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Author Topic:   Car Tow ratings
RWM posted 12-27-2003 07:01 PM ET (US)   Profile for RWM   Send Email to RWM  
What gives with the new car towing ratings? A new Park Avenue Ultra (with supercharger) only able to tow 1000 Lbs? A new Mercury Marquis with V-8 and air shocks only able to tow 1500 lbs?

Am I going to have to buy an SUV or truck to tow my Montauk? Don't think so!

Bob M.

JBCornwell posted 12-27-2003 08:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for JBCornwell  Send Email to JBCornwell     
Those are both passenger cars, Bob. For passengers only.

For a decent tow rating a vehicle needs a frame and it needs a drive train with reserve torque load capacity, heavy duty cooling and transmission cooling.

Modern full size cars are not built to tow; they are built to cruise and deliver decent mileage. No frame, maxed ratios for mileage, no transmission coolers.

Yes, if you want to tow a Montauk safely you will need at least 2500lb rating, better 3500lb.

Probably gonna be a utility, crossover, or multipurpose vehicle. . . or a truck. There are plenty of them with any features you may want.

Red sky at night. . .

RWM posted 12-27-2003 08:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for RWM  Send Email to RWM     
I don't believe it. I think it's a marketing thing to get people to buy higher margin SUVs or trucks. My 1993 Park Avenue has less power than the new ones, has a 3500 lb tow rating and I've towed my Montauk with no problems.

The new Mercury Marquis weighs 4000 lbs and has a 5 star safety rating so you know its got plenty of steel in it. With the V-8 and air shocks standard maybe I would have to add an engine and transmission cooler, but I have to believe it can tow 3500 lbs. minimum.

I don't want more than one vehicle and hate to think I'll be forced into an SUV or truck. 95% of my driving is better in a car...Bob M.

daverdla posted 12-27-2003 10:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for daverdla  Send Email to daverdla     
Vehicles don't need a frame for a "decent" tow rating. Our Toyota Sienna and SAAB 9-5 both have unibody construction and tow ratings of 3500lbs. 3500lbs is more than decent for a montauk. We use the Sienna to tow our montauk. I'm more concerned with getting stuck going up a steep wet ramp with front wheel drive than towing on the road.

Whatever vehicle you choose, make sure you get the tow package if it's a recommended option for towing. There's plenty of information on the web about tow ratings. You can also check or for vehicle raings.


ryanwhaler posted 12-27-2003 10:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for ryanwhaler  Send Email to ryanwhaler     
Wow, a new Marquis is only rated to tow 1500pounds?

Our 1988 Ford Crown vic is rated at 5,000pounds. I may not know much about cars, but I see little difference in the two.

quattro20vt posted 12-29-2003 03:27 AM ET (US)     Profile for quattro20vt  Send Email to quattro20vt     
uh oh... here we go again ;)
there's been lotsa bits spilled on this topic in these forums...

See Tom2967's response in this thread for a specific answer about your marketing idea.

Search the forum for towing and a few people's names to find more threads and their thoughts--most of the active folks (I'll admit to being one of them) on this topic will be found in the thread above.

bricknj posted 12-29-2003 08:55 AM ET (US)     Profile for bricknj    
I am curious, having read the extensive threads here and different point of views on this subject. I don't want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but why would the auto manufaturers have different guidleines overseas and here? Is it because of pressure from insurance companies in the USA, and concern for their bottom lines, and the auto manufacturers getting in bed with them? Doesn't seem right, but maybe I am missing a valid point.
skred posted 12-29-2003 10:18 AM ET (US)     Profile for skred  Send Email to skred     
One of the simplest answers I got about the towing capacities was that if the vehicle was front-wheel drive only, the capacity was significantly less that rear-wheel or 4x drives...
RWM posted 12-29-2003 09:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for RWM  Send Email to RWM     
I find that aftermarket still sells a class III hitch for a 2004 Mercury Marquis. I wouldn't tow 5000 lbs, certainly not any distance, but it should work just fine for the Montauk.

The Marquis handling option package includes a 3.27:1 ratio rear end, stabilizer bars, air shocks and beefier springs.

I also understand the engine/transmission mix is pretty close to what is offered on the F150.

Sounds O.K. to me, but I'm going to call my insurance agent and check with him re: effect of the "offical" rating on coverage...Bob M.

seaspeak posted 12-29-2003 11:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for seaspeak  Send Email to seaspeak     
My exhaustive (forgive the pun) research on non-SUV tow vehicles produced the following major options:

-A Volvo wagon
-A minivan
-And, my personal favorite, the V8-power Crown Vic police interceptor (cop radiator, cop transmission cooling, cop brakes, cop suspension, cop exhaust, cop hose-down back seat too, if you want).

