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Tow Ratings With Manual Transmission

wildbill23c

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So, if you have 2 trucks spec'd the same with the exception of one having a manual and one having an automatic transmission, is the only reason the manual transmission equipped vehicle has a lower towing capacity being due to ease of use not having to shift gears? If the trucks are the same wouldn't a manual transmission be able to pull the same weight as the same truck with an automatic transmission? Just a safety thing, or?

Example, my 87 Ranger is only rated to tow 2,000lbs because it has a manual transmission....the same truck with an automatic is rated to tow 4500lbs. Granted there's no way I'd try to tow 4500lbs behind my ranger but what's it going to hurt towing say a 2500-3000lb trailer occasionally as in a cargo trailer or travel trailer for short distances like 100 miles or less? Mostly I'd maybe tow a 4'x8' utility trailer doing chores and running to the dump type stuff but very little towing given the long bed on the truck. It needs a trailer hitch receiver and wiring harness for lights/brake controller at a minimum as I don't think anyone has done any towing with it. Very light duty towing would be all I'd do and to me a 3k trailer a couple times a year would be considered light duty LOL.
 


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adsm08

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No, there is an actual difference there. An automatic uses planetary gears, which are constant mesh gears, and have a much larger contact area, so the gears are physically stronger. The torque converter provides torque multiplication when engine speed is high and input shaft speed is low, this gets more power to the wheels to get you rolling, without smoking a clutch,

Then there is the issue of driver competence. It doesn't take any intelligence at all to put something in D and hit the tow/haul button.
 

wildbill23c

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2WD / 4WD
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No, there is an actual difference there. An automatic uses planetary gears, which are constant mesh gears, and have a much larger contact area, so the gears are physically stronger. The torque converter provides torque multiplication when engine speed is high and input shaft speed is low, this gets more power to the wheels to get you rolling, without smoking a clutch,

Then there is the issue of driver competence. It doesn't take any intelligence at all to put something in D and hit the tow/haul button.
Awesome, thanks for the information. So I'd gather from this leave well enough alone and skip using it at all for towing especially for the 2-3k occasional trailer pull duties.
 

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Yeah. if it is stock I would not use an 87 manual to tow 2-3K.

I hauled out about a cord of wood in my grandfather's 5x12 trailer with my 87 4.0 M5OD. I estimate that load was in the 3K or higher range. I literally broke the clutch.

Now I also towed a 2wd 87 Supercab 4.0 auto home with my 87 4.0 manual, and barely even noticed it. That truck weighs about 3500 lbs all alone.
 

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Here's my opinion (not claiming it as fact):

I believe it's a relic left over from the days of when Ford used weak manual transmissions (TK4, TK5, FM132, FM145, FM146). After Ford switched to the M5OD, they never updated the tow ratings (which is pretty screwed from a legal standpoint). I've not found a good reason why a M5OD-equipped truck cannot tow as much as a truck with the (notoriously troublesome) A4LD.

Doubtful it's because of idiots who can't use a clutch properly... Toyota, for example, does not derate their manual trans trucks relative to their automatic trans trucks.

Edit:
'87 would have the FM145 trans (FM132 if 2WD), so I certainly would suggest abide by the lower tow rating.
 
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wildbill23c

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My credo
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Here's my opinion (not claiming it as fact):

I believe it's a relic left over from the days of when Ford used weak manual transmissions (TK4, TK5, FM132, FM145, FM146). After Ford switched to the M5OD, they never updated the tow ratings (which is pretty screwed from a legal standpoint). I've not found a good reason why a M5OD-equipped truck cannot tow as much as a truck with the (notoriously troublesome) A4LD.

Doubtful it's because of idiots who can't use a clutch properly... Toyota, for example, does not derate their manual trans trucks relative to their automatic trans trucks.

Edit:
'87 would have the FM145 trans (FM132 if 2WD), so I certainly would suggest abide by the lower tow rating.
My 87 has a TK5 in it according to TRS's Ford Ranger manual transmission page and the transmission code on the door. The FM series wasn't used until the 88's came out. The TK5 in my Ranger seems to be pretty good and I'd like to keep it that way LOL. So...that notoriously terrible A4LD in my Bronco 2 is rated for a higher towing capacity LOL.

