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huptoy

Questions on gas mileage to expect for truck

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I am interested in purchasing a truck to tow a car trailer with a 3,300 pound car. I am am looking at a used Chevy and Ford. I expect to tow from 2 to 3 thousand miles yearly and maybe an equal amount of miles without the trailer. This will not be a daily driver. Primarily, I am interested in highway gas mileage to expect and additional towing options.

In the past, I have towed travel trailers from 20 to 26 feet using an equalizer hitch and anti-sway bar. I have seldom seen a car trailer with an equalizer hitch but have no problem using one.

I have locatated 4 used trucks with different options. All trucks are 2wd, short bed, and have an extended cab. The 2004 Ford does not have a trailer towing package and must be installed. The 2004 & 2005 trucks are about the same price with the 2003 about 3,000 less.

1. 2003 Chevy Silverado LS 1500 with 4.8 engine and 55,000 miles.

2. 2004 Chevy 2500 Silverado LT with 6.0 engine and 24,000 miles.

3. 2004 Ford Lariat F150 with 5.4 engine and 17,000 miles (no hitch).

4. 2005 Ford XLT F150 with 5.4 engine and 58,000 miles.

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My son has a Chevy Silverado with a diesel engine. Better mileage and more torque than any gas engine. He tows a 28 ft. trailor with two cars at almost 10,000 lbs.

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I wouldn't tow with anything but a diesel for the reasons above. A Ford 350 with the superduty diesel and 7500 lbs behind it gets at the most 11 mpg. Worst case going 70 mph into a 30 mph wind milage drops to 7 mpg.

Compared that to my daily driver Dodge pickup with a 360 gas engine. Put the same trailer on it and I feel underpowered and under torqued. Same gas milage but not the same level of contentment as with the Diesel. Talked to another guy who had the Dodge with the Cummings diesel and he get the same milage.

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Use the fueleconomy.gov side-by-side comparison tool ( Side-by-Side Comparison ). You can compare not just the fuel economy ratings but also the averages of verified real-world drivers. It allows up to 4 vehicles to be compared.

Among the 4 trucks you have here, the 2 Fords are rated about 1 mpg better than the 2 Chevys. However the real world reported averages are 1 mpg better for the Chevys, which appear to consistently beat their EPA estimates. (For the record, a 1 mpg difference for vehicles that burn this much gas (14-15 mpg) is a big difference, roughly 7%. When gas hits $4 again this will matter more than it does now.)

The site says nothing about the tow ratings for these trucks, however, and does not reflect how their mileage will differ when a trailer is tossed in to the mix. You might be able to find bits and pieces of that info online in old truck reviews. I would expect the differences among the trucks in those cases to hinge on the rear axle ratio, with low (numerically) rations giving good highway mileage impacted negatively more than higer ratios. You may have to figure in your head how much of each type of driving you'll do and combine the 2 for an aggreagte average. If then it works out the same I'd go with the higher (numerically) ratio. A truck with a 4.11 rear end will like be effected less in terms of mileage and driveability with a trailer than a truck with a 3.50 ratio.

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I own a GMC 2500 Sierra pick up with the 6.0 ext cab short bed. Mt first comment would be forget the 1500 series trucks. 1500 1/2 ton trucks are built for people who want the look of a truck with the ride of a car. They IMHO should be passed by for towing. I am NOT a Ford fan. I'm sure many will tell you just the opposite. I stick with what has performed faithfully for me.

When I load my 24 ft enclosed trailer with my Willys fire engine the load is at the upper limits of the truck capacity and then some. I would certainly consider a load leveling hitch with any kind of closed trailer mainly for wind sway. I use a Equalizer brand built by Progress right here in Utah USA. It performs great. It acts as a sway also.

Don't forget to add the weight of your trailer and car for your total load. My fuel economy won't be of much help to you because my load is greater but with a cap on the truck and a tow wing on the roof of that we come in at 8 mpg. with the heavy load. I don't run like an idiot towing though.

Of the list you provided my vote goes to the Chevy LT. Due mostly to the heavier suspension. The diesel trucks are great by far but will you really tow enough to make the increase in purchase price plus ownership cost a value. My next tow truck will be a 4500 series and will be a bigger unit all together.

That will require a lotto win though.

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We have a 2004 Dodge Diesel Quad-cab 2500 six-speed standard and we love it. It is our third Dodge and the first diesel we have had. (We previously had a V8 automatic to tow my horse trailer which became my truck when he got a new V10 standard shift when we got this bigger trailer with the camper in the front. We have since gone down to this one truck.) Towing our 32' combo car/camper trailer through the mountain terrain between Charleston, W. Va. and Coeburn, Va. with the Legends racecar we had and LOTS of gear, tools, extra tires etc. it got between 13 and 14 mpg. It went through the mountains in fifth gear like it didn't know the trailer was even back there.

In the horseback riding magazines every year they have people that actually drive trucks and haul horse trailers, everything from one horse to six horse slant load trailers, to rate their trucks and Dodge trucks always are the top rated ones.

We can put 38 50 lb. bales of hay in the bed of our truck and 20 bales on our utility trailer and haul them at highway speeds. My friend that keeps one of my horses can only put twenty 50 lb. bales in the back of her husband's Chevy truck and ten bales on their small utility trailer and it is actually overloaded.