The cars don't cost too much used and the Crown Vic has excellent JD Powers ratings (no, I'm not trolling, please don't jump on me!). There are various dealers who specialize in remarketing used cop cars. A web search will bring several up right away.

Good luck.



Tom2697 posted 12-30-2003 10:59 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom2697  Send Email to Tom2697     
I get the impression that you watched "The Blues Brothers" on tv the other day...You basically quoted the scene when Elwood picks up Jake from the pen in the old Dodge cop car.
Richard Quinlivan posted 12-30-2003 12:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for Richard Quinlivan  Send Email to Richard Quinlivan     
I tow a 1995 Dauntless 17 with a 1994 Caprice with the 5.7 liter LT-1 engine. The car has the Sport Supension option which gives it a 5000 pound tow rating. The Caprice and it's sisters under the skin the Buick Roadmaster and the Caddy rear wheel drive where made until 1996. If you could find one I know you would like it.
ryanwhaler posted 12-30-2003 12:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for ryanwhaler  Send Email to ryanwhaler     
You and I have the same tast in cars. I really like the cop car Crown Vics.

Look on ebay, I see them there alot. You have to get one that never actially was used for police work, like an investagotor car or something. You can pick up one thats two or three years old for under 20grand.

We have had a black 1988 Crown Vic LX since it was new. The things a tank, it just won't die. It has over 160,000 thousand miles on the origlanl motor and tranny. The body is starting to rust out in places, but that 5.0 V8 just keep on going, even after sitting for mounths.

You can also buy any older one for the late 80's or early 90's for under 5thousand. You have to search for them down in FL, I see alot for sale there. You can get one with low miles and no rust.

Good luck.

jimh posted 12-30-2003 01:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
We used to have a fleet of c.1988 Ford Crown Victoria sedans at work. The last couple of them were just retired a few years ago. They had only 5-digit odometers and no one could remember if they were on the 200,000's or the 300,000's. One employee bought one and it is still on the road. I think those cars had the 302-V8.

I have an all black 1993 Ford Crown Victoria with the 4.6L-V8. It towed my 15-Sport many thousands of miles without any effort. I am certain it would tow a Montauk as easily. I added my own auxiliary transmission oil cooler. You can buy these sedans for bargain prices. Mine is not the Police Car model--it has a nice tan leather interior.

Driving an all-black Ford Crown Victoria sedan (when not towing a boat on a trailer) does have some unanticipated advantages when you are a motorist in certain urban areas.

seaspeak posted 12-30-2003 01:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for seaspeak  Send Email to seaspeak     

I'm old enough to have seen the Blues Brothers a long time ago...And yes of course I was referring to that scene! :)

But my point is, if the Crown Vic used to have a tow rating of 5000lbs and now only 1500lbs, one ought to be able to get a 3500lb-capable car with the cop components, as they strengthen the same parts of the car one would strengthen in order to tow more (radiator, transmission cooling, brakes, suspension, etc.).

Ryan - when we've both got P71 Vics and classic Whaler hulls (you're way ahead of me) we should schedule a little reunion, only P71-driving owners allowed! :)



alkar posted 12-30-2003 09:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for alkar  Send Email to alkar     
Brandt, I don't have anything bad to say about the Crown Vics...but I wouldn't buy a former patrol car. Those cars are subjected to tremendous abuse :-)
BOB KEMMLER JR posted 12-31-2003 09:06 AM ET (US)     Profile for BOB KEMMLER JR    
IMO the crown vics are dogs,get a 94-96 gm full size with the LT-1.You will definately feel the 60hp and gobs of torque over the wimpy 4.6.Sure the cop cars may be run hard,but they have the taxpayers money to keep them in tip top shape too.I get over 20 mpg towing with my 95 caprice wagon,which has a 5500 lb tow rating.If you have noticed the latest trend in the SUV craze,it's WAGONS!!! Thats all anybody really needs,i just wish GM had kept the faith and continued production on the full size RWD.
ryanwhaler posted 12-31-2003 09:20 AM ET (US)     Profile for ryanwhaler  Send Email to ryanwhaler     
Crown vic's are dogs??

You must have never owned one, because they are not dogs at all.

About year ago we where at a red light in our 88' and a Saab next to us was revving his turbo, it was a young kid most likely using his parents car, but it has a turbo. We raced him off the light and beat him. He had his foot on the floor too, I could hear him redlining his 1st,2ed and 3ed gears. We won, a 5.0 V8 and traction control. It was actually pretty funny, I recall me dad laughing and saying that "That kids self asteam much be at about zero right now".

The older crown vics have a tendency to sit low in the back if you don't have good shocks on it for towing, ours sag's even when its towing my little 11-Sport.See:

To each is hiw own,, I personally think Corwn vics are much better looking cars then the Chevy capriceís, (at least the older ones) but Iíve never riden on a Caprice, so I know little about them.

