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Old 04-08-2016, 08:31 AM   #1
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Drive to use for towing

I have a 2011 Ford Expedition King Ranch with a tow capacity of 9,000 lbs. I can put this vehicle in 2W, 4W auto, 4W, or 4W low. I have been using 2W with the Tow Haul kicked in. When I've put it in 4W auto and the tow haul just playing around locally, it feels ....."strained"...maybe too much? We have mountains here and I do have to make sure the transmission kicks down before you get too slow. (That has been an ongoing issue for this vehicle even when not towing according to the vehicle forums)

So anyone else have these options and if so, what drive do you use in mountains?
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Old 04-08-2016, 09:03 AM   #2
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Never ever use 4W or 4hi in any conditions other than in mud, deep snow, etc. Your transfer case in 4W is fully engaged and doing so on dry pavement will put unneeded strain on it, and will cause binding when turning your steering wheel.

2W with Tow/Haul is what you want, and take it out of overdrive so that the transmission doesn't hunt gears. Constant shifting generates heat and can damage your transmission if it over heats.
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Old 04-08-2016, 09:07 AM   #3
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DocBrown has said it: 2WD on dry pavement.
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Old 04-08-2016, 09:10 AM   #4
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Now I don't have a ford but, I do know a bit about 4 wheel drive systems. 4WD is intended for use in offroad, low traction conditions i.e. snow, mud or that pesky boat launch. IMHO you should never be engaging your 4WD on dry pavement. 4WD is not the same as AWD (which is used on vehicles intended for street use).
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Old 04-08-2016, 10:54 AM   #5
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A word about 4W Auto. I have a mode like that on my truck also. It's nice for slippery conditions where you might not get good traction from a stop light. When the back wheels slip the 4WD engages and turns the fronts long enough to get traction. Once you are moving it disengages. It is not the same a AWD (All Wheel Drive), it's Auto 4WD.

That said this is not a good mode to tow in either because if the back wheels do slip from a dead stop you run the risk of the 4WD engaged too hard from the weight you are pulling, again possibly damaging the transfer case.

BTW, call a local shop and ask what a transfer case replacement is for your truck. The lowest number you'll hear is $3000.00, probably higher. That may put in context what we're talking about here.

Hope all this helps!
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Old 04-08-2016, 11:06 AM   #6
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Maybe this is outdated info with today's transmissions etc....
If there is a difference in front and rear tire sizes (diameters), on dry pavement that will put massive amounts of strain your drive train, too, leading to $$$$ failures.
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Old 04-08-2016, 11:18 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vaneta View Post
I have a 2011 Ford Expedition King Ranch with a tow capacity of 9,000 lbs. I can put this vehicle in 2W, 4W auto, 4W, or 4W low. I have been using 2W with the Tow Haul kicked in. When I've put it in 4W auto and the tow haul just playing around locally, it feels ....."strained"...maybe too much? We have mountains here and I do have to make sure the transmission kicks down before you get too slow. (That has been an ongoing issue for this vehicle even when not towing according to the vehicle forums)

So anyone else have these options and if so, what drive do you use in mountains?
I think your owner manual will tell you not to use 4WD except in slippery conditions, that doing so on dry pavement risks damaging the drive train on your vehicle. Doesn't matter whether it's flat or a mountain. That's the kind of situation the Tow/Haul setting is for.

If it feels like it's really laboring you can always slow down and downshift. I'm taking our 2010 F150 and new 23RLSW across the mountains of VT and NH this coming June, and my plan is to do exactly that if it seems too much - downshift going up those steeper mountains.

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Old 04-08-2016, 04:56 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by DocBrown View Post
Never ever use 4W or 4hi in any conditions other than in mud, deep snow, etc. Your transfer case in 4W is fully engaged and doing so on dry pavement will put unneeded strain on it, and will cause binding when turning your steering wheel.

2W with Tow/Haul is what you want, and take it out of overdrive so that the transmission doesn't hunt gears. Constant shifting generates heat and can damage your transmission if it over heats.
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Old 04-09-2016, 05:29 PM   #9
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A word about 4W Auto. I have a mode like that on my truck also. It's nice for slippery conditions where you might not get good traction from a stop light. When the back wheels slip the 4WD engages and turns the fronts long enough to get traction. Once you are moving it disengages. It is not the same a AWD (All Wheel Drive), it's Auto 4WD.

That said this is not a good mode to tow in either because if the back wheels do slip from a dead stop you run the risk of the 4WD engaged too hard from the weight you are pulling, again possibly damaging the transfer case.

BTW, call a local shop and ask what a transfer case replacement is for your truck. The lowest number you'll hear is $3000.00, probably higher. That may put in context what we're talking about here.

Hope all this helps!
Okay, this answers it. I was equating the 4auto with what ran all of the time on my Toyota Highlander (and I did tow a light trailer with this but took it out of overdrive) and Grand Cherokee before...I got the owners manual back out and interestingly, it doesn't reference that drive at all but just reiterates what you all said about not using 4W on dry surface. I have at times when it's raining hard and there's standing water on the road (not towing) put it in 4A. It feels "right" when I have it in 2W and Tow/Haul when I'm towing. On flat roads like going to Florida, I don't use the Tow/Haul. (The regular D on mine is the "overdrive" according to the manual and Tow/Haul takes it out of that)
So I was wondering if I had been doing the right thing and it sounds like I am so thanks for that info.
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Old 04-10-2016, 08:29 AM   #10
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Tow haul mode does not take you out of over drive (at least it does not on my Duramax/Alison) it does however change the shift points to give you more grunt.. and (on my truck anyway) it enables drive line braking
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