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6.2L vs 3.5 EB at Altitude and 6500 lb Traile6

 
  #1  
Old 06-30-2018, 01:25 PM
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6.2L vs 3.5 EB at Altitude and 6500 lb Traile6

I have read many posts here and elsewhere, but want my own specific sanity check on my towing needs.

Trailer & Towing Needs
I have a Rockwood Mini Lite 2504S that is a 26' trailer with a GVWR of ~6,600 lbs (dry weights are crap and I'm always amazed by those who continue to try to use them). To be conservative, I will assume that it tows at that that weight and that my tongue weight is 850 lbs. I will not be towing anything larger and my needs are trending down ... my kids are growing and leaving, so I won't suddenly realize that I need a 37' 5er (e.g.). So, the assumption is that my towing needs will remain fixed.

I tow for 7-10 camping trips per year and then use the truck as my daily driver for the remainder of the year -- 25 mile round-trip commute on highways + mix of freeway/city driving for random use.

Current Tow Vehicle
2005 F-150 SuperCrew King Ranch 4WD and the 5.5' bed. This has the 5.4L 3V engine and the 4R75E 4-speed transmission. This has a tow package with the transmission fluid cooler and maybe a bigger radiator (I can't remember). I run E-rated LT tires and aftermarket shocks, but it is otherwise stock. 122,000 miles. Has new fluids, plugs (that was a fun job), coolant, etc. It runs hot when towing.

Towing Conditions
I live at 5,000' in Colorado and generally camp between 7,500 and 10,000'. When driving, I frequently cross steep passes that are 11,000'. Engines will lose around 3% of power for every 1,000' in altitude above some nominal value (usually 500 - 1,500'). It's also hot in Colorado. 85-100 F on the roads in the summer. Going up a 7% grade at 9,000' and 92 F is a really challenging environment ... and my current F-150 cannot compete.

Payload
I'll use a worst case scenario of 5 clothed people, various gear, WDH, firewood, bikes, aftermarket truck accessories, and everything else. Ends up being about 950 lbs plus another 850 lbs from the trailer. 1,800 lbs is my expected worst case payload demand. It's probably closer to 1,500 lbs, but let's use 1,800 as the requirement.

Current Performance
Running in 3rd gear (O/D locked out), I run around 58 MPH at 2,100 RPM and my Transmission is 200 F (speedhut gauge at the transmission test port) and my Engine Coolant is at 205 F (speedhut gauge at the driver side engine block drain plug) with ambient temp at 85 F. If I run around 65 MPH at 2,600 RPM in 3rd gear, my transmission climbs to 210-215 F and my Engine Coolant climbs to 220 F. If I downshift to 2nd or 1st for more demanding hill climbs, my transmission will get to 230 and my coolant to 240 ... which is as far as I'll push either for more than a minute or two. So, I'm working the truck too hard with this load, despite what Denis Leary promised me 13 years ago.

This is at moderate driving up roads that get to 8,500'. I have not yet taken it over the 11,000' passes, but I'd/I'll be crawling over them at 20-40 MPH so as not to destroy my transmission, engine, or both.

Otherwise, the towing experience is great. I have absolutely no issues with stability. I use an Equalizer 1000 lb WDH with integrated sway control. It works brilliantly. I feel a little vacuum suck when big rigs pass me, but it's not much and the rig handles it well. Cross winds are no issue. Footing, control, braking, and descent are all great, though, as stated, I've not had the 7% grades of the big 10-11K Rocky Mtn passes.

So, driveability, control, and overall feel are great. Power and heat are not good at all.

2019 Options
Sure, some sort of diesel would be the surefire fix. But, too expensive and let's end this part of the discussion now. No Powerstroke, Duramax, or Cummins in my future. So, I'm looking at the F-250 6.2L 4.30 gears versus the F-150 3.5L EB Max Tow, which are about $2,000 apart from one another as I have the two Lariats comparably equipped. I'll call price difference negligible and choose on capability/function.

6.2L F250 w/ 4.30 gears, 4WD SuperCrew 6.xx' bed
The positive here is that this is overkill for my towing needs. I don't really even need to get out the spreadsheets to look at payload and other ratings. The biggest pro is the overall capability for towing. Hitch and go ... the truck will laugh at a 6,600 lb load and a 1,800 lb payload.

