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Author Topic:   2016 FORD Truck Will Have Special Trailer Steering Mode
jimh posted 05-22-2015 10:10 PM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
FORD have announced their 2016 model year F-150 trucks will have the option of a feature called PRO TRAILER BACK UP ASSIST. The feature allows the driver to use a rear-facing camera to see the trailer and steer the the trailer using a front panel rotary knob on the dashboard. The PRO TRAILER BACK UP ASSIST then operates the steering wheel of the truck to produce the desired steering of the trailer. More information including a recorded demonstration can be found at 2016-ford-f150-trailer-tow-assist/27653885/

The option is said to add about $200 to the trailer towing package (about a $700 option itself). The effect of the rear camera and control knob is to permit a novice trailer driver to be able to back up a trailer without having to control the actual steering wheel. Instead, the driver steers the trailer with the control knob, and the PRO TRAILER BACK UP ASSIST device converts the desired steering into steering wheel movement. The driver controls the throttle and brakes, and the option only works when in reverse.

This may be a popular option for trailer boaters whose companions are not very proficient at backing up the trailer.

martyn1075 posted 05-23-2015 03:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for martyn1075  Send Email to martyn1075     
Ford, always trying to get the edge. Have to give they credit for trying.
Eddie M posted 05-23-2015 06:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for Eddie M  Send Email to Eddie M     
That should speed up activity at the launch ramp. Pretty smart marketing my other half.
conch posted 05-23-2015 08:10 AM ET (US)     Profile for conch  Send Email to conch     
Should be a popular addition to the trailer package.Reminds me of the self parallel parking feature. A drawback I see is the driver is facing forward seeing his mirrors and video screen and the camera shows an image rearward not much higher than the bow eye of the boat.
Poor backing may be annoying but not looking back and UP can be deadly. Every year I read about new sailboaters arriving near the launch area,then putting up the mast and then backing into a power line with someone onboard.Maybe a warning decal would help.
Peter posted 05-23-2015 08:20 AM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
Is it really that hard to learn how to back up a trailer?
Jefecinco posted 05-23-2015 09:40 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jefecinco  Send Email to Jefecinco     
Use with caution. Often when backing my boat trailer it's necessary to keep a close eye on what is going on at the front of my truck. The proximity of other vehicles and obstacles may make it impossible to back down the ramp in one shot without hitting something with the front of the truck.

This is a common problem at multiple lane ramps particularly when vehicles are lined up awaiting their turn to back down. It can also be quite a problem at very narrow ramps with a short approach when pilings are installed to prevent missing the ramp.

I once ruined a trailer fender due to striking a piling in a blind spot. Lesson learned that time was to get out of the truck and have a good look before backing. Even with a partner acting as a guide things can go wrong.

I almost always lower my tailgate before backing my trailer. I find the view superior to that provided by my camera. If sharp turns are required I don't lower the tailgate until the final approach.


jimh posted 05-23-2015 10:03 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
About ten years ago, approximately, General Motors was offering an option on their half-ton 1500-series pick-up trucks for a rear axle with some limited steering. The rear wheels could be steered in certain instances, and this was said to be a big help when backing up. The option was only offered for a short time, perhaps just one model year, and then seemed to disappear. As I recall, it was more expensive than this FORD back up assist option.

The $200 cost for adding the PRO TRAILER BACK UP ASSIST option seems very low. I am curious how the controller in the device actuates the steering. Perhaps it is an hydraulic pump and connects into the power steering system, like a boat auto pilot would connect to hydraulic steering. There is some sort of fancy software involved that recognizes the trailer visually by a decal applied to the trailer tongue. The systems seems like quite a bargain at only $200.

conch posted 05-23-2015 10:12 AM ET (US)     Profile for conch  Send Email to conch     
$200 seems very inexpensive. A 17in Michelin tire is $230@.
martyn1075 posted 05-23-2015 02:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for martyn1075  Send Email to martyn1075     
It makes me wonder if it could be just another part to malfunction. Ford has some great ideas many of them end out being recals. However marketing is a big succes for the company can't argue how many f-150's they have sold. It's very impressive.
jimh posted 05-23-2015 04:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
There is much more to the success of the FORD F-150 than marketing. The FORD F150 was named highest in customer satisfaction in a recent J. D. Power survey, beating main rival Chevrolet, perpetual distant-third Dodge, and all the wanna-be Asian imports.
martyn1075 posted 05-23-2015 04:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for martyn1075  Send Email to martyn1075     
No doubt not arguing there. In fact my next truck very well may be a 150 but Ford is one of the largest companies to have a bad recal and repair shop issues. Not supporting the other two they have there share as well.

