2016 Ford F-150 - Towing concern

I have a Ford F150 3.6L V6 Lariat with the Max Tow package. Recently I towed a 5000 lb trailer from North Texas to Colorado and observed that the engine coolant temperature gauge, rather than just depicting a blue arc ending at about the center of the gauge arc extent, started to display an actual numerical temperature when the temperature hit 226F. When going up hills or accelerating at speeds over 60mph in temperatures above 90F, the temperature rapidly climbed as high as 247F before I backed off acceleration or slowed down in which case the temperature reduced to 226 in a few moments and then disappeared at 225F Does the display of an actual numerical temperature indicate an overheating condition, what are the “warning” temperatures that I should not exceed, and does this indicate some kind of failure of a thermostat or other device in the engine?

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Looking in your owners manual, I couldn’t find anything that indicates that.

But what I did find was, you will get a message
“Engine power reduced to avoid over heating”

So my guess is , you were OK, and did the right thing before the computer did it for you.

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I checked the Owner’s Manual too and I couldn’t even find a reference to a digital engine temperature display. Anyway, attaboy to the OP for erring on the side of caution.

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247 is getting up there in temp but not a cause for stopping, just ease off a bit. Slow down.

225 is no concern. The truck will protect itself and limit power if it gets too high.

Was the AC also on?

If so, the coolant temp could get that hot.



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Thanks very much. Just wish it wasn’t heating even a little with a trailer that fit within the vehicle specs and at reasonable temperatures.

Living in Texas but expecting to move to Colorado, I worry that t even temps as low as the low 90’s and in typical mountain passes, with a trailer that fits within the vehicle specs, I may have an underpowered vehicle nonetheless.

The AC was on - had to be in any temperature above 72 degrees as far as I’m concerned!

If you think you will run out of steam at altitude… buy a truck with a higher rating.

I have to assume you have the non turbo-charged version (not the Ecotech) of this truck. You don’t say, and you got the engine size wrong, it is 3.5 liters so your tow rating is right on the limit at 5000 lbs. Gross combined weight of truck and trailer is 9400 to 9500 lbs depending on options.

The trailer may have a 5000 lb rating but how much did it actually weigh? And how much cargo was in the bed of the truck? Combined weight is 9400 to 9500 lbs so with the 5000 lb trailer that only leaves 4400 lbs of truck. That is what the truck weighs empty. I’d bet you were over-gross with the truck and trailer.

It pays to read the fine print!

Don’t think that’s the case. IIRC you couldn’t get the N/A V6 with the Lariat trim. Base engine on the Lariat was the 2.7 EB. Also, I don’t think you could get the Max Tow package with the 3.5L N/A either. So if the OP has the 3.5L, then it’s likely the 3.5L EB. However the 3.5L EB should be able to handle a 5000 pound trailer without any issue.

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People often don’t consider that a 5,000 pound trailer is weighed when the water tanks are empty, and so is the camper. The only extra weight considered in the weight rating is that they assume the propane tanks are full.

But then you put clothes and bedding and towels and toiletries and camp chairs and a grill and cookpots and dishes and food and beer and hang 4 bicycles off the back and fill the fresh tank and suddenly your 5,000 pound trailer weighs a whole lot more than 5,000 pounds.

My personal rule of thumb is to get a trailer that’s at least 1,000 pounds under the tow rating of the truck, and preferably lighter than that.

I also like to pay attention to transmission temperature as well as engine temperature when possible. Since a lot of trucks don’t have a gauge for that, you can often hook up a bluetooth OBD reader and display trans temp as a gauge in a monitoring app on a phone/tablet. It’s a setup that costs around $35 (not, obviously, counting the phone).

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Yes, I checked again and of course my engine is the 3.5L Ecoboost V6. The trailer GVW is 4500 lb and it was relatively lightly loaded, less than 1000 lb.

I believe it was an upgraded Lariat that has the 3.5L EB V6 and it does have the Max Tow pkge. It seemed to have plenty of power in every condition, the only worry was the coolant temperature increase.

Just my two cents. Back around 1960 a family friend bought a new Chrysler and was towing a trailer with it. He was concerned that it was running too hot, so he had a guy braze an additional tank on the radiator. It’s been like 60 years but what I remember him showing me was the thing brazed right on the upper tank. I don’t suggest doing that since it’s prolly all plastic anyway and likely you have the heavy duty radiator, but if you can add an extra cooler, it could make the difference. Like said though, doesn’t sound like a big problem and the computer is your friend.

Just my opinion and which may vary, but I get a bit antsy when coolant temps start getting in to the 230 and up range. And yes I live in OK so I’m familiar with the oppressive heat end of things.

Does the overheating occur only on the highway or at all speeds?

Just wondering for 2 reasons. Apparently some Ford trucks in this era use active grille shutters. If your truck has these maybe they are inoperative and not allowing additional air in to cool the engine.
Another is wondering if your truck (if so equipped) might have a missing air dam. Many cars and trucks use these to pile air up in front of the radiator and which in turn forces more air through the radiator.
These are usually located on the lower radiator support and get knocked off due to curbs, critters, potholes, lumps in the roadway, and so on.

My youngest son came home from college once and hit a raccoon with his Camaro. The engine was running right around 240 degrees after this happened. I found the air dam missingl and since Thanksgiving was upon us I hurriedly called the Chevy dealer and to my surprise they had a new one in stock. And only 37 dollars. After installation engine temps dropped by 40ish degees back to sub 200 where they belonged.
Just some food for thought. Hope it helps.