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2nd Gen Durability at Max GVWR

3495 Views 8 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  scuba91ta
I tow a small fiberglass trailer that weighs around 3300 lb fully loaded. I also carry a significant amount of gear in the bed of my 2010 SWB 4WD CC LE with a Leer fiberglass canopy. I replaced a 2001 Ford Ranger 4WD SC last fall with the Frontier because of an almost catastrophic bearing/axle failure earlier in the year in the middle of nowhere NV at 115K miles. The good part of the story was the mechanic I limped into in Delta UT fixed me up with 2 new axles, bearings and brakes for ... get this... only $700 total and my wife and I were back on the road within 24 hours on our vacation. Long story short, the Ranger axle is a semi-floating bearing design with no inner race. The bearings run on an induction hardened surface of the axle.

So I have two questions:

1) It appears from the factory service manual that the Frontier C200k rear axle has a full floating bearing with an inner race. (Interestingly, the M226 axle appears to be a semi-floating design.) So here's the question for the rear axle specialists on this forum: how durable is the C200k axle with heavy loads? I'd always figured the tires were the limiting factor on GAWR until the bearing experience with my Ranger. Any recommendations for axle lube? I'm thinking about replacing the factory 75-90W with Amsoil 75-90W for better oil film strength.

2) The payload on a fully optioned LE CC isn't very much. Especially with the addition of a Leer fiberglass canopy. Per the placard, GVWR is 5815 - 198 = 5613lb. GWR front axle = 3296lb. GWR rear axle = 3331lb. I have added Firestone Ride-Rite air bags and use a weight distributing hitch with my trailer that has trailer brakes. I don't do any technical off-roading with the 4WD. I plan to weight the truck including each axle separately with and without the trailer hitched to see exactly how much payload (persons & gear) I actually can carry at the GVWR. I still think the tires are the weak link but wonder about the durability of 2nd Gen Frontiers and especially the rear axle when loaded at GVWR (or maybe 5% over). What is your experience with towing and hauling at max GVWR?

Thanks in advance for sharing your experience and advice.
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the truck has bad *** brakes QUOTE]

no way dude, these trucks in no way shape or form have good brakes, IMO...

That being said, with trailer brakes, and a good controller, that are up to the task, braking shouldn't be a problem.

I've had a 3400lbs car on a 1500lbs trailor, plus 500~ lbs in the bed, plus two people in the cab, and the truck did fantastic towing. I did use a weight distributing hitch, which IMO is 100% necessary if you want to tow anything that weighs more than what the capasity of the bed is, which max is 1500lbs. The amount of stability and safety it provides is undeniable. WELL worth the investment.

As for the rear, semi floating bearings can be plenty durable - and aside from seal failures, I haven't seen anyone post here about bearing failures. The bearing design on the m226 is the same as just about every other dana 44 setup IIRC. The size of the bearing has a lot to do with how durable it is, as well as proper oil level in the axle. When I bought the last set of tires, I ended up getting the heavier higher rated tires for the simple fact that towing was a possibility.

To be honest though, I never intended to tow often, or more than 400 miles or so round trip. If I thought for a minute I would, I definately would have picked up a Titan or other full size truck. But for how often I tow, and the main purpose of the truck being commuting and driving around, getting a bigger vehicle was something I just didn't want to deal with.

So "cliffs"? keep the oil level at the proper height, use a quality oil, and air bags/weight distributing hitch, and I think you'll be fine.
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