Towing a Ford F150 4×4 requires carefully following certain steps to avoid damaging the vehicle’s drivetrain. While flat towing is an option for 4×4 models, precautions must be taken to disengage the transfer case and transmission. Understanding the proper setup and towing procedures will ensure safe towing of your capable F150 pickup.
What is Flat Towing a 4×4 Truck?
Flat towing refers to towing a vehicle with all four wheels on the ground. This method is commonly used for towing 4×4 trucks, SUVs, and other recreational vehicles.
Benefits of flat towing include:
- Easier connection and disconnection compared to towing with a dolly or trailer.
- Maintains proper weight distribution since all wheels remain on the ground.
- Allows power to accessories like lights during towing.
- Avoids wear on transmission from improper lubrication.
The key is safely disconnecting the powertrain to prevent damage while towing.
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How to Flat Tow a Ford F150 4×4
Follow these steps to safely flat tow a Ford F150 4×4:
1. Check the Owner’s Manual
- Consult the owner’s manual for flat towing procedures specific to your F150 model and year.
- Verify your truck is approved for flat towing. Not all 4×4 systems can be safely flat towed.
- Note any speed or distance limits when flat towing.
2. Inspect the 4×4 System
- Ensure the 4×4 system is in working order prior to towing.
- Check for fluid leaks or damaged components.
- Repair any issues to prevent further damage while towing.
3. Shift the Transmission Into Neutral
- Start the truck and press the brake pedal.
- Move the gear shift into the neutral position.
- For manual transmissions, depress the clutch and shift to neutral.
4. Release the Parking Brake
- With your foot firmly on the brake, release the parking brake.
- This prevents damaging the parking brake system while towing.
5. Disable the Automatic Locking Hubs
- Turn the hub locks to the “FREE” position if equipped.
- This disengages the front axle from the transmission.
6. Disconnect the Front Driveshaft (If Needed)
- Some 4×4 systems require disconnecting the front driveshaft prior to flat towing.
- This completely isolates the transmission from the transfer case.
- Secure any removed driveshaft components to prevent damage.
7. Verify Transfer Case Position
- Shift the transfer case into 2WD mode using the 4WD control switch.
- On electronic shift models, press and hold the 2WD button for 5 seconds until the light flashes.
- Never tow a 4×4 truck in 4WD mode.
8. Allow Proper Break-In Period
- After connecting for towing, drive the truck briefly before towing.
- This circulates fluid and prevents damage to unmanned components.
- Repeat after disconnecting from the tow setup.
Following these steps correctly will allow safe flat towing of your Ford F150 4×4. Always refer to Ford’s specifications to avoid truck damage.
Ford F150 4×4 Towing Guide
Here are some key guidelines from Ford when towing an F150 4×4:
- Do not exceed 65 mph while towing – Higher speeds can damage drivetrain components.
- Take breaks every few hours – Long periods of towing can starve transmission and transfer case fluids.
- Check fluid levels regularly – Top up as needed to maintain proper levels.
- Alternate axles periodically – Change which axle is disengaged to spread wear evenly.
- Use proper weight distributing equipment – Correct setup is crucial for stability and preventing truck damage.
Adhering to Ford’s towing recommendations will prevent damaging your F150 4×4 drivetrain while towing. Always tow within the vehicle’s limits.
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Setting Up Your Tow Vehicle
The tow vehicle setup is also important for safely towing an F150 4×4. Follow these tips:
- Use a properly rated and load-leveled hitch. An adjustable rise/drop hitch may be needed to keep the truck level.
- Make sure the tow vehicle has adequate braking power for the added weight. Upgrade if needed.
- Use a brake controller and safety chains rated for the weight of the truck. This provides redundancy.
- Check tires, fluids, and suspension of the tow vehicle. Maintain as needed to handle the load.
- Distribute weight properly with weight distribution bars and an anti-sway device. This improves stability.
Taking time to properly set up your tow vehicle goes a long way to safely towing an F150 4×4 flat behind you. Don’t overlook this important step.
Connecting and Disconnecting for Flat Towing
With the proper setup complete, use care when connecting and disconnecting your truck for flat towing:
Connecting the F150 4×4 for Towing
- Back the tow vehicle and align the hitch over the ball.
- Lower the hitch until it clicks locked over the ball.
- Attach safety chains in a crossing pattern under the hitch.
- Plug in brake controller and trailer lighting connectors. Test all lights.
- Attach breakaway switch lanyard to a non-removable part of the frame.
- Raise front jacks if equipped. The truck should now be fully supported by the tow vehicle.
Disconnecting After Towing
- Park on a level surface and chock wheels.
- Lower front jacks if equipped and allow truck to settle onto them.
- Unplug electrical connectors and remove safety chains.
- Release hitch lever and raise truck hitch off the ball using jacks.
- Carefully pull tow vehicle away leaving the truck parked on its jacks.
Following this proper connecting and disconnecting procedure will help prevent accidents and damage.
FAQs About Flat Towing a Ford F150 4×4
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about towing a 4×4 F150:
Is it OK to tow my F150 with all four wheels down?
Yes, flat towing is an approved method for Ford F150 pickups equipped with 4×4. Just be sure to follow the proper disengaging procedures noted in this article.
Do I need to remove the driveshaft before towing my 4×4 truck?
For most 4×4 systems, shifting the transfer case into neutral is sufficient. Some older trucks may require driveshaft removal – check your owner’s manual to confirm if this is needed.
Can I back up my F150 while it’s on the tow dolly?
No, never attempt to back up a 4×4 vehicle while it is being towed. Doing so can cause severe drivetrain damage.
What is the maximum speed I can tow my truck at?
Ford recommends not exceeding 65 mph while flat towing an F150. Always obey posted speed limits, which may require driving slower.
How far can I safely tow my F150 4×4 at one time?
There is no set mileage limit, but taking breaks every few hours allows circulating fluids properly. Avoid excessive long-distance towing if possible.
Consult an Experienced Towing Expert
Flat towing a Ford F150 4×4 can be done safely by following the proper procedures. But it’s always best to consult with an experienced towing professional regarding your specific truck.
They can ensure your vehicle is properly set up for towing based on factors like:
- Towing capacity of your pickup
- Configuration of the 4×4 system
- Vehicle mileage and maintenance records
- Intended towing speed, distance, and duration
Investing in a consultation upfront can prevent headaches and damage down the road. They can also provide hitching equipment, installation, and towing accessories to make the process seamless.
The ability to tow heavy loads in rough conditions makes Ford F150 pickups extremely capable. But that capability comes with handling them properly during towing. Follow the guidelines provided above and work with a professional to ensure your prized truck is towed safely. With care and caution, you can maintain access to the utility of your 4×4 whenever needed.