Ranger queries; load capacity, fuel tanks, canopies

Submitted: Tuesday, Jul 12, 2016 at 15:07
ThreadID: 132987 Views:4752 Replies:7 FollowUps:10
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In the process of considering a new tow vehicle for about a 2.3 t off road van. Looking at going from a 120 series Prado to 3.2 Ranger ute with canopy. Prado is about on limit of towing capacity and also lacks power.

Appreciate some feedback from Ranger owners.
1. With about 180-200 kg van ball weight, will the Ranger need heavier springs or other suspension support? Certainly needed this in the Prado but I am assuming that with higher overall load capacity should not be needed in Ranger??
2. Small fuel tank in the Ranger probably one of the few issues I see. Looking at an aftermarket 120l replacement but have been told that the full capacity of these is really available. Comments on what other people who have fitted these units have found would be appreciated.
3. Quite a wide range of canopies are available. Interested in pros and cons and experience of others as have no experience with canopies.

Any other comments or experiences with the new Rangers appreciated.

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Reply By: Member - bbuzz (NSW) - Tuesday, Jul 12, 2016 at 15:13

Tuesday, Jul 12, 2016 at 15:13
A bit OT but..

I have a d4d 120 Prado and I am about to pick up a 2.3t van. Have air bags and will be adding HD springs.
Feel that the tug can do the job but if you are changing, would you tell me exactly why.
Petrol engine? Lots of kms?


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AnswerID: 602334

Follow Up By: outback epicurean - Wednesday, Jul 13, 2016 at 09:17

Wednesday, Jul 13, 2016 at 09:17
10 yrs old. Good vehicle but IMHO lacks power off the mark and runs out of breath on hills. Standard motor no chips etc which would help but think its time to move on.
FollowupID: 871930

Reply By: Frank P (NSW) - Tuesday, Jul 12, 2016 at 18:20

Tuesday, Jul 12, 2016 at 18:20
I've done almost exactly what you propose to do - a D4D 120 Prado towing 2.2t to a BT50 (almost same as a Ranger) towing the same 2.2t.

The BT is an excellent tow vehicle for that weight. No hunting trying to find a gear, either in sports mode or normal. Better than the Prado in that respect.

Point 1:
I've done some calcs and posted them on another thread here, but can't find it now. With the BT5/Ranger overhang between rear axle and hitch, my hitch weight of 160 kilos adds 230 kg to the rear axle and reduces front axle weight by 70 kg. So depending on how you load your Ranger, you may run up against axle weight limitation before you hit other weight limits. A weight distributing hitch will help address that.

Again, depending on how you load your Ranger, you may or may not need a suspension upgrade. Personally, I think you will need upgraded rear springs.

Point 2
My BT uses about 16l/100k towing BUT I have a tradie canopy and a roofrack, neither of which is aerodynamic. I like long distance outback/remote touring and installed a Brown-Davis 145 litre replacement tank. They are steel. If I was doing it again I would choose one of the poly alternatives to reduce weight.

The Distance to Empty will be wrong and cannot be corrected, but the tank sender can be bent by the tank installer to properly indicate when the tank is actually empty. There is some doubt about how the software in the engine management system in the Ranger/BT50 handles this. With a properly modified sender arm, the car's software thinks it is empty before it actually is - there's no getting around that. Reports indicate that some vehicles are unable to continue when the DTE says 0 and others allow 30km or more after DTE says 0. Whatever, when it thinks it should stop it does.

I also added a secondary fuel tank under the tradie canopy with a gravity feed to the main tank because I am unable to accommodate jerry cans for supplemental fuel.

Point 3
My BT is a dual-cab. I could not buy the model I wanted as a cab-chassis - I had to buy a ute with a tub. I sold the tub on eBay and bought a CSM ccanopy. It's the bee's knees, the duck's guts. Expensive, but totally dust and water proof. It's integrated with the vehicle's central locking and has a door unlatched alarm, which has proved itself numerous times, saving dust entry on outback roads. CSM are in Bris and Warwick, SEQ and are brilliant to deal with. Can talk more about that if you wish.

If you add a canopy you will put stuff in it, adding to weight. It is not hard to run up against GVM and GCM issues. Think and plan carefully. You cannot have a Ranger/BT50 at GVM and still tow high trailer weights.


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AnswerID: 602342

Follow Up By: Member - Murray R (VIC) - Tuesday, Jul 12, 2016 at 20:01

Tuesday, Jul 12, 2016 at 20:01
Your right about the DTE and engine shut down when gauge reads 0. My brother rang me the other week asking about a new Ranger that limpped into his mine that is 20km over WA bouder on the tanami track. It would run ok then fuel gauge would drop to 0 then 20 km later motor would stop. The ower said that fuel litreage was not the problem as he had a long range fitted. The end result was that he got Outback Towing to tow the car and van back to Alice to get it fixed (ouch).
I think the problem was more a wiring connection in the tank wiring as the car had done 20,000 km.

