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Old 04-10-2018, 09:21 AM   #1
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Ford Expedition Receiver Hitch Improvements

Calling out to all of you fellow Ford Expedition owners. I have a 2013 XLT (short body),towing a 25’ rear bed with a measured tongue weight of 840 pounds. That is getting close to the car’s max hitch weight so I’d like to have a shop here in the Minneapolis, MN area beef up the car’s receiver a little to give me more of a safety margin. Has anyone done this to their Expedition?
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Old 04-10-2018, 09:41 AM   #2
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Hitch capacity

Your factory tow pkg hitch is probably a class 3 or 4. Check with Curt or Reese to see if a direct fit class 5 hitch is available. I replaced my factory tow pkg hitch (class 3/4) with a bolt on class 5 Curt. About $250.00. This was on a 2013 Ford E150 XLT Premium van. Took less than 45 minutes to switch it out.
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Old 04-10-2018, 12:45 PM   #3
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The factory receiver hitch is a class 4 that is welded onto the frame. It is rated for 920 lbs tongue weight and a 9,000 pound trailer. Any after market bolt on unit would require the factory receiver to be removed by breaking the welds. I am hoping someone has done some gusset and other improvements like Andy up ar Can-Am has done on other vehicles.
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Old 04-10-2018, 01:45 PM   #4
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Genuine question here - not intended to start a flame war about hitches and mods....

Let's say you could break the current class 4 hitch off and install a class 5. Is there anything else that would have to change (suspension, frame, other?) to increase the capacity - or it the simple act of changing the receiver enough?

I ask because I can't reconcile in my head how that would work in the extreme - for example:

Let's say I have a Honda Civic with a 1" receiver for the purpose of attaching a 2-bike rack. If I swapped out that 1" receiver with a 2.5" class 5 receiver, that wouldn't (I don't think) make the Civic capable of carrying 1500# of tongue weight.

Or maybe it does? I'm not an engineer - I'd love to get this concept down once and for all....
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Old 04-10-2018, 02:22 PM   #5
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Consider that you conceivably could put a class 5 hitch on a dinky Prius, but without the right engineering on suspension, engine, transmission, and frame/body of the vehicle, it's basically futile. It's not gonna tow a class 5 hitch capacity load, no matter what you do, at least not very far...

I mean, you can pull a million pounds with a Tundra---ONCE!

A trip/call to Can-Am might be the best first step.
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Old 04-10-2018, 02:57 PM   #6
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Clarification

Quote:
Originally Posted by BoscoMN View Post
The factory receiver hitch is a class 4 that is welded onto the frame. It is rated for 920 lbs tongue weight and a 9,000 pound trailer. Any after market bolt on unit would require the factory receiver to be removed by breaking the welds. I am hoping someone has done some gusset and other improvements like Andy up ar Can-Am has done on other vehicles.
I was unaware that the factory tow pkg hitch on your Expedition was welded on to the frame. On my E150 van it was a matter of 4 bolts on each side thru the frame rails. My reason for going to class 5 was just some extra insurance on capacity. I still would not exceed the 7000lb max tow rating the van has or exceed the 13,000lb combined gross vehicle rating. The Curt hitch I installed was just a much more substantial piece. This van has a 8600lb GVWR and a cargo capacity of 2538lbs. The rear axle has a rating of 5120lbs so a class 5 hitch at full tongue weight (with WD) is easily handled. Sorry for any misunderstanding.
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Old 04-10-2018, 03:47 PM   #7
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Dear SteveSueMack,

Back in 2003-2006 there were a lot of hitch failures on GM products - mainly welds failing. NOT a fun thing to have happen at any speed when towing. Luckily many people spotted the cracks before they had to Test the strength of their safety chains.
Most people replaced their own receivers rather than wait for the recall.

It is like choosing more expensive tires as opposed to the basic ones. An abundance of caution beats having a "free willie" trailer.
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Old 04-10-2018, 04:30 PM   #8
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No worries Uraljohn. The first thing I did too was look for the bolts to take off the factory unit to upgrade it. But this one appears to be an integral part of the frame. The whole assembly is the rear most frame member - although it is bolted on with I think 6 bolts per side to the side frame members.

There doesn't seem to be much room or more to do to improve what is there already. But I seem to remember Andy saying that they had done some enhancements to customers that had Expeditions. I'm still working so I won't have the long vacation time to take it up to his neck of the woods for a couple more years until retirement. So I'm trying to see about doing something local to Minnesota.
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Old 04-10-2018, 07:07 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveSueMac View Post
Genuine question here - not intended to start a flame war about hitches and mods....

Let's say you could break the current class 4 hitch off and install a class 5. Is there anything else that would have to change (suspension, frame, other?) to increase the capacity - or it the simple act of changing the receiver enough?

I ask because I can't reconcile in my head how that would work in the extreme - for example:

Let's say I have a Honda Civic with a 1" receiver for the purpose of attaching a 2-bike rack. If I swapped out that 1" receiver with a 2.5" class 5 receiver, that wouldn't (I don't think) make the Civic capable of carrying 1500# of tongue weight.

Or maybe it does? I'm not an engineer - I'd love to get this concept down once and for all....
There are multiple potential limiting factors to a rating.

Turn it around. Let’s say you had a RAM with a 10,000 lb tow rating and a hitch receiver on it rated for 1000 lbs, just to carry bikes. Your effective tow rating is 1000 lbs. because the receiver is the limiting factor. Now take that small receiver off and put a 10,000 lb rated receiver on it. You just increased your tow rating by 9000 lbs. because you addressed the limiting factor.

Your Honda Civic example answer depends on what the axle and tire ratings are on the rest of the vehicle. No Civic that I ever worked on had an extra 1500 lbs of payload capacity sitting waiting for a bigger receiver to be installed.

My last BMW didn’t have a factory tow rating or a published GCVWR.. But BMW dealers sold a 6000 lb rated receiver, so that was essentially the limiting factor. If I upgraded the receiver I could increase the capability, up to the axle and tire ratings. They wouldn’t change. There was lots of room then to tow more than 6000 lbs without exceeding axle and tire ratings, in that specific case.
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Old 04-10-2018, 07:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcl View Post
There are multiple potential limiting factors to a rating.

Turn it around. Let’s say you had a RAM with a 10,000 lb tow rating and a hitch receiver on it rated for 1000 lbs, just to carry bikes. Your effective tow rating is 1000 lbs. because the receiver is the limiting factor. Now take that small receiver off and put a 10,000 lb rated receiver on it. You just increased your tow rating by 9000 lbs. because you addressed the limiting factor.

Your Honda Civic example answer depends on what the axle and tire ratings are on the rest of the vehicle. No Civic that I ever worked on had an extra 1500 lbs of payload capacity sitting waiting for a bigger receiver to be installed.

My last BMW didn’t have a factory tow rating or a published GCVWR.. But BMW dealers sold a 6000 lb rated receiver, so that was essentially the limiting factor. If I upgraded the receiver I could increase the capability, up to the axle and tire ratings. They wouldn’t change. There was lots of room then to tow more than 6000 lbs without exceeding axle and tire ratings, in that specific case.


Ok - I think I understand what you're saying.

In other words - if the Expedition's axles/tires/etc. can handle 10,000# but the receiver limits the tongue to say 750# and 7500# towing capacity - the receiver can be replaced with something beefier because the rest of the vehicle has the capability - yes?

If I understand that correctly - it makes sense. I remember looking at all the numbers of my truck - total towing capacity exceeded axle GVWR capacity, which exceeded receiver capacity of 1500# but the AS doesn't want more than 1000# "hitch weight", etc - so you're forced to pick the lowest common denominator to understand your max capacity. But I think you're saying you could upgrade the "weakest link" to the limits of the broader system capabilities.

Am I understating you correctly? Thanks!
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Old 04-10-2018, 08:32 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveSueMac View Post
Ok - I think I understand what you're saying.

In other words - if the Expedition's axles/tires/etc. can handle 10,000# but the receiver limits the tongue to say 750# and 7500# towing capacity - the receiver can be replaced with something beefier because the rest of the vehicle has the capability - yes?

If I understand that correctly - it makes sense. I remember looking at all the numbers of my truck - total towing capacity exceeded axle GVWR capacity, which exceeded receiver capacity of 1500# but the AS doesn't want more than 1000# "hitch weight", etc - so you're forced to pick the lowest common denominator to understand your max capacity. But I think you're saying you could upgrade the "weakest link" to the limits of the broader system capabilities.

Am I understating you correctly? Thanks!
Yes, with respect to your weakest link sentence, but with two qualifiers

First, we need to separate tow capacity from weight carrying capacity. They are related by the 10-15% that will be tongue weight, but they are two separate limits.

Second, the tire and axle ratings are legal limits. The GVWR and GCVWR are generally legal limits for commercial carriers, which most of us aren’t. Not all ratings are created equal.
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Old 04-10-2018, 08:50 PM   #12
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Ford Expedition Receiver Hitch Improvements

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Originally Posted by BoscoMN View Post
Calling out to all of you fellow Ford Expedition owners. I have a 2013 XLT (short body),towing a 25’ rear bed with a measured tongue weight of 840 pounds. That is getting close to the car’s max hitch weight so I’d like to have a shop here in the Minneapolis, MN area beef up the car’s receiver a little to give me more of a safety margin. Has anyone done this to their Expedition?


