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Can you recommend a tow vehicle


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Hi all ---- My little 1995 Toyota pickup is nearing the end of life and I recently bought a brass car which I'd like to be able to trailer to meets. So it's time to get a new truck, and now capable of towing.

Any recommendations on what to buy? I've never had a big tow vehicle before.

Considerations:

--The brass car is about 2800 pounds. 15 feet long.

--I'd like to have an enclosed trailer.

--I'd like to keep the cost down. Way down. Maybe $5000. I don't need comfort or gadgets, just reliability.

--I don't commute to work, so the truck will only be used for occasional trips to the store, to visit mother on a 300 mile drive, and towing.

--And this will be my only modern vehicle.

What should I look for?

Thanks -- Scott

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I'd look for a 2001+ or so GM 2500HD single rear wheel with the 8.1 gas engine (6.0 can do it too, but for as little as you'd drive it, the power would be worth it). 6.0's only get 2-3 mpgs better than the 8.1. You could do it with a 5.3 1/2 ton truck, but the 4L80E transmission in the GM 2500HD's and up is 1000x more reliable than the 4L60e inthe 1/2 ton trucks.

Where do you live? Depending on market 2wd's are about the same price as 4wd's. Of course I wouldn't get 4wd unless you think you'd need it, or unless it was the same price.

You can also get the 8.1 in an Avalanche 2500. However, they can be hard to find, and many people just don't like the style of the Avalanche.

Something like this:

Cars for Sale: 2003 Chevrolet Silverado and other C/K2500 2WD Extended Cab in Dallas, TX 75229: Truck Details - 326345306 - AutoTrader.com

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I love my 2000 silverado for towing.5.3L v8 gets about 18 mpg on the highway 13 if im pulling a 5000lbs load on my trailer. I have heard good things about the toyota tundra also. I would stay away from fords with a 6.0L. I have had to fix more of those then any other kind of truck combined. But thats just my opinion.

I agree with 39BuickEight about the 2500HD also. Very nice trucks.

Edited by dan@larescorp (see edit history)
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>>I'd look for a 2001+ or so GM 2500HD single rear wheel with the 8.1 gas engine (6.0 can do it too, but for as little as you'd drive it, the power would be worth it).

Good suggestion, but why 2001 or newer? Anything wrong or to watch out for on the older truck?

And I live in the northeast near southwestern Vermont. I don't mind buying a truck/car in a less-salty southern climate and driving it home. Rust is the main killer up here.

--Scott

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If you're not hung up with the idea that you need 4 wheel drive I found just the opposite of 39BuickEight 2 wheel drive are actually harder to find and harder to sell these days and almost always cheaper. The other thing that makes it cheaper but harder to find is a standard cab. Seems like the sweet point for most buyers these days is 4 wheel drive and extended cab so if you look for the opposite you save money. I bought a used F250 2wd, std cab, std transmission, 8 foot box at about $4-6k under what the same truck at the sweet point was bringing. Flew to FL from NY to buy it and drive it back.

It does even out because I sold an F150 with the same description and ended up taking 5 months to sell and I sold for $2k under book price. The buyer was from over 400 miles away and when I asked why he was willing to travel 400 miles for 8 year old truck and he said "I wanted std cab, 2wd, std transmission, 8 foot box ..." :-) I knew there must be two of us somewhere. Oh I didn't mind taking less because I bought it new off the lot originally at the end of the year for more than $4k off because it didn't sell and the dealer didn't want to carry it over to the new year.

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When I got my '13 Stude and needed to tow an enclosed trailer I had to change trucks too. The '94 Ford F150 ext cab, long bed 351/auto/2wd was only adequate for the closed trailer. This became apparent when I went to get the car and got caught in early snow in the Poconos of PA. Truck did OK but I felt it was maxed out on that trip.

So, I bought an '01 F250 SD with the 7.3L diesel/auto and 2wd on an ext cab, long bed and love this truck for towing. It does not care if that big box or anything else is behind it, it just goes! When not towing I get 17-19 highway and 14-15 around town, and 11-12 towing. I too went to Ga, got a very clean truck for much less than market and will have it a long time, maybe the last one I buy since I only put 3K a year on it.

One thing I really appreciate is that the F250 has about twice as much braking surface as the F150, a good comfort zone for me. The Ford Super Duty, SD, the GM HD series and the Dodge big series are all meant to work and tow. My brother in law has a big Toyota and it tows very well also but he has only an open trailer so there is a comparison difference.