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FollowupID: 871920

Reply By: TomH - Tuesday, Jul 12, 2016 at 19:14

Tuesday, Jul 12, 2016 at 19:14
This has been debated endlessly on the Caravaners forum I suggest you join the Discussion?? on there.
As said loading it up to max will inhibit your towing ability but with a van of under 2400kg ATM you should still be alright.
GCM is actually the sum of GVM of the tug (including ballweight ) and the GTM (weight on axles only) of the van.
If you install a large fuel tank you will need to be careful of not exceeding the rear axle weigh limit. A WDH for on road touring will restore a bit of weight to the front axle whereas heavier springs or airbags wont do that.
It is far better to know when your tank is near empty than full. I put a 145L tank in a Patrol and adjusted the float. It never moved till the tank was under half and then it read true down to empty.
AnswerID: 602344

Reply By: gbc - Tuesday, Jul 12, 2016 at 22:38

Tuesday, Jul 12, 2016 at 22:38
My camper is up over 200kg on the ball. The ranger has a 'comfort' lift and ome shocks. I highly recommend it over the standard setup. I have the ARB canopy and again recommend it.
Be wary of anybody advocating the use of a wdh on these cars as the manual specifically prohibits it - it buggers up the stability control programme.
I don't have a long distance tank. We average about 14.5 l/100 so a Jerry or two in the ute goes a long way. I just drain them through the side window with a jiggler siphon.
They are an excellent tow vehicle. I put my auto in sport mode and the car does the rest.
AnswerID: 602355

Follow Up By: Member - PhilD_NT - Tuesday, Jul 12, 2016 at 22:50

Tuesday, Jul 12, 2016 at 22:50
gbc, can you point me to the page number in the Owners Manual that has this information as my 2013 PX XLT Manual contains no such info that I can find. There's only the info on the standard towbar and a sticker on the Drivers door frame which does say to read the Manual but have yet to find anything to back it up.
FollowupID: 871924

Follow Up By: gbc - Wednesday, Jul 13, 2016 at 09:10

Wednesday, Jul 13, 2016 at 09:10
It was that long ago I read it I cant remember where. I googled it quickly at work, and from the ford website under towbars as accessories I got the following:
Towpack Less LED Trailer Lights Connector
•Towpack with maximum towing capacity of 3,350kg pre Nov. 2012 build - 3,500 Nov. 2012 onwards
•Applicable for 4x2 Hi-Rider
•Rigorously tested to meet stringent Ford engineering Standards and Australian Design rules.
•Does not require load levelling hitch
•Price includes Towbar, Electrical wiring kit & Towball
Fitted RRP (including GST) for Dealer fitted accessory at participating dealers. Based on RRP for accessory, standard labour time and recommended hourly labour rate.
AMAB3J 19A009 AA
I'm not sure Ford go so far as to say 'Do not use a load levelling device' anywhere, just 'does not require' - it would be worth following up if you were to use a wdh on the PX/PX2 just to be sure though, especially since the sticker says not to as well?
FollowupID: 871929

Follow Up By: Member - PhilD_NT - Thursday, Jul 14, 2016 at 00:29

Thursday, Jul 14, 2016 at 00:29
Checked mine today. Sticker on body inside drivers door states, in relation to towbar, "For trailer towing only. Not suitable for load levelling device. Refer to Owners Manual". I can find no reference in that Manual.
As to the towbar itself I can only go on memory as to what is on it as I now have a HR Towbar. I believe the original had a similar vague statement on it. I changed it because of the Ford vagueness and the lack of depth to insert a HR Tongue. I also wanted to gain a bit more ground clearance.
As to Fords lack of confirmation of their reason for the limited info, it really looks like they are only referring to the towbar itself and as far as I am concerned if there are any warranty implications then it will be a matter for HR and the reputable Company that fitted the new towbar to address.

Apart from that, our Ranger is almost totally used as a tow vehicle for a 2600kg caravan. As far as the the Ranger is concerned I see it as being too soft in the suspension for this usage with it needing to carry a fair bit itself as well as the 265kg ball weight. Therefore I have had it fitted with an extra rear leaf plus Bilstein shocks all round. I still think that the front springs need a bit of extra stiffness, but not extra height. I also have an ARB Frontier 140 litre tank and an alloy ECB bar. For a canopy I chose the steel Razorback one. I thought that of those available at that time that it was the best looking/fitting/repairable/load carrying one. If I was doing it again though I would probably go for an ARB one.

