Ford Explorer: Towing / Essential Towing Checks

Ford Explorer 2020-2022 Owners Manual / Towing / Essential Towing Checks

Follow these guidelines for safe towing:

  • Do not tow a trailer until you drive your vehicle at least 1,000 mi (1,600 km).
  • Consult your local motor vehicle laws for towing a trailer.
  • See the instructions included with towing accessories for the proper installation and adjustment specifications.
  • Service your vehicle more frequently if you tow a trailer. See Scheduled Maintenance.
  • If you use a rental trailer, follow the instructions the rental agency gives you.

You can find information on load specification terms found on the tire label and Safety Compliance label as well as instructions on calculating your vehicle's load in the Load Carrying chapter. See Load Limit.

Remember to account for the trailer tongue weight as part of your vehicle load when calculating the total vehicle weight.

Hitches

Do not use a hitch that either clamps onto the bumper or attaches to the axle.

Distribute the trailer load so 10-15% of the total trailer weight is on the tongue.

A weight distributing hitch is not required for your vehicle.

Safety Chains

Note: Do not attach safety chains to the bumper.

Always connect the safety chains to the hook retainers of your vehicle hitch.

To connect the trailer’s safety chains, cross them under the trailer tongue and allow enough slack for turning tight corners. Do not allow the chains to drag on the ground.

Trailer Brakes

WARNING: Do not connect a trailer's hydraulic brake system directly to your vehicle's brake system. Your vehicle may not have enough braking power and your chances of having a collision greatly increase.

Electric brakes and manual, automatic or surge-type trailer brakes are safe if you install them properly and adjust them to the manufacturer's specifications. The trailer brakes must meet local and federal regulations.

The rating for the tow vehicle's braking system operation is at the gross vehicle weight rating, not the gross combined weight rating.

Safe control of towed vehicles requires separate functioning brake systems for vehicles and trailers weighing more than 1,500 lb (680 kg) when loaded.

Trailer Lamps

WARNING: Never connect any trailer lamp wiring to the vehicle's tail lamp wiring; this may damage the electrical system resulting in fire. Contact your authorized dealer as soon as possible for assistance in proper trailer tow wiring installation. Additional electrical equipment may be required.

Most towed vehicles require trailer lamps. Make sure all running lights, brake lights, direction indicators and hazard flashers are working.

Before Towing a Trailer

Practice turning, stopping and backing up to get the feel of your vehicle-trailer combination before starting on a trip. When turning, make wider turns so the trailer wheels clear curbs and other obstacles.

When Towing a Trailer

  • Do not drive faster than 70 mph (113 km/h) during the first 500 mi (800 km).
  • Do not make full-throttle starts.
  • Check your hitch, electrical connections and trailer wheel lug nuts thoroughly after you have traveled 50 mi (80 km).
  • When stopped in congested or heavy traffic during hot weather, place the gearshift in park (P) to aid engine and transmission cooling and to help A/C performance.
  • Turn off the speed control with heavy loads or in hilly terrain. The speed control may turn off automatically when you are towing on long, steep grades.
  • Shift to a lower gear when driving down a long or steep hill. Do not apply the brakes continuously, as they may overheat and become less effective.
  • If your transmission is equipped with a Grade Assist or Tow/Haul feature, use this feature when towing. This provides engine braking and helps eliminate excessive transmission shifting for optimum fuel economy and transmission cooling.
  • Allow more distance for stopping with a trailer attached. Anticipate stops and brake gradually.
  • Avoid parking on a grade. However, if you must park on a grade:
  1. Turn the steering wheel to point your vehicle tires away from traffic flow.
  2. Set your vehicle parking brake.
  3. Place the automatic transmission in park (P).
  4. Place wheel chocks in front and back of the trailer wheels. (Chocks not included with vehicle.)

Launching or Retrieving a Boat or Personal Watercraft (PWC)

Note: Disconnect the wiring to the trailer before backing the trailer into the water.

Note: Reconnect the wiring to the trailer after removing the trailer from the water.

When backing down a ramp during boat launching or retrieval:

  • Do not allow the static water level to rise above the bottom edge of the rear bumper.
  • Do not allow waves to break higher than 6 in (15 cm) above the bottom edge of the rear bumper.

Exceeding these limits may allow water to enter vehicle components:

  • Causing internal damage to the components.
  • Affecting driveability, emissions, and reliability.

Replace the rear axle lubricant anytime the rear axle has been submerged in water. Water may have contaminated the rear axle lubricant, which is not normally checked or changed unless a leak is suspected or other axle repair is required.

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