The Honda and Toyota have best records in the reliability in there truck offerings but sell the least amount of trucks. I think marketing has a lot to do with it as well the international thing plus cost but that comes back to marketing and smart price points.

martyn1075 posted 05-23-2015 04:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for martyn1075  Send Email to martyn1075     
Also the "wanna be" is a funny comment. They are car companies with one or two trucks. Thy don't pretend and they happen to make a good reliable well tested trucks. They don't market well and load it up with crazy stuff and claim its the best ya da ya da ya da. The rarely offer massive discounts like the incentives US trucks companies and dealers do. $1500 off a Honda or Toyota retail isn't much when the thing is 50k and up. Hey I even like them and won't probably buy one just because of that.

Trucks are a very sensitive stigma attitude in North America always has been and always will be and the wanna be comment just proves that.

jimh posted 05-23-2015 04:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Maybe you'd prefer a Porsche Cayenne, at a $168,000 as a boat hauler? There is a test drive in a recent boating magazine that gives a very enthusiastic endorsement.

You'll have to recognize my Detroit roots. I am driving my 1995 GMC Suburban and its engine, transmission, and drive train are all original have never had any repair or unusual service. I do understand that by the time you get to the extreme northwest of the USA and perhaps to British Columbia, there is a rather odd shift in opinion about anything manufactured in the eastern USA. I suppose you're going to bring up a c.1970 Oldsmobile diesel passenger car next.

outragesteve posted 05-23-2015 04:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for outragesteve  Send Email to outragesteve     
Just a thought: If someone is inept backing up a trailer, should they be operating a boat?
jimh posted 05-23-2015 04:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Steve--we must not be judgmental these days. It is not nice to display any sort of judgement of another person.
martyn1075 posted 05-23-2015 05:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for martyn1075  Send Email to martyn1075     
Well all I have to say is I have an eye out for a new truck and I'm really do my shopping. Even if it will probably be a no I'm tying it out to be sure. I do have respect for the traditional companies that have been around since day one they listen to the market and build mostly what buyers want. The overseas not so much so actually there is a good chance I will support a US made truck in the works. I just don't know which one. Honda's are built at the Lincoln facilty in the U.S. They can only build 60k a year that's absolutely crazy compared to the F-150.

I don't think I would need this tow assist but I like the fact they are thinking all the time.

jimh posted 05-23-2015 07:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
There are sorry periods in the product history of any manufacturer that has been around for a long time, and I would not buy certain brands and model years of some trucks or cars, even thought I might buy that brand in another model year.

Where I live it is very common that people work in the car and truck industry. There are some dealerships here where the vast majority of their sales are to customers getting employee discounts. One dealer told me that 80-percent of his sales were to employees of the automaker brand he was selling. This skews the car population on the road around here quite a bit.

These new FORD F-150 trucks with the aluminum body are really expensive. I am not sure I would buy the PRO TRAILER BACK UP ASSIST option if I were getting an F-150. I can usually back up a trailer without too much difficulty, and, as mentioned, it might be adding a lot of electro-mechanical gear that could break down in the future. But it is an interesting concept. Having a rear-facing camera on a vehicle is becoming standard equipment these days.

boatdryver posted 05-23-2015 07:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for boatdryver  Send Email to boatdryver     
Regarding "Detroit Iron", in 60 years of driving, we've owned a great many brands of cars and trucks, including many luxury import brands.

Our 2002 GMC Yukon can't be beat for reliability: purchased new and sold at 114,000 miles, there was one item I'd rank as non-normal maintenance, a failed part, a brake light fixture up over the tailgate.


martyn1075 posted 05-23-2015 09:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for martyn1075  Send Email to martyn1075     
Another feature that I would find extremely useful and it may work well in conjunction with this trailer assist is 360 cameras around the whole vehicle Fords new 2015 aluminum chassis F-150 offers this as an option. 360 cameras but also led lights that shoot out from the sides of your vehicle I believe the back as well. These are perfect for parking a boat or trailer in a tight stall espcially in a campground when your late rolling at night. It happens more frequently then one may think.
martyn1075 posted 05-23-2015 09:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for martyn1075  Send Email to martyn1075     
"These new FORD F-150 trucks with the aluminum body are really expensive"

