Towing with Small Truck

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trumpet83
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Towing with Small Truck

Post by trumpet83 »

Hi everybody,

I have run a lawn business for 7 years where I do about a dozen lawns. I have always used ramps to put a walk behind mower into my truck. I recently upgraded to a small zero turn and will need to pull a trailer that is a bit big for my truck. I'm wondering what people with towing experience would recommend.

I have a 2010 Ford Ranger XLT Supercab 4 cylinder 2.3 engine. Max towing rating with hitch seems to be 2000lbs from the different numbers I tried to sort out. The trailer I have access to (agreed to rent it from a friend until I decide what to do) is a 6x10 utility trailer with wooden floor (970lbs). The weight of my equipment in total is 720 pounds. So, if the empty trailer is actually 970 plus equipment is 1,690 (85% of max capacity).

My concern is that I've seen recommendations to limit yourself to 75% of max tow capacity for the vehicle's sake and for safety. In fairness, because my business is small I would only be asking my truck to do this within a 25 mile radius...mostly flat...maybe 3-4 times every two weeks from April to November, so it's not an every day thing.

I could look to buy a smaller trailer (as small as 5.5 x 9) or go Aluminum or upgrade my truck. However, I'd really rather not do the truck purchase at this point, although it does have 172k miles. Downsizing trailer could drop total load by probably 250-350 pounds).

Would you recommend just doing this with the Ranger as long as it will tolerate it or a quick downsize of trailer or upgrade of truck? Anything options I'm missing here? Thank you for your thoughts!
foo.c
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Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by foo.c »

I'd say try it and see. If you are at or below what Ford says, I think you will be fine.

You might try a Ranger forum for better answers.
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Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by David Jay »

I have heard the 75% number and I think it is far too much safety margin. I have pulled travel trailers for 35 years and for the first 33 years I never had a vehicle with a tow rating that provided a 25% safety margin. I pulled a 10,000 lb 5th wheel all over the country with a pickup that had a 11,000 lb tow rating.

If Ford thinks you can tow 2000 lbs, I would have no problem towing 2000 pounds in a 25 mile radius a few times a week.

Now if you were crossing the Rockies on secondary roads...
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Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by hicabob »

Is that with just the bumper hitch? My old 4 cyl Tacoma, which is very similar in size/weight, can tow 3500 with a proper hitch bolted to the frame. Trailer hitch receivers are quite easy to install or u-haul can do it.
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Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by jpelder »

I wouldn't go on the highway or up steep hills. But city street speeds on flat ground should be fine. If you were doing it all day, every day, it might be different, too. Do be sure that your tongue weight isn't too much (you may have to load and weigh your trailer to test this out).

I would advise finding a "heavy use" service schedule and following that. Towing is hard on transmissions, so you'll at least need to service it more frequently. And, when you do get a new truck, get one with 3500 or 5000 lbs of towing capacity.
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Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by tibbitts »

I think the 25% applies if you're doing longer-distance towing over more varied terrain.

Make sure you have a receiver and don't attach the hitch ball to the bumper. Assuming you have an automatic transmission, definitely make sure you have an external transmission cooler, plumbed in so the fluid passes through the cooler before it enters the internal (radiator) cooler. And if you find the ride is bouncy you might replace the shock absorbers. If the rear end squats you could use one of the helper spring products, since the trailer is a little light for any kind of weight distribution. Make sure you have over 10% of the trailer weight on the hitch ball to avoid sway.
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Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by Olemiss540 »

I wouldnt worry about 2000 lbs pushing you around. I have seen town cars towing 1500 lbs down the interstate hehe.
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Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by Sandtrap »

From a business standpoint. . . . . .

****If you plan on expanding your landscaping business, then don't box yourself in with a smaller trailer and getting by with the truck you have and pushing it or spending money on it to make it more useable.

Then: larger full size truck with a v8 and proper tow hitch and brake controller, tow package, etc.
Then: a trailer with a tandem axle, trailer on board electric brakes, also ability to put in rail sides for brush loads so stake pockets on the perimeter.
**If you plan on expanding your landscaping business to the point where you could use a tow behind dump trailer (heavy) then upsize your truck for that.

***But, if you do not ever plan to do more than you are doing now in your landscaping business, then make do with what you have now and an adequate trailer, replace the truck when you can with something larger with a v8 engine. Buy a trailer that will be good with the truck you have now, but not too small for an upsized truck.

