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Pulling a trailer


mesa

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I have a Ford F-250 super duty that I have been pulling a 21 ft. gulfstream with for a year, on long flat sections of road I had been putting the overdrive on thinking about saving gas money and all , my neighbor who has been doing this a long time says never to use overdrive that it kills the engine overtime. I am at a loss why as it does not seem to be straining or excessive downshifting. So putting this out there for all the pros. Overdrive or not?

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In most conditions, there is no reason to use the overdrive lockout control. Modern transmissions have an additional gear in the transmission that is higher than the standard 1/1 of what we used to call "high gear" and that is usually called overdrive. With the modern electronic controls of trucks the on-board computer is usually better at selecting the most efficient gear to travel in than most operators are. There is a button that allows you to "lock out" your top gear but it is there so that you can use that if you are driving in conditions where the transmission should keep shifting up, then back down, or hunting for the proper gear. It could also be used if you find a situation where it shifts up to the overdrive but then strains constantly to maintain speed. You can tell by the sound of the engine when that happens but if it just hums down the road as normal, let the computer do it's job.

 

To know exactly what to expect of the truck/trailer combination that you have, one would need more specifics on both as different year models of trucks have different capacities and different trailers of the same length weight differing amounts. I can tell you that we tow our 20' travel trailer behind a Dodge 2500, and we operate in overdrive most of the time on the road. Our trailer weighs in just under 4000# and the truck capacity is such that it hardly knows it is working under most conditions.

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Kirk, the gulfstream specs are

  • Year: 2014
  • Make: Conquest
  • Model: 218MB
  • Ship Weight: 3,710 lbs.
  • GVW: 5,720 lbs.
  • Hitch Weight: 400 lbs.
  • Length: 22' 7"
  • Fresh Water: 30 gal.
  • Grey Water: 37 gal.
  • Black Water: 37 gal.

and the Ford is a 5.4 Triton V-8 with a 4 speed auto.

 

Thanks for the input.

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As long as your talking overdrive (vs. tow/haul) I agree with Kirk. Unless there is excessive shifting going on I don't see any reason to lock it out. Not with your tow setup, anyway. And yes.. it will save gas.. dramatically on long flat runs.

My TT is a 25' ~6.5k with a 250 super duty PSD. Like Kirk's rig... it's not often that it really even knows it's got a tail. On grade I do use tow/haul from time to time, but generally just let the computer do it's thing. I average ~13.4mpg under tow.

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By "putting the overdrive on". do you mean taking the transmission out of Tow/Haul mode? The Tow/Haul mode in some transmissions does lockout the highest gear (overdrive). In others it does not. It also usually changes the shift points and when the torque converter locks. This can affect transmission temperature. Do you have a transmission temperature gage that you can monitor? Excessive heat can damage the transmission.

 

The 4 speed automatic in our 2004, 3500 Class C would lock out 4th gear in Tow/Haul. The Allison transmission in my 2008, 2500 will go into 6th gear (overdrive) when in Tow/Haul. I use Tow/Haul all the time when towing as it results in the transmission running 10-30 degrees or more cooler than when towing without it.

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By "putting the overdrive on". do you mean taking the transmission out of Tow/Haul mode? The Tow/Haul mode in some transmissions does lockout the highest gear (overdrive). In others it does not. It also usually changes the shift points and when the torque converter locks. This can affect transmission temperature. Do you have a transmission temperature gage that you can monitor? Excessive heat can damage the transmission.

Yes , I do have a temp gauge for trans. This locks out the high gear ,with overdrive on rpms are a lot lower.

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According to Ford, on the newer transmissions, you can use Overdrive while towing. They do suggest that you use the Tow/Haul feature to keep the transmission cooler as it moves the shift points up the rpm range from the normal shift points. It will also engage engine braking while in that mode. Take a look at your owners manual under the towing section and also under the driving section in the transmission use chapter. I know that this info is good for 2010 and new trucks and might be for ones older than that.

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Yes , I do have a temp gauge for trans. This locks out the high gear ,with overdrive on rpms are a lot lower.

 

I watch the transmission temperature carefully while towing. In my experience and observations, lower rpms does not necessarily mean lower transmission temperatures. Under load, transmission temperature may rise more in a higher gear at lower rpms than it will in a lower gear at higher rpms.

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The OP has a 2003 F250--the trans is the 4-speed and has overdrive and not towhaul. Thus, he only has the option to use OD or lock it out. World of difference on the 5-speeds/6-speeds in later models, that have OD1 or OD1&2 and towhaul.

With his trailer and the 5.4 Triton, I would think he is fine using OD unless the truck is constantly trying to downshift--then I would lock out OD. As far as killing the engine--at 14 years old, don't think it is going to die...

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FYI....I had a 2005 gmc 1 ton dually and was driving it through some mountainous terrain in New Mexico...was not towing but because of all the ups and downs and twisty turnys I noticed my trans temp starting to climb slightly. I put the tranny in tow haul and the temperature started dropping. Simply by locking the torque converter kept the tranny cooler.

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- put the tranny in tow haul and the temperature started dropping. Simply by locking the torque converter kept the tranny cooler.

 

Which is very true.

 

The OP's tow package is quite light compared to his tow capacity.. so OD isn't nearly as much of an issue. If he were pushing max tow though.. with that engine and tranny, I "would" lock out the OD except where I thought I might be able to get away with it.. or in my rig.. stay in tow/haul 100%.

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