You’ve heard all the hype in recent years over the rise of the SUV as the new family vehicle and have decided to jump aboard with a purchase of a Ford Expedition, one of the highest-rated large SUVs. With an Expedition, you have space to fit all your children, camping gear, and furry friends. You also have something unique to owning a large SUV that really sets it apart from minivans and Subarus: the power to haul a large travel trailer.
The Ford Expedition has a max tow capacity of 6,000 pounds to 9,300 pounds. There are many large camper trailers in that weight range! Keep in mind that trailers are listed with their dry weight, which is the weight of the trailer without any water or supplies loaded in it. Water and gear can add 1,500 lbs to the weight of your trailer. Ensure that your trailer will not exceed your tow capacity when loaded up!
Ford Expedition Towing Capacity By Model
If you are on the verge of purchasing an Expedition, or if you have already made your purchase and are worried you chose the less powerful model, do not worry. The primary difference between the Expedition and the Expedition Max is size, not necessarily power. The Max is a foot longer and has 78 percent more cargo space, as well as a slightly larger gas tank. It is actually not more powerful at towing than the base model, contrary to what you might believe. It has a higher tow capacity than the 4×4 base model by only 100 lbs. The dramatic increase in power that many consumers desire comes from the heavy-duty trailer towing package, which is available with the base model as well as the Max.
With the heavy-duty trailer towing package, the Max can pull 9,000 lbs while the base model, if you have the rear-wheel-drive only variant, can pull 9,300 lbs. In all fairness, 300 lbs do not really shift the balance of towing capacity. If the extra room provided in the Max is necessary or desired, you really do not sacrifice much power in obtaining it.
If you do not need the extra space, the base model will more than satisfy you with its features and power, and all at a lower price.
Do I Need A Hitch?
It is standard for all Ford Expeditions to have a trailer hitch installed at the factory. Depending on whether or not you opted for the heavy-duty towing package the hitch installed in your Expedition will be designed to handle the maximum towing capacity for your vehicle.
If you purchased any level of tow package Ford installs the wiring to connect to any trailer you will pull. This wiring is how you operate the trailer’s safety lights on its rear and how you apply its brakes. If you purchased a used Expedition that happened to not have the wiring installed along with the hitch, or if you would like to upgrade your rig with a hitch you prefer, it is fairly inexpensive to have it done at Uhaul.
The two things that a Ford dealership towing package will not cover are ball mounts and hitch balls. Ball mounts are what you insert into your vehicles hitch, and in turn, are what the hitch ball is attached to. There are a variety of different styles that are designed to fulfill different needs and preferences. Uhaul is a great resource for learning what exactly will best suit your needs, as are most auto part stores.
After you have everything you need for basic trailer attachment, but before you take your trailer on a road trip, you will need to procure some stabilization attachments for your trailer hookup. The most commonly used are sway bars, which greatly help maintain the stability of your trailer while driving.
What Is Dry Weight?
When you buy your Expedition with all the bells and whistles and are excited for how big of a camper you’ll pull with your 9,000 pound weight limit, do not purchase a 9,000 pound travel trailer.
Your vehicle has a GVWR, or Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, which you can find listed on a sticker on the driver’s side door frame. The GVWR of a Ford Expedition ranges between 6,000 and 9,000 pounds. Those numbers are the maximum weight capacity for your vehicle. You cannot operate your vehicle with a load greater than your GVWR without risking serious damage to your vehicle, to your load, and to other people.
When researching which trailer is right for you, make sure to remember that trailers are listed with their dry weight, which is the weight of the trailer without any water or supplies loaded in it. On average you can expect water and gear to add 1,500 lbs to the weight of your trailer.
It is best to purchase a trailer that, even when loaded up with water and supplies, will be less than your vehicles maximum towing capacity, especially if you plan on making long trips or trips on rough terrain and mountain roads. Such excursions can put an incredible strain on your vehicle’s engine, which heightens your risk of breaking down.
A good rule of thumb is to have a trailer that is at least 1,500 pounds below your maximum GVWR. However, finding the best trailer for your vehicle is not something that you have to figure on your own. Camping World’s website has a calculator that you can use to input your vehicles make, model, and year. After you have completed that step it will pull up an expansive list of travel trailers that your model of Expedition will be able to comfortably pull. This is a great tool to use before you purchase an Expedition so that you can have a clear understanding of what size of trailer you will be able to pull with the different models.
