Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Towing with windstar

i have a 2001 windstar,towing cap. 2000lbs. i had a trans.cooler installed rated 10,000lbs.,to pull my pop-up camper.the person who installed ti thought i was pulling a travel trailer.can i modify my windstar to pull 2,500lbs?i have my eye on a enclosed camper that weighs 2336lbs.

The trans cooler has nothing to do with the capacity of the transmission to tow 2k# other than keeping the fluid from overheating. I’d go by what your owners manual says is the max weight you can tow with if you’re car had the tow package.

Either way the trans cooler is a good addition, the weak chain in the link is the transmission itself. If you don’t mind blowing up a tranny trying, go for it, otherwise get something with the proper towing capacity if you buy the camper.

Are you sure your towing capacity ifor the vehicle is 2000 lbs? As I recall, a friend of mine had a Windstar and its towing capacity was closer to 7 or 8K. If you have a smaller Class I receiver hitch, you may need to change it out to a larger one if the owner’s manual allows to to actually haul the 2.5K or larger load.

Keep in mind that a camper that weighs 2300 will end up weighting 3000 lbs or so when you add the other gear to the camper.


Our 03 has a 3175 vs 3856 max weight without / with tow package. It includes at least hitch, wiring only stated in the manual, but I would think a tranny cooler, beefed up suspension as tongue weight also goes up, there is no mention of a different transmission. A tow package may also include an upgraded cooling system, a call to a ford dealer could help answer the questions you have.

My 98 Windstar had the towing package and was rated for 3500 lbs. I believe the base Windstar capacity was 2000 lbs. I think the towing package included trans/ps coolers, the wiring and a larger battery.

While I was looking for a travel trailer, I posted to RV specific forums. The consensus was that the Windstar was a poor choice for towing.

I would be surprised that any front wheel drive vehicle could have a towing capacity of 7000 lbs. Did your friend have an Aerostar or Econoline instead?

Ed B.

Benny is correct in that the tranny cooler has no bearing on the towing capacity and only serves to cool the tranny fluid.

This is just one piece of equipment needed to keep your vehicle on the road.

Your van (with a factory towing package (heavy duty rad, tranny oil cooler, trailer wiring) will allow you to tow a 3500 lbs MAX load (that includes trailer and everything in and on it).

I used to tow a 2550 lb Coleman hardtp camper with my (soon to be sold) 2000 Olds Silhouette.
It never came with a factory tow package so I added the biggest tranny cooler I could and never had one problem in 4 years of jerking that thing up and down hills up north of here and also up and down I-95 and I-75 to Myrtle Beach, SC and Clearwater, Fla.

Along with the aftermarket cooler, I added a Class 3 Reese hitch and a weight distribution hitch plus a brake controller (Prodigy). If your trailer has electric brakes already, it’s an easy hookup.
Some older popups had surge brakes (like heavy boat trailers) which will also work with different brake controllers.

If the trailer does not have its’ own brakes, I would recommend you install them.
Don’t forget you’re going to have over a ton of weight pushing you when you try to stop.

To give you a first hand look at towing trailers and the safety factors involved go to this site:

OKaaaay, seems he has some kind of a web problem and has referred everyone to another rv towing site which after reading pretty much says the same thing.

A link is shown to direct you to the other site.

The Ford Fleet site has info only back to 2002. I have a copy somewhere of the 2001 Tow Guide. If I find it I will repost. Based on the 2002 guide the max tow rating depends on which model you have. The 3.8 SPI engine is rated at 2000 max while the SEFI V6 Wagon with the factory Tow Package is rated at 3500lbs.

Based on the 2002 info, the Class II Trailer Tow Option (code 53B) for the Windstar consists of a “full sized spare, heavy duty battery, and trailer tow wiring”.

See pages 17,18, and 22 of Ford document;
An email to Ford Customer service may give the firm answer you need.

Edit: Roadrunners posted while i was finding info…I second his suggestion of trailer brakes.

I am fairly sure it was a Windstar. Definitely not Aerostar or Econoline. That leaves Windstar as a mini-van. This was 98-99 timeframe; I could be wrong on the 8K. I believe he had an 18’ travel trailer, and it is possible that a lightweight trailer loaded could be around 5K total weight.

My 2001 Mazda MPV is rated for 5K (no extra tow package), and I pretty much thought that was “normal”.

As I recall, a friend of mine had a Windstar and its towing capacity was closer to 7 or 8K.

7-8k in a FWD vehicle…I don’t think so. Nor would I want to be on the road with a FWD vehicle towing that much.

2k is about all I would ever tow with a FWD vehicle. There’s a lot more to towing then just the transmission. Transmission coolers are a MUST if you plan on doing any towing more then 2-3 times a year or for any distances longer then 20 miles.

Other things that come into play when towing…
Control of the rear end. The heavier the trailer the more control you need there. RWD vehicles are the BEST for this.

Braking. Trailer brakes are the best…but you still need a good braking system on your vehicle.

Lastly…You don’t just consider the weight of the trailer, but you also need to consider the Total Gross Weight of vehicle AND trailer. This will be spelled out in detail in the owners manual. You can NOT exceed this number.

Besides the Safety issues (which are the MOST important), there’s the LEGAL and LIABILITY issues. If your vehicle is rated to tow a 2k lb trailer and you tow OVER that…you CAN be ticketed no matter WHAT you do to your vehicle to improve it’s towing capacity. If you get in a accident while towing your insurance company CAN LEGALLY deny covering the accident because you were doing something the vehicle wasn’t designed to do.

I was curious, do they both have the same rear gear ratio? Sometimes they have different ratios between the tow version and regular but I don’t know about this particular vehicle…