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Old 07-09-2021, 10:26 PM   #1
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2020 F-150 10 speed tow mode question

I purchased a 2020 F-150 with max tow package (5.5 box) this spring and have used it twice to tow my 7,500 lb. travel trailer. After getting the WDH and ball set up optimally, I am very happy with the truck and the rig. We leave for southern California in August via 75/10/49/20 and ultimately 40 through NM and AZ. I did this same route with my '07 Ram 1500 back in '11 with simple downshifting at times. My Ford manual indicates that the 10-speed transmission in tow mode "provides engine braking in all forward gears, which slows your vehicle and assists you in controlling your vehicle when descending a grade." I am wondering how much my "smart" 10-speed transmission will handle the descents on I-40 and how much I need to plan on putting it in "M" and shifting myself according to my own comfort level. I would appreciate any experience my fellow F-150 10-speed trans owners have had with the "tow mode" operation vs. manual shifting on descents in the mountains, especially along I-40 or similar roads.
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Old 07-09-2021, 11:12 PM   #2
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We tow in the high Sierra and find the tow haul mode works great. While you should not expect the braking on descent to be as effective as that of an 8 cylinder engine, it does function smoothly.
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Old 07-11-2021, 10:29 AM   #3
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I’ve found that in tow/haul and sport modes, the F150 aggressively downshifts when braking going downhill. And stays in that lower gear unless you override it somehow, like going to normal drive mode or manually upshifting using the buttons.
Yes, you can manually control all the gears if desired. Note the upper three gears are all overdrives.
You can also lock out upper gears in all drive modes.
Interestingly, it will also aggressively down shift on down hills when cruise control is engaged about 5mph above selected speed.
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Old 07-11-2021, 10:48 AM   #4
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10-speed works well

Just returned from a trip to Asheville, NC, from eastern PA, towing a 30-ft. trailer with a loaded weight of about 8,000# with our 2019 F-150 3.5 with max towing. The 10-speed handled all the ups and downs through the Blue Ridge Mountains (including the other end of 1-40) with no problems, and we hardly had to use the truck brakes at all, even on the steepest downgrades. Felt like we were in control the whole time, and not overheating the brakes. Good luck on your trip!
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Old 07-11-2021, 11:40 AM   #5
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Question

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Originally Posted by Boomerweps View Post
Iíve found that in tow/haul and sport modes, the F150 aggressively downshifts when braking going downhill. And stays in that lower gear unless you override it somehow, like going to normal drive mode or manually upshifting using the buttons.
Yes, you can manually control all the gears if desired. Note the upper three gears are all overdrives.
You can also lock out upper gears in all drive modes.
Interestingly, it will also aggressively down shift on down hills when cruise control is engaged about 5mph above selected speed.
Are you saying that when you get to the bottom of a descent in tow/haul mode and start out on a flat section, it will not automatically shift back up to a regular cruising speed/gears while still in tow/haul? That seems counter intuitive.
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Old 07-11-2021, 12:11 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Guitar G View Post
Just returned from a trip to Asheville, NC, from eastern PA, towing a 30-ft. trailer with a loaded weight of about 8,000# with our 2019 F-150 3.5 with max towing. The 10-speed handled all the ups and downs through the Blue Ridge Mountains (including the other end of 1-40) with no problems, and we hardly had to use the truck brakes at all, even on the steepest downgrades. Felt like we were in control the whole time, and not overheating the brakes. Good luck on your trip!
Nice to hear of others with real time experience having no issues with a modestly long, moderately heavy trailer behind a 1/2 ton.

Safe travels.
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Old 07-11-2021, 12:42 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Puma26RLSS View Post
Are you saying that when you get to the bottom of a descent in tow/haul mode and start out on a flat section, it will not automatically shift back up to a regular cruising speed/gears while still in tow/haul? That seems counter intuitive.
Not exactly the same animal, but I have an F350 10-speed and in Tow/Haul mode all I have to do to get it to shift up at the bottom of a hill is push on the accelerator pedal.
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Old 07-11-2021, 12:44 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Puma26RLSS View Post
Are you saying that when you get to the bottom of a descent in tow/haul mode and start out on a flat section, it will not automatically shift back up to a regular cruising speed/gears while still in tow/haul? That seems counter intuitive.

