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Need help picking out a truck to tow


GRRV

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We are considering buying our first travel trailer, and I could use some help figuring out the tow vehicle needs.

 

We are looking at a Keystone Sprinter (278BHS). The overall length is 31'8", weighing 7000 pounds, and 785 at the hitch. The fresh water tank is 81 gallons. As far as gear, we will have 2 adults and 2 kids, with occasionally 2 kids' friends to join. Not sure what all that adds up to, but I'm guessing 1200 to 1500 to be safe. So I suppose we are looking at about 8500 total, maybe a bit less.

 

We do not have a tow vehicle, and would like to find an used pickup that will work well. If possible, I'd like to keep the budget around $8,000 to $12,000, but since I am new to pulling an RV, I don't want to skimp here, or wind up with something that will be pushing it or worse, be unsafe.

 

So the main question is for any suggestions on what we should be looking at (F150/1500 or bigger?), 2x4 versus 4x4, maximum reasonable milage for a used truck, etc. I am also wondering whether a shorter truck (standard cab, short bed) would be easier to manuver than a longer truck (new to towing and want to keep it easy to handle). Also, does a hitch sway bar or other hitch equipment make sense for us?

 

Thanks in advance!

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Where you live and where you plan on traveling will dictate whether or not 4x4 would be wanted or needed. Generally, 2x4 will get you better fuel economy. As to the rest, whatever you look at you should carefully check out the specs of that particular tow vehicle as not all pickups are created equal. Newer trucks, for example, tend to have higher capacities than older ones.

 

If the truck is not going to be carrying anything but you and gear, then you need not factor in the weight of the passengers. If you are going to be camping in camp grounds then you do not need to factor in the weight of all that water, but if you plan a doing some boondocking then you do need to factor it.

 

One other thought, getting "too much" truck is not a bad thing, i.e., get the F250/2500 if you find one in your price range.

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In my experience unless you are dedicated to rving on pavement only, a 4x4 is a must. Countless times I have needed 4 wheel drive even if only for a distance of a block or 2. And when you need it you need it.

I would be looking for a 3/4 ton 4x4 if I were you. Whether it is a crew cab or extended cab is up to you. Same with the length of box. An extended cab short box would give some extra cab room plus a little more maneuverability than a long box. You will for sure need an equalizer hitch.

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That one should be capable enough. Seems like low mileage for that year, which is a good thing. If it is indeed a one owner vehicle I would ask to see the maintenance records and by all means take advantage of that Carfax report. When I buy a used vehicle, even from a dealer, I always take to another mechanic to be checked out.

 

You will want to get an equalizing hitch as well.

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Buy a 3/4T, you'll be glad you did. Make sure it is setup for towing, preferable by the factory.

FWIW, carfax is only as good as the information they receive, which is entirely voluntary. There is no requirement for anyone to report to them.

I have a 4WD truck for insurance, but do not plan on parking in mud, which is where we were parked after a week of rain. After about 100,000 mile of towing 5ers in the past 20 years, I can say the expense was well-worth buying a 4WD truck.

We now have a MH, wish it had 4WD. I read a lot of posts and have witnessed MH's stuck in mud, not pretty, is expensive to get pulled to solid ground.

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Welcome to the Escapee forums~! We are happy to have you join us and will do all we are able to assist and support you.

 

I agree with some things in responses but I question the advisability of getting 4WD? I have owned many 4WD vehicles over the years and when it is needed they are great but they also cost more and most of them sit high enough that Pam hates climbing in and out. In addition, the 4WD will cost more to buy, increase fuel consumption and mean more maintenance cost. It is true that if you park on grass or dirt a lot you may need the front driven to get the RV started when it gets wet, but how often will you be doing that? The vast majority of RVs are towed by rear wheel only trucks and they just use good judgment in where they choose to park. We have been RVing for many years, towing with both 4WD and with 2WD and do not recommend 4WD if it is only to be used to tow the RV. I love going off road but now that we rarely do that we tow with a two wheel drive, SUV and have never had a problem with getting stuck.

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Of course you could choose to go with a 2wd and add an electric winch for those rare occasions. The truck in the link gas a gas engine, so 175k miles is not as low as it would be for a diesel with similar mileage.