The cons here are size and the naturally aspirated engine. I don't need a truck this large and it doesn't fit in my garage. That's actually a big deal to me, as it gets cold in the winter. My F150 5.5' Screw fits barely in my garage. The second con is the engine fighting altitude. Most of the material I've read praising the 6.2/4.30 combo is at "normal" altitudes. That big V8 is going to suffer from the lack of oxygen and maybe not make me as happy on my climbs?

I don't care about stiffness and smoothness of driving. I run my current F150 with stiff shocks and E-rated tires at 70 psi. It's stiff and bouncy and I don't care. Fuel economy is important, but probably in a complementary way. The 250 will give me 12-14 and the 150 will give me 17-19. All things being equal, I'll take the 5 MPG from the V6, but I wouldn't sacrifice safety/towability.

3.5L EB F150, 4WD SuperCrew, 5.5' Bed, Max Tow
The pro here is overall fit. It fits my life better than a HD truck. Fits in my garage (I think, assumption is that a 2019 5.5' bed Screw is the same nose-to-tail length as my 2005), fits into parking spaces, etc. Just easier to drive around on a day-to-day basis. The max tow package gives all that I could ever want for towing capacity ... in fact, I doubt I'd even need it, but wouldn't buy one without (it's literally $300 more than the standard tow package). As much as I like HD trucks' stances and sizes, the 1/2 ton frame fits my life better.

The first con here, and it's a massive con, is payload. The base payload of a 5.5' bed 4WD Screw is 2,030 lbs, per Ford's towing guide. But, that doesn't consider any factory options. Navigation systems, heated seats, and such aren't weightless. Would I get a truck that met my 1,800 lb need? Seems unlikely that I could option out a Lariat with Technology Package, Chrome Package, etc. and get a capable truck ... yet I know that people are using this 3.5 EB to haul around trailers much larger than my 26' 6,600 trailer.

Yes, there is a heavy duty payload package (HDPP) that could solve this con, but that is only offered on the 6.5' bed and only available with base trim packages. I need creature comforts and as soon as I opt into things like adaptive cruise control, the HDPP is not available. If I have to make those sacrifices, then it probably pushes me to the F-250. Heck, once I cannot park the truck in the garage, I'm probably a coin-flip between the two.

The second con here is control of the towing platform. I have great control with my 2005 F150, but it is a much heavier truck. I think the smaller V6 engine and the aluminum construction take around 1,200 lbs of weight off the comparable 2019 F150. I will, of course, meticulously set up my Equalizer WDH, but I wonder if the lighter truck won't feel as stable as my current F150. At the very least, it's not as simple as, "My 2005 F150 feels stable and in perfect control, so a new 1/2 ton will also feel stable and in control."

And, the final element I'll add is the pro of the turbo engine. The air at altitude still has less oxygen, whether that air is normally aspirated into the engine cylinders or compressed/forced in by a supercharger or turbocharger. However, superchargers and turbos overcome at least part of this oxygen deficiency. Turbo diesels and Turbo gassers are preferred around here. I can't go for the turbo diesel, but the 3.5 EB is a great option for high altitude (at least, on paper). After altitude effects, the 3.5 EB probably has more hp and torque than the 6.2L, while pushing a lighter vehicle.

Verdict
I'm 90% convinced that a 3.5L EB with Max Tow would be the right truck. Payload has me concerned, though. I will probably continue to research this and consider how to mitigate this risk.

Anything I'm missing, other than the ability to be concise?

Thanks.
 
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Old 07-01-2018, 08:38 AM
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The ecoboost will have better power but the 6.2 is a much better tow vehicle. But I would think for your needs a F150 would work. I daily drive a 2017 6.2 with 4.30's and It is a really nice vehicle but definitely has it's flaws. I average about 13.5mpg and it's hard to park. On my Lariat Value ccsb 4x4 my payload is 3150 lbs.
 