The cost is really getting out of hand for some trucks that's for sure. I'm really fond of the new GMC 2500 HD and one with leather with some features is up in the 65-70k. Even a loaded new F-150 is in the high 50's-60k

frontier posted 05-24-2015 12:34 AM ET (US)     Profile for frontier  Send Email to frontier     
This type of Detroit engineering reminds me of the newer Ford Escape SUV with the "wave your foot under the rear bumper to open the rear hatch" technology.
Looks great in the ads and is a great idea. If it works.
Met a new Ford Escape owner a while ago at the Post Office.
He had an armful of packages in his hands and I asked him why he wasn't using the "wave the foot" to open his rear hatch.
He said it only works half the time, so he doesn't use it.
Sometimes, he said, if you wave your foot in a figure 8 pattern to the right side it works.
He said his Ford dealer can't seem to fix it.
RevengeFamily posted 05-24-2015 07:08 AM ET (US)     Profile for RevengeFamily  Send Email to RevengeFamily     
Ok, I'm all for the auto industry making vehicles safer and more fuel efficient through innovations, but this Trailer steering mode is going to get someone killed.

I drove a tractor trailer for years. Some people are just not qualified to haul a trailer of ANY size!!! Trust me, there is NO REPLACEMENT for a drivers personal skills from practice, natural instinct and ability. Being aware of your surroundings and knowing that certain features in those surroundings can change without your input and or your knowledge is all part of your responsibilities.

I have a backup camera system in my 2014 F350, it was not an option. I do not look in the video screen while backing. The old timer who taught me how to drive tractor trailer always said, "Mirrors don't lie", and he was correct. To be safe, you need to scan all your mirrors all the time. I do listen to the beeps associated with the Ford back up system. As they become quicker I know I'm getting closer to an object behind me. I continue to rely mostly on my personal judgement. There is no replacement for experience and that only comes with practice and patience. Most people can learn this. Some can not.

If you own a trailer-able boat and you can't launch without this new fangled system, then YOU NEED TO FIND ANOTHER HOBBY before you create a tragedy.

Be safe,

jimh posted 05-24-2015 08:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
For a device to assist in backing up a boat trailer, I recommend adding tall guide posts at the very back of the trailer. I find those tall guide posts are a great help in backing up a trailer because they give a strong visual cue where the back of the trailer is located.

The view of a rearward facing camera of a trailer is really good when the boat is not on the trailer, but the view is probably not very useful when the boat is on there. Backing up a big camper trailer would be even more likely to result in a very obscured view.

For me, this option is only theoretical; I am not going to spend $70,000 on a truck next year.

Jefecinco posted 05-24-2015 09:00 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jefecinco  Send Email to Jefecinco     
Guide posts are useful are also useful for mounting trailer lights. But the thing I most appreciate with guide posts is the ability to tell when the trailer is backed into the water at exactly the right depth for launching or retrieving. A band of red Gorilla Tape or similar marking the optimum depth on the guides is easy to see from the drivers seat using the mirrors.

After bringing my first trailer boat home I waited until the following Sunday, not to launch my boat but to go to an empty parking lot to learn how to maneuver the trailer. I used a couple of large water jugs to simulate obstacles and practiced backing and turning for an hour or so.

At that time I had a K-Blazer. It had a short wheelbase and the tow was a 24 foot cuddy cabin cruiser with a couple of extra feet of swim platform. The tow was a few feet longer than the tow vehicle which made maneuvering in reverse easy.


lizard posted 05-24-2015 08:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for lizard  Send Email to lizard     
I just did a 1200 mile road trip with an Outrage 18 on a rather nice galvanized trailer, all of the buzzers and bells. We towed it with a 2015 Ford F 150 double cab, aluminum frame. It had the basic tow package, plus a back up camera and an interesting/new to me, transmission.

It was an automatic, that has an M gear, on the gear shifter, between D and 2nd. M has 6 gears that you can shift up and down through, clutch-free. It was AWESOME going through the Grapevine, the Cascades and the Siskiyou's, both on the climbs and the descents.

There is an entire instructional on the display that tells you when you have a trailer hooked up, what is disabled as a result, etc. It never hurts to have a reminder system, even if you are experienced.

