How to Flat Tow an F150 4×4: Step-by-Step Guide


How to Flat Tow an F150 4x4

Towing your vehicles has never been easier, especially when it comes to flat towing your own Ford F150 4×4. Contrary to other typical towing methods, flat towing proves to beat out others in terms of simplicity and functionality. It’s certainly what I would recommend, and here’s how you can do it.

Having a clear understanding of flat towing and the advantages on a Ford F150 can be very helpful to you in the future and can save much of your time. Compared to other towing methods, flat towing your F150 can provide many unrivaled perks to your towing experience. It also has an amazing user-friendly setup.

The accessories and gear listed in this guide to flat towing a Ford F150 4×4 can all be bought on the Amazon.com. Check out the Amazon F150 accessories section.

How do you flat tow a Ford F150?

  1. Fasten the base plate kit to the rear end of your towing vehicle. (Specifics vary based on the model of F150)
  2. Fasten the tow bar to your chosen base plate, using as many attachment points as possible. (Specifics vary based on base plate kit being used)
  3. Level out the tow bar in accordance with the height of your F150.
  4. Fasten the tow bar to the frame of your F150.
  5. Connect the tow bar wiring from your vehicle that will be towing your F150 to the F150.
  6. Connect your safety cables, linking the long cable from the towing vehicle hitch to the base plate arms on the F150.
  7. Properly fasten the supplemental braking system designated for your model of F150.
  8. Begin your F150’s set up process by pressing the engine start/stop button, making sure that you are not pressing the brake pedal while doing so.
  9. The button should begin to blink green, and once it does so you should press the brake pedal.
  10. While pressing the brake pedal, turn the 4WD mode selector to 2H, and shift the transmission to the neutral position.
  11. After setting it to neutral, shift the 4WD mode selector from 2H to 4L five times. This will only work if you complete this step in under seven seconds.
  12. You should receive a message in the instrument cluster reading “Neutral Tow Enabled Leave Transmission in Neutral”.

Flat towing an F150 easily

Although flat towing your F150 is simple for the most part, there are some additional requirements you should be aware of before you begin the process.

Just like any other towing method, there are additional parts needed to be able to tow any F150.

You will need a tow bar

In order to flat tow any vehicle, you are going to be required to buy a tow bar.

A tow bar is a highly efficient, well-functioning, tool that attaches securely to a base plate. This is necessary for towing your vehicle behind a motorhome or an RV.

The tow bar is an easy alternative to other common towing methods; which typically require more of an upfront investment. It also requires more time to fasten to your vehicle.

Flat towing a Ford F150 with the flat bar might appear to be less reliable than other methods in theory, but it has clearly proven its merit in previous years.

The tow bar attaches to your F150 at the ends of the tow bar’s arms, while the other end of the bar is meant to be hitched to the vehicle. It will be used for towing your F150. This can be performed using an integrated coupler or by using a receiver mount.

Tow bars tend to include many additional features compared to other methods. These additional features include:

  • Self-aligning arms, which automatically center and lock into place when pulling away.
  • Pivot joints, which allow the tow arms of the tow bar to easily adjust for a simpler hookup process while on uneven ground.
  • Aluminum construction, which is far lighter than its competitors and much simpler to store when not in use.
  • Non-binding release latches, which prove to be fairly hassle-free to disconnect on both even and uneven ground.

The tow bar has been found to have several advantages compared to other variations of towing available.

Not only is the tow bar a typically less expensive alternative to purchasing a dolly or a flatbed, but it is also more efficient, simpler, lighter and faster to hitch and unhitch than other towing methods being used for F150’s.

Tow bars are provided in three different variations, all designed to fit a different need. The three variations of tow bar include:

  • Rigid A-Frame Tow Bar
  • Self-Aligning Coach-Mounted Receivers
  • Self-Aligning Towed Vehicle-Mounted Receivers 

The best possible set-up for flat towing your vehicle is a self-aligning coach-mounted receiver tow bar. This variation of the tow bar is self-aligning.

