A Ford Transit Can Tow. What You Need To Know

Ford Transit vans can tow trailers, RVs, and even cars. The Ford Transit Cargo Van has a towing capacity of 4,700 to 6,900 pounds, the Ford Transit Passenger Van has a towing capacity of 3,400 to 4,600 pounds, and the Transit Crew Van can tow between 4,300 to 6,500 pounds.  

Towing a trailer within a van’s limits doesn’t strain its drivetrain components, such as the engine and the axles. It enables you to carry more cargo than you would if you didn’t tow.  

However, there’s more to hitching up your trailer and going on a trip.  

If you already own or are considering buying a Ford Transit for towing, you might want to know if it can pull, how much it can tow, and how it can tow safely.  

Well, you’re in the right place; let’s get deeper into the towing specifics of your van.   


Ford Transit Van Towing Capacities 

Ford Transit Cargo Van 

The Ford Transit Cargo Van is a juggernaut suited to carrying and towing large cargo.  

It comes with a 3.5-liter PFDi/Ecoboost V6 engine, a 10-speed transmission, and a Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) of 10,800 to 13,000 pounds.  

And similar to all Ford Transit vans, the cargo van has the 150, 250, and 350 trim levels. 

The Transit Cargo Van models’ towing capacities/ maximum loaded trailer weight ratings in pounds are: 

130” Wheelbase 130” Wheelbase 148” Wheelbase 148” Wheelbase 148” Wheelbase 148” Wheelbase
 Engine  Axle Ratio Low Roof Medium Roof Low Roof Medium Roof High Roof Ex. High Roof
3.5 PFDi V6  3.73 5,300 5,100 5,100 5,000 4,900 4,700
3.5 PFDi V6 4.106,400 6,200 6,200 6,100 6,000 5,800
3.5L Ecoboost V6 3.31 5,600 5,400 5,500 5,300 5,200 5,000
3.5L Ecoboost V6 3.736,900 6,700 6,800 6,600 6,500 6,300


Ford Transit Crew Van 

The Ford Transit Crew Van has a lower towing capacity than the Transit Cargo Van despite having a similar chassis and drivetrain configuration.  

It comes with a 3.5-liter PFDi/Ecoboost V6 engine, a 10-speed transmission, and a Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) of 10,800 to 13,000 pounds.  

The transit Crew Van also features a seating space accommodating five passengers. 

The Transit Crew Van towing capacities/ maximum loaded trailer weight ratings in pounds are:  

130” Wheelbase130” Wheelbase148” Wheelbase 148” Wheelbase 148” Wheelbase 148” Wheelbase 
 Engine  Axle Ratio Low Roof Medium Roof Low Roof Medium Roof High Roof Ex. High Roof 
3.5 PFDi V6  3.73 4,900 4,800 4,800 4,700 4,600 
3.5 PFDi V6 4.10 6,000 5,900 5,900 5,800 5,700 5,300
3.5L Ecoboost V6 3.31 5,200 5,100 – – – 
3.5L Ecoboost V6 3.73  6,500 6,400 6,400 6,300 6200


Ford Transit Passenger Van 

The Ford Transit Passenger Van’s design focuses more on comfort and convenience over its towing capacity.  

It comes with a similar 3.5-liter PFDi/Ecoboost V6 engine, a 10-speed transmission, and a lesser Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) of 10,800 to 11,200 pounds.  

The Transit Passenger Van has multiple seating configurations of a maximum of 15 passengers.  

The Transit Passenger Van towing capacities/ maximum loaded trailer weight ratings in pounds are: 

130” Wheelbase130” Wheelbase148” Wheelbase 148” Wheelbase 148” Wheelbase 148” Wheelbase 
 Engine  Axle Ratio Low Roof Medium Roof Low Roof Medium Roof High Roof Ex. High Roof 
3.5 PFDi V6  3.73 4,600 4,400 4,200 4,100 3,900 3,400
3.5 PFDi V6  4.10 – 4,500 4,400 4,200 3,700
3.5L Ecoboost V6 3.31 – – 4,500 4,400 4,300 
3.5L Ecoboost V6 3.73 – – 4,400 4,300 4,200 3,600


The Ford Transit’s Towing Capacity Calculations 

Towing past your van’s capacity puts a strain on your it’s drivetrain. And if you aren’t careful, you might end up endangering your life and that of other road users.  

Subtract your van’s GVWR from its GCWR to get its towing capacity.  

The following weight rating acronyms will aid you in knowing your van’s towing capacity.  

GVWR: The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating is the maximum weight a van can handle without the trailer. It includes passengers, cargo, and the van’s weight. Include the tongue weight in the GVWR calculation if your van is towing. 

