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Old 01-17-2013, 05:30 AM   #15
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If you are going to consider 13-year-old Suburbans, there is a much better tow vehicle from those years. 2000 thru 2003 Ford Excursion with the 7.3L diesel engine. Or a lot less money would be the 2000 thru 2006 Excursion with the 6.8L V-10 gasoline engine. Ford also sold some Excursions with the 5.4L V-8 gasoline engine, but those are underpowered for towing more than a rowboat. The 7.3L diesel was replaced by a 6.0L diesel during the 2003 model year, but the 6.0L has a reputation as being a problem child. So I would stay away from the 6.0L diesel and the 5.4L gasoline engines.

The 7.3L diesel engine is legendary for being an excellent trouble-free power plant, so nice Excursions with the 7.3L usually sell at a premium price. Although you'll pay more up front, you'll probably get your money back when you sell it. The 6.8L V-10 gasoline engine is the engine of choice for a lot of Class C and even some Class A motorhomes. So they are well known in the RV world. Their only problem is they get awful gas mileage when compared to the 7.3L diesel.

If I were visiting the USA and wanted a used tow vehicle and travel trailer for a family of 6, I would locate the Excursion 7.3L I wanted, then begin the trip wherever that SUV was located. Most of the nice ones will be in the southwestern part of the USA, including Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and southern California - arid country where rust is not a big concern. After you have the tow vehicle, then used travel trailers are available almost anywhere.

One sales pitch for the 2003 Excursion was: "A number of Denver, Colorado, rental car companies report that they can't keep Excursions on their lot. It's become the vehicle of choice especially for customers who want to tow at high altitude. Excursion's proven performance and outstanding towing capability make it an extremely popular choice."

I'm sure that sales pitch assumed the Excursions had the 7.3L Turbo-Diesel engine. Turbo-Diesel engines don't loose horsepower at altitude the way gasoline engines do. Anything over about 5,000 feet is considered "high altitude". And there are numerous mountain passes over 10,000 feet on main highways in the Rocky Mountains, especially on I-90 in Montana, I-70 in Colorado, and U.S. 160 over Wolf Creek Pass in southern Colorado.

The website where the Excursion fans hang out is Ford Diesel Forums - TheDieselStop.com. Notice several different forums, including one for Excursions, one for 7.3L engine and drivetrain, and one for 7.3L upgrades and aftermarket.

The same rule applies to the Excursion as to the Suburban: you can either haul a load of people and cargo in the SUV, or tow a trailer up to about 8,000 pounds, but not both at the same time because of the GVWR limit. The heaviest Excursions with diesel engine and 4x4 drivetrain have severely restricted payload capacity for hitch weight because of the 9,200 pounds GVWR. So although the tow rating of the Excursion 7.3L is 11,000 pounds, don't expect to be able to tow that much trailer and your family at the same time without exceeding the GVWR of the tow vehicle.
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Old 02-06-2013, 11:09 AM   #16
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Here is a mail forwarding service based in Portland, so you can have a U.S. address.
Home - Homebase Oregon

Also, make sure you buy a weight distribution hitch, nearly all RV dealers will probably have one model in stock. Expect to pay about $300-$600 for that.

There are plenty of used travel trailers that fit your budget under $10K, but what's your budget for the tow vehicle?

With 4 kids i'd recommend a third row, as long as 2 of them are still really young, most third rows will be fine. Some tow vehicles to consider are a 2nd generation dodge Durango with the Hemi V8, Ford Expedition, Nissan Armada, Chevy Surburban, Ford Econoline passenger Van, Chevy Express Passenger Van.

The van's will actually be your best bet for your needs. Tons of room to relax on the long drives, lowest resale value(us american's hate being seen in vans, SUV's are cool, vans are not). The chevy express 2500 has a 9800lbs tow rating. http://www.edmunds.com/chevrolet/express/2005/


With any vehicle, just make sure you get the largest engine and the highest rear end gear ratio you can find.

