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Driving with a horse trailer

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  • Driving with a horse trailer

    I've heard that when pulling a horse trailer, one should put the towing vehicle in first, second, third, etc. rather than having it in "Drive," as supposedly it's easier for the towing vehicle to stay in a selected gear than it is for it to be in drive and have the transmission hunting around looking for the proper gear. Would others say this is good advice?

    If so, I'm just waiting for when I forget that I'm "in gear" and stall my vehicle at a stoplight, as I'm so used to living in "Drive."

  • #2
    HUH! I have never heard of shifting gears when hauling with an automatic tranny. Manual yes,....auto, no. I do turn off the over drive at start up until I reach high way speeds. I do not shift gears with my auto tranny. Never had problems. My truck is designed for hauling....f 350 turbo diesel. Automatic tranny. No problems here.

    I look forward to hearing other's opinions.
    Life is too short to argue with a mare! Just don't engage! It is much easier that way!

    Have fun, be safe, and let the mare think it is her idea!


    • #3
      I will typically always have it in 'drive', unless I am going down a steep grade, then I will downshift to use the engine to help break. My van has a 'tow mode', so I always use that, it helps the tranny adjust its shifting points to handle the load better.


      • #4
        Interesting topic.

        I turn the over drive off with the over drive off button just as soon as we start to pull off although from what I was told the over drive wouldn't kick in until you reached a higher speed anyhow.

        It's been a loooong time ago but I do remember that when we used to pull we put it in first or second (can't remember which but think it was second) and we just left it there.

        I've never heard of changing the gears with an automatic either.
        You know why cowboys don't like Appaloosas?" - Answer: Because to train a horse, you have to be smarter than it is.


        • #5
          I've never heard that either, and I have heard that many horsepeople prefer an automatic as it is easier on the horses, to let the vehicle do the shifting.

          I love the "tow/haul" mode on my truck, takes any guesswork out of it.
          There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams


          • #6
            I turn off the overdrive, and just put the gearshift in Drive. It doesn't hunt for gears, unless I forget to turn the overdrive off. Then it will up- and down-shift a bit into and out of overdrive, which then reminds me to push the overdrive off button.

            How many forward choices does your vehicle have? Maybe you need to seledt D3 or D4. Never, evern D1 or D2. You'd blow up your engine at highway speeds, doing that!
            My Equestrian Art Photography page


            • #7
              Originally posted by MunchkinsMom View Post
              I've never heard that either, and I have heard that many horsepeople prefer an automatic as it is easier on the horses, to let the vehicle do the shifting.

              I love the "tow/haul" mode on my truck, takes any guesswork out of it.
              I have the tow/haul mode as well - works great!
              Susan N.

              Don't get confused between my personality & my attitude. My personality is who I am, my attitude depends on who you are.


              • #8
                Your owner's manual should address what you should do when towing. My old 1/2 ton Dodge manual said to take it out of OD for towing.


                • #9
                  It stays in Drive but you want to keep it out of overdrive. On my truck there is a "overdrive off" button. It might be marked as a "towing" or "O/D" button in some trucks.
                  Veterinarians for Equine Welfare


                  • #10
                    If you live in very hilly, steep country, you may shift down into 2nd going up or down hill. But that's for very slow speeds and if your truck seems to be "hunting" for a gear.

                    Our 1996 Ford F250 pulls a 3h slant or our 27 ft 5th wheel trailer. Usually just popping it out of overdrive is enough on hills, but on steep winding roads, down shifting the auto transmission is necessary to keep the rpms up. The older Ford has a 4 sp auto, but the newer ones can have up to a 6 sp with o/d. Those are sweet as my son in law says.

                    So, for normal driving you do not need to downshift your auto tranny, but do pop it out of o/d. Then shift further if needed on steep hills. If it is a diesel, just having it in the tow mode or out of o/d gives you engine compression to help slow you down on hills anyway.


                    • #11
                      Debate rages as to whether one should use overdrive or not when hauling a trailer. Everyone's dad, brother, mechanic, friend who's a mechanic, cousin who's married to a mechanic, etc. has a different opinion.

                      Personally I drive with OD "on" unless it's very obvious my tow vehicle is shifting a lot and struggling; generally this is only in very hilly areas, which usually means I'm far away from home. Driving with OD "off" makes the RPMs stay VERY high, and wastes fuel and creates heat and completely makes the truck seem like it's working WAY too hard.

                      YMMV. I would not, however, drive in "3" or "2" normally--"Drive" is fine for almost any situation.
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                      • #12
                        Also, I should have clarified....I do drive in over drive on the highway. If I am going under 50 I leave the o/d off. I turn it off to slow down, go up or down hills.

                        I do not drive down the highway out of overdrive at 60 mph, my truck is too lower geared to do that. So, over 50 on the flat, in over drive. If it shifts down on its own, I help by popping it out to keep the rpms up and then put back it when I get back up to speed again.