One of the things that you will often hear a salesperson bragging about when trying to sell a truck is towing capacity but towing with a passenger truck is actually much more complicated than it first seems. Whether you are hauling your car for travel purposes or the vehicle in question has broken down, there are several reasons why you might find yourself in the position of having to tow a car, but can you tow a car with an F150?
A standard F150 can tow up to 9,000 pounds, which means that you should be able to tow most cars. Although it depends on how much the car weighs and the specified towing capacity of the F150 model.
However, there are a lot of things that must first be considered before you tow a car with your pickup. Continue reading to learn more about towing a car with an F150.
Towing Terms You Should Know
There are many things that you will need to consider before deciding if you can tow a vehicle safely, but to understand those things, there are a few terms you will need to know.
- Towing Capacity: This refers to the largest amount of weight that your vehicle can tow safely. However, it refers to the overall weight, not just the weight of the thing you are towing. For example, you must also calculate any weight that is inside of the vehicle, such as passenger weight. You can typically find your vehicle’s towing capacity listed on the driver’s side door.
- Curb Weight: This refers to the manufacturers reported weight of the vehicle before any liquids or specific features (like a spare tire) are added. However, this should not be confused with the operating weight, which does include fluids, accompaniments, and the weight of passengers.
- Gross Vehicle Weight Rating: This is the most your vehicle can weigh before it becomes inoperable. This is used to figure out licensing and road classes. For example, some roads will have maximum capacity restrictions, which are considered using the vehicle’s GVWR. You can typically find the GVWR on the driver’s side door, and you should never exceed your vehicle’s gross vehicle weight rating.
- Payload Capacity: This refers to the maximum carrying weight of your vehicle. It includes passengers, tongue weight, and cargo. Unlike towing capacity, which is the maximum amount of weight your vehicle can tow, payload capacity refers to the maximum amount of weight your vehicle can carry inside of the bed and cab.
- Gross Combined Weight Rating: This refers to the maximum weight a truck can handle without being damaged. It includes the payload weight and the weight being towed. This can typically be found in your owner’s manual.
- Tongue Load: This refers to the maximum weight restrictions on the hitch ball and should be around 10 to 15 percent of the trailer’s total weight. This is also factored into the truck’s payload capacity.
It may sound intimidating, but you can find online calculators which are designed to help you calculate all the things mentioned above.
Can An F150 Tow a Car?
As we have already learned, the answer to this question will depend on the towing abilities of the truck as well as the weight of the car in question. Additionally, it will depend on which engine you are sporting under the hood of your F150.
Engine choices may differ depending on the year, but below you will find a list of the more current F150 engine choices along with more information about each one.
|Engine||Horsepower||Torque||Max. Towing||Max. Payload|
|3.3L Ti-VCT V6 FFV||290 HP||265 Lb-Ft||8,200 lbs.||1,985 lbs.|
|2.7L EcoBoost V6||325 HP||400 Lb-Ft||10,100 lbs.||2,480 lbs.|
|5,0L Ti-VCT V8||400 HP||410 Lb-Ft||13,000 lbs.||3,325lbs.|
|3.0L Power Stroke Turbo Diesel V6||250 HP||440 Lb-Ft||12,100 lbs.||1,840 lbs.|
|3.5L EcoBoost V6||400 HP||500 Lb-Ft||14,00 lbs.||3,250lbs.|
|3.5L PowerBoost Full Hybrid V6||430 HP||570 Lb-Ft||12,700 lbs.||2,120 lbs.|
As you can see, the engine in your pickup will greatly affect the towing abilities of your truck. However, the average weight of a vehicle is around 3,000 pounds, which means that even engines with less towing capacity should be able to tow a car (if you are not carrying a lot of weight in either vehicle).
How To Tow a Car with An F150
While the exact details may change depending on your vehicle and situation, you can find a general guide, detailing the best way to tow a car with your F150, below.
- Calculate all the numbers mentioned above and make sure that by towing the car, you are not going to exceed any of your vehicle’s towing capabilities. This is extremely important because not only can you damage your truck, but you could be endangering everyone in the vehicle if you exceed the towing weights.
- Inspect both vehicles and any towing equipment that is going to be used. Rust can seriously compromise a vehicle’s ability to tow safely and if you have any doubts, do not risk it.
- If you are towing a front-wheel-drive car, make sure to attach the tow dolly using the correct size hitch. Park the truck and dolly on a level surface and have someone help you guide the car onto the dolly. Secure the vehicle using the provided straps and make sure the car is attached securely to the trailer. Be sure to put the car in neutral and disengage any parking brakes before towing.
- If you are towing a rear-wheel or all-wheel-drive vehicle, make sure to attach the tongue of the trailer to the truck with the correct size towing ball. Park the truck and trailer on a flat surface and drive, push, or pull the car up onto the trailer. Be sure to put the car in park, engage the parking brake, and secure the vehicle to the trailer before towing.
- If you are using a trailer, remember to hook up any electrical wiring before driving onto the road. It is always a clever idea to know the laws in your area regarding towing and what equipment can and cannot be used.
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John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. He’s been a mechanic for over twenty-five years and has worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Land Rover, and Jaguar dealerships.
John uses his know-how and experience to write fluff-free articles that help fellow gearheads with all aspects of vehicle ownership, including maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting.