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Good afternoon everyone,

The season is almost upon us!

I need some suggestions. I have a 2003 Expedition 5.4 eddie baur that I am towing a 2005 Shamrock 25bh camper with(new this year, used to have a pop up). The issue is that I have 150,000 miles on the truck. We have 7 trips planned and two are in the mountains of the Adirondacks.

Is there anything that I can do to my truck/transmission to help safe guard against breakdowns? I am worried about the high miles. I know the tranny probably hasnt been serviced regularly so I am being told that changing the fluid at this point will probably do more harm than good. Weight wise I think I am fine (well unless of course the kids and wife decide to pack everything the have and bring it with them).

Thanks in advance
 

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towing with older Expedition

A number of things come to mind. You don't say what final drive ratio your Expedition has and that's rather important. When towing with a Expedition you have probably a 500 lb handicap compared to a same equiped F150. Also you will need a better after market transmission cooler, and I would suggest a trans temp guage and make sure that old transmission is well serviced and found up to it because you are going to be working the old girl hard even for a newer truck. Keep in mind too that the tow ratings are given for the truck when new and yours have old springs, bearings, probably brakes, well you get the idea. I'm not out to bad mouth your truck but make you aware that you're asking quite a bit from old iron. You should also weigh your trailer to know if you are within towing specs and use a equalizing hitch set up properly ie. tow safe. Just my 2c.
 

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If you haven't serviced your tranny, it's better to do so than not, but have it done right! Ignoring it is NOT the way to go especially if you are now gonna be working it harder. If your truck is that bad off where new fluids will kill it then it needs killing! Not dying when you are enroute.

If you have not been religious about maintenance then there is a risk, but it's better if the fluid was fresh and any debris is removed, than not. Spend the money to do this right. You might try the complete flush type of trans service where a fitting is put on your transmission line so that ALL the old fluid is flushed out and not just the half that is stored in the reservoir. Let the place know you have not treated your truck well and they might just examine it better.

You also must know how to "read" the engine and transmission. It's better to tow in a lower gear and let the engine haul you up or down the hill than risk "lugging the drivetrain". Lastly, there's nothing wrong with babying the rig. You might get there slower, but let the parts of the truck do what it's supposed to do. You might need to look at the other fluids if you've been neglectful - engine, differential, power steering and brake cylinder. All these can be flushed to get the best performance and get things cleaned out.

If nothing else, it's better to get the bad news your Expedition is having problems while it's at the shop getting newly serviced, than be all loaded up and fail while on the road. In either case, you're gonna need a new tow vehicle, but at least the first way means you might get some good miles and trips in as you "learn" the bigger task of towing.

Just forget about racing anyone and it's better to go slower than faster. If you teach your family to work as a team, you'll find this to be a great time saver that makes up for the slower trip, when setting up or tearing down. Try the "NO ONE gets to have fun, until EVERYONE finishes the chores" philosophy. Even the little ones will then learn how to help out and get things done rather than sit around being bored. Peer pressure works wonders.

Finally, like Gerry mentions, get the weights and understand how the weights work. It's much better to learn how these interact and know you are within limits than abuse your vehicle and kill it that way. If you need help with this, get the axle weights on the truck and trailer while hitched up, then disconnect the trailer and weigh just the truck. Report back with these numbers and we'll tell you what they mean. Make sure the family is in the truck and trailer and all their stuff too when you are getting the weights. If you are gonna take it with you on your trip, you MUST weigh it all. Don't feel bad that you don't know about this, it's estimated that 40% of all private owner rigs on the road are overweight. Feel good that you want to learn what this all means.
 

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I agree with Gerry and Art - take care of the transmission!

If you have stock auxiliary transmission cooler replace it with large capacity one - either from ford or aftermarket - around $175. Also a transmission temp gauge ($?). City driving, low speeds and hills can build heat fast when towing.

Get the transmission fluid and filter changed, and add an inline trans filter (around $20) between the radiator trans cooler and the aux cooler, this will protect the aux cooler as well as the trans. The radiator transmission cooler is just a coil, so debris rarely plugs it. Inline transmission filters have a finer filter media than the internal one. If you have not had your transmission power flushed regularly then have the fluid changed only as the power flush might break loose varnish that might clog the transmission valves or cooling system.

If you are handy you can change the fluid, internal filter, add inline trans filter and aftermarket cooler yourself for under $300. I have an 4R100 trans in the van, aftermarket cooler, inline filter, and use Mobil1 synthetic trans fluid, the synth will take more abuse but it costs more, you could use non-synthetic as well. Ford changed the spec that allows for Merc V trans fluid in some of the older transmissions - check to see if you can use this as well in your trans. Do a search for "4R100/E4OD Trans Flush Procedure" by Mark Kovalsky - this is not a power flush only fluid replacement and could be used on most transmissions.

Pulling my 7,500 pound load around Wisconsin I see max trans temps around 150f. I use the reading off the stock internal trans temp sensor which is around 15f higher than a trans pan temp sensor. Most people use a pan temp sensor and it would probably be cheaper than what I use.

Don't forget to take care of the rest of the TV as well...

Oh yes, enjoy your new home on wheels!

Gary
 
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