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Old 10-20-2005, 10:21 AM   #1
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Tow Vehicle Dilemma

I have been towing with my company car (2002 Ford Explorer V8 with tow package) for three years. The lease is up and my next company car will not be suitable for towing. The dilemma is whether to:

- Buy the Explorer out of the lease. It works well for our occasional towing, gets reasonable mileage, has been flawless mechanically, and can be bought for $11,300.
- Pass on the Explorer and buy something else used (unknown history)
- Pass on the Explorer and buy something new ($$$)

Money is always an issue. We will only be doing occasional towing for the next two years. After that our teen will be off to college and we anticipate more trailer trips.

My thinking is to buy the Explorer now, use it for two more years, then consider a better tow vehicle. Your thoughts?
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Old 10-20-2005, 10:29 AM   #2
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Dan,
If the Exploder has been working for you and you are comfortable with it, that is the route I would go. Used vehicles are always a crapshoot...then you can upgrade when the time comes.

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Old 10-20-2005, 11:00 AM   #3
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Hey Dan,

For what it's worth, I also tow with a 2002 Ford Explorer, V8 w/ tow package. I love this vehicle. It tows nicely (I have a Hensley hitch); as you mention - it gets decent gas mileage, and when you park and unhitch, you have a reasonably-sized vehicle to tool around in. I don't know how many miles you have on your Explorer, but the lease buyout sounds reasonable. If I were you, I'd buy it - especially since you don't expect to do much towing in the next couple of years.

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Old 10-20-2005, 04:10 PM   #4
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Mark, 2002 Explorer questions for you:

- While towing up the Rocky Mountains enroute to Yellowstone on a long uphill grade it smelled hot, and the coolent temp gauge started to rise. I pulled over at the next pullout and let it idle awhile to cool off. I think it was the transmission as much as the engine. Have you had any overheating problems? Do you have a transmission temperature guage? Which one?
- While towing across the Great Plains gusty sidewinds and passing semis blow the rig around a bit. I have found that it works best if I resist the temptation to turn the steering wheel, then it straightens right out. It is annoying at best. Does this happen to you, or is the Hensley the answer?
- I have not been able to find really good towing mirrors that fit the Explorer. I am using the McKesh mirrors now, which are the best I have found.
- The Explorer could use more power on hills... Ford's 2006 model has solved that (which does not help me!)

Dan
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Old 10-20-2005, 04:49 PM   #5
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Dan,

I do not have a transmission temperature gauge, and I haven't had any problems up to this point (got my fingers crossed). We just recently spent a few days at Lake Tahoe which took us up into the Sierra's at 8,000 feet and back down the other side - no problems. However, I would imagine your coach is considerably heavier than mine. Empty weight on mine is 4,000 pounds.

As far as sway goes - that's why I bought the Hensley. Even though my Airstream is way within the towing capability of my Explorer, the Explorer's wheelbase is still smaller than other SUV's, so the Hensley does a great job of controlling sway. I've been in West Texas doing 75 mph on the Interstate passing big rigs - no problems.

Towing mirrors - if you find ones you like, please let me know. I've bought some that slip over the factory mirrors - I really don't care for them. I have to adjust them frequently, and the mirrors are significantly smaller than the factory mirrors.

Hope this helps - let me know if you have any other questions.

-Mark
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Old 11-16-2005, 11:56 AM   #6
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I brought my leased Explorer to the dealer to be checked out, before I purchase it out of the lease. Found it needs a lot of expensive repairs. I decided to let it go back to the leasing company.

Instead I bought a new F150, with the 5.4 V8, 3.73 gears, and trailer tow package. My Safari weighs much less than the tow rating of this truck, and even with the truck at gross the combo is well below the GCVWR. I think the 300 hp will be enough for our needs. I don't expect to climb mountains without slowing down. And I don't want to beat the trailer up with a too-stiff suspension (thanks Andy!).

I easily transferred my Prodigy brake controller to the new truck. Next step is installation of a transmission temperature guage. I ordered a Nordskog digital gauge and sensor. Where have others installed the temperature sensor? Where have you mounted the gauge itself?
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Old 11-16-2005, 12:41 PM   #7
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Dan, I think regardless of what the Explorer needed, you made a great choice. I think that will do a far better job than the Explorer did, plus it will be a lot more stable....I had the same thing with the short wheelbase Impala with our Safari and the Suburban is a considerable difference.

On a side note, I am considering going with one of these to help soften the connection between the truck and the Airstream...someone here posted it and it seems like a great idea:

http://www.airridehitch.com/receiver_hitches.html
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Old 11-16-2005, 01:53 PM   #8
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Eric.

Interesting. I wonder, does this mean that you'd have to replace the Reese with special WD and sway set-up? Or is this in addition to.

Jonathan
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Old 11-16-2005, 03:09 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wahoonc
(Post #2) Dan, If the [Exploder] has been working for you . . . Aaron

Did anyone else notice this? At first I thought it was a joke . . . was it a joke?
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Old 11-16-2005, 05:48 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rfield54
Did anyone else notice this? At first I thought it was a joke . . . was it a joke?
Yup and yup!

As for ridding myself of my Reese, not really, it would be in addition to, though I may need a new bar, all the rest of the gear stays put.
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Old 11-16-2005, 05:57 PM   #11
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That's what I call them also. I was watching Jay Leno one night and he showed an advertisment for a 199_ Exploder. I about fell out. The play on tragedy is not funny but it made me wonder if someone made a mistake on the advertisment or did it on purpose. It wasn't much later when I was traveling down the interstate and saw an Explorer upside down in the middle of the median. The roof pillers were crumpled and all glass broken out. One young person, not wearing a seatbelt, was killed.
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Old 11-16-2005, 06:15 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rfield54
Did anyone else notice this? At first I thought it was a joke . . . was it a joke?
most defintely tongue firmly planted in cheek I have owned 3 of them over the years, the best one to date was the 99 until the transmission "exploded" at 78k. They were a decent little vehicle if used and driven properly...it ain't a grand prix car...

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