Why a 2017 Ram 2500 owner is worried about towing
The owner of a brand new 2017 Ram 2500, from Wisconsin, got a 6.4 engine to handle towing his race car and trailer around. On his first outing, he noticed problems. He is taking it back to the dealer to have it checked out but is concerned with its poor performance. “The truck kept shifting out of overdrive and just plain did not seem to have enough power to pull the trailer comfortably, always felt on the highway i kept having to get more and more in the throttle to keep going a even pace.”
One of the more senior members on the forum answered right away! “You should not have been in overdrive while towing. Did you put the truck in tow/haul? Makes a big difference.”
The Wisconsin driver who goes by Elit, says he had driven a Chevy Duramax before and was disappointed that the new 2017 Ram 2500 isn’t performing better. Another owner replied. “A gas engine will never pull the same as a diesel. You gotta get those rpm's up where the torque and horseppower is. My wife has a 6.4 hemi and i think it pulls nice but also not in overdrive.”
The owner of a 2016 Ram says “You should keep it out of overdrive. Tow haul just changes shift points and shouldn't make any difference on the hwy. I drove a 6.4 before I got this 1500. It did not impress me at all. I had a 03 Cummins 5.9 and that was impressive. You coming from a duramax ,i think you will keep feeling disappointed.”
A 2017 Ram 3500 owner adds, “Also, it's been reported that around the 10k mark on the odo, the engine really wakes up. It is unknown if this is just the engine braking in or whether the computer allows the power after a certain number of miles...give it a chance.”
While some of the members suggest that Elit get a special engine tune to boost performance, others warn that if he does change the engine tune, it will void his warranty.
Another senior forum member named Thunderhorse says, “I always lock out my top overdrive when towing, and usually I lock out both of my overdrive gears. This is an oversimplification, but engines are basically air pumps, the more air they pump the more power they make. They can pack more air into a smaller pump (forced induction), pump air faster (high RPM), or pump more air due to being larger in size (large displacement) to increase power.”
A forum member named Gantman quoted the owner’s manual on towing. “Page 580 of owners manual:
• Do not tow a trailer at all during the first 500 miles (805 km) the new vehicle is driven. The engine, axle or other parts could be damaged.
• Then, during the first 500 miles (805 km) that a trailer is towed, do not drive over 50 mph (80 km/h) and do not make starts at full throttle. This helps the engine and other parts of the vehicle wear in at the heavier loads.
Page 590 of owners manual:
The “DRIVE” range can be selected when towing. The transmission controls include a drive strategy to avoid frequent shifting when towing. However, if frequent shifting does occur while in DRIVE, select “TOW/ HAUL” mode or select a lower gear range (using the Electronic Range Select (ERS) switches).
NOTE: Using “TOW/HAUL” mode or selecting a lower gear range (using the ERS switches) while operating the vehicle under heavy loading conditions will improve performance and extend transmission life by reducing excessive shifting and heat build up. This action will also provide better engine braking.”
Elit had just started this thread, and hasn’t responded, so it is too early to know if there is anything wrong with his vehicle or if he pushed it too hard during the break-in period. It is wise to check about putting too much stress on a new engine. But you may want to also consider using a weight distribution hitch, to improve your pulling capacity. Here Care Your Cars has some 5 pics and reviews if anyone is interested.
Also RAM has a full towing guide on its page here, which you may want to take a look as well.