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Rudedog

Tow Vehicle Questions-Selection

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Hello all,

I had a couple questions that I wanted to get some input from folks that have some more experience. My situation in a nutshell is I am in the military, I move every 2-3 years. I also have a 1954 Lincoln that I am working on and need to transport with me. Currently the car is in the Seattle area but will be joining me this spring. Once it gets here I will need to trade-in my little sedan for something capable of towing the Lincoln.

I have done some homework on the issue and I plan to tow an open trailer with the car, total weight should max between 7100 and 7500 lbs. I know pretty much any full size truck can accommodate that load. When I'm not towing, which will be the majority of the time, the truck will be my primary commuting vehicle. With that in mind my questions are:

1) Light truck vs. heavy duty (i.e. F150 vs. F250/350): As I said the weight I plan to tow is well within the limit of most F150/1500 series pickups, is the upgrade to the 3/4 or 1 ton chassis really worth the extra $$ for the use I am planning?

2) Used or New: I have purchased new and used vehicles, I was looking at diesels (mainly for longevity) but there is always the fear of getting a pig-in-a-poke. I have never owned a diesel truck so New is seemingly more tempting but cost being a driving factor; it is considerably cheaper to go with a used vehicle, so my question here is what would be a good age/mileage range to look at for a used diesel and what are the key items that you have to look at on them you wouldnt for a gas model?

I know that this is a bit vague on some things and that experiences will vary greatly person to person with makes/models/year and equipment of specific vehicles, that just about any late-model can be a great or terrible vehicle simply based on the care and maintenance it has received, and that a thorough inspection prior to purchase is never a bad idea. As I said though, I am hoping that some of you who have many more years of experience hauling vehicles back and forth can help me narrow down what I should look for and what is important over what is just flashy.

Thanks

Adam

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HD trucks have HD parts so they last longer typically.

Never buy a new vehicle unless you have money to burn.

The rest all depends on your budget, what you like, and how long you plan on keeping it.

I personally would never buy a diesel unless I found a screaming deal, and I hauled heavy loads constantly. My brother had one, a couple of my friends had them, and after a year or so, they all got tired of owning them for all the reasons that make them different. Of course, if you're looking at a, say, $40,000 truck, then more expensive gas and maintenance shouldn't be an issue. In all 3 cases, the gas mileage never came close to making up for the price of gas. That's a myth unless you drive 100k a year.

As far as longevity, a gas truck will last 10-15+ years just like a diesel will. Worst case, replacing an engine in a gas truck is often less than some wear and tear items on a diesel.

When buying cars and trucks, if you are not in a huge hurry, shop around and find the best deal that works for your needs. No need to narrow your search too much.

Edited by 39BuickEight (see edit history)

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I'm far from being any type of authority on the subject, but I'm of the understanding that one of the major hazards when trailoring a vehicle is jackknifeing. An 8ft long box is better than a short box, and dual rear wheels (more road contact) is even better. Any debate, argument, or rebuttle is welcome.

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Thanks for the thoughts. I have been doing some more homework and I am thinking that since 90% of my time will not be towing that an F150/1500 will probably be the better choice as they make more $$ sense to operate. I think that I am going to start hunting for one of the Ram 1500s with the diesel, I am already seeing them in the used car markets (I never understood why someone would buy a car, put 4500 miles on it and trade it in?). With the right setup it will tow well in excess of what I need and gets high teens MPG around town and 20+ highway, sounds like a winner for what I need. Though since Im not in a hurry I will likey be watching reviews and blogs about them to see if they are really all they are cracked up to be.

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Do you need a truck or do just want a pickup? If you just want a truck, ignore any advice you might glean from my comments.

It's 2,000 plus miles to Seattle and about 70 hours round trip driving time. If you only need the truck to haul the Lincoln between posts, a good commercial hauler should be cheaper. The Lincolns were great road cars and they would run 60 miles an hour forever. Unless you wish to avoid putting miles on the car, you shouldn't need a trailer. My brother has a 2008 Dodge 2500 diesel and it will pull 5,000 pounds without effort in the mountains central of PA. The fuel is higher but things like changing the oil will run over $50.00.