This means that the receiver can be adjusted based on your needs, from side to side, making it far much easier to attach to your F150 and saving you time.

What about a base plate kit?

Another vital component needed for towing your F150 is known as the base plate kit. A base plate kit is a piece that attaches the towing vehicle to your tow bar.

Each vehicle requires its own designated base plate, it is the only vehicle-specific piece out of all the towing equipment. Each base plate is custom designed to fit the specific dimension of your vehicle’s frame or in this case your F150.

When installing a base plate on your F150, you want to try using as many existing attachment points as you possibly can. You don’t want to sacrifice the strength or safety of your F150’s frame.  If there are more than one base plate kits available to your F150, then the installation process should be nearly identical for each of the individual kits.

The only notable variable is the difference in the drawbar type as well as the exact number of frame bracket pieces that are provided. Base kits may or may not include other pieces, but in the case of your F150, there are two main notable components you must be aware of before flat towing:

  • Drawbar arms: provide attachment points for your designated tow bar. These can come in two variations known as removable arms and fixed arms. Removable arms attach directly to the frame of the vehicle being towed by a pin/clip and have a cleaner look, while fixed arms are welded directly to the frame.
  • Frame brackets: can be directly mounted to your F150’s frame for flat towing.

In some cases, you might find that your vehicle may require what is known as a base plate adapter. A base plate adapter serves to help you attach a tow bar and a base plate kit from separate manufactures because each tow bar uses its own unique connection.

You will find that there are three variations of base plates available for your F150. These three variations include:

  • Roadmaster base plates: use quick disconnects to attach your crossbar and tow bar to your base plates.
  • Blue ox base plates: primarily use two lugs that interlock with the existing lugs on the ends of the tow bar arms. You should follow up by securing it in place with a pin and clip.
  • Demco base plates: use two-pronged ends that slide around the tow bar’s arm extensions. This should be followed by securing it in place with a pin and clip.

 The main goal when selecting the proper base plates is to ensure that it operates hand in hand with your vehicle’s tow bar. As long as it properly fastens to the tow bar, then your travels should run smoothly and incident-free.

Other flat towing components

Aside from the tow bar and base plate kit, there are a couple other equally important pieces necessary to ensure your F150’s proper mounting.

The other components required for flat towing your F150 include: 

  • A safety cable set
  • Functional tow bar wiring
  • A supplemental braking system.

The benefits to flat towing a Ford F150

While it is true that the initial pricing of flat towing and other dolly methods of towing are fairly close, that does not mean that flat towing is without benefits. Flat towing tends to allow for easier setup and dismantling, with the attached tow bar typically including the function to lay flat against the back of the towing vehicle.

Functionality is the primary perk that comes with the decision to flat tow your vehicle.

Flat towing an F150 the easiest and most efficient method for those users who want to be able to quickly unhitch their towed vehicle for spur of the moment transport.

To add to the efficiency of this already simple process, this can all be done without the requirement of additional equipment to unhitch your vehicle.

Flat towing with a tow bar can also prevent the tires of your F150 from wearing out unevenly, compared to tow dollies which tend to have this issue.

However, it still doesn’t match flatbed towing, which clearly has much less wear and tear on your F150’s tires than any towing method.

Flat towing precautions and risks

While flat towing is known for its simpler set up and initial hitching, there are a few initial steps that should be completed by trained professionals. Your vehicle might be in need of a lubrication pump and will most definitely be needing the installation of an auxiliary brake system. This is required by law in most states.

These should not be done at home, as they are both vital to the safety of all those traveling within the vehicle and other vehicles on the road.

Extra time and attention should be devoted to double-checking the proper mounting of these products to prevent potential damage to vehicles or their respective parts.

Common alternatives to the purchasing of these items include opting out of the part altogether and just flat towing with the F150 in neutral.

This alternative, however, while performing its designated purpose, can have negative effects on the F150 being towed, because it produces far more resistance and friction to the vehicle. It can also provide some wear and tear to your F150’s engine more quickly.

