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Last Post 31 Mar 2010 10:59 AM by  Steve Hoelscher
Help me pick a tow vehicle part deaux!
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ratt_finkel
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16 Feb 2010 08:00 PM

    I need some help selecting the best tow vehicle for my needs. And have tossed around everything from V-8 SUV's to turbo diesel trucks. The truck will be primarily used for DD duty. Towing will be used for autocross purposes only. Twice a month plus roughly 5 out of town events a year.

    3,200# Vehicle

    2k lb open trailer?

    Must have 4 real doors to carry people and crap.

    10-15k price tag. 20k at the absolute most.

    I recently was set on purchasing a 2003 or earlier Ford Super duty with the 7.3 TD. I've only managed to find one in the area to test drive. And it was obviously abused. Now I need to look at other options.

    I'm open to all suggestions. But my original idea of a 6.0 Chevy has been shot down my local autocrossers that have familiartiy with that setup. So I'm really perplexed on what to do.

    Thanks in advance!

    Joe_914
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    17 Feb 2010 05:13 AM

    I bought my 2000 Super Duty for 9K and it had 227K miles. New brakes Ok tires and just a few dings and scratches.

    now has 240K miles in the 10 months I owned it. Love it. Love it love it. I would never consider towing with anything less again. We take the truck everywhere as opposed to the wife's car.

    Just got to be patient and search everyday.

    BigEnos
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    21 Feb 2010 07:54 PM
    ratt_finkel wrote:

    I need some help selecting the best tow vehicle for my needs. And have tossed around everything from V-8 SUV's to turbo diesel trucks. The truck will be primarily used for DD duty. Towing will be used for autocross purposes only. Twice a month plus roughly 5 out of town events a year.

    3,200# Vehicle

    2k lb open trailer?

    Must have 4 real doors to carry people and crap.

    10-15k price tag. 20k at the absolute most.

    I recently was set on purchasing a 2003 or earlier Ford Super duty with the 7.3 TD. I've only managed to find one in the area to test drive. And it was obviously abused. Now I need to look at other options.

    I'm open to all suggestions. But my original idea of a 6.0 Chevy has been shot down my local autocrossers that have familiartiy with that setup. So I'm really perplexed on what to do.

    Thanks in advance!

    Not sure what turned you off, but I tow a similar setup to what you describe (car is 3370 and the trailer is probably 1800 or so) and 6.0L Chevy 2500HD it tows great. I did have one big failure (transfer case), but other than that I'm closing in on 100K miles with no other problems.

    That being said, I bought my truck with the idea that I wouldn't be driving it daily, but currently I am doing just that and the gas mileage is horrible. Unloaded commuting I'm getting around 13mpg no matter what.

    Being that you want a DD that can also tow, have you considered either a used Dodge or Ford 1/2 ton. Especially in 2wd trim (I know how you Texans like 2wd) it should be a decent DD and will tow fine. I wouldn't recommend a half ton Chevy because in your price range you'll probably only find 4L60E equipped models and I don't trust that transmission.

    preparedcivic
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    21 Feb 2010 08:59 PM
    I'll second the why not a 6.0 gas GM truck question. The drivetrain on my '04 has been basically trouble free, aside from snapping some exhaust manifold bolts around 65k miles. It has 82k now, and I expect it to roll many more. And this is towing an 8000lb enclosed for 30k of those 82k miles.
    RickyCRX
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    22 Feb 2010 09:36 AM

    I purchased my nearly-new '07 Tundra DoubleCab w/5.7L engine and TRD package for $19k 16 months ago... My open trailer with car is 5,200lbs and not much slows me down, aside from slow people that won't get out of the left lane. I generally tow at 75-80+mph and get an average of about 14.2mpg. It is comfortable enough to carry 5 people, and still have a very usable amount of storage space with the 6.5' bed. I highly recommend it.

    Bullitt2954
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    22 Feb 2010 11:10 AM

    RickyCRX wrote:
    I purchased my nearly-new '07 Tundra DoubleCab w/5.7L engine and TRD package for $19k 16 months ago... My open trailer with car is 5,200lbs and not much slows me down,

    Toyota's got a "Fix" for that now - you should get your recall paperwork in the mail any day now.............. [:O]

    Dave Hardy
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    22 Feb 2010 07:52 PM

    In general, the better it is as a daily driver, the worse it will be as a tow vehicle. For towing you want a long wheelbase, but that sucks in parking lots. You want power, but that leads to crappy mileage. You want a firm suspension, which can be tiresome on a daily commute.

    If I had to do both with the same vehicle, I'd go for one that is better at towing, and live with the crappy mileage. Towing with an undersize vehicle sucks.

