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Towing with a 2015 Explorer

dwilso38

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To anyone out there wondering about towing with your 2011-2015 Explorer, it works great! I have a 2015 Explorer XLT with the Appearance Package and the Towing Package. I searched the internet prior to buying our travel trailer to try and see what people had said about towing but didn't come across a lot of information or testimonials. Well, after doing as much research as I could, we purchased a Rockwood/Forest River Mini-Lite 2306 trailer. At 3,891 lbs dry, I figured I could stay below the 5,000 lbs towing limit with my family and all of our stuff. Figuring ~550 lbs of people (& dog), I guessed our packed possessions were less than 450 lbs. Anyway, we traveled from Livonia, MI to Orlando, FL along I-75. Total of 2700 miles. Even through the Appalachians, the Explorer pulled well. I only averaged ~9mpg, but that was what I expected. The biggest drawback was the small size of the gas tank. With only 17 gallons, I couldn't even make 200 miles before needing to fill up again.
Other impressions: I used a Weight Distribution hitch made by Husky that helped eliminate sway in a big way. For most of the flat land travel, I left the transmission in Drive with the Tow button engaged (locking out 6th gear and holding other gears for a longer time), but for the mountains, I shifted to Manual ("M") and stayed in 4th for the most part. Finally, I had a towing brake module added.
So to anyone wondering whether to tow with their Explorer, my advice is to do it (as long as you stay within the weight guidelines)!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/16616493094/in/photostream/
 
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The Cheat

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I found this out...you MUST use a weight distribution hitch for anything over 2,000 per Ford. I missed the little * next to 5,000 and tried towing without it.

I ended up selling my Explorer for towing because of the 17 gallon gas tank. Filling up all the time sucked.
 
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1995E

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I got the tow package on my Explorer not thinking I'd ever need it (Living in the city, you never tow stuff). The great thing is that U-Haul rents to Explorer's that are MY 2011+. Towed my friend's Volkswagon Golf without a weight distributing hitch, the Explorer pulled up a 6% grade (or possibility greater no problems) at 2,000 RPM. Regular 3.5L V6 pulls great.

My only complaints is that you hear the hitch smacking and jumping around in the receiver whenever you go over speed bumps, or braking. My assumption is that the hitch is bolted directly to the car body so you really feel the hitch jumping around in the back and hear the noises. Towing with an F-150 is a whole different experience, much quieter.
 
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Be careful with trailers dry weight. They are the weight without any options.

So your 3891 lbs is not what your true dry number is. Figure out about 300 to 400 lbs between your options (microwave, stove, awning, fridge etc..), propane tanks, air conditioning unit etc...

So your real dry weight should be around 4200 lbs. That's before you even add one single personal item in the trailer...

You always have to be very careful about the advertised dry weight from the manufacturer. It is always far from the true weight you will have to pull.
 
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wifes2011xlt

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Dry weight on the manufacturer's website is actually a little lighter at 3702. I figured the OP's dry weight was with installed accessories so then would just have to account for water and propane tanks, full fridge, pantry, gear/luggage. It's possible that the OP might be overloaded so definitely recommend not filling tanks and grocery shopping until near the campsite.

Another thing to consider is the relationship between trailer length and the Ex's wheelbase. General rule of thumb for maximum stability is 110" of wheelbase for every 20' of trailer adding 4" of wheelbase for every foot on trailer. At 23'8", you'll need about 124' of wheelbase. The Ex has ~112". Normally I would say a properly set up wdh, should help with sway but the OP might also want to consider anti-sway bars as well.

With that said, the OP went 2700 miles without any problems. Kudos for that. Just gotta be mindful of weights (and no need to guess, a few bucks at a weigh station will get you actual weights) and be prepared to deal with sway.

And to the OP, without pics of your rig, it didn't happen. :D:D:D
 
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wifes2011xlt

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My only complaints is that you hear the hitch smacking and jumping around in the receiver whenever you go over speed bumps, or braking. My assumption is that the hitch is bolted directly to the car body so you really feel the hitch jumping around in the back and hear the noises. Towing with an F-150 is a whole different experience, much quieter.

Actually the F150 might still have the same clunking around as your Ex. You probably had clunking because you didn't have enough tongue weight and/or the dolly wasn't level (negative tongue weight). Whenever I tow an empty trailer, my hitch is always clunking around. There is just not enough tongue weight pushing down on the hitch to keep things stable back there. When loaded, no clunking.
 
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jarettp

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They sell products that can clamp the trailer mount to the receiver so there's no clanking. I have one and its worked superbly for my cargo carrier.
 
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RSNovi

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I get the same clunking noise as well. Also had it with the Ford Flex we use to have. It is very loud. Adding some weight to the trailer does help a lot. never hear it in my old 2000 F150.
 
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Rubberhead

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I get the same clunking noise as well. Also had it with the Ford Flex we use to have. It is very loud. Adding some weight to the trailer does help a lot. never hear it in my old 2000 F150.

