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shieldskg

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Last year my husband and I fell in love with and bought our 2013 Explorer. We didn't buy it with any intention of wanting to buy a camper, but now here we are a year and a half later, looking at travel trailers. Needless to say we did not get the tow package, but I've been told by the dealer the Class III tow package can be installed after market without any differences (is this true?) From my research, I think we did okay by selecting the 4WD 3.5L Ti-VCT V6 engine, it seems like this is the one that the tow package gets added to anyway.

So, my question is... With the Class III tow package installed, our max loaded trailer weight is 5,000 lbs. But when I read any of the travel trailer specific forums, everyone says that it is a bad idea to pull a full size trailer with a small SUV. But why? They never say why. Yes, I get that the air drag is going to effect the Explorer's ability to "go" but isn't it the same with a larger SUV (like an expedition)? What I want to know is, is it going to kill my awesome new Explorer if I get a 3,500 lb dry weight hybrid travel trailer (and yes I know it will have effects on the life of the Explorer but to what extent?) My calculations:

Explorer GCWR (with the tow package installed) = 10,160 lbs
Explorer GVW = 4557 lbs
Family of four (eventually, just one baby right now!) = 600 lbs
Dogs = 130 lbs
Tank of gas/Hitch/battery/propane etc. = 250 lbs
Cargo loaded into trailer = 600 lbs

10,160 - (4557 + 600 + 130 + 250 + 600) = Max dry trailer weight of 4,023 lbs.

So if we keep our dry weight below 3,500, then we're giving ourselves a good 500 lbs buffer. And I think I was rather generous with my estimates above (especially since our family weight right now is actually only 355 lbs.)

All of my math calculations say I can do it. Of course the RV dealers say we can do it. But I want to know from other Ford Explorer owners out there who have travel trailers, how do you feel? Do you ever regret buying a full size trailer instead of a pop up? I know we could pull a pop up no problem but the pop up's are the same cost as the hybrids, and the hybrids are so much easier and nicer! I don't want to settle with a pop-up because a bunch of people with their big old trucks told me my small SUV couldn't do it. I definitely think we will either rent or at least get a dealer to let us take a camper for a test pull before we pull the trigger, but that's not going to give us any idea of the long term effect of pulling a trailer multiple times.

A little more background:
We live in Virginia and would probably camp as far north as Massachusetts and as far south as Florida. We'd probably never venture anywhere past Tennessee to the west. I'd say the majority of our trips will be within a 4-5 hour radius of Virginia though.

Thanks for your input!
 


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ieee_raider

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Been discussed in many threads, but this summary should help:

1. You can install a class-3 hitch after the fact. OEM or aftermarket, either one.
2. The factory tow package also adds an oil cooler (except on the sport model)
3. If you had the Sport model, adding a class 3 hitch is all you would need to get 5k capacity because it already has upgraded cooling with the turbos
4. You can probably get by with hauling 5,000 lbs without doing damage IF you are careful about how hard you push it because the suspension doesn't change (at least that is my understanding)
5. The risk you run is you wouldn't be covered under warranty by Ford if you ruined something in your engine by hauling over 2,000 lbs. Ford documentation out there is very clear that if you add towing aftermarket, they only recommend 2,000 lbs.

Hope that helps!
 




blichy

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The issue that people are alluding to when towing is if you have a big trailer and small tow vehicle, you can get into a situation of the tail wagging the dog.
 




ieee_raider

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The issue that people are alluding to when towing is if you have a big trailer and small tow vehicle, you can get into a situation of the tail wagging the dog.

As far as that goes, one positive is that all new explorers have trailer sway control, even without the trailer tow package.
 




shieldskg

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Thanks for the responses so far!

2. The factory tow package also adds an oil
cooler (except on the sport model)
QUOTE]

Ieee_raider - My husband is going to Ford today to ask but our intent was to have them also install the oil cooler. In that case, wouldn't it be rated the same with the 5,000 lb towing? I will make sure he also asks about the effect on warranty.

