Towing tips for SUVs

draggin1draggin1 Member Posts: 2
edited March 2014 in Ford
I have a '97 V8 Explorer that I use to haul a
horse trailer. It handles the weight just fine
except the rear end is lowered, pulled down, even
when the trailer is empty. It is an aluminum
2-horse and the tongue weight is about 250 lbs. I
use a receiver hitch, class 3. I know that I
should be using a full size truck but I hate to
part with my Explorer. Has anyone else had this
problem and would an air lift system or helper
shocks/springs fix it?


  • eagle63eagle63 Member Posts: 599
    I also have a '97 explorer. the "butt-sag" syndrome is characteristic of almost all explorers. even a few hundred pounds will often cause this. from what I know, it's not harmful to your vehicle; it just looks dumb. an air lift would probably do the trick, but if I was you I would consider adding a leaf spring to the rear. that should help a lot, and also give you a firmer ride. (which I prefer) BTW, how heavy is your trailer when loaded?
  • mazman1mazman1 Member Posts: 229
    There are several things you can do to improve it. One is to replace the factory shocks with high quality air assist shocks. You can also replace the rear left springs with harder ones, but that can run serious coin. An easier fix is the front end has ride height adjustments (which move the rear end up) with its torsion bars.

    I'd talk to a 4x4 shop and to a Ford dealer's parts dept before spending any money.
  • JimJAJimJA Member Posts: 1
    I put 142,000 miles on my '92 Explorer and about 10% of those miles were towing at, or slightly above, the recommended max gross vehicle weight. I too experienced the "tail drag" I see on so many SUVs when towing or loaded heavy. My fix was to add Monroe Air Shocks. Cost was about $100. That cured the tail drag and there was no discernible difference in non-tow handling. I didn't like having to inflate/deflate the shocks all the time from outside the truck, so installed a gauge in the cubby and a pump above the spare tire. These items were obtained at Off Road Warehouse for $93. I could then inflate/deflate the air shocks from inside the truck. The shocks come with a graph of weight vs. pressure and by doing a little estimation could inflate accordingly. The air shocks were a big selling point when I sold the truck, "that's slick," and "I could use that" were some of the comments. With the air shock install some suggested there could be a breakage problem with the upper shock mounts...never had a problem.
    Initially I planned to install Air-Lifts but when "check fitting" prior to install deemed them to have too many disadvantages, the main one being the axle must be "strapped" when using a "wheels free" hoist or jacking to prevent damage to the air bladders because of the weight of the axle. There was also very limited space to install them. Cost was about $250. I sent them back.
    I didn't look into an extra leaf in the springs but certainly that could be done, probably a little cheaper.
    I now drive a '00 Explorer which I ordered with load leveling. The load leveling option in an SUV makes so much sense it should have been done long ago. It works perfectly and I have so far towed about 4,000 miles with it. BTW, when towing, the '00 V8 AWD gets about 1 1/2 MPG better than the '92 V6 4x4. I wish Ford had installed a air hose and gauge to use the existing pump to inflate the tires or recreational stuff needing air similar to what GM has done with some of their mini-van models.
    One thing I think anyone towing should consider VERY SERIOUSLY is a cushioned ball mount. The hitch is slotted and inside are poly bushings to allow slight movement fore and aft when starting or stopping. Very quiet. Once you tow with one of these you'll never go back to a solid ball mount. Cost is about $45. To see an exploded view go to Jim
  • draggin1draggin1 Member Posts: 2
    With two horses (Arabians), I'm hauling no more than 4500 lbs. The specs on the truck say my max is 6400. It really is a good little hauler except for the dragging bumper, which does pull the front up to the point that I'm getting flashed for high beams when they're not on. It is a little swimmy in the front, too, especially when the roads are wet. I know I'm not as solid as I'd like to be.
  • mbml55amgmbml55amg Member Posts: 57
    While this "Butt-Sag" is somewhat common with Explorers, I see it WAY more often with 4Runners.
  • mbml55amgmbml55amg Member Posts: 57
    250 lbs tongue weight is light for 4500 lbs. Have you weighed the trailer loaded to see what it actually weighs? 10% of the total trailer weight is usually recommended as a good starting place for setting up your towing package, & 8% is about as low as I've ever seen recommended on any package to insure trailer stability in all situations. My suggestion would be for you to weigh your load, then set up your trailer to get about 10% on the tongue, & finally go with a good set of air-shocks to level your truck. Air shocks are relatively inexpensive, firmer when pumped up to tow, & have almost zero effect on ride quality @ lower pressures. They are almost bullet-proof as well, rarely giving any problem if the hoses are properly routed. Be very cautious about doing any tweaking of the torsion bars as this will affect your front suspension geometry & can greatly disrupt your vehicle's basic stability. Any adjustments to the torsion bar loading needs to be done @ a reputable shop, followed by a 4 wheel realignment. Good luck.
  • bchockbchock Member Posts: 1