Tom2697 posted 12-31-2003 10:58 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom2697  Send Email to Tom2697     
Many of the Interceptor Crown Vic's have the 5.8L supercharged V-8. Basically, the same motor that was installed in the F150 Lightnings. I am not sure if they now have the supercharged 5.7L Triton motors. Anyway, these are NOT slow by any means. As for being run hard, many are. BUT, the police also cannot afford to have a vehicle break down when it is needed. Quite often, these vehicles are sold when 80k miles are reached. The service and the service records are METICULOUS. And only genuine Ford parts are used in all repairs. I have a friend who regularly buys these vehicles off internet auctions and never got a bad car. You just need to look at what you are getting.
RWM posted 12-31-2003 11:52 AM ET (US)     Profile for RWM  Send Email to RWM     
This is what I wanted to hear. Several choices for good tow CARS! My 1993 Park Ave Ultra has 235,000 miles on it, runs great, but with that mileage it could go soon. When it does I'm ready to by a CAR to tow my Montauk...Bob M.

P.S. I'll post back when my insurance agent weighs in on "exceeding" the published tow ratings.

BOB KEMMLER JR posted 12-31-2003 12:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for BOB KEMMLER JR    
Ryan,i was'nt trying to take a jab at crown vics or anything,but i have ridden in quite a few of them.They have "ok" acceleration at hwy speeds,but are really doggy on the botom end.Ask any officer of the two cruisers which one they'd rather have and i bet you would be surprised if you had one that would prefer the crown vic over the 94-96 caprice.I have run mid 14's in the 1/4 mile in my basically stock 95 caprice wagon,towed a friends race car home and still got 20 mpg doing it(over 25 empty).No semi stock,naturally aspirated 5.0 or 4.6 crown vic will ever do that,sorry but true.
Tom,i don't know where you have been misinformed,but you have.Ford has NEVER installed the supercharged or even naturally aspirated lightning engines in the crown vic.The only engines installed were the 5.0(not the same as the gt mustangs either) and the 4.6, i think in 88-89 you could get a 351w 4 bbl but it was a far cry powerwise from a lightning engine.the current 4.6 is only like 240 hp,and the torque is higher in the rpm band,not exactly perfect for towing.I do think the caprices look like upside down bathtubs,but i did'nt buy it for can find plenty of clean low milage caprices,roadmasters and fleetwoods for cheap.
ryanwhaler posted 12-31-2003 12:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for ryanwhaler  Send Email to ryanwhaler     
I knew you where not takeing a jab at them, Bob.

Like I said, I know little about Caprices, so for all I know they may very well be better cars then the Crown Vics.

I always thought that the 5.0 motor in the older crown vics WAS the same one that was used in the Mustang GT's. But the tranny and gears where different. Are you sure that its two different motors?

BOB KEMMLER JR posted 12-31-2003 12:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for BOB KEMMLER JR    
Depending on the years,the 5.0's in the crowns were'nt even roller cam motors,all 86+up 5.0 gt motors were.the cam specs were also different,i think the mustangs had freer flowing heads and higher compression too.I think even when they added dual exhaust to the crown vics 5.0,it was still 20 hp less than the 91 or 92 they switched to the 4.6 mod motor,they were rated at 185 hp and were slow!!!The new 4.6 police interceptors are 240 hp and still a good bit slower than the old 94-96 caprice cop cars. Ryan take a ride in a 94-96 fullsize 350 LT-1 powered gm and you will see a huge difference.I raced one of the new mercury Maruaders that a friend of mine has,i flat spanked him(in a wagon at that) and on paper he has the hp advantage,but it's the torque that wins races(and tows boats easier).
Tom2697 posted 12-31-2003 02:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom2697  Send Email to Tom2697     
You are correct in that the Interceptors came with the 4.6L since '92. They had the 351W up until then. My friend's care MUST have had the supercharged 5.8L swapped in. I made an assumption this was standard.
BOB KEMMLER JR posted 12-31-2003 03:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for BOB KEMMLER JR    
now if Ford would drop that supercharged 5.4 lightning engine into the Crown Vic,that would be something to talk about.the new lightning is supposed to have over 500 hp!!!!!!!!!!
Tom2697 posted 12-31-2003 03:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom2697  Send Email to Tom2697     
Are they planning on using the GT motor?

I've read about Chevy bringing out another police car based on the Holden Monaro/Pontiac GTO. I don't think it will be too likely though.

BOB KEMMLER JR posted 01-02-2004 09:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for BOB KEMMLER JR    
The Gt motor is based off the 4.6,the lightnings have the 5.4.

