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Old 01-20-2014, 09:04 PM   #1
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Ford Explorer as TV?

I'm looking for an Argosy up to a 24 footer from the 70's. Likely dry weight is around 3500 lbs.
I have a 2004 Ford Explorer with a class III/IV tow package, and 7 pin wiring done. I've read the manual and it says the V6 can pull something like 5300 lbs.
Hitch says 5000 without WD and 6000Plus with WD.
I'm thinking that with a Brake Controller (on order from eTrailer) I should be able to tow my as yet to be found trailer home.
I'm hoping to go out West for some boondocking. Even assuming that I wait to fill the propane tanks, water, food and beverage until I get closer, I would think that it won't be that hard to get to 4000 lbs in the trailer with enough water to run the toilets in the event of a quick overnight boondocking. The combined weight with the TV should not be much of an issue as the TV will only have two or perhaps three grown men. All in all, by the numbers the Explorer should work.
So let's assume that I add a transmission cooler and temp gauge, so I have a sense of what's going down there.
I'm still a bit concerned that the V6 and a regular set of gears in the Explorer may not be enough to tow 4000 lbs of trailer and stuff on a 4400 mile journey across the country and through the mountains on I-80.

I'm not looking to find another TV unless I really need to (and it could be a deal killer for this trip). So the question is, do I have to, or would my addition of a tranny cooler (and perhaps some new shocks) be enough to get to where I need to go? Perhaps not in the passing lane in the mountains, but safely travel where I want to go?

Any other considerations on the truck like tires, shocks, etc?

Thanks for the help. It is very much appreciated as I try to plan out what I need to make this trip work.
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Old 01-21-2014, 10:13 AM   #2
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Here's one view---

You have enough vehicle to tow your trailer, but you might need to make some modifications or changes to make it work nicely. You have enough power, and with a WD hitch, it should balance out fine. The areas to hone in on would be: tires, suspension, transmission cooling, brake controllers. Tires can make a very large difference. I'd start there.

Good luck!
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Old 01-21-2014, 11:18 AM   #3
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Here's another view:

Call Uhaul or go to their website, enter your tow vehicle info, and see how big a trailer they will rent for you to tow.
After you do that, you should know if you can tow the trailer you want.
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Old 01-21-2014, 03:00 PM   #4
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Uhaul won't rent anything to explorers due to past litigation likely from the 90s.
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Old 01-21-2014, 03:31 PM   #5
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Uhaul trailers could not be more different from an Argosy if they tried. There's nothing to be learned by towing one.

I've measured hp output at the wheel for my own car when towing 7000lbs worth of trailer. The highest I could get it was 148hp when accelerating from a standing start up a hill. Power is not an issue with a modern six cylinder engine.

There are many on this board who tow longer and heavier trailers with vans and SUVs with smaller engines, safely and efficiently. The Small Vehicle Thread is a great starting point to gather the information you need to make an informed decision.
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Old 01-23-2014, 10:36 AM   #6
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I've towed a 26ft 4400lb white box trailer, and a 22ft 3400lb Airstream with a 2003 Ford Explorer, with factory Class III/IV hitch/tow package. The difference between our setups is I had the 4.6L V8 (and 3.73 gears), which helped raise the tow rating to 7200lbs. The 2002-2010 Explorers were body on frame trucklike designs, sometimes described as "F-150 lite."

I didn't tow with water tanks filled, or loaded for boondocking as you're planning, so I had some extra margin with the published ratings.

The setup you describe is a reasonable match, and the mods you describe such as the transmission cooler, are highly recommended. I upgraded the standard Goodyear SUV P-rated tires with a Michelin light truck tire, which helped stability and feel. And of course, a good weight distributing hitch with sway control is a must.

I've found medium-sized SUVs to be competent tow vehicles with a properly matched trailer.
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Old 01-23-2014, 11:05 AM   #7
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Whizzo covered it well. If you do not have them, 3.73 gears will make for a much nicer towing experience. Stiffer load range D or E tires will also.

A tranny cooler and Redline fluids will make it easier on the motor.