GTW: The Gross Trailer Weight is the weight of your trailer or caravan, with all accessories and cargo included. GTW isn’t a rating determined by the trailer manufacturer but a measurement. Your trailer’s GTW mustn’t exceed its GVWR; otherwise, you’ll be overloading it.  

GCWR: The Gross Combined Weight Rating is the total weight of your towing vehicle and trailer (GVWR + towing capacity) as determined by the manufacturer.  

It takes into account all cargo and passengers in both vehicles. 

GAWR: The Gross Axle Weight Rating shows the greatest weight that you can place on your van’s front or rear axles. 

Tongue Weight: The Tongue Weight is the downward force a trailer tongue exerts on your tow van’s hitch ball. Alternatively, it’s the amount of trailer weight that transfers to your tow van once you connect the coupler to the hitch system.   


A 10% Tongue Weight Improves Your Transit Van’s Handling 

A Ford Transit proper tongue weight should be approximately 10 percent of the gross trailer weight (GTW).  

For example, the Ford Transit Cargo Van 3.5L Ecoboost V6 AWD 148” wheelbase has a towing capacity of 6,500 pounds. Assuming you’re towing at total capacity, the tongue weight should be 650 pounds of Gross Trailer Weight (GTW). 

Tongue weight is a measurement affected by how you load your trailer. 

Placing the heavier items at the back of the trailer while the lighter ones at the front takes away a greater percentage of trailer weight from the trailer tongue. The tongue weight becomes less than 10 percent. 

Placing more than 60 percent of your cargo at the front of the trailer puts a significant load at the tongue and hitch. The tongue weight is then higher than what Ford recommends.  

And, here’s how tongue weight affects your driving.  

  • If your trailer tongue weight is greater than the rated 10 percent, let’s say it’s 20 percent, it will cause an overload at your Ford Transit’s  rear axle and tires.  

You will then lose the maximum traction from your front tires, and the van will tend to sway from side to side. It will become less responsive and transfer the swaying motion to the trailer. 

  • If the tongue weight is less than the Ford Transit-rated 10 percent, let’s say it’s 7 percent, the trailer itself will sway from side to side. It gets even worse if you forget to secure your cargo to your trailer. 

For such a case, the higher the driving speed, the higher the swaying.  


Use a Scale To Measure your Trailer’s Tongue Weight 

Now that you know an ideal tongue weight for your Ford Transit’s trailer, it’s time to accurately gauge if your cargo is within the legal and safety limits.  

Here’s how you’ll know your trailer’s tongue weight. 


Measuring With a Vehicle Scale 

  1. Drive your Ford Transit onto a vehicle scale without hooking up the trailer and record its weight.  
  1. Hook up your loaded trailer and measure your van’s weight without the trailer’s wheels touching the vehicle scale. Note the value on the weight scale and record. 
  1. Subtract the new van weight from your first reading (van weight without attaching the trailer) to get your trailer’s tongue weight.  

Since getting precisely a 10 percent tongue weight may be challenging, any value between 10 to 11 percent is okay.  


Measuring With a Tongue Weight Scale 

Using a tongue weight scale is a convenient and easier way to know your trailer’s tongue weight.  

The tongue weight scale takes an accurate reading when the trailer coupler rests on it and settles at the same height as the Transit hitch. 

  • First, you’ll have to acquire a tongue weight scale from an auto parts store near you.  
  • Unhitch your loaded trailer from your van, ensuring that you support it with the trailer jack.  
  • To set up, place your tongue weight scale on a horizontal slab directly beneath the coupler socket. Some tongue weight scales are short while others are longer.  
  • If yours is shorter than the hitch height, place a plank of wood below it to ensure its head is on the same level as the hitch ball. 
  • Lower the trailer jack to the point that the coupler entirely rests on the scale and the jack is off the ground.  
  • Whatever reading you’ll get from your tongue weight scale is your trailer’s tongue weight. 


Know Your Hitch Receiver and Ball Sizes 

Three components that determine the size of your trailer hitch ball are: 

  • The trailer ball hole diameter 
  • Your coupler size 
  • Your Ford Transit’s towing capacity 

Most trailers become unstable because the hitch ball is smaller than the coupler socket. Once you hit a bump or slam your brakes in an emergency, the coupler will come off.  

Have a hitch that fits well into your coupler to prevent such a scenario.  

Furthermore, you can’t upgrade your hitching system to accommodate a higher towing capacity than your van’s rating.  

If your Transit Cargo Van has a towing capacity of 6,500 pounds, installing an 8,000 pounds rated hitching system won’t work. You will damage your van.  

Similarly, installing a 2,000 pounds rated hitching system on your Ford Transit with a 6,500-pound towing capacity limits the van to tow a maximum of 2,000 pounds. 