On my 2019, it will stay in the lower gear until either:
  • you go to manual
  • youswitch out of tow haul
  • you manually try to accelerate by stepping on the gas
  • the cruise accelerates enough to justify going to a higher gear.
It is easy to lock-out the upper gears by tapping the button on the shift lever.
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Old 07-11-2021, 01:01 PM   #9
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TOW MODE

I like Tow Mode, however, most of my travels are in the northern Sierra and Coast Range. I use Manual Shifting almost exclusively when travelling down hill. I believe I am more intelligent than the computer if these cases!
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Old 07-11-2021, 01:18 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Puma26RLSS View Post
Are you saying that when you get to the bottom of a descent in tow/haul mode and start out on a flat section, it will not automatically shift back up to a regular cruising speed/gears while still in tow/haul? That seems counter intuitive.
Yes
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Old 07-11-2021, 01:21 PM   #11
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10 Speed tow mode.

I have same truck. Great truck. Are you aware you an change gauge on far right from turbo boost to transmission temp? My trailer is over 10,000 lbs and truck pulls it great. Trans in tow mode is pretty smart.
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Old 07-11-2021, 02:21 PM   #12
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Just slightly off topic but I keep my my older F-250 diesel in tow-haul whenever I'm towing my fiver. I don't do any manual shifting. Engine braking is OK on every grade I've been on in the Rockies and Sierras, and tow-haul works fine in cruise control as well. I mean no criticism here, but you may be overthinking this. Have fun and enjoy the truck.
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Old 07-11-2021, 02:23 PM   #13
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Smile

The tow/haul mode in my 2018 Screw 10spd takes me safely down a 8% grade in Oregon. To go back to normal, just press accelerator and it will resume normal shifting. Great feature.
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Old 07-11-2021, 10:45 PM   #14
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The tow/haul mode in my 2018 Screw 10spd takes me safely down a 8% grade in Oregon. To go back to normal, just press accelerator and it will resume normal shifting. Great feature.
Thanks all for this and similar feedback. If I can piggy back a related question on this thread for you guys, I would appreciate it. Since I read in my manual that a mid-grade, high tier gas was recommended for the 3.5 Ecoboost engine, I have religiously followed that recommendation. In my old '07 Ram 1500 5.7 Hemi I would shift to high test when I got out of Florida/Georgia and started hitting significant hills. I got noticeably better performance/power going up hill. Do you guys with newer F-150 EcoBoost engines stick with the mid-grade gas or go to high test when towing in the more mountainous areas?
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Old 07-12-2021, 04:28 AM   #15
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Old 07-12-2021, 04:37 AM   #16
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Thanks all for this and similar feedback. If I can piggy back a related question on this thread for you guys, I would appreciate it. Since I read in my manual that a mid-grade, high tier gas was recommended for the 3.5 Ecoboost engine, I have religiously followed that recommendation. In my old '07 Ram 1500 5.7 Hemi I would shift to high test when I got out of Florida/Georgia and started hitting significant hills. I got noticeably better performance/power going up hill. Do you guys with newer F-150 EcoBoost engines stick with the mid-grade gas or go to high test when towing in the more mountainous areas?
The octane rating of gasoline is a measure of how "fast" the gas burns in the cylinder. The lower the octane rating the faster the burn.

Gasoline engines have to be timed to fire BTDC (Before Top Dead Center. In all new engines that is done electronically.

If the spark is ignited too soon the gas completes its burn before the engine gets to TDC and you hear a "Knock". If it does not complete its burn until after TDC then that portion burning "late" does nothing to propel your vehicle. In other words it is wasted fuel, your mileage suffers. You are NOT being "Good" to your engine by buying higher than recommended fuel. You are in fact wasting money and creating more exhaust pollution through incomplete combustion.

In older cars the timing was set manually it could be and was adjusted for what octane fuel was used. Generally though, higher compression engines with higher HP required higher octane fuel.

Modern gasoline engines have their timing set electronically, YOU cannot adjust it, the computer does. The computer cannot tell what octane fuel you put in the tank.