I did initially try it without a WDH but since having fitted one there is a reduction in fore and aft pitching on undulationg roads and is more comfortable to drive. It didn't take much tensioning of the WDH to achieve that.

As we are currently well in to a long trip, and having just changed over to better tyres, I'm still evaluating what changes may better suit our needs
FollowupID: 871971

Reply By: splits - Wednesday, Jul 13, 2016 at 13:15

Wednesday, Jul 13, 2016 at 13:15
" 1. With about 180-200 kg van ball weight, will the Ranger need heavier springs or other suspension support? "

No car should need any additional support that is not recommended by the car manufacturer. If the rear end is sagging then it is the owner who has done something wrong, not the manufacturer.

There are a couple of points to keep in mind before you start changing the rear suspension design.

1. Have a look at all leaf spring rear suspensions. The linkage on independents work the same way. You will see the front eye of the spring has been mounted down at around axle height while the rear shackles are up a lot higher. The spring has a single front mounting point so the wheel can only swing up and down in an arc. It can not move up and down vertically.

When the car is fully and correctly loaded, the spring will be sloping up hill to the axle. As it does this both wheels move forward towards the front of the car. When the car leans into a corner, the spring on the outside of the corner will compress a little more taking the wheel up closer to the chassis and further forward. The spring on the other side will have weight taken off it so the wheel will go down a little and further back towards the back of the car. The whole axle has now been turned slightly in the direction the car is going.

In the meantime the side stress on the tyres has distorted them forming an angle between where the wheel is pointing and where the tyre is pointing. That is known as the tyre slip angle. If enough side forces are applied to them they will let go and slide resulting in the car spinning.

By tilting the axle in towards the inside of the corner, you will reduce the tyre slip angle resulting in them hanging on a bit longer and hopefully enabling you to get around the corner. This is known as roll understeer and it is not the same as ordinary understeer.

If you overload the rear end of the car then lift it back up with heavier springs or air bags, you can very easily destroy this vital handling stability feature.

2. Go about two thirds down this pageundersteer/oversteer and look at the drawing of the two cars understeering and oversteering. These two features are controled by the amount of weight that is placed on either the outside front or rear tyre in a corner. It is altered mainly by springs, sway bars and tyre pressures.

Just about all cars have been designed to understeer. By overloading the rear end and fitting heavier springs or air bags, you will quite likely change the car to oversteer.

Do you really want to be driving a ute with a big caravan and a suspension that is now prone to swinging its tail out in oversteer and has lost most if not all of its roll understeer feature?

There are countless cars with modified rear suspensions towing big vans all over the country. Their owners will tell you they feel very stable and no doubt they do. The real test of stability will come though if if you ever have to swerve suddenly at speed to miss a big hole in the road, another car, a cow or whatever or if the van is knocked off its straight ahead course by high wind or change in road surface. That is when your standard suspension can instantly become a life saver or your modified suspension your worst nightmare.

Don't play around with car suspensions unless you know exactly how they work in the first place.

This article bent utes can be very useful when towing heavy loads with a cab/chassis vehicle. The problem is caused by too much weight too far back behind the rear axle resulting in the end of the chassis constantly flexing up and down. It can happen with 2wd utes in cities but is much more prevalent on 4wds on unsealed roads. The car does not have to be over or even up to GVM to do it.
AnswerID: 602370

Follow Up By: gbc - Thursday, Jul 14, 2016 at 05:36

Thursday, Jul 14, 2016 at 05:36
You give manufacturers too much credit. Commercial twin cabs are set up for driving around empty with an occasional load. Add bullbars winches canopies towbars caravans etc, of course the suspension is going to need changing if only to get back to normal trim. Dragging its arse down the street is not normal. I've never had a commercial ute that could handle constant load straight out of the factory. They all get tuned according to what they carry.
FollowupID: 871973

Follow Up By: splits - Thursday, Jul 14, 2016 at 19:45

Thursday, Jul 14, 2016 at 19:45
gbc posted:
" I've never had a commercial ute that could handle constant load straight out of the factory. "

I have never had any problems with the two that I have owned.

"They all get tuned according to what they carry."

That is where all the problems stem from because many try to take them up to maximum weight or beyond but the way they do it is outside their design limits.

Take the seats for example. You often see one carrying mum and dad with three kids of primary school age. There is nothing wrong with that except their combined weight may not be any more than 200 kgs.

One manufacturer that I contacted said they work on 85 kg per person plus 15 kg for clothing, brief cases and all the other things that people put in the cabin. That means around 500 kg in the seats before you start adding anything to the back.

That may not suit many people but it has to be that way. It is no use designing them to carry no more than the weight of five jockeys. There are countless families with a combined weight well above that.

