New 04 Explorer owner.. trailering harness? | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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New 04 Explorer owner.. trailering harness?


New Member
July 23, 2015
Reaction score
City, State
Sioux City, IA
Year, Model & Trim Level
2004 Ford Explorer
I recently bought an 04 Explorer. It has the class 2 hitch which I will be trading out to the class 3. It was already wired with a 7 pin trailer hitch (not factory) but looked like it probably needed replaced. As figured all the wiring to that connector were torn up and some of them were not connected at all. So here is what I have. I have the 5 wires coming from the connector near the passengers tail light. There is a white(ground), green(right blinker), yellow(left), brown (lights) and a blue wire which I believe is for trailer brakes? A red wire is coming down from a separate location behind the spare tire. No 7th wire which I believe should be a black wire.

I need to pull a 5 x 8 trailer this weekend so would just like to get the 4 wires working and can deal with the rest later, but I am not getting it to work. I didn't hook the blue to anything. I hooked a multi meter to the ground and blinkers (yellow, green) and get a voltage switch when the turn signals are on, but only a minor change when I hook to the lights (brown). Admittedly, I am no whiz with the multi meter. I have new wiring on the trailer and hooked a friends old pickup to it and it seemed to work fine after we hooked the trailer to the pickup to make sure we had a good ground. I searched this site and found a few threads but nothing that was super helpful.

Any ideas? Thanks in advance.

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sorry, meant to post in the tow forum. can a admin move this please?

I wouldn't be towing a whole lot with a V6 and no tow package. You have a 3.55 rear end and the wiring is not run from ford for everything. So it's a cob job what you have.

If you so choose to add a 2" receiver, I'd go to a wrecking yard and pick one up. I believe they are just bolted to the frame with two bolts on each side. So just put the 2" versions where yours currently is. No need to have two hitches.

The wiring may already be plumbed. Drop your rear bumper and look below the passenger side tail light at the connectors. Then do the same to the vehicle at the wrecker where you get the hitch from. If the connectors are the same, just snag the harness and you'll be good to go. Most likely plug n play.

Actually no... For the tow package Ford puts a separate relay box in for the stop/turn lamps on the trailer. That is tow package only. Also, another way to tell, release the side of your glove box so opens all the way and hangs down. Look to the left behind the desk for a gray male connector and a short loom taped up. If it is not there you are in no way prepped for towing from the factory.

I never said I had the factory tow package. I said the trailer harness that was on there was not factory. It does have 3.55 gears, but it also has a transmission cooler so that is a plus. I saw it down in between the A/C condenser and the radiator. Will yank the class 2 off and bolt the class 3 on. I bought a 2 inch receiver hitch on ebay for $138. mainly because I already have the hitch and a bike rack that fits the 2 inch and an adapter was $40 anyway. I don't plan on doing a lot of towing with this vehicle and when I do it won't be heavy duty. Like I said, my trailer is only 5 x 8. This weekend I am hauling some firewood to go camping. When I do tow I will take it out of O/D to minimize shifting etc...

V6 still has decent towing ability. Hell, I see Camrys towing small trailers.

I wouldn't be towing a whole lot with a V6 and no tow package. You have a 3.55 rear end and the wiring is not run from ford for everything. So it's a cob job what you have.
My 2003 Sport Trac says it is good to pull 3000lbs via bumper, and 5500 with weight distributing hitch. I have the 6cyl 4.0L and probably the 3.55 rear end.

Sport Trac is different. Also, load up 5,000 lbs behind one of these vs a true 1500 SUV. I have the max tow package from Ford. V8 with 3.73L rear end. Ford rated the Explorer to tow the same amount of weight as our 2007 Suburban. No way will I ever tow 7,000+ lbs behind my explorer. The brakes are EXTREMELY underrated for that much weight and the transmission feels ready to blow. For example, towing our 5,000 lb boat & trailer combo. Which has no brakes. The Suburban stops just fine and gets off the line just fine with this in tow. It also has the air ride suspension so it keeps level and maintains control. The explorer, you have to start braking much sooner and getting off the line is very slow unless you want to rev over 4,000 rpm for each gear... And the rear suspension struggles to maintain control over it.

When I read the manual and saw the 7,000lb+ tow rating, I said Sweet! Then I saw the rear brakes and laughed hard as I realized the tow rating was a joke.