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Old 03-02-2021, 01:19 PM   #1
Bea
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Tow Haul Mode and Engine Braking

We tow our 21C with a 2017 3.5 EB Ford Expedition. We are very satisfied with this combo, but there is just one perplexing situation regarding the Tow Haul Mode and engine braking on downhills that we would like some advice/clarity on. I've read our Expedition manual on this and even called several different local Ford service technicians at different locations and got different answers to our question on this...so we are curious what you all do in this situation:

You are towing your trailer (in tow haul mode) on a windy, mountain road with hair-pin turns. The tow haul mode does a fine job with engine braking by keeping it in a low gear, no problem. But then, the curvy road transitions to a straight long downhill decent towards the bottom of the mountain. You want to pick up some speed but the engine (in tow haul mode) still thinks there's a curve up ahead and locks you into that very low gear. Giving it more gas only revs the engine up (uncomfortably) high (for far too long) and keeps you at a low speed, with cars behind you...and you can hear them thinking, 'why doesn't he speed up'?! This continues until the road flattens out. Then, when you give it plenty of gas, it will FINALLY upshift so you can pick up speed again.

When I'm NOT towing on a mountain decent, I normally slip my gear into the manual mode so I can adjust my engine braking and speed accordingly on the way down. However, I'm not sure whether I can do this while towing our trailer in the Tow Haul mode or not??

One technician told me to turn the Tow Haul mode off and then 'be careful using the brakes on the way down'. No way!! Another tech told me to turn the Tow Haul Mode off and then use the manual gears for engine braking to gradually increase speed and then turn the Tow Haul Mode back on at the bottom, when its level again. Yet another tech told me to slip it into the manual gear mode WHILE in the Tow Haul mode, to slowly increase speed on the way down -and when at the bottom, slip it back to automatic again. This tech said it doesn't hurt to manually adjust the gears while in Tow Haul mode. So does this mean the manual gear setting overrides the Tow Haul mode gear functions? Is this really Ok to do? What do you all do/recommend?

Thanks in advance! -Bea
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Old 03-02-2021, 02:33 PM   #2
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Hello Bea.
I also have an Expedition but not your year.
Two ideas to try.
1) There is a Ford Expedition forum with an endless selection of "experts". You might pose your question to that group.

https://www.expeditionforum.com

2) Next to the rotary gear selection dial is the + - symbol. That allows you to select the gear you feel to be most appropriate to the current condition. If you want a higher gear, use the + symbol. Thats what I use. Give it a try, perhaps. Might work for you as well.

A warm & sunny day in Colorful Colorado.

Ed
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Old 03-02-2021, 02:40 PM   #3
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I'm not sure the tow mode keeps it in low gears, I use tow mode when towing, in all gears....and it seems to work fine.
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Old 03-02-2021, 03:23 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bea View Post
We tow our 21C with a 2017 3.5 EB Ford Expedition. We are very satisfied with this combo, but there is just one perplexing situation regarding the Tow Haul Mode and engine braking on downhills that we would like some advice/clarity on. I've read our Expedition manual on this and even called several different local Ford service technicians at different locations and got different answers to our question on this...so we are curious what you all do in this situation:

You are towing your trailer (in tow haul mode) on a windy, mountain road with hair-pin turns. The tow haul mode does a fine job with engine braking by keeping it in a low gear, no problem. But then, the curvy road transitions to a straight long downhill decent towards the bottom of the mountain. You want to pick up some speed but the engine (in tow haul mode) still thinks there's a curve up ahead and locks you into that very low gear. Giving it more gas only revs the engine up (uncomfortably) high (for far too long) and keeps you at a low speed, with cars behind you...and you can hear them thinking, 'why doesn't he speed up'?! This continues until the road flattens out. Then, when you give it plenty of gas, it will FINALLY upshift so you can pick up speed again.

When I'm NOT towing on a mountain decent, I normally slip my gear into the manual mode so I can adjust my engine braking and speed accordingly on the way down. However, I'm not sure whether I can do this while towing our trailer in the Tow Haul mode or not??

One technician told me to turn the Tow Haul mode off and then 'be careful using the brakes on the way down'. No way!! Another tech told me to turn the Tow Haul Mode off and then use the manual gears for engine braking to gradually increase speed and then turn the Tow Haul Mode back on at the bottom, when its level again. Yet another tech told me to slip it into the manual gear mode WHILE in the Tow Haul mode, to slowly increase speed on the way down -and when at the bottom, slip it back to automatic again. This tech said it doesn't hurt to manually adjust the gears while in Tow Haul mode. So does this mean the manual gear setting overrides the Tow Haul mode gear functions? Is this really Ok to do? What do you all do/recommend?

Thanks in advance! -Bea
I have a 2016 F150 3.5 Ecoboost and I never use the Tow Haul mode. It's terrible having a preprogrammed transmission for non-preprogrammed roads.

Instead, I use the +/- on the shifter to select the gearing I need going downhills and twisty roads that undulate. This allows me to keep the power when and where I need it. I prefer having control vs. a program trying to adjust the gearing.