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Old 07-01-2018, 08:57 AM
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Well, sir......the F250/6.2L is likely to be the better towing platform all the way around except power wise. I.E. more cooling capacity, heavier duty transmission/differentials, tires, brakes, etc. The F150/3.5L boosted will make better power at altitude, and make a better daily driver and get better fuel mileage running empty. Not much help, are we!!!! LOL!! I guess you will have to be the one that decides to buy one of each then!!!!
 
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Old 07-01-2018, 09:22 AM
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If you plan on keeping it for a while then I would get the 6.2 F250, it will tow that trailer no problem and is a better built truck than the f150 ecoboost. The F250 will last much longer.
 
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Old 07-01-2018, 09:41 AM
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We have exactly the same size and weight of trailer and similar towing needs only I don't live or tow as much at altitude. I did much (too much) research and came to the conclusion that I could not get used to the MPGs of a 250 gas engine. I then focused on half tons and liked the Fords better (presently drive a Tundra and really like it but the new Crew Cabs have low payload and are dated). Then I got a head ache trying to figure out which truck Ford actually builds with all the Max Tow upgrades, it's not easy to figure out on the 2018.

Finally decided to order a 500a Lariat 157" Screw, MTTP with the 3.5. Had second thoughts and changed my order to HDPP/MTTP, because I felt the HD 150 is like a light duty 250 with better MPG as a daily driver. Like you ride quality should not be an issue the Tundra is running LT E tire at 50 psi. I drove a XL HD and the ride was not too bad especially with the tires at 45 psi. I was going to order a 500a Lariat anyway (Canadian 500a is better equipped) MTTP and LT tires so the HD upgrade was less then 500 dollars. Did I make the right choice? I will let you know in a few weeks when my truck gets here, but on paper the HD truck ticked off the boxes.

Just my 2 cents!
 
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Old 07-01-2018, 09:52 AM
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To help answer your question about towing in Colorado, the TFLtruck.com Ike Gauntlet towing test has towed with both the Ecoboost and 6.2 at 11,000 feet.

Donít forget descending is more important and youíll see in the videos that the Super Duty does a better job at this compared to the F150.

Check the length measurements online as I think the new F150 is longer than the one you have now.

I live at 7000í, currently have a 2017 F250 6.2 3.73 CCSB XLT FX4, and previously had a 2014 F150 CCSB XLT EcoBoost 4x4. The engines are different but the 6.2 stays cooler and can do that all day long. Pulling the same load both the 6.2 and EB will do the same work and produce similar heat. The 6.2 doesnít get heat soaked... the EB will have diminished advantage once the inter Cooler and turbos are hot.
 
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Old 07-02-2018, 12:30 PM
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I think that you are going to find the payload on the Lariat and higher trim F150's is going to be down around 1500 lbs, give or take even with the max tow.
if you could option down to a more basic XLT you would be up around the 1700's, give or take with the max tow. If you are dead set that you need to have 1800, you are either buying a more basic truck, the HD Payload package, or the SD.

Before you decide to go with the f150, open the door and look at your payload sticker on that specific truck. that number is good enough to go by as it accounts for the GVWR and the curb weight of that truck with all of the options.

My money buys the F150, just so i don't have to deal with driving an SD every day.....

I'll have to say, too, that i'm surprised by the temps you are reporting with your current F150. I've never seen those kind of temps on my expedition (same drivetrain). I've not pulled any long grades with mine, but in the rolling hills (read: downshifting to 2nd on every hill every couple of minutes) the hottest I've seen the transmission was a touch over 195. This was towing in 90 degree weather. once i got into flatter land, the trans temp came back down to a tick over 180. When towing, unless the road won't let me, i tow with the cruise set at 65mph and let it ride. This is with the same trans cooler that came with your F150 (my cooler actually came from a F150 with the towing package, which was an upgrade from what mine came with). It sounds like maybe your cooling capacity on your radiator is restricted causing higher than normal temps. perhaps air density has something to do with it too, though. I'm around 1400 feet, is all.

the only reason i mention it is i think you would see much lower temps on any of the current offerings, so i wouldn't let that weigh in on your decision. i think yours is running a lot hotter than it should.
 