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trumpet83
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Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by trumpet83 »

Thank you all very much.

Yes, that is towing with a proper hitch.

I am a teacher full-time and limited with how much I could expand this business. It's probably at ideal size right now. I decided to upgrade to Zero Turn though, because this time of year my activity level goes through the roof with all the walking, loading, and carrying and it was the main way I could decrease the toll on my body. I play recreational soccer and have gotten some degree of injured every spring as I adjust to all the volume.
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Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by willthrill81 »

trumpet83 wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 9:00 am Hi everybody,

I have run a lawn business for 7 years where I do about a dozen lawns. I have always used ramps to put a walk behind mower into my truck. I recently upgraded to a small zero turn and will need to pull a trailer that is a bit big for my truck. I'm wondering what people with towing experience would recommend.

I have a 2010 Ford Ranger XLT Supercab 4 cylinder 2.3 engine. Max towing rating with hitch seems to be 2000lbs from the different numbers I tried to sort out. The trailer I have access to (agreed to rent it from a friend until I decide what to do) is a 6x10 utility trailer with wooden floor (970lbs). The weight of my equipment in total is 720 pounds. So, if the empty trailer is actually 970 plus equipment is 1,690 (85% of max capacity).

My concern is that I've seen recommendations to limit yourself to 75% of max tow capacity for the vehicle's sake and for safety. In fairness, because my business is small I would only be asking my truck to do this within a 25 mile radius...mostly flat...maybe 3-4 times every two weeks from April to November, so it's not an every day thing.
I echo the recommendations you've heard. After having towed vehicles for thousands of miles, I would personally never try to tow anything exceeding 70% of the vehicle's maximum tow capacity unless it was a one-off event, certainly not with the regularity that you're talking about. You might do it for a long while without issue, but you're going to be straining the engine, transmission, etc. The fact that your trips are typically fairly short does not help with this; it might actually exacerbate the problem.
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Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by obgraham »

Ahh...You have an old truck with lots of miles on it.
Your trailer plan is still within spec, even if barely.

Use it till it dies. That's why you have it.
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Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by Teague »

The numbers from the manufacturer are determined by engineers who have intimate knowledge of the specifics of the vehicle. These days the criteria are standardized as every manufacturer complies with the SAE J2807 towing standard, done through real-world testing. Anyone who puts forth the idea that the actual capacity is only X% of the manufacturer's rating does so based on feelings, not evidence.

Maybe you will decide that you like the performance and handling at a weight lower than the manufacturer's stated capacity, and that's up to you. Try it and see. But the truck is capable of doing what the engineers say it is, internet speculators notwithstanding.
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Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by LadyGeek »

This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues forum (towing).
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Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by willthrill81 »

Teague wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 11:25 am The numbers from the manufacturer are determined by engineers who have intimate knowledge of the specifics of the vehicle. These days the criteria are standardized as every manufacturer complies with the SAE J2807 towing standard, done through real-world testing. Anyone who puts forth the idea that the actual capacity is only X% of the manufacturer's rating does so based on feelings, not evidence.
That's your opinion, but many of us who have towed trailers and such for thousands of miles for years have a lot of real world experience about the matter. And I can tell you from experience that while you can tow 100% of a manufacturer's rating, you are significantly higher risk of all sorts of problems vs. towing less than that. I overheated a large SUV that was hauling a trailer weighing only about 60% of the vehicle's weight rating due to a long stretch of inclined roadway and hot temperatures. So even on relatively flat ground, I would be concerned about issues at least that significant if towing at 100% on a hot day. Further, as one poster in the linked thread above noted, you might be able to tow at 100% of a vehicle's rating, but the driving experience is going to be poor. That might not matter to the OP, but it's something to consider.
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Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by aluminum »

I wouldn't even think twice about it - it'll be perfectly fine. Mind your stopping distance, and go cut some grass.

I tow nearly that weight all over creation with a Honda Civic, crossing multiple states and using boat ramps, for Pete's sake (granted, manual transmission, not slushbox, but still...).

The thing that really gets you at highway speeds is wind resistance rather than weight - that same 1690 pounds in an enclosed trailer is going to be a different story than an open trailer with some lawn equipment on it.

