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1/2 Ton Tow vehicle


RyanJAD

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I am posting this in Escapees and iRV2. Thanks everyone in advance.

 

So, it looks like I can't find/afford a diesel tow vehicle. After searching forums and chatting with people, it came down to '08 and newer Ford, '05 and newer Chevy, or '04 and newer Dodge. This was based off mainly engine issues and reliability. I am in the North Chicago area and these rigs run $25k or more for something with 150k or less miles and 4x4. Being broke and homeless, this is way out of my $15k budget. I am going to have to go gas if I get anything. The trailer I finally settled on is the Northwood Nash 23D. It is not the one I want, but it is within weight and almost within budget. The dry weight is 5300# and the max is 7000#. This is well within an '09-'10 F150's 10-11K# tow rating even using one of the realistic tow calculators that accounts for everything.

 

So, here is the help I need. I know it will pull fine under most circumstances. I want to know if there is anyone with a similar setup and just how bad will tall hills and mountains be. I will be taking it through Snoqualmie Pass in the Cascades. This type of trip will be max twice a year. If I have to go 45mph, I will. I am not in any kind of hurry. I just don't want to overheat the transmission nor do I want to get 2mpg. Does anyone have real world experience with this? Did you have issues with mountains? What is your gas mileage flat and in mountains?

 

It comes down to this setup or living in a van down by the river.

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I just had friend go through this. Please don't do this with a 1/2 ton. Not even a 1/2 ton HD. I think you can be alright with a gas it is at least a 2500HD Chev, or 250 dodge or 250SD Ford with the larger engine. Like the 6.0 Chev. 5.9 Dodge or 5.4 Ford with the 4:10 rear end ratio. I have used both the Chev. and Dodge pulling a 30ft. TT OK since about1997. I would not go any smaller especially for any mountainous areas. You might investigate www.autoauctions.gsa.gov. Every truck I have bought since 1994 was bought at one of these auctions. It will depend on some luck as to what comes up when and your personal circumstance about payment. I started towing initially with a 94' 3/4 ton chev. with the old 350 V8.

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As long as the F150 is rated to tow 10K#-11K# AND you don't exceed your combined gross vehicle weight (GCWR) you will be fine. The F150 that is rated to tow that much will have the larger, or largest engine they put in the F150 and hopefully have the tow package.

 

As far as mountains go:

-- when going up the mountain, manually downshift when you feel the engine is loading up. The transmission computers are calibrated to get max fuel mileage, not for towing up hill. The computer will not downshift soon enough to keep the transmission/engine from starting to overheat. Be sure and watch the temperature gauge, and if it starts to climb, downshift to keep your RPM's up. If the temp still climbs, find a place to pullover until it cools down. Don't run your a/c when climbing long hills.

-- Keep in mind many vehicles with 100K miles have radiators which are partially clogged with crud on the inside, which drastically reduces the cooling capacity. You don't notice it until you start pulling a load up a hill.

-- Going down hill. Slow way down before starting down. If you are starting down a 7% grade slow down to about 40mph or even 35mph and manually downshift to 3rd gear. You want to use your brakes as little as possible, use the engine to do most of the braking. When you do brake, brake hard enough to bring your speed down by 10-15mph quickly, less than 10 seconds of braking. If you have to use your brakes more often than every 25-30 seconds you are going to fast. Slow down and downshift one more gear.

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I have towed with both gas and diesel, and what I experienced may be of some help to you. Our travel trailer weighs less than 4000# and we began towing with a smaller SUV, rated to tow up to 5000#. It was powered by a V-6, gasoline engine and not towing we got about 20-22 mph. With our small trailer in tow we usually got close to 11 mpg, with the best ever at nearly 12 mpg and the poorest at just short of 9 mpg. Our average for about 10k of towing would be a bit under 11 mpg. It was work to tow with this combination because the tow vehicle was not the very best, but we always got there. It was tiring and 300 miles was about the most that I could happily tolerate.

 

We have now traded up to a diesel, 2500 series truck and it is far more pleasant to drive. For comparisons, the truck gets about 19 mpg when not towing and about 16 mpg towing. So far we have towed with it for roughly 5k miles and the average fuel mileage is 16.1.

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...As long as the F150 is rated to tow 10K#-11K# AND you don't exceed your combined gross vehicle weight (GCWR) you will be fine...

While with a 7000# GVWR trailer, you will likely be within the limits of a 150/1500 series truck, you also need to consider the GVWR of the truck when fully loaded to travel including the tongue weight (hitch weight) of the trailer and the RAWR (Rear Axle Weight Rating). These ratings are often the first to be exceeded in the 150/1500 series trucks when towing a trailer or fifth wheel.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Every once in a while someone has to hang up the keys. In 2011 I was fortunate to find both my TT and TV because the owner was no longer able to travel. The TV I got is a 1999 Dodge 2500HD - it has a 1st gen 24-valve Cummins diesel that is bullet-proof, albeit noisy. I got it with only 55,000 miles on it and have since put on another 100,000. Maintenance is changing oil & filters once a year (running Amsoil 15-40 Marine Diesel). It cost me under $10,000 to acquire back in 2011.

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I'm always sort of in the minority of opinions because I have spent much of my life towing the type of combinations you are talking about. You can easily do what you want...just take it slow an easy. 45 mph uphill? That may be optimistic. How about 25? Are you willing to do that? If so, go for it. If the temp starts rising, are you willing to slow down or even stop to let it cool down? Then you will be fine. I have a diesel now (from our full-timing days) and love it but before that we went all over the country in 1/2 ton Chevy's with fivers and trailers. But I had no problem letting everything on the road pass me. The ol' truck would even shift down on the freeway on every overpass... Overdrive? Forget it. It was all I could afford so that is what we did. Accept your limitations and you will be fine.

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I don't typically comment on posts when folks are talking about being just fine doing 25, 35mph going uphill, but I just have to say.. you might not mind, but it is HIGHLY dangerous for the drivers around you... not to mention extremely annoying and shows a complete lack of consideration for everyone else on the road.

A TV should be capable of maintaining appropriate road speeds under any condition.

Twice.. the highest "pucker" factor near misses I've had have been on two lane hwy's.. going up hill and coming around a slight bend doing 55 and suddenly having to slam on my brakes to avoid the fella doing half speed up the mountain.. just waiting to get rear ended myself. Of course, there are always road hazards that might come up, but it's all the more annoying when someone is creating a road hazard "knowingly" (but just doesn't care) and the fact you're going to be stuck behind this yahoo for the next 30 miles. :wacko:

In my list of pet peeves that even tops the big rigs going uphill a 1/2mph faster than their buddy and trying to pass. ;)

 

: Off my soap box

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I always felt that if I can easily keep up the big commercial trucks, or even pass them, if I push it a little, then I am fine with going up steep hills. Now if I am so under powered that I have a line of commercial trucks behind me, then that is a different story.

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