Also, good choice in flying to portland. California also sometimes referred to a Commifornia is in some ways the strictest state of the union, especially in regards to vehicle inspection, emmissions inspection, and vehicle registration. This all costs tons of money. But for other reasons california is the most liberal free spirited state in the union, it's quite the paradox.
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Old 02-06-2013, 04:21 PM   #17
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One consideration for the tow vehicle is that it will need seats and seatbelts for 6 people so that will narrow the choice a little.
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Old 02-06-2013, 08:26 PM   #18
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As far as towing SUVs go I have a 2002 Excursion with the 7.3 diesel. Not new any more, but with four kids I haven't found anything I'd replace it with. If you can find a good one they are worth it.
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Old 02-10-2013, 02:22 AM   #19
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Google Montanna LLCs.

These companies/businesses can provide you with a valid US address, act as a mail forwarder, register you vehicle and trailers etc. and save you state sales taxes etc.

Their charges vary so check several; there are many to choose from.

Worth a look and consideration.
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Old 03-05-2013, 01:00 AM   #20
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Thank you everyone for the great advice! We have made some changes

to the plans accordingly.
We have decided to fly into DFW and purchase the TT and TV (ford excursion is the choice of SUV) there. We will register with a mailing forward address provider in Texas for the registration and insurance procedures.
The only (hopefully...) issue we lack info about is on how and where to check the TT and TV prior to purchase (does anyone know what are we expected to pay for such inspections?).
We will either buy from a dealer or from a private owner. Are the procedures/inspections the same for both?
Any further tips on buying, inspecting, insurance and registration will be very much appreciated.
Thanks!
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Old 03-05-2013, 08:14 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shayandvered View Post
We will register with a mailing forward address provider in Texas for the registration and insurance procedures.
If you register (TT&L) in Texas, then you will pay 6.5% sales tax. You can buy the rig in Texas, then have the dealer issue "temporary" license plates good for about 30 days. Then drive to a state with no sales tax to register the SUV and RV. However, states with no sales tax often have other taxes to make up the difference. Such as property tax. Check out all aspects of the tax angle before you decide.

Oops. Gotta go. Later.
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Old 03-05-2013, 02:11 PM   #22
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You know how to search the internet, but I did it anyway, searching for "2002 Excursion 7.3L for sale in Texas". 2003s are rare (produced only July through September 2002), so I searched for the 2002. Here are some I found. Note that some of those "cars" are no longer available, but it will give you an idea that the 6.8L V-10 gasser will cost you a lot less than the 7.3L diesel.

2002 Ford Excursion 137 WB 6.8L Limited | Blue 2002 Ford Excursion Car for Sale in Dallas TX | 3315207353 | Used Cars on Oodle Marketplace xxx V10, 125000 miles, 4x4 = $5,500

2002 Ford Excursion Limited, $15,000 - Cars.com xxxxxxxxxxx 7.3L, 185000 miles, 4x4 = $15,000

Cars for Sale: 2000 Ford Excursion 2WD Limited in Plano, TX 75094: Sport Utility Details - 329471883 - AutoTrader.com xxx V10 190,000 miles, 4x2 = $5,900

Cars for Sale: 2002 Ford Excursion 2WD Limited in Van Alstyne, TX 75495: Sport Utility Details - 320007113 - AutoTrader.com xxx 7.3L 130,500 miles 4x2 = $13,500

Limited = fanciest trim level, with leather seats and overhead console with trip computer. XLT = nice with AC, cruise control, and power windows/doors/mirrors, but cloth seats and no fancy computer display.

4x4 needed only if you don't know how to drive. But if you plan to go off road in mud or snow, then you may want 4x4. (I've never had 4x4 and never needed it, but then I know how to drive.)

For summertime use, be sure it has rear AC. (I think Limited trim has standard rear AC, but double check.)

Inspections:

Be certain your SUV has a current mandatory Texas state safety inspection sticker on the windshield. Make it part of your purchase contract that the truck will pass the state inspection. All they check is brakes and lights, but that eliminates some potential costly repairs down the road.

For the Excursion, any Ford dealer should be able to give you an up-to-date report on the history of the SUV, and their service shop should be able to tell you what all they recommend you fix or repair or replace or routine maintenance such as an oil or ATF change before you hit the road on a long trip, and give you an estimate of the cost of those repairs and routine maintenance. Probably $100 to $200 for the inspection/estimate, plus the cost of whatever they do to fix or maintain.

For the trailer, you should do most of it yourself. You don't need somebody else to tell you whether the normal household stuff is working, and all that's left is the tires, brakes, and axle alignment. Add 5 gallons of water to the fresh water tank, plug into electricity, then check the appliances including AC, furnace, refrigerator, water pump, water heater, microwave, TV antenna, toilet, faucets, etc., and be sure they all work. If it has a propane hot water heater, then turn on the propane and light the hot water heater, wait 5 minutes, and be sure it puts out hot water.

