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Pulling a travel trailer

I just purchased a new 6 cyl. 2010 Ford Ranger so I can tow a light weight travel trailer. I know the towing capacity is just over 5,000 lbs. but how close to 5K lbs can I go and still be safe and not wear out my new truck too soon?

I’ve also been told to buy a trailer that has breaks…don’t all trailers have breaks?

Another suggestion is to have additional cooling added to my transmission…what does that mean?

Ready to hit the road…but want to be safe.



A trailer loaded to 5,000 lbs behind a Ranger is pushing the safety envelope. The Ranger is not a big heavy vehicle. When you load the trailer and all the other gear, kayaks, bikes, grills, etc. it is easy to overload the vehicle.

I’d see if you can get a trailer the size and features you want that weighs in at about 3,500 lbs. The trailer should be equipped with either electric brakes or surge brakes. Trailers get heavier when filled with water, propane, food, beverages, cooking gear, and have a full sewage tank. If you get a trailer that weighs 5,000 you will be overloaded for sure.

To be safe on the road keep you speed at 60 mph or below no matter how fast the other traffic is moving.

You really should have purchased a Ranger with a factory “tow package”. These packages include larger radiators, AC condensors, and a larger transmission cooler. If you didn’t get a factory tow package a transmission cooler is a must. Get the largest capacity cooler you can for your Ranger.

Smaller trailers, under 1500 pounds, seldom have brakes…

Most new trucks offer a “Towing Package” as a factory option. It includes a nice hitch, trailer wiring jacks, a transmission cooler, heavy duty radiator, larger mirrors, HD alternator…All nice stuff to have when towing a trailer…Did the salesman mention this to you?

Looks like Ford is pushing the towing on the Ranger, they now put the class III hitch on all V6 Rangers, and I couldn’t find a separate ‘towing package’ listed, surprisingly, so it looks like yours may be as equipped as they come for towing. That said, 5,000 lbs. would be the max. fully loaded (gross) weight for the trailer (check your manual to make sure), and I’d prefer it under 4,000 lbs. for a compact pickup like the Ranger. That includes the trailer and everything that’s in it (water, food, stuff).

All good advice for sure but to really be on the safe side I have done the math for you. The Ranger only weighs 3132 pounds. In the RV world the rule of thumb for safety is you should only tow 75 percent of your vehicles weight. This means that your max towing weight should only be 2349 pounds. This includes the weight for all the items that you plan to haul in the trailer like clothes, cooking utensils and other personal effects.

Your truck is really too small to be towing a travel trailer. It does not have enough weight and the engine is too small. I sold travel trailer for years up until a year or so ago. Whenever a customer came onto the lot with a Ranger, S-10, Dakota, Nissan or Toyota I would tell them up front that their tow vehicle was too small. The trucks can actually pull a lot of weight but on the road you have to be able to safely stop the load, pull long mountain roads and keep the trailer from pulling the truck from side to side. The Ford salesman should really bone up on his towing knowledge because I believe he did you a disservice by selling you this vehicle specifically for towing a travel trailer.

Read the owner’s manual, it likely states not to tow anything during the “break-in” period(usually 600~1000 miles). Also, a guy at work bought an F250 and he said in the owner’s manual that towing with the vehicle could void the warranty as well. And this was on a super duty with the factory tow package on it. :confused:

In addition to all the other great comments, let me add that it’s also frequency and duration. Towing twice a year a short distance, 5000 may be quite manageable. Towing more frequently stresses the truck and driver, effectively decreasing the load you can safely carry over time. I like the 75% comment, but even that may be too high for towing if the truck itself is weighted and the distance traveled is great. How “Gross Vehicle Weight Rating” is affected by tongue weight is important and not tow weight alone .