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Upgrade towing capacity?

I have an '06 Explorer, without the towing pkg. I can add a larger hitch, an additional tranny cooler. The biggest difference seems to be the rear axle ratio - mine is a 3.55; the trailer pkg has a 3.73. How big a deal is it to upgrade the axle ratio, and is it adviseable? I only am considering it because I love the vehicle.

I need to tow a trailer that weighs about 3200 lbs with a 400 lb hitch weight, with a weight distributing hitch.
 


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MountaineerGreen

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Axle ratio change from 3.55 to 3.73 is not much difference. If your vechicle is 4x4, you'd need to change front and rear gearsets or axles. In my opinion if you added the cooler and hitch, you should be fine.
 




thebrakeman

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You do not want to go swapping axle gearing. If that's what you want, just swap trucks.

Without the towing package, you have 3500 lbs tow rating, with only the driver in the truck. Any other passenger or cargo weight you put in the truck takes away from that rating. So, with 3200 lbs of loaded trailer, you can put yourself (the driver) and another 300 lbs in the truck. If you can stick to that, you do not need any other modifications. Just use the truck with the smaller class 2 receiver (1¼"), without the WDH kit. If you expect to tow regularly, then an aux trans cooler would be a good addition.

If you want to use the WDH kit, to help with the 400 lbs TW, then yes, you'll likely need to install a 2" Class 3 hitch, since I've never seen a WDH with a 1¼" shank. Since the integrated hitches on 2006-2010 models are welded as an integral part of the stiffened frame, you can't just swap it out. You'll have to install this underneath your integrated hitch. www.etrailer.com has hitches make just for this, with a piece that slides into (and caps) the smaller opening, using it as a fixing point. That way, you don't have a goofy-looking dual receiver.

If you will need more capacity than the 300 lbs in the truck, you have 2 options:
1. Just go with it, realizing you are over capacity. Definitely get the trans cooler. Not recommended, though, since you are technically overloading.
2. Upgrade to something with a V6 HD tow package (5000-5500 lbs tow rating), or the V8 HD tow package (7000+ tow rating).
 




RugerDog

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Thanks for the input. I've come to the conclusion that it's time for a more suitable tow vehicle.

Since I don't like towing with FWD, it seems I'll have to change brands - though my last half million miles have been in my 3 Explorers...
 




2stroke

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Why get a new vehicle? your explorer is more than capable just the way it is.
 




Explorer0204

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Here is the deal with the 3.55 and 3.73 gearing.

I used a little calculator online that calculated the rpm of the vehicle based on

axle ratio
trans gear ratio
tire size
speed of vehicle

With all of these variables the same EXCEPT the axle ratio the results were as so

with 3.55's at redline 6k the 3.73's were spinning 300rpm less

with the 3.55's at 2700rpm the 3.73s were at 2550 or so

the difference is quite negligible. To compensate though, I stepped up the size of the trans cooler to one size up from what was recommended and I feel that it will honestly run cooler than a tow packaged Explorer with the 3.73s would
 




thebrakeman

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Yeah! It's so negligible that all brands of trucks use multiple axle ratios, resulting in different ratings. And often, the ratio is the only difference.

Do you really think that Ford would go thru the added expense of stocking multiple axles, if it didn't make a difference? It's not like they make a lot of money on tow package upgrades.

Like I said, I'd recommend the OP try the rig as-is, since he's within the limits. But the above line of thinking is what gets people into trouble and/or wearing out their vehicles prematurely.
 




mattbaker

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I have a question that I believe to be along these same lines. I have an 06 explorer 4.0L XLT and am trying to boost the towing capacity. From what I've been reading swapping gears doesn't seem like the way to go, but a trans cooler and a brake controller should help. I already have the class 3 receiver and wiring. Is there anything else I should consider? Anyway I can safely get some more power out of the engine?
 




Explorer0204

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Yeah! It's so negligible that all brands of trucks use multiple axle ratios, resulting in different ratings. And often, the ratio is the only difference.

Do you really think that Ford would go thru the added expense of stocking multiple axles, if it didn't make a difference? It's not like they make a lot of money on tow package upgrades.

Like I said, I'd recommend the OP try the rig as-is, since he's within the limits. But the above line of thinking is what gets people into trouble and/or wearing out their vehicles prematurely.

Sigh....

I don't want to get into an argument about this, but let's put this into perspective.

What does having lower gears really do?