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--I'd like to keep the cost down. Way down. Maybe $5000. I don't need comfort or gadgets, just reliability.

--I don't commute to work, so the truck will only be used for occasional trips to the store, to visit mother on a 300 mile drive, and towing.

--And this will be my only modern vehicle.

As far as your $5k budget, does that include truck and trailer?

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As far as your $5k budget, does that include truck and trailer?

No -- wish it could but perhaps that's not reasonable to expect.

I figure a good clean reliable truck for the $5k mark, then I need to look around for a trailer. Haven't gotten that far yet, but I don't want something hugely bigger than I need for this car.

--Scott

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Hi Scott, I think your in a buyers market for the type of truck you need, so I'd be picky if you have the time.

Regarding your trailer requirement, I'd measure the height of the car with the top erected because it would be nice to get a trailer that has extra height. I'd also like to mention that for a 15' car you should get at least a 20' trailer, you'll need the room to get in and tie down, it also makes loading and unloading much easier. You'll also be surprised at how many times you need to use the space for tools, parts, tires, etc. All these reasons drove me to the 24' I now have for my big Classics, the 18.5' I had just didn't cut it anymore in all dimensions and capacities.

I understand your inclination to get a minimum sized trailer for your new car but think about getting something that can accept a larger (Packard?) car if need be, plus, a bigger trailer when parked makes a good extra garage. You'll hardly notice the difference between towing an 18' or 24' trailer but you'll sure notice the day you need more room.

I wish I had thought this way when I bought my first trailer, then I wouldn't have needed to buy my second.

Best Regards, --Tom in Ca.

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>>I'd look for a 2001+ or so GM 2500HD single rear wheel with the 8.1 gas engine (6.0 can do it too, but for as little as you'd drive it, the power would be worth it).

Good suggestion, but why 2001 or newer? Anything wrong or to watch out for on the older truck?

And I live in the northeast near southwestern Vermont. I don't mind buying a truck/car in a less-salty southern climate and driving it home. Rust is the main killer up here.

--Scott

In 2000 1/2 GM switched to the GMT700 platform on the 3/4 ton and up trucks, which included the newer engines with much better comfort and ride. There is nothing wrong with the prior trucks, other than they are a little older. They are just as reliable, and those engines will pull your setup just fine too. For the money though, I think the GMT700's are worth the differences. They switched the 1/2 ton trucks in 1999.

basically this body style (with a few front end differences up until 2007 1/2) is the GMT700:

?IMG=USB10GMT209C0101.JPG&WIDTH=700

this is the previous:

1998_chevy_2500_extented_cab_diesel_4x4_pick_up_houston_2700_96217336394752969.jpg

Those trucks are diesels, which I would not recommend for your purpose at all, but they are good examples of the body style difference.

Yes, some will consider these overkill for your needs, but I like a little extra when I am towing, especially if it's not going to be a daily driver. A smaller V6 truck would pull that ok too, just not as well.

I've always had Chevrolets, but there is nothing wrong with a Ford truck either in my opinion. I have been either a vehicle wholesaler or an auto adjuster for the past 10 years, so I definitely have my opinions on late model cars and trucks:)

Edited by 39BuickEight (see edit history)
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You need to figure out what total weight you want to tow. That will give you a a towing capacity figure. After you have that ... you can start looking at tow vehicle specs. If you don't have a towing capacity in mind, then all this is just speculation. You know the weight of your car. You need to zero in on a trailer ... and find out what it is going to weigh, then add both together and get a total weight. That will give you a minimum figure on what you will be towing. You need to consider if you will be adding tools ... spare parts etc. Get a realistic estimate on the load. Picking a tow vehicle after you have that that info is a piece of cake.

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You need to figure out what total weight you want to tow. That will give you a a towing capacity figure. After you have that ... you can start looking at tow vehicle specs. . . .

Good point --- I really don't want a huge truck if I only need it to tow once or twice a year.

My car weighs less than 3000 pounds, and if I use an open trailer like a Featherlite, it's a fairly easy package.

Question is: Can I tow with a 4.6 liter V-6?

I've always thought that the V-6 was a low torque engine not capable of towing, but this F-150 I came across has a towing capacity of 8800 pounds, which seems highly optimistic.