April 2012, I purchased a 29,500 mile 2006 Chevrolet extended cab 1500 2 wheel drive with a 5.3 engine. I use it to tow an eighty three old car weighing 3,000 pounds. I drive the car to local tours up to 60 miles away. I use the truck & open trailer for longer distances. The truck actually gets better gas millage with the trailer than the old car alone. My daily driver is a Focus and the truck sits unused as I have only driven it 10,000 miles. The truck has been to Hershey twice, Charlotte once, and towing the trailer, purchased spring 2014, to Canton OH, and Washington IN from just north of Cincinnati OH. This year, I hope to trailer to North Central PA, Gatlinburg TN, and maybe Nashville TN for multi-day tours. In reality. I should use a post WWII car to tour with and skip the truck. You see, I want to tour in the 1931 car and that justifies my truck.

Please keep us posted on your progress.

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In 2011 I had bought a new GMC 2500 Seirra HD Gas truck, in 2012 I traded it in for the same truck with a diesel. The fuel milage is a little better, BUT....... Most (if not all) gas trucks have a 24 gallon tank, and getting about 7 MPG I found myself pulling over for fuel about 1 1/2 hours! While the gas truck pulled it fine, I always knew the truck was pulling a trailer, it was working, and working hard at that. With the same trailer and same car inside, with the diesel I don't even know the trailer is behind me. I ony can speak about the GM's, but the transmission used on the diesels is the Allison, a real upgrade from the one in the gas 2500. The way the gas truck felt I figured I was going to burn it out by the time I got to 50,000 miles.

When I can I really don't like buying used vehicles, even if I knew the history, and I am lucky I don't have to. I would not recommend buying a used 2500 gas truck but I would buy a diesel. Both the gas and diesel both being 2500's rode like crap without a load, I knew I was in a truck. Again alot has to do with the roads, I live most of the year in the greater NYC area, and the roads around here stink, so you feel everything! Put the trailer on and it ride like 1500! So if you are using to commute it is not going to be the greatest ride, it's going to ride like a truck. I only use mine only to tow with, it only gets used 3 or 4 times a year. I have a good friend of mine who lives in Maine and was towing with a 2500 Suburban (gas powered, GM never made a diesel Surburban), he told me he is getting rid of it and buying a used Sierra diesel pick-up. He also mentioned that they are pretty hard to find in nice shape. The one he had purchased is in Florida.

Best of luck with what you decide to do

Edited by Biscayne John (see edit history)

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John, per your quote:

I have a good friend of mine who lives in Maine and was towing with a 2500 Suburban (gas powered, GM never made a diesel Surburban),

actually Suburbans used to be available with a Diesel engine, and they were a darned fine machine in my opinion (although some may disagree).

I don't recall when it was that you could no longer get a suburban with a Diesel, but I believe that they were available through the 1995 Model Year, and so could possibly have been an option through 1999.

The "new" body style in the 2000 model year apparently has a floor pan design which does not allow the Diesel engine - or so it was explained to me by a Senior VP at GM. Since I wanted a new 3/4 ton 2500 series with the Duramax Diesel and the 6-speed Allison 1000 tranny, he suggested that I wait a year or two - then told me that the Diesel will no longer in the Suburban platform...

So I bought my 2002 Suburban 2500 with the 8.1 gas engine...

I later also bought a lightly used 231,000 mile Ford Excursion with the 7.3 Turbo-Diesel with 4-WD for winter and for pulling my enclosed trailers with a Caddy or Packard when heading for the Rockies or the Pennsylvania hills.

Our Suburban has well over 145K miles now and the Ford has passed 315K miles. Diesel Maintenance is MUCH more expensive, and these days the fuel mileage DOES NOT make up the difference, but pulling power is priceless if the hippie in the VW Microbus is straining to pass you on a 2-lane mountain road - and shaking his fist while giving you the "Hawaiian Peace Sign".

Edited by Marty Roth (see edit history)

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Marty,

Yes they offered one, I am sorry I should have been clearer with my statement, considering we were talking modern "used" or new tow vehicles I was not thinking of 20 + year old ones. Try to find a 2500 Surburban that is 5 years old or newer.... good luck!