Best thing to do would be to borrow your buddies trailer, load everything up and go drive around town. If the truck isn't happy with it, you'll know it pretty quickly, but I think you'll find that the combo works totally fine, and I also think you'd be hard pressed to notice the difference if you immediately followed by hooking up to a trailer weighing 300 pounds less.
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Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by tibbitts »

willthrill81 wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 2:35 pm
Teague wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 11:25 am The numbers from the manufacturer are determined by engineers who have intimate knowledge of the specifics of the vehicle. These days the criteria are standardized as every manufacturer complies with the SAE J2807 towing standard, done through real-world testing. Anyone who puts forth the idea that the actual capacity is only X% of the manufacturer's rating does so based on feelings, not evidence.
That's your opinion, but many of us who have towed trailers and such for thousands of miles for years have a lot of real world experience about the matter. And I can tell you from experience that while you can tow 100% of a manufacturer's rating, you are significantly higher risk of all sorts of problems vs. towing less than that. I overheated a large SUV that was hauling a trailer weighing only about 60% of the vehicle's weight rating due to a long stretch of inclined roadway and hot temperatures. So even on relatively flat ground, I would be concerned about issues at least that significant if towing at 100% on a hot day. Further, as one poster in the linked thread above noted, you might be able to tow at 100% of a vehicle's rating, but the driving experience is going to be poor. That might not matter to the OP, but it's something to consider.
Except you're citing a completely different use case. Having put in more than my share of towing with under-equipped vehicles (and even having Jayco towing experience, since that was the forum you referenced), and experiencing such things as suspension bottoming, chronic engine and transmission overheating, etc., I wouldn't hesitate at all to tow the 1700lb load the OP has, where he's maybe towing ten or fifteen minutes between customers at maybe 45mph max and 25mph average. The trailer possibly has surge brakes, maybe not - but the OP would want to make sure it meets state requirements in that respect. And make sure it's properly wired for lighting.

Now, there are exceptions, like if the OP is dealing with hills like in Seattle or SF, or maybe constantly towing in extremely hot temperatures (chronic overheating can often be overcome by running the heater and fan on their maximum settings - I remember hundreds of unpleasant miles doing that in extremely high temperatures.)
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Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by davemanjam »

It is cutting it a bit close.
But since you said you're keeping to a 25 mile radius on mostly flat roads...you should be fine.
I would try it out and see how it goes...but have a plan for how to cut weight or buy a different truck in the future.
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Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by willthrill81 »

tibbitts wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 3:05 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 2:35 pm
Teague wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 11:25 am The numbers from the manufacturer are determined by engineers who have intimate knowledge of the specifics of the vehicle. These days the criteria are standardized as every manufacturer complies with the SAE J2807 towing standard, done through real-world testing. Anyone who puts forth the idea that the actual capacity is only X% of the manufacturer's rating does so based on feelings, not evidence.
That's your opinion, but many of us who have towed trailers and such for thousands of miles for years have a lot of real world experience about the matter. And I can tell you from experience that while you can tow 100% of a manufacturer's rating, you are significantly higher risk of all sorts of problems vs. towing less than that. I overheated a large SUV that was hauling a trailer weighing only about 60% of the vehicle's weight rating due to a long stretch of inclined roadway and hot temperatures. So even on relatively flat ground, I would be concerned about issues at least that significant if towing at 100% on a hot day. Further, as one poster in the linked thread above noted, you might be able to tow at 100% of a vehicle's rating, but the driving experience is going to be poor. That might not matter to the OP, but it's something to consider.
Except you're citing a completely different use case. Having put in more than my share of towing with under-equipped vehicles (and even having Jayco towing experience, since that was the forum you referenced), and experiencing such things as suspension bottoming, chronic engine and transmission overheating, etc., I wouldn't hesitate at all to tow the 1700lb load the OP has, where he's maybe towing ten or fifteen minutes between customers at maybe 45mph max and 25mph average. The trailer possibly has surge brakes, maybe not - but the OP would want to make sure it meets state requirements in that respect. And make sure it's properly wired for lighting.

Now, there are exceptions, like if the OP is dealing with hills like in Seattle or SF, or maybe constantly towing in extremely hot temperatures (chronic overheating can often be overcome by running the heater and fan on their maximum settings - I remember hundreds of unpleasant miles doing that in extremely high temperatures.)
I completely agree that the specific circumstances matter a great deal. If the OP will be traveling at relatively low speed, has good trailer brakes, and doesn't have any significant terrain to climb, he'll probably be fine. But that's very different from saying that everyone can tow at 100% of manufacturers' rated capacity in any situation, which is what Teague's post above sounded like to me.

