How to Improve the Towing Power of Your Ford F150
Last year, I blogged quite a bit on making modifications to your RV, from low cost mods like battery cutoff switches and drip rail extensions to the more elaborate mods like RV cold weather preparation and sliding cargo trays. While I will still continue to write about RV mods, this year I would like to add some articles about making modifications to tow vehicles that help improve your towing experience. Since I tow with a late model Ford F150, many of the articles will focus on mods I’ve made to my own truck. But I would really like to see some mods made to other tow vehicle brands as well that have helped make towing your RV easier and safer.
So with that said, the first mod I think that is not often discussed in terms of producing more towing power from your truck is reducing parasitic drag on the engine. Popular mods like tuners, exhaust, intake, etc. are common ways to get a decent boost in power from a gas engine. But a naturally aspirated engine, as in the Ford F150, can only make so much towing power without resorting to forced induction, such as a turbo or supercharger. In addition to the popular mods mentioned above, you can still find some hidden power to be tapped. Where is this hidden power? It’s sucked up by all the belt-driven accessories driven by the engine such as the A/C compressor, alternator, mechanical engine fan, and the power steering pump.
One of the largest drags on the engine in terms of power delivery loss is with the mechanical fan, sucking up upwards of 15-20 horsepower under full engagement. You know that loud roaring sound you hear when you’re at full throttle towing your RV up a long grade in the summertime heat? That’s the sound of lost power right when you need it most. And even when you’re not towing, the viscous coupled fan is still causing drag on the engine by being partially engaged which leads to reduced fuel mileage.
So how can we recover some of the lost power from the mechanical fan? By replacing it with an electric radiator cooling fan. That’s just what I did. I used a 19″ electric fan from a mid 90’s Ford Taurus and a fan controller from Flexalite. The fan is rated at an astronomical CFM rating of nearly 5000, more than enough to keep your engine cool under the hottest of conditions. There are other aftermarket electric fan kits for the F150 but like the CFM rating, they are also astronomically priced. I cobbled together a good quality kit for under $200, less than half of the dual fan kits out there.
I mounted the fan in the factory radiator shroud to maintain the factory appearance. You hardly notice it’s there when looking in the engine compartment. But I definitely know it’s there by the fuel mileage increase. I used to average 17 mpg on my daily commute. Now I average an honest no embellishment hand-calculated 18.7 mpg! Now I can understand why many other brand trucks have gone to the electric fan setup, including the new 2010 Ford F150. The increase in power is nice too but a 6000 lb. gas truck getting nearly 19mpg? That’s something to brag about.
I did a complete writeup on my installation including many pictures and all parts and steps to do this mod. So wander on over to ModMyF150.com and have a look at the details of this mod and let me know what you think!