    I just bought a 1996 Rodeo and have some questions regarding towing. It is a 2WD automatic.

    1. The owner's manual says to use the set the transmission on 3 (1st, 2nd and 3rd gears) when
    towing a trailer. Do I have to do this even when I'm on the highway doing 55-60 mph (with a trailer)? Or is it just when I get the truck (and trailer) moving until I reach enough speed to shift to 4th?

    2. Is it safe to tow a trailer 2000 miles using the 3 position?

    3. Is it ok to use cruise control when towing and using the 3 position?

    4. The specs say that I can tow a trailer upto 4500lbs. Has anyone tried towing a U-Haul (with furniture etc) with the Isuzu? Any words of wisdom??

  • jfranks007jfranks007 Member Posts: 1
    I also tow a horse trailer with my '95 Chevy Blazer. Fully loaded, it can push the 5,000 lb limit. When getting the brakes and lights done, the hitch place recommended an "EZ Lift". I used to have the "bumper drag", but the EZ Lift re-distributes the weight on a 3 point axis more towards the front of the truck. It tows like a dream with no sway or driveway drags. Check it out.
  • ron13caron13ca Member Posts: 2
    You will probably be just fine towing with your Rodeo as long as you keep the following things in mind:
    1. Since you have a V-6, you will probably have to tow in 3rd gear pretty much all the way. There isn't anything wrong with leaving your transmission in 3rd gear instead of overdrive. Otherwise the tranny may hunt gears since it has to keep the engine up in RPM to make more horsepower and torque to keep all the weight moving. V-6's typically don't have very broad horsepower and torque curves, which means the maximum horsepower and torque may only be available high in the RPM range, (maybe 4000 - 4500 rpm).
    2. Make sure you load the trailer so it has adequate tongue weight. Ideally, you should have around 10% of the total weight of the trailer on the tongue of the trailer. If your trailer and contents weighs 2000 lbs, you should have about 200 lbs of tongue weight. This is important so the trailer behaves correctly, and will minimize swaying as much as possible. Too much tongue weight is almost as bad as not enough. You may have a weight limit for tongue weight for your Rodeo - check this also.
    3. You should be able to use the cruise control. As with anything, try it for awhile, and if it works OK go with it.
    4. Keep your speed below 65 mph. The faster you are going, the faster things can happen. If sway starts to develop in the trailer, your safety margin decreases rapidly with extra speed.
    5. You may notice the pull and push as trucks and large trailers pass you. Be aware of this and keep an eye on vehicles overtaking you so you are prepared for this. As a truck starts passing you, you will feel suction from the truck. Steer slightly away from the truck. This only lasts for a brief period of time before you will feel a push from the truck and you will have to steer back towards the truck to correct. As long as you know its coming its not that big of a deal. Since your Rodeo probably has quick steering, be careful with how far you steer, as it doesn't take much of a turn of the wheel to make up for this.
    6. If your trailer and contents weigh over 2500 lbs you will need trailer brakes for most of the country. U-haul can wire a trailer brake controller in your vehicle if that is the case.
    7. You have a pretty short wheelbase vehicle. If you get too long of a trailer, you may have sway problems. U-Haul may have limits for your vehicle that prevents you from getting too large a trailer, so this may not be a factor.
    Hope this helps you out!
  • 2bays2bays Member Posts: 1
    I don't mean to be a critic but you should possibly reconsider towing horses with any SUV that is as "small" as an Explorer. Even though the companies say that these vehicles are strong enough to tow the weight you desire, the vehicles themselves do not weigh enough to make horse towing safe. Live animals can be (as I'm sure you know) unstable and if anything should go wrong with your trailer it is likely that your vehicle will be flipped by the trailer. Horses and horse trailers are not just about weight, they are also very tall compared to most smaller suv's and that can affect you negatively. My suggestion is to get a Suburban or a Pickup or let someone else tow you horses. Good luck and drive safely.
  • sdc2sdc2 Member Posts: 780
    Here's what to do:

