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Can You Flat Tow A Lincoln Navigator?

Towing a vehicle behind an RV or a motorhome is a popular practice for long-term RV living. Hooking up a Lincoln Navigator behind your RV is advantageous because this SUV is both luxurious and versatile. So can you flat tow a Navigator for these purposes? We've done the research for your reading pleasure. 

You can flat-tow many Lincoln Navigator trims of different model years. However, the degree of flat towing varies depending on the model year of the Navigator.

  • Older Navigator models allow flat-towing only for 2WD trims on an emergency basis over short distances.
  • Some older 4WD Navigators cannot be flat towed.
  • Some current-generation Navigator trims have a dedicated "Neutral Towing" mode that lets you flat tow the SUV for long trips.

If you want to learn more about flat towing a Lincoln Navigator, then you've come to the right place. Read on, and we'll guide you on the basics of four-down towing for this luxury vehicle.

Lincoln Navigator on display at the Orange County International Auto Show, Can You Flat Tow A Lincoln Navigator?

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Can You Flat Tow A Lincoln Navigator?

Not all cars can be flat towed or towed with all wheels and tires on the ground behind. In general, you can safely flat-tow vehicles that have:

  • Rear-wheel-drive (RWD) and manual transmission
  • Four-wheel-drive (4WD) and manual transfer case

Some automatic transmission vehicles, however, have the appropriate design for flat towing. Among these are some trims of the Lincoln Navigator.

The Lincoln Navigator concept on display at the North American International Auto Show

According to multiple Lincoln Navigator owners' manuals, you may tow some trims of this full-size luxury SUV on all four wheels. However, the different generations of the Navigator have different flat-towing restrictions.

First Generation (1998 - 2002) And Second Generation (2003-2006)

Lincoln allows recreational towing, or flat towing, for two-wheel-drive (2WD) trims of the first and second-generation Navigators. However, the luxury carmaker provides some limitations to prevent damage to the transmission.

  1. You must place the transmission to "neutral"
  2. The maximum speed should be no more than 35 mph (56 kph)
  3. The maximum towing distance is 50 miles (80 km)

Furthermore, if you need to exceed the maximum towing speed or distance, then Lincoln requires you to get your Navigator's driveshaft removed. It is no simple task and should be done only by a qualified technician.

Improper driveshaft removal can lead to the following problems:

  • Loss of transmission fluid
  • Damage to the driveshaft
  • Damage to other transmission components

On another note, Lincoln prohibits flat towing on the four-wheel-drive (4WD) trims of the first and second-generation Navigators. Because these early Navigator trims have electronic shift transfer cases, you can only tow them when all of their wheels are off the ground, for instance, on a trailer.

If these 4WD trims absolutely need flat towing, however, the owners' manuals still mention that the owners can visit their Lincoln dealers to find a solution.

Third Generation (2007 - 2017)

Lincoln made improvements to the third-generation Navigator in terms of flat towing capability. Unlike in the previous two generations, all third-generation Navigator trims can be flat towed. This capability comes standard regardless of powertrain and transmission configuration.

As before, Lincoln specifies some reminders and warnings about flat towing the Navigator.

  • If the Navigator has a steering wheel lock, then the ignition must be in the "accessory" or "on" position during the flat towing operation.
  • The towed vehicle must have the same orientation as the towing vehicle.  If the towing vehicle is moving forward, then the towed vehicle must also be facing forward.
  • The transmission must be in the "neutral" position.
  • Maximum towing speed is set at 35 mph (56 kph).
  • Maximum towing distance is 50 miles (80 km).
  • You should set the Climate Control system (if equipped) to recirculated air mode so that the towing vehicle's exhaust fumes will not enter the Navigator's cabin.

Although all third-generation Navigators are capable of being flat towed, Lincoln does not specify any option for long-distance flat towing. Unlike in the previous generations, removing the driveshaft is no longer mentioned in the owner's manual.

Fourth Generation (2018 - Present)

2018 Lincoln Navigator SUV has 3.5-litre, twin-turbo V6 engine with power upped to 450 horses and 10-speed automatic transmission

The fourth-generation Navigator is leagues beyond the previous three generations in terms of 4WD flat towing design.  

However, in an apparent turn-around, 2WD trims of this current generation are no longer capable of being flat towed. Moreover, 4WD trims without the Slow Climb drive mode also cannot be flat towed.

The Lincoln Navigator's Slow Climb mode requires both a 4WD drive train and Lincoln's Heavy-Duty Trailer Tow Package.

The next section enumerates the steps you need to follow in flat towing your 4WD, Slow Climb-equipped Navigator.  You must ensure that you perform these steps on flat level ground. Moreover, you need to make sure that your towing vehicle is in "park" and its parking brakes are on.