 

I plan on FTing in a TT and was able to find a 2WD F-250, 6.4l, super cab, LB, diesel with around 110k miles for $11k. I also bought a 12 month extended warranty with it just to be safe, as diesel repairs are expensive. Luckily I didn't have to use it. I would look for something similar to tow your TT with if I were you. You may think it's a tad more than you need, but once you tow with a 3/4 ton diesel, you will be glad you chose what you did. My DW has trouble getting in and out of a 2WD (even with a step), she couldn't possible enter or exit a taller 4WD - something to consider as you age.

 

Chip

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I'll add my Welcome to the Escapees Forum!

...We are looking at a Keystone Sprinter (278BHS). The overall length is 31'8", weighing 7000 pounds, and 785 at the hitch. The fresh water tank is 81 gallons. As far as gear, we will have 2 adults and 2 kids, with occasionally 2 kids' friends to join. Not sure what all that adds up to, but I'm guessing 1200 to 1500 to be safe. So I suppose we are looking at about 8500 total, maybe a bit less...

I would use the GVWR of the trailer rather than guessing at how much you may or may not add to a base weight that is likely low to begin with because it did not include the weight of any options. If I did the math correctly the Sprinter (278BHS) has a GVWR of 9850#. Travel trailers usually need a tongue weight of 10-15% to towing smoothly, In specing the truck I would use a tongue weight of at least 12% of GVWR (1182#). With a 32' trailer, the longer the tow vehicle wheel base the less likely you are to have sway issues. That does not mean you will not need a hitch with sway control.

 

I currently tow a 29' box length (32' overall) trailer with a GVWR of 9850# with a 2008 Chevy 2500 Duromax Diesel which has the 6 speed Allison transmission. I have travelled from the East Coast to the Mountain States and back every year since 2007 and in addition from the Mid-Atlantic to Florida every year since 2008. The truck currently has a little over 127,000 miles on it and I am very satisfied with how it has performed. I opted for a 2 wheel drive with a locking rear differential. I have a front receiver and a winch that can be mounted to either the front or rear receiver. Haven't been stuck yet that I couldn't get out with this combination.

 

Good Luck with your search for the right combination for you!

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I would use the GVWR of the trailer rather than guessing at how much you may or may not add to a base weight that is likely low to begin with because it did not include the weight of any options.

 

X2.

 

With a 32' trailer, the longer the tow vehicle wheel base the less likely you are to have sway issues. That does not mean you will not need a hitch with sway control.

 

For a 32' trailer, the wheelbase of the tow vehicle should be at least 148". And I would agree that you'll need sway control as well as weight distribution...I'd never pull a travel trailer without both.

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We have a truck identical to the one in the Autotrader link. We used it to tow several travel trailers up to 26' and it was adequate. As LindaH mentioned we used a weight distribution hitch and sway control. Our truck now has almost 100K miles on it and is showing it's age. I only use it now for hunting and fishing, no longer tow with it. Not sure I would want to pull 32' travel trailer with it although there are probably a lot of people who do. Our experience with travel trailers and short bed trucks was that they could quickly get squirrelly in the wind or on wet roads. We went to 5th rigs and a one ton dually instead of longer travel trailers and felt much safer towing the rig. Just my personal preference and I am overly cautious about towing and having enough truck for the job. Most others would probably be fine with your proposed set up, Best Wishes, Jay

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I tow a 13,000 lb fiver and I don't have 4WD, I have never needed it. I am not an off road type of RVer.

Unless the truck with 175,000 miles is cheep, that is a lot of miles on a gas motor. Down here in Texas were

one half of the autos are pickups, the pickups are well used as work trucks or heavy towing and I would hate for you to buy a

truck for towing only to find out it had transmission issues. This is just my opinion and others will not agree. Men like 4WD and many

will tell you that they wouldn't have a 2WD truck. Good Luck

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  • 3 weeks later...

 

 

Look it up in the www.nada.com

 

Also, buy more truck than you need now, as you may decide to trade for a much larger RV in the future. Remember also, if you go with a 5vr a short bed truck may cause you problems when backing into site. RV can get into the truck cab.

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