Towing insight needed for 2013 Explorer TONGUE weight | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Towing insight needed for 2013 Explorer TONGUE weight


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September 6, 2013
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2013 Ford Explorer XLT
I've got an interesting question on tongue weight and thought the seasoned towing vets could chime in and offer their thoughts/opinions.

I've got a 2013 Explorer XLT 4x4. Looking at a used travel trailer. I've read up on towing basics and got the whole GCWR things down. We'll be well within safety margins for towing capacity and combined weight. However, does the weight in the third row (like my kids) really impact the total tongue weight available when towing a trailer? A couple trailer websites indicate anything behind the rear axle contributes to the total tongue weight available to tow. That 3rd row sits just behind the rear axle. There is nothing in the owner's manual or on Ford's official tow guide that indicates you have to subtract cargo behind the rear axle in the Explorer from your available tongue weight when considering the 500 pound max.

If I have to subtract out the kids in the 3rd row, I'd be left with approximately 300-350 pounds for the trailer hitch weight to still remain within the 500 tongue weight max. This would really limit the available trailers we could look into buying....even many pop ups have dry hitch weight of 300+.

Most people I know say I'll be fine a few pounds over, but I don't take chances when it comes to safety. However, I may be over analyzing things.


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Yes, anything behind the axle subtracts from the tongue weight

That is a good question.. I'm not sure on that now that you mention about weight behind the rear axle. I know when you talk about regular weights, that it just a driver and you need to factor in your gear and other passengers. I'd be curious as well what people say.

Tongue weight, as defined by

The downward weight applied by the towable equipment on the hitch ball. In general tongue weight should be around 7 to 8 percent of GTW and should not be more than 10 percent of the GTW.

According to this definition, weight carried internally in the vehicle would not be included in tongue weight. Its only a matter of how much downward force is actually applied at the ball/hitch connection. Loads carried inside the vehicle do not apply to tongue weight.

edit: passenger / cargo / fuel loads would be considered in the GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating) which is the total vehicle + trailer weight. For the 3.5L V6 AWD Explorer, I'm looking at a 10160 GCWR limit. Check your owners manual for that.

Thanks for the responses. I can logically understand both views on the tongue weight. I'm no engineer that's for sure.

Perhaps that third row is designed differently or sits on the axle as to not impact the tongue weight? (if it indeed does).

The used travel trailer we looked at has a dry weight under 3100 pounds. Pretty sure the hitch weight is 10% of the trailer weight. Even loaded up, I think we'll be fine. We travel light.