If I was buying a vehicle, I would definitely get one rated for significantly greater weight than what I intended to tow. I don't want to be worried about having marginal capacity, especially if the circumstances change in a somewhat disadvantageous way (e.g., need to haul through big hills or mountains, need to haul a heavier load, need to haul through intense heat). That's just me, and I understand that's not where the OP is at the moment.
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Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by Teague »

willthrill81 wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 2:35 pm
Teague wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 11:25 am The numbers from the manufacturer are determined by engineers who have intimate knowledge of the specifics of the vehicle. These days the criteria are standardized as every manufacturer complies with the SAE J2807 towing standard, done through real-world testing. Anyone who puts forth the idea that the actual capacity is only X% of the manufacturer's rating does so based on feelings, not evidence.
That's your opinion, but many of us who have towed trailers and such for thousands of miles for years have a lot of real world experience about the matter. And I can tell you from experience that while you can tow 100% of a manufacturer's rating, you are significantly higher risk of all sorts of problems vs. towing less than that. I overheated a large SUV that was hauling a trailer weighing only about 60% of the vehicle's weight rating due to a long stretch of inclined roadway and hot temperatures. So even on relatively flat ground, I would be concerned about issues at least that significant if towing at 100% on a hot day. Further, as one poster in the linked thread above noted, you might be able to tow at 100% of a vehicle's rating, but the driving experience is going to be poor. That might not matter to the OP, but it's something to consider.
Your example (hot temps on a prolonged substantial grade) is included in the SAE J2807 standard testing. In fact if you go to Davis Dam in August you're likely to see camouflaged not-yet-released models being tested by their manufacturers on that infamous grade. Overheating, any warning lights, or losing a single drop of coolant results in a failed test. The testing standard requires the temp be above 100F to run a valid test, and it's run with the A/C on max, air recirculation turned off.

No one is arguing that it's more pleasant to tow a lighter load, that's just common sense. But these days the tow ratings actually mean what they say, the vehicle is capable to the rated value. I partially take exception to the SAE braking capability testing method as that's not as demanding as I would like, but that's largely because it employs a trailer with no brakes installed.
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Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by willthrill81 »

Teague wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 5:13 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 2:35 pm
Teague wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 11:25 am The numbers from the manufacturer are determined by engineers who have intimate knowledge of the specifics of the vehicle. These days the criteria are standardized as every manufacturer complies with the SAE J2807 towing standard, done through real-world testing. Anyone who puts forth the idea that the actual capacity is only X% of the manufacturer's rating does so based on feelings, not evidence.
That's your opinion, but many of us who have towed trailers and such for thousands of miles for years have a lot of real world experience about the matter. And I can tell you from experience that while you can tow 100% of a manufacturer's rating, you are significantly higher risk of all sorts of problems vs. towing less than that. I overheated a large SUV that was hauling a trailer weighing only about 60% of the vehicle's weight rating due to a long stretch of inclined roadway and hot temperatures. So even on relatively flat ground, I would be concerned about issues at least that significant if towing at 100% on a hot day. Further, as one poster in the linked thread above noted, you might be able to tow at 100% of a vehicle's rating, but the driving experience is going to be poor. That might not matter to the OP, but it's something to consider.
Your example (hot temps on a prolonged substantial grade) is included in the SAE J2807 standard testing. In fact if you go to Davis Dam in August you're likely to see camouflaged not-yet-released models being tested by their manufacturers on that infamous grade. Overheating, any warning lights, or losing a single drop of coolant results in a failed test. The testing standard requires the temp be above 100F to run a valid test, and it's run with the A/C on max, air recirculation turned off.

No one is arguing that it's more pleasant to tow a lighter load, that's just common sense. But these days the tow ratings actually mean what they say, the vehicle is capable to the rated value. I partially take exception to the SAE braking capability testing method as that's not as demanding as I would like, but that's largely because it employs a trailer with no brakes installed.
I'm sure that their testing seems rigorous, but myself and others have experienced, at a minimum, overheating from towing well under the allowable load up a hill in the summer heat on a fully operational vehicle. My BiL destroyed his transmission, which even had a factory installed cooler, towing through Eastern mountains and was well under the weight rating of his vehicle.
Last edited by willthrill81 on Thu Apr 22, 2021 5:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by tibbitts »