    1. Get yourself a Suburban or the like, and a 4-place snowmobile trailer.
    2. Load up with 4 or 5 of your buddies and head up north for a fun-filled weekend!
    3. Follow the car ahead of you closely, after all, that's what you do every rush hour, and fun waits for no man! Never mind that it is snowing, that's a GOOD thing!
    4. When the car in front of you brakes suddenly, stomp on the brake pedal. You've got antilock brakes, right?
    5. Hey, what's that passing you on the right shoulder...looks familiar...oh it's your trailer! Wave to your sleds as they go by!
    6. Gee, you're in the ditch now. So THAT'S why they call it "jackknifing"! Better put 'er in four wheel drive! Hmmm, funny how 4WD doesn't help you drag your fully loaded SUV and trailer out of the snow...what's up with that?
    7. Call for a tow truck to winch you out the ditch. I'm sure he'll be along any time now, as soon as he takes care of the 450 other knotheads who did the same thing as you!

    I don't sound bitter, so I? I see this every weekend in the winter.

    MORAL OF THE STORY: Give yourself LOTS of room to stop. An Explorer with a horse trailer is really marginal on braking power.
  • marty2marty2 Member Posts: 11
    Considering a 01 Trooper s / Torque on Demand, Will be out the door for $25,290.+ tax,seems like a excellent price,Will be towing an RV 3800, lbs. Will the trooper do the job??? Thank you in advance
  • lrc1lrc1 Member Posts: 2
    I have been towing for over 25 years. Mostly large RV's. Rear end sag is due to the tongue weight. The correct way to stop rear end sag and the safest to is to use a weight distribution hitch. This system uses distribution bars that range from 250lbs of lift to over 1,000lbs. They are used with class III, IV, and V receivers. Of course air shocks, and or extra leaf springs help. But in the long run the best way to handle the problem is the weight distribution hitch. It can be found at any RV and trailer shop. PS I own a 2000 Ford Excursion, 4X4 with a V-10. I tow a 32' RV with a gross weight of over 6700 lbs. The X can tow 10,000 lbs. It comes with a class IV hitch. Rated at a tongue weight of 500 lbs stock and 1,000 lbs with a weight ddistribution hitch.I still have to use a weight distribution hitch. If your serious about towing look up this system and ask the dealers. I'm sure it's the right way to go.
  • greg116greg116 Member Posts: 116
    I recently read an article on causes of the Firestone separations. They cited heavy loads as one of the factors. I'm not saying change your tires, it's just a comment.

    And I agree, even with the V8, an Explorer does seem a little small for a horse trailer. If you need to replace it somwhere down the line, go for a Durango 5.9. Plenty of power and payload in a god size, and it won't stick your headlights in other peoples faces. In the meantime, just add a couple leaf springs to your suspension. A light front end is not a good thing in any vehicle.

    My $0.02
  • afconwayafconway Member Posts: 8
    I had a 1999 Trooper w/Lux Package, Auto/TOD. Used it several times to tow my 25 foot TT. While it could do the job, it ust didn't seem to handle as good as I wanted. Seemed to be always at the limit of control. Got about 8 MPG when towing.

    The Trooper is a great SUV. I did not have any problems with it at all. Had about 25K miles on it when I traded it for a 2000 Ford Excurcion (Leftover model). Have only had the TT out with the new vehiclel once, but what a difference in the overall handling.
  • heatwave3heatwave3 Member Posts: 462
    Sorry in advance for the long post. If you have serious towing needs and you're comparing any non-commercial vehicles with 4 tires...GM RULES. Even Ford's Excursion with V-10 is 2000lbs less than GM's big block V-8 in a 3/4 ton Suburban or Yukon XL (8.1L with 4.10 = 12,000lbs) and 300lbs less than the small block (6.0L with 4.10 = 10,300lbs.) The following facts are the most current for GM's full size SUV line-up.

