Ford F150 Tow Haul Mode Guide (Not Working, When To Turn On)

Towing has always been difficult. There are so many factors to be concerned about when you hook up your trailer. There is wind, hills, speed, and sway to just name a few. Many top truck brands have been working on towing issues to make towing a trailer better for you in all conditions.

The time to turn this tow mode on is when you are navigating steep inclines going either up or down. This feature helps give you more power going uphill or helps you brake better when going down steep hills. The latter helps keeps your brakes from burning.

To learn more about this topic just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about to use this feature the right way. Take a few minutes to see how this important information can help you when it is time for you to engage the new system and tow better.

What Does The Tow Haul Mode do in an F150?


This new feature is designed to use the lower gears longer when you are either going uphill or down steep hills. The longer use of these lower gears gives you more power when you accelerate uphill.

Then it provides better braking power when you are going downhill. It is designed to help protect your brakes so that they do not burn out on you as you head down the mountainside.

For some heavy trailers, this extra help is essential for safety. Going up or down steep inclines has never been easy. With this help, you should have no problem traversing the different mountain grades.

If used correctly, you should have no problem as you tow and your trip should be a lot smoother than it ever has been. It is a nice improvement over the older F150s which never came with this aid.

In the end, you are supposed to have more control over your truck in towing situations. Having more control makes your vacations go better.

How Does The Ford Tow Haul Mode Work?

This feature seems to have simple to operate controls. If your truck or car has a column shifter, then the button to engage the system will be at the end of the shifter.

Once you do, a drive mode menu should appear on a screen. If you have a floor shifter, there should be a DM or drive mode button on the lower portion of the stick.

It is not hard to see and it should push in quite easily with a press of your thumb. Once pushed, you should see the menu come up on the screen. Once it does, you navigate down to tow mode and make that selection.

When you see the screen come up, you will notice that it will say normal. That is the default selection and is always engaged until you change it. To get to tow mode, you need to use the arrow keys on your steering wheel.

After you make the selection, the words tow mode will light up next to the gear selection (PRNDM). When you see those words you know you are in tow mode.

If your truck does not stay in tow mode and switches back to normal, shift into park and try again. If it won’t stay in tow mode after that, then there is a malfunction in the system and you need to get it checked as quickly as possible.

The actual words you should see will be tow haul, not tow mode. This can make a difference to some people but it is the same thing.

When Should I Use The Tow Haul on My F150?

The one main aspect you should be aware of is that you do not have to use this feature if you do not want to. It will not engage itself if the system is working properly. You get to stay in control of when it is used or not.

There are different driving situations where you can use this feature. It all depends on you when you use it if you use it at all. Here are some of those driving situations you can use this feature in:

Climbing mountain roads

Towing heavy loads on a flat ground

Adjusting transmission shift patterns

Controlling over excessive car speed

Cruising roads with the heaviest loads

Driving in Sport mode

Controlling steering column

The major drawback to this feature is that it is not great for fuel mileage. If you want lots of fuel economy, then you have to leave it in normal mode. The other drawback will be icy roads.

It is not the best feature to turn on when the roads get slick. But the benefits overcome those drawbacks. Once engaged it helps your transmission work better by changing its shifting habits.

Another benefit is that you get more torque when you are towing heavy trailers. Then it will employ the engine brake when you are going downhill. That makes sure you stay in control of your vehicle and trailer better.

Can You Shift Into Tow Haul Mode While Driving?


This is not a problem. You do not have to worry that you are doing any type of damage to your vehicle or transmission. It is not like you are driving 60 to 80 mph and then suddenly shifting into reverse.

This feature is made to be used when you are driving. You do not have to stop your vehicle and shift into park to get it to engage. The only time you would stop driving and try to engage the system is when it is not working right.

If the feature does not engage while driving, then stop your vehicle and shift into park. If the feature engages, then continue on your journey. If it doesn’t, don’t force it, you have a problem with your system.

When you see that you have a problem, do not use the system but take your truck to your dealer and let them fix it for you. When you are on level ground, you most likely do not need to engage this system.

Just leave it off so that you still get some great gas mileage. While we gave you a list of times when to use it, it is best to wait till you are going up or downhill before turning the feature on.

Where is The Tow Haul Button on F150?

This button is in one of two places. It will depend on what type of gear shift you have in your truck. Generally, all automatic trucks have their gear shift on the steering column.

In that case, you will find the tow haul button on the end of the shifter rod. That used to be the location of the cruise control power button on some older cars. Just press that and the menu will light up on your dash or a nearby screen.

Then use the arrow buttons to get to the tow haul option and then engage the system. If by chance your truck has a floor shifter or console shifter, then the button will be near the lower portion of the shifter. It is clearly marked DM so you cannot miss it.

Press that button and do the same thing with the arrows on the steering wheel. Once engaged, your truck will still work like normal. You may only notice the difference when you are actually on the slope of a hill.