And I get the tail wagging the dog, but wouldn't that be the same issue if you had a bigger SUV and a bigger trailer? Based on our 112" wheel base, the guidance I read was to keep the length under 21' which is def. do-able with the models we are looking at. Won't that help with the "wagging"?
 




ieee_raider

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Thanks for the responses so far!

2. The factory tow package also adds an oil
cooler (except on the sport model)
QUOTE]

Ieee_raider - My husband is going to Ford today to ask but our intent was to have them also install the oil cooler. In that case, wouldn't it be rated the same with the 5,000 lb towing? I will make sure he also asks about the effect on warranty.

And I get the tail wagging the dog, but wouldn't that be the same issue if you had a bigger SUV and a bigger trailer? Based on our 112" wheel base, the guidance I read was to keep the length under 21' which is def. do-able with the models we are looking at. Won't that help with the "wagging"?
I would get the dealer to give you a letter saying they'll honor the warranty if there's towing related damage just to cover your bases.

There's also a "tow-mode" button that gets installed with all models, but it just effects your shift points. So as long as you take it easy then that impact should be negligible I would think.

And yes, the hitch and vehicle are still capable of 5,000 lbs but that doesn't necessarily mean the overall combination is rated at that.

See here: Ford PDF
 




77rednecktruck

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I have thought about a travel trailer but decided to wait until the lease is up on my sport and get a f 250 or bigger if that is the route we really want to take as a family.

I don't go by empty weight for a trailer though. What is the max for the trailer? I see you are estimating 600 lbs but that weight adds up quick in my experience. I fill my little 4x8 trailer up for a week camping trip, I couldn't imagine all the stuff I would try to cram in a full size travel trailer. :)

I was looking at a toy hauler since I have dirt bikes and a rzr and the empty weight is ~4000 lbs and the max is 11K. Don't think the Explorer could handle that. :)
 




JohnBoyToo

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I commend you for taking the time to at least project your weights !!!

MANY buy then have to update their tv (don't ask me how I know :) )

My only concern is the climbs you will have to make if you tow close to the max weights...

as posted earlier use gvw for your trailer not dry weight because you WILL load it up - I promise !!!


good luck and enjoy the rv experience ! I know we do !
 




peterk9

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I commend you for taking the time to at least project your weights !!!

MANY buy then have to update their tv (don't ask me how I know :) )

good luck and enjoy the rv experience ! I know we do !
I agree, by the time you get your TV home it is likely already out of date! :D

Peter
 




RedDog1

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500# isn't much of a buffer IMHO. You also don't say anything about the tongue weight and weight on the rear axle. We have a hybrid TT that we used to pull with our '03 Expedition 5.4 which was capable of dealing with a little over 8k# as I recall. Our TT came in right at 4k#. The rear axle was rated at 4100# (GAWR) and loaded up it was at 3800#.
The end-game here is although I was well below the GCWR on our Expe the rear axle was pretty close to maxing out.
I would certainly think a weight distributing hitch would be mandatory for your setup. An oil cooler would be the next item to consider as mandatory.
I would worry about the temps while highway cruising. I found our combination was the happiest at 60mph. We never had any cooling issues but the Expe probably had a bit more HP and torque.
When we bought the Explorer I considered the tow package but decided it was just too close to the weight limits. I traded my mustang for the Explorer and just sold the Expe to get an F-350 in anticipation of trading up to a 5th wheel next year or so. We've towed once with the F-350 and it was a pleasure.

If you decide to tow with your Expl I'd suggest the first stop should be a visit to the closest CAT scale to verify your weights. You might also try posting on some of the trailer forums and get some additional input.
Good luck and let us know how it goes!
 




shieldskg

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Thanks for all of the great replies!