Rely on the seller/installer of the weight-distributing hitch to set it up right. Don't even think about installing and adjusting it yourself unless you have experience in such things. Be sure they explain what adjustments, if any, you must make to the WD hitch after the trailer is wet and loaded for a trip.

What you might want an RV mechanic to check is the trailer brakes and alignment. If the trailer tires are brand new, worry that the alignment may be off enough to cause excessive tire wear. If the trailer tires have obviously been installed for a while, then check the tread condition for uneven wear to see if axle alignment may be needed.

Texas has a mandatory saftey inspection of the trailer, to check trailer brakes and lights (and tires?). So if you buy the trailer from a dealer, that inspection should be part of the deal. If you buy from an individual, and the trailer doesn't already have a current safety inspection sticker, then your first stop should be to an RV dealer to obtain the saftey inspection sticker. Make passing that state inspection part of the contract to buy the RV. If it flunks the inspection, you don't have a deal.
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Old 03-05-2013, 02:22 PM   #23
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Good decision on buying in Portland rather than California. As for the information your asking about, there are some decent and some not so good dealers. Ralley auto mart is a pretty decent dealer as a starter. Go to their web site at www.ralleyautomart.com and look around. As a licensed dealer they should be able to get you the correct information on licensing and insurance. They buy a lot of used RV's from local dealers, so their inventory changes often. With their contacts they should be able to help you secure a package that will work for you.
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Old 03-05-2013, 02:23 PM   #24
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I am in the dfw area, owned 3 different Excursions (02, 03, and 05) and belong to a Ford truck clubs here.... another very active Ex forum is Excursion - King of SUVs - Ford Truck Enthusiasts Forums

If there's anything I can do to help, be glad to... if you are buying an Ex, I may know the owner from the local forums

One thing with the Ex,
while it is a GREAT traveling vehicle / people hauler, you can overload the rear axle quickly...

I did two things to help mine out when I was towing a tt...
1) I installed a RAS upgrade on the rear axles Roadmaster Active Suspension Kits | Helper Springs | Overload Springs
2) and got a Propride 3P hitch to handle the TT...

these two things made my Ex a towing beast....

BUT, Momma wanted that 5er she looked at and we moved on

so when I had to trade my beloved Ex in,
I pulled the RAS and sold it to a buddy and stored the Propride in the garage...


Also, have you considered a small Motorhome or 6 seat pickup with 5th wheel ? or TT ?
here's a north texas dealer that had some nice used units last time I was there:
http://www.bestvaluerv.com

on edit just to show SOME of the story telling is true
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Old 03-05-2013, 02:34 PM   #25
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Here's one I missed because I set the max price at $15,000. As you can see, they want more than 15k for this one. But it's a beauty!
Cars for Sale: 2003 Ford Excursion 4x4 Eddie Bauer in Carrollton, TX 75006: Sport Utility Details - 340093496 - AutoTrader.com

That one is one of the last of the 7.3Ls -a 2003 model. The Eddie Bauer trim is almost identical to the Limited, except Eddie Bauer has two-tone leather seats while Limited is monotone.

All 2002 and 2003 Excursions had option for telescoping trailer tow mirrors. If the one you find doesn't have those mirrors, don't fret. You must have them to safely tow a travel trailer, but they are available from Ford parts and will be a plug&play replacement for the stock mirrors.
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Old 03-05-2013, 03:27 PM   #26
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Here is a like I found on the local Craigslist

1994 Holiday Rambler 29' Travel Trailer "Nice condition"
Seems this might fit your needs nicely
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Old 03-05-2013, 04:34 PM   #27
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Seems this might fit your needs nicely
Probably too heavy for any SUV to tow without being overloaded. Holiday Ramblers are very nice high-end RVs, but they are heavy. He probably needs to limit his search to a max length of around 24'.
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Old 03-05-2013, 09:36 PM   #28
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Just want to toss this in the mix for your consideration.
Alberta Canada no tax at all on private sales.
Go to Kijiji.ca
Choose Alberta then choose RV campers, trailers. Not sure of the registration or insurance requirements but I will look into it if you want.
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