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TOWING a Ranger as opposed to towing WITH a Ranger

AllanD

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I was recently asked a question by a new member and it struck me that there should be a sticky on this topic in this forum.

The question is about towing a Ranger, as-in towing one on all four wheels behind an RV/Motorhome.

First I'll get directly to the point, if you are shopping for a Ranger to be towed behind a motor home it is important to get a 4x4 with a manual transfer case.

Automatic trans Vs manual trans is purely personal preference, because in either case the transmission isn't going to be spinning.

Ford's recommended towing method for a 4x4 with a manual T-case is
to tow with the transfer case in neutral and the transmission in
Park (auto) or in gear (manual)

a 4x4 with an electronically shifted T-case has no user accessable
Neutral.

The thing is the T-cases used in Ranger Based Vehicles have
positive pressure lubrication from an internal oil pump that is
driven by the output shaft.

The manual transmission does not, the output shaft, the
splined gears for 5th and reverse on the mainshaft and
the "floating" gears for 5th and reverse on the countershaft
all spin, however the input shaft and cluster gear whch are
responsible for most of the transmissions splash & Funnel
lubrication do not. this will cause the manual transmission
to spin the "pocket bearing" at high speed with NO lubrication
at all when it is towed in neutral.

essentially the same thing applies to the automatic transmissions and in either case (2wd vehicles) Ford recommends only towing them with the driving wheels on the ground for a maximum of something like 50mph for 50miles. Frankly I think even that much is asking for trouble
unless you intentionally overfill the transmission.

Or tow it while it's idling in neutral... but then there's the chance
that a pothole, expansion joint or frost heave could jounce it into gear... "that would be bad Egon"

There are "gimmick" driveshafts that have a disconnect device that
you can get from RV suppliers, but they are expensive, potentially weak...

I think that swapping a 4x4 trans into a 2wd truck and fitting
a manual t-case behind it would vbe preferable, because then
it's just pushing the steel lever forward to resume normal vehicle
operation.

but it's likely that a transporter trailer (and all the headaches that involves)
that would tow our ranger with all four wheels off the ground might be cheaper. and would have the additional benefit of having BRAKES under your towed vehicle, unfortunatly you'd also have an additional 1500-2000# of trailer to tow around and eventually stop.

what would be more preferable would be simply getting
a 4x4 with a manual t-case in the first place.

There are systems that allow the towing RV to activate
the brakes on the towed vehicle, but they aren't cheap either.

Then there are the issues with making the tail, brake and turn
signals on the towed vehicle work, but that is deserving of a
stickied topic all it's own...

AD
 


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4x4junkie

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Just to put it out there...

The electric-shifted T-cases DO have a neutral, but you have to pull the shifter motor off the back of the case, then spin the shaft into a position between 4HI and 4LO (it does have a detent for it, at least on the 1354 I checked). For whatever reason, someone at Ford didn't see fit to design the electronic control module to make any use of this neutral position. :no2:

This, while probably slightly easier than removing the rear driveshaft from the pinion flange (another way to tow these vehicles), it can still get 'old' having to crawl under there every time you want to tow it (would work fine for infrequent towing though).
 

lakotamama

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Hey thanks for all the info on towing my Ranger... I love that damn truck, I may just have to convert her to a 4wd manual transmission... Does this mean I can now convert her into a mini monster truck *L*... I always wanted one! LOL
 

exbass94

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Just to put it out there...

The electric-shifted T-cases DO have a neutral, but you have to pull the shifter motor off the back of the case, then spin the shaft into a position between 4HI and 4LO (it does have a detent for it, at least on the 1354 I checked). For whatever reason, someone at Ford didn't see fit to design the electronic control module to make any use of this neutral position. :no2:
There is also a flat-tow kit from Ford, which I believe is some sort of electrical gizmo that allows the electric-shift transfer cases to be shifted into neutral with the push of a button.
 

TwoTrackMind

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My TwoBits

Im not an expert, but I have towed my 98 4x4 5speed (relatively) successfully for about 5 years, putting on about 400,000 miles while towing.

Though I did blow a transfer case early on, and replaced a couple front bearings (on the same side), I believe these to be caused by problems with the pulsed vacuum front hub disconnect system. I eventually took manual control of that system and have had no problems in the last few years.

All I do is make sure the system is in 2HI (manual control of the transfer case motor too) and that the tranny is in neutral. Keeping fluid level high in the tranny is important too.

I can share how I control hubs/transfer case if you like.

Tail/Stop lights... I put toggle switches (DPDT) in mine, with the common terminals going to the lights, and the ranger/towing vehicle power feeds at the two switchable terminals. You can also attach (temporarily or permanently) extra lights to be used just for towing.
 

AllanD

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Tranny in neutral WILL harm the transmission.

How much depends on how far and how fast, but...

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Tranny in neutral WILL harm the transmission.

How much depends on how far and how fast, but...

AD
Being this 1990 Ranger 4x4 that I bought, was towed a 100 miles without the transfer case being in neutral, which would have caused the transmission to have not been lubricated properly, because the input shaft and cluster gears weren't turning in the tranny, being the engine wasn't running to turn them.

