Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 12-07-2017, 05:59 PM   #1
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Chula Vista, CA
Posts: 52
Tow woes / advice for noob

Hey folks,

Hereís a brief description of my rig: 2009 E-150 passenger, 128k mi, 4.6L, mild lift, 33ís, 4.10 rear. Recently, we went on a family adventure, towing a travel trailer (~3500 lbs.) round trip from San Diego, CA to San Antonio, TX. We had a great time, but as you might guess, this was a challenge for my vehicle.

Iíve towed the TT a handful of times locally and on one other medium-distance trip, but never as far as we had this time around. My frustrations with the experience were as follows: gnarly downshifts through mountain passes and against a strong headwind, trying to avoid gnarly downshifts in either of these situations, seemingly maxing out at 40-45 mph and getting passed by EVERY vehicle on the road (especially in TX where the speed limit can be 80 mph!).

I love the van, and enjoy the trailer. How can I better manage the towing experience? Clearly, I should be cool to travel in the slow lane. But, are there reasonable modifications/upgrades that can effectively improve the towing experience?

Suggestions Iíve heard but would love to hear more:

Tuners - Lots of feedback on products for other motors, but not the 4.6

Rear axle ratio switch - I do like the day-to-day performance of my rig without trailer, though

Drive slow

__________________

__________________
Jean Claude Van Dad
killacks is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-07-2017, 07:17 PM   #2
Senior Member
 
carringb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Corvallis, OR
Posts: 3,559
It's not the weight. Its the frontal area.

Honestly, there's not a lot you can do for that powertrain short of supercharging it. Exhaust might gain you 15 or 20 hp, which might gain you a few MPH. Tuner won't help much on that motor. Intake is already oversized for that motor.

Lower gearing will help with getting going, and *might* reduce the number of downshifts.

That all said... Lots of supercharging options. There's been a few 5.4L and 6.8L vans done, and a a twin screw does fit on top. You could probably fit a centrifugal up front if you swap over to hydroboost-brakes.

Or if you really want a nice tow rig, take it to Michael Gabriel and stuff a Cummins or EcoBoost in there
__________________

__________________
2000 E350 extended wagon dually
V10 w/ Banks Powerpack, Diablo Predator
Buckstop Outback bumper/grill guard
Reunel rear bumper
carringb is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-07-2017, 11:53 PM   #3
Senior Member
 
Bbasso's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Driving slowly to...
Posts: 871
Probably easiest way to get more usable power would be to swap in a 5.4 and call it a day.
Should be a plug n play on a 09.
__________________
Rob.
Current:
2001 E350 PSD w/ a bunch of stuff.
And had three other E350s...
Bbasso is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-08-2017, 12:09 AM   #4
Senior Member
 
Otter's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Oregon
Posts: 499
Garage
i have a 5.4 350 and tow a 4000 lb travel trailer. So, I have a bit more oomph than you, but probably carry a few more pounds of vehicle, too.

Frankly, I just live with the downsides. Yeah, people pass you. Yeah, you have to take longer to get where youíre going. Yeah, your vehicle groans going up those long passes. But the upside (compared to towing with a high powered pickup, for example) is that I get to use my beloved van all through the trip, can walk to the back for a cold soda, use a porta potty enroute, get to travel in the van when I get where Iím going, etc., etc.

I see from your post that youíre cool to travel in the slow lane, so Iím not telling you anything new. But Carringb is right. Short of a Cummins swap, youíre unlikely to improve things a lot. Occasionally I think I might be happier with a 7.3, but I donít want to see just how bad my mileage can really get. And, since this is my DD, I donít want to make every day more of an ordeal. I really love my 5.4.

BTW, I did notice some significant improvement in handling when I increased my TT tires to max psi. Somehow theyíd gotten low, and I got a lot better handling and a couple mpgs when I blew em up a bit.
__________________
"PhoTow" - 2014 Ford E350 5.4L RB Agile 4x4 - a Multipurpose Transformer Photo Rig
Otter is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-08-2017, 09:55 AM   #5
Senior Member
 
86Scotty's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: TN
Posts: 6,749
Lots of good advice already and sorry to rain on your parade but here it is. The van is underpowered as it is and adding a 3500 lb. trailer is really a stretch. Honestly, with a big, heavy e-series a 5.4 isn't going to be much better. To carry a lifted van and a TT of any weight (since it's really more about aerodynamics) you just need a LOT more motor. I'd ditch the TT if you love the van or search for a diesel or bettervyet, a V10.

