Ford Explorer towing ability - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-18-2007, 02:48 AM   #1
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Ford Explorer towing ability

Hello camping trailer fans,

I recently bought a 1998 Explorer in great condition. It is an ELT 4WD with the 205hp 6 cylinder engine. I live in California and often do mountain driving to go camping.

What advice can you give me on towing a fully loaded Cassita 17 ft, probably around 2600lbs.
Would a lighter 16ft or 13ft, no bath model work better with this rig?

Do you have a Casitta, Scamp or Burro you want to sell?

I appreciate your advice, Bill
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Old 10-18-2007, 06:58 AM   #2
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Quote:
Hello camping trailer fans,
It's difficult if not impossible to give you advise on towing without knowing what your owners manual states as your vehicles capability. This should be stated as max pounds your vehicle can safely tow. Also, i strongly recommend electric brakes on whatever you tow. It's one thing getting up the mountain, it's quite another, getting safely down the other side. Good luck, I'm sure you'll enjoy whateer you end up buying. Ron
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Old 10-18-2007, 07:20 AM   #3
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I had a 2door 2wdr 6cyl Ford Explorer.
We towed an 25' sunlite 4200# to Washington state and back. Worked fine except the short wheelbase made handling a bit scary.
We also pulled our 13' Burro with it and had no problems.

So if you have electric brakes and an equilizer hitch pulling an 16' trailer should be eazy.
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Old 10-18-2007, 07:40 AM   #4
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Here's a link to an Explorer forum listing tow capacities for the '98 Explorer.

1998 Explorer tow capacities range from 2,000 lbs to 6,400 lbs depending on how your specific vehicle is equipped. Don't assume anything. Make sure what your vehicle's capacities are before you decide what to buy!

Roger
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Old 10-18-2007, 09:08 AM   #5
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Bill,

I just recently bought a 17' Casita Spirit Delux. Our tow vehicle is a 2004 Explorer. (V-8) We only had time to hook up the lights so we'd be legal.............didn't hook up the brakes to our controller because we couldn't find anyone qualified and time wouldn't allow us to wait. Pulled it 500 miles without the brakes to bring it home. Towed like a dream. Stopped just fine without the brakes. (though I've since connected them and prefer it that way) Got 16.6 mpg at 60 mph, set on cruise control. I see no problems for you. The 6 cylinder might slow you down a little, but the vehicle should handle it.
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Old 10-18-2007, 12:50 PM   #6
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Ford offers specific towing guides for each year at Ford Fleet - Towing Guides. Unfortunately, they don't go back to 1998, although perhaps a 2002 powertrain is similar - the Explorer was redesigned for 2002 so it's not the same vehicle. Ford also offers their Helpful Guides - Heavy Hauling and Towing, and guides for various specific current year vehicles in their Towing Guides selection page.

Quote:
Originally posted by Heavy Hauling and Towing guide
Ford Motor Company urges that a separate functional brake system be used on any towed vehicle
... yes, trailer brakes should certainly be used.
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Old 10-18-2007, 01:57 PM   #7
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Can't speak for the '98 Explorer but for what its worth I just got back from a 5 thousand-plus miles trip in my '92 Ford Explorer XLT, 4.0 liter 6 cyl engine. Towing my 13 ft Burro. Ya, that's us last week, in Colorado. Did Jersey to Moab and back, in 15 days. My Explorer started this trip with 123 thousand miles already on it and has a class 2 hitch.

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Had absolutely no trouble pulling that Burro. When averaging 65 mph we only got 200 miles out of 16 gallons of regular gas but when we did 58-60 mph we averaged over 240 mpg. (It's a 19 gallon tank.) Of course, we didn't go quite as fast when it was up hill and don't have brakes in the Burro but that was never an issue going down those "hills."

I found out later I had a teeny oil leak in the valve cover gasket and think that accounts for having to add 5 quarts of oil over the course of the trip. Also needed to add from half a pint to a pint and a half of antifreeze to the radiator every day. Yesterday I took the vehicle in for a change of all fluids and my transmission fluid was close to burnt. But never had tranny trouble during the ride.

My conclusions are obvious. The '92 Explorer, anyway, was easily up to the burden. I love that car. (True, Ford has had a spotty rep. I have heard that that year they were really well made.)
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Old 10-18-2007, 02:13 PM   #8
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WOW!!!!! 240 mpg?!?!?!?!?! That's an engine you need to tell Detroit about!
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Old 10-18-2007, 03:44 PM   #9
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I can't figure out why you came back............
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Old 10-18-2007, 06:16 PM   #10
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Couldn't talk the other half into me dropping her off at the Denver airport. (True story)
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Old 10-18-2007, 08:59 PM   #11
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Towing with a vehicle that has a towing capacity close to the load you're towing is cause for caution. I tow about 3200lbs within a capacity of 3500 lbs.

