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Discussion Starter #1
I'm tossing some ideas around on shuffling the cars a bit. My truck is not a DD (maybe 4-5k a year) so I'm looking to go a bit cheaper than my current '10 Sierra CC and get my wife a new BMW since she drives it everyday. I had a 99 Lightning and loved it. It's one of the few vehicles I've owned that I miss.

My question is towing with the Lightning. I know they are rated for 5000 pounds. My boat (Pathfinder 24) weighs in around 4000-4500 lbs and the truck will be by only tow vehicle. How are they for towing close to the max tow weight? My 99 had lowering shackles on the rear, but still towed my old 19' boat just fine. I could put airbags on the rear suspension if needed since this boat is heavier. I know it'll have plenty of power and braking ability, so my concern would be the suspension.

My normal trip to the ramp is under a mile round trip, but we do take a few longer trips each year for vacations.

Thanks!!
 

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I would be more worried about the transmission than anything. maybe an aftermarket trans cooler would be something to look into
 

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Towing is like any other F-150. The '03-'04's have two overload springs to aid in towing. Transmissions aren't to much to upgrade. The stock cooler is good, if you want an upgrade use a F-250 cooler. There are 2-3 very good valve bodies out there to correct shift points. If you don't go too low a 4X4 pan is 2 qts. deeper, simple swap (does require 4X4 filter with longer pickup tube).
The single most important thing is to never, and I do mean never, hit WOT in overdrive. Motor revs too high before the shift is complete, them BOOOM!
A 3 gauge A pillar pod, A/F, fuel pressure, and trans temp. will monitor the big3 where L's are concerned.
If you want to PM me I got the info hook-up.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the replies. Since my primary tow is under a mile, with an occasional 20 mile trip, I think it'll do fine. Due to the tongue weight, I'm expecting on adding Firestone airbags on the rear suspension. I know the L's short wheelbase won't tow as good on my crew cab long wheelbase truck will, but it'll do it.

I'm in the process of finalizing a deal on an 03 DSG Lightning with 55k on it, looks brand new.
 

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Are you going to tow off of the bumper? or are you adding a receiver to the truck and using that? If you ad a receiver then you can tow more than 5000 if you use basic common sense and don't go WOT or give the truck lots of boost at low revs and you will be fine. Use the Overdrive override button when you get to hills and such will help keep the motor from lugging at low rpm.

I've towed my mustang on a open deck car trailer off of my bumper on my 03' Harley and it towed like a dream, and that was maxing out all of those specs.
 

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I towed my Fairmont (3100 lbs) with a 2000 lb 18' open trailer, tools, cooler etc with an 03 Lightning. My truck was all stock, and I did have a brake controller. I was using the factory hitch.

It did AWESOME. Handling, braking, power were all better than my 2000 F150 4*4 pulling approximately the same load. Gas mileage wasn't the greatest, but I was already used to that with the lightning.
 

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I pulled my 87 hatch,93 cobra and 02 gt many times, some trips over 400 miles and pulled great like nothing was even back there. Truck did not struggle what's so ever. It a 99 kenne bell lightning, also had my tuner inc a towing tune on my sct tuner.
 

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Im in the same boat, thinking about getting an L to tow with (probably 400-1000 miles in a day when I would be using it for that purpose). What kind of MPG's are you guys getting pulling a car trailer on the highway? I figure even with it being a regular cab, overall it has to tow better than my friend's 01 F150 4.6. That thing was gutless, and only got 15 pulling open trailer empty, and 10.8 pulling a 91 GT from Orlando.
 

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I towed my Fairmont (3100 lbs) with a 2000 lb 18' open trailer, tools, cooler etc with an 03 Lightning. My truck was all stock, and I did have a brake controller. I was using the factory hitch.

It did AWESOME. Handling, braking, power were all better than my 2000 F150 4*4 pulling approximately the same load. Gas mileage wasn't the greatest, but I was already used to that with the lightning.
What kind of mpg did you get, hand calculated?
 

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I averaged about 13 over a 350 mile trip from southern Illinois to Chicago pulling my 84 mustang on a heavy u-haul trailer with my Harley, no hills tho.
 

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Have pulled my 24' enclosed (will all the junk inside) to/from the drag strip numerous times. 65 miles one way. Brake controller is on a deutch (sp?) connector I stole (borrowed) from work. Unplug it when I'm done. Mine is a 2003 with ZERO mods (bone stock) and 150,000 miles.