    The highest 2wd Yukon tow rating is 7,900lbs with a 5.3L and 3.73 rear. The other 3 configurations for a 2wd Yukon provide the following tow ratings: 6900lbs with 5.3L & 3.42 rear, 6900lbs with 4.8L & 3.73 rear, 5,900lbs with 4.8L & 3.42 rear.

    The highest 4wd Yukon tow rating is 8,700 lbs with a 5.3L & 4.10 rear (4.10 rear not available in 2wd Yukon). The other 3 configurations for a 4wd Yukon provide the following ratings: 7,700lbs with 5.3L & 3.73 rear, 7,700 lbs with 4.8L & 4.10 rear, 6,700 lbs with 4.8L & 3.73 rear.

    The Denali has a tow rating of 8,500lbs with a 6.0L, 3.73 rear and AWD. (This is the only configuration.)

    The highest 2wd 1/2 ton Yukon XL tow rating is 8,800 lbs with a 5.3L & 4.10 rear. The other configuration for a 2wd 1/2 ton Yukon XL is 7,800lbs with 5.3L & 3.73 rear.

    The Denali XL has a tow rating of 8,400lbs with a 6.0L, 3.73 rear and AWD. (This is the only configuration.)

    The highest 4wd 1/2 ton Yukon XL tow rating is 8,600 lbs with a 5.3L & a 4.10 rear. The other configuration for a 4wd 1/2 ton Yukon XL is 7,600lbs with 5.3L & 3.73 rear.

    The highest 2wd 3/4 ton Yukon XL tow rating is 12,000lbs with the 8.1L & 4.10 rear. The other 3 configurations for a 2wd 3/4 ton Yukon XL are 10,900lbs with 8.1L & 3.73 rear, 10,300lbs with the 6.0L & 4.10 rear, 8,300lbs with the 6.0L & 3.73 rear.

    The highest 4wd 3/4 ton Yukon XL tow rating is 12,000lbs with the 8.1L & 4.10. The other 3 configurations for a 4wd 3/4 ton Yukon XL are 10,500lbs with 8.1L & 3.73 rear, 10,000lbs with the 6.0L & 4.10 rear, 8,000lbs with the 6.0L & 3.73 rear.
  • afconwayafconway Member Posts: 8
    Ford just came out with an upgrade to the receiver hitch on the Excursion. The new load limit with the new hitch is 12000#. (3.73 rear reduces it slightly). No other modifications are needed. Late 2001 model's might be getting it already. 2002 model's will have it for sure.
  • jodar96jodar96 Member Posts: 400
    Does anyone have any exeprience with towing with Jeep GC?

    My 93 ranger has 108.0" WB, and while towing, on bumpy roads, i could feel the effects of short wheelbase. It made me ride sick!! The ride gets really bumpy. The Jeep GC has the same 108" WB. I wonder how jeep can handle the towing, and how much ride quality suffers on Short wheelbase SUV's.
  • craigd4craigd4 Member Posts: 6
    What is the difference in gas mileage between these two rear end ratios? I'd like the 3.73 for towing but don't want to sacrific gas mileage. Anyone have experience with day to day driving with the 3.73 with the 5.3 V8? Thanks.

    Please email me at [email protected]
  • lambdaprolambdapro Member Posts: 51
    There is no difference in city driving. In fact, you might end up in a better gear if you have a lot of 45 mph driving. There also might not be a difference towing, especially if you are right on the edge of needing to downshift a lot due to your load. So the answer is, it depends. The difference would be less than 1 mpg. Let's go to an extreme. When I tow my kayak trailer with a 4.10 (low weight, lots of drag), I can drive in OD and get about 11.5 mpg. When I had taller gears, I had to drive in 3rd and got 10 mpg.
    I just ordered a base model Suburban and opted for the 4.10 for $45 over the standard 3.73 for that very reason.
  • pmbrown70pmbrown70 Member Posts: 2
    We are going to purchase a sport boat. It weighs approximately 4000# loaded with fuel. It is on a double axle trailer. Since we have a family of 5, we are considering a SUV to tow it. Are there any web sites or magazines that I can go to to see which SUV tests the best for my needs?
  • abbanatabbanat Member Posts: 57
    You may want to try Trailer Life magazine.