--Scott

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Scott, if you are going to tow no more than indicated, seems like long distance is not in the picture. [i know, I was a truck driver and distance is relevant].. I would personally not be afraid to try with the F 150. Worst case scenerio , it does not suit you and you trade it later.

Ben

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I am assuming that the weight of the open trailer is less than 2000 pounds. In that case, you could get by with a suburban or just about any large SUV that has a towing capacity of 5000 pounds or more. Again ... any pickup that has a towing capacity of at least 5000 pounds will do the trick. It might not be the most comfortable or the most stable or fastest, but it should be competent at doing the job. If you are looking at a low buck solution, then forget the diesel mega trucks and go with the run of the mill hauler that is specc'ed to tow your capacity. One thing I would get is stabilizer bar setup. It cuts down on sway, especially if your tow vehicle is on the light side ... but again ... this is not a must, just a recommendation.

As far as trucks out there, I believe that the modern trucks (2000 and newer), are pretty much all good trucks. You can find towing capacities for towing vehicles (past years), with a Google search.

I agree with ''First Born'' that distance is relevant. If you have a combo that is a B?%CH to keep in a straight line, or the transmission is steadily shifting down for slight grades because of too little power, then a long haul run is going to be very tiresome. And that would be a serious consideration.

Good luck to you and keep us posted.

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  • 1 year later...

I have always used GM for trucks, but now that I am on a farm, I found the Ford chassis just plain tougher if you have to move heavy stuff, especially in rough terrain. The GM seems to be a gentlemans truck that prefers pavement. Diesel naturally is better. The 7.3 liter and their brand new one are best, stay away from the 6.0 liter or 6 leaker as it is known to some. I have a 97 F250 with the 460, standard cab, 8 foot box, 4x4 auto. Didn't pay a whole lot and it is in perfect shape, will pull anything. Rides and drives like a man's truck should. If I baby it I can get 12 MPG. I may be odd, but I prefer a regular cab and think a short box is missing a couple feet. The Ford 4x4 use the Dana 50 Twin Beam or the Dana 60 up front. You will have to do the bearings races, seals, U-joints and ball joints every 100K. Not bad if you enjoy wrenching, expensive if you don't. The Dodge truck is a cheap shipping crate for great engine Cummins). Always buy more truck than you currently need. You may end up with a bigger load occasionally. I bought a new a loaded 3500 dually with the Duramax in 2004. It was a sweet ride, but I would not have taken it into the fields. I also had a BBC 454 that wouldn't pull a fart. If GM gasser is a must, the 8.1 chevy is a better engine teamed with the Allison tranny. Had one of those for plowing. It did the trick, but my Ford is definately tougher.

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I owned a 2011 2500 gas sierra, I traded it in for 2012 Diesel, the fuel tank on gas trucks from 2005 on are only 28 gallons cap, with a closed box and a heavy 60's car only getting 7.5 to a gallon I was stopping for gas every hour and a half towing. Every time I stopped it added 20 minutes to the trip. Also towing in the NE corridor you are going hit to some sort of traffic (major), do you really want to rock on a clutch? IMHO it can be tense in traffic let alone using a clutch only compounds the situation. I would look for a used GM 2500 WT (work truck) that was fleet owned, always serviced even though the miles are high they were maintained. Good luck,

Edited by Biscayne John (see edit history)
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I prefer a Ford. Dual rear wheels for stability. Manual transmission. Gas or diesel, your preference. Now; what I have, is a 2008 Ford F-450 6.4 diesel twin turbo dually. I know this is overkill to the max but its my money I'll buy what I want. Now for the truth. I tell everyone looking for a tow vehicle to buy at least a 250 - 2500 series vehicle and this will pull anything you'll ever want to pull. you may buy a heavier trailer some day or even a camper who knows? With a 250 - 2500 series you are prepared.

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Billy you are 100% correct, there are always good deals on enclosed trailers, the tow vehicle is the most expensive part or the operation, but the smaller fuel tank is a problem on gas trucks, you can even buy a bigger diesel tank, not gasoline

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I prefer a Ford. Dual rear wheels for stability. Manual transmission. Gas or diesel, your preference. Now; what I have, is a 2008 Ford F-450 6.4 diesel twin turbo dually. I know this is overkill to the max but its my money I'll buy what I want. Now for the truth. I tell everyone looking for a tow vehicle to buy at least a 250 - 2500 series vehicle and this will pull anything you'll ever want to pull. you may buy a heavier trailer some day or even a camper who knows? With a 250 - 2500 series you are prepared.

