How big to go on a tow rig

Discussion in 'Shiny Things' started by Jimmy the Heater, Apr 14, 2014.

  1. Jimmy the Heater

    Jimmy the Heater Tilting the Horizon

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    I recently purchased a 7x14 Enclosed cargo trailer, double axle, 6'7" interior height, V Nose, 2020 lbs empty weight. Looks very similar to this pic I stole from the internet.
    [​IMG]

    I'm looking for recommendations for a suitable tow rig for this. My requirements.
    Extra cab Pickup or SUV-Must haul 2 adults and a toddler
    4wd a real plus
    Hoping to get 20 mpg when not towing or close to it.
    Be able to tow at 60-65 comfortably. (I know MPG when towing is going to be crap, so I'm not even going to put a requirement there)
    6k budget.

    I have borrowed 2 different 3/4 tons to move it and here is what concerns me. The Chev K20 has a rather weak 350 in it and you knew the trailer was back there, even when empty. Tended to push a little bit and only wanted to cruise comfortably at about 50mph. I could have pushed it harder but it seemed to be a lot of punishment for little gain.

    I have also towed it with a 2wd F250 with a slightly stronger 360. This handled the weight no problem, but again, didn't want to go much over 55 with how tall the trailer is.

    I really would like to be able to cruise comfortably at 60-65 without pushing it.

    My max load on this isn't going to be much. I'm going to be putting some shelves, a murphy bed, a small water tank, and a camping kitchen setup, along with 2 midsize motorcycles. I doubt I will ever exceed 4500 lbs total, and will more likely be 3500 lbs, but I want to give myself a little headroom.

    So I'm thinking with the 2 previous tow rigs I have more of a horsepower deficit than a chassis that is not up to the task. I really want to avoid going to a big block for the fuel expense when not towing or diesel because of the crazy buy in cost.

    TL;DR Would you tow 4500 lbs with a half ton or gasp even a Grand Cherokee, etc? Or should I just bite the bullet and get a 3/4 ton with a stout motor?
    #1
  2. WARRIORPRINCEJJ

    WARRIORPRINCEJJ Not in the clique...

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    4500 pounds is nothing to most half-tons.


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  3. neanderthal

    neanderthal globeriding wannabe

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    Ram EcoDiesel.
    #3
  4. WARRIORPRINCEJJ

    WARRIORPRINCEJJ Not in the clique...

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    Towing with gas rigs is a matter of gearing, which keeps the engine in the "meat". The problem is that gas engines build torque at much higher RPMs. So, for towing (in the 3/4-ton range, for example), most manufacturers like about a 4.10 gear. With a larger motor (6.0 GM, 5.4 Ford, or 5.7 Mopar), that gear is gonna' give you about 9-10 city/12-13 highway (unladen). Bearing that in mind, I'd look for one of those motors geared in the 3.73 range.

    A 3/4-ton truck (if you can afford the extra scratch) is always the better deal. Axles, cooling system, tranny, etc. are so much more stout.

    GM made a 2500 series of trucks (not the 2500 HD), that came with 8-lug axles, the 6.0, and 3.73 gears. If you don't mind an IFS 4X4, that might be a place to start looking. I betcha' you could find a solid early-2000's model, in your price range.


    Happy hunting...


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    #4
  5. Hastelloy-X

    Hastelloy-X Been here awhile

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    Like already said "any of the half tons will do".

    Get a weight distribution hitch too. It really makes a difference.
    #5
  6. troidus

    troidus Long timer

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    I'd go lower gearing in the diff(s), then just keep it out of OD when towing if necessary.
    #6
  7. James Adams

    James Adams ɹǝsn uʍop ǝpᴉsdn Administrator

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    Sadly, not for a $6k budget.
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  8. Carlo Muro

    Carlo Muro Supercàzzola

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    I dunno. If I had the coin I'd go EcoBoost. I haven't driven the truck yet but the Fusion with the 2.0 blows my mind. It torques like a TDI and then some. All of a sudden when nobody was looking, Ford turned around and got their shit together. I'm somebody who has dissed the blue oval all my life too.
    #8
  9. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    #9
  10. WARRIORPRINCEJJ

    WARRIORPRINCEJJ Not in the clique...

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    That was gonna' be my first recommendation to him, too. Then, I noticed the "6k budget".


