Can You Flat Tow a Ford Explorer?

Can you flat tow a Ford Explorer? It depends on the model year and other factors. Click here for details.
Written by Sarah Williams
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
The manufacturer does not recommend flat towing
Ford Explorers
, except for certain models between 2005 and 2019. 
Flat towing—or pulling your vehicle on four wheels—is an easy and affordable towing option. But flat towing a vehicle that wasn't meant to be can cause serious damage to the drivetrain and transmission or even void your warranty or insurance.  
To help ensure your vehicle stays safe,
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Can you flat tow a Ford Explorer?

It depends. Ford Explorers are not meant to be flat towed, but it is possible to flat tow some. Any Ford Explorer from 2020 onward cannot be flat towed. All-wheel-drive Ford Explorers cannot be flat towed, either. 
The following Ford Explorers can be flat towed (if needed):
  • 2003–2005 Ford Explorer if it is a 4x2 RWD or a 4x4 with a tow kit accessory.
  • 2005–2009 Ford Explorer if it is a 4x4 with a tow kit accessory. 
  • 2010–2019 Ford Explorer if it is a 2WD with a 3.5 or 3.7-liter engine. 
To be absolutely sure, it’s best to check your
Ford Explorer owner’s manual
You’ll also want to ensure you follow all the appropriate safety precautions. For example, with the 2003–2005 models, you can’t exceed 35 mph or travel further than 50 miles. After 2006, you should not exceed 65 mph while flat towing your Ford Explorer. 
Make sure to turn on your climate control system to the recirculated air mode to stop exhaust fumes from entering the car. 
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How to flat tow a Ford Explorer

Once again, we can’t emphasize enough that not all Ford Explorers can be flat towed. If, however, you have a pre-2020 Ford Explorer that meets the specifications (see above), it's important to follow all the right steps to flat tow your Ford Explorer without causing any vehicle damage. 
The following steps are for Explorers made from 2010 to 2019, as Ford did not release instructions for any other years. 
To flat tow a 2010 to 2015 Ford Explorer, you can only tow moving forward. Start by releasing the parking brake, then put the transmission in neutral and place the ignition in the accessory position. To flat tow a 2015 to 2019 Ford Explorer, you’ll also need to tow strictly in a forward direction and start by releasing the parking brake. 
Next up, let’s take a closer look at the steps involved in flat towing a Ford Explorer with a keyless start versus one with an ignition key. 

How to flat tow a Ford Explorer with a keyless start 

Not all Ford Explorers can be flat towed, but if your Explorer meets the requirements (see above), follow the steps below for a keyless start:
  1. Place your foot on the brake and press the keyless start button until your vehicle starts. 
  2. Keep your foot on the brake and shift into neutral (N). 
  3. Turn off the car by pressing the keyless start button one time. 
  4. Pop the hood and disconnect the negative—or black—cable from your car battery. 
  5. Make sure to start your Explorer engine within 15 minutes of reconnecting your battery cable. 

How to flat tow a Ford Explorer with an ignition key

If your Ford Explorer meets the requirements to be flat towed (see above) and uses an Ignition Key, follow these steps to flat tow your Ford:
  1. Press down on the brake pedal and turn the ignition key to start your Explorer. 
  2. Keep pressing the brake pedal and shift into neutral (N). 
  3. Turn off your Explorer by turning the key ignition past the accessory position (between the accessory and off position). 
  4. Disconnect the negative—or black—cable from your car battery.  
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How to save on insurance for your Ford Explorer

Because not all Ford Explorers can be flat towed, it’s important to ensure you know the ins and outs of your specific model—and your insurance policy—before making any attempts.
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