I am pretty sure the diesel surburbans were not manufactured directly by GM but rather a conversion done by an outside vendor. I remember reading this somewhere, because they were not offered for sale new by every dealer. Same with the diesel vans, and conversion vans. I don't recall ever seeing any sales brochures listing the deisel as an option, I could be wrong, but regardless we are talking 20 year old tow vehicles, even if he wanted one good luck finding one that was up for the task

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We swear by our Dodge Ram Turbo Diesels. 14-15 mpg towing a 24 ft enclosed trailer with a 6000# antique aboard. 17 mpg running around town. Only downside is maintenance is very expensive but seldom needed.

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Personally, I would buy an older truck. As an example, a friend of mine found a 911 Turbo while on travel in SoCal. He also found a rust free 1980s vintage Chevy crewcab dually and bought that to tow the Porsche home to the DC area. While he ended up keeping the truck, he could have easily sold it for as much or more than he paid for it.

New trucks not only have a high price tag, they have WAAAAAAY too much nanny electronics for my taste. I recently had to back up a newer Chevy pickup and horse trailer. The truck had this stupid feature that tilted the outside mirrors down in reverse. Great if you were parallel parking. Useless for backing a large trailer. :rolleyes:

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In 2011 I had bought a new GMC 2500 Seirra HD Gas truck, in 2012 I traded it in for the same truck with a diesel. The fuel milage is a little better, BUT....... Most (if not all) gas trucks have a 24 gallon tank, and getting about 7 MPG I found myself pulling over for fuel about 1 1/2 hours! While the gas truck pulled it fine, I always knew the truck was pulling a trailer, it was working, and working hard at that. With the same trailer and same car inside, with the diesel I don't even know the trailer is behind me. I ony can speak about the GM's, but the transmission used on the diesels is the Allison, a real upgrade from the one in the gas 2500. The way the gas truck felt I figured I was going to burn it out by the time I got to 50,000 miles.

When I can I really don't like buying used vehicles, even if I knew the history, and I am lucky I don't have to. I would not recommend buying a used 2500 gas truck but I would buy a diesel. Both the gas and diesel both being 2500's rode like crap without a load, I knew I was in a truck. Again alot has to do with the roads, I live most of the year in the greater NYC area, and the roads around here stink, so you feel everything! Put the trailer on and it ride like 1500! So if you are using to commute it is not going to be the greatest ride, it's going to ride like a truck. I only use mine only to tow with, it only gets used 3 or 4 times a year. I have a good friend of mine who lives in Maine and was towing with a 2500 Suburban (gas powered, GM never made a diesel Surburban), he told me he is getting rid of it and buying a used Sierra diesel pick-up. He also mentioned that they are pretty hard to find in nice shape. The one he had purchased is in Florida.

Best of luck with what you decide to do

X2 you cant beat the duramax with the allison package... the gm trucks have a fully boxed frame compared to the ford C channel .. ford has changed they're diesel motors packages how many times now?

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Our Suburban has well over 145K miles now and the Ford has passed 315K miles. Diesel Maintenance is MUCH more expensive, and these days the fuel mileage DOES NOT make up the difference, but pulling power is priceless if the hippie in the VW Microbus is straining to pass you on a 2-lane mountain road - and shaking his fist while giving you the "Hawaiian Peace Sign".

Now Marty,

Be careful or I will bring my VW Camper to one of the shows.  And my '07 Chevy Silverado which I use for towing has over 200K and I would tow about anything anywhere. Runs great!

Larry

Edited by Larry Schramm (see edit history)

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X2 you cant beat the duramax with the allison package... the gm trucks have a fully boxed frame compared to the ford C channel .. ford has changed they're diesel motors packages how many times now?

 

Why will GM not build a 2500 Series Suburban/Yukon-XL with the Duramax and Allison?

 

That is what I want for my birthday (or any other excuse). I'm doing OK with the 2000 Excursion 7.3 diesel, but more gears and using my GM card earnings would be a plus.

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Up until 2007 they did not put a Duramax diesel in the 2500 Suburbans because of [hysical fitment.  The whole reason the 2500HD and 3500 trucks were higher is because they had to be to fit the transmission under the body.  They didn't want to mess with the body on the Suburbans, so they left it.  If you try putting that combo in a regular 2500 (non HD) truck, the transmission would hit the bottom of the cab.  That would be the same problem with the Suburbans.  Apparently the work arounds for this are still something GM doesn't want to deal with, even with the new body styles in 2007 1/2 and 2014.

