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Towing a Small Camper

Old 07-09-2014
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Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Maryland Heights, MO
Posts: 1
Towing a Small Camper

Hi all,

I'm a new member to the forums, but have been a viewer here for quite some time. Anyways, I have a 1995 Ranger 4x4 4.0 5 speed manual, and I'm wondering what kind of towing it's capable of. I've heard the safe maximum trailer weight is approximately 3200-3700 lbs, however, I have a couple mods done to the truck. It has a 3" body lift, 33" tires with 4.56 gears, and load leveling air bag suspension. I have a class 3 hitch, electric trailer brake, and a set of tow mirrors. This was all on the truck when I bought it.

I have towed a large load with it before, my brother's 1992 Camry had an ignition coil go bad so I towed it on a 16' flatbed, and I have to say, I was impressed. It towed amazingly well. However, it was only a 20 mile trip, not 2,000 lol.

I also have a fair amount of towing experience, my dad has a 2001 excursion with the 7.3 diesel and I've towed his 33' camper and 28' box trailer many times and have become very familiar with recovering and avoiding fishtailing, safely passing, turning, backing, etc.

My question is though, would a 17-19' camper weighing 3700 lbs or so loaded be sensible for my truck? Or should I get my head out of the clouds and buy a popup? I like the hybrid campers a lot better than popups, but I would much rather be safe than sorry.

And, if I did tow a camper with my ranger, are there any recommended fluids for the manual transmission and rear axle to help lubricate the bearings and run cooler?

Thanks for you help!
Old 07-12-2014
morris's Avatar
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Location: South Detroit.
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You should be ok with that weight. It's a little heavy the manual for my year is rated at that. Just don't tow in 5th. I dunno if there is a cooler for the manual trans but if you wanna make the rear end cooler, look up those aluminum differential covers. These guys Mag-Hytec

I'm not sure what you would do as far as guages go for the manual trans so I hope someone chimes in.
Old 07-12-2014
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Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Vancouver, BC
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Legally you can only tow up to the Ford specified weight for your vehicle.
There are no modifications that can change that it is tied to the VIN.

Only time this can come up is if there is an inspection station or an accident, in an accident Insurance Companies ALWAYS look for "an out", accident doesn't have to be weight related, if they can prove your vehicle shouldn't have been on the road............."they have an out"

So you "may" tow only up to that weight.

You "can" tow more weight and it will be fine for the trans and rear axle, they don't heat up like an automatic since they are both direct drives, no belts.

Clutch can get a work out though, don't feather it, start off slow and release the clutch all the way as soon as possible, don't accelerate or decelerate through the shift, i.e. shift out of 1st, match engine and driveline speed for 2nd and let out the clutch, THEN accelerate or decelerate.
This only takes a second or two longer and will save the clutch from overheating

Last edited by RonD; 07-12-2014 at 10:21 PM.
Old 10-14-2014
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Spokane, WA
Posts: 2
My 1997 STX says that the max trailer weight for my rig is 5600 lbs, with a GCWR of 9500 lbs.
Are they blowing smoke, or can my Ranger really pull that much?
Old 10-15-2014
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4.0l with automatic would be OK, although I would add a trans cooler and trailer brakes for trailer loads above 3,000lbs.

Rangers curb weight is about 3,200lbs, getting near or above that weight with a trailer will be a strain on the brakes and tend to push truck around a bit
Old 10-15-2014
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Spokane, WA
Posts: 2
Using electric brakes and a weight-distributing hitch makes perfect sense. I should have mentioned that the Owner's Manual indicates electric brakes above a 2000 lb trailer.

My STX has the "towing package", so the transmission cooler is all set. For some reason, the previous owner installed a class II hitch, so I'll have to upgrade that to a class III/IV hitch and install the brake controller.
Old 10-27-2014
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Join Date: May 2014
Location: Lake Mary, Florida
Posts: 349
I live in a relative flat state (Florida), and tow a single axle Jayco Featherlite camper. It's weight is at 3000 pounds, and my 2000 3.0 4x4 ranger does fine with it; it certainly can tell its there, and the top speeds drop significantly. Not sure I'd tackle any mountain climbing with this setup. I also disable the O/D when towing (I have an automatic with a transmission cooler).

Trailer brakes are a MUST, and are required by law for this type of weight towing.

An additional mod I did was to install some monroe air shocks. With the trailer on the ball hitch, the truck rear dropped about 2 inches, and these air shocks with a 50 pound inflation corrected that.
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