1. For one, it allows the truck to pull better from a dead stop, stopping the Trans fluid from heating up as much through the torque converter

2. It allows the transmission to turn more rpms for a given speed, increasing the fluid pressure in the Trans keeping it cooler.

3. It allows you to hold say, 4th Gear longer for more comfortable driving.

I think we can agree on this right.

Here is my point. Would you want to take 7k pounds on a v8 3.55 geared explorer and travel all across America... NO! if your going to TOW ALL THE TIME at max loads then get the right set up or don't do it.

But, for someone who tows let's say 4x a year maybe 500 miles total and is towing say 65 00 lbs on that same explorer I created above then Yea.. Why not.

With one caveat.

There is a relationship that is the NUMBER ONE PROBLEM WITH TOWING
Transmission temperatures. Higher gears will bring the temps up so get a bigger cooler than otherwise needed and you will be just fine.

Also, there are thousands of lifted pickups with big tires and stock gearing that are towing near or above full capacity that are perfectly fine. I know they are different, but the principle here is exactly the same.

Hell, putting 245 70s on an explorer drops your axle ratio to a theoretical 3.60. And that isn't that much bigger of a tire.

So when a pickup has 30in tires stock and people bump up to 33s that is like putting 3.55s in their trucks basically. Hell, I personally know of multiple people that have and still successfully tow with out of stock configurations. It is a common thing and as long as you don't go to extremes it is perfectly safe.

I'm sorry to sound so condescending here but there is not that much of a difference as long as you compensate with the proper sized trans cooler and maybe some bolt on power mods If you really want to get into it.

I never said that it didn't make sense that ford puts 3.73s in the explorer.. It makes perfect sense.

In a perfect world e ermine could afford to trade in their truck and buy one with a tow package or to pay to swap diffs but this world isn't perfect. For the rest of us, we do the best we can to compensate and use what we have safely and make the correct modifications to compensate for what we lack and if you can't see that that is my point then I'm sorry...


Again, sorry if this was condescending I'm just trying to get across a point here that it isn't perfect, but it is safe if done right.
 




thebrakeman

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No condecention detected. No problem.

If larger tires effectively does the same thing as a different gear ratio fine. But I didn't hear you or the OP mention upsizing the wheels/tires. And there is nothing wrong with a V8 3.55 gear truck as long as it has the 4th gen 6-speed with the super-low 1st gear and the rest of the cooling goodies. It's designed and tested to handle 7000 lbs.
 




Explorer0204

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No condecention detected. No problem.

If larger tires effectively does the same thing as a different gear ratio fine. But I didn't hear you or the OP mention upsizing the wheels/tires. And there is nothing wrong with a V8 3.55 gear truck as long as it has the 4th gen 6-speed with the super-low 1st gear and the rest of the cooling goodies. It's designed and tested to handle 7000 lbs.

Putting larger tires on Heightens the gearing. Making it a little worse.. So what I was getting at is that 99 times out of 100 there are quite a few built in tolerances to these things.

But regardless I can honestly say, my ex towed 6750 pounds with its 3.55s and it's v6 shockingly well. I wouldn't exactly go cross country with it, but for the 20 miles I went it was perfectly safe. I never needed anything close to full throttle even pulling a huge grade out of the valley I live above.
 




turborich

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Don't worry about the trans cooler. The Explorers come with a large stand alone aluminum cooler from the factory. It's in between the radiator and condenser.

Will 3.73 gearing make a difference? Yes it will. How much? Probably not a whole lot however factory equipped tow package vehicles will have this gearing. If you are towing up a steep grade then turn the O/D off! Also disable O/D when descending a steep grade to conserve on your brakes.

As for the hitch. I pulled a class III hitch from an Explorer with the factory tow package and it's a pretty easy swap. Took about 45 minutes total and the 7 way trailer outlet was plug and play.

I usually tow my 3,000 large pop up camper with my Expedition however I have also towed it with the V-6 explorer without any issues. If you're very tongue heavy then you'll need a WDH. If not then don't worry about it. My tongue weight is sitting at 400 lbs and I'm just fine with the Expedition as it has the factory air leveling suspension. The Explorer seems to do just fine as well. No sway from either tow vehicle as the trailer is correctly balanced.

Now let's say that you install a class III hitch with a 2" receiver. You still only want to tow a maximum of 3,500 lbs as this is what your explorer is rated for. To exceed this number legally then you would need other modifications.