Not overkill when you have to STOP .... SUDDENLY ....

My choice too is Ford - Ford F350 Dually - 7.3 direct injection - 4:10 rear end

A million mile motor ....

Jim

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I totally agree with TrulyVintage. Nobody talks about stopping. Your most important factor regardless of what you are towing. Almost anything will pull, most SUV's, 150 series pick up's and the current offering of import trucks will NOT stop you when the time is urgent and necessary for a life or death situation. Sorry guys, American iron of 250/2500 or larger gets the job done. Motor is entirely up to preference and 4x4 is dependent on your home terrain. Brakes should be your first concern, drw next, 2 or 4wd depending on your location and needs and cab size. Any normal size tall or average enclosed and all tag along open trailers fit in this planning. Age of the truck depends on your needs, comfort arrived in the 90's. Earlier stuff works well but is more truck like in ride and appointments. Rob

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I totally agree with TrulyVintage. Nobody talks about stopping. Your most important factor regardless of what you are towing. Almost anything will pull, most SUV's, 150 series pick up's and the current offering of import trucks will NOT stop you when the time is urgent and necessary for a life or death situation. Sorry guys, American iron of 250/2500 or larger gets the job done. Motor is entirely up to preference and 4x4 is dependent on your home terrain. Brakes should be your first concern, drw next, 2 or 4wd depending on your location and needs and cab size. Any normal size tall or average enclosed and all tag along open trailers fit in this planning. Age of the truck depends on your needs, comfort arrived in the 90's. Earlier stuff works well but is more truck like in ride and appointments. Rob

Rob,

You summed it up nicely ....

Jim

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What are you guys getting for gas mileage out of the newer diesels? I have an 02 F-350 dually 2WD with the 7.3. Pulling a 5000lb Cadillac on a 20' open trailer that weighs another 2000lb, I'm pulling off 13mpg on flat surfaces, dipping down in to about 11.5 when I head down to PA and get into the hills along I87.

Truck is about to turn 250,000mi, has a 4" turbo back exhaust and an 80hp towing tune. Other than that, it's pretty much stock. Debating getting something newer, but if I'm not gaining anything but a lighter wallet, I may as well leave well enough alone.

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  • 1 month later...

TORQUE !!! That is what you need in an engine, NOT 4500rpm horsepower. I've towed with all forms of gas and diesel engines, in pickups, vans, SUV's and the old suburbans.

I will never by choice tow with a gas engine!! The turbo diesel's torque makes towing a breeze..

As for the brakes.. most trucks prior to 2000 did not have very good brakes.. the later trucks have good brakes for a full load.

There is nothing worse than having to scream up every hill with a gas engine, and scream and sweat down every hill with lousy brakes..

BUY MORE truck than you think you need..

Towing 5-6000# with a 1/2 ton truck is foolish and dangerous.. regardless of what the truck is 'rated' for. Buy more, not less truck than you think you need.

Greg L

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Our 2000 Ford Excursion SUV tow vehicle has the 7.3L Turbo-Diesel.

When pulling the big Cadillac on an open 2,000 lb. trailer we get 13-13.5 mpg.

When pulling the same car in the 3,800 lb. enclosed trailer we only get 8.5 - 10.0 mpg.

Note that the enclosed all-aluminum trailer is somewhat more than normal, in that it is built extra tall, sitting higher than normal above its 12,000lb. (2x6,000lb) axles so that the interior wheel boxes are only 5" high so I can open the door of a 1950s car over the wheel box and the driver's side access door. The roof is raised an additional 18" so that a Brass-Era car can go in without having to lower the top. The trailer has an overall length of 30-1/2 ft. - 24' box plus a 4-1/2 ft. wedged & tapered nose holding extra spare tires/tools/jack/jack-stands-etc., plus 2ft. exterior tongue which holds the electric tongue jack.

The open trailer adds almost no frontal-area when behind a tow vehicle, but the closed trailer is about 2-1/2 ft. wider, 5 ft. taller, and has a flat rear surface which creates substantial drag, and has Maxx-Aire boxes on the roof which cover the two roof vents.