willthrill81 wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 5:02 pm If I was buying a vehicle, I would definitely get one rated for significantly greater weight than what I intended to tow. I don't want to be worried about having marginal capacity, especially if the circumstances change in a somewhat disadvantageous way (e.g., need to haul through big hills or mountains, need to haul a heavier load, need to haul through intense heat). That's just me, and I understand that's not where the OP is at the moment.
Yes, which brings up my annoyance with be binary choice of wimpy half-ton trucks or overbuilt three-quarter ton trucks. Half-ton trucks almost always provide 500-900lbs less payload than you need, and three-quarter ton trucks suffer from too much sacrifice in fuel economy.
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Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by Teague »

willthrill81 wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 5:18 pm
Teague wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 5:13 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 2:35 pm
Teague wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 11:25 am The numbers from the manufacturer are determined by engineers who have intimate knowledge of the specifics of the vehicle. These days the criteria are standardized as every manufacturer complies with the SAE J2807 towing standard, done through real-world testing. Anyone who puts forth the idea that the actual capacity is only X% of the manufacturer's rating does so based on feelings, not evidence.
That's your opinion, but many of us who have towed trailers and such for thousands of miles for years have a lot of real world experience about the matter. And I can tell you from experience that while you can tow 100% of a manufacturer's rating, you are significantly higher risk of all sorts of problems vs. towing less than that. I overheated a large SUV that was hauling a trailer weighing only about 60% of the vehicle's weight rating due to a long stretch of inclined roadway and hot temperatures. So even on relatively flat ground, I would be concerned about issues at least that significant if towing at 100% on a hot day. Further, as one poster in the linked thread above noted, you might be able to tow at 100% of a vehicle's rating, but the driving experience is going to be poor. That might not matter to the OP, but it's something to consider.
Your example (hot temps on a prolonged substantial grade) is included in the SAE J2807 standard testing. In fact if you go to Davis Dam in August you're likely to see camouflaged not-yet-released models being tested by their manufacturers on that infamous grade. Overheating, any warning lights, or losing a single drop of coolant results in a failed test. The testing standard requires the temp be above 100F to run a valid test, and it's run with the A/C on max, air recirculation turned off.

No one is arguing that it's more pleasant to tow a lighter load, that's just common sense. But these days the tow ratings actually mean what they say, the vehicle is capable to the rated value. I partially take exception to the SAE braking capability testing method as that's not as demanding as I would like, but that's largely because it employs a trailer with no brakes installed.
I'm sure that their testing seems rigorous, but myself and others have experienced, at a minimum, overheating from towing well under the allowable load up a hill in the summer heat on a fully operational vehicle. My BiL destroyed his transmission, which even had a factory installed cooler, towing through Eastern mountains and was well under the weight rating of his vehicle.
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Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by willthrill81 »

Teague wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 5:20 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 5:18 pm
Teague wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 5:13 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 2:35 pm
Teague wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 11:25 am The numbers from the manufacturer are determined by engineers who have intimate knowledge of the specifics of the vehicle. These days the criteria are standardized as every manufacturer complies with the SAE J2807 towing standard, done through real-world testing. Anyone who puts forth the idea that the actual capacity is only X% of the manufacturer's rating does so based on feelings, not evidence.
That's your opinion, but many of us who have towed trailers and such for thousands of miles for years have a lot of real world experience about the matter. And I can tell you from experience that while you can tow 100% of a manufacturer's rating, you are significantly higher risk of all sorts of problems vs. towing less than that. I overheated a large SUV that was hauling a trailer weighing only about 60% of the vehicle's weight rating due to a long stretch of inclined roadway and hot temperatures. So even on relatively flat ground, I would be concerned about issues at least that significant if towing at 100% on a hot day. Further, as one poster in the linked thread above noted, you might be able to tow at 100% of a vehicle's rating, but the driving experience is going to be poor. That might not matter to the OP, but it's something to consider.
Your example (hot temps on a prolonged substantial grade) is included in the SAE J2807 standard testing. In fact if you go to Davis Dam in August you're likely to see camouflaged not-yet-released models being tested by their manufacturers on that infamous grade. Overheating, any warning lights, or losing a single drop of coolant results in a failed test. The testing standard requires the temp be above 100F to run a valid test, and it's run with the A/C on max, air recirculation turned off.