Would it be a good idea to put the transfer case in neutral, now, and run the engine, while the transmission is put in each gear to lubricate all the bearings and gears inside of the tranny, before driving the Ranger.

If this was done to lubricate the transmission, before driving it

It wouldn't hurt the transfer case, would it, being it would be in neutral and wouldn't be engaged to the tranny

Which manual 5 speed transmission is in a 1990 Ranger 4x4, and does is it use gear lube or automatic trasmission fluid for it's lubrication

If it's suppose to use automatic transmission fluid, does anyone ever use gear lube, instead, for better lubrication

Or, will doing that cause other issues and tranny problems
 
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AllanD

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Spinning the transfer case never hurts it, the issue is spinning the trans from the back without the input gear turning.

I explain above why this is bad.

"How badly" was the trans hurt? Not possible to know.

There are many things that are "Bad" how bad is variable.

Does One Cigarette shorten your life? By how much?
How about two? Or three?

Does masterbation make you go blind? How many times does it take?
What if you already need glasses?

Ford says (about towing not masterbation) "Don't do that!"

I've seen a couple transmissions that someone "burned down" by towing
them behind an RV, it was a 2wd Mazda in a 3.0 Ranger.

One guy I sold a 4x4 trans, manual T-case and a rear driveshaft...

And that whole package (T-case shaft and shifter) cost less than the "gimick" drive shaft (Over $450!) the RV place wanted to sell him. And that shaft required crawling under the truck to istall a locking pin to drive, the T-case has a convenient hand lever inside the cab AND he got a low range for manuevering around the camp ground in the bargain...


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TwoTrackMind

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I'm now over 500,000 towed miles on the '98 (have docs -for IRS- if you wish to inspect) and still waiting for my 5speed manual tranny to blow. Ive only put the xfer case in 2hi. I agree that neutral would be better but Father Ford did not want me to (of course, he sells trannys).

My owners manual said its ok with manual tranny, no distance limit but not over 55mph. Keep that in mind when you get mad at all the slow moving motorhomes.

Before this, I had a '94 2wd with 5speed manual tranny that I'd put over 100,000 towed miles on with no problem (except for the time I forgot to take it out of gear, and that only hurt the engine). I always keep close watch on the fluid levels though.

Of course, your mileage may vary.
 
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basilfaulty

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There is also a flat-tow kit from Ford, which I believe is some sort of electrical gizmo that allows the electric-shift transfer cases to be shifted into neutral with the push of a button.
This kit is no longer available from Ford. It consisted of a computer reflash a decal and an LED light to indicate it was in neutral. The reflash told the computer that if a certain sequence of events happened the electric shift motor would shift the transfer case into the neutral position (between 4 hi and 4 lo), the decal was instructions for the proper sequence of events to put it in neutral and the LED confirmed it was in neutral. From what I understand the kit is no longer available because the company the wrote the reflash program was now in a dispute with Ford and no longer makes the program available. The program was not downloadable to a disc and was available for a fee per use and VIN coded. If Ford ever settles the dispute it will probablt again be available. For now you could take the shift motor off and manually shift into neutral or do as I do remove the rear shaft. If I get somewhere along the way and need to drive the Ranger I just put it in 4 hi and drivr it in front wheel drive....if I am going to drive a long distance it is easy enough to put the shaft back in.
 

88ranger89camaro

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i thought this was odd when i seen in my owners manual not to tow a manual over 50MPH and 50 miles. In the older models like mine it seemed any manual was towable behind a motorhome with all 4 wheels on the ground. Kinda upset me, i was hoping to be able to tow mine 4wheels on the ground and not have to use the big car hauler

odd tho, i know a 91 dodge dakota 2wd 5 speed can be towed 1,000's of miles at 70+ MPH
 

AllanD

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All you need to do is start the engine ans let it idle for a bit to stir the oil

THE problem as stated above is that the parts that actually circulate the oil
in the mazda trans don't turn unless the input shaft is spinning
 

Will

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I guess since it isn't under load it needs less lube. I wouldn't do it unless the manual says it's okay. My '91 book says (manual or auto) 50 miles max on the rear wheels, 35mph max. Since Rangers are kind of cheap and easy to work on, I might tow mine flat and maybe getting out and running the engine a bit every so often would help spin some lube back up in there. The driveshaft is pretty easy to disconnect, though. Takes less than 5 minutes.
 

88ranger89camaro

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Another year, another 40,000 towed miles later, and still no problems. I just dont understand...
see thats what i do not get :icon_confused: in the rv world up untill mid to late 90's if it had a manual it was good to go all 4 wheels on the ground, even to this day the good sam and FMCA annual "toad" guide shows many manuals OK for 4 wheels on the ground ..... most of the older RVes or ones like me who we always had a motorhome growing up always looked for manual cars/trucks as "toads" and towed them more miles that actually drove on them and never had trouble

still :icon_confused: but it is what it is i guess, i been using a car hauler lately, had a saturn for awile that was auto that was able to be 4 wheels down
 
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