Light Trailer, No Towing Power - Ranger-Forums - The Ultimate Ford Ranger Resource


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Old 08-10-2008
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Light Trailer, No Towing Power

I assume there must be something wrong. I have a pretty much stock 1995 Ranger at 125,000 miles with a 3.0, Auto, 4x4, 4.10. The only thing that might have any effect is that I have 30X9.50's instead of 235's, about 4% difference in circumference.

I am having trouble pulling a light trailer. The trailer only weighs 1640#. ( I weighed it.) Relatively it is a feather or at least meant to be towed by a compact car. Together with my truck the combined weight is only 5800#. The truck is rated to 8000# combined. I figured since I was not near the limit, I should not have too much trouble.

Up hills, not mountains, just ordinary hills, I can barely get this thing to 55. It takes a lot of revving with or without the OD on.

The MPG drops from 20 MPG doing 55-60 highway normally, to about 13 MPG trying to do 55-60 highway. I expected around 15. I was planning to haul this thing around the country. I can not imagine crawling up steep grades at 25MPH.

I will be adding a tranny cooler but was wondering if anyone else had had such trouble with a light trailer or if there may be a solution besides an F-350 turbo diesel or motor swap or expensive mod. Is there likely something wrong with the truck?

I will be adding more weight to the trailer with my camping gear. Someone I was chatting with on an RV group towed the exact same model and year at 2200# with gear, at a steady 55 with no issues with a Honda CRV (the trailer was made for towing by small cars.). He went from 26 MPG to 20 MPG.

Any suggestions? I have been planning the trip for a while and I just can't imagine that a CRV would tow better than a 3.0 Ranger, or that 55 would be a problem for the truck.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 08-10-2008
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When was the last time you had a tune up?
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Old 08-10-2008
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thats weird heres some questions for you... have you ever had a tranny replaced or done anything to your engine exhaust ect.. to give it a little mor power gain? you might want to look into a performance chip or programmer to give yourself a better towing area and your tires are perfect for them gears people on here run 31's and 32's with them tires and i have a 2000 3.0l flex 2wd with 3.73's and 33x12.50's and i can tow my 2500lb boat 10 miles to the boat launch and back with no problems what so ever!!!
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Old 08-10-2008
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Chad: I had a tune up about 20,000 miles ago. I think it may need more than that but it won't hurt I am sure.

Richard: I did have the tranny rebuilt about 24K ago. It was never a race machine and did not really change from before to after except for a hard shift from 1/2. . A local shop did a hack job on my converter but It was just the attachment to the rear pipe. I can't imagine a blockage or anything from that. Where can I get a chip for something this old? It seems that I should not need anything for something that light.

There are times when the truck alone is great on power, then others when it dogs. I use name brand gas almost exclusively. I found it likes it better lately.
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Old 08-12-2008
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Has anyone else had this problem? Does anyone have any suggestions? I am leaving in a couple of weeks and am not sure what to do about the problem. This thing can't climb hills.
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Old 08-12-2008
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About all that comes to mind then is maybe a restricted exhaust? If they replaced the converter, it could have blown chunks and plugged the muffler.

Sure, you'll have to wind out the gears to accelerate with the trailer, but you shouldn't have that much trouble pulling that load. I towed a few cars on a dolly behind my truck. Never had anything like what you describe. I could go as fast as I wanted, it just took longer to get to speed.

You certainly shouldn't be spending $$ on a chip or tuner if it runs that bad. Fix what's wrong.
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Old 08-12-2008
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All I can say is I pulled a 5500 pound boat with my 2wd stick shift 4.0 ranger with 3.55 gears and the truck did great!

Does your trailer have a big ramp on the back that is creating a lot of drag?
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Old 08-12-2008
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Earl:
Thanks for the confirmation. You are right. I need to find the problem or a chip is a waste. I guess it may be time to upgrade the cat. My mechanic (the good one) thought it might be a good idea but did not know for sure. Exhaust is what it "feels" like but I figured it was just my imagination.
Do you generally have decent acceleration without a trailer? My acceleration varies a lot. Almost like a carbureted motor.