No one is arguing that it's more pleasant to tow a lighter load, that's just common sense. But these days the tow ratings actually mean what they say, the vehicle is capable to the rated value. I partially take exception to the SAE braking capability testing method as that's not as demanding as I would like, but that's largely because it employs a trailer with no brakes installed.
I'm sure that their testing seems rigorous, but myself and others have experienced, at a minimum, overheating from towing well under the allowable load up a hill in the summer heat on a fully operational vehicle. My BiL destroyed his transmission, which even had a factory installed cooler, towing through Eastern mountains and was well under the weight rating of his vehicle.
n=2
I trust my own experiences and those of people I know more than what a manufacturer says is possible. But I'm clearly not the only one or else the OP wouldn't have gotten the recommendations to oversize the towing vehicle. You do whatever you want.
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Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by Teague »

willthrill81 wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 5:22 pm You do whatever you want.
Likewise.
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Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by willthrill81 »

tibbitts wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 5:19 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 5:02 pm If I was buying a vehicle, I would definitely get one rated for significantly greater weight than what I intended to tow. I don't want to be worried about having marginal capacity, especially if the circumstances change in a somewhat disadvantageous way (e.g., need to haul through big hills or mountains, need to haul a heavier load, need to haul through intense heat). That's just me, and I understand that's not where the OP is at the moment.
Yes, which brings up my annoyance with be binary choice of wimpy half-ton trucks or overbuilt three-quarter ton trucks. Half-ton trucks almost always provide 500-900lbs less payload than you need, and three-quarter ton trucks suffer from too much sacrifice in fuel economy.
I agree. Half-ton trucks just aren't powerful enough to haul many common loads, and 3/4 ton trucks often have fuel economy in the mid-teens whether they're towing or not and a huge price tag to boot. That's part of the reason why we opted to buy a motorhome instead of a travel trailer; we would have needed to get a large SUV with a V8, the space of which we don't need, or a 3/4 ton pickup that neither myself nor my wife wanted for any other purpose. And both vehicle types would have cost us close to what we spent on our motorhome, let alone the cost of then buying a travel trailer.

The cost of trucks these days just blows me away. I cannot imagine spending $75k on a vehicle that I would then go hauling all manner of junk in on gravel roads.
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Jack FFR1846
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Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2013 7:05 am
Location: 26 miles, 385 yards west of Copley Square

Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

You're fine.

One big considerations for a tow vehicle is wheelbase. With yours, you've got plenty of that. Now, pulling a racecar with a 2 door Jeep Wrangler is opposite world. And I did that for a while. Swapped the Jeep for a Yukon XL and there was a world of difference.
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squirm
Posts: 3308
Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 11:53 am

Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by squirm »

Op, you're not going to get some consensus answer here, what's new...

Try it and see how it works out, only you'll know, but use the manual for guidance.
Last edited by squirm on Thu Apr 22, 2021 6:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Californiastate
Posts: 103
Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2021 11:52 am

Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by Californiastate »

OP

There are other numbers to be in compliance with besides the 1980# towing capacity. The 2010 Ranger has a 200# maximum tongue weight on the bumper. That by itself is 10% of your trailer weight which is minimum. You better make sure you park the lawnmower in the right spot on the trailer. Next is your truck GVWR. Don't plan on loading up the truck bed while connected to the trailer and staying under your GVWR.

What would I do? I first calculate if your Ranger hit the numbers. Take it fully loaded to a CAT scale and get the real numbers. I'd keep it if the numbers worked.
tibbitts
Posts: 13524
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Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by tibbitts »

Californiastate wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 6:26 pm OP

There are other numbers to be in compliance with besides the 1980# towing capacity. The 2010 Ranger has a 200# maximum tongue weight on the bumper. That by itself is 10% of your trailer weight which is minimum. You better make sure you park the lawnmower in the right spot on the trailer. Next is your truck GVWR. Don't plan on loading up the truck bed while connected to the trailer and staying under your GVWR.

What would I do? I first calculate if your Ranger hit the numbers. Take it fully loaded to a CAT scale and get the real numbers. I'd keep it if the numbers worked.
Although I've done the CAT scale thing with a travel trailer and can see the value with a heavier trailer, I think it's overkill here considering the OP apparently knows the empty trailer weight, mower weight, and can weigh everything else (including the trailer tongue) on a bathroom scale. With a travel trailer you can make more use of the information from each axle for adjusting the equalizing hitch, etc. The magnitude of an error for the OP is only likely only a couple of hundred pounds in either direction. Now if the OP was going to carry bags of fertilizer or similar that could certainly result in an overweight condition pretty quickly, but presumably the OP is aware of that.
Californiastate
Posts: 103
Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2021 11:52 am

Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by Californiastate »

tibbitts wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 6:53 pm
Californiastate wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 6:26 pm OP

There are other numbers to be in compliance with besides the 1980# towing capacity. The 2010 Ranger has a 200# maximum tongue weight on the bumper. That by itself is 10% of your trailer weight which is minimum. You better make sure you park the lawnmower in the right spot on the trailer. Next is your truck GVWR. Don't plan on loading up the truck bed while connected to the trailer and staying under your GVWR.