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Up until 2007 they did not put a Duramax diesel in the 2500 Suburbans because of [hysical fitment.  The whole reason the 2500HD and 3500 trucks were higher is because they had to be to fit the transmission under the body.  They didn't want to mess with the body on the Suburbans, so they left it.  If you try putting that combo in a regular 2500 (non HD) truck, the transmission would hit the bottom of the cab.  That would be the same problem with the Suburbans.  Apparently the work arounds for this are still something GM doesn't want to deal with, even with the new body styles in 2007 1/2 and 2014.

 

 

Back in 2000, my wife suggested that we use our GM Card earnings to replace our 1977 and 1978 Suburbans. Former GM Exec. and AACA Past President  Joe Vicini advised to wait a year since I wanted the Diesel in a 3/4 ton Suburban - that they were not yet available, so we bought a used 1986 3/4 ton (2500 Series) from a good friend, and still have this workhorse. When the 2001 models came out, Joe suggested waiting another year, so we waited patiently. When the 2002 model were released, Joe told me that the Duramax and Allison 1000 would not fit the Suburban floorpan, and to just enjoy the 8.1 L gas engine - the successor to our many 454ci mills. We've certainly enjoyed the gas Suburban, but I can feel the difference when using our 7.3 Turbo-diesel Excursion when pulling Caddy, Packard, or Buick in a big enclosed trailer, heading across the Rockies, the Blue Ridge, or the Smokies.

 

C'mon GM, there are lots of us who would love a big, clean diesel to pull RVs, car haulers, toy haulers, livestock haulers, and just plain work / play stuff.

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No sure fuel is of concern,  the FOrd eco-engine  trucks, and dodge eco diesel,  get 28 mpg,   Sound like your driving a lot on relocations, and you goign to be towing too.  the dodge is rated  8500 in towing.  the ford is higher at 10,000  you need to confirm that one.   these are both 1500 models. . 

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I just bought a 2006 Chevy Avalanche 2500 Series with the 8.1L engine and 4-WD. May be a good tow vehicle.

 

Was the Avalanche available with a diesel?

.....until what year could you get a 2500 Avalanche 4-WD?

Edited by Marty Roth (see edit history)

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I do not believe that the Avalanche was ever available with the diesel.

Correct. 

 

What I know-all pre 2007 Avalanche's are 1500's with the 5.3 or 2500's with the 8.1.  2006 was the last year of the 8.1 in an Avalanche.  After that it went to 5.3 or 6.0 until 2010, then it was only the 5.3.

 

What I think I know-2007's and newer are all 1500's.

 

Marty, I am fairly certain the newest 2500 Avalanche is a 2006.

 

I am a big fan of the 2500/8.1 Avalanches.  Incredibly stout.

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My two cents worth. Several years ago my son had a 2005 Dodge Ram 2500 diesel 4x4. Had to travel from Florida to Norfolk to pick up a full size ford F150 for a client. Called U-haul up there and rented an open trailer to haul it back. Back then got 24 mpg going up, mostly I-95 driving and coming back towing the heavy U-Haul trailer and F-150 got 17 mpg doing about 60 to 65 mph coming back. Didn't even know that thing was behind us until you looked in the mirror. No drag on the truck at all.  Now move up till now, I've bee looking too at the Dodge Ram 1500 Diesel that's out now. Haven't seen any towing mileage statistics, but I know of two people that have them. One is getting 25 mpg with only about 3,000 miles on it and the other has about 35,000 and is getting close to 29 on it. Can't account for driving habits and styles but I know that down here right now diesel is only about 5 cents a gallon more and has been about 1 cent more at the Racetrack and WaWa. They claim a towing capacity of 9,000 lbs plus depending on how it's equipped. The new Ram 1500 Diesel is an Italian manufacturer, not Fiat, and has been in use in Europe for awhile. The Ram 2500 still has the Cummings I believe in it. According to my research, Cadillac was looking at the Italian diesel, the same one Ram uses for the Cadillac CTS that sell in Europe. I don't think they finally went for that engine, but were considering it. It will be interesting to see how the statistics come in over time.

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