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Towing w/o a tow package and slightly over the limit


I know this has been asked a number of times already and I did read most of the posts, I wanted to provide some more information specific to my setup and see if anybody has been in a similar situation.

I have a 2005 Ford Explorer with the V6 4L engine, 4WD and the 3.55 rear axle ratio. Therefore my vehicle is rated for up to 3400 lb towing. I have added a class III/IV hitch.

I am looking at a travel trailer with an unloaded vehicle weight of 3500 lb and loaded close to 4000lb. The hitch weight will be about 300 lb. We do not typically load the vehicle too much. Most of the driving will be done on flat areas I do not expect to tow up mountains but would like to take long trips.

I talked to a Ford dealer and a mechanic I trust and they both said that I should be fine as long as I have a transmission cooler and do not push the car too far.

What do you think? Should I trust them? I have another option for another trailer that I do not like as much but is about 500 lb lighter however the hitch weight is about 500 lb (it only has a single axle)


4 wheelin Nufy

New Member
May 20, 2009
Reaction score
City, State
Victoria, BC
Year, Model & Trim Level
02 Explorer XLT 4X4
To continue from my last, I had to install 3.73 diffs and I am in the process of installing an oem 7 pin trailer plug. The X came with a tranny cooler and I installed a classIII hitch and voila, I now have a five thousand pound towing ability. I towed the trailer fully stocked (minus water of course), all of our stuff and kids stuff from Victoria BC to Winnepeg Manitoba (3000 kms one way) through the Rockies in 30 degree C heat and didn't have a problem. My advice is change out your diffs if your planning on buying anything heavier than 3000 lbs dry.


Explorer Addict
February 11, 2009
Reaction score
City, State
Canton, Michigan
Year, Model & Trim Level
2006 Mercury Mountaineer
That's the problem with people trying to use only the MAX tow rating for planning. The max tow rating (3500 lbs) is only available if the Explorer is empty. So you end up having to subtract passenger and cargo weight from that 3500 lbs.

An easier way to thing of things is to start with your GCVWR, which is 8000 lbs for a V6 non-tow-package Ex:
8000-4344? (curb weight of '02 Ex V6 XLT 4x4 per = 3656 lbs
3656-150 (standard 150 lbs driver allowed) = 3506 (there is where your MAX rating comes from, but there is nothing in the truck yet).
3506-3500 (loaded trailer) = 6 lbs

You only had 6 lbs available for cargo and passengers in the truck! You are probably about right with that 3000 lbs recommendation, as this will allow for about 500 lbs of passengers and perhaps a cooler in the back.

Good for you on including the diffs in your upgrade. Many people here find themselves in the same boat, and choose to simply trade for a tow-package equipped vehicle. It would help this community if you would post the cost for upgrading to the 3.73 gearing:
1. Front cost
2. Rear cost (for those that only have RWD).
3. Did you recoup any cost for the old parts?

You really need to finish that project for the 7-pin connector. Without it, I assume you are still running without trailer brakes. Your truck's brakes are only rated to handle the trucks GVWR alone (5845 lbs per Edmunds). At 8000 lbs GCVW, you are seriously overloading those brakes.

I'm sure you have trailer brakes on the camper. You just need that wiring, and a good brake controller. I can't recommend enough the Prodigy, P2, or P3, each made by Tekonsha. The each have the same functioning hardware, and the Prodigy and P2 are pretty much identical. The P3 has a more user-friendly LCD display, versus the old-school LED on the Prodigy and P2. But functionally, IIHO, you can't get any better. You can get cheaper time-delay controllers for about $40. But for $89-$140, these accelerometer-based proportional controllers are worth every cent and will give you smoother towing and the shortest stopping distance.

If you already have a 4-flat harness in the rear, you can get a conversion kit from Plugs into the 4-flat for your lights, but also comes with all wiring and connectors to run the brake and 12V lines up to the engine bay. This is what I used for my minivan, towing a 3000 popup camper: