Towing is an essential capability of every truck that has ever existed. Since Ford is one of the dominating forces in the truck market, towing, happens to be a point of emphasis in every truck model ever designed by Ford. Although towing is an important and common task for truck owners, it is also a task that should not be taken lightly from a safety standpoint. Throughout this article, we’ll highlight some of the top tips for towing. However, it is important to remember that your OWNERS MANUAL is the best source for information about your truck’s towing capabilities and safety instructions. Here’s our list of top tips:
1. Pick the right truck, with the right engine. Rarely overlooked by experienced haulers, torque and horsepower are essential to move big loads across long and/or rugged distances. A truck’s chassis, body, engine, will be checked for performance and reliability by factors such as slope, speed, temperature, etc. Every engine/model has a different towing capacity, and will perform with varying ease and fuel economy. Knowing the capability of your engine/model is essential to pick the correct trailer hitch, which is the next step. The GTW (gross trailer weight) and the maximum tongue weight can always be found in the owner’s manual. There are 5 classes: Class 1 (2,000 LB GTW/200 LB tongue weight), Class 2 (3,500 LB GTW/350 LB tongue weight), Class 3 (5,000 LB GTW/500 LB tongue weight, Class 4 (7,500 LB GTW/750 LB tongue weight), Class 5 (10,000 LB GTW/1,000 LB tongue weight. When picking a truck, ask your dealer if the truck has added cooling capacity for towing. Sometimes a tow package on a new truck includes improved cooling capabilities that can not be easily added in the aftermarket.
2. Install the appropriate hitch! Depending on the engine’s GTW class, pick an appropriate hitch of the same class or higher if possible. Picking a heavier class of hitch insures that there wont be any stress failure in the hitch during even the most challenging hauls. Many hitches utilize a drawbar that holds the ball and can be adjusted for different lengths. The bars come in 2 sizes: 1.25 inches or 2 inches, offering a standard bar for classes 2 and lower and a heavy-duty bar for classes 3 and up. Hitch balls also have 3 different sizes: 17/8 inches, 2 inches and 25/16 inches. The bigger the ball, the more weight capacity it can handle, so choose wisely here as well. If engine, bar, and ball are all in perfect sync, you are ready to get started!
3. Don’t forget to chain, before you set your gain! A pre-caution to be taken seriously, after mounting the trailer on the hitch, securely chain the trailer to the hitch in case of hitch failure to prevent the trailer from freeing itself and going off into live traffic. Make sure the chain allows enough room for the hitch to function normally and move when turning. Crossing the chains under the tongue will help prevent your trailer bar from hitting the pavement when unhitched or free accidentally.
4. Always check the electricals! First the trailer wiring harness. Make sure everything is functioning properly and there are no wire damage. Spray dielectric grease on the contacts to prevent corrosion damage. Next, always remember to check the trailer brake battery! Like all batteries, brake batteries lose charge over time and can become weak after continuous use. Before a long haul, always insure that your trailer’s battery is holding a charge.
5. Determine and set your tongue weight next! If there is zero tongue weight, the trailer’s center of gravity (CG), the point around which it pitches is centered between the tires’ contact patches. This provides no stability, specifically in yaw, or sway. Adding tongue weight, by moving cargo in the trailer forward, pulls the CG forward of the tire contact patches. The drag of the tires will tend to pull the CG back onto the center line of the truck and trailer. The more tongue weight, the farther forward the CG goes, and the more stability in sway, right up until you add too much tongue weight for the tow vehicle’s rear suspension to handle. Industry-wide, the target recommendation for tongue weight is 10 to 12 percent of total trailer weight. Here’s how to check tongue weight if your trailer weighs so much that your bathroom scale won’t read high enough. With the tongue resting on the beam one-third of the distance between the pivot and the scale, a 140-pound reading means that the total tongue weight is 420 pounds, just about right for a 4000-pound trailer. – Popular Mechanics6. Set up and equalizing hitch. Once you’ve dialed in enough tongue weight for stability (about 10 percent of the trailer’s weight), there may be too much pressure on the vehicle’s hitch. Equalizing bars (right) induce a rotational force around the hitch and pivot horizontally, transferring some of the tongue weight to the vehicle’s front axle. The stiffness of the bars needs to be correct for your particular trailer, so consult the manual or a trailering specialist. I generally adjust them so that when the equalizer bars are installed, the trailer hitch rises back to within 1 inch of its unladen ride height.
– Popular Mechanics
Disclaimer – Know your vehicle! The owner’s manual contains specifics about towing and trailer use. Please be thorough about your research before hauling!
Pre-haul check and tips from Popular Mechanics!
It’s important that the loaded trailer be level to the ground when it’s attached to the vehicle, and that you trim the trailer’s flatness either with an adjustable drawbar or by finding one with the right offset. (If you end up using an offset drawbar, make sure it’s rated to handle the trailer weight.)
Inflate the tires to the trailer manufacturer’s maximum recommended cold pressure. Heat is the tires’ enemy, and a properly inflated tire will run cooler. Be even more careful of the small tires on light-duty trailers—the tiny outside diameter means they spin faster. A high-speed run on a hot day with a ton of bricks on board could overheat the tires or wheel bearings.
Whenever you hook up the trailer, check that all of the lights are working. You can do this without making four trips up to the cab and toggling on all the turn signals and brake lights in succession.
Regardless of how tightly you cranked the tie downs on that car, bike or ATV, road vibration can loosen them. So, about 10 to 20 miles after you depart, stop and check their tension. After a few hours on the road—and every time you stop—inspect the trailer. Make sure the hitch and wiring are secure.
Ford’s engineers have brought some cutting edge technology to the towing market to help increase safety and accessibility by automating some processes such as setting gain, etc.
While driving downhill in Tow/Haul Mode and tapping the brake, the combustion process in the cylinders is restricted to maintain optimal, desired speed without wearing down the transmission nor heating up the brakes. This basically starves the cylinder chambers of fuel, giving less power to the engine and utilizing friction as a force to counteract gravity pushing the vehicle downhill.
Trailer Brake Control
Modern Ford trucks come equipped with fully integrated trailer brake controllers (TBC). They allow for synchronized vehicle and trailer brakes for timely, easy stops even with the heavies of loads. This provides added control and trailer confidence and comes factory installed!
Trailer Sway Control
Trailer Sway Control monitors and controls the trailer’s movements in relation to the truck. If the trailer begins to sway, Trailer Sway Control quickly detects the yaw motion of the vehicle and reacts accordingly, adjusting engine speed and/or applying the brakes asymmetrically to stop the sway and bring everything back to control. This allows for faster towing speeds, and generally more hauling confidence.