What would I do? I first calculate if your Ranger hit the numbers. Take it fully loaded to a CAT scale and get the real numbers. I'd keep it if the numbers worked.
Although I've done the CAT scale thing with a travel trailer and can see the value with a heavier trailer, I think it's overkill here considering the OP apparently knows the empty trailer weight, mower weight, and can weigh everything else (including the trailer tongue) on a bathroom scale. With a travel trailer you can make more use of the information from each axle for adjusting the equalizing hitch, etc. The magnitude of an error for the OP is only likely only a couple of hundred pounds in either direction. Now if the OP was going to carry bags of fertilizer or similar that could certainly result in an overweight condition pretty quickly, but presumably the OP is aware of that.
CAT scales IIRC are $12 for the first pass. That's lunch. I wouldn't hesitate using it to weigh his whole setup if he wants to stay in spec. To each his own.
CurlyDave
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Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2016 11:37 am

Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by CurlyDave »

Californiastate wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 11:18 pm
tibbitts wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 6:53 pm
Californiastate wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 6:26 pm OP

There are other numbers to be in compliance with besides the 1980# towing capacity. The 2010 Ranger has a 200# maximum tongue weight on the bumper. That by itself is 10% of your trailer weight which is minimum. You better make sure you park the lawnmower in the right spot on the trailer. Next is your truck GVWR. Don't plan on loading up the truck bed while connected to the trailer and staying under your GVWR.

What would I do? I first calculate if your Ranger hit the numbers. Take it fully loaded to a CAT scale and get the real numbers. I'd keep it if the numbers worked.
Although I've done the CAT scale thing with a travel trailer and can see the value with a heavier trailer, I think it's overkill here considering the OP apparently knows the empty trailer weight, mower weight, and can weigh everything else (including the trailer tongue) on a bathroom scale. With a travel trailer you can make more use of the information from each axle for adjusting the equalizing hitch, etc. The magnitude of an error for the OP is only likely only a couple of hundred pounds in either direction. Now if the OP was going to carry bags of fertilizer or similar that could certainly result in an overweight condition pretty quickly, but presumably the OP is aware of that.
CAT scales IIRC are $12 for the first pass. That's lunch. I wouldn't hesitate using it to weigh his whole setup if he wants to stay in spec. To each his own.
In my neck of the woods, there are few state weigh stations scattered around. They usually leave the scale turned on all the time for people to use while they are not manning the station. I have one about 5 miles away and I can weigh my truck, my truck only with trailer attached, truck and trailer combo, and trailer wheels only in about 10 minutes for free.
iamlucky13
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Location: Western Washington

Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by iamlucky13 »

David Jay wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 9:14 am I have heard the 75% number and I think it is far too much safety margin. I have pulled travel trailers for 35 years and for the first 33 years I never had a vehicle with a tow rating that provided a 25% safety margin. I pulled a 10,000 lb 5th wheel all over the country with a pickup that had a 11,000 lb tow rating.

If Ford thinks you can tow 2000 lbs, I would have no problem towing 2000 pounds in a 25 mile radius a few times a week.

Now if you were crossing the Rockies on secondary roads...
The engineers responsible for quantifying the capacity, and the lawyers responsible for keeping Ford from getting sued both concluded 100% leaves adequate safety margin. There is, of course, some responsibility with the driver to take extra care, because stopping distance and other handling characteristics are affected, but that's a universal precaution for towing.

I would not be at all surprised if the exact same configuration of the Ranger was rated with a higher towing capacity in other countries. I've seen it with multiple other vehicles.

Also, this is a pickup that is rated for something 6,000 pounds towing capacity, but limited due to the engine. Maybe there are a couple other factors that were involved in setting the limit, like in the suspension or transmission, but at least the brakes are the same according the specs.

So with the mower already bought and the trailer being rented, go ahead and give this a try and see if you're satisfied with how your pickup handles the load or want accelerate your new truck plans. Shaving 200 pounds or so off the ~5000 pound gross combined weight with a nicer trailer won't affect things much.
Topic Author
trumpet83
Posts: 57
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2018 4:41 am

Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by trumpet83 »

Thank you for all the responses.