Good luck!
__________________
2015 Transit MR T350 ecoBoost, Vanilla
98 Silver E350 V10 4x4 home build (sold)
Rusty the rusty '95 SMB (sold)
Tryptovan the blue CCV van, 2002 e350 (sold)
...My name is Eric and I have a van problem...
86Scotty is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-08-2017, 03:54 PM   #6
Senior Member
 
dhally's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: SE Washington
Posts: 784
Garage
The best way to improve your towing experience is: smoke a doob, turn on some tunes, and put it on cruise control at 62 mph.

Done
__________________
---------------------
2009 E250 RB 5.4L "SilVan"
dhally is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-08-2017, 05:12 PM   #7
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Santa Maria, CA
Posts: 330
You know, while researching vans, part of my criteria was to be able to tow a fullsize 4x4 on my car trailer, and our 24' travel trailer. I'd say that ~20% of our annual mileage is with a trailer in tow. I decided that having to use the flashers on big grades was worth the tradeoffs for day to day "economy." With that said, I bought a 5.4 powered (smallest engine available in an E350) van and have been content with it, I'm pretty sure that your newer 4.6 has at least as much power as my older 5.4.

The few times that I towed with the stock setup (3.55 gears with 31.5" tires) it was an absolute dog and I was really regretting my decision. After lifting it, installing a cat-back exhaust system, regearing to 4.56 with 34" tires, it tows MUCH better. I really think that there is more to be gained through transmission programming than engine programming. I have a hand-me-down programmer (Jet?) that helped to delay shift points and firm up the shifts a little bit, but it definitely made it hunt less... I'd still like to see what 5star tuning can do, I bet it would be worth your time/$$$. I have not had to turn on my hazards on any grade since installing all that, with a combined weight of nearly 16,000lbs.

More often, we tow a 6x10 enclosed trailer that weighs in the 2,000-2,500lb range. It doesn't bother us one bit on the highway, and we tow it way off the beaten path in the desert and forest, including easy "green circle" 4wd routes. Gearing/heat is more of an issue than power in those scenarios, but I'm not willing to gear my 2wd any lower since I still need to keep up with So-Cal traffic.

All that said, I'd suggest getting in touch with 5 Star Tuning to get the most efficiency out of your transmission... he might even find a few hp for you in the process. Throw a free-er flowing exhaust on there too if a bit of extra road noise doesn't bother you (my Flowmaster 3 chamber is no louder than my mud terrains.) I think your gearing is appropriate for your tire size and would not justify the cost to switch to a deeper ratio.

If I had it to do over again, I might buy a V10, but with a few changes, my small V8 now does everything that I need it to do.
TheLetterJ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-08-2017, 05:25 PM   #8
Senior Member
 
carringb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Corvallis, OR
Posts: 3,559
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLetterJ View Post
While researching vans, part of my criteria was to be able to tow a fullsize 4x4 on my car trailer,
You must have friends who drive 6.0 PSD vans?
__________________
2000 E350 extended wagon dually
V10 w/ Banks Powerpack, Diablo Predator
Buckstop Outback bumper/grill guard
Reunel rear bumper
carringb is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-08-2017, 05:31 PM   #9
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Santa Maria, CA
Posts: 330
Yes , but I have a K5 Blazer on 40"s that I used to actually use! Just a yard ornament these days.
TheLetterJ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-08-2017, 06:56 PM   #10
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Chula Vista, CA
Posts: 52
Sage advice on all fronts. Some of these ideas are way to awesome for my means and capabilities, though, while others are within reach. Thanks for the positive vibes dhally.

I've certainly thumbed through mg build threads with awe, and contemplated engine swaps time and again. But, I think that operating at max efficiency without changing tooo much is more my speed. Might help me justify my time in the slow lane.

Maybe my gearing is the sweet spot for my day to day and occasional towing usage?? Also, I've only got a rudimentary grasp of things, but I feel like I've got to be extra delicate on the throttle to manage shift under heavy load. Am I understanding correctly that transmission tuning can address this, as suggested by TheletterJ?

__________________

__________________
Jean Claude Van Dad
killacks is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:19 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.