Jump to content

Tow Vehicle Recommendation


Recommended Posts

Hi all,

I need to find a new modern car and figure that I ought to get a truck capable of towing a trailer with an old car loaded.

I've never owned a tow vehicle so I'd like your recommendations on what I should buy.

I'm NOT buying a new truck. Can't afford that. I'd like to get something for around $10,000 max. I won't use it much other than going to the store ocasionally to keep the juices flowing, and towing two or three times a year.

I figure on mostly an open trailer with a lightweight car, like a Franklin or Model T. However, maybe I should look for something capable of towing an enclosed trailer and a 4000 pound Packard as long as I am shopping around. Any thoughts?

I've heard that you want the longest wheelbase you can find. What would that be?

Any comments on the merits of Ford vs. Chevy vs. GMC vs. Dodge?

Thanks alot guys!

--Scott

Link to post
Share on other sites

I prefer Ford trucks. ( that ought to open a big can of worms) Look for at least an F-250, 3/4 ton rated. For light towing, the gas V-8 will do OK. I prefer a diesel. For comfort & available lockable storage space, at least an extended cab truck. An 8 foot bed will help the truck ride better. 4 wheel drive is not a necessity, but nice to have.

Good luck with your search.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Everybody will have their own preference and it really boils down to what you test drive and what you like. If towing was all you were doing with it, Big Ford Trucks do have a good reputation. For dual use like you are talking about, my personal preference is for a Chevrolet Tahoe or GMC Yukon.

I personally like Ford Cars, but tow with a GM product. I tow a Model A in an enclosed trailer and wanted to tow it with a Ford, but after trying a few different vehicles, I settled on a Chevy Tahoe. A Suburban would be a better tow vehicle, but the Tahoe is a more convenient vehicle for everyday use. My wife is comfortable driving the Tahoe around town, but she never liked driving a Suburban. I would suggest that you find a Tahoe in your price range that came equipped with the factory towing package and test drive it.

I recently upgraded from a 1999 Tahoe to a 2003, but a 1997 to 1999 or so Tahoe. with the factory towing package would probably work in your price range.

The shorter wheelbase works OK for towing, as long as you use a weight distributing hitch and a sway controller. Having to use the sway controller is an easy compromise for me for how much more we enjoy the shorter Tahoe around town when we are not towing.

Link to post
Share on other sites

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: 57plymouth</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Anything 3/4 ton will work, but a Cummins diesel will be the best. I'm a Dodge guy though.</div></div>

Us too. As you can tell. smile.gif

Whenever the horseback riding magazines come out with their ratings for tow vehicles, Dodge is ALWAYS the top rated one. And these ratings are done by the people that own and use the trucks, not by some group that just tests them.

Dodges are quieter than other diesels and don't have that odor that most diesel trucks have. Two huge pluses when you have to sit beside one in traffic. We test drove a Ford diesel for maybe five minutes, just long enough to turn it around and take it back to the dealer. We went right back to the Dodge dealer and got "Mongo". Our trade in? A V10 Dodge. Good truck, not as much power. "Mongo" is our third Dodge. I had a V8 automatic for hauling my horses with. Now we have this Diesel and we both love it. We haul a 32' combination car/camper trailer. Complete with a Legends race car and all the tools, extra gear, etc. that it requires.

post-36313-143137947684_thumb.jpg

post-36313-143137947685_thumb.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

Get a Dodge Cummins 3/4 ton truck. I like the Ford diesels, had good luck with a F-250 dualie but I'm not impressed by Ford's twin I-beam front suspension. Give them enough tongue weight (within the limits of safety) and the front end is up in the air and the camber is out the window and they get squirrley. The Dodge is the truck for me.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Scott,

I agree with the crowd about preferring Dodge trucks. I have had two of them, both 2500 3/4 ton. Both of mine have had the 5.9 V8 with the 5-speed manual transmission. They tow well. I prefer the manual, many others will say that automatic is the way to go. That's your preference.

I will warn you about my most recent Dodge problem, my truck is a 1995 with 95k miles and it looks great. The body is rust-free and straight. When I tried to use it to tow my Franklin to the Trek last month, I got three miles from home and a brake line let go. I brought it to the dealer for repair (I hate working on modern iron) and they showed me advanced rust and rot on the frame to the point that they don't think it will pass inspection. Now I'm kinda screwed with this thing. Another Dodge dealer told me that after the Diamler merger, the trucks were much better.

My next truck might be diesel. I have always lusted after a Cummins powered truck, but the price difference new or used is significant. For example I just looked at two 2004 Dodge 2500 Quad Cab trucks with that were basically the same as far as condition and options, one had the Hemi and 70k miles, and one was diesel with 65k miles, the Hemi-powered truck is $15,000 and the diesel is $24,000. As much as I love the Cummins engine, it would take a lot of towing to make it worth that kind of money difference.

You're going to get many answers on this one, and they are all probably right. A good rule is to stay with a 3/4 ton truck unless you are going with an open trailer and are going to stay with Franklins, then a half-ton is fine. By the way, my enclosed trailer also serves as an extra, un taxed garage.

Link to post
Share on other sites

We have put over 100000 miles on our '99 Dodge Cummins Turbo Diesel towing a trailer weighing 4000# loaded with vehicles up to 6000#. Best tow vehicle I've had in 30 years of restoring and hauling. Best part is, even towing a trailer with a 6000# car loaded we average about 14 mpg. In my opinion the weight of the towing vehicle is more important that wheelbase. Our Dodge Extended Cab weighs 7000#. I would never try to tow extensively with anything other than a standard trans but that's just me. My only complaint is that the space between 3rd and 4th gear is too big. My Son has a newer 6 speed which solves that problem nicely. For year I was strictly a Ford man until my Son talked me into the Dodge. For my money it is the perfect tow vehicle. Expensive to work on but what isn't these days?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Dear Scott,I vote for a late 80s Chevy Suburban,3/4 ton,454.Plenty of room,plenty of power,plenty of spare parts and i have seen em in Hemmings reasonably priced.Buy one that spent its life outside the Northeast as these vehicles have a tendency to be ROTBOXES.As often as you plan to use it,it will last a lifetime.Do NOT expect to win the Mobil economy run as you will get 10 mpg towing or empty.diz

Link to post
Share on other sites

Dizzy, he can contact our AACA Director Earl Beauchamp. He's getting ready to get a new truck and owns a 2002-4? GMC Suburban that has the complete tow package with a 454. I'm sure you can buy it cheap because he's going to have to trade it otherwise. He's on the Gettysburg Tour this week, and will be back here in Virginia for the weekend. I can hook you up if you like.

Wayne

Link to post
Share on other sites

Geeze, I guess I am one of the only guys who uses a 1/2 ton Chevy gas powered 4wd Z71 PU for towing Buicks!

It gets 20 mpg unloaded with a little 5.3 liter V8 & has the heavy duty suspension for off road that works great for towing & I get about 14 mpg loaded with an open trailer.

Link to post
Share on other sites

No Mark, you're not the only one! I've never had a 3/4 ton truck, don't need it or the 4 wheel drive. When it gets too bad in Virginia to drive a 2 wheel drive, I stay home! smile.gif

By the way, the Jimmy below also gets about 20-21 miles per gallon. 14+ with the loaded trailer you see. It goes faster empty too. I've got a 91 mile per hour speeding ticket in Tennessee I have a lawyer working on! blush.giffrown.gif

At least it was in a 70 mile zone, if that's any consolation. whistle.gif

Wayne

post-31395-143137947689_thumb.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

Seems many of you like the Dodge Cummins diesel.

I've had alot of respect for Cummins engines and this sounds like an interesting option.

How many miles on one of these is considered high? There's one on E-Bay now in New Jersey with 144,000. (auction # 180157460969 )Are they all tapped out by then and ready for major repairs? Or what?

I guess what I'm wondering, if I can't have a new or very low milage one, how many miles do you think is "too much" ?

Thanks -- Scott

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a friend who has 5 Cummins Dodge diesels in his business. He regularly runs them 350000 miles without major problems. There is a local truck with 750000 miles on the engine that is still running strong though it does use a bit of oil. Mine has only 200000, hardly broken in.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Scott, what I hear from my mechanic about Dodges (he's had 3) is that the fuel pump is the first problem to occur. Some of them start flaring up at 140-150,000 miles. Others go a lot longer. Just called my mechanic...price of new pump, depending on size of Cummins, $1,500.00 to $2,500.00, not including labor, which is two hours. How much better fuel milage do you need to justify that expense? I realize you have to have it and probably a dually to pull the heavy loads.

The type diesel fuel and the filtering system is the life saver of a diesel. Frequent oil changes keep damaging impurities from hurting "expensive stuff"! grin.gif

I hope that helps.