You should also hear the downshift to the lower gear once it is engaged. That will be normal. You can still use your gas and brake pedals when needed while the system is engaged.

Why is My Tow Haul Light On?

It is normal for the tow haul light to come on. That illumination lets you know that the system is engaged and working. However, that is not the only explanation for when the tow light is on.

When the tow haul light is flashing it is telling you that there is a problem in the transmission. This is not a DIY fix and when you see it flashing, you should not drive any further than is necessary.

You need to get the truck to the mechanic as soon as possible. You may notice the problem as either the transmission will not shift or it shifts continuously. The light will stay on for 3 seconds and then go off so it is not like a blinker light.

The transmission control module (TCM) will detect a problem before it turns the tow haul light to flashing mode. There may be different colors for this message depending on the severity of the situation.

Sometimes, this light will flash when the transmission is low on transmission fluid. Or it may be something more severe like when the transmission is overheating.

No matter the problem, when you see the light flashing, get the truck to a mechanic as soon as possible.

Can I Turn Off The Tow Haul Mode While Driving?


This is one of those topics that just gets cursory attention. Most people are focused on turning the system on an dhow it works than turning it off. They do not get into how to turn it off or when to turn it off.

But there should be no problem turning the tow haul mode off while you are still driving. There are no warnings on any website that talks about any dangerous situations if you do this.

The best piece of advice that can be given here is for you to read your manual and see what it says. All you have to do is push the button again and the system turns off and you return to normal function.

It is that simple to operate but the real question you may ask is ‘do you really need this feature?’ If you have great driving skills or do not tow heavy loads, then you may not need this system to help you navigate those hills.

This system is designed to work with those people who do tow heavy loads. It is not for light loads or flat driving situations. But this feature is up to your judgment and use it when you need it.

How To Turn Off Tow Haul on a Ford F150

Some people get confused when it comes to these modern features. They get it in their heads that the trailer connected/active or trailer disconnected is attached to the tow haul system.

Then they start talking about racking up tow miles and so forth and not even coming close to discussing the real topic. The trailer connect and disconnect function has nothing to do with the tow haul system.

Do not get caught up in any discussions on this topic when it goes in that direction. To turn the system off, you merely push the same button you did when you engaged the system.

That is all there is to it. Once you press that button, your truck should return to the default mode, normal, and you should get better fuel mileage again. When you are facing a steep hill, just press the button again and navigate to the right option to engage the feature once more.

It is a simple system that should not take your concentration off the road. You should be able to turn it off in a second or two so you do not lose eye contact with the road either.

This is a safety feature that is not going to put you in harm's way to make it work or to turn it off.

F150 Tow Haul Mode Not Working - How To Fix

To be honest and frank, you cannot fix this yourself. There may be a couple of exceptions to the rule but for the most part, if you see that tow haul light flashing, you need to go to a qualified mechanic or dealer to get the repairs.

One of the exceptions will be if your transmission fluid is low and you happen to have some stored away somewhere in your truck or trailer. If you are still under any type of warranty, then you should go directly to an approved dealer or mechanic to get the work done.

When you see the light flashing on your dash, you are not supposed to drive any farther than necessary. If you keep driving or try to fix the problem yourself, you may end up damaging your transmission.

If that happens you will be looking at an expensive repair bill. When you are having problems, it is best to let the professionals handle any repairs. That way you are covered if anything goes wrong.

Check with your dealer or mechanic first before attempting any repairs. These modern technological advances may be too complicated and need precise tools to get the systems back to normal again.

You may not have those tools in your toolbox. Plus, they may be quite expensive to buy.

Tow Haul Mode Disadvantages


Not everything is rosy with this feature on your F150. There are some problems that can build up over time and cause you some issues that can be expensive to repair as well.

1. Engine stress- when you are towing heavy weights this feature can put a lot of stress on your engine. This can eventually lead to engine damage. Make sure your trailer and cargo are not that heavy so you protect your engine before it goes into this mode.

2. Lost fuel economy- like air conditioning, using this mode will cost you more gas. The reason that it does is that the engine is working harder than ever helping you tow your trailer. The harder the engine works the more gas you consume.

3. It may be unnecessary- that is the way it goes for many modern features. While the intent is good, the practicality is not so good. By that, it is meant that this feature is for heavy loads. When you are not towing heavy loads, it is not needed.

4. It is not needed- there are many situations where you shouldn’t or do not need to use this feature. It is more of a waste than anything. If you are a good driver with top driving skills you may never need to use it.

5. It is easy to forget to turn it off- then you are losing gas mileage for no reason. Plus, adding more stress to your engine.

Some Final Words

Tow haul mode sounds like a good idea but since it is not always needed it may be a wasted feature. Also, if you can’t fix it, it may get too expensive to have a professional make the repairs.

Think twice about buying a truck that has this feature in it as you may end up paying more in gas than you would like.

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