Taking the time to properly equip a Ford F-150 for towing will help increase towing capacity and overall performance.
As of 2010, the popular Ford F-150 was available in a large range of trim packages and body styles, while offering only two motor options: a 4.6 or 5.4-liter V8. When properly equipped with the 5.4-liter engine and additional towing options, the maximum towing capacity of the F-150 is rated at 11,300 pounds. Although maximum towing capacities will vary throughout the model years and configurations of each F-150, there are always modification options to help increase the towing capacity for what’s been described as “America’s favorite truck.”
1. Refer to the owner’s manual to check the F-150’s maximum towing capacity, as assigned by the factory. A number of factors, like the gear ratio, frame strength and motor of the pickup will affect this rating.
2. Equip the vehicle with a hitch that is rated to withstand, at minimum, the maximum tow rating weight of the vehicle. Class V hitches, the most durable of the tongue-mounted hitches available, are intended to tow loads up to 10,000 pounds. Purchase a weight distributing hitch system from a local trailer store or online retailer, in addition to a durable hitch, to help evenly distribute the weight of heavy loads between the front and rear axles, and reduce trailer sway.
3. Override the factory fueling, timing and transmission settings of the pickup’s electronic control unit by installing a power programmer or chip. Plug the tuner into the F-150’s data port or computer module, as required by the specific device. Select a tuning option that is stated to improve towing power. Installation of a programmer intended for your specific model year of F-150 may net a 10% gain in horsepower and torque, allowing the vehicle to haul larger loads with greater ease.
4. Upgrade the rear leaf springs and shock absorbers by replacing the stock components with heavy duty, aftermarket parts. Increased rigidity in the rear springs will help prevent the back of the pickup from sagging and reduce stress on the rear axle. Replace factory shocks with high-quality, application appropriate shocks to provide more stable vehicle handing when driving in rough conditions with heavy loads.
5. Purchase and install axles and differentials with higher gear ratios and weight ratings. Investing in heavy duty drivetrain components will allow the F-150 to tow heavier loads while eliminating stress on vital components that may fail if loaded with too much weight.