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Old 07-02-2018, 12:36 PM
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Driving a superduty every day isn't that bad, especially one of the new ones, they have a better turning radius than my old leaf spring front does.
 
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Old 07-02-2018, 12:43 PM
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Had a 2012 F150 CCSB XLT 3.5 Ecoboost. It towed my 6000 lb TT very well but I never towed it at anything above 5,500 ft elevation but would expect it to do well.

Now have a 2012 F250 CCSB Lariat 6.2 gas with 3.73 axle ratio towing a 9500 lb TT. Have towed passes as high as 7500 ft and still had sufficient power.

If I were still towing the 6000 lb trailer I would have stayed with the F150 EB but payload is a concern once you load up all your gear - have you scaled your current truck and trailer (loaded for camping) to find out the actual tongue weight that you are dealing with?

The F150 felt the crosswinds and passing trucks more than I do now with the heavier trailer and the F250. The lighter aluminum F150's may get pushed around more by the trailer but I can't speak to that as mine was the older steel body.
 
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Old 07-02-2018, 06:17 PM
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After the last 2 F150; both which I think where really great trucks, and the 2017 F250 6.2 , I find the F250 drives and handles great and it is no comparison pulling a 7000lbs. travel trailer. The truck has plenty of pep and is smooth. Heck it rides as good as any truck 10years ago. Yes it is a little longer and a little taller and I park it away from the front door of businesses. I don`t think I will ever go back to a F150.The F250 drives and handles more like a truck a few years ago. You stated you had a 2005 and I think I had a 2006 with the 5.4. You would be pleased with the 6.2 if you decide to go that route.
 
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Old 07-19-2018, 08:17 AM
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First thing I wouild do would be get rid of that 3 valve engine truck.. They will, not can, but will blow sparks plugs out under some heavy loads. I was looking at a truck with that engine and my mechanic friend held a gun to my head and said DO NOT BUY THAT CRAP.. or maybe it was a beer can but i got the message. google spark plug blow out ford engine. for more



Originally Posted by 67L48 View Post
I have read many posts here and elsewhere, but want my own specific sanity check on my towing needs.

Trailer & Towing Needs
I have a Rockwood Mini Lite 2504S that is a 26' trailer with a GVWR of ~6,600 lbs (dry weights are crap and I'm always amazed by those who continue to try to use them). To be conservative, I will assume that it tows at that that weight and that my tongue weight is 850 lbs. I will not be towing anything larger and my needs are trending down ... my kids are growing and leaving, so I won't suddenly realize that I need a 37' 5er (e.g.). So, the assumption is that my towing needs will remain fixed.

I tow for 7-10 camping trips per year and then use the truck as my daily driver for the remainder of the year -- 25 mile round-trip commute on highways + mix of freeway/city driving for random use.

Current Tow Vehicle
2005 F-150 SuperCrew King Ranch 4WD and the 5.5' bed. This has the 5.4L 3V engine and the 4R75E 4-speed transmission. This has a tow package with the transmission fluid cooler and maybe a bigger radiator (I can't remember). I run E-rated LT tires and aftermarket shocks, but it is otherwise stock. 122,000 miles. Has new fluids, plugs (that was a fun job), coolant, etc. It runs hot when towing.

Towing Conditions
I live at 5,000' in Colorado and generally camp between 7,500 and 10,000'. When driving, I frequently cross steep passes that are 11,000'. Engines will lose around 3% of power for every 1,000' in altitude above some nominal value (usually 500 - 1,500'). It's also hot in Colorado. 85-100 F on the roads in the summer. Going up a 7% grade at 9,000' and 92 F is a really challenging environment ... and my current F-150 cannot compete.

Payload
I'll use a worst case scenario of 5 clothed people, various gear, WDH, firewood, bikes, aftermarket truck accessories, and everything else. Ends up being about 950 lbs plus another 850 lbs from the trailer. 1,800 lbs is my expected worst case payload demand. It's probably closer to 1,500 lbs, but let's use 1,800 as the requirement.

