Originally Posted by shayandvered
We are a tourist family of 6 (2 adults and 4 young kids (~ages 2-10)) arriving soon (=in 2 months) to San Francisco, where we are planning on purchasing a used travel trailer and a used towing car to use for touring the US and Canada in the six months to follow.
There are no automobiles (cars) suitable for towing a travel trailer. As a minimum you need what we call a sports utility vehicle (SUV), but preferably a pickup truck.
Hitch weight is the problem. Very few cars are designed to handle the hitch weight of more than a tiny trailer. SUVs come in various sizes but only a "full size" SUV will have enough payload capacity to handle the hitch weight of more than a very small travel trailer (TT). Plus even a full-size SUV such as a Chevrolet Suburban or Ford Expedition can either tow a nice-size TT or haul a load of people and gear, but not both at the same time without being overloaded. They simply don't have enough payload capacity to do both at the same time without exceeding the GVWR of the tow vehicle. So for your use I'd plan on buying a 4-door CrewCab pickup with a "bench" front seat so all 6 of you can travel comfortably.
One exception: Chevrolet/GMC sells the Suburban/Yukon XL 2500 that can probably handle your crew plus an 8,000-pound travel trailer if you travel light. Put all your luggage and other stuff in the trailer instead of inside the SUV. But the 2500 is not the normal Suburban. They are few and far between, so hard to find for sale as a used SUV.
CrewCab pickups come is several sizes:
Compact, such as a Toyota Tacoma. Suitable only for very light travel trailers, such as a fold-down tent trailer.
So-called "Half-ton", such as a Ford F-150, Chevrolet or GMC 1500, Dodge 1500 or Toyota Tundra. Most can handle a travel trailer that weighs up to around 5,000 pounds. A few can handle up to around 8,000 pounds, but those are few and far between because they must have special towing and weight hauling options from the factory. If you are looking for a used pickup, don't count on finding one with the heavy duty towing package or heavy duty suspension that can handle the hitch weight of more than about a 5,000 pound trailer.
I love my 2012 F-150 CrewCab with the EcoBoost engine, but my travel trailer that grosses less than 5,000 pounds when wet and loaded for the road overloads that pickup.
So-called "Three-quarter ton", such as Ford F-250, Chevrolet or GMC 2500, Dodge 2500. (Toyota doesn't sell one in the USA). Most can handle a travel trailer that weighs less than around 10,000 pounds. That should be adequate for a nice-size travel trailer that will be comfortable for your large family.
So-called "one ton", such as Ford F-350, Chevy/GM 3500, Dodge 3500. These come with either single rear wheels (SRW) or dual rear wheel (DRW). The SRW models are glorified three-quarter ton pickups and aren't consider a real "one ton" pickup, such as a "one ton dually". But the F-350 SRW does have more payload capacity than an F-250, but not as much as an F-350 DRW.
For the last few years, the American pickups also come in a one-ton dually on steroids. Ford F-450 and the others 4500. They have more pulling power (but not more payload capacity) than the one-ton dually, and are used by folks with RVs that are around 20,000 pounds gross weight. It doesn't sound like you'll need one of those.
Yankee slang: The phrase "half-ton", "three-quarter ton" and "one ton" are all ancient descriptions of the net payload of the Ford Model T pickups of 90 years ago. The actual payload of modern pickups is a lot more than the name would suggest.
4x2 or 4x4? Don allow anyone to convince you that you need a 4x4. I've had vehicles for over 50 years and never had a 4x4. But in some areas a used 4x4 is easier to find than a used 4x2. You pay more for the 4x4 up front, but like a diesel you'll probably get most of that difference back when you sell it.
Could you please give us an insight on the registration procedures and requirements in California (As one might conclude from our tourists status, we have no SSN, nor a US driver's license).
The USA has 50 states, and the registration procedures (and cost) are different in each state. Think of our states as separate European counties. California is as different from Texas as Germany is from Spain. California is one of the highest-cost states, so in your shoes I'd probably go somewhere else to buy your rig. Look for a state that has no sales tax, such as Oregon. It will cost a lot less for TT&L (taxes, title, and license plates) in Oregon than in California. You'd probably save a lot more than the airplane fair from San Francisco to Portland, for example. Texas is a wonderful place to live and do business, but we do have a sales tax that you'd have to pay. On vehicles and RVs, that tax is around 6.5%, so on a $30,000 rig, the sales tax alone would be almost $2,000.
Regardless of where you buy the rig, you'll need a physical address in that state to register it. A post office box won't do. The state will mail you the license plates, title (certificate of ownership), and registration. Maybe ask the dealer where you buy your rig how to get a local physical address.
After you decide on which state to buy (and register) your rig, then do research on the internet to determine the procedures and costs in that state. In most states, you'd begin your research with the Department of Transportation (DOT). In Texas, it's "TxDOT".
- Also, ask on this website for answers from folks that have experience with registering a used vehicle in your selected state.
Also, are there any places, where one can take the trailer and car to, for a pre-sale check?
Sure, but again that's local. Every city has different dealers that can and will do that for you, but some are good and reasonable, while others just want your money. You must first decide which city, then ask folks that live there for their recommendation.
One chain that's reliable in most of their locations is Camping World. They sell and service new and used motorhomes and RV trailers, so they know both engines and RVs.
RV Supplies, RV Accessories & RV Parts for Motorhomes, Travel Trailers - Camping World
In fact, Camping World might be a good place to buy your used rig.
As to exactly which RV trailer, that will depend on what you find available. You probably want a "bunkhouse" model about 28 feet inside length.
Those will usually include both 28 and BH in the model number. For example, here is the new Keystone Springdale model 282BHSSR:
The specs on that one say 32'1" long, but that includes the hitch and rear bumper. so it's about 28' long inside. It has a shipping weight of 7,000 pounds and a cargo capacity of 2,250, so GVWR of about 9,250. That requires a three-quarter ton pickup to pull it without being overloaded. So an F-250, gas or diesel, should do nicely.
Gas or diesel? In a late-model F-250 or comparable pickup, diesel will cost you about $7,000 to $10,000 more up front than gas. But you'll probably get back that difference when you sell it 6 months later. In the meantime, expect around 9 or 10 miles per gallon (MPG) towing with the gas engine, or around 11 or 12 MPG with the diesel. Diesel fuel costs a lot more than gas, so most of that MPG difference would be made up by the cost of the fuel. But you'll love towing with a diesel, whereas the gas engine might struggle with a 9,000-pound trailer.
Do you really need a travel trailer? Probably not. I camped for over 20 years with my family in a fold-down tent trailer. The advantage of a fold-down trailer is it is much lighter than a travel trailer, so you can tow most of them with the normal half-ton pickup without being overloaded. There are 10-times as many used half-ton pickups available as three-quarter ton pickups, so it's much easier to find a suitable tow vehicle for sale. Here's a link to a nice fold-down RV trailer that I'd consider:
Rockwood Tent Pop Up Camper by Forest River
Note the dinette converts to a bed, so all 6 of you could have plenty of room to sleep.
Also consider "hybred" travel trailers. Those are lighter because the beds fold out from the sides or ends, similar to a tent camper. Here's one with a wet and loaded weight of a little over 6,000 pounds that might work on some of the heavy duty half-ton pickups (But it would overload my 2012 F-150 Crewcab that is not a "heavy duty" model):
Roo Hybrid Travel Trailer by Forest River