Should I accept this free SUV?

A friend has offered me her 2005 Ford Expedition in exchange for my newer, smaller car. I am okay with this. But my question is…can this Expedition tow a 26 foot trailer with an unloaded weight of 5,000 pounds? I will probably add another 1,000 pounds in crap. I expect to travel all over the U.S.- including climbing through mountain passes. She says she has the larger egine.

Even if it has “the larger engine”, have you considered the effect of towing that heavy trailer with a 10 year old transmission?

Especially if you are planning on traveling in mountainous terrain, that transmission is not going to last very long when pulling a heavy load. Are you prepared to spend a few thousand $$ to overhaul that transmission when it burns itself out?

First, it is not free. Your car is not valueless. So, we can’t tell you if it’s a good idea or not without knowing what you drive and what condition it’s in and how many miles are on it, and also the condition and mileage of the Expedition.

If you tow a 5,000 pound trailer with 1,000 pounds of stuff loaded in it, then you will be exactly at the tow limit for that vehicle, so I hope it’s in good shape because the tow limit was written based on a new vehicle that isn’t all worn out.

It doesn’t have the larger engine because only one engine was available for the '05 Expedition.

Expect very poor performance at the tops of those mountain passes if you’re in high mountains like the Rockies, but that’s not really a mark against the vehicle as any naturally-aspirated vehicle is going to suffer greatly at lofty altitudes.

There is no such thing as a “free” SUV, @Teigh It cost you a perfectly good car. I agree with @VDCdriver, I’d worry about the transmission especially if it has more than 80,000 miles. How many miles does it have?

If properly equipped with the 5.4 liter V8, this Expedition can tow up to 8900 lbs. I’d stop by the Ford dealer and have him check the option code list for this SUV and see if it is properly equipped to tow the 6000 lbs you expect to have. Have them check every fluid and change the transmission fluid and filter plus the rear (and front if 4WD) differential fluid plus the power steering fluid. Get a cooling system flush and have the radiator and hoses checked. IF it really can tow this much weight. Towing puts a huge load on EVERYthing because you are doubling the weight the SUV has to move. Doubling.

Practice hooking up the trailer, practice driving it, parking it, backing it, going around tight corners ALL before you take your first journey. Towing a trailer this big should not be taken lightly.

Did your friend do any towing? Does the truck have a towing package? Interesting discussion of these transmissions:

Also, I would tow with the O/D OFF. But that’s just me…

You need to provide more info about the mileage on both vehicles, what type of smaller car is involved, your feeling of the overall condition, any kind of records about maintenance on the Ford, and so on.

The last and possibly biggest sticky point is that this swap would be with a friend. Things like this can often turn sour if problems develop on one or both ends of the trade.
This leads to someone no longer being a friend and in some cases even a despised archenemy.

It’s easy to think that no hard feelings would ever develop but if someone is sitting in the middle of Boondock U.S.A. about 10 at night while broke down any good will may disappear with the wind when that “they knew that thing had a problem…” thought surfaces through frustration.

Agree. Mileage and condition are as if not more important then the manufacturer’s tow rating. Just a crappy set of all season instead of LT tires designed for work loads can make for a real bad day.

I think y’all are being way too conservative here. I mean: this is the Expedition, Ford’s BIG SUV. Body-on-frame; equivalent to the Suburban. The load is within the MFR rating–and Ford loves to under-rate towing (though more so with MT vs AT).

Heck, my grandparents towed an airstream with a '64 Fury III–all over the US and Canada (trust me; I got to watch all the slide shows)! I really think that–in this litigious era–any GCWR has plenty of “cushion” built in for loose nuts behind the wheel. A dutiful and moderately skilled driver (who pays attention to road gradients, weather conditions, etc) will have little problem.

  1. There isn’t a “larger” engine. in 2005 the Expedition had only one possible engine. The 3 valve 5.4L

  2. It came with a factory towing package, there was also an optional towing package available. With the standard package the weight limit is rated at 6000 pounds. The optional package is rated at 8600 pounds.

My biggest concern would be mainly if rust were a factor. If the truck was not in the rust belt, it should be fine assuming it’s in decent mechanical shape. If it is from the rust belt, at ten years, I would be very concerned.

I would like to know how close the Blue Book values are for each vehicle and what the smaller car is.

I’m guessing the friend is tired of paying for fuel and maintenance for this 10 year old expedition, and offered a trade

Probably they want something smaller and cheaper to maintain

Depending on the condition of the vehicles, and what the newer, smaller car is, this may not be a good trade

I know I’m being cynical . . .


The towing capacity is no problem. Go to to research the value of the SUV and you current car.

The SUV will get 15 mpg or less in normal driving and 10 to 12 mpg when towing your trailer. Tires and brakes will wear out much faster and cost about 2X more to replace than your small car’s.

One problem with the thinking on this by the OP is that the Expedition will be “free”.

That’s only possible if the car considered in the trade is worth 0. Even scrap metal here is 180 bucks a ton…

Does the Expedition have a trailer brake system that will apply the trailer’s brakes as the vehicle’s brakes are applied? If not, you will HAVE TO get one installed.

Aside from the advice given above a lot, and I mean A LOT will depend on where this thing spent its first 10 years of life. My neighbor had a 2000ish Expedition in the yard for sale so I mosied over to have a look see as I was interested in a tow/plow vehicle at the time. Body looked impeccable. Laid down to look underneath and whoa! rear trailing arms almost rotted through. It was actually dangerous to drive and they had no idea. The rest of the undercarriage was in a similar condition. No sale…

Sorry but I advise against it(you may not befriends after this swap is said and done)I never was a big fan of the Expeditions anyway,do as you wish but the added expenses will get old in a hurry.

Thank you all for the information. I need to sit down with my friend and discuss this. Your suggestions about talking with a Ford person is perfect. I expected to do that at some point. The Expedition is very low mileage and has been serviced regularly. My Scion Xb, the exchange car, has high mileage but she gets serviced every 5k at the Toyota dealer where I work. I also would work into any agreement that we each have our vehicles inspected and have any questions resolved before the exchange. This is my dearest friend and I want no hard feelings to emerge.

You work at a dealership , so why are you not using their resources as to value of each vehicle and inspection facilities? If this is a straight across trade one of you is bound to be on the short end and I can almost guarantee the friendship will not survive.