Current Performance
Running in 3rd gear (O/D locked out), I run around 58 MPH at 2,100 RPM and my Transmission is 200 F (speedhut gauge at the transmission test port) and my Engine Coolant is at 205 F (speedhut gauge at the driver side engine block drain plug) with ambient temp at 85 F. If I run around 65 MPH at 2,600 RPM in 3rd gear, my transmission climbs to 210-215 F and my Engine Coolant climbs to 220 F. If I downshift to 2nd or 1st for more demanding hill climbs, my transmission will get to 230 and my coolant to 240 ... which is as far as I'll push either for more than a minute or two. So, I'm working the truck too hard with this load, despite what Denis Leary promised me 13 years ago.

This is at moderate driving up roads that get to 8,500'. I have not yet taken it over the 11,000' passes, but I'd/I'll be crawling over them at 20-40 MPH so as not to destroy my transmission, engine, or both.

Otherwise, the towing experience is great. I have absolutely no issues with stability. I use an Equalizer 1000 lb WDH with integrated sway control. It works brilliantly. I feel a little vacuum suck when big rigs pass me, but it's not much and the rig handles it well. Cross winds are no issue. Footing, control, braking, and descent are all great, though, as stated, I've not had the 7% grades of the big 10-11K Rocky Mtn passes.

So, driveability, control, and overall feel are great. Power and heat are not good at all.

2019 Options
Sure, some sort of diesel would be the surefire fix. But, too expensive and let's end this part of the discussion now. No Powerstroke, Duramax, or Cummins in my future. So, I'm looking at the F-250 6.2L 4.30 gears versus the F-150 3.5L EB Max Tow, which are about $2,000 apart from one another as I have the two Lariats comparably equipped. I'll call price difference negligible and choose on capability/function.

6.2L F250 w/ 4.30 gears, 4WD SuperCrew 6.xx' bed
The positive here is that this is overkill for my towing needs. I don't really even need to get out the spreadsheets to look at payload and other ratings. The biggest pro is the overall capability for towing. Hitch and go ... the truck will laugh at a 6,600 lb load and a 1,800 lb payload.

The cons here are size and the naturally aspirated engine. I don't need a truck this large and it doesn't fit in my garage. That's actually a big deal to me, as it gets cold in the winter. My F150 5.5' Screw fits barely in my garage. The second con is the engine fighting altitude. Most of the material I've read praising the 6.2/4.30 combo is at "normal" altitudes. That big V8 is going to suffer from the lack of oxygen and maybe not make me as happy on my climbs?

I don't care about stiffness and smoothness of driving. I run my current F150 with stiff shocks and E-rated tires at 70 psi. It's stiff and bouncy and I don't care. Fuel economy is important, but probably in a complementary way. The 250 will give me 12-14 and the 150 will give me 17-19. All things being equal, I'll take the 5 MPG from the V6, but I wouldn't sacrifice safety/towability.

3.5L EB F150, 4WD SuperCrew, 5.5' Bed, Max Tow
The pro here is overall fit. It fits my life better than a HD truck. Fits in my garage (I think, assumption is that a 2019 5.5' bed Screw is the same nose-to-tail length as my 2005), fits into parking spaces, etc. Just easier to drive around on a day-to-day basis. The max tow package gives all that I could ever want for towing capacity ... in fact, I doubt I'd even need it, but wouldn't buy one without (it's literally $300 more than the standard tow package). As much as I like HD trucks' stances and sizes, the 1/2 ton frame fits my life better.

The first con here, and it's a massive con, is payload. The base payload of a 5.5' bed 4WD Screw is 2,030 lbs, per Ford's towing guide. But, that doesn't consider any factory options. Navigation systems, heated seats, and such aren't weightless. Would I get a truck that met my 1,800 lb need? Seems unlikely that I could option out a Lariat with Technology Package, Chrome Package, etc. and get a capable truck ... yet I know that people are using this 3.5 EB to haul around trailers much larger than my 26' 6,600 trailer.

Yes, there is a heavy duty payload package (HDPP) that could solve this con, but that is only offered on the 6.5' bed and only available with base trim packages. I need creature comforts and as soon as I opt into things like adaptive cruise control, the HDPP is not available. If I have to make those sacrifices, then it probably pushes me to the F-250. Heck, once I cannot park the truck in the garage, I'm probably a coin-flip between the two.