    They frequently provide reviews of towing performance of SUVs, but with RVs. It is still good information, though.
  • bigm1bigm1 Member Posts: 10
    There used to be a magazine called "Trailer Boating" that is the most complete documentation on I've found on the subject. They rate all the different trucks, SUV's, and vans. They also have boat reviews and rate towing accessories.

    I haven't seen the magazine for a while. Used to find it in the boating section of a very good magazine store.

    They do have a web-site -
    However the links on the site don't work very well.
  • bigm1bigm1 Member Posts: 10
    I "guessed" at the wrong name of the magazine. It is "Trailer Boats" not Trailer Boating.

    Take a look at their web site -

    It is very good and contains copies of their articles.
  • polsenpolsen Member Posts: 25
    If you are buying a SUV to tow, get one with enough towing capacity. The rule of thumb is not to tow more than 70% of your rating. For 4000# that means SUV's with a towing capacity of 5714. And longer is better for stability. And even the long pickups tow better with stabilizing hitches.
  • sj6sj6 Member Posts: 13
    Hello, I think I already know the answer, but here is the question. My '91 2 door Blazer(100" wheelbase) might temporarily be the tow vehicle for the 19' Trail-lite Bantam (approx 3200lbs). It will have the proper hitch, trailer-brake control, HD cooling, etc. How bad will the highway manners be (sway resistance primarily) assuming the proper balancing of the trailer, correcting any sag,etc. Due to cost contraints, the replacement vehicle will also be a small SUV like an Explorer, Rodeo, or newer Blazer. If this too is unrealistic, please advise. Thanks.
  • trapjacktrapjack Member Posts: 5
    Can anybody give me a decent explanation why the TrailBlazer with such a big engine able to haul up to 6200 lbs and larger brakes needs seperate trailer brakes if the trailer is over 1000 lbs. That's a pretty light trailer. I don't have any problem towing a 1400 lb trailer with the Explorer I have now. I would really like to go back to Chevy but don't know if I'll be able to. I'm not about to retrofit a '68 trailer if it was even possible. Chevy said it was required so as to not stress the brakes, but 1000 lbs is about equal to 5 adult men riding in the truck. If the brakes can't handle that they need better brakes.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    two reasons you would want to have controlled brakes on the tow: controllability of the combination, and safety in case the tow comes loose.

    controllability because the braking response would be substantially the same on a normally-loaded vehicle, and even with levelling hitch bars and an anti-sway device installed, if you have to bomb the brakes on a turn, the load without its own brakes will be pushing you sideways, hard.

