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Old 08-19-2022, 08:50 AM   #1
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First Tow Vehicle for towing family across the country

Looking for tow vehicle for family to tow a travel trailer on various multi day trips around the country, we live in CO so will be doing weekend trips in the mountains also. I have around 30k to spend. I'm really concerned with reliability as my children are very young so can't have truck breaking down or become untrustworthy. I'm seeing a lot of Ford F150's in our price range but am nervous about their reliability (most have around 50k+ miles that we can afford). Anyone have an personal experience they could share or recommend vehicles/trucks?

We will be buying a trailer once vehicle is purchased.
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Old 08-19-2022, 09:01 AM   #2
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IMHO,
Get a 4 door Chevy truck old enough to have an LBZ diesel.
They are bulletproof !!!!

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Old 08-19-2022, 09:02 AM   #3
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Welcome to the forum!!

You are going to get a lot of recommendations on this forum. I have had Fords so happy with them. Two friends have a Dodge 1500 gasser and each tow a 26 ft travel trailer and another has a Dodge 1500 diesel and tows a 23 ft trailer. Both are happy with them. This review might be helpful:

https://www.gohymer.com/best-truck-f...a%201500%3A%20
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Old 08-19-2022, 09:24 AM   #4
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Frist thing is to decide on how big of a trailer and trailer type you plan to get. How many people will be traveling, what cargo and any pets will you carry.

Once you decide on the trailer size and weight, now decide on a truck. Look at the trucks GVWR and cargo or payload capacity. A travel trailer will have a loaded tongue weight around 12% of the trailer GVWR. A 5th wheel will have a loaded pin weight around 20% of the trailer GVWR. Ignore the brochure dry weights.

Remember that the capacity for the truck includes typically 1/2 tank of gas and only a 150# driver. For every pound you add over this base rating, you reduce the tow rating and cargo rating by that amount. Do not forget to include a hitch either.

50,000 miles on modern trucks is nothing, especially diesel. If your travels will be in the mountains, i recommend a diesel truck. A gas-powered truck can work, provided it had the right rear axle ratio and the heavy-duty tow package.

If you are set on a 1/2-ton truck, limit your trailer search to travel trailers of no more than 28 feet and 7500# GVWR. Most of the 1/2-ton trucks on the dealers' lots are not set up with the heavier towing packages but have the basic weekend grocery and garden-hauler equipment.

Having a properly matched truck and trailer makes for a much better towing experience. There are several towing weight calculators on the internet that can keep you pointed in the right direction.

Ken
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Old 08-19-2022, 09:26 AM   #5
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Buying the trailer after the truck is a good plan. However, you really should have some idea on what you are looking for in a TT...especially if you are thinking along the lines of getting a 1/2 ton truck.

Generally speaking you will probably want to stay under 30' overall length and in the neighborhood of 6500-7500 lbs max GVWR - and that's with a properly equipped 1/2 ton truck.

When shopping, don't use the truck's rated 'tow capacity' as a measuring stick. With a 1/2 ton it's going to be all about the payload limit...which is unique to every truck. It is calculated as the weight of the truck, subtracted from it's GVWR.

Example: Truck GVWR 7000 lbs, truck weight 5400 lbs = payload of 1600

In this example, that 1600 lbs is what you have left to support the trailer's tongue weight (typically 13% of trailer GVWR), the weight of all occupants in the truck, the weight of any gear you place in the truck and about 100 lbs for the hitch.

To take the example a step further:

You are interested in a trailer with a 7500 lbs GVWR. Based on the 13% rule of thumb, that's 975 lbs of tongue weight. Add another 100 for the hitch and you're up to 1075 lbs.

You state you have a family - let's say 400 lbs for 2 adults and 2 kids. Now you have used 1475 lbs of your available 1600 lbs of payload. Add some tools, a cooler, some firewood, some personal items....it doesn't take long for all the truck's payload to be used up. Exceed payload and you exceed the vehicle's GVWR.

GVWR and payload (aka cargo carrying capacity) can both be found on sticker's on the driver's side door pillar of every truck.

For an F150, I would suggest one equipped with the max tow package in a modest trim level....the more bling, the heavier the vehicle which equals less payload. My '19 XLT max tow had 1870 lbs of payload. A higher trim, like a Platinum or Limited would likely be around 1400-1500 lbs.
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Old 08-19-2022, 09:30 AM   #6
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:grabbingachair:

OP, prepare yourself for a wide variety of answers. Some serious reading is in order.

Good luck!
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Old 08-19-2022, 10:08 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bfrank76 View Post
Looking for tow vehicle for family to tow a travel trailer on various multi day trips around the country, we live in CO so will be doing weekend trips in the mountains also. I have around 30k to spend. I'm really concerned with reliability as my children are very young so can't have truck breaking down or become untrustworthy. I'm seeing a lot of Ford F150's in our price range but am nervous about their reliability (most have around 50k+ miles that we can afford). Anyone have an personal experience they could share or recommend vehicles/trucks?