Good news is you can get a quality WD and antisway and start towing now, add these other things as you go. You'll make up the big hills - you may not be the first one up and may need 2nd or 3rd gear but there will be some big rigs going slower than you
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Old 02-02-2014, 07:58 AM   #8
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I had a late 90's v-6 Explorer and it was not one of my favorite vehicles, snap spins in the snow even with 4 wheel drive engaged was one of its worse vices. Cause as I remember from the Firestone lawsuits was a short wheelbase and a flawed rear end design. Still it should be an adequate tow vehicle for a 4000 pound trailer on a cross country trip on I-80. You barely notice going over the continental divide near Rawlins Wyoming.
Be careful if you get off the beaten path and take some of steeper western passes. I would not want to be going down hill with that rig on the 10% grade of Teton Pass. Gear down to the lowest gear and you still have to ride the brakes to keep the engine less than the red line.
Your Explorer is 10 years old. In addition to the transmission cooler, I would have the mechanic check out the brakes and make sure they are in top condition.
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Old 02-02-2014, 08:37 AM   #9
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I guess since some people either didn't understand, or didn't want to understand, what I was implying about my hint above, I will have to spell it out, so there can be absolutely no mistake about what I was trying to say:

The Explorer of that time is a terrible tow vehicle for a travel trailer.
It is based on a short bed, standard-cab Ranger, jacked up several inches for ground clearance, and with several hundred pounds stuck up in the air over where the bed would be. Recommended tire pressure was reduced, and the suspension was not upgraded when all this happened.
At one time, we owned a 4.0-engined Ranger, and tried to tow our Argosy with it. It was not a fun time, and made for a miserable towing experience, between the underpowered engine and the short wheelbase.
If you need further convincing, next time you are out on the road, see how many Explorers of that vintage you see towing anything larger than a lawn trailer.
And in case anybody still doesn't understand my meaning this time,
Don't Tow a Travel Trailer With It.
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Old 02-02-2014, 08:55 AM   #10
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Thanks. When you say towing was not fun, was that the result of sway? Would a good WD hitch and sway have helped? If feasible I would rather patch what I have then try and find another tw which would likely kill the trip.

Looking at a 20 footer that weighs about 3000 dry. Granted it will have some geAr weight of say 500 lbs but I would wait on the liquids and food until I got much closer.

Most of my towing would be under 300 miles. This would be a one time bucket type trip. Assuming the car is mechanically up to it as I have not towed before help me understand why the experience would be miserable. I'm a newbie here so be gentle and break it down a bit if you could. I very much appreciate the help here. If I need another tv then my length options may increase up to 24 or even 26 if my budget would be able to make it work which would be a challenge with the money I would need to spend on safety rehab on axle tires shocks away etc before tackling the inside.

Thanks.
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Old 02-02-2014, 10:21 AM   #11
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Explorer as a tow vehicle

We had a 1997 Explorer with the 4.0 V6 engine. We had a 21' Airstream Sovereign (gross weight 4800 lbs). We made trips from central Texas to Maine, Colorado and Utah. We had a WD hitch and had no problem pulling the trailer, although it did have to work in the mountains of Colorado. We did not encounter any problems related to towing on any of those trips.
We did have the factory towing package on the vehicle.
Just make sure as others have said here, that you have your brakes checked, good tires and the transmission serviced.
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Old 02-04-2014, 10:46 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander63 View Post
The Explorer of that time is a terrible tow vehicle for a travel trailer.It is based on a short bed, standard-cab Ranger...
I respect your concerns on the Ranger-based platform. Some folks consider those Explorers less desirable for towing (I had a 1996). Please note that the Explorer stopped being based on the Ranger after 2001. The 2002-2010 Explorers, like the original poster notes, were based on a new platform, with independent rear suspension and an improved F-150-type frame.

Ford did have to respond to some valid concerns over the Explorer's stability and handing, in the wake of the Firestone tire debacle. Having owned and towed with both generations, the post 2002 model was notably better.

2002 Motor Trend Article
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