    safety because with your tow's battery and a safety switch, if the tow comes loose, it will stop itself. I had the second-worst scare of my life when a racing car transporter broke off its hitch ball in the lane next to me at 75+ mph, veered left after breaking the chains, and went across a snow-catching-deep Interstate median and jumped into the oncoming traffic on the other side of the highway. lots of folks left a lot of rubber behind them; it was a miracle the transporter didn't clobber somebody in a wheeled Spam can. it about whanged ME when it first sheared off the hitch ball, and that would have been at speed.
  • afconwayafconway Member Posts: 8
    I would make sure I had a weight distribuition hitch and then add dual sway control. I have towed a 25 foot Coachman with a 1999 Trooper with no problems with sagging or sway. The dual sway control really keeps the trailer in place when 18 wheelers pass you. It's worth the investment.
  • fievelfievel Member Posts: 16
    My situation is the same as sj6. I have a 1988 s-15 Jimmy, and am seriously considering a 19-ft Bantam. The Bantam is probably not up to the 3,200 lbs as sj6 said, (maybe fully loaded). I know that empty it is closer to 2,500 lbs. I am going to tow this trailer with a weight distributing hitch and will finally purchase either a GMC Envoy or a Jeep Grand Cherokee, now leaning toward the Envoy after test driving. The Envoy gas mileage is most likely much better than the V8 Jeep. (and maybe more reliable too) I think the Bantam will be a struggle with the Jimmy, especially since the Jimmy has a 3:43 rear axel, but if careful, I think I can tow it temporarily.
  • billvivianbillvivian Member Posts: 2
    I just bought a 29ft Travel Trailer. Unloaded weight is approximately 5300lbs. Shopping for a vehicle to tow it. Like and can afford a 1998 or 1999 Ford Expedtion - not sure if it can handle the load. The specs on Edmunds say 6100lbs. Am I cutting it too close? Should I be looking at the Chevy Suburban? I am not interested in a pickup truck. I will be traveling mostly shorter distances but there will be the occasional long trip. Any Advice??
  • das9das9 Member Posts: 1
    I've only driven little cars with a stick. I'm looking at getting a little SUV for light towing needs, but I would like to get one with a stick (sticks are fun). I've been told that if your doing any towing that you shouldn't get a manual transmission. I was wondering how true that statement was. Basically my towing needs will be jet skis and a catamaran (not at the same time). Also, would having a 4X4 help much on a boat ramp?
  • odie6lodie6l Hershey, PaMember Posts: 1,173
    If you want a little SUV, you could look at the Ford Escape / Mazda Tribute (which is only auto with the v-6), or the Jeep Liberty. It all depends on what you want to pay. I've seen a few Smaller P/U's like the Dakota, and Ranger down at the shore with Front mount receivers mounted on them for instead of backing down the ramp (or backing a trailer into a camping spot, driveway, or garage) they were driving straight ahead so that you can see where you are going. you could even get away with a F-150 extended cab base for about $17,000 then go and add extra's on as you please via aftermarket stuff.

  • rward99rward99 Member Posts: 185
    I've towed my 2300 lb Ranger boat with my '89 Toyota pickup since '94. V6 & 5 Speed manual. I now have 162K miles on it with the original clutch. I've never had a problem with it.

    Many new SUVs don't offer manual transmissions. Toyota doesn't offer it at all in the Land Cruiser, Sequoia, 4Runner, or Highlander. The RAV4 still has it as an option, but I think it maxes out at 1000 lb on towing.
  • heatwave3heatwave3 Member Posts: 462
    If you're planning to tow jet skis in a flat area you might be OK with a manual transmission, however I don't think there are many choices. If you have any type of hilly terrain, set aside the money for somewhat regular clutch repairs.

    Routine towing of a 5300lb trailer package with a 6100 is a recipe for expensive repairs or warranty work unless it is infrequent, short distance towing in primary flat terrain.
  • exzaveexzave Member Posts: 16

    The most powerful SUV still available with a manual is the new Nissan Pathfinder. 250 hp. I imagine it has the highest tow rating for a manual (3500 lbs.) without going to a pick-up, probably a 3/4 ton or HD at that.

    Almost no other SUV has a manual except some of the CUTE-UTEs. Can't even get one on a 4-Runner, anymore.
    Well except for new Jeep Liberty.

    I have just got A 2001 Pathfinder SE w 5spd and I love it. It is fun to drive. I did tow a 2500-3000 lb u-haul. no problem. All-though I never had to take off on an incline. Not many hills around here :( Seemed like no problem.

    Don't now how big your trailer is, but up to 3500 lb should be no problem. Automatic is rated for 5000 lbs.

    If you want a stick and medium SUV, I recommend the Pathfinder. Test drive one. (A super-black SE w/ silver wheel trim, prettiest SUV out there IMHO.)

    As for manual trannies in general. They are generally rated to tow less. Are the auto-makers doing this for CYA to account for operator skill? Have to know how to drive stick?

    When I was growing up my parents parents had a Jeep Wagoneer, with 4 on the floor and 360 V-8. Towed a medium travel trailer loaded with camping and hunting gear up and down the mountains in Colorado. Never had transmission problems.
    Guess they don't make'em like that anymore.