The second con here is control of the towing platform. I have great control with my 2005 F150, but it is a much heavier truck. I think the smaller V6 engine and the aluminum construction take around 1,200 lbs of weight off the comparable 2019 F150. I will, of course, meticulously set up my Equalizer WDH, but I wonder if the lighter truck won't feel as stable as my current F150. At the very least, it's not as simple as, "My 2005 F150 feels stable and in perfect control, so a new 1/2 ton will also feel stable and in control."

And, the final element I'll add is the pro of the turbo engine. The air at altitude still has less oxygen, whether that air is normally aspirated into the engine cylinders or compressed/forced in by a supercharger or turbocharger. However, superchargers and turbos overcome at least part of this oxygen deficiency. Turbo diesels and Turbo gassers are preferred around here. I can't go for the turbo diesel, but the 3.5 EB is a great option for high altitude (at least, on paper). After altitude effects, the 3.5 EB probably has more hp and torque than the 6.2L, while pushing a lighter vehicle.

Verdict
I'm 90% convinced that a 3.5L EB with Max Tow would be the right truck. Payload has me concerned, though. I will probably continue to research this and consider how to mitigate this risk.

Anything I'm missing, other than the ability to be concise?

Thanks.

 
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Old 07-19-2018, 09:01 AM
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My prior truck was an '07 Nissan Titan. It would really heat up (but not overheat) going up the same passes that the OP is going over. And that was with a much smaller load than I'm currently pulling. That's why I went big and got the F-350 with the 6.7L engine. I don't want to have to worry about power loss, overheating or the trailer wagging the truck.

If I was the OP I would hook up the current travel trailer to both trucks and see how they do going up I-70 coming out of Denver.
 
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Old 07-19-2018, 09:56 AM
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I just had a similar dilemma and had a 3.5 ECO HDPP on order, but ended up buying a 250 off the lot and couldn't be happier. I can no longer park in my garage and have to park further back at walmart, but I am happy overall. I opted for the 3.73 gears and that is sufficient at 3,304 payload and 12,500 towing capacity.
 
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Old 07-19-2018, 10:41 PM
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Originally Posted by carl2591 View Post
First thing I wouild do would be get rid of that 3 valve engine truck.. They will, not can, but will blow sparks plugs out under some heavy loads. I was looking at a truck with that engine and my mechanic friend held a gun to my head and said DO NOT BUY THAT CRAP.. or maybe it was a beer can but i got the message. google spark plug blow out ford engine. for more
The 3 valve trucks did not blow spark plugs out. They had problems with them getting stuck into the heads. The 2 valve motors had problems with blowing plugs, but usually was due to improper installation. If your "mechanic" friend told you other wise, it's time to find a new "mechanic" friend.
 
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Old 07-22-2018, 05:30 PM
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Having read through All your notes and then your conclusion regarding max tow I think you are spot on. My recent upgrade last fall I went to a Rockwood 2304DS double slide- a couple feet shorter at 25 Ft overall down from a 30 Ft TT. Like you I downsized to something fitting us better. The 2304DS is 5950 lbs dry and loaded just shy of 7000 lbs.
Shortly after I traded my 2011 F150 with 5.0 and upgraded to a 2018 F150 4x4 XLT S/crew 3.5 157 WB MaxTow 3.55 EL. 10 speed trans. This truck does so much more than my 2011 in terms of pulling power, fuel mileage and comfort in general. It is well equipped but not at Lariat levels. NO moonroof or adaptive stuff but yes it does have heated seats, navigation, trailer tow mirrors, FX4 off road packages. With all that it does come in at 1785 carry capacity. At or very near your request.
While I haven’t towed huge elevations (about 4900 Ft elevation) I have seen lots of grades to say 6% in Wa State. Truck runs extremely well pulling the trailer at 65mph will see about 2000 rpms. I think it’s oretty close and while I’m not positive I went to the ford web site and did a quick build and you can get the Max Tow in 145 WB. This would probably take 50-100 lbs off putting you right where you wanted to be. I’m loving the new truck and the ecoboost really does the job.
 

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