Chris,
Thanks for the input. I have a travel trailer. It is relatively low as far as TT's go and like I mentioned is light. It is maybe a foot or so higher than my truck cap, but it was made for a lower powered vehicle (like a compact car) and was towed by a Honda with no problem.
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Old 08-12-2008
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are you towing in drive or over drive
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Old 08-12-2008
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John,
Both. Neither is great but with OD on it actually seems a little better.
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Old 08-12-2008
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but a test pipe in to see if it is any beter then maby it ant your cat
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Old 08-12-2008
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I could try that but I can't get to the front to loosen the 13 y/o studs on the funny plate in the front. A cat is only $160 a new cat back is also about 150. The cat does sound funny now. Louder than it did. By the time I get the test pipe fitted, I could almost have done the cat. I will check the prices though to be sure though. Thanks
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Old 08-12-2008
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You say in your sig you've had good luck w/ the Splitfire plugs. I'd start by ditching them for some Autolites.
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Old 08-12-2008
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does your trailer have brakes cause if they do they might need adjusted b/c they could be holding it back a little. Or just get some performance upgrades get some more airflow.
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Old 08-12-2008
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do you have bad 02 sensors that could hold you back a little.
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Old 08-12-2008
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Mine accelerates just great, but I went down from 245/75-16s to 235/75-15s. Makes it accelerate a lot better, so I pull out in 2nd when I'm not in a rush (wife in the truck).

I'm not going to get into or participate in a spark plug debate. Use the search to smell everybody's take on that. I would at least PULL the plugs and "read" them. They should all be the same grey uniform color, etc. Can't be wrong to put double platinum Motorcraft or Autolites in a Ford (there, I SAID it).

If your O2 sensors are original, they may be robbing some power. Clean the MAF, clean the intake and throttle body, new air filter, maybe run some SeaFoam through the brake line to clear out carbon. They say to clean the spark plugs after that and change the oil.

I'd be interested to know if it runs better when you floor it (WOT puts it into open loop, not using the O2's, kills EGR). If it's no better, I'd stick with the conventional, plugs, wires, exhaust restriction, etc.
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Old 08-12-2008
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i got a 1998 3.0 and i can pull a 4k pound camper no problem
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  #18  
Old 08-12-2008
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Thank you all for responding. I will be checking the trailer brakes. The wires to them are disconnected but I was told there was a brake job done last year. Some job.

I am well aware of most people's opinion here on Splitfires. I posted somewhere on here that when I switched to them in my 86 carbureted 300 I6 in my F150 4x4 when they first came out. I instantly had a 20% mileage increase that did not go away, nor did I change anything else to get it. I fell in love with them. So I tried them on the Ranger. No real change. No plug debates, No Tornado debates.

I'll try the Autolites or Motorcraft, or at least look at these.

I probably have the original O2 sensors. I'll check into all of that. I did a Seafoam job. OMG!! That picked it up. It was worse before now. I may try a paper filter again. I have cleaned the MAF before but will again.

It may or may not run better when ifloor it. Sometimes it just bogs down without a trailer, other times it goes like the proverbial bat-out-of-Hell. Usually a little better on cool foggy morns. Once it catches on full throttle it goes. I have not tried it with the trailer or don't remember how it went.
What do you think?

This sounds like a lot of trial and error but I don't see any other way. 125K is probably old for an O2 sensor. My mechanic got no codes though. Any recommendations on O2 sensor brands? I know Bosch but if there are better I am open.

I see this getting expensive.

4000 and no problem? Houston I have a problem.
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Old 08-12-2008
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My 02 sensors were way bad and didn't throw any code, there was a big milage increase afterwards.
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Old 08-12-2008
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1. Are you comparing your acceleration from a dead stop everytime? When I floor it when I am already moving I cannot get a consistent accelration from one time to the next. Sometimes it seems powerful and performs flawlessly but other times it seems like its not giving 100%, the power just isn't there.

