTW). May have to go with a popup until the Explorer is replaced, which i don't want to do ever because it is nearly paid off - so might be SOL.


Graham, WA

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Posted: 06/26/20 02:54pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have a 2016 Limited Explorer with the same engine, but with the tow package. I think the AWD is a limitation as well as the transmission. I have only pulled a couple small trailers, the largest a 8' uhaul, so no real experience. But, I can say that I have had issues with the transmission trying to find the right gear with no trailer. I could not imagine pulling 3-5K with that transmission.

I would look at pop up trailers. But stay within the vehicles limits.

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