I think really most of the Ranger's use will be for hauling stuff to the dump and trips to the building center occasionally. Although adding a trailer hitch may still happen at some point but really what can you tow that's 2k or less maybe one of those little 4'x8' trailers from Harbor Freight maybe LOL.
 

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My 87 has a TK5 in it according to TRS's Ford Ranger manual transmission page and the transmission code on the door. The FM series wasn't used until the 88's came out.
Well that's wrong.

The TKs were all there was for manuals in 83-85. Starting in 86 the FM132/145 was run beside the TK5. In 87 the TKs were dropped. In 88 the FM 132/145 was dropped, the FM146 became the 4x4 manual transmission, and the M5OD was introduced as the 2wd manual transmission.
 

wildbill23c

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Well that's wrong.

The TKs were all there was for manuals in 83-85. Starting in 86 the FM132/145 was run beside the TK5. In 87 the TKs were dropped. In 88 the FM 132/145 was dropped, the FM146 became the 4x4 manual transmission, and the M5OD was introduced as the 2wd manual transmission.
Tell ford that because the door sticker and the ranger station both show the TK5 being in my Ranger...so what's correct? Haven't crawled under it to see but going by the door sticker code, the Vin decoder, and the ranger station's own door code deciphering it says the TK5 is in my Ranger WTH LOL. Not that it matters none of them are good transmissions anyhow, they all fall into the same garbage category as the A4LD LOL.

So TRS's tech section is incorrect? Door sticker incorrect?
 

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Dirtman

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You have an 86... :unsure:
 

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wildbill23c

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You have an 86... :unsure:
It was built in 86 as an 87 model year, that's how they've been building them for decades, just like today's cars, you can buy a 2020 model year in usually september, october time frame but the build date will be 2019.
 

wildbill23c

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gw33gp

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I towed my race car all over the country on a trailer with a combined weight varying from 3,500 to 4,000 lbs plus another 800 lbs on the bed with both my 89 STX with the Mitsubishi transmission (FM146?) and my 02 FX4 with the Mazda transmission. I had almost 200K miles on the STX and have 246K miles on the FX4 with no problems with either transmission. I know many people don't like the Mitsubishi transmission but I thought it shifted better than the Mazda transmission. I do believe the Mazda transmission is stronger though.

I learned pretty quick not to tow with the Mitsubishi trans in 5th gear (OD). I almost fried that transmission doing that on a section of flat Interstate once while towing in 5th gear. It got so hot that it became very difficult to shift. I had to park it for about a half hour before it cooled enough to shift normally again. Fortunately, no damage occurred because I caught it in time.

So, my experience shows that you can tow with either transmission, even cross country, without hurting those transmissions if you take a little care with them. The auto transmission may be a little stronger and easier to take out from a stop, especially on upgrades, but I still prefer to tow with a manual. I don't agree with those tow rating differences but try to not get too much over the rating for insurance coverage reasons.
 

wildbill23c

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Total Drop
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Tire Size
235/75-R15
My credo
19K, 19D, 92Y, 91F

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sgtsandman

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There may be some merit to the comments about the manual transmissions not being as strong as the automatics. I also think the main driver behind the drastically lower tow rating is because of the lack of experience the majority of the United States population has with a manual transmission. I do agree that if you are towing at highways speeds, that you should never go into 5th gear. Think of it as a manual version of tow/haul mode.

As far as what the real tow rating should be for manual transmission equipped Rangers, I haven't a clue. Perhaps looking at what the Europeans have for ratings would be a good idea. I know their tow ratings are generally higher for vehicles built the same way as U.S models. Sometimes that limit is only higher if the trailer is equipped with brakes.

Of course, one should also consider that if there is an accident, insurance companies and those on the legal side of things would be working off what the U.S. ratings are. So, there would be some legal liability taken on by the driver if they choose to use something other than what the owners manual says. They won't a crap what the Europeans can do, even if the vehicle in question is identical to what you are driving.
 

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