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2011 Explorer towing concern


ggerad

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2011 Ford Explorer
I'd consider myself a novice tow guy. I have a deep V boat I tow with both my 11 Explorer and 06 Escape without a problem. My wife and I now have a 18 foot hybrid travel trailer. It's dry weight is just short of 4000lbs and we've weighed it at 4200 when loaded with our gear.

My question is this. We've towed a few times and have had a concern with the tranny. When traveling highway speeds it struggles to stay up to speed in 5th and does fine in 4th but that puts us in the 4000 RPM range. To me, that seems high so I fight to keep it in 5th which from time to time requires a few extra shifts depending on hills and such. When I tow the boat the Explorer works as if nothing is behind it. But the trailer has a WDH and I run into these struggles each time.

Since this isn't a popup there is also the issue with the "sail" that I'm dragging behind me and not just the weight but I do figure I'm within/at the 40 sqft allowance for such after taking numerous measurements.

What do you guys think? is it ok to be at 4000 for an extended time? Should I try to get to 5th gear?
 

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colintrax

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No, lock out 5th gear. If you're towing that boat often I'd suggest you invest in a half ton truck. Buy an older f150 and leave the explorer for towing lighter stuff. You're killing your transmission trying to make it stay in 5th.
 


ggerad

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No, lock out 5th gear. If you're towing that boat often I'd suggest you invest in a half ton truck. Buy an older f150 and leave the explorer for towing lighter stuff. You're killing your transmission trying to make it stay in 5th.
Thanks colintrax, not exactly what I want to hear but the truth rarely is, right?! Just an FYI... it's the RV that weighs that much and the boat is under 1500lbs and the Explorer handles that thing with ease! I'm guessing it's the added face of the travel trailer that's the difference.

Just for clarity, are you saying the extra shifting or the 4000 rpms is the concern?
 


RandyH2

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The Explorer is a terrible tow vehicle for something that heavy. My boat is slightly heavier and I have the same complaint/concern about the transmission constantly gear-hunting at highway speeds on the gently rolling highways of Michigan. There is sufficient power to get up to speed but it struggles to get the boat up the ramp, doesn't recognize the boat is back there and keeps beeping the annoying back-up warning (my X5 disabled that feature automatically when a trailer was connected), and the entire rig seems less stable. Ever meet someone who didn't mind towing? That person probably had a good tow vehicle....
Back to the specifics of your question: Are you towing it long distances or just down the road to a local camping spot? If long distances or frequent towing I would definitely check the service intervals and stay on top of them. And sell the Explorer when the warranty runs out.
 


ocracokeBound

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The tow button should be slowing the upshifts but it also should be downshifting going down hills to help with braking.
 


colintrax

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Thanks colintrax, not exactly what I want to hear but the truth rarely is, right?! Just an FYI... it's the RV that weighs that much and the boat is under 1500lbs and the Explorer handles that thing with ease! I'm guessing it's the added face of the travel trailer that's the difference.

Just for clarity, are you saying the extra shifting or the 4000 rpms is the concern?
Ah ok, sorry I misread I guess. The extra shifting is the problem. Overdrive isn't strong enough for that, and you'll eventually cause slipping and overheat the transmission. Spend a few extra bucks on gas and save the transmission. Or spend the money on a truck that can properly haul it. I'm sure the aerodynamics makes it much worse.

4,000 rpms isn't a big deal. Not ideal, but my little chevy spins 4,000 just to do 75mph. My dirt bike pretty well stays at 10,000 rpm . Revs aren't the only thing causing wear and tear on an engine.
 


Dr Plastic

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Did your Ex come with the factory tow package or is it an aftermarket hitch?
 


ggerad

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Did your Ex come with the factory tow package or is it an aftermarket hitch?
It does have the factory tow package. We went with the Explorer over an older F150 because it was just enough to haul what we needed and being newer than the F150 with more miles. Our next vehicle will surely be the F150. I was a little taken back when hauling for the first time and it was so high in the RPM's. I always do use the Manual option but having that big parachute behind me I'm sure is the difference.

As far as distance, the farthest we'd ever tow would be about 150 miles. So far, so good. I just don't want to be that next picture on the interenet, ya know?!

Thanks everyone!
 


wifes2011xlt

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I always do use the Manual option but having that big parachute behind me I'm sure is the difference.
So the tranny still downshifted even in Manual mode?
 


Rupp3184

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Towing at high RPM's highway

I have a 2013 XLT with the max tow package and i tow a travel trailer that weighs about 3500 lbs. Max capacity is 5000. When i'm going about 65-70 mph the car wants to rev around 4000 rpm's out of 6000 so it feels like it's in 4th gear most of the time. Anybody else have this problem too and can I use manual shift mode at that speed to bump it to 5th without hurting anything long term?
 


SilveradoCA

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Running an engine at 2/3 of it's redline won't hurt it. I'd leave it in Drive with the tow mode activated and let the PCM do the thinking.

Relax and enjoy the ride!
 


RandyH2

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"Running an engine at 2/3 of it's redline won't hurt it. I'd leave it in Drive with the tow mode activated and let the PCM do the thinking.

Relax and enjoy the ride!"

+1
I just re-read this post with a more critical eye. If there are any experts on the forum please correct me if I am wrong: Most of the wear on the transmission occurs with each shift. There are loads on bearings, etc. while in gear but the biggest part of the wear occurs during shifting. Having the tranny gear-hunt is more of a concern than running at 4,000 rpm for hours on end (once the vehicle has been through the break-in period).
Again- I would love to hear from vehicle engineers on this one.
 


D

Deleted member 303716

The real enemy of an automatic transmission is heat.

Heavy Duty tow packages usually include more than just a bigger hitch. There's usually improved transmission cooling as well.
 


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