I also tow the boat every week with it...though it's a little flat bottom that I can't even tell is behind me. Looks kind of odd pulling it to the lake/river but its the only truck I have, and that's what I use it for.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I bought the '03 and it's towing the boat just fine. I put Firestone airbags on the back and they keep the rear end from squatting. I leave them empty when not towing so it keeps the ride height lowered.

I've towed the boat across FL on vacation and it did OK. With the short wheelbase, you know the trailer is back there. It got around 11 mpg in all highway driving with the boat. Just go light on the gas to keep the boost down.
 

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Funny since I replied over 2 years ago I have had a 99 F150 Lariat 5.4, a 00 Expedition XLT 5.4, a 00 F150 XLT 5.4, a 00 Expedition Eddie Bauer 5.4 and an 03 F150 Lariat 5.4 (traded it after a couple days to my friend for this 96 I have now, didnt like it, and I dont like the 96 either lol). Towed with the 99 to Texas, Georgia, Alabama etc, towed with the XLT Expo to Louisiana and Tampa, towed with the 00 XLT F150 to Nashville Tennessee, towed with the 00 Eddie Bauer to Georgia. Learned a lot.

1. The 5.4 is weak as hell on anything slightly resembling a hill. The F150's had 3.55's, the XLT Expo had 3.73, the Eddie Bauer had 3.31's and it was BY FAR the most gutless.

2. Air ride on an expedition sucks badly.

3. None of these things get stellar MPG on the highway unloaded, around 14-16 city depending on how you drive and traffic. Huge variance in towing MPG too, from as low as 10 to as high as 13.xx with a loaded car trailer.

4. Expeditions rattle a lot, F150's handle and just FEEL WAY BETTER

5. Fugg you Ford for making a TRUCK so unfriendly to work on under the hood. There is more room in a Mustang!

6. Trucks with the ac knob style controls seem to have colder ac than the ones with the electric climate control stuff.


Still thinking about trying a Lightning now, but was disappointed in the lack of room in my F150 extended cab trucks, cant imagine a regular cab. I have considered trying a first gen Lightning despite the small size, it's way easier to work on, pretty durable motor/trans combo, has 4.10's, and should have a better torque curve than a 5.4 n/a truck (I cant see the blower being an advantage on the newer Lightnings, boost under a big load cant be good for those glass rods/pistons, so out of boost it's an even weaker 5.4). I could probably do some stuff to it (nitrous/bolt ons) and have some fun when not hauling stuff.
 

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^If you can't see the blower being an advantage on a gen two, you've obviously never driven one. As for the boost under a heavy load, it doesn't put any more force on the rods (which are the weak link, the pistons are good forged pieces) or anything else in the engine. Yes, the engine works harder, but the boost is a moot point. The main parts under strain pulling a load are the tranny and rear end, and considering the L's got a beefier version of the 4R100 than the Powerstroke, and the same Sterling 9.75" rear end, that's not even a factor. Bottom line is the gen two L's tow and haul fine, there are several guys over on Lightningrodder that have proven that by pulling pontoon & Bayliner boats, campers, their race cars/trucks, etc with zero issues.
 

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I have driven one, I cant see pouring boost to one under a huge load on a 110 degree day as a good thing for longevity or for MPG. I also dont drive like a jackass when pulling a car trailer like most people either (damn near WOT to get up hills, using cruise and letting it downshift to second and SCREAM up hills etc)
 

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There's no comparison between pulling with a N/A 5.4 and a gen 2 Lightning. I pulled the entire NMRA circuit with an extended cab 4x4 2000 5.4 in 2003, and the same trailer many many times with a Gen 2 lightning. Despite being shorter and lighter, the Gen 2 had lots more power, stopped better, is more stable, etc. Better in every way. My Ls were stock.

I assume that the Lightning transmission has better ratios for towing than the regular F150, and the extra swaybars, 2wd, bigger brakes and all that don't hurt. My truck may have had 4.11 (some had 3.73 some had 4.11). I believe the Lightning has a shorter tire than a 4x4 which adds still more gear.

Yes, the cab is small. Bed is small too. If you were unhappy with an extended cab, you would probably not like a Lightning at all.

Yes, they suck on gas. Have had two of them. Never saw north of 14 mpg with either, didn't check tow mileage as I knew it would be horrible. Lots of people tell stories about the mileage they get, but that was not my experience.

If you're worried about fuel mileage, a 1st Gen Lightning is NOT the truck you're looking for.
 

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^No gen 2 came stock with 4.10's. The 99-00's had 3.55's, and the 01-04's came with 3.73's.
 
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