I recently upgraded to the curt receiver hitch for my Silverado. Class 4. Part 14301. Bought from wal mart. My mechanic (who just installed them for me and is an honest guy I only pay for labor) said he thought it was much better than my factory part which basically has the same "rating" but the curt looks a lot more heavy duty. I also had bilstein shocks put in (bought on Internet ) which my mechanic flipped out about. He loved them said they were substantially better than the stock shocks. He had not put them on a truck before and said if he ever buys a truck he's for sure putting them on it.

Probably won't change your payload but will change your performance / security / and suspension will be improved.

All this was per can am suggestion and probably I would guess similar to your situation w the expedition

Also lets be honest , kind of a fun project.
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Old 04-10-2018, 09:07 PM   #13
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Hitch receivers in the good old days were custom-built. Often with the use of factory blueprints or diagrams. The result was far better than what’s available or factory-produced today.

“Gee, we can’t fit the spare under there any more”. Etc.

Take the easy route, OP. Call or email Andy Thomson at Can Am RV. After 10,000+ rigs done up, he’ll probably know off the top of his head. Also a contributor here. Has stated several times this problem-solving is like a hobby.

“More” is one thing. Better is the thing. Could be that some additional bracing to the extant piece is all that’s needed.
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Old 04-12-2018, 07:13 AM   #14
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The OP says he has a trailer with 840 lbs tongue weight and a hitch rated for 920 lbs and 9000 lb trailer. He is pulling a 25 ft which as I recall is not over 9000 lb.
I think he doesn't have a problem. Factory ratings are always conservative. Andy could tell him what CanAm would do. They usually just add stiffeners to reduce side ways flex.
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Old 04-13-2018, 09:36 AM   #15
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The OP says he has a trailer with 840 lbs tongue weight and a hitch rated for 920 lbs and 9000 lb trailer. He is pulling a 25 ft which as I recall is not over 9000 lb.
I think he doesn't have a problem. Factory ratings are always conservative. Andy could tell him what CanAm would do. They usually just add stiffeners to reduce side ways flex.
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Yup. Even this 19,000-lb Kenworth has frame flex. Bracing is the thing for reduction thereof.
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Old 04-14-2018, 04:31 PM   #16
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I remember reading one of Andy's articles or posts where he mentions how much flexing occurs in the receiver tube when a person uses the trailer's tongue jack to assist when hooking up the weight distribution bars.

Because of that I do not use my tongue jack for this purpose. Instead, I place a bottle jack directly under the receiver centered between its attachment points to the car's frame. Then I can easily lift both the car and trailer with the least stress on the receiver and its welds.

I lift up the car. Bring up the tongue jack to its stowed position. Hook up the chains on my weight distribution bars. Lower the bottle jack and stow it.

No heavy straining or high, dangerous torque involved getting it done. Plus it is less stress on the factory tongue jack (which is a little under spec'ed in my opinion). And no receiver flex.
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Old 04-14-2018, 06:53 PM   #17
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I wouldn't trust any OEM hitch (remember the lowest bidder syndrome?). I had my Silverado hitch tear off Easter morning in northern Alabama. I got lucky with no damage, but got towed in by the owner of a truck repair welding shop. When I got home to MN I took it to Crystal Welding in Maple Grove. Truck and trailer hitches is all they do and they beefed up the hitch I had to buy in AL. I have never had a problem since. They ask all the right questions and do the work while you wait. THEY ARE EXCELLENT!
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Old 04-15-2018, 09:17 AM   #18
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Thanks, I'll have to give them a visit!

I also want to mention that on Andy's recommendation I had changed out the factory tires for ones with stiffer sidewalls (Michelin Defender LT 275/65 R18/E 123. They ride a little harsher than the OEM tires when run at 45 psi and a lot harder ride when filled to 70 psi (for towing). At that pressure the stability is transformational compared to the original tires.

I have a Blue Ox Sway Pro with 1000 lb bars and use the 8th link from the free chain end. Even with this, I still have 2" of rear end sag. I'm going to add either Coil SumoSprings or Bilstein B6 4600 Shocks to the rear to assist.

Andy has a nice article in the latest RV Lifestyle (Vol 46 Number 7) on some of these tweaks as well as hitch reinforcements Cam-Am has done to Enclaves.
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