Enabling Neutral Tow Mode

  1. First, secure your Navigator behind your towing vehicle using the appropriate towing equipment.  
  2. Next, you will need to climb onto your Navigator to start the engine and set up your Navigator's flat tow or "neutral tow" mode.
  3. Confirm that your vehicle is in "normal" drive mode. If it is not, then you may use your drive mode selector to do so.
  4. Place your transmission in "stay in neutral" mode by pressing the "neutral" button twice.
  5. Turn off your vehicle by pressing and releasing the engine "start/stop" button once. Your vehicle's information screen should display a "Transmission Not in Park" message.
  6. Turn the ignition to the "accessory" position by pressing and releasing the engine "start/stop" button once without stepping on the brake pedal prior to the button press.
  7. After the vehicle is in the "accessory" mode, step on the brake pedal and hold it down.
  8. On the information display screen, select Settings > Advanced Settings > Vehicle > Neutral Tow.
  9. Once you select "neutral tow," press and hold the "OK" button.
  10. Your information display screen should show the message "Neutral Tow Enabled Leave Transmission In Neutral."
    • If the Neutral Tow message does not appear, then you will need to turn off your vehicle and restart the procedure.
    • If the Neutral Tow message appears, this means your Navigator is already safe to flat tow. You may also hear some noise from your transmission as your transfer case shifts to neutral.
  11. Leave the transmission in "neutral" and switch the ignition off. You do not need to leave the keys inside your Navigator, and you may lock and unlock the doors normally.

 

If you have already flat towed your Navigator to your intended destination, then you may want to unhitch it from your RV. Before unhitching, however, you must ensure that your Navigator's transmission and transfer case are no longer in "neutral tow" mode. The following section enumerates the steps to do so.

Disabling Neutral Tow Mode

  1. With both the towed and the towing vehicle still secured together, climb onto your Navigator and start the engine.
  2. Turn the engine off.
  3. Turn the ignition to the "accessory" position by pressing and releasing the engine "start/stop" button once without stepping on the brake pedal prior to the button press.
  4. Step on and hold down the brake pedal.
  5. Put the transmission into "park" then release the brake pedal.
  6. Your information display should show "2H" for your transmission as well as a message saying "Neutral Tow Disabled."
    • If the message does not appear, then you will need to repeat the disabling procedure from the start.
    • If the message appears, then you have successfully shifted your transfer case out of the "neutral" position.
    • If the message "Shift Delayed Pull Forward" appears, then something may be blocking the transfer case gear teeth. To resolve this, you should hold the brake pedal, put the transmission in "neutral," and start the engine. Once started, shift the transmission to "drive" and let the Navigator roll up to three feet forward.  Your transfer case should audibly shift out of the "neutral" position, and you should see the "Neutral Tow Disabled" message displayed.
  7.  Ensure that your transmission is in "park," and apply the parking brake as well.
  8.  Disconnect your Navigator from the towing vehicle.
  9.  Test your Navigator by starting the engine, releasing the parking brake, and driving slowly. Once you confirm that your transmission is working properly, you may begin driving normally.

What Equipment Do I Need For Flat Towing?

A Lincoln Navigator on display February 12th, 2015 at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show

Compared to trailer towing, flat towing is a very convenient way of bringing your Navigator along on your extended RV trips. With your RV parked, you can use your Navigator to drive through more challenging trails or simply go around the area to explore the local destinations.

To flat tow a vehicle safely, you will need at least five pieces of towing equipment.

  1. Base Plate - This plate mounts to the front of your towed vehicle's frame. It distributes the towing force to as many points on that frame to avoid any damage. The base plate also becomes the attachment point for the tow bar.
  2. Tow Bar - This bar is the main link between the towing and the towed vehicle.
  3. Safety Cables - These cables will try to prevent the towed vehicle from disconnecting completely from the towing vehicle in case the tow bar fails.
  4. Rear Towing Lights - these can be in the form of hard-wired lights or supplemental brake and turn signal lighting packages that will be placed behind the towed vehicle.
  5. Supplemental Braking System - This system will synchronize your towing vehicle's brakes with that of your towed vehicle. Many states require supplemental brakes for flat towing safety.

Wrapping Up

Lincoln Navigator on display at the Orange County International Auto Show

You can flat tow some trims from different generations of the Lincoln Navigator. Early Navigator models may limit flat towing speed and distance, and for emergency purposes only. However, some of the newest 4WD Navigators have a dedicated Neutral Tow mode for long-distance flat towing purposes.

Thank you very much for reading. We hope we were able to help you understand how to flat tow a Lincoln Navigator.

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