Keep in mind to be aware when you need to down shift on hills or at sharp corning/stopping.
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Old 03-02-2021, 04:10 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bea View Post
We tow our 21C with a 2017 3.5 EB Ford Expedition. We are very satisfied with this combo, but there is just one perplexing situation regarding the Tow Haul Mode and engine braking on downhills that we would like some advice/clarity on. I've read our Expedition manual on this and even called several different local Ford service technicians at different locations and got different answers to our question on this...so we are curious what you all do in this situation:

You are towing your trailer (in tow haul mode) on a windy, mountain road with hair-pin turns. The tow haul mode does a fine job with engine braking by keeping it in a low gear, no problem. But then, the curvy road transitions to a straight long downhill decent towards the bottom of the mountain. You want to pick up some speed but the engine (in tow haul mode) still thinks there's a curve up ahead and locks you into that very low gear. Giving it more gas only revs the engine up (uncomfortably) high (for far too long) and keeps you at a low speed, with cars behind you...and you can hear them thinking, 'why doesn't he speed up'?! This continues until the road flattens out. Then, when you give it plenty of gas, it will FINALLY upshift so you can pick up speed again.

When I'm NOT towing on a mountain decent, I normally slip my gear into the manual mode so I can adjust my engine braking and speed accordingly on the way down. However, I'm not sure whether I can do this while towing our trailer in the Tow Haul mode or not??
With our '05 F250 Crew Cab Diesel when we were towing we were in tow haul period. We often combined tow haul mode with the cruise control.

I think you might find that solves your problem. When you brake going into a curve the vehicle will disengage the cruise control. When you enter the straight away, just hit resume. Your vehicle will accelerate to the previous speed.

Always being in tow haul means even for unexpected braking you'll get engine braking.

Being in tow haul mode saves wear on your vehicles brakes.
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Old 03-02-2021, 06:26 PM   #6
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We own a 2015 Ford F150 Supercrew with the V8 engine towing the 5TA and we have the same issues in Tow/Haul mode so I do not use it or if its a long down hill or lots of up and down I use the manual shifter. Various mechanics at Ford tell me its some sort of software glitch and will not harm the tranny but I hate the fact that it sometimes does not want to switch back up into a higher gear when hitting the flats! In any case I've done a lot of mountains in the last couple of years and if shallow slopes I do not use the Tow/Haul setting; if I hit some steep stuff I use the manual shifter. Hope that helps
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Old 03-02-2021, 07:18 PM   #7
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This may sound weird and or scary, yet have done this with my previous tow vehicle- 2013 Yukon and now with 2019 Expedition 3.5 EB: set cruise control. Even when a sharp decent it will set as early as 20 mph. Then you can set speed up or down as necessary., and it will use both the transmission and brakes.

When we descended CA 108 from Sonora Pass Westbound I started in manual 1st then paddle shifted as necessary. That is one steep descent.
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Old 03-02-2021, 07:19 PM   #8
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I have a 2017 F150 2.7L EB and 6 speed tranny. I have the same experience as Bea as far as it not shifting quickly when I give it gas, but it shifts soon enough to not bother me too much. I know most of the major roads in my weekend camping range well enough that I know where I'm going to experience the problem and take action before it becomes an annoyance.
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Old 03-02-2021, 08:13 PM   #9
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Tow/haul mode will not prevent the vehicle from speeding up. Just push the accelerator pedal, trust the transmission control computer to pick a suitable gear, and go; the engine speed will go higher than you apparently would have chosen, but that's okay.

My usual method (including in our motorhome with its Ford SuperDuty F53 chassis) is to just turn tow/haul off long enough for the expected upshift, then turn it back on. Nothing scary about that, although there may be a slicker way to achieve your desired result.
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Old 03-02-2021, 10:09 PM   #10
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A huge THANK YOU to all who have responded! This has not been a huge problem, just noticeable and mildly irritating, now and then. Finally remembered to ask you all about it today and so glad I did! Nice to know I'm not the only one experiencing this, but I'm still convinced this is more 'operator error' on my part, than anything else. Posting on the Expedition forum is also tempting (thanks Ed, for this idea). Tow haul works great on freeways and highways, it's just coming down those single lane mountain roads, I'd like to tweak a bit better.

A couple of you mentioned using cruise control and this is something I'll have to train myself to do because I normally only think to use cruise control on long flat freeways with very little traffic around me. But Rossue, if you say it works as low as 20 mph on inclines and declines, I'll have to give this a try. Thanks! Nice to know this works in conjunction with the Tow Haul mode, thanks TT Martin! I would've never thought of this!

Ed and WillyB, thank you for the suggestion to use the +/- mode. Sounds like you both manually adjust the gears with the +/- with the Tow Haul mode off, which makes more sense to me. This will feel more instinctive so I may start with this. And as Brian, suggests, perhaps I could also just bump the tow haul mode button off when I need to accelerate a bit more and then turn it back on when I hit a more desired speed. Then I can tap the brake again and it will keep me at that speed. Great ideas!!

Sounds like none of you use manual +/- gears with the tow haul mode on, so I will give these other suggestions a try. So nice to have not just one but serveral options to try now. A million thanks to all of you who shared your ideas about this with me. Very helpful! -Bea

PS A warm and sunny day in CA, too Ed....but I want rain!!!
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