    Phillip S. Osborne
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    23 Feb 2010 07:21 PM
    Jeremy, I would look for an 05 or newer hemi Durango. I have towed with one for three years, trouble free, 25K plus miles...I recently sold mine on a whim to a guy who was buying my trailer, and was sorry for it...Went to Florida a couple of weeks ago and picked up another one with less miles. I had 68K on my old one with never a problem. Changing oil and using the 5w20 recommended Mobil 1, still on original spark plugs, and still got 21 plus mpg on the highway when not towing...had gotten as much as 23 when driving in TX. 18 to 19 city, abeit driving extremely conservatively...The 05 and newer hemis have the MCD (multiple cylinder deactivation) at highway speeds and cut two cylinders. The in and out of this system is seamless...you never know when it is engaged. Best of all, you can find them with less than 50K miles, including Limited model if you look carefully, for less than 16K. There's a Viper guy in Houston that has an 07 for sale that is loaded and I can get his name and number if you want it...PM me if you more info...or email me at psosborne@windstream.net...
    gbeaird
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    25 Feb 2010 02:50 PM

    I'm so far quite pleased with our '02 2500HD diesel/Allison GMC. It is currently my DD, and the ~20 MPG is pretty good, IMHO, even with the price of diesel. Before it went up, the thing was pretty thrifty. I hook our steel open trailer with our 2700# CP car to it once a month, and forget it's back there, until I see that car tailgating us in the rear view mirror. Quite comfortable and quiet, too. It _only_ uses 10 quarts of oil per change, too.

    I'd look at used GM Duramax diesels if you want a good DD/tow vehicle.

    Gene Beaird,

    Pearland, Texas

    ratt_finkel
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    06 Mar 2010 11:00 PM
    I've strayed away from the gassers due to towing mileage. Everyone I've talked to says crappy crappy mileage when towing. Which is why I've opted for the turbo diesel in either ford or chevy variety. Still keeping my eyes open for a good deal. Many of the trucks around here are obviously abused (goosenecks, cabgaurds, etc.) So I'm holding out for a clean, well maintained vehicle.
    jdchristianson
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    07 Mar 2010 07:38 AM

    The diesel will surely pull the most and get better mileage towing, but you really have to put some numbers to the extra you will pay for a similar gas truck. Diesel fuel is still more expensive and maintenance on the diesel is more $ as well. How many miles are you going to drive and does it make sense? But in the end just get the one you like the best...

    Jeff Christianson

    47CP
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    07 Mar 2010 08:10 AM

    ratt_finkel wrote:
    I've strayed away from the gassers due to towing mileage. Everyone I've talked to says crappy crappy mileage when towing. Which is why I've opted for the turbo diesel in either ford or chevy variety. Still keeping my eyes open for a good deal. Many of the trucks around here are obviously abused (goosenecks, cabgaurds, etc.) So I'm holding out for a clean, well maintained vehicle.

    IMO, be careful of mileage claims on both extremes with gassers and diesels. Everyone drives differently and tends to emphasize the mileage to make thier point. :) Also, find out what speed people drive, I am not patient enough to drive somewhere at 55mph, though it would make a huge difference in mileage. In my experience overhead computers are like economic experts, always wrong and always surprised, so I hand calc mileage

    So, my opinion: With an open trailer, I wouldn't hesitate for a minute to get a gasser truck (or Durango, which I actually did :)) But a good deal on a diesel isn't a bad plan either.

    Over the last 3 seasons, I have had an E350 with V10 that tows the store (24' enclosed trailer) and a 2006 Dodge with Cummins that towed my former 24' enclosed car trailer. We tow about 15-20k miles per year, the Dodge was my daily driver. On identical trips, the van gets 2-3 mpg less than the diesel, 6-8mpg for the van, 8-11 for the truck. THis is running the exact same conditions and the trailers are very similiar (big fricken parachutes). We generally run about 70-72mph.

    Though not generally on the same trip, we have towed open trailers with both trucks. The Diesel got about 15-16mph with the open trailer and Z06 on it. Speed seemed irrelevant. Chris towed the Z06 to Atlanta with the van and got 12mpg with the open trailer.

    The truck would generally average 18-20mpg empty. I never got over 20mpg even on long trips. The van gets 15-16mpg with no trailer.

    I DD the truck (until I traded it for the Durango :)) and have also DD the van at times. In both cases, and with my former Ford and older Dodge diesels, the mileage is horrible in mixed daily use. I have about a 7 mile commute each way, split halfway between city and highway. I don't track mileage as closely, but it is around 10mpg in all cases. This may be the most important figure for your costs. :)

    Just some experience over time and various vehicles, hope it helps.