I am a Toyota fan but this truck was absolutely awesome, in every regard.

bud jones posted 05-25-2015 12:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for bud jones  Send Email to bud jones     
2 points:
I've noticed a lot of resistance to this drivers aid in this thread and on multiple car/truck sites I frequent. I don't get it. If you are already shelling out 40k+ on a new truck with this available option, the $200 upcharge is minimal for what looks like a great feature. Why the hate? If you don't want it, don't buy it. How is extra visibility something to rant about?

Second point,
One of my boats is a 13' skiff on its tiny original trailer from 1955. My truck is a work truck first and foremost, and has a big ass shell on the back so tools etc can be locked up. In this configuration, I can't even see the trailer or boat because it is literally 2 feet narrower than my truck - especially once the trailer is over the hump and down the ramp and I'm still on level ground. Obviously this isn't an issue when I'm towing my 20 foot TEMPTATION, which is big enough to show up in all mirrors all the time.

Third point:
I can back my stuff up into very tiny spaces without incident, invisible trailer or not. This would let me do it faster and easier. Seems like a no-brainer if you are actually in the market for a new truck. Nobody is suggesting you sell your truck to buy a new one with this. If you aren't actually shopping for a new truck with a tow package and you feel the need to bag on this new feature, you probably should re examine your priorities in life.

And I'm hoping my current truck lasts another 20 years. Its a 2003. Hopefully 2035 fusion powered models will unload the damn boat for me.

Binkster posted 05-25-2015 01:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for Binkster  Send Email to Binkster     
jimh writes (I suppose you're going to bring up a c.1970 Oldsmobile diesel passenger car next.)
Actually it was introduced from 1975 to 1985.

But back in 1970 GM had an even better idea, a front wheel drive Olds Toronado. They invented front wheel, drive and also used that system on their GMC motorhomes. Maybe they should reintroduce it on their pickup trucks mount a hitch on the front and you could then just drive your boat trailer down the ramp into the water. No backup cameras needed.


porthole2 posted 05-26-2015 12:33 AM ET (US)     Profile for porthole2  Send Email to porthole2     
The backup assist looks pretty interesting. I don't need but sure would like to try it out.

The F-150, IIRC, has had electric steering since 2011. So this option already has the major component installed. The system uses the backup camera and a special black and white tape applied to the trailer. And - it controls the brakes somewhat while backing.
Many of the systems are already in the vehicle such as the camera, electric steering etc.
Neat option for those that desire it.

andygere posted 05-26-2015 12:47 AM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
About ten years ago, approximately, General Motors was offering an option on their half-ton 1500-series pick-up trucks for a rear axle with some limited steering. The rear wheels could be steered in certain instances, and this was said to be a big help when backing up. The option was only offered for a short time, perhaps just one model year, and then seemed to disappear. As I recall, it was more expensive than this FORD back up assist option.

I have that feature on my 2004 Suburban 2500 and it's called Quadrasteer. It works both going forward and backward, and has a trailer mode that exaggerates the amount of rear wheel steering at low speeds. At low speeds, the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction as the front wheels. At highway speeds, they turn in the same direction. Lane changes are crisp and sure, and at low speeds, it feels a bit like you are drifting through turns. The handling is improved at all speeds, and it allows me to make a U-turn on an ordinary 2-lane road. It is a tremendous feature for towing large boats, and it makes maneuvering in tight gas stations, parking lots and driveways much easier. It was a rather expensive option, and often required bundling with other expensive packages. It was most common on GMC Denali pickups, and from what I understand, very few Suburbans came with it, since it was only available on the 3/4 ton models of that truck. I like this feature so much, I plan to repower the truck with a crate motor rather than replace the truck when the time comes.

I think the Ford option has some utility, and at a relatively low option price I think it will sell well. I don't think it is nearly as useful or innovative as Quadrasteer, an idea that if still available would keep me in GM trucks for a very long time.

weekendwarrior posted 05-26-2015 07:57 AM ET (US)     Profile for weekendwarrior  Send Email to weekendwarrior     
In the demo video, he puts the boat diagonally across what looks like a 3-boat-wide launch. This is the video that is supposed to show me how great this feature is, and that's as precise as he can be with it? Either the video crew was lazy and didn't want to shoot it a couple more times to get it right, or that feature really isn't so great. I see this as 100% marketing; a solution where there isn't a problem.

