Towing results 96 f-150 shortbed standard cab 4.9L -

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post #1 of 5 Old 08-21-2010, 09:25 AM Thread Starter
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Towing results 96 f-150 shortbed standard cab 4.9L

I recently towed my TJ about 100 miles with my 96 f-150 standard cab shortbed with the 4.9L inline 6. I am writing this because I couldn't find much information on towing a jeep with this truck before I towed.

Power: The truck had "sufficient" power. I could keep 60mph without much issue most of the times in 5th gear. On a few hills my speed dropped to 50 and I had to downshift to fourth. So it didn't have oodles of power but it got me there.

Brakes: I was just using the stock brakes on the truck, no brakes on the jeep. I didn't have really any issue stopping. Definitely want to leave more room for braking though but I was never at all worried about not being able to come to a safe stop.

Handling: This is the biggest problem I noticed. At low speeds handling wasn't an issue. However once I jumped on the highway I wasn't as comfortable as if I would be just driving the truck alone. My truck has some steering slop in it and that really showed. When I made slightly turns to merge or simply go around a bend on the highway I felt like the jeep was pushing me into the turn or something. Had to be real careful because the slightest correction would easily send me into the other lane. This handling issue is definitely something that needs to be addressed before I tow again.

About halfway there I had the worst possible scenario for getting a flat. The truck slowly started pulling to the left and then the front drivers side tire went completely flat and the truck started bouncing. I kept control without much of a problem and pulled over in the emergency lane. In fact my parents who were following directly behind me didn't even see a problem and were wondering why I pulled over. Of course I don't have a spare for the truck and its 8:30 pm. Finally tracked down a guy that had a tire and rim for the truck and got back on the road an hour and a half later.

Here is where I would like opinions (if you have made it this far). I have no problem dealing with the smalled engine for towing because I would be towing very often. However the handling has to be fixed. My truck probably could use an alignment and doe have some play in the steering. Is it worth trying to fix these issue in hopes of making the handling acceptable or should I just ditch this truck and try to get a 3/4 ton rig? The truck will be my daily driver during the winter and a second vehicle during the summer. Thanks.

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post #2 of 5 Old 08-21-2010, 09:28 AM
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Are you flat towing or on a trailer? With that small of a truck, the service brakes are not designed to stop that much weight without some assistance from trailer brakes. You may have been fine in normal situations, but a panic stop or emergency maneuver most likely would not have gone so well for you and anyone else near you on the road.

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post #3 of 5 Old 08-21-2010, 12:12 PM Thread Starter
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Hmmm guess I didn't put that in there. I was flat towing. I can't afford a trailer and don't have anyplace to put one if I could get one.

Like I said o had no real problem stopping. But mi didn't try slamming on my brakes going 55 either. Problem is flat tow brake setups are around $1000
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post #4 of 5 Old 08-21-2010, 05:41 PM
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coming from a tow truck driver F-150s arent the way to do it. mine as well towed with a ranger. I not saying it was the wrong thing to do but heres some tips bro, rear sway bar with better bushings or find a 97 f-150 rear that will control the rear a tad better.

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post #5 of 5 Old 09-02-2010, 07:35 AM
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Flat towing a 3500 pound Jeep isn't an issue for that truck. In WA, any trailers over 3000 pounds are required to have brakes, but anything under that and they figure the truck's brakes are sufficient. Unless your jeep is porky, you should be fine for occasional towing - just use your head like it sounds like you did.

The steering slop should be an easy fix, depending on what is causing it.
Get a buddy to turn the wheel back and forth with the engine off while you look around under the front end. I'd be willing to bet that if it's got the same Saginaw type steering box that Dodge used, the gears internally have worn enough to allow slop. That's fixed by adjusting the lash. There should be a hex key adjuster on the top side with a jam nut locking it in place. Loosen the nut, tighten the hex key, and tighten the nut back down. You need to do this in very small increments - if you get it too tight it will wear faster and your steering will be really tight, causing the steering wheel to fail to return to center without you steering it.

Also look for slop at the tie rod ends and ball joints. Look at the ends of the drag link and tie rods when your buddy is working the wheel back and forth - is there slop? Are the tie rod ends moving in relation to the knuckles? You may need to replace them.

That 4.9 liter 6 isn't a racehorse, but it's a hell of a good motor. A buddy of mine got 400k out of his in a 1970s 1/2 ton and it was still running (albeit with very little compression, but it ran). They're torqey as all hell so they're great for towing as long as you aren't in a hurry.
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