    DaveW

    ratt_finkel
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    07 Mar 2010 04:16 PM
    47CP wrote:

    ratt_finkel wrote:
    I've strayed away from the gassers due to towing mileage. Everyone I've talked to says crappy crappy mileage when towing. Which is why I've opted for the turbo diesel in either ford or chevy variety. Still keeping my eyes open for a good deal. Many of the trucks around here are obviously abused (goosenecks, cabgaurds, etc.) So I'm holding out for a clean, well maintained vehicle.

    IMO, be careful of mileage claims on both extremes with gassers and diesels. Everyone drives differently and tends to emphasize the mileage to make thier point. :) Also, find out what speed people drive, I am not patient enough to drive somewhere at 55mph, though it would make a huge difference in mileage. In my experience overhead computers are like economic experts, always wrong and always surprised, so I hand calc mileage

    So, my opinion: With an open trailer, I wouldn't hesitate for a minute to get a gasser truck (or Durango, which I actually did :)) But a good deal on a diesel isn't a bad plan either.

    Over the last 3 seasons, I have had an E350 with V10 that tows the store (24' enclosed trailer) and a 2006 Dodge with Cummins that towed my former 24' enclosed car trailer. We tow about 15-20k miles per year, the Dodge was my daily driver. On identical trips, the van gets 2-3 mpg less than the diesel, 6-8mpg for the van, 8-11 for the truck. THis is running the exact same conditions and the trailers are very similiar (big fricken parachutes). We generally run about 70-72mph.

    Though not generally on the same trip, we have towed open trailers with both trucks. The Diesel got about 15-16mph with the open trailer and Z06 on it. Speed seemed irrelevant. Chris towed the Z06 to Atlanta with the van and got 12mpg with the open trailer.

    The truck would generally average 18-20mpg empty. I never got over 20mpg even on long trips. The van gets 15-16mpg with no trailer.

    I DD the truck (until I traded it for the Durango :)) and have also DD the van at times. In both cases, and with my former Ford and older Dodge diesels, the mileage is horrible in mixed daily use. I have about a 7 mile commute each way, split halfway between city and highway. I don't track mileage as closely, but it is around 10mpg in all cases. This may be the most important figure for your costs. :)

    Just some experience over time and various vehicles, hope it helps.

    DaveW

    Dave that is all very good info. I appreciate it. I have no doubt that the gassers would pull what I need it to. But I have two local races towing with 6.0 Chevy. One 1500HD one 2500HD. Both complained about mileage while towing. Including towing to a local venue and going through an entire tank of gas. Which is just ridiculous in my book. On top of that, a severe lack of pulling power when approached with any type of elevation. Luckily, most of Texas is flat, lol. But considering we have 3 pulls to Arkansas and at least one to Lincoln. Single digit towing numbers does not impress me. it sounds like the DD mileage is going to suck no matter what. The Durango idea definetely interests me more than a truck. But again, I can't imagine that would be better than a gasser v-8 or v-10.

    Dave Hardy
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    07 Mar 2010 09:28 PM

    '02 2500HD with 8.1 and Allison:

    - 12mpg empty cruising at 80 +/-

    - 10mpg towing a civic on an open at 80+/- The difference in 75mph and 85 mph was like .4mpg - in other words not enough to slow down.

    BigEnos
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    08 Mar 2010 05:35 AM
    DILYSI Dave wrote:

    '02 2500HD with 8.1 and Allison:

    - 12mpg empty cruising at 80 +/-

    - 10mpg towing a civic on an open at 80+/- The difference in 75mph and 85 mph was like .4mpg - in other words not enough to slow down.

    I have an iPhone app that tracks mileage so I'm not relying on any built-in computer for these numbers. My truck, 6.0L 2003 Chevy 2500HD gets between 13 and 13.5 typically commuting for me (26 miles one-way in mixed driving). Best *ever* mileage was on the PA turnpike with a motorcycle in the bed, 15.6.

    According to the records on my phone, towing to Lincoln and back my worst tank was the first one on the way out which was 10.5 avg. Probably due to MD traffic and the mountain roads between here and I-80. after that it was mid-11s to mid-12s. It's pretty flat out on I-80, though, so that's really best-case scenario for towing. I've never had a single-digit average when towing, but I've never towed an enclosed trailer, either.

    I tend to go as fast as I feel like going, which honestly is generally low-70s and can be as high as mid-80s (when conditions permit).

    AStocker
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    08 Mar 2010 08:38 AM

    Hey Brian,

    You said:

    I wouldn't recommend a half ton Chevy because in your price range you'll probably only find 4L60E equipped models and I don't trust that transmission.