Wayne

Link to post
Share on other sites

I tow with a 2004 Dodge 2500 Diesel. Closed trailer, heavy cars. Sometimes I travel with a friend with a Suburban tow vehicle. His is constantly downshifting and running hot while the Dodge seldom even downshifts. On the down grades I just coast so he can catch up. Higher up front cost is somewhat off set by higher resale at the back end. Like everything else you get what you pay for.......Bob.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have towed with F150 2wd for years but I have a light car and trailer. Could never take the slide in camper and trailer any distance if there were hills.

I found and bought a 2000 F250 7.3L Diesel, regular cab, 2wd, 8ft box, and 6 speed transmission with 65,000 miles, 2 weeks ago. Had to fly to Florida to pick it up but got it for $8300. I hope the title gets straightened out in time to use it for the Hershey trip. By the way this is the configuration I was looking for, auto, extended cab and 4wd are all easier to find.

First truck I have owned that took the hills going North out Williamsport on Rt 15 that didn't even work hard. 1480 miles home running empty at close to the speed limit it pulled down 22+ mpg. Will be interesting to see what it does with the light loads I will be hauling/pulling.

Bought it through the online AutoTrader site.

Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, a Chevy guy has to chime in here just for fun. Now you aren't getting a new car so, I guess this will be a little off topic so to speak but....my tow vehicle is a Silverado 3500 Duramax 6 speed. I have both enclosed and open trailers. This thing is great. And, not to offend all of you Dodge guys, but those things are just too loud! Now, the Cummins is a great engine, no doubt, but I need to get this Chevy Duramax vote in here!!!! This baby is quiet, fast, and with about 650 pounds of torque, will pull any big Packard or Buick with ease.

Gary

Link to post
Share on other sites

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Gary_N</div><div class="ubbcode-body">And, not to offend all of you Dodge guys, but those things are just too loud!Gary </div></div>

Like I said in my post, starting with the year we got ours the Dodges are very quiet. Especially compared to the Ford we briefly test drove. That things sounded like it was trying to beat itself to death. It was awful.

Link to post
Share on other sites

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Gary_N</div><div class="ubbcode-body">And, not to offend all of you Dodge guys, but those things are just too loud!</div></div>

I've recently driven the newest Dodge and Ford diesels and they are both about the same as far as noise. Both much quieter than a few years ago.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest ChopShopCustoms

I have a 2001 Ford F350 V10 duelly. Love it and it could tow a house.....

If you are concerned about gas mileage at all -dont buy a tow vehicle.... whistle.gif To get power you will probbaly sacrifice mileage....

newtruck.jpg

ph And by the way- I am a steadfast CHEVY guy-this was just a good deal and it fits the bill

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a plane jane 98 dodge with a v8 318. I towed a open texas roal back to va. with a 65 buick skylark gran sport on it.Hauled it 70-75 allthe way like it wasnt there.Also pulled a 20ft. with a 72 chevelle to dover,no problem,but that enclosed trl. felt like i was pulling a parachute. Two or three years ago I had a 89 1500 silverado and a 30 ft. citation trl. 1500 pulled it 65-70 evan after the wife loaded it till the springs started to sag. Dodge is a good truck, but boy I wish I still had my chevy

Link to post
Share on other sites

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Bhigdog</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> Sometimes I travel with a friend with a Suburban tow vehicle. He is constantly downshifting and running hot while the Dodge seldom even downshifts. On the down grades I just coast so he can catch up. </div></div>

I used to tow an open trailer and a fairly heavy car with a 9 passenger Suburban (with tow package) and it was horrible for towing. Its wheelbase was too short (wandered), shifted constantly, terrible gas mileage and it never seemed to be able climb hills comfortably.

Switched to a C/K Chevy Centurion which can be registered either as a 1/2 or 3/4 ton and it is a great tow mule.

post-30758-143137947805_thumb.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

Dear Ron,I believe the Suburban wheelbase and extended cab pickup are the same.Only reason i can think of for WANDERING would be too much tongue weight making the front end LIGHT.You must of had the Suburban with the LOCK up convertor,it's not the trans shifting it's the convertor locking and unlocking ......ENOUGH to drive anyone MAD.I had a late 70s Suburban 454,carb,turbo 400,conventional convertor.10 MPG empty or loaded,tons of power,IMHO was a GREAT truck.diz

Link to post
Share on other sites

Scott,

I tow an enclosed car trailer with my 2001 Dodge 2500 with the Cummins Diesel. Combined weight of car and trailer is around 8000 lbs. As a tow vehicle the truck is unbeatable. I chose the diesel based on the sheer pulling power. A gasoline V10 or even a V8 in a 3/4 or 1 ton will get the job done but you'll be lugging it up the steep grades at 25 mph with the 18 wheelers. The diesels will all give you better mileage than the gas powered (I get around 14 mpg while towing) and will last much longer. However, you have to put on many miles to compensate for the greater cost of the diesel.

