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Old 07-11-2014, 09:34 PM   #1
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Towing frontal area

Does anyone or has anyone ever paid attention to the frontal area limitations of their tow vehicle? My 06 F-150 has one mentioned in the owners manual.

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Old 07-11-2014, 09:57 PM   #2
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Have not owned a vehicle that had frontal towing concerns.

The larger the frontal area the greater the issues that could effect the towing capability and handling of your truck. Semi's passing or wind gusts could create forces that will exceed the limits of the truck.

Generally speaking they issue those warnings because of concerns. Most of the time those concerns are based on a series of events occuring.

If you are going to exceed the limits I would suggest you slow down in order to reduce any effects and give yourself more reaction time if you do encounter a handling issue.

Gordon and Janet
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Old 07-11-2014, 10:17 PM   #3
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Dodge mini vans were only rated for 32 s/f for years , so they were only rated to pull a tent trailer. Many who exceeded the limit , overheated or destroyed their transmissions as soon as they were faced with a headwind.
99DSDP 3884, Freightliner, XC, CAT 3126B, 300 HP /ALLISON 3060
2000 Caravan toad, Remco & Blue Ox.
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Old 07-12-2014, 12:51 AM   #4
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Not an "issued warning" but a limitation (in the owner's manual) on frontal area due to aerodynamic drag, as mentioned, most likely affecting the transmission and heat dissipation.
I see lots of huge 5th wheels with lots of frontal area going down the road and I have seen NO discussions on this site referencing "frontal area" limitations on the TV. Just wondering why?
We talk endlessly of tire limitations, weight limitations, axle limitations, tow vehicle weight limitations but nothing on frontal aerodynamic drag limitations.
I would have thought someone would have brought it up.
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Old 07-12-2014, 05:45 AM   #5
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I noticed my Sooper Dooty's manual listed the frontal area... 60 sq ft... That's about 4 times the frontal area of my Mustang... It's a barn!
2011 F-250 Sooper Dooty 4x4 "Menthol"
2010 Sunset Creek 267 RL "Not Far"
(Not far sale, not far lease, not far rent, not far loan and not far from home)
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Old 07-12-2014, 06:49 AM   #6
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I have seen the Honda pilot and Honda ridgeline have these limitations. Can't remember where I saw it just remember thinking it limited to very small camper trailers.

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Old 07-12-2014, 08:55 AM   #7
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Frontal area limitations are primarily tied to GCWR. The stated GCWR for your tow vehicle assumes the frontal area of your rig is less than the frontal area limit stated in the Owner's Guide. The more frontal area, the more aerodynamic drag your rig has, requiring more power and torque (and GCWR) to drag that big wind sail through the air.

Per the Owner's Guide, the max frontal area for my 2012 F-150 is 60 sq. feet. That's a TT that's 8' wide and only 7.5' tall. I guess if you measure the height of just the box and not include the air below the box or the AC above the box, then my small TT just barely meets the 60 sq. ft. limit of 8'x7.5'. But most TTs and almost all fifth wheel RV trailers have more frontal area than that. So that's another reason the GCWR (and tow rating) are optimistic.

IIRC, the max frontal area of a trailer on my '99.5 F-250 diesel was also 60 sq. feet. My 5er was 8 feet wide and almost 12 feet tall to the top of the AC unit, so I was well over the frontal area limit. I towed that 5er all over the USA for 11 years and about 100,000 miles with no problems. But GCWR and tow rating were not the limit on that tow vehicle either. On both the F-150 and the F-250, I ran out of GVWR (payload capacity for hitch weight) long before I got close to the GCWR.

My 2013 Toyota Venza with the 4-cylinder engine has a max trailer weight of 2,500 pounds, with or without trailer brakes. I can't find any mention of frontal area restriction in that Owner's Guide.
Grumpy ole man with over 50 years towing experience. Now my heaviest trailer is a 7,000-pound enclosed cargo trailer, RV is a 5,600 pound Skyline Nomad Joey 196S, and my tow vehicle is a 2012 F-150 EcoBoost SuperCrew.
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Old 07-13-2014, 04:25 PM   #8
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Our 2005 honda pilot expresses it this way, 3500lb max for camper, trailer, etc, 4000lb max for a boat

2016 3500 6.7L DRW
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