The photos of our truck and trailer were taken in N.H. when we took a Jeep Liberty up to Mass. to my step-daughter a few years ago.

post-36313-143138129675_thumb.jpg

post-36313-143138129925_thumb.jpg

Edited by Shop Rat (see edit history)

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We have an old 95 Dodge 3500 Cummins Diesel. It gets 20-22 mpg empty on the highway and 13-14 mpg pulling our 30 ft fifth wheel. I've done some upgrades to boost the power as they were a bit gutless in stock form. Mileage has remained about the same, but with about 600 ft/lbs it now pulls like a locomotive

Edited by 58Mustang (see edit history)

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First, thank you for all the informative comments.

It appears I have left out some information. While I prefer a diesel, the initial cost and up keep is not cost justifiable. Also, most diesel trucks get high miles very quickly. I would prefer a truck with about 70,000 miles for cost and maintenance reasons.

I have been looking at Ford and Chevy trucks and have nothing against a Dodge but have not found one. I will be towing the 3,300 car on an open trailer and expect the total weight to be around 5,000 pounds.

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How often do you expect to be towing? Would renting on an as needed basis be most cost effective than buying?

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Hey Huptoy,I have had a few tow vehicles over the years,ALL bought used,ALL Chevrolets,the older ones were a pickup,Suburban,dually crewcab ALL with 454s and turbo 400 trans.The newest is a GMC ,3500 series dually crewcab with an injected 454 and overdrive automatic,4:10 rear.:)BEST :)truck i ever had ,NOW to answer your question ALL got 10 mpg,towing or not towing.The GMC was a 10,000 dollar truck with 80,000 miles,plenty of power,ALWAYS taken care, an interior like a Cadillac and goes down the road towing like a dream.The diesel pickups WILL pass me on one of those long grades,oh well.:)diz

Edited by DizzyDale (see edit history)

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How often do you expect to be towing? Would renting on an as needed basis be most cost effective than buying?

If you are thinking about Penske & U-Haul renting might be an option.

Whether or not they require you use their trailers is something that one would have to look into.

Last time I checked rental companies like Enterpise,etc. do rent trucks but they specify that towing is a NO-NO.

huptoy, after get your truck (regardless of it's size) PLEASE seriously consider dual cam sway control. Maybe it is just me but I see one heck-of-a LOT of 1500, 2500 and 3500 pickups pulling trailers that are swaying quite a bit.

Personally I would not tow my 20 ft enclosed trailer (about 5,300 lbs, loaded) without my weight distributing hitch and dual cam sway control. I have towed in 30-40+ mph cross/head and tail winds and felt only the slightest "nudge". Big tractor trailers can pass me all day long and barley nudge me as well.

To me, not investing in safety items for one's trailer after spending SO MUCH on the vehicle on/in the trailer is Foolish to say the least.

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First, thank you for all the informative comments.

It appears I have left out some information. While I prefer a diesel, the initial cost and up keep is not cost justifiable. Also, most diesel trucks get high miles very quickly. I would prefer a truck with about 70,000 miles for cost and maintenance reasons.

The initial cost of a Diesel is more, but the upkeep is practically nil. Change the oil and filters. That's it.

As far as Diesels having more miles on them, my truck has exactly, to the 10th of a mile, the same number of miles that a gas rig would have if that's what I had purchased instead of the Cummins. I'm at 260K right now. It still runs as well as the day I bought it. Starts right up, uses no oil between changes. I'm certain that I have at least another 100-200K to go before I need to think about engine work.

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Huptoy-- I have a 2002 Ford F-350 single wheel rear(not a dually) but has the Triton V-10 for an engine. I pull two tag trailers,a camper 30',and a 20'box with my cars. With either trailer I get 7 to 8 MPG. Around town 11 to 12, yesterday I drove it to the Cleveland Ohio area and got 14.7 for a 466 mile round trip. On the road with either trailer I will stay with all the guys with the diesels. The deciding factor to me was the costs of the diesel both initiallaly and then fuel-maintenance costs. My spread sheet showed big engine/gas, for the one to three thousand miles annually. But this is only my situation I don't compete with anyone! --Bob

Edited by Seldenguy
My truck is a extended cab, short box (see edit history)

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Huptoy, I have an '06 Chev Silverado 2500HD with the 6.0 gas engine in it. Probably the closest to #2 you have on your list. Difference is mine is a crew cab and 4WD. It currently has about 25K miles on it. I drive it to work and to tow an open 18' Aluminum trailer. When loaded, it weighs approximately 6,000 lbs. Real world mileage around town is about 13 - 13.5 during warmer months. During the winter, it drops to between 11 and 12 depending on how cold it is. (I'm in MN). This summer I towed our 59 Buick out and back to Colorado Springs, round trip about 2000 miles. Speed was kept right about 60MPH on the interstate. You're not going to pass anybody at that speed, but the overall average for the trip was 13.5. Kick the speed up a notch to 65 or 70 and the mileage will drop dramatically.

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How often do you expect to be towing? Would renting on an as needed basis be most cost effective than buying?

Susan,

While I always recommend renting tow vehicles for anyone who tows infrequently, huptoy stated in his first post that:

I expect to tow from 2 to 3 thousand miles yearly and maybe an equal amount of miles without the trailer.

I don't think it would be practical to rent a tow vehicle for that many miles every year. Also this is not going to be a daily driver (which he already has) but an (almost) dedicated tow vehicle, which makes sense if you're doing this much towing.

Now if you're using a 6.0L V8 to go buy a quart of mile every other day because you might tow something twice a year with it (as more than a few are), then perhaps a rental vehicle would make a LOT more sense.:)

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