Can Ford Explorer be Flat Towed?


Can Ford Explorer be Flat Towed?

The short answer to that is: yes, the Ford Explorer can be flat towed. The long answer however is, only if needed. This basically means, if you have to do it, it can be done but if you have a choice, do not do it since it could severely damage your Ford Explorer.

While that may sound like an overly complicated answer, it truly is not. The Ford Explorer, unlike other vehicles, is not equipped to be flat towed. There are trucks, vans, and even SUVs that were built to be flat towed to a trailer or RV.

This is true of its current model (the 2020 Ford Explorer); however, we cannot speak for future models. If you are unsure whether your Ford Explorer can be flat towed, we would highly suggest looking into your Ford Explorer owner manual.

There you will find the information needed. We understand that most drivers do not read their owner’s manual especially if it is a brand new car and you just want to drive it instead of reading about it. However, we do suggest keeping it in a safe place for when you may need it, as moments like these.

If you bought your Ford Explorer second hand and the original owner either lost the owner manual or it was not included in your purchase, then we can help you out.

According to the 2020 Ford Explorer owner manual (sometimes it can be referred to as a car manual), the Ford Explorer should not be flat towed. You can find the information below in your Ford Explorer owner manual under the section titled, “Towing.”

Recreational Towing – Front-Wheel Drive Vehicles

You cannot recreational tow your vehicle with all wheels on the ground because vehicle or transmission damage could occur. Place the front wheels on a two-wheel tow dolly. If you are using a tow dolly, follow the instructions specified by the equipment provider.

Recreational Towing – Rear-Wheel Drive Vehicles

You cannot recreational tow your vehicle with all wheels on the ground because vehicle or transmission damage could occur.

We recommend towing your vehicle with all four wheels off the ground, such as when using a car-hauling trailer. Otherwise, you cannot recreational tow your vehicle.

Recreational Towing – All-Wheel and Four-Wheel Drive Vehicles

You cannot recreational tow your vehicle with all wheels on the ground because vehicle or transmission damage could occur.

We recommend towing your vehicle with all four wheels off the ground, such as when using a car-hauling trailer. Otherwise, you cannot recreational tow your vehicle.

What about in a state of an emergency?

Although flat towing your Ford Explorer is not recommended by the company (as stated above), there will be times when you might not have a choice.

These situations are not ideal but they do happen so it is good to know that Ford understands this. If you ever do need to flat tow your Ford Explorer, here is what the owner manual suggests:

         If your vehicle becomes inoperable without access to wheel dollies or a vehicle

transport trailer, it can be flat-towed with all wheels on the ground, regardless of the powertrain and transmission configuration, under the following conditions:

  • Your vehicle is facing forward for towing in a forward direction.
  • Refer to the Manual Park Release procedure.   
  • Failing to do so could result in damage to the transmission.
  • The maximum speed is 35 mph (56 km/h).
  • The maximum distance is 50 mi (80 km).

We advise that after flat towing your car in these emergency situations (whether it is for a short distance or whether it is for a long-distance), to please take your Ford Explorer to your local car repair shop (whether that is a Ford car dealership or another auto mechanic shop) to see if there has been any major damage done to your Ford Explorer.

As we have mentioned, this should be done if you have flat towed your Ford Explorer for a long distance but it should also be taken in, just in case, if you have had it towed for a short period of time (less than an hour or so).

Emergency situations happen to everyone so while it is not ideal to flat tow your Ford Explorer, it is good to know that it can be done if needed.

What is Dolly Towing?

You may have seen the phrase “dolly” a few times if you have read the towing section on your Ford Explorer owner manual. Dolly towing is different from flat towing because only the front wheels of your vehicle will be elevated. Here is a more in-depth definition of dolly towing according to J.D. Power’s website:

With the dolly tow method, your car’s front wheels will be elevated off the ground and rest on top of the trailer. The majority of modern cars feature front-wheel drive specifications, so the dolly towing means you won’t have to worry about altering the drive shaft.

One of the notable aspects of dolly towing is that it will reduce any wear on your drive train. Outdoor enthusiasts also won’t have to worry about ramping up vehicle miles when towing a car behind camping trailers for long distances.

Ford Explorer Flat Towing Video

Ford Explorer Trim Levels and Configurations

Knowing what type of drive your Ford Explorer has is quite important. Although the Ford Explorer owner manual advises against flat towing whether you have all-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, or two-wheel drive, there is less damage to be done if your car is a 4 x 4.

If you are not sure about the specifics of your trim level, then please check down below. Please note this information is for the most current Ford Explorer, the 2020 Ford Explorer.

If you have an older model or if you have a newer model, then you will need to check the Ford website (or another car website) for those specific details.

●     Trim: Base

  • Style 1:Base 4dr 4×2
    • MPG: Combined MPG 24
    • Engine: 300-hp, 2.3-liter I-4 (premium)
    • Transmission: 10-speed automatic w/OD and auto-manual
    • Drive: 4 X 2
  • Style 2: Base 4dr 4×4
    • MPG:Combined MPG 23
    • Engine:300-hp, 2.3-liter I-4 (premium)
    • Transmission: 300-hp, 2.3-liter I-4 (premium)
    • Drive: 4 X 4

●     Trim: XLT

  • Style 1: XLT 4dr 4×2
    • MPG: Combined MPG 24
    • Engine:300-hp, 2.3-liter I-4 (premium)
    • Transmission:10-speed automatic w/OD and auto-manual
    • Drive: 4 X 2
  • Style 2: XLT 4dr 4×4
    • MPG: Combined MPG 23
    • Engine: 300-hp, 2.3-liter I-4 (premium)
    • Transmission: 10-speed automatic w/OD and auto-manual
    • Drive: 4 X 4

●     Trim: Limited

  • Style 1:Limited 4dr 4×2
    • MPG: Combined MPG 24
    • Engine: 300-hp, 2.3-liter I-4 (premium)
    • Transmission: 10-speed automatic w/OD and auto-manual
    • Drive: 4 X 2
  • Style 2: Limited 4dr 4×4
    • MPG: Combined MPG 23
    • Engine: 300-hp, 2.3-liter I-4 (premium)
    • Transmission: 10-speed automatic w/OD and auto-manual
    • Drive: 4 X 4

●     Trim: ST

  • Style 1:ST 4dr 4×4
    • MPG: Combined MPG 23
    • Engine: 400-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 (premium)
    • Transmission:10-speed automatic w/OD and auto-manual
    • Drive: 4 X 4

●     Trim: Platinum

  • Style 1:Platinum 4dr 4×4
    • MPG: Combined MPG 20
    • Engine:365-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 (premium)
    • Transmission: 10-speed automatic w/OD and auto-manual
    • Drive: 4 X 4

John Nelson

You can find John stringing a hammock from the back of his SUV to a tree camping in the outdoors most weekends during warmer weather. John loves the outdoors and the freedom four-wheel-drive vehicles offer.

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Can Ford Explorer be Flat Towed?