I had a 2003 Explorer 4.6 with tow package that never clanked. The 2014 Ex sounds like the rear end is going to fall off.
 
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BMan5150

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Just towed my 3500 lb boat/trailer almost 1000 miles across the hills of central and western Kentucky. Got 13.8mpg for the entire trip. That is excellent. My two prior Honda pilots typically saw 12.5-13.5 mpg and the trans shifted tons through those hills. My ex sport never downshifted to 4th. Just stayed in 5th the entire time. Excellent braking as well and no brake rotor warping to speak of-something that was a constant problem for my two Pilots.
 
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MFE III

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I found this out...you MUST use a weight distribution hitch for anything over 2,000 per Ford. I missed the little * next to 5,000 and tried towing without it.

I purchased the Trailer Tow Package on my '13 Sport thinking that would be sufficient to tow my 2300 lb Cobra on a 1500 lb trailer.
Do I need a to install a weight distribution hitch?
I did just tow a 1300 lb sand rail on an heavy a$$ 2200 lb U-Haul car trailer from Phoenix to Los Angeles with no troubles as all.
 
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bruinsfan

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Just an FYI side note; the Tow/Haul Option also works great when not towing and driving in a hilly terrain. We have many steep hills to climb and descend on a daily basis and use the "tow" feature; it lets the transmission operate differently so it doesn't burn out so fast. I believe it restricts overdrive and let's the vehicle stay in gear longer to let the engine work and not the tranny.
 
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ocracokeBound

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The acoustics of an SUV with the passenger compartment going over the hitch vs a pickup probably have more to do with the hearing the clunking noises than anything else. I just looked at the factory installed hitch for option 52T and it says max towing weight is 5000 lb.
 
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nickp

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How have folks attached a brake controller to the dash?

I found the plugin point for the brake controller by the hood release but still trying to figure out a good place to mount the unit (prodigy) where I can reach it.
 
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J_Westy

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They sell products that can clamp the trailer mount to the receiver so there's no clanking. I have one and its worked superbly for my cargo carrier.

Noises like this drive me crazy, so I've always used some kind of tightener...

I use this style and like it.

http://www.stowaway2.com/store/products/601/StowAway-Hitch-Tightener

Hitch_tightener_with_dims_large_1.jpg
 
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dwilso38

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Dry weight on the manufacturer's website is actually a little lighter at 3702. I figured the OP's dry weight was with installed accessories so then would just have to account for water and propane tanks, full fridge, pantry, gear/luggage. It's possible that the OP might be overloaded so definitely recommend not filling tanks and grocery shopping until near the campsite.

Another thing to consider is the relationship between trailer length and the Ex's wheelbase. General rule of thumb for maximum stability is 110" of wheelbase for every 20' of trailer adding 4" of wheelbase for every foot on trailer. At 23'8", you'll need about 124' of wheelbase. The Ex has ~112". Normally I would say a properly set up wdh, should help with sway but the OP might also want to consider anti-sway bars as well.

With that said, the OP went 2700 miles without any problems. Kudos for that. Just gotta be mindful of weights (and no need to guess, a few bucks at a weigh station will get you actual weights) and be prepared to deal with sway.

And to the OP, without pics of your rig, it didn't happen. :D:D:D

You are correct, the weight listed (3891) is WITH options (but I still will double-check) and I didn't carry any water or waste.
I added my Flickr link to view a couple photos that my wife took. My only "proof" can be deciphered by zooming in on my Michigan license plate at the Florida rest area, then going to the Disney campground picture with a palm tree....we don't have those in Michigan :) Anyway, the whole experience was great for us. We plan on traveling to the Grand Canyon in June.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/16616493094/in/photostream/
 
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guyspat

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Tiny Tank

I found this out...you MUST use a weight distribution hitch for anything over 2,000 per Ford. I missed the little * next to 5,000 and tried towing without it.

I ended up selling my Explorer for towing because of the 17 gallon gas tank. Filling up all the time sucked.

I could not agree more on the tiny size of the gas tank. When the lease of 13 Sport expires this fall it will be replaced with a Durango with the 25 gallon tank.
 
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steverunner

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Bman5150, any issues with pulling the boat out of the water with the front wheel drive? Or is it dependent on the grade of the boat ramp?
 
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bruinsfan

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Bman5150, any issues with pulling the boat out of the water with the front wheel drive? Or is it dependent on the grade of the boat ramp?

It depends on the grade of the ramp for me.. There are two ramps that I always use and they are pretty normal grade/standard and I've never had issues.

I tried a shorter & steeper ramp last weekend and the front started to spin a little.

Side Note: There were 4wd drives spinning as well... wet day and steep ramp.
 
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wifes2011xlt

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AWD/4WD is always best for boat ramps. You just never know how slippery and slimy a ramp might be. When I was pulling my 14' bass boat with my FWD minivan, I always made sure to have a bag of bird feed in my trunk to scatter on the ramp. I appreciated the extra traction it gave me and the birds appreciated a free meal.
 
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