  • JBaumgartJBaumgart Member Posts: 890
    I bought a 2001 Audi allroad (wagon/SUV hybrid) in March, and am towing our 2100 lb. boat, motor and trailer with no problems. It's maybe 2400 lbs., fully loaded, when taking it on long trips. The dealer-installed factory hitch has a 3300 lb. rating and there is no difference between the auto and manual transmission models (I have the auto). The engine's horsepower (250) and torque (258) are certainly up to the task, and the quattro all wheel drive system handles slippery boat launches nicely. The car's suspension also raises the clearance up to 8.2 inches, which is good to have when you're backing up into the water. I think the main limiting factor on the capacity is the car's unibody frame - it's just not as heavy-duty as a truck which is a major disadvantage as far as ultimate towing capacity is concerned.

    But it's sure been great car so far, meeting my towing needs just fine. And when not towing - which is about 98% of the time - the car is a LOT more fun to drive than my previous SUV, a Grand Cherokee Ltd.

    Makes for an interesting alternative provided you don't have super-heavy towing needs.
  • sawdinsawdin Member Posts: 5
    A higher rear-axle ratio (e.g., 4.10 vs 3.73) is supposedly better for towing b/c the higher ratio allows more torque/horsepower to be utilized. In layman's terms, does this mean the vehicle will have more "low-end grunt"? When not trailering, how does this affect ride quality, engine noise, fuel economy, etc.? Also, what are the advantages and disadvantages of the various rear differential options (e.g., locking vs. limited slip)?

    Thanks in advance for any and all help,

  • hengheng Member Posts: 411
    The 4.10 will require the engine to turn that much more for each revolution of your tires. What this translates into is maybe 2 miles per gallon more fuel consumption and more engine noise.

    The low end grunt comes from your enginge is operating at a higher speed for the same vehicle speed, that is closer to your peak torque output of your engine.

    The locking vs limited slip types diffs are discussed in another topic.
  • chindogchindog Member Posts: 1
    We are in need of an SUV to haul our travel trailer, and need to know if the used models we look at have the towing package option. Is there a way to tell from the VIN if the vehicle was factory equipped with this option? Thanks.
  • abc246abc246 Member Posts: 305
    No, but some are equipped to tow with no options. My 99 BLazer has the full rated tow rating (5600 lbs) with no factory options. I had to add the class 3 hitch. Accrding to the manual, no options are avaliable other than the hitch. They all come pre-wired too. The manual also states that no extra cooling is needed (or avaliable) on engine or trans. The trailer weight rating on this SUV is rated by the axle ratio. They made 3.08, 3.42, and 3.73. The 3.42 and 3.73 can tow the max rating, most were built with these ratios.
  • jodar96jodar96 Member Posts: 400
    I just put a class III trailer hitch on my 93 Ford Ranger with 4.0L V-6 to pull a 2500 pop up camper. While pulling the trailer, the gear shifting was fine. I just tried to stay in each gear slightly longer, and for uphill driving, I stay in fourth gear, and in flat areas I put in fifth. I think 4.0L V-6 manual can handle towing.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    some things can't be helped... if load kick is aggravating the usual road bounce, however, you might find load-levelling bars and/or a stabilizing bar add-on between the hitch receiver and the trailer may smooth it out somewhat. but if you are driving a road that is similar to bumping along the railroad ties straddling one rail on a piece of train track, you may be out of luck.
  • dieselonedieselone Member Posts: 5,729
    I tow a 3200lb boat with my 01 Nissan Pathfinder. It has a 106" wheelbase. I really don't have any problems with load kick or sway. My tongue weight is pretty light around 180lbs which is about 5% or the trailer weight, about normal for a boat and trailer. I guess with a Rander pickup you are definetly talking less weight in the back and overall. I would think with a Jeep GC with its extra weight would be a lot better even with the same wheel base. I've seen some people tow extremely heavy boats long distances with their GC's. You can always use a weight distribution hitch and/or stabilizing bars to smooth things out.
  • sebring95sebring95 Member Posts: 3,241
    I had to make an emergency run to a horse vet a few weeks ago and my pullin rig was on the road. I used my in-laws 4.7L Grand Cherokee to pull a two-horse trailer with one horse. Weight was approx. 3800#. There was very little squat to the Jeep, maybe 2 inches max. It towed very well with little bouncing around. I was impressed with the performance. Braking was pretty good without trailer brakes hooked-up. You could tell the trailer was back there during acceleration and up steep hills, but I think the Grand could tow quite a bit more without much trouble.
  • primm1primm1 Member Posts: 3
    I have a 17 foot boat. It weighs 2,800 pounds, including fuel and trailer.
    I'm looking to buy a Ford Escape, which can supposely tow 3,500 pounds.
    Some friends say I need to forget the small SUVs and get a larger one. True?
    Also, someone told me that 3,500 pound figure is meant to include passengers and cargo in the SUV, not just the boat and trailer. True or false?
    I've read posts on the Escape board that say 4WD is not needed, but they were talking about snow. I'm thinking I DO need it to pull the boat and trailer up steep, slimy boat ramps. That's part of the reason I'm in the market, I'm afraid to use my current car to a lot of ramps for fear of launching both car AND boat.
    I see mention of the and sites and will check them out.
    Any input greatly appreciated.
  • margot11margot11 Member Posts: 3
    I'm buying a SUV FOR my husband--we'll need to tow an 18 foot boat and transport 4 people comfortably. It can't be too big as it needs to fit into our garage. I'd like a late model (no more than 4 years old). Would like to spend no more than $25,000. What should i keep in mind? What are my best options--I'd like him to be happily surprised (not grumpily so and saying I didn't get him the right one!)
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    I would think that vehicle is a little light to tow a 17-footer safely, and keep from having the boat pull you down the ramp if you screw up and leave the drain plugs out, so the boat fills up. they say my explorer can pull 6500 pounds, and I don't buy that either. the trick is whether all of the miles you will be doing will be on nice, flat, North Dakota roads with no turns, no traffic, and no challenges... no extra load in car or tow... no wind. if not, and the vehicle is not sprung tightly enough to bounce you on a pothole, I would say cut that tow rating in half to start getting close to the real world. I have seen folks use little Astro vans to pull 30-foot two-axle trailers, and I would never want to head downhill into a turn and have to brake that load, or have a tire go out and try to maintain control. I'd want that reserve.