The main difference I see in the tow ratings is that I assume they are calculated with a brand new truck. I would assume that after 11 years and 172k miles that we should find out quickly which parts of this thing are suspect...or not.

I also appreciate the comment about tongue weight, which I watched a few videos on and it's terrifying what can go wrong if you don't mind that. I was ignorant of it before and glad it was pointed out.

There seemed to be general consensus that if the current truck couldn't tow the current weight that downsizing a few hundred pounds won't make a noticeable difference. That probably saves me money, because I can wait and find an ideal trailer I'd like to pull long term.

Truck-wise, I guess this would be a different discussion if it was a newer truck. I'm not really costing myself much in terms of re-sale value at this point. It's simply more time without a car payment (or coming out of pocket to buy one straight out-which I'm not really there yet at least for something good). The truck is really running pretty good and basically always has. Hopefully, it can do the job and prolong the time between needing another.

The key consideration is just being safe for myself and other drivers. I'll do short runs first and test it well.
jpelder
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Location: Concord, NC

Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by jpelder »

willthrill81 wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 5:22 pm
Teague wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 5:20 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 5:18 pm
Teague wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 5:13 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 2:35 pm

That's your opinion, but many of us who have towed trailers and such for thousands of miles for years have a lot of real world experience about the matter. And I can tell you from experience that while you can tow 100% of a manufacturer's rating, you are significantly higher risk of all sorts of problems vs. towing less than that. I overheated a large SUV that was hauling a trailer weighing only about 60% of the vehicle's weight rating due to a long stretch of inclined roadway and hot temperatures. So even on relatively flat ground, I would be concerned about issues at least that significant if towing at 100% on a hot day. Further, as one poster in the linked thread above noted, you might be able to tow at 100% of a vehicle's rating, but the driving experience is going to be poor. That might not matter to the OP, but it's something to consider.
Your example (hot temps on a prolonged substantial grade) is included in the SAE J2807 standard testing. In fact if you go to Davis Dam in August you're likely to see camouflaged not-yet-released models being tested by their manufacturers on that infamous grade. Overheating, any warning lights, or losing a single drop of coolant results in a failed test. The testing standard requires the temp be above 100F to run a valid test, and it's run with the A/C on max, air recirculation turned off.

No one is arguing that it's more pleasant to tow a lighter load, that's just common sense. But these days the tow ratings actually mean what they say, the vehicle is capable to the rated value. I partially take exception to the SAE braking capability testing method as that's not as demanding as I would like, but that's largely because it employs a trailer with no brakes installed.
I'm sure that their testing seems rigorous, but myself and others have experienced, at a minimum, overheating from towing well under the allowable load up a hill in the summer heat on a fully operational vehicle. My BiL destroyed his transmission, which even had a factory installed cooler, towing through Eastern mountains and was well under the weight rating of his vehicle.
n=2
I trust my own experiences and those of people I know more than what a manufacturer says is possible. But I'm clearly not the only one or else the OP wouldn't have gotten the recommendations to oversize the towing vehicle. You do whatever you want.
It sounds like the disconnect is the old way of determining towing capacity vs. the new way. The old way was whatever the manufacturer decided, more or less, and comparing across years and between manufacturers may not be accurate.
Now (2013 and newer), the numbers are based on the same real-world standards, which means you can compare across brands and compare your usage to the standard. According to the link that Teague posted, the hill climb exercise is a 5% grade at 35 mph. If the grade or speed exceed this, then you may be in trouble. I'm sure it also depends on what the weakest link in the tow vehicle is. Suspension limits are easier to spot than transmission limits.
Teague
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Re: Towing with Small Truck

Post by Teague »

jpelder wrote: Fri Apr 23, 2021 6:42 am ...the hill climb exercise is a 5% grade at 35 mph.
Minor correction to that - 35MPH is for dual rear wheel trucks, for all others it's 40MPH. Which admittedly is not warp speed, but probably not unreasonable given the required high ambient temperature with a maxed out load on a grade considered notorious for blowing up radiators.

There's also a "launch on grade" requirement that involves several launches at maximum load on a 12% grade (that's steep!) within 5 minutes.

Of course as vehicles age their abilities decrease slightly, but with proper scheduled maintenance including fluid changes the decrease should be minimal.
Semper Augustus
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