I'm glad Ford is doing OK with the F-150. We had one when I was a kid and it was nothing but problems, but I assume they've fixed the reliability issues or it wouldn't be as popular as it is.

jimh posted 05-26-2015 08:49 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Andy--Thank you for giving us information on the Quadrasteer option. That is the feature I was thinking about. Your endorsement of it makes me wish I had bought a GMC in c.2004 to get that feature.
goldstem posted 05-26-2015 12:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for goldstem  Send Email to goldstem     
the gm quadrasteer options was awesome. could back down a trailer in spots that would otherwise have been too tight.
andygere posted 05-26-2015 05:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
They are still out there, and I looked for a Quadrasteer Suburban for quite a while and was lucky enough to find one in very nice condition when I bought it about 7 years ago. Aside from a small logo, you can identify Quadrasteer equipped pickups and Suburbans of that era by the amber clearance lamps mounted on the top of the cab and on the rear fenders.

Unfortunately, the Quadrasteer package was poorly marketed by GM, with the main ad campaign focused on pickup trucks towing big horse trailers.

My wife in no uncertain terms wanted anything to do with a vehicle as big as a Suburban, citing tiny parking spaces at schools, grocery stores and the like. One test drive with 4 wheel steering changed her mind, and I remember her saying that the ads should have really been aimed at families and especially women who often are worried about the difficulty or inconvenience of driving a big truck. Mine also came with an option that allows the pedals to be electrically adjusted up and down, which makes it a comfortable rig for people of any size to drive.

JZAB posted 05-27-2015 12:10 AM ET (US)     Profile for JZAB  Send Email to JZAB     
I have a 2002 Quadrasteer Steer Silverado and just love it. When I purchased it the local dealer could not sell the two they had on the lot, I think people were scared of them. My truck spends about 20% of its time towing and to be honest I don’t find it a big advantage in towing, but just love it in a parking lot or making a u turn. I recently had to make and evasive maneuver at 70 and I don’t think my 150 would made it.

Andy if you don’t already know, it is important to change the rear end oil in these things with the proper oil, they are true limited slip rear ends with clutches not lockers like most GM trucks. The friction inhibitors actually stop working in mine about 30K causing chatter, but other than than that it has been flawless.

andygere posted 05-27-2015 02:02 AM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
JZAB, got it covered, even though the Chevy dealer that changed it the first time did not use the proper gear lube. The second place for it right and the truck has been super reliable and a great machine for towing. The Outrage 22 Cuddy just follows along quietly, and I can back it into my very tight driveway with ease.
martyn1075 posted 05-27-2015 03:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for martyn1075  Send Email to martyn1075     
I can actually see it working really well on a long bed full size truck with rear drive. Marketing is really important. Ask Honda they have no clue. Still to this day I have people come up and ask about the under bed storage or dual opening tail gate. Used all the time everyday for anything you can think of. Many people have no idea it could ever do that. They never advertised the thing. Anyways I need more power and Honda will still not address that so bigger truck it will need to be as I also use the bed 60-70% of the time. Trucks are getting quite competitive and MPG is becoming realistically important in a truck so it should be interesting the next few years what technology and engine choices are offered. The smaller turbo diesel or turbo 4 cylinder might be a guess as an option.
Binkster posted 05-28-2015 01:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for Binkster  Send Email to Binkster     
Nowadays many people are too lazy to learn to do anything themselves. They can buy a boat, and soon they can buy a vehicle that will drive itself, launch that boat, and with Auto-pilot they don't even need to be onboard while cruising. I'm sure there is an AP for your I-phone so you can enjoy the boating experience from your living room watching the whole thing on your 55 inch TV.


swist posted 05-28-2015 03:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for swist    
I wonder how this device would perform with a 170 Montauk on its original factory trailer (at least the one they had in 2004).

If is by far the hardest boat trailer to back down that I've ever used. The reason is that the tongue is very short and the distance between the wheels and the vehicle mounting point is consequently very short. This causes a slight movement of the tongue to translate to a very large movement of the back of the trailer. It seems no matter how hard you try to make small corrections, it overcorrects.

bud jones posted 05-28-2015 11:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for bud jones  Send Email to bud jones     
Here's another vote for quadrasteer - it's why i'd love my 2003 gmc pickup to make it another 20 yrs.

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