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Old 07-11-2020, 09:51 AM   #1
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Ugh.. towing issues, need your wisdom

Well. We are pretty new to the world of towing. We have towed utliity trailers and even a vintage camper, all without issue. We decided to go all in and got a 2020 Cruiser Aire TT, box is 28 and almost 33 ft long bumper to tongue. We just acquired a 2015 F150 with a tow package, max tow 10700 and the TT is 6500 dry. We also got a Hensley Arrow, thought we might as well go big. Towing the TT home from the dealership was terrible, squishy all the way along with unstable steering. Coolant temp also went up after going up a steep incline but straightened out fine after we reached the top. Tested with a friend's older 150 (heavier body), towed a little better but still felt off.


After more reading and research, we concluded the F150 was maybe not enough truck (even though on paper it should have been) and found an used F350 to use as the TV. Plus we didnt want to mod out the F150 with E tires etc- we like it just as it is. So... excitedly brought the used F350 home and did a test tow yesterday. While the squishy feeling went away, the steering and shifting from side to side still felt weird and it didnt feel like "no TT was behind us". And while climbing a very small incline, the engine overheated and pulled over to the shoulder-- coolant exploded all over the engine. Not sure if we missed a bad hose when purchasing the truck (we drove it 800 miles home without issue) or something else at play here.



I thought about the vague possibility of something off with the trailer brakes-- since the same TT caused both trucks to overheat, with more dire consequences to the F350. I dont know... really stumped on this one.


Also, the Hensley hitch- we are about ready to throw in the towel and return it. Not sure if its contributing to the weird steering/shifting issue. I keep reading about people super happy with the Arrow and we just havent been able to see this with our setup. And yes we have checked with Hensley and other owners about our setup, all seems fine.



Sigh... so ready to jump into the RV life but things are super complicated.



Curious to any ideas you guys might be able to throw our way. We dont have any experience towing a larger TT and maybe we have unreasonable expectations of how it should feel to tow. Do you guys tow and deal with the shifting (not swaying) feeling all the time??
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Old 07-11-2020, 10:00 AM   #2
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Check the wheels of the camper for heat they would be hot enough you couldn’t hold your hand on them if sticking. You will also notice a distinct smell.

About the overheat have the cooling system serviced. I’d have all hoses checked, thermostat, radiator cap, and coolant changed. If you bought the Ford used who knows what the previous owner used to top off coolant or what the actual service history is.

I use a different brand of hitch so I cannot help with the setup of yours.
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Old 07-11-2020, 10:16 AM   #3
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If the brakes on the trailer were dragging bad enough to cause that, you'd know it in pretty short order.

For the steering- I wonder if you aren't encountering two entirely different issues with similar symptoms.

With the 150, sounds like your steer axle is unloaded enough to make it feel 'floaty' coupled with some softer tires and softer suspension.

The 350 I believe has a solid front axle if it's 4WD. They handle way differently than independent front suspension found in the smaller trucks. Loaded they can wander around a little and feel different. I've never owned one that doesn't.

To the over heating issue, that's odd. I have no suggestions. If the brakes on the trailer were dragging that badly there's definitely damage done there now.
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Old 07-11-2020, 10:22 AM   #4
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Check the wheels of the camper for heat they would be hot enough you couldnít hold your hand on them if sticking. You will also notice a distinct smell.

About the overheat have the cooling system serviced. Iíd have all hoses checked, thermostat, radiator cap, and coolant changed. If you bought the Ford used who knows what the previous owner used to top off coolant or what the actual service history is.

I use a different brand of hitch so I cannot help with the setup of yours.



While I didnt check the wheels of the TT specifically, when we set the leveling blocks upon arrival at home I didnt feel any heat coming off the tires so thats one of the reasons Im doubtful of the brake idea. Hoping that its just coincidence re: the overheating for both trucks.



Will see what the shop has to say about the coolant situation, and go from there.
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Old 07-11-2020, 10:23 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by smurfsofwar View Post
If the brakes on the trailer were dragging bad enough to cause that, you'd know it in pretty short order.

For the steering- I wonder if you aren't encountering two entirely different issues with similar symptoms.

With the 150, sounds like your steer axle is unloaded enough to make it feel 'floaty' coupled with some softer tires and softer suspension.

The 350 I believe has a solid front axle if it's 4WD. They handle way differently than independent front suspension found in the smaller trucks. Loaded they can wander around a little and feel different. I've never owned one that doesn't.

To the over heating issue, that's odd. I have no suggestions. If the brakes on the trailer were dragging that badly there's definitely damage done there now.



Agree about the 150 and floating issue- thats why we decided to go ahead and get the 350. Now for SD trucks (and yes its a 4x4), we have zero experience so was curious about the experience of others. Thanks for sharing your view--
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Old 07-11-2020, 10:30 AM   #6
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I've towed a TT with both a conventional WD hitch and a Hensley Arrow and like the latter much better because wind gusts or passing trucks don't push the tow vehicle around nearly as much.

Have you taken your rig to a scale to get tongue and axle weights? That information is important to get your hitch adjusted properly.

You don't mention which engine or rear axle ratio are in the F350. Just because it's an F350 doesn't mean that it is set up to tow well.