Maximum weight in a car means every load bearing area must be carrying its maximum share of the load.

Anyway how you load one is your business. All I have done is draw readers attention to a couple of basic suspension design facts that you will find in any good suspension book. If you want to put heaps of weight on the rear end then lift it up with stiffer suspension, you will change the way the car handles but the difference may not become obvious until it is too late.
FollowupID: 871999

Follow Up By: gbc - Friday, Jul 15, 2016 at 07:53

Friday, Jul 15, 2016 at 07:53
We aren't talking "at the limits" or "right at the back".
A normal twin cab with 350 - 500 kg of constant load will not do that job properly without a spring upgrade. The exception might be the last dmax/Colorado which scored a wheelbase extension in cab chassis model. The rest are good enough to get out the showroom and not much more. You are trying to whip up hysteria when no one here has mentioned overloading or being anywhere near limits. I've seen the article you read, it's been trotted out before. Bottom line, a Px twin cab towing 2.3t and a 'normal' amount of holiday gear in the tray is going to look like a dog with worms and handle like custard. A 'normal' Spring upgrade will improve the rig in every way.
FollowupID: 872010

Follow Up By: splits - Friday, Jul 15, 2016 at 09:37

Friday, Jul 15, 2016 at 09:37
Bottom line, a Px twin cab towing 2.3t and a 'normal' amount of holiday gear in the tray is going to look like a dog with worms and handle like custard. A 'normal' Spring upgrade will improve the rig in every way.

That may be true but does the manufacturer claim it will tow a 2.3t caravan or anything else for that matter? They just list a maximum possible weight and that is usually for sealed roads only. It should be reduced for off road conditions.

I have yet to see any information from any manufacturer stating what their cars can tow. A 2.3t dog trailer for example would most likely put about 25 kg on the tow ball. One weighing the maximum towing capacity of the car could be much the same or maybe a little more. As long as the car can safely tow something that weighs the maximum then it has complied with the manufacturer's advertising claims.

If it can not do that then if is a case of false advertising and it is then up to the manufacturer to fix it. Do you really think a manufacturer would claim their car can tow a certain amount then hope some other company makes some parts to enable it to do it?

"I've seen the article you read, it's been trotted out before"

Do you mean this one by Maurice Olley? chassis design If not then you will find what I said in it as well as just about every other book on suspensions.

I suggest you read it. It is the one that all cars today are based on. You won't find any hysteria in it.
FollowupID: 872017

Reply By: 9900Eagle - Wednesday, Jul 13, 2016 at 15:14

Wednesday, Jul 13, 2016 at 15:14
I use a + 300kg ome spring kit and have had no problems with a 2500kg van and back loaded. Springs and shocks also work well with no load on the back, except the shocks can be a little harsh on certain black top bumps but fine on dirt.

I don't use a wdh as the placard says don't and have travelled many K's with the van without any problems. Some owners do use them but I can't comment on that.

With my 132l long range tank when towing, the readout says 80K to empty when I have used 112 litres. I have never gone past this point as I never like to run a diesel fuel system dry and don't even know if the ecu takes over and won't let it go past 0 kilometres to empty. Mine is steel but I would have bought a polly one if they were available at the time.

I have an ARB canopy which has had no problems. I put a dust seal kit in on the tailgate and leave the back window cracked behind the cab and the vent on the roof open.

The vehicle itself has had zero problems and that is with 50000+ K of towing.

I have installed an auto trans cooler, a scangage and an FM 100 fuel filter kit. I change oil at half the 15000k recommendation and am about to change my diff and transfer oils for the second time due to the amount of towing. I will also change the auto box fluid for the second time shortly.

I played Dukes of Hazzard the other day on a back road when I hit a 40k an hour dip travelling at 100k per hour. No damage but I don't think I will try that again as I don't have a pilots licence.
AnswerID: 602374

Reply By: Member - Peter H1 (NSW) - Thursday, Jul 14, 2016 at 08:16

Thursday, Jul 14, 2016 at 08:16
I have a 2012 XLT Ranger, I fitted a poly tank in the tub and gravity fed it to the main tank via the main tank breather. As the main tank is pressurised I fitted a shut off valve in the line. Now when the main tank gets to low IE the light comes on I stop not long after and open the main tank filler to de-pressure it, then open the shut off valve and it all drains in. [make a cuppa while I wait about five minutes].
The poly tank holds 40L, but I have never really had to use it as there are plenty of fuel stops about. I've done 95K over four years towing my 5'th wheeler.

AnswerID: 602399

Follow Up By: outback epicurean - Thursday, Jul 14, 2016 at 09:38

Thursday, Jul 14, 2016 at 09:38
Sounds like an easy idea.
FollowupID: 871979

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