As a second car, the 3/4 ton diesel isn't all that great. It is noisy (the newer ones are quieter) and is rough riding. We had a '95 Ford 150 which was very satisfactory

as a second car. It rode much better and was simply more docile in traffic. However it was starting to feel loose after only 35000 miles and was never used for towing. We knew better than to even attempt to tow 8000 lbs. The tranny would have been the first thing to go and we would be eating diesel dust on the steep grades.

I feel the transmission and brakes are even more important on a tow vehicle than the engine. The Dodge has four wheel disc brakes which are really essential when towing heavy loads. I've never had any transmission problems but my seven year old truck has only 38000 miles. I've heard the Allison transmissions in the Chevy & GMC trucks are excellent but I've heard no transmission complaints from the Dodge owners.

I've generally been partial to Fords but if I were to replace the Dodge, I would buy another Dodge; it's that good.

Whatever you get, I would recommend it definitely be at least a 3/4 ton for towing and have 4 wheel disc brakes.

1947 Buick woodie

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ideally a 3/4 or 1-ton truck, big motor, OD trans with a low gear, and a long wheelbase.

I've towed as much as 5000 lbs on a steel car trailer with my 350-powered half-ton Suburban and it will do it, but the brakes aren't big enough to stop when there's a lot of weight on there.

Don't tow in OD on a GM 700R4/480LE trans, and put the biggest trans cooler you can find on it.

My truck even with the regular and not the HD radiator has never been much over 200, even lugging that '57 Dodge full of heavy crap up a steep hill it didn't get hot and I had my foot on the floor not sure I was going to be able to pull all the way to the top.

With the 2.73 gear in it it does get 15 MPG or so highway. Some of the newer ones will do better than that.. that gear is really too high for it. Although if I ever get it on the track at Daytona it's nice to know I should be able to do 140 MPH with it.

And yes, the 80s Suburbans do rot. A lot. If it wasn't for that I think this truck would go just about forever.

Link to post
Share on other sites

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: buick5563</div><div class="ubbcode-body">What's a Centurion, Ron?

Is it diesel?

Thanks,

Mike </div></div>

Back in the late 90's a 3 door pick up with a small rear seating area was the new rage. A 4 door was available in the 1 ton series mostly for construction companies. GM thought that a 4 door pick up for the masses would be a good seller (finally right on something) so they authorized Centurion Vehicles to make some to test the market. They were not cheap by any means.

Basically they are 2 trucks welded together to create a full size rear seating area. This drives my PA inspection mechanics crazy. After a few years GM started making them in house without the need to weld frames together or Centurion Vehicles. You could get them either as a diesel or with a large gas engine and Vortech. Centurion Vehicles also did the same for Fords plus they customized vans, etc. Maybe they will be collector trucks some day?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've seen a late 80s-early 90s Ford pickup with a six-door cab, probably heavier than one-ton suspension and a 5th-wheel hitch in the bed. It certainly was different.

They tell me my truck wouldn't even pass a PA inspection, the rockers are gone, the rear wheel arches are gone, the tailgate it had was only held on by the rolled up window (since replaced with doors). Doesn't matter to me, it gets me where I have to go, is extremely reliable, I can run it in the salt no worries, and if some clown runs into me hard enough to total it out, I can always put the motor in another truck.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've towed with 1/2 and 3/4 ton pickups and vans. The 3/4 ton pickup is the best. If you stay with an open trailer, your options are wide open. Anything with a mid sized or larger V8 will do the trick. Go to an enclosed trailer and you will definitely want a 3/4 or heavier with a bunch of motor. You not only have more weight, you have more drag from the wind. It is a different experience. You can tow an open trailer with a car better than an enclosed that is empty, with a 1/2 ton and mid size engine. Go to a 3/4 or heavier (with a big block or diesel) and it does not bother the truck as much, if at all.

Of course my definition of towing is, setting the cruise to run with the traffic and not slowing down on hills. Some guys think that as long as the rig is moving, it's towing. While technically correct, struggling along is no fun.

Right now I has an '03 F250 SD with the little 5.4 V8. It's got 4.11 gears and a manual transmission and tows my open trailer fine. I've had it out west with a loaded bed and trailer, and just dropped it out of overdrive and back into 5th in the mountains. Gas mileage never dropped below 10 the entire trip loaded, and it hit 15 empty. I won't tow with anything less than a 3/4 now.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...