You are also correct to be suspicious about the trailer with respect to overheating. New trailers have come from the factory with improperly adjusted bearings and brakes. There are routine maintenance items and can be checked fairly easily by a DIYer.
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Old 07-11-2020, 10:39 AM   #7
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I've towed a TT with both a conventional WD hitch and a Hensley Arrow and like the latter much better because wind gusts or passing trucks don't push the tow vehicle around nearly as much.

Have you taken your rig to a scale to get tongue and axle weights? That information is important to get your hitch adjusted properly.

You don't mention which engine or rear axle ratio are in the F350. Just because it's an F350 doesn't mean that it is set up to tow well.

You are also correct to be suspicious about the trailer with respect to overheating. New trailers have come from the factory with improperly adjusted bearings and brakes. There are routine maintenance items and can be checked fairly easily by a DIYer.



Lol. We are so far from being DIYers but guess we gotta learn. Any suggestions on checking the brakes/bearings? Should we ask a shop to check for this situation just to be sure? Assume it would need to be a RV specific shop?



2010 F350, v10 engine (we dont want the diesel maintenance especially with older trucks) and 4.10 axle. Max tow 12,500. Went w the F350 for payload reasons (we were near or even over the limit with the F150).
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Old 07-11-2020, 10:54 AM   #8
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That engine and axle combination shouldn't have any problem with your TT.

There are YouTube videos on adjusting trailer bearings and brakes that will explain it way better than I can.

If you decide to take it in, you don't need to take it to an RV place. I haven't looked up your specific trailer, but most RV axle assemblies are the same as any other trailers. A shop that sells and services utility and construction trailers might actually be a better choice than an RV shop. Just call beforehand to make certain that they service RV axles assemblies, too.
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Old 07-11-2020, 12:02 PM   #9
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I towed a 6,500lb travel trailer with a 2012 F-450. I felt zero sway but did feel a little extra bouncing. Nothing bad at all. I could feel the trailer back there though.

I towed that same travel trailer with my friends 2005 Ram 1500 and that felt like way too much trailer for that truck.
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Old 07-11-2020, 09:55 PM   #10
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We used to tow a 7000 lb 5th wheel with a Cummins equipped Dodge Dually and we could tell "it" was back there even though the truck pulled it fine. Your F350 has an issue if it overheated pulling that trailer. Have a mechanic check the truck out to find out what's wrong.
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Old 07-11-2020, 11:03 PM   #11
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When you can, top off the fuel on the truck and weigh it with the family and gear in it.

Then take the complete rig and weigh it again, with the weight distribution bars disconnected.

Take the weight of the truck and subtract it from the combined rig weight. That will give you the trailer total weight.

Subtract the trailer axle weight from the total trailer weight, that will give you a tongue weight (including the hitch).

Take the trailer total weight and multiply by .13 (13%) this number should be close to the tongue weight you calculated. If the tongue weight is below 10% you have a tail heavy trailer that the Hensley hitch won't fix. Time to fill forward water tank or empty aft tank, or move stuff forward. Also make sure the black and gray tanks are empty by dumping them.

Ford 4x4 rigid front axles are somewhat noted for steering feel issues and that can be sometimes cured by a steering stabilizer.

Overheating does not make any sense, dunno. I would give the F350 a good going over before you attempt any more towing. New belts, hoses, colant, oil change, trans fluid change, axle lubes, brake inspection, everything.

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Old 07-12-2020, 12:01 AM   #12
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The light steering make me lean towards the tongue of the trailer being to low, or the Hitch not being tight enough.
I have a diesel f350 and towing my 9k trailer is not an uncomfortable event at all. I have more "pulling" power than you, but I'm talking about the ride, steering and other drivability issues (my truck has very little steering wandering).
Some thing to check;
Tires should be fully inflated, 75 rear/ 70 front (I think). The shocks should be of good quality and in good shape. There should be no oil at the top of the shock body. If there's oil, then it's time for a new set. These big trucks hide bad shocks very well, because the ride is always stiff and the springs are very heavy. You'll generally only "feel" bad shocks when loaded down heavy.
When the trailer is hooked up and the hitch tightened, the truck and the trailer should sit pretty level. No sagging on the rear of the truck and no tongue up or down on the trailer.
As far as overheating, have the cooling system flushed and a good non-silicate antifreeze. Have the thermostat replaced and the radiator "pressure checked". It's not a bad idea to clean the a/c condenser and trans cooler to make sure there flowing air properly. Also the coolant bottle cap could be bad and not holding pressure. Worse case scenario is bad head gaskets. You can diagnose that pretty easy with a pressure gauge and some parts from home depot.
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Old 07-12-2020, 05:31 AM   #13
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We used to have a 28' trailer and pulled it with a Hensley hitch and it was very stable...never any sway.

Double check the hitch setup. Perhaps the nose of the trailer needs to be just a little lower to increase hitch weight.

Check tires on truck for proper inflation. And...are the shocks good, as well as other suspension components?

Do you have too much heavy gear or stuff towards the rear of the trailer? Try shifting more weight to the forward compartments.

Have the axle(s) of the trailer checked. Bent? Not aligned/mounted properly?

Hope you can find the answer!
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Old 07-12-2020, 09:20 AM   #14
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If the only cooler hooked to your transmission is the radiator cooler that is your problem going up hills will cause excessive heating in the trans especially if the torque converter is not locked up at the time. You probably need to add an extra transmission cooler. Most trucks with the tow package come with them however even Older F350 without tow package did not come with the extra cooler
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