    I'm curious why you say that. Our 2003 4WD Avalanche (which I assume has that tranny) now has 130,000 miles most of which is towing (including pulling our 89 Camaro). Everything seems fine. Should I be concerned?

    Thanks, Paul

    BigEnos
    Advanced Member
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    08 Mar 2010 05:49 PM

    I have only heard things, no personal experience. Junior had an avalanche that seemed to be great, too. If I were shopping for a truck I'd avoid them, but it's really nothing more than unsubstantiated bias.

    Brian

    AStocker wrote:

    Hey Brian,

    You said:

    I wouldn't recommend a half ton Chevy because in your price range you'll probably only find 4L60E equipped models and I don't trust that transmission.

    I'm curious why you say that. Our 2003 4WD Avalanche (which I assume has that tranny) now has 130,000 miles most of which is towing (including pulling our 89 Camaro). Everything seems fine. Should I be concerned?

    Thanks, Paul

    Eskimo
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    09 Mar 2010 11:58 AM

    I formerly towed with a 2wd 2500HD 8.1 Allison, and just sold it for a 4wd '04 Avalanche 2500, which has the 8.1 and 4L85E.

    I'm so far ahead of the game with up front purchase and maintenance cost that it would take a diesel truck around 100,000 miles to break even. It has all the power to pull the 6500lb load it normally tows with no problems, doesn't mind short trips, starts right up in the cold, is quiet, and rides like a 1/2 ton pickup. Power is tops. 450lb-ft at 3000rpm has a way of moving you nicely.

    The Avalanche / Suburban 2500's are notably quieter than their pickup truck cousins, and ride better as well.

    Oil Changes only cost me $48 total.. roughly half of a diesel's using synthetic oil and a good filter, and then factoring in 1/2 a fuel filter with each diesel oil change. Diesel is still more expensive than 87 octane, and on my 8 mile daily commute, the diesel would never warm up - not a good thing. No wait to start, no plugging in, no clatter, no slimy fuel pump handles...

    Plus, the versatility of the Avalanche is amazing.. 4 full sized people and all their stuff on a long trip? check. Need to haul a 4x8 sheet of MDF back from Home Depot in the rain without it getting wet? check.

    Just my $.02 as someone who said "I'd never drive that ugly-ass thing" until I actually drove one...

    ratt_finkel
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    09 Mar 2010 10:44 PM
    Eskimo wrote:

    I formerly towed with a 2wd 2500HD 8.1 Allison, and just sold it for a 4wd '04 Avalanche 2500, which has the 8.1 and 4L85E.

    I'm so far ahead of the game with up front purchase and maintenance cost that it would take a diesel truck around 100,000 miles to break even. It has all the power to pull the 6500lb load it normally tows with no problems, doesn't mind short trips, starts right up in the cold, is quiet, and rides like a 1/2 ton pickup. Power is tops. 450lb-ft at 3000rpm has a way of moving you nicely.

    The Avalanche / Suburban 2500's are notably quieter than their pickup truck cousins, and ride better as well.

    Oil Changes only cost me $48 total.. roughly half of a diesel's using synthetic oil and a good filter, and then factoring in 1/2 a fuel filter with each diesel oil change. Diesel is still more expensive than 87 octane, and on my 8 mile daily commute, the diesel would never warm up - not a good thing. No wait to start, no plugging in, no clatter, no slimy fuel pump handles...

    Plus, the versatility of the Avalanche is amazing.. 4 full sized people and all their stuff on a long trip? check. Need to haul a 4x8 sheet of MDF back from Home Depot in the rain without it getting wet? check.

    Just my $.02 as someone who said "I'd never drive that ugly-ass thing" until I actually drove one...

    Sounds like the perfect vehicle. But what type of mileage are you seeing?

    Eskimo
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    10 Mar 2010 06:02 AM
    ratt_finkel wrote:

    Sounds like the perfect vehicle. But what type of mileage are you seeing?

    Not very good. 14.5 on a trip from PA to Indy and back with my motorcycle in the bed and 750lbs of cargo, and an average of 9 towing through the hills of PA, letting the cruise control keep my speed at 70-75.

    But like I mentioned, it doesn't matter much to me because I'm still $$ ahead of the diesel guys, so I just let 'er eat. 36 gallon tank on the Suburban/Avalanche 2500's, so still a decent range. Diesel 2500 silverado's, similarly equipped, with similar mileage were going for $7000 more than what I paid for the Avalanche.. That's a lot of gas I can burn!

    Basically, you can have a 1/2 ton tow rig which has components that are marginal for towing, a 3/4 ton gas which has the HD components but eats gas, or a diesel, which costs more up front and more on maintenance, but will reward you with a 250,000+ mile life and better mileage, but not if you use it for short trips.

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