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  11. troidus

    troidus Long timer

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    Which he'll burn on gas in the first year if he tows a lot.
    #11
  12. Jimmy the Heater

    Jimmy the Heater Tilting the Horizon

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    EcoBoost would be wonderful....Nope, not in the budget. I'm strictly looking used. And around here the only diesels you will find under 6k are the non-turbo IDI's and the 6.5 Chev (I've worked on a ton of those, never again)

    And no, I'm not even kidding myself that I'm going to get good fuel mileage when towing with a gas. My only MPG concern is when it's not hooked to a trailer. That way it can maintain some usefulness beyond just a tow rig. Get much below 20mpg and I start to avoid driving, and I need this rig to pull double duty. DD during the week, Tow Pig on the Weekend trips.

    Currently the ones in the running are.
    92-96 F150 (Leery of the 4.6 and 5.4 after that)
    99+Silverado with the 5.3
    2000+ Tahoe
    Still doing research on the solid axle Dodges. I love solid front axles but I'm questioning their build quality a bit (maybe unjustly)

    Thanks all for the input and letting me know that a half ton can indeed do the job.
    #12
  13. Big Bird 928

    Big Bird 928 Long timer

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    CUCV

    The blazer versions have a Diesel and high gearing getting you 20+ mpg unloaded and 80+ MPH speed while still having room for your family.

    Edit: I just saw that you didn't want the 6.5, so maybe disregard.
    #13
  14. WARRIORPRINCEJJ

    WARRIORPRINCEJJ Not in the clique...

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    I don't know much about the F-150s. I know that some years of the 5.4 had some issues of grenading the plugs.

    That GM 5.3 (in either the Silverado 1500, or the Tahoe) is a winner. Down here in my neck of the woods, folks drive their 5.3-equipped Z-71s until they just won't drive anymore.

    I think Dodge was the last manufacturer to offer a solid-axle half-ton (maybe until about 2001). If you buy one of those, with either a 5.2 or 5.9 "Magnum" engine, I guarantee you'll be the Guest of Honor, at the Exxon-Mobil Christmas Party. Those fukkers can drink some fuel. We had a 1500 Dodge 4X4, with the 360 (5.9) and 3.55s. On a good day, it got about 9 MPG.


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  15. WARRIORPRINCEJJ

    WARRIORPRINCEJJ Not in the clique...

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    I didn't know you could use "CUCV" and "80+ MPH", in the same paragraph. :lol3

    That 6.2 couldn't get out of its own way. :deal :rofl


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  16. Big Bird 928

    Big Bird 928 Long timer

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    it will, just takes a country mile to do it. :evil
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  17. Jimmy the Heater

    Jimmy the Heater Tilting the Horizon

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    Whoa! Had no idea the Dodge's got that poor a mileage. Yikes!

    Ya, the Silverado/Tahoe is in the top spot currently. They are at the top of my price range for those years but seem like the best choice. The 92-96 Fords with either the 302 or 351 are getting a lil hard to find in decent condition.

    CUCV does have the cool factor going on...Drop a 5.3 in there and go!
    #17
  18. Cycle61

    Cycle61 wannabe

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    Even the new ones with the EcoBoost suck down a hell of a lot of fuel. Our fleet averages about 15mpg with just the truck, canopy, and tools. Towing an enclosed trailer (5-7k pounds) we average between 8 and 9 mpg.

    My personal DD and tow rig...an '84 Chevy 1-ton with the 6.2 diesel. Slower than Christmas, but it gets 17mpg empty, 15 towing, and will pull twice the trailer that any F-150 will.
    #18
  19. trailer Rails

    trailer Rails Long timer

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    A diesel would be the answer for the requirements listed (20mpg and easily do 65mph) but the budget kills that.

    You need to think about how often you will tow. If it is only a few times a year, get a 1/2 ton vehicle with about a 350 cubic inch motor. It will tow just fine but you will not keep up with traffic that is not towing. Even with that combo, you will have a lot of trouble seeing 20mpg when unloaded.

    I would be more concerned about keeping the tranny cool. There is a learning curve to towing with a smaller vehicle. You need to keep the transmission out of over drive or feather the throttle so it does not shift on every little hill. The more it shifts the more heat that is going to get built up.

    A Grand Cherokee will tow that as long as you take it easy on it. If you are going to tow more often, I would lean toward a more heavy duty SUV like a Suburban or Expedition.

    I used to tow 7000 pounds with an Excursion with a 7.3 diesel and it towed great but that would be overkill for your trailer (overkill is ok, it makes towing easier).
    I used to tow the same weight with a Chevy K1500 with a 5.7L motor. It did the job but it was more work to drive. I had to be more careful about how I drove it.
    #19
  20. Gummee!

    Gummee! That's MR. Toothless

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    OP: look in Phx or anywhere else the snowbirds congregate. Lots of older, lightly used and highly maintained trucks down there. Most with little rust.

    ...or...

    Spend the $ and get something newer.

    HTH

    M
    #20