Almost had disaster towing. Advice Please! | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Almost had disaster towing. Advice Please!


April 15, 2005
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City, State
Year, Model & Trim Level
2000 2WD 5.0
I have a 2000 Explorer, 4dr, 2wd, 5.0L, purchased with the the OEM trailer towing package and a class 3 hitch recently installed. The trunk has 117,000 miles. I am the original owner and it is in perfect condition but still has all the original suspension, drivetrain. I also have a 553rwhp 2001 Mustang Bullitt. Last night I attempted to trailer the car behind the Explorer for the first time. The truck/trailer combination went unstable and almost jackknifed at 70mph on the expressway. I still have NO idea how I saved it. I'm now and expert at wrestling the steering wheel and praying at the same time. I do NOT want that experience again.

Details: The truck has more than enough power to pull the 3300 car plus the lightweight open trailer. I THOUGHT I was very carefull with this combination the first time on the road. Got the balance right with the weight of the car forward on the hitch. Checked all the truck/trailer tire pressures and adjusted accordingly. I have a lot of experience towing much larger packages than this with other truck/trailer combos, so I feel I know what I'm doing.

Brush with disaster: Got on the expressway and got it up to about 60. It didn't show any bad tendencies. Got it up to 70 and everything seemed to be fine for a few miles. THEN I started to feel a growing occilation starting. I immediately know this is bad. I slightly back out of the throttle. Occilation grows more. Tried to accelerate slightly to see if that would stabalize it some. No go. Back to gradual decelaration mode. I'm now all over two lanes now and just try to keep the truck in front of the trailer while balancing the decelaration. I wrestle it down to about 60 and it starts to stabalize and comes back under control. I proceed to the next exit at under 60. Strangely enough, nobody behind me passes me!! I bet they got an eyeful back there.

OK, not to show how stupid I am. I still want to be able to tow my car behind this truck. SAFELY!! Is that possible? Have I done something wrong here. What, if any, suspension modifications should I make to this thing. ANY and ALL advice would be appreciated. I did some searching but really didn't find any existing threads to address this. If I missed the answers, please just point me in the right direction.

Thanks from the newbe. :roll:

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That post was so long, I didn't give all the aftermath details. We actually tried moving the car further forward on the trailer to stabalize it more. It actually helped some, but I could tell it didn't fix the problem just by the way it felt. It was still dangerous. I could also tell, at that point, there was too much weight on the hitch by the position of the truck. That fact that we moved it forward some, and it helped, makes me think moving it back instead of forward, would have made it worse.

Whenever I have experienced occillations from towing a trailer it was due to not enough tongue weight. I suppose having too much tongue weight could also cause the same result but I think you should have felt it in the steering and you probably would have had a ton of rearend sag without any suspension mods. Just my 2 cents worth.

Towing anything at 70MPH is insane, slow down

spindlecone said:
Towing anything at 70MPH is insane, slow down

ummm no its not....i regurally go that fast on the interstate on the way to the lake in the summer

also how was the car on the trailer? pulled on or backed on? might try playing with that... if you can back it on that will put the most weight (front end) over the axle of the trailer and you can still have enough weight on the toung.

dman726749 said:
sounds to me like there was either too much weight towards the front of the trailer or too much towards the back.
Was it a full fledged car hauler or a tow dolly?

You also may have too short of a trailer.

spindlecone said:
Towing anything at 70MPH is insane, slow down

I felt like I was in MORE danger driving @ 60 from semis closing on me from behind at 80!! :eek:

This is a full fledged dual-axle car trailer and is actually longer than most trailers of this type I've used. My racer friend uses this to transport his Mustang behind his F-150 almost every week. I don't think there is an issue with the trailer, but that was a very good question.

I agree, getting the weight forward should help the stability but if it was anymore forward than was after we adjusted it, there would be almost no weight on the front tires. Backing the car on the trailer is an interesting idea, but honestly, I can't believe it should be so picky that something like that is necessary.

Could this be bad shocks and/or old leafs? Right now I'm thinking suspension problems. I would much rather spend some money money on suspension upgrades, than to sell my trusty Explorer and buy a P/U. Does suspension sound like where I should be going? If so, can someone give me some specifics of what to do, what products to use?

Will the load balancing hitch help stability or just load capacity. After the non-destructive testing conducted last night, I feel real good about my current hitch capacity!! :D

Pictures worth a thousand words...

You are correct about getting the weight forward on the trailer. Unfortunately, the Explorer can pull that much weight, however, their suspension is not set up for the high tounge weight of a car trailer. I would highly recommend a set of adjustable air shocks for the rear of the Ex, this will remove the sagging rear, and a weight distribution kit/sway bar kit. The weight ditribution will transfer the some of the weight to the front tires of the Ex while still allowing the trailered vehicle to be further forward on the trailer. I know how you feel, I did the trailer tango also and it is enough to scare the money right out of your wallet to get the correct towing set up.

Now that I see your pic, I see your problem. Your trailer is more than a car trailer. Based on the axle location of the trailer, I'd say it was designed for equipment, bobcats and whatnot. If you notice, your trailer axles are dead center on the load deck. Most car trailers, the axles are about 1 to 2 feet off center towards the rear to allow for more tounge weight. When I tow my Ex, the front of the rear tires are lined up with the rear of the trailers rear tires. Puts quite a bit of sag on the f-350's rear, but then the weight ditribution bars go on and it levels out perfect. I would recommend pulling the mustang as far forward as possible and getting a set of weight distribution bars and rear air shocks as I stated before.

So what your saying is, the truck suspension needs to be set-up to allow more weight to be placed on the hitch to stablize things. That makes sense to me. As far as the trailer design, there is still room to move the car forward but I didn't want to do that because it would sag the rear more than I was comfortable with.

What shocks do you guys recommend for me? Should I also do anything with the rear leafs or front shocks? I will also check into the weight distribution bars.

This truck is capable of doing this, right? I don't mind spending money on it, but I sure don't want to waste money if it just won't get the job done.

I run Helwig Helpers on mine when I tow, before running them I would squat 3 - 4" in the rear, but with them I squat maybe 1". The ride while towing is 100% better too.



The Ranch RS5000s I run for shocks help alot too. I have the Rancho RS9000 adjustable ones on my 250 and when I tow I can dial in the perfect ride for what ever wieght I'm pulling.

Any good online sources for that hardware? I have access to a lift and anything else tool-wise I'll need to install them. Would replacing the leafs entirely be better than the add-on units? I can tell you almost anything you want to know about an SN-95 Modular Motor Mustang, but I'm totally un-informed on the truck thing.

Thanks VERY MUCH for the help and information!!!

Many thanks to everyone for taking the time to help me with this! As soon as the near-death experience memory fades, I'll look into getting this done.

You may already know this, but the tongue weight should be between 10 to 15% of the weight being towed. So for 4,000 lbs you should have between 400lbs to 600lbs on the tongue. However, I think anything over 500lbs it's reccomended you move to weight distributing hitch, no matter what types of spring helpers you may have. One thing to keep in mind is if you start beefing up the springs you may need to drop the ball height, since the hitch will now will be higher along with the truck.

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That is also good information. I was already trying to keep the hitch loading down and I know it will be close on a class 3 hitch. I'll keep all that in mind too. Thanks!