Just as with any towing option, it is always a good practice to contact your insurance agent in advance, and even possibly perform a quick test drive locally before you plan on any long-distance travel to ensure everything runs smoothly and no incidents occur.

Flat towing an F150 Raptor

Although very similar in process and execution to the F150, flat towing an F150 Raptor is a slightly more lengthy process to properly operate. In order to safely and properly flat tow an F150 Raptor, you should:

  1. Begin by pressing the engine start/stop button, making sure that you are not pressing the brake pedal while doing so.
  2. The button should begin to blink green, and once it does so you should press the brake pedal.
  3. While pressing the brake pedal, turn the 4WD mode selector to 2H, and shift the transmission to the neutral position.
  4. Enable the neutral tow option by navigating the settings on your instrument cluster, into advanced settings, then vehicle, and select the option reading “neutral tow.”
  5. Press and hold the OK button located on the steering wheel to complete this process.

The same benefits and precautions apply to the F150 Raptor just as they apply to the general F150.

Disabling neutral tow

Once you’ve finished flat towing your F150, you are going to need to know how to disable the neutral tow function. The process is fairly simple, and in order to do so you only will need to:

  1. Press the start/stop button.
  2. Hold the brake.
  3. Shift back into park from neutral.

After completing the steps as listed above you should receive a message in your F150 that the neutral tow mode has been disabled.

Common flat towing problems with F150s

Flat towing has clearly proven to be an efficient means of towing your F150, but it only does so when all operations run smoothly as planned. There have been some common issues that occur when towing an pickup truck that you should know about before you tow your F150. 

Many issues arise with the improper application of important parts such as the tow bar or in some cases internal system difficulties.

It is a good idea to consistently check on both the F150 being towed and the vehicle towing the F150 to ensure proper upkeep is in place for a safe journey.

Improper connections

Before you leave anywhere with your F150, you need to be absolutely certain that your towing vehicle and your F150 won’t, at any moment, become disconnected. Preventing this ensures many saved headaches and saved money in damages. Take the proper precautionary measures.

Here are some general guidelines to follow to ensure a problem-free traveling experience: 

  • You should never travel with any tow bar bracket with mounting hardware below a Grade 5 and a safety chain with solid attachment points.
  • If deciding to add brackets, it is recommended not to rely solely on welding.
  • Examine the angle of your attached tow bar. The goal should be for your attached towbar to lay as flat or as close to flat as possible.

If further altering of the tow bar height/angle needs to be made to get it to lay flat, it is possible and recommended to purchase a drop hitch.

Drop hitches are provided in a wide variety to fit your F150’s specific needs.

The height of your F150 and the location of where your tow bar attaches to it will determine the type of drop hitch you will need to properly secure it.

Improper electrical set-up

It is vital to have functioning electrical components for the optimal towing experience. This means making the proper purchases to fit your F150’s towing needs.

Here are some tips for the items you should have before you flat tow your F150:

  • Like any towing experience, you will need lights. There are highly effective, low in price magnetic-base lights that act as a more cost-efficient method than others in the market.
  • It is also a good idea to include running a marine-type battery terminal. This method proves to be quick and easy compared to other lever-operated options. It requires you to mount/unmount the wing nut and pull the positive cable before towing.
  • For older vehicles, it is recommended to add a one-way diode into the rear light’s wiring, which will keep the system from sending feedback into the towing vehicle from one side of the F150 to another. It will even affect the F150’s electrical systems. An alternative to this is to just simply replace the bulbs in the existing taillight housings.

 The main thing to keep in mind when considering possible electrical issues is the consistent maintenance and replacement of older lighting or parts associated in any way with older electrical systems. In most cases, these are cheap replacements and shouldn’t need to be done too frequently.

But doing so, greatly decreases the chances of a preventable and unnecessary accident. Replacements shouldn’t be required too often as the life expectancy of most lighting and electrical parts are fairly long.

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Josh Henderson

Hi I'm Josh and I'm a huge pickup enthusiast. I started this website in 2018 in order to share all my projects and custom mod tips that I've done with my own Ford F-150.

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