The brake controller is a piece of cake. There should be a factory plug over behind the glove box somewhere. If you add the factory class III hitch and 7 way then everything will be pretty much plug and play!
 




Explorer0204

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Don't worry about the trans cooler. The Explorers come with a large stand alone aluminum cooler from the factory. It's in between the radiator and condenser.

Will 3.73 gearing make a difference? Yes it will. How much? Probably not a whole lot however factory equipped tow package vehicles will have this gearing. If you are towing up a steep grade then turn the O/D off! Also disable O/D when descending a steep grade to conserve on your brakes.

As for the hitch. I pulled a class III hitch from an Explorer with the factory tow package and it's a pretty easy swap. Took about 45 minutes total and the 7 way trailer outlet was plug and play.

I usually tow my 3,000 large pop up camper with my Expedition however I have also towed it with the V-6 explorer without any issues. If you're very tongue heavy then you'll need a WDH. If not then don't worry about it. My tongue weight is sitting at 400 lbs and I'm just fine with the Expedition as it has the factory air leveling suspension. The Explorer seems to do just fine as well. No sway from either tow vehicle as the trailer is correctly balanced.

Now let's say that you install a class III hitch with a 2" receiver. You still only want to tow a maximum of 3,500 lbs as this is what your explorer is rated for. To exceed this number legally then you would need other modifications.

The brake controller is a piece of cake. There should be a factory plug over behind the glove box somewhere. If you add the factory class III hitch and 7 way then everything will be pretty much plug and play!

No disrespect but you are wrong on the Trans cooler assumption. SOME without tow packages have it.. I have heard that before. That being said mine didn't I had to add one.
 




turborich

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No disrespect but you are wrong on the Trans cooler assumption. SOME without tow packages have it.. I have heard that before. That being said mine didn't I had to add one.

What year is your Explorer? Are you certain there isn't a cooler? It's at the bottom in between the radiator and the condenser. The radiator doesn't have any trans cooling lines running to it as it's a stand alone cooler. You may be right about some having a different configuration however I have not seen this. Did you install the cooler yourself?
 




Explorer0204

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What year is your Explorer? Are you certain there isn't a cooler? It's at the bottom in between the radiator and the condenser. The radiator doesn't have any trans cooling lines running to it as it's a stand alone cooler. You may be right about some having a different configuration however I have not seen this. Did you install the cooler yourself?

Mine is an 04 and I will check to make sure but I am 99% sure it didn't have one. I put the new one between the radiator and ac condenser so I would think I especially would have noticed it then.

I did install the cooler myself. Wasn't too hard only took about 45 min and that was me being really methodical as usual
 








thebrakeman

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Guys, you are comparing 3rd and 4th gen vehicles. They are very different, even though they look very similar:
-According to the 2006 Ford towing guide(see page 14), Transmission Air-to-Oil cooler was standard. So turborich is probably correct, that the original poster does not have to worry about additional trans cooling.
-According to the 2004 Ford towing guide(see page 14), I see nothing about an air-to-oil cooler, and nothing next to the Aux Auto Trans Oil Cooler. So Explorer0204 is correct for his vehicle (meaning it's unknown, and you must check), but not for the OP.
 








Explorer0204

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Guys, you are comparing 3rd and 4th gen vehicles. They are very different, even though they look very similar:
-According to the 2006 Ford towing guide(see page 14), Transmission Air-to-Oil cooler was standard. So turborich is probably correct, that the original poster does not have to worry about additional trans cooling.
-According to the 2004 Ford towing guide(see page 14), I see nothing about an air-to-oil cooler, and nothing next to the Aux Auto Trans Oil Cooler. So Explorer0204 is correct for his vehicle (meaning it's unknown, and you must check), but not for the OP.

I've done this like 5 times now! How do I keep posting in the 06-10 threads and I think I am in the 02-05 threads? I'm on my phone a lot so that is part of it possibly but dang!! I can't see the years of people's trucks on the app so I read the post too fast apparently and thought it was a third gen

Sorry OP
 


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Explorer0204

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I know on my 4th gen that the only cooler for the trans is integrated into the radiator assembly. Wasn't the case on my non-tow package 3rd gen; it had one between the radiator and A/C condensor as mentioned already.

I have two metal trans lines going to what looks like the engine radiator. that being said they could split off somewhere...thing is looking from the top down there definitely was not a cooler there... If someone has a pic of where the factory one is supposed to be on an 02-04 I could snap a shot and compare...otherwise I just don't think so.
 




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