The Shamrock 183 that we are looking at has a dry hitch weight of 406 lbs and gross vehicle weight rating of 4806 which is still below our 5000 lb limit. We are 100% getting a weight distribution hitch. As for rear axle weight, I found online a rating of 3300 lbs rear axle weight. The back of our explorer will only have two things in it on any given trip, a puggle (about 40 lbs) and a black lab (about 90 lbs)... so at least we know exactly what those weigh :) We will have to load up the dogs and head over to the scale to see what our rear axle weight is.

As for the engine cooler, we are having one heck of a time getting Ford to understand what we are asking for! The dealer we bought from had NO idea what we were talking about, but I think we have found one that understands. Even Ford customer service wasn't helpful! It really frustrates me that the towing guide states to just "check with your dealer" about adding the Trailer Tow Package if you plan to tow up to 5000 lbs, but then the dealers have no idea! What that tow sheet should really say is, if you didn't get the Tow Package as a factory install, you have a long road ahead of you. So anyway, we will be getting the Engine Oil Cooler added. We will probably get all of the hitch and wiring done by the RV dealer that we purchase from since Ford hasn't given us a warm and fuzzy about their knowledge on towing.

And we will definitely head on over to the scales to get some real weights on our vehicle. We do have a back up plan, if it turns out the Explorer can't handle it, then the lease on my Acura RDX will be up in a couple of years and we can just upgrade to a truck. We most certainly have no intention of getting rid of the Explorer though, we're way too in love and I'm not a minivan type of mom... I sure hope gas stays where it is :)

Thanks again for the all of the responses!
 




dco43054

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If you are looking for warranty assurances - then you will need to get that from Ford. The dealer is an independent business person who has no authority to directly commit Ford to anything from a warranty perspective.
 




RedDog1

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Hey Shield,
Your axle limits will be found on a sticker that I think you can find in the driver's door frame. Is will show GVWR and front/rear GAWR. Don't forget to add the weight of your fuel to the rear axle as well. The 3300# rating on the rear includes the weight of the car, so if the axle is rated at 3300# and with a full load of hounds and fuel it weighs 3000# then you have 300# left over for the hitch (you should included its weight on the axle as well - my hitch comes in about 80#) and tongue weight.
The "Dry" weights (both the TT and tongue) don't include the weight of the "stuff" you will put in the TT. Tools, propane, fresh water, battery, pots/pans, "adult beverages, food.....

Everything you put in the trailer between the hitch and wheels will increase the tongue weight. The TT will have a weight sticker on it similar to the Expl which will tell you the weights limits on the axle(s).

It sounds like you have located a towing guide, it will probably have the weight calc's and weighing procedure (it takes 3 passes over the scale to get all the info to determine how you are loaded - hitched, hitched-no spring bars and unhitched).

I don't recall if the tow pkg included a trailer brake controller or not. My new 350 has an integrated controller. If the dealer (or whoever installs the receiver and oil cooler) can install a factory controller then great, if not you'll need to get one of those as well.
 








shieldskg

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Just thought I'd provide an update in case anyone comes across this with the same issues we were having. After a month or so of calling around to various Ford dealers, we finally found one who was willing to "try" to install the engine oil cooler. They quoted us roughly $450 for the parts and another $500 for labor with a caveat that they have never done it before, so until they get in there they really don't know how long it will take.

My husband and I went back and forth about whether or not to go forward with it and in the end decided against it. Had we gotten the trailer tow package factory installed, we would have happily moved forward with the Explorer and gotten our trailer. But after a lot of research and phone calls, we decided that installing it after market gave us little reassurance that it would truly make our Explorer capable of towing more than the 2000 lb it was rated to tow from the factory and it just wasn't worth the risk.

So last weekend we went out on a mission to trade our Explorer in for a V6 Dodge Durango WITH TOW PACKAGE! We have already decided on our TT being a Coachman 21TQX (Dry Weight 3,335, tongue weight 430), so we went with the v6 to maintain the fuel economy of our Explorer. Also, the Durango has a towing capacity of 6200 lbs, best in class!