Additionally, it’s safe to tow lighter trailers with higher-rated hitching systems. All Ford Transit vans use the Class 3 2-inch hitching systems that accommodate Gross Trailer Weights (GTW) of up to 8,000 pounds.  

Your ball and coupler must fit in and be capable of sustaining the trailer’s load.   

Also, ensure that your hitch ball shank diameter fits perfectly into the hitch ball mount of your Transit van. Its length should be enough to allow you to see more than two threads when you’ve installed the hitch ball, and the nut tightened.  

Doing so provides extra safety since nuts tend to untighten while driving through rough terrain.  


Load Heavier Cargo at the Front of Trailer 

Load your trailer in a way that not only improves your driving experience but also lowers the strain the cargo trailer places on your van.  

To get a 10 percent tongue weight, an excellent way to place your cargo is to have the heavier load on the front of the trailer.  

Do so on the condition that it doesn’t exceed 60% of your total cargo weight. Distribute the heavier cargo close to the trailer axles while placing the lighter items at the back of the van.  

Since you might not want to load your trailer to capacity, a payload of 80% is acceptable.  

Furthermore, balance the load from side to side to improve stability and reduce uneven tire wear. 

Ensure that you strap and secure the cargo using tie-downs as freely-moving cargo negatively affects the trailer’s stability.  


How To Safely Tow With Your Ford Transit 

Once you’ve set up your trailer and van accordingly, your driving experience and safety are paramount. Therefore, in addition to what we’ve covered, here are a few tips that I usually use to tow safely.  

  • Have a second set of eyes to spot you while hooking up your trailer  

All Ford Transit vans have reversing/backup cameras that make hooking up your trailer to your van’s hitch a very smooth process.  

If you’re uncertain while reversing, you might misjudge the distance between the trailer and your van. 

Even with the advancement in backup camera technology, having someone spot and direct you is always the better option.  

  • Cross your trailer safety chains underneath the hitch and coupler 

Safety chains are chains that you connect manually from your trailer’s tongue to your van.  

It’s a requirement that you cross your trailer’s safety chains so that they can still hold your trailer’s tongue in the case of a hitch ball or coupler failure.  

And as rare as it may seem, hitch ball and coupler failures do happen.  

  • Get proper tow mirrors 

 It’s a law that you have to be able to see the car behind you while towing.  

If you’re pulling an RV, the chances are that your stock mirrors won’t allow you to see a vehicle that’s directly behind you.  

To avoid cases of blind spots behind your trailer, install appropriate tow mirrors on both sides of your van. 

  • Take wide turns while cornering 

Depending on your experience and the number of turns you have to make before reaching your destination, taking corners while towing may be a bit scary.  

Remember that your trailer will take a shorter distance around a corner than your van. If you take a sharp corner, your trailer’s tires will track closer to the edge or even overrun a curb or ram into a pole. 

  • Give yourself three to four car lengths as your braking distance 

In most scenarios, you might find yourself towing a trailer that has cargo equivalent to your van’s weight. The added weight slows down your van’s acceleration and braking significantly.  

As a result, increase your braking distance to three or four car lengths and even longer in winter or rainy conditions.  

To be safer and brake smoothly, use tow trailers with electric braking systems as you can easily integrate them into the Ford Transit braking system. 

  • Avoid driving with cruise control in hilly areas  

When heavily loaded, turn off your van’s cruise control as it may turn off automatically.  

The same applies to driving in rainy and slippery conditions. Moisture affects cruise control sensors hindering your van’s ability to maintain a constant speed.  

Your van’s performance reduces when towing a trailer and even more when towing a trailer in high altitudes.  

To achieve a driving performance that’s desirable with the sea level drivetrain performance as the reference, reduce your van’s GCWR and GVWR by two percent for every 1,000 feet elevation. 

  • Check your trailer’s tire pressures and tighten nuts before towing  

 Inflate your trailer tires according to the manufacturer’s manual.  

Underinflated tires cause a lot of friction between the rubber and the tarmac leading to overheating or tire blowout.  

Overinflated tires provide insufficient grip, and your trailer may begin to sway.    

  • Drive 5 to 10 mph below the speed limits 

Speed limits apply to a wide range of vehicles on the road. Most of these vehicles are lighter, accelerate faster, and handle better than a towing van.  

The best speed to drive a van towing a trailer is 5 to 10 mph below the speed limit. For most states, this speed is around 55 mph on urban interstates.  



Be very vigilant on the road while towing a trailer. Always drive within the speed limits keeping a reasonable distance between you and the vehicle ahead.  

And if you’re driving on a windy or a rainy day, and you realize that your trailer starts swaying uncontrollably, it’s safer to pull aside.  

Wait for the storm or wind to pass and resume your journey.  

When driving, never forget that you’re towing a trailer, especially while overtaking. You need to factor in your trailer in your calculations.