We will be buying a trailer once vehicle is purchased.
It is impossible for anyone to advise you on an appropriate tow vehicle when we have no idea what trailer youíll be towing. We donít even know the size of the family, two adults and 2-3 children? Youíll need a crew cab or SUV to seat 4-5 people.

Help us help you by providing some details about the trailer you intend to purchase. Selecting a tow vehicle first may limit your trailer choices. If someone in the family decides that they want a larger trailer, you could end up needing more truck.
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Old 08-19-2022, 10:50 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TXiceman View Post
Frist thing is to decide on how big of a trailer and trailer type you plan to get. How many people will be traveling, what cargo and any pets will you carry.

Once you decide on the trailer size and weight, now decide on a truck. Look at the trucks GVWR and cargo or payload capacity. A travel trailer will have a loaded tongue weight around 12% of the trailer GVWR. A 5th wheel will have a loaded pin weight around 20% of the trailer GVWR. Ignore the brochure dry weights.

Remember that the capacity for the truck includes typically 1/2 tank of gas and only a 150# driver. For every pound you add over this base rating, you reduce the tow rating and cargo rating by that amount. Do not forget to include a hitch either.

50,000 miles on modern trucks is nothing, especially diesel. If your travels will be in the mountains, i recommend a diesel truck. A gas-powered truck can work, provided it had the right rear axle ratio and the heavy-duty tow package.

If you are set on a 1/2-ton truck, limit your trailer search to travel trailers of no more than 28 feet and 7500# GVWR. Most of the 1/2-ton trucks on the dealers' lots are not set up with the heavier towing packages but have the basic weekend grocery and garden-hauler equipment.

Having a properly matched truck and trailer makes for a much better towing experience. There are several towing weight calculators on the internet that can keep you pointed in the right direction.

Ken
Ditto on Ken's comments - figure out the trailer first. Even the 7500GVWR and 28' recommendation is beyond what should be towed with many half tons IMO.


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Old 08-19-2022, 11:19 AM   #9
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We will be buying the trailer based on the truck we buy that is affordable, reliable, and fits our family best. I have no doubt we will find a trailer to fit a 1/2 ton truck with tow packages to suit our needs. Our previous set up was a 13ft Scamp towing with a Suburu Forester and that was close to being fine for us lol.
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Old 08-19-2022, 12:13 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bfrank76 View Post
We will be buying the trailer based on the truck we buy that is affordable, reliable, and fits our family best. I have no doubt we will find a trailer to fit a 1/2 ton truck with tow packages to suit our needs. Our previous set up was a 13ft Scamp towing with a Suburu Forester and that was close to being fine for us lol.
Thatís one way to approach it. Keep in mind that you came here asking for advice from experienced people.

Good luck.
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Old 08-19-2022, 12:34 PM   #11
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Unfortunately we need to buy the vehicle first for monetary purposes, plan to tackle the used travel trailer market once we have one likely 6months after. Wish we could know which trailer first but just not in the cards for this situation and I don't think finding a trailer for us will be an issue with a 1/2 ton with towing packge. If that doesn't jive with this forum thats understandable and I'll move on.
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Old 08-19-2022, 01:19 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by bfrank76 View Post
Unfortunately we need to buy the vehicle first for monetary purposes, plan to tackle the used travel trailer market once we have one likely 6months after. Wish we could know which trailer first but just not in the cards for this situation and I don't think finding a trailer for us will be an issue with a 1/2 ton with towing packge. If that doesn't jive with this forum thats understandable and I'll move on.
Solid plan. You'll have many choices. It's exactly the same way we're approaching this.
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Old 08-19-2022, 01:21 PM   #13
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Don't limit yourself to just 1/2-tons because of finances. I completely understand the need to be financially responsible, but reliable 3/4- and 1-tons are out there at your price point. Your towing and camping experience will be SO MUCH MORE enjoyable.

We towed a 17 ft. TT, then a 24 ft. TT, with a 1/2-ton for 6 years. The 17' trailer, not a problem. The 24' trailer (the 23D in my signature) was a handful because it's heavier than a lot of similarly sized TT's. Our children are grown and married, so it's only DW and I. You will likely have a lot more "stuff" than we do. So I recently started looking for a used 3/4- or 1-ton around the $25k price point. After months we found an immaculate 2004 Ram 1-ton single rear wheel (SRW) truck for $23k with the Cummins 5.9 diesel. We didn't need a diesel, but towing in the mountains around Utah it sure is nice. This was a 1-owner vehicle with 114k miles on it. The previous owner kept all service/maintenance records.

So a reliable, bigger truck can be found, if you're patient. This truck is only slightly bigger than our newer 2019 1/2-ton. Both are crew cabs. A big concern was how my wife could handle it. She has no problem driving the 1-ton. Good luck finding a truck that will SAFELY tow you and your growing family.
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Old 08-19-2022, 01:28 PM   #14
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What elevation will you be towing? Remember a naturally aspirated gas engine will lose 3% of power per every 1,000' of elevation.

I would recommend a turbo charged engine if towing about 4,000'. Turbo charged engine lose far less power at higher elevations.
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