Towing the same trailers with the 2002 Suburban 3/4-ton and 8.1L gas engine:

Open trailer -- 11.5-12.5 mpg

Closed trailer -- 7.25 - 8.5 mpg

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I am looking at getting a new truck. I want a 2wheel drive. Towing a 40' enclosed trailer and heavy car. I have had a 2001 Chev. 2500 with the 501 cu. in. engine since new. I am concerned the new trucks with 6.0 and 6.2 liter gas engines may not have enough power to tow comfortably going up hills without excessive downshifting. I hate to spend the money (initially and for fuel) for a diesel. The truck is used about 10,000 miles/year and of that perhaps 3000 miles is for towing the car and trailer. Anyone have any experience with one of the newer smaller gas engines pulling a load like this? Al

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Try to borrow a diesel truck to take a short 'pull' with your 40' trailer. You will not go back to gas. It's that simple. I've had dozens of friends borrow my diesel to tow a car/trailer they normally pull with a gas engine truck, and virtually all of the borrowers bought a diesel truck within a year.

The diesel's torque will sell itself.

The diesel trucks usually have a much higher towing capacity, which means heavier axles and much stronger brakes. Both of which add up to a much safer towing vehicle.

Greg L

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I have had a Chevy Silverado, and currently have a GMC Yukon with the same 5.3L gas engine. I tow heavy Buicks and get about 10 mpg towing, and just under 20 mpg on the highway not towing. I have had no issues with either, but with the Yukon (SUV) I can take another couple or my grand kids to share the fun. The Yukon also rides much better than a PU truck. You really cannot go wrong with a used Tahoe or a Yukon unless you need a PU bed to haul dirty or tall stuff...

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Mark's comments are right on the mark (pun intended).

While very similar to the Tahoe/Yukon, my preference for the Suburban/Yukon-XL is this:

1. These models have approximately 20" extra length, so when you need more carrying capacity, or load a long part, it still fits inside

2. Much longer wheelbase gives much better stability when towing, or when just driving

3. can be had in 2500 Series - much heavier construction / chassis / steering / braking - all built for a 3/4 ton vehicle as opposed to a "grocery-getter"

4. can be ordered with "bigger" engine - mine has the (no longer available) 8.1 Litre Big Block (old ones had 454ci)

5. When all three seats are in use - all the luggage for 8 people still fits inside -- my cousins (3 couples) left from New Orleans after visiting with us. They were in a Ford Expedition 3-seat. ALL OF THE SUITCASES WERE ON THE ROOF - After 2 days of serious storms on the road back to the area of Raleigh, NC, much of their stuff was damaged. My "stuff" fits inside where it is safe from theft and weather.

Most of these comments also apply to our Excursion 7.3L Turbo-Diesel (but that one has softer rear springs).

I've had all versions, and appreciate each for what they are intended to do, but for hauling a closed trailer cross-country I've come to respect the stability, feel, strength, and durability of the Suburban 2500 Big Block

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Marty's comments about a long wheelbase vehicle are also 'on the mark'.

My previous tow-vehicle, a 3/4+ ton diesel club-cab pickup had the longest wheelbase available at that time for that truck: 155"

My latest tow-vehicle, a 1 ton [not a dually] diesel crewcab pickup has a 170" wheelbase. The difference in towing stability is noticeable.

I hardly know the trailer and car are behind me. Even when stopping..

I picked up a 5500# car with a friend a few weeks ago. Since it was his car, I 'made' him do part of the driving. He was just amazed that

the truck and trailer pulled, steered and stopped so well. His gasser pickup with a similar load would have been shifting up and down all the way back home. The diesel never came out of top gear on the freeway. Just loafing along at 70mph. He's looking for a diesel truck now.

And the fuel ?? We got 14mpg unloaded at 75mph, and 12mpg loaded at 70mph. His gasser would have been 9-10 empty, maybe, and 6-7mpg loaded. Even with the higher price of diesel fuel, it's either a wash or cheaper to burn diesel..

My truck did 19.2 going, and 20.3 returning from Hershey this year.. 70-75mph or so each way, no trailer.

I've had too many hair-raising towing experiences with trucks loaded and towing to the limits.. I really prefer having more truck and engine than i 'need'.

Up until I bought this latest truck, I was seriously considering buying a FL90, or similar light semi tractor or small Freightliner based motorcoach. But this latest pickup is a keeper. It will probably outlast me.

Greg L

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