Our goal was to minimize the cost impact of trading in an only 18 month old perfect condition Explorer XLT for something that could tow what we wanted. But also, being the primary vehicle, we didn't want to give up the features and leather! We started out looking at used, but with the 2014 models coming out now, the dealers were giving incredible incentives on the 2013 models and they were price pretty much the same as the used 2011-2012 models!

So long story short, we said goodbye to the XLT and got a brand new 2013 Dodge Durango Crew... The impact? About a $6.5K increase. Subtracting out the cost to retrofit the XLT (estimated around $1.5k)... I tell my husband that it's our $5k hitch. Most expensive hitch we'll ever buy. :) But totally worth the piece of mind!

We will certainly miss the XLT. I really loved it and other than the towing had zero complaints. I hope it goes to a good owner with no intentions of towing anything...
 




ieee_raider

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So long story short, we said goodbye to the XLT and got a brand new 2013 Dodge Durango Crew... The impact?
The impact... driving a SLOW SLOW SLOW vehicle... lol

Good luck with the Durango, it was our #2.
 




blwnsmoke

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Just thought I'd provide an update in case anyone comes across this with the same issues we were having. After a month or so of calling around to various Ford dealers, we finally found one who was willing to "try" to install the engine oil cooler. They quoted us roughly $450 for the parts and another $500 for labor with a caveat that they have never done it before, so until they get in there they really don't know how long it will take.

My husband and I went back and forth about whether or not to go forward with it and in the end decided against it. Had we gotten the trailer tow package factory installed, we would have happily moved forward with the Explorer and gotten our trailer. But after a lot of research and phone calls, we decided that installing it after market gave us little reassurance that it would truly make our Explorer capable of towing more than the 2000 lb it was rated to tow from the factory and it just wasn't worth the risk.

So last weekend we went out on a mission to trade our Explorer in for a V6 Dodge Durango WITH TOW PACKAGE! We have already decided on our TT being a Coachman 21TQX (Dry Weight 3,335, tongue weight 430), so we went with the v6 to maintain the fuel economy of our Explorer. Also, the Durango has a towing capacity of 6200 lbs, best in class!

Our goal was to minimize the cost impact of trading in an only 18 month old perfect condition Explorer XLT for something that could tow what we wanted. But also, being the primary vehicle, we didn't want to give up the features and leather! We started out looking at used, but with the 2014 models coming out now, the dealers were giving incredible incentives on the 2013 models and they were price pretty much the same as the used 2011-2012 models!

So long story short, we said goodbye to the XLT and got a brand new 2013 Dodge Durango Crew... The impact? About a $6.5K increase. Subtracting out the cost to retrofit the XLT (estimated around $1.5k)... I tell my husband that it's our $5k hitch. Most expensive hitch we'll ever buy. :) But totally worth the piece of mind!

We will certainly miss the XLT. I really loved it and other than the towing had zero complaints. I hope it goes to a good owner with no intentions of towing anything...

I completely missed this thread and glad you didnt go through with the retrofit. First, not only does the tow package have an oil cooler, it also has a larger/thicker radiator then the non tow package. So just adding an oil cooler wouldnt get you there.

Also, vehicles are certified to tow a certain weight out of the factory... just because you change parts doesnt mean it is certified at a higher weight. You must get the vehicle recertified to pull more then what it could out of the factory. Now would anyone ever know, probably not? But the liability is on you if you get into an accident with a vehicle certified to pull less then what is attached.

Enjoy your durango, I love the exterior (never seen the interior)
 




T-1000

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Shieldskg,

I just wanted to thank you for taking so much time to detail not only your questions but your updates, this made for an interesting thread! I ordered mine with the tow pack with zero intention to ever tow "just in case" and for resale. It's too bad you let go of the Ex you were loving but I hope you enjoy the Durango and the camping trips!
 




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