f-150 towing capabilities

billp2billp2 Member Posts: 1
edited March 2014 in Ford
need info on f-150 fwd manual 4.2 liter rear axial
ratio anyone know what the ratio is for this 1997
f-150 standard cab?
I'm looking for towing limits!


  • leroybkrleroybkr Member Posts: 17
    There are several axle ratios available for trucks. You have to get the axle code from the information plate and go to a dealer or find a manual to decode the code to the ratio. You could check the Ford web site for the tow rating for the 99 version with that ratio or check the owners manual.
  • nuwonuwo Member Posts: 63
    I'm curious about towing capacity for the 4.6 V8, in a 4x4 extended cab. Edmunds says it's 1,700 lbs (seems like an error) whereas the Ford brochure says 6,000 lbs. The latter seems more reasonable. Is that what it's suppose to be?
  • lwflwf Member Posts: 223

    Mine's a '98 and there's a small metal tag through one of the bolts in the casing of the differential with the axle ratio stamped in it. I'd guess your truck has the same thing.

    For the '98 the towing limits for a manual 4x2 are 2,300# for the 3.08 rear and 3,600# for the 3.55. That's for the regular cab and the numbers are 200# less for the super cab. They are about 400# less for a 4x4, and all would be over a ton more if you had the automatic transmission. I don't know why they are higher for the auto, but that's why I didn't get a manual transmission this time.

    I presume the numbers for the '97 are the same.
  • zeptozepto Member Posts: 2
    Auto-trans are almost always have higher towing capacity because the clutch is a weak link for standard-trans.

  • tnt2tnt2 Member Posts: 115
    Manuals usually have higher tow ratings. The clutch is by no means a "weak link".
  • zeptozepto Member Posts: 2
    Sigh! Not true according to Ford. My opinion is that it is the drivers of the vehicles that are often responsible for clutch failure not the clutch mechanisms themselves. Nevertheless, the clutch (misused or abused) is still the weak link in a heavy towing situation.

  • siudogsiudog Member Posts: 2
    The clutch is the weak link, but remember that every system (mechanical, electrical, political, etc.) will have a weak link. In the case of a manual transmission, it is easier and less expensive to fix/replace a clutch than a differential or transmission. Therefore, the clutch is designed to be the weak link. As far as the manual/automatic comparison goes, ask yourself why over-the-road trucks and other larger pieces of equipment that are used for towing and hauling almost always have manual transmissions.

    The reasons why automatics are rated to tow more in 1/2 ton truck applications is primarily due to the ability of the automatic transmission to absorb system shocks and stresses that might be encountered while towing a heavy load. Look at the ratings for the 3/4 and 1-ton trucks. In most cases the manual transmission applications are rated to tow as much or more than the automatic. This is because these heavier-duty trucks are specifically designed for heavy hauling/towing and therefore have beefier transmissions, driveshafts, rear-ends, etc.

    Also remember that there is almost always something "slipping" to some degree inside an automatic transmission whenever it is in gear. These modern transmissions slip an incredible amount just changing gears. This is how they are able to shift so smoothly. This slippage causes wear and heat. This is what causes automatics to wear out. In general, automatics, in addition to being more convenient, are probably fine for light towing applications, but for heavy towing or hauling I would seriously consider a manual.

    As far as the "weak link" think goes, it you're at all adept with a clutch you should get more towing miles out of a manual transmission than you would ever be able to with an automatic. Just my semi-educated opinion.
  • KatmanduKatmandu Member Posts: 24
    I agree with the manual trans idea. The automatic does make towing easier due to shock absorbtion ...BUT the automatic will kick in and out of overdrive going up hills eventually wearing out the trans due to heat. Sure you can press a button and take the overdrive off but then the engine revs like crazy and to run at the same RPMs you must drive slower. I think for all practical purposes a manual trans is the way to go. In fact, the big engines, (diesels, v10) have nothing but problems with the automatics because the engines have so much power. There's really only one solution and that's a manual tranny. My $.02 worth....
  • stanfordstanford Member Posts: 606
    Of course, replacing the HD clutch on those HD manuals can be expensive as well. For the price quoted to me just before I sold my '93 diesel (at 100K on the original clutch), I could have had an automatic transmission completely rebuilt.

    As for autos, the one in my new V10 works just fine. Towing in OD is not a problem, and it ran lightly loaded through Eastern MO in OD with the cruise set to 75... only downshifted once.

    If you're running near the limit of your drivetrain over hilly terrain, an automatic will downshift a lot. Your alternative (with a stick-shift) would be to downshift manually (same effect) or to lug the engine. Generally, transmissions are cheaper to fix than engines...
  • kevinokevino Member Posts: 19
    Don't waste your time trying to find someone who can or will help you with gear ratios. And then they might read the wrong line in their book. Most of those guys might have a high school diploma but don't count on it.

    Jack up the rear of the truck(be safe and block the front wheels too),put the truck in neutral, put a mark on the driveshaft & the right rear tire. Rotate the tire one complete revolution and count how many times you see the mark on the driveshaft. A 3.55 will rotate 3.55 times, etc. There it is, and someone should have said this already.
  • akjbmwakjbmw Member Posts: 231
    Since only one wheel is turning, don't we need to do two tire rotations?
    Since it's harder to see the position of the d/s mark, it may be easier to count the number of tire rotations per single d/s rotation.
    Who said it had to be easy? ;-|
  • RichRich Member Posts: 128
    I had always heard, as akjbmw stated, it was two wheel revolutions. Also, this method is for a standard rear end. Limited slip or lockers are null and void.

    If one makes the assumption that the rear end is the same ratio as supplied from the factory, just call the customer service number and give them your full VIN. It is a simple matter to cross reference VIN to rear axle ratio.

  • akjbmwakjbmw Member Posts: 231
    I thought limited slip did just that, limit the slip. Don't you still see the same differential effect? I wouldn't expect to be turning the wheel fast or hard enough for the "limiting" to be implemented.
    Wouldn't a "locker" (no slip) wheel be unturnable if the other wheel was on the ground? Or is there a speed or torque threshold that is reached before it locks?
    I like hanging out here 'cause I keep learning new stuff.
  • dogsterdogster Member Posts: 94
    The reason automatics sometimes have higher tow ratings is because of the torque convertor. It multiplies the engine torque (until the convertor reaches a certain speed) so it's easier to pull off than in a lot of manual transmission. Also, I back my 4600 pound boat up (next to my friends house with a foot to spare on each side) with a 4x4 with manual trans and sometimes smoke the clutch because I have to go so slow I have to ride the clutch. Buy an automatic for towing unless you're getting something super heavy to tow, as in the F250SD with the 5.4.
  • captrccaptrc Member Posts: 11
    forget the 4.6 for towing i bought a 98 f150 flareside supercab for towing my boat to key west (no hills) what a dog, i couldn~t pull the thing in overdrive so i only got 8.5 mpg boat with trailer only weighs 4600 lbs. Do yourself a favor get the 5.4 they gave it 35 more hp this year and more torgue. Getting rid of it and getting a Dodge 2500 V_10
  • meredithmeredith Member Posts: 575
    Due to 30 days or more of inactivity....

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