What I have deduced from this forum and other sources is that often the transmission is the weak link since it is greatly affected by heat buildup. I have a total of three transmission coolers (!) and a tranny temp gauge to try to get the most out of the unit.
A sentence from Myron caught my eye, about the fluid starting to look burned. Some years ago, before I adde the third cooler and the gauge I towed with little knowledge of what was actually going on down there, and as a result I probably started to stress the tranny beyond what should have been. 105 degrees going through parts of Nevada as an example.

I heeded the warnings to change the fluid and at first found it to be looking somewhat brownish when it should have been pink, with a slight odor (still pretty much OK according to the Honda dealer). I made a list of sockets, ratchets, funnel, etc. needed to do my own tranny oil changes and decided to change the fluid twice a year. The change in mine actually only replaces the fluid in the transmission and not the torque converter fluid, so the new fluid mixes with a substantial quantity of the old. Every subsequent change has seen the fluid color improve along with the clarity until the change I did yesterday had the old fluid looking as clean as the new stuff.

Maybe this is a bit off the topic, but Bill (and Myron): there seems to be a consensus out there that automatic trannies are the weak links more often than not, so when you tow close to capacity I would recommend attention to this as a high priority.
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Old 10-18-2007, 10:46 PM   #12
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Quote:
It's difficult if not impossible to give you advise on towing without knowing what your owners manual states as your vehicles capability. This should be stated as max pounds your vehicle can safely tow. Also, i strongly recommend electric brakes on whatever you tow. It's one thing getting up the mountain, it's quite another, getting safely down the other side. Good luck, I'm sure you'll enjoy whateer you end up buying. Ron

Thanks.

I was told by a Ford service manager that this rig would tow 4,000 lbs but towing flat land and climbing to eighth thousand ft are different.

So was hoping to get advice from those who have tried a similar tow.

Thanks again and will chrck the manual for sure.

Bill
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Old 10-20-2007, 02:23 AM   #13
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It's difficult if not impossible to give you advise on towing without knowing what your owners manual states as your vehicles capability. This should be stated as max pounds your vehicle can safely tow. Also, i strongly recommend electric brakes on whatever you tow. It's one thing getting up the mountain, it's quite another, getting safely down the other side. Good luck, I'm sure you'll enjoy whateer you end up buying. Ron
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Old 10-20-2007, 05:33 PM   #14
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Bill, having a 98 Ford Ranger I can tell you that while the Service Manager and the Ford Towing Guides are good starting places, the best and most definitive source of the spec for YOUR Expy will be in the owner's manual, plus some reference to the door sticker and VIN to determine exactly how YOUR vehicle is equipped and rated.

For the Ranger pickups in '98 alone, there are !!! 60 !!! combinations of engine size, tranny, body (cab and bed) and rear end resulting in tow capacities ranging from a high of about 6,000 lbs to a low of "Not recommended for towing".

My truck happened to come with a towing package that includes separate circuits for the trailer lights (Ford plug-in gizmo for Flat-4 connector available), additional transmission cooler and additional power steering cooler. I know it has the larger auto transmission and the larger differential, besides having the appropriate gear ratio for towing. You can tell if you have extra tranny cooling by looking for a smaller cooler near where the trans lines enter the bottom of the radiator on the passenger side; the power steering cooler can be seen on the driver's side, a much smaller cooler.

For the 98 Explorer, there are 39 combinations of engine size, fuel system, tranny, body (2- or 4-door) and rear end resulting in tow capacities ranging from 1,940 to 6,700 lbs in the owner's manual.

In addition, ALL the tables and combinations for the 98 Explorer contain this:

"Notes: For high altitude operation, reduce GCW by 2% per 300 meters
(1 000 ft) elevation. For definition of terms and instructions on
calculating your vehicle’s load, refer to Vehicle loading in this chapter.
Maximum trailer weights shown. The combined weight of the
completed towing vehicle and the loaded trailer must not exceed the
GCWR.

Towing a trailer over 907 kg (2 000 lbs.) requires a weight distributing
hitch."

That last note, combined with the body style, implies to me that Ford has some concerns about wheelbase on the Expy (the 2 door is 10" shorter than the 4 door) and excess weight on the rear. If this were my Expy, I would use a Reese WDH with the dual-cam anti-sway control even if my trailer weighed under 2,000 lbs. I would also install the brakes. Unfortunately the 98 stuf wasn't wired for the brake controller or the battery charge lead, so you will have to do that yourself (or get it done).

The first note proves what the Service Manager said. Generally, reducing the GCW means reducing the trailer weight because the TV, fuel, luggage and passengers aren't likely to change much.

If you don't have an owner's manual, go to the Ford web site and download one. If you are technically inclined, go to EBay and buy the Service Manual on CD.

Ford Truck VIN Decode

Ford Truck Door Jamb Label Decode

A general note on transmission temps, gleaned from the experience of folks on Yahoo Scampers is that if one's automatic transmission's torque converter becomes unlocked, esp when climbing grades, the temps will immediately start to climb due to the slippage. This seems to be where having a transmission temperature gauge will be very handy, allowing the driver to shift down, slow down or both. I personally find it difficult to differentiate between gear shifting and converter lockup, but those folks report that when the lockup is lost, the rpm will immediately rise, soon followed by temperature rise.
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