In short, use the fuel recommended in your Owners Manual. The engineers who designed the system know what they are doing!
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Old 07-12-2021, 10:21 AM   #17
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Knock or pre-ignition (not quite the same thing, but both can be cured by higher octane gas) occurs during hot and heavy conditions when your engine is developing close to maximum power. Cylinder head temps and pressures are at their maximum, so conditions are ripe for pre-ignition (fuel charge lights before spark) or knock (fuel charge burns too early/too fast). Knock sensors in modern engines retard the spark as needed at the cost of fuel economy. Today's clean burning engines, better temp control, fuel injection, and high detergent lubricants have pretty much eliminated pre-ignition.

Your engine was designed with a particular octane for maximum power output. Because of the computer timing and knock sensors, it will usually run fine on less octane, but produce less power and less efficiency.

Enough less to notice? Probably not UNLESS you are pulling a heavy trailer on mountain grades on a hot day. You know, the day when you want every bit of power that engine can produce. That's when you want to have the max octane that your engine is rated for.

The V6 engine (no turbo) in my minivan is rated for 87 octane. "Regular" at altitude is 85 octane. 85 octane works fine for everyday driving because the engine can't produce full power at altitude anyway. When towing, I put in 87 octane or mid-grade to make sure I can get all the power the engine has when needed.

A turbocharged engine can maintain full power at considerable altitude, so whatever octane you use at sea level should be used at altitude, as well. Ford and some other brands with extensive use of turbos also give different power ratings for their engines depending on gas octane rating. Again, when towing I like to have maximum power available should I need it. So when towing with a turbo, I use the recommended octane for the highest power output, regardless of altitude.

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Old 07-12-2021, 04:09 PM   #18
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So, for the most part it seems like the consensus is that my transmission should do pretty well on its on and the mid level, high tier gas I usually use will do the job. I just need to hook up and point the "puppy" in the right direction and avoid "conflicts" over who gets to use the space I am driving in! (i.e., don't collide with any one!) Thanks for the input. If I could I'd send out some Krispy Kreme's to all of you, I would!
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Old 07-13-2021, 08:03 PM   #19
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I have same truck. Great truck. Are you aware you an change gauge on far right from turbo boost to transmission temp?
Using a tool/program called Forscan, You can cause the trans temp to be displayed permanently on the top line of the display, next to the oil temp. There are a bunch of truck behaviors that can be changed using the tool. Requires a Windows laptop computer and one of several ODB adapters (araound $40)and the program which can be used free with a 3 month demo license (which can be renewed for no cost). F150 forum has a couple of VERY long threads on it's use.
Beyond changing behavior of Ford vehicles, it can be used to read/reset DTC codes and monitoring the vehicle. Great tool!
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Old 07-13-2021, 08:37 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Puma26RLSS View Post
I purchased a 2020 F-150 with max tow package (5.5 box) this spring and have used it twice to tow my 7,500 lb. travel trailer. After getting the WDH and ball set up optimally, I am very happy with the truck and the rig. We leave for southern California in August via 75/10/49/20 and ultimately 40 through NM and AZ. I did this same route with my '07 Ram 1500 back in '11 with simple downshifting at times. My Ford manual indicates that the 10-speed transmission in tow mode "provides engine braking in all forward gears, which slows your vehicle and assists you in controlling your vehicle when descending a grade." I am wondering how much my "smart" 10-speed transmission will handle the descents on I-40 and how much I need to plan on putting it in "M" and shifting myself according to my own comfort level. I would appreciate any experience my fellow F-150 10-speed trans owners have had with the "tow mode" operation vs. manual shifting on descents in the mountains, especially along I-40 or similar roads.
I've found that the tow/haul mode in my 2018 10 speed works quite well, but not perfect. On flat surface, it works nearly perfectly. On steep uphill grades, I occasionally have to over-aggressively hit the gas to get it to downshift, but it's pretty rare. On long downhill sections, I do find that I occasionally have to put it in "M" and downshift manually. Overall, it's pretty uncommon to need to put it to "M," and, strictly speaking, probably truly unnecessary, but for best performance, it helps to occasionally.
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