    anybody really doing it, and what does it do to your brakes and tranny after two or three years?
  • akroegerakroeger Member Posts: 16
    I'm in the same market as both of you...looking for a vehicle to tow my 3300 lb boat/trailer combo while carrying 2 adults, 2 children, dog and luggage, 4wd for those slimy, steep ramps and be able to park it in my 2 car garage.

    I've been towing with a Toyota Sienna, but find it lacking in the oomph and traction departments. Plus, its unibody construction doesn't lend itself to rigorous towing duty without taking its toll on the entire vehicle body in the way of squeaks, rattles and groans.

    I've been looking at the Explorer, Grand Cherokee, Tahoe and Durango. Tahoe is too big and expensive. Grand Cherokee is too small and reliability is a concern for me. Explorer is too underpowered, smallish size and blah. I've narrowed it down to the Durango, but plan to drive a new and used one soon to confirm my research. The size, 5.9L towing capability and garageability meet my needs. I'm hoping the ride quality is acceptable.

    primm, there are 2 towing limits apply: max rated towing limit,(i.e. 3500 lbs) and the combined gross vehicle weight which includes the loaded truck plus the loaded trailer/boat weight. On the Sienna, which weighs about 4000 lbs empty, that CGVWlimit is about 7900 lbs. Subtracting the van weight and the boat/trailer weight, that leaves 600 lbs (7900-4000-3300=600) for people, van gas, boat gas, luggage, supplies and dog. The people alone wigh in at about 500 lbs in my small family. So, in reality, I can't tow the boat within vehicle limits while carrying full gas and a family of four.
  • pamopamo Member Posts: 39
    I towed a 4200 lb boat/trailer (fully loaded with gas) this summer, mostly short trips in Wisconsin. MDX is rated at 4500 - and I know that I was nearing the max, but the MDX performed beautifully. Great acceleration, although I did notice I was pulling a boat. Never had a problem pulling the boat out of the water. The tow capacity is not generally clearly explained, and while the boat dealers tell you repeatedly that anything can tow their boat, the car dealers generally do not have information to share regarding actual towing experience of their customers. This becomes a difficult guessing game.
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