2. When my gas tank is near empty(1/8 tank or less) my truck runs like crap, there is noticeably less power, I couldn't pass break 80mph with it floored. With more fuel in the tank it will get past 85 without breaking a sweat or flooring it.

3. I also noticed that everytime I disconnect the battery and the computer resets that it is slower and shift 2-3 takes a long time, the engine pulls hard from first through second but then it seems like the engine pauses and takes a break then picks up again through the rest of the gears. After the computer has learned enough it is not noticeable.

Your problem definitely seems more extensive but good luck finding the problem.
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Old 08-13-2008
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Leadfoot,
Thanks for the post. You have it exactly without the trailer. Gas tank level, acceleration while moving and all. Have you had any luck fixing or with mods? My MPG is at best 20 highway @55mph, 17 city driving like an old lady. Driving normally 17- 18 or so highway and 15- 17 city. What did you get with the O2 sensors? Any brand recommendation or other suggestions besides a new truck?

The trailer seems to compound the issues.
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Old 08-13-2008
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With the acceleration while moving problem it is just because it is a ghey automatic. It depends what gear it is already in and what rpm it is at when you start to floor it, if it is a good start it will accelerate quickly but if it is a bad start it just wont recover. I plan on buying an X-cal 2 tuner to try and take care of this problem and also because while crusing the shift-points are too high to get decent mpg, it doesn't take advantage of the motors torque.

As for the low fuel level problem I do not know what is causing it. It could be sediment at the bottom of the tank, a bad fuel filter, or possibly a bad fuel pump? I plan on replacing the fuel filter and I will let you know how it goes but my solution for now is to fill up everytime when I hit 1/2 a tank.

I am not sure what kind of 02 sensors I bought but I replaced them very soon after I got the truck so I don't have a real good idea of my exact milage increase but I would have guessed I was getting 10-11mpg city. I currently get 14mpg city at the best and 20 on the highway but remember I have the 4.0 engine. Also before I replaced the the 02 sensors you could see vapor coming out of the exhaust. And with my aftermarket exhaust I did notice a small power increase.

Last edited by leadfoot; 08-13-2008 at 06:43 PM.
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Old 08-14-2008
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I had about 120K on my fuel filter when I replaced it. It helped. I wonder if the TPS or air temp sensor in the manifold may help. I'll keep you posted if I try anything that improves. I'd like to find out how your chip works.
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  #24  
Old 09-13-2008
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i don't mean to bring back old threads but my truck is doing the exact same thing and was wondering if you ever figured out the problem.
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Old 09-16-2008
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I never mind an old thread coming back, especially if it was not finished. I finally got I'net access (at least temporarily) again and was going to update anyway. I dislike unfinished threads. I changed the converter and got a Dynomax cat-back from Summit for $150. I also changed the rear O2 sensor. It is like a new truck. It is still a 3.0 and is no race machine but now the throttle responds and it pulled the trailer at 55-65 MPH with no problem. I will still change the front 2 O2 sensors, check/ change the plugs and I believe the wires have leaks too, even though not that old. I thought I would bring back the thread then, just so the story is all together.

BTW Summit lists a Magnaflow converter for $243 for a 95, 3.0, 4WD, shortbed (got it at Pep Boys for $213) It did not fit.
The Dynomax is louder than I like but I never liked listening to exhaust noise anyway, even if it is supposed to be rich and mellow. It fit great with no muss or fuss and it does not hit anything. It also came with the donut gasket so do not buy one.

My MPG towing went from 13 with a 1645# trailer to 15 with about a 2300# trailer going 55 MPH. The truck is running a little rich at idle but I am hoping the 2 front O2's will help that. I have not driven it enough without the trailer yet to know the MPG w/o the trailer. My guestimate is that it is about the same, maybe a little less.

My truck had 130K when i changed the converter and it seemed to feel like it could not breathe. It was tough to get the rpm's up no matter if there was an air cleaner or not, let alone which brand/ type. That seemed to me to be exhaust. Every once in a while it worked great. it works great most of the time now.
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