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Old 10-04-2012, 12:53 PM   #1
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Purchasing previously owned tow vehicles

My wife and I are looking at full-timing in a fifth wheel in the near future. Since we donít have our tow vehicle yet, we have initially been focused on selecting our fifth wheel so we would know how much truck we need for towing. We have now narrowed our search down to either a 36í Excel or Mobile Suites. In either case, we will be looking at pulling a fifth wheel with a GVWR of about 18,500 lbs. so we will need a substantial tow vehicle.

I have done a fair amount of research on ensuring that the tow vehicle has sufficient towing capacity and that the axle weight and tire ratings wonít be exceeded. Based on this, I know that nothing less than a one-ton diesel dually (possibly more) will work for me.

I had originally thought of purchasing a new tow vehicle. However, my wife and I are planning to do a lot of workamping so we are likely to stay parked for extended periods and may only put 10-12,000 miles per year on our truck. As a result, it may not make since to buy a shiny, new truck and leave it sitting in campsites most of the year. So, we are now thinking that we should consider buying a previously owned tow vehicle.

With that in mind, we are left with a couple of questions.

1. Where should we search for used trucks that would be appropriate for use as a tow vehicle? I am thinking that it would be great to find RV-ers who are either upscaling/downscaling or are leaving the RV lifestyle but I donít know where these individuals market their vehicles.

2. Since Iíve never owned a truck before (much less a diesel dually), I donít have the expertise needed to evaluate a used truck prior to purchase. Assuming I find an attractive potential purchase, where should I go to have the truck examined?

Thanks in advance for your guidance.

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Old 10-04-2012, 04:39 PM   #2
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You are looking at a dually in the F-450/4500 range. Some will tell you different, but I go strictly by the weights, not what I see others use.

Look at online inventories for dealers. Also check out Car Max and similar businesses. Personally I stay away from E-Bay and Craig's List - but that's me.

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Old 10-04-2012, 05:01 PM   #3
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I found our rig on rvtrader.com or rvt.com
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Old 10-04-2012, 06:47 PM   #4
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Finding a suitable 450/4500 or heavier tow vehicle in good shape that will give you years of trouble-free performance is extremely time consuming and frustrating. Plus used vehicles are overpriced in today's market. I'd order a brand new Ford F-450 pickup. Stay away from all the neat options, and you can get a nice tow vehicle for $45k - plus TT&L.

Here it is:

F-450 XL
8' box,
diesel engine,
automagic trannny with /Tow Haul and select shift (manual shifting if you enjoy that, automatic if your wife's driving)
4.30 limited slip axle
Fifth wheel/gooseneck hitch prep
25k Reese Elite fifth wheel hitch
Telescoping trailer tow mirrors
cab steps
cloth front bench seat with armrest console
XL Value pkg (cruise control and some chrome stuff)

33,000 GCWR, so well over 20,000 tow rating. 13,300 GVWR, so barely enough payload capacity for your trailer if you load it up to the full 18,500 pounds and have over 4,000 pounds hitch weight (Ford's max cargo weight rating is 4,297)

$52,770 MSRP
$45,022 buying price after discounts, incentives, rebates, etc., not including your local and state TT&L.

Granted, that truck has only my "required" options of diesel engine, cruise control and cloth seats. If you fancy it up with a higher trim level or things like a hole in the roof and navigation system, the total MSRP can go north of $60k in a hurry.

If you're concerned about the barely-adequate GVWR, then go for the F-450 chassis cab with a flat bed or tow body added. The chassis cab has 16k GVWR and 30k GCWR, which is plenty for your 18.5k trailer.

Here's one:

F-450 XL chassis cab, diesel, SuperCab, 4x2, 162" wheelbase (equivalent to a long bed pickup chassis), 16k GVWR, XL Value pkg, High capacity trailer tow pkg (30k GCWR), Trailer brake controller, cab steps, cloth front 40/20/40 split bench seat. MSRP $46,025. But it has no bed or tow body. Your Ford dealer can send it through a drop-ship upfitter that will add your choice of bed or tow body, so when it rolls off the truck at your dealer's, it will be complete and ready to tow. Add a mnimum of $5,000 for a plain flat bed with under bed storage boxes and a headache rack and a 20k 5er hitch. And the sleek tow bodies run between about $7,500 and $10,000.I don't know how much discount you can expect on a chassis cab, but it's probably similar to the F-450 pickup.
Grumpy ole man with over 50 years towing experience. Now my heaviest trailer is a 7,000-pound enclosed cargo trailer, RV is a 5,600 pound Skyline Nomad Joey 196S, and my tow vehicle is a 2012 F-150 3.5L EcoBoost SuperCrew.
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Old 10-06-2012, 09:44 AM   #5
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Location: Prescott, AZ
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If you are going to look at used, look at Truecar. In addition if looking at used do your research on all 3 mfgrs. The weights differ by year and some years are better than others mechanically.
2017 Grand Design Imagine 2150RB
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Old 11-04-2012, 07:15 PM   #6
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You should start now to build yourself a database/record of sales prices on a 2008/2010 Ford F450. These are good trucks, the 10s are probably the best. If you go with a 350 dually of any brand, you will be very close or over on some weight ratings on the Mobile Suites, but may people use them to tow. Excels are heavy also.
autotraderonline.com cars.com are good places to get info to know when you come across a possible good deal.
If you come across a potential Ford truck, get the VIN and ask a Ford dealer to run an OASIS report on it--that will tell you what repair work has been done.
Good luck in your search.
'15 38RSSA Mobile Suites
'05 36TK3 Mobile Suites--retired but not forgotten
'17 F450--trying one more Ford
'09 F450--died, replaced with '10--retired
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Old 11-05-2012, 07:39 AM   #7
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Here is a manual that should help you in evaluating a used turbo diesel truck and what to look for. Even though the book is geared to the Ram trucks the issues of a Turbo Diesel truck are the same.

I would also look at the C&C models of the Ram trucks to pull this camper with the 5500 model truck using a 6 spd manual transmission with a 4.44 rear end is rated to tow 18,300LBS trailer.
Jim W.

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Sold: 2010 318SAB Cougar:New: 2016 Cedar Creek 34RL. 2008 Dodge 6.7LCummins the original 6.7L engine, w/68RFE Auto
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