UPDATE. Towing With an E-350 PSD

Since posting “Towing With an E-350 Powerstroke Diesel”, I repaired a serious fuel delivery problem (see post HERE).  There’s an immediate improvement in performance.  Most notably at highway speed.  I’m anxious to get back out there with the Silver LuvSub in tow, and I’m confident towing performance will be MUCH improved.  I’ll have an update for y’all when I do…
Not too impressed with the mileage on the Econosaurus©

Screen shot 2015-06-17 at 7.06.50 PM

Recap on the rig:  2003 Ford E-350 7.3L Turbo Diesel pulling a 2008 Airstream 30′ Classic S/O

2008 Airstream S/O Classic and 2003 Ford E-350 PSD
2008 Airstream S/O Classic and 2003 Ford E-350 PSD


Max weight distribution using 1400lb bars
Max weight distribution using 1400lb bars
As a daily driver, city MPG is around 14, which is great compared to our previous DD (a 2005 Chevrolet Suburban 2500 8.1L) at 8 MPG.

But highway towing was a real let-down.  Power-wise and mileage-wise.

I’m used to the 496ci Suburban, 4L80E trans and 3.73 rear, where when I matted the accelerator, it jumped.  Passing on a two lane freeway was childs-play.  When I needed to beat a train at a crossing, I knew the acceleration was there to get my family safely across the tracks out front of the oncoming Amtrack.  Whereas, with the E-350, I’d describe it as ‘pokey’, at best.  Yeah, I know, it’s not NASCAR but, it should at least be able to get out of it’s own way.  I used that ‘Superburb’ to pull this trailer out west over Big Horn and Monarch.  With the Econoline currently configured, I wouldn’t even consider doing that.

The 8MPG tanks were running with ‘overdrive’ off (per diesel owners manual), the jump to 10MPG was two-lane freeways at 55-60 mph… on relatively flat terrain.

I followed that with towing in ‘overdrive’, and manually turning it off for steep grades.  I still wasn’t keeping up with traffic at around 67MPH.  This got us 9.6MPG.

Still not good.  So, for the tow vehicles maiden voyage, on the plus side we’ve got: lots of space, smooth ride.  On the negative side we’ve got: loud, slow, and thirsty.

The good thing is, the draw-backs can be reasonably dealt with.

Let’s start with noise.  There may be wind noise but, what I’m getting lots of is the diesel clickety-clack.  Some good, strategically placed sound proofing should help.   Starting with the interior engine cowl, I found this high-temp product Aerogel, and for the floor and doors there’s Dynamat.

As far as slow with lousy gas mileage, everything is a compromise, and I think the factor that’s affecting both is the rear end ratio: a ridiculously fuel efficient 3.55.  Nice for idling down the freeway, not good for towing.  I’m thinking 4.10 might be a little too over the top.  I bet 3.73 would hit the sweet spot.  Now, to find a competent rear-end shop, who charges reasonable rates…

See You Down the Road!


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4 thoughts on “UPDATE. Towing With an E-350 PSD

  1. My 2000 F250 PSD had 3.73 rear end and did a good job for towing. The other option I had was 4:10, and the 3.73 seemed more practical for combined daily driving and towing. For power, I had a superchips tuner. It made a world of difference. Really made the PSD come to life. I’d give you mine, but someone borrowed it last year and hasn’t returned it, and I can’t remember who has it. Mine had 3 HP settings. I used the tow safe 60 HP tune, and it was wonderful for power and transmission shit points. Completly safe, as long as you are not stupid with it. Get a pyro to monitor the EGT’s if it’s a concern.

    1. Good stuff, tnx Tom. The only thing I’m concerned with is burning up the drivetrain using a 3.73 for that much trailer. Maybe a good first mod would be a trans temp gauge where I could get a reading on the torque converter?

  2. I tow with a ’99 E350 Chateau V10 running 4:10 and 265 tires. We’ve had five different trailer with this rig and we’re now towing a 34’8″ Rockwood 8329SS. I think the big ford van is the greatest tow vehicle out there and am surprised so few people use them.
    The V10 gets 7-10 mpg towing and does so without effort. I rarely take it out of overdrive. It is a big box pulling another big box and so headwinds can be trying.
    I’m towing the new trailer with a garden variety WD hitch (which works pretty well), but have used a Hensley with our last big trailer, a 33′ Cedar Creek. I have another Hensley I am refinishing right now and will use it as soon as it’s presentable.
    I enjoy your blog and continue to explore it!

    1. I discovered ours was suffering from the infamous ‘paint flake fuel tank’ syndrome. Make a long story short, the engine was basically starved for fuel. Now that I’ve replaced the tank, pump and filter, I’ve noticed a noticeable increase in power– especially at highway speed. I’m looking forward to towing. May not need the 4:10 after all. Thanks!

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