GM better do something,they are losing a lot of money in the taxi/Limo/cop car areas to ford.i have seen pics of the new caprice,based on that Holden onaro,it would definately be a pretty nice setup.V8,RWD,and i bet it could tow a montauk sized whaler with ease.

alkar posted 01-02-2004 02:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for alkar  Send Email to alkar     
I'm a Ford man when it comes to trucks, but I have to agree with Bob concerning the merits of the LT-1 Caprice. It was a vastly superior pursuit vehicle. Most of the road guys were disappointed with the switch to the relatively sluggish Crown Vics.

I'd still NEVER buy a former police patrol car. I'd MUCH rather buy a former rental car...

RWM posted 03-07-2004 09:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for RWM  Send Email to RWM     
Since I started this I'll close it out. Yesterday I bought a 1995 Buick Roadmaster with trailer tow package, gran touring suspension, 5.7 liter engine with 260 HP and 330 ft-lbs of torque. 4300 pounds w/frame. What a tank. I love it and it's rated for 5000 lbs towing. Cost for this clean luxury machine with 100,000 miles was $3200. Ya gotta love it...Bob M.
Bigshot posted 03-08-2004 11:56 AM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
That is a Caprice in Buick clothing....neat rig.

I tow my Montauk with a 2001 Seville SLS. 275hp Northstar and front wheel drive. Towed it 200+ miles this weekend with full gear and 3 adults. Averaged about 17mpg and not a hiccup. Manual says 3780 is MAX towing with sway bars. I have read in Car & Driver or whatever and a few places online that it has a 3k capacity. 2004 brochure says 2k...who knows but I am not worried about it. I hate SUVS' etc and traded my Mercedes ML320 for it and am tickled pink. Yanked the boat off a wet steep ramp and not even the tiniest bit of wheelspin.

george nagy posted 03-09-2004 05:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for george nagy  Send Email to george nagy     
It is good to know there are others out there that are NOT ready to abondon the ideas of towing smaller sized boats with medium sized passenger vehicles. Soon it will be time for me to trade the 11 mpg explorer (8mpg towing) and I'm hoping there are a number of more fuel efficient autos on the market then, maybe diesels.

Until then Good Luck!

Wild Turkey posted 03-09-2004 07:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for Wild Turkey  Send Email to Wild Turkey     
What about one of these?

It's got a 5.7 liter V-8 Hemi & 3800 lb. towing capacity.

Plus it is one bad ride!

Moe posted 03-09-2004 08:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for Moe  Send Email to Moe     
LOL! The return of the station wagon!

LHG posted 03-09-2004 08:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for LHG    
RWM is getting close, but you guys all missed the ULTIMATE passenger car tow vehicle, the best kept secret around - The 1991-1996 Cadillac Brougham (pronounced BRO-HAM in Chicago!) with 7000# factory optional tow package. Most people don't know that for towing, the differential is a major component of a tow package like this.

Long and low, with long wheelbase, these land boats are a Suburban 1500 in disguise according to my Caddy mechanic. They were made in both the old Classic body style 91 & 92, (see Cetacea Page 1), and the newer 93-96 body style. These things tow my 25 Outrage, with weight distributing hitch, extremely well, up to 65 MPH. But people are always staring at me, particularly in gas stations. "You tow THAT with THAT?" Yup. They are extremely hard to find used, however. With the 18 Outrage behind, I don't even know it's there, and can do 70mph with it. Third gear required for towing in these vehicles. Learned that the hard way!

These big cars used to be considered the beasts and gas hogs of the highway. But now they are dwarfed by the monster SUV's. How things change. Wonder if they will change back.

ryanwhaler posted 03-09-2004 10:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for ryanwhaler  Send Email to ryanwhaler     
Two of those when up for auction last summer in Maine, I was at the auction. Some guy payed $8,000 for one with 33thousand miles on it.
Bigshot posted 03-10-2004 12:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
I had a brougham....they are built on the caprice chassis as well. Identical to the Buick Roadmaster but nicer being a caddy. When GM dropped the Caprice after 96, so went the Buick & Caddy.

My Brougham was towing my 15' CC down to the keys(in 4th being a 15') when the trans sprung a leak and caught the car on fire. I had an extinguisher and it survived long enough to trade it in on a newer Deville. Mine had a 5k capacity but it did not like towing my 6k Baja very much. Actually the car has a 3500lb capacity unless you use sway/torsion bars. Reason being a class 3 hitch is only rated for 3500 UNLESS you use sway/torsion bars, then up to 10k depending on vehicle.

LHG posted 03-10-2004 03:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for LHG    
Mine clearly indcate a 7000# rating, anytime. They do recommend, however, a weight distributing hitch, since the passenger car suspension, even with the air shock system, is not as HD as a truck/SUV would have. My 25 is running about a 700# tongue load. But I have heard that the weight hitches are recommended for SUV's, too.

When I tow my 18, the special hitch is not required, as the air shocks easily handle the 275# tongue loading.

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