Have you ever seen a pickup truck hauling a trailer loaded up with construction materials that seemed to be pushing the back of the truck down while pulling the front of the truck up? That is an example of mishandled tongue weight. If a trailer is exerting that much force on the hitch of your tow vehicle, you have a problem that could prove to be dangerous.
The tongue of a trailer is the bar that extends from its front that attaches to the hitch of your vehicle. An important measurement to consider when pulling any type of trailer is its tongue weight, which is the measurement of force applied downward from the tongue of the trailer onto the hitch of your vehicle.
The tongue weight of your trailer should be on average 9 to 15% of the GTW (gross trailer weight) of your camper. If it is too light it could cause a very dangerous condition known as trailer sway, which can cause your trailer to sway back and forth until you lose control of it. Because too much tongue weight or too little tongue weight can cause problems, you may be feeling some stress about how to calculate and prevent such occurrences.
Fortunately tongue weight really comes down to a balancing act. There are scales that you can purchase to calculate your tongue weight if you are deeply concerned (like this one), but it is not necessary to do so for towing a camping trailer.
The best solution is to space your luggage and supplies evenly throughout your vehicle and travel trailer. If you have particularly heavy items to place in your trailer, place them near the front, never place heavy items at the rear of your trailer.
It is also highly recommended to purchase sway bars for your hitch, or any weight distribution kit, which will vastly increase your safety and comfort while towing your camper to your next destination.
How To Safely Pull An RV
Hooking Up Your Trailer
Hooking up a travel trailer to your Ford Expedition may seem intimidating at first, but after a little preparation and practise you will love the satisfaction that comes from successfully pulling out with your trailer ready for the next adventure.
Before you head to the dealership to pick up your new camper, make sure that you have all of the correct equipment. First and foremost, your Expedition should have a hitch and be wired to connect to the electrical system of your trailer so that you can operate its brakes and brake lights. Secondly, you will need the hitch ball mount and a hitch ball that is the correct size for your travel trailer. It is highly recommended that you purchase a weight distribution hitch kit, which should include sway bars (also called spring bars).
What a new trailer owner may fear most is accurately lining up your tow vehicle with your trailer while in reverse. New Ford Expedition models come with a backup camera that can really help, but even that can only get you so far. If you are worried about embarrassing yourself on the day you go to pick up your trailer for the first time, the best thing you can do is practise! Reverse into your parking spot at the grocery store, or into your driveway when you come home from work. Familiarizing yourself with your vehicle’s angles, turn radius, and blind spots will help prepare you more than anything else. If you are still worried you can always ask whoever you are purchasing the trailer from to spot for you. They are very experienced in that area and will be more than happy to help.
For those who need a closer look at the ins and outs of connecting a camper trailer to your tow vehicle for the first time, Camping World has a great instructional video that will teach you everything you need to know.
Protect Your Hitch Ball Mount! (It Could Get Stolen)
This may go without saying, but it is imperative that you conceal and securely store any removable parts involved with towing your trailer. Your hitch ball mount, hitch ball, and sway bars are all at risk of theft. It is important to remove them and store them in a locked container out of view. It is unfortunate how common it is for these parts to disappear if they are carelessly left on your vehicle or trailer overnight.
Safe Driving Speed
By far the most important rule of safety while pulling a travel trailer with your Ford Expedition is to drive at a safe speed. When you are towing a trailer you are considered a vehicle with two axles, just like a commercial semi-truck. The speed limit for vehicles with two axles or more varies by state, but the most common speed is 55 MPH.
Speeding with a travel trailer attached to your vehicle is extremely dangerous. Winds and hard turns will dramatically increase your chances of rolling over and experiencing a traumatic accident. Stay in the slow lane and drive at a speed that allows you to keep firm control of your vehicle.
The old-fashioned charm of camping in a tent may never fade, but there is something truly American about pulling into a campsite with a travel trailer fully stocked and loaded with all the comforts of home. Who said you need to rough it to have an adventure in the great outdoors, anyway?
A Ford Expedition will not only provide you with room for your family and gear, but it will also provide you with all of the power and security you will need to pull a camper trailer with confidence for years to come.