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03 explorer trailer hitch

98Rig

Active Member
Joined
May 27, 2008
Messages
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City, State
Stevens Point, WI
Year, Model & Trim Level
92 XLT
so im picking up a 03 explorer v6 flex fuel 4x4 tommorrow with 71k on the clock, this thing is in mint condition and as i test drove it today and looked over it i hade a quick question i hope someone can help me with. i plan on towing a bass boat or pop up camper every now and this throughout the summer and i seen the factory hitch is only a 1" receiver. i do not know if it has a tow package but it does have a tranny cooler. anyone know what class this may be?? or what to look for to find out when i get it tommorrow? if i have to upgrade to bigger hitch i will but if its not neccessary i wont since it will be seldom that i tow.
 


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skeeter123

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Joined
September 2, 2009
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Year, Model & Trim Level
2002 XLT 4.6L
Check out:
https://www.fleet.ford.com/showroom/rv_trailer_towing/2003/2003_SUVs_Windstar.pdf
and
https://www.fleet.ford.com/showroom/rv_trailer_towing/2003/2003_max_trailer_weights.pdf

The 1 1/4" hitch is a Class II; the 2" hitch is the Class III/IV. I assume it's the factory-installed hitch. From the link above, 4.0L 4x4: the Class-II is rated for 3400lbs, the Class-III/IV is rated for 5400. Either way, you should be just fine with the bass boat or pop-up camper, unless its some extraordinarily large boat/camper.....

My 4.6L V8 w/towing package came with 3.73LS diff and Class III/IV hitch, but no extra trans cooler. For years I had assumed that the power steering cooler (down in front, between engine and radiator) was an extra trans cooler. Now that I may be towing more, I checked it out, and will be installing an external trans cooler shortly. I think the 4.0L v6's came with an external engine-oil cooler, you may want to verify if you've got a transmission-cooler or not..... On second thought, I think the fact that it's a 1-1/4" Class II hitch means that it didn't come with the towing package. The trans cooler may have been installed later.

Hope this helps.
 




os1kne

Active Member
Joined
April 14, 2001
Messages
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City, State
Dallas, TX
Year, Model & Trim Level
1999 XLT
My wife has a 2004 Explorer 4x4 4.0 flex fuel that came with the factory class II hitch. I swapped it out a couple of years ago for the factory class III hitch (about $100 from junkyard.) The swap really isn't hard to do, but you need to remove the rear bumper cover.

Even though the max capacity of the class III hitch is 5,400 lbs. - if you were to "upgrade", you should not exceed the factory listed towing capacity (around 3,400 lbs), as the differential gearing is a big factor in determining towing capacity.

The main reason that I put the class III hitch on my wife's Explorer was so we could use some accessories that we already had (bike rack, "crap carrier", etc. and I don't like the goofy adapters). You may find that you're just fine using the class II for your needs.

Good luck!
 




jrford

Explorer Addict
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March 1, 2005
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City, State
Birmingham, MI
Year, Model & Trim Level
'10 Sport Trac
little late,. . .

All Ex's came with a trans cooler as std, no matter what hitch. Just take a look between the Rad and Condenser on the bottom very hard to see, but if you pull up on the plastic shroud you should see it.

I also had the stock ClassII hitch took about 20min to swap on the ClassIII, 6 bolts.
Still have the 3.55's and i've pulled a pop-up, about 2,000lbs plus 500lbs of gear, bikes, cargo box, i just keep the O/D off and it was fine. But i have a v8. . .

Unless you over the 3,500lbs. .you should be ok a couple times a year, just keep the O/D off.
 




DVRDOWN

Active Member
Joined
September 7, 2006
Messages
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City, State
West Palm Beach, FL
Year, Model & Trim Level
'02 XLT Flex Fuel 4x4
I have an '02 Flex V6 with the class III/IV hitch. It should be more than capable to pull a bass boat or camper with no issues! Before you pull though, make sure you check the rear springs. It's an '03 so you shouldn't have the broken spring issues the '02's have but double check before you pull a heavy load just for handling issues. If you want more piece of mind, you could always step up to a weight distribution hitch on the boat.
 




02Travis

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Joined
May 31, 2010
Messages
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City, State
Neenah, WI
Year, Model & Trim Level
02 XLT 4.0
"new" 02

I just purchased an 02 Explorer, and I'm looking to pull an 27' airstream. Dry wt. is just under 4600 lbs and tongue weight is 500. They rear springs look original, not broken yet, and one rear strut is leaking. I'd like to put in something heavier duty than stock, even though I'm within the load range of the stock equipment. Does anyone have any suggestions as to wear I can find stronger springs? I'm picking the trailer up in a couple of weeks. It's in WV and I'm in WI, so I need to have this up to snuff!
 




os1kne

Active Member
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April 14, 2001
Messages
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City, State
Dallas, TX
Year, Model & Trim Level
1999 XLT
Double-check this, but I'm pretty sure that the '02's have fully-independent rear suspension (struts inside of coil springs and not the traditional rear leaf springs). The struts can be somewhat of a PITA to change (I need to do the rears on my '04 sometime this summer.) You should be able to find a heavier-duty than stock strut, but I don't think that you'll find tons of options available.

Good luck!
 








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