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Old 07-23-2021, 12:45 AM   #1
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Question Super steep driveway - how to determining tow vehicle needs

Hello everyone, I could really use some advice.

My driveway is super steep, and curved to boot, and I need to reverse up it with an approximately 3000lb load (max) trailer/boat. My Toyota Highlander is rated to tow up to 5000lbs, and it had no problem on the road pulling the boat, but it struggled mightily pushing it up the driveway in reverse (in fact, I'm worried I've damaged the transmission, but that is a topic for another day).

I've decided I just need a dedicated tow vehicle, so I'm looking for an older model truck for just that purpose. The thing is, I have no idea what specs I should aim for, because I really don't know how much more weight the steep incline is adding to the towing needs. I'll attach some photos which sort of, kind of, but not really, give an idea of the steepness. The one showing the street is the bottom of the curved driveway- it's probably a bit over 100 ft long, and elevation gain of 20-30 ft.

While engine size is of course important, I'm assuming the real deciding factor is transmission, but I'm new to this. I've looked at various trucks, a real beater of 1999 Dodge 2500 with 4Low that could probably do it, but the transmissions on those are known to be unreliable. Or a 2005 Silverado Z71 with tow package, etc. I'd prefer not to spend a ton of cash on what will just be used to move a boat around, and I don't think newer will get me more towing oomph.

Any help would be super appreciated, either on how to calculate what the increased towing needs are (I wonder if doubling it to 6000lbs would suffice?), and/or on appropriate truck choices that won't break the bank.
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Old 07-23-2021, 04:07 AM   #2
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You need a vehicle with a low reverse gear. I know reverse gear ratios are listed. I also know reverse gear is a higher gear than 1st gear but don't think it is as high as a 2nd gear but maybe.

This is not good - if you read this reverse gear is the weakest gear...ugh for your needs.


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Old 07-23-2021, 04:29 AM   #3
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That was a boat trailer? Does it have surge brakes? Did they disengage? I had this issue once backing my boat up my driveway. Turned out it was just the surge brake doing what itís designed to do. Thatís not true, itís supposed to disengage when you put it in reverse, but there was something wrong with my electrical connector and it didnít disengage when I put my truck in reverse. I unplugged the connector and it went right up the driveway. Replacing the connector was the permanent fix.

If you donít have a reverse solenoid, there should be a pin to lock the surge brake for backing.
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Old 07-23-2021, 05:25 AM   #4
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Put a hitch on the front of your truck or a beater truck and go forward up the hill.
Or get an old tractor with a bucket loader and put a ball on it.
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Old 07-23-2021, 07:32 AM   #5
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Probably if you backed up faster it would not be an issue with what you have. However if thatís not an option you could use a winch to pull the trailer up the hill.
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Old 07-23-2021, 07:47 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dizcom View Post
That was a boat trailer? Does it have surge brakes? Did they disengage? I had this issue once backing my boat up my driveway. Turned out it was just the surge brake doing what itís designed to do. Thatís not true, itís supposed to disengage when you put it in reverse, but there was something wrong with my electrical connector and it didnít disengage when I put my truck in reverse. I unplugged the connector and it went right up the driveway. Replacing the connector was the permanent fix.

If you donít have a reverse solenoid, there should be a pin to lock the surge brake for backing.
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Old 07-23-2021, 08:03 AM   #7
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So many options....

First...that particular boat is not that big or heavy. Any solid 1500 will tow it and position it for you. Question, is that all you need a truck for. You need to store the truck, insurance, repairs, ect. If not! They make a motorized tow dolly. Not sure if they are gas or electric. Probably both. Pull up the drive way, into the garage. Hook up the dolly, back around the corner. All done. Cheaper that a second vehicle. Then again a second truck could always come in handy.
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Old 07-23-2021, 09:12 AM   #8
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Personally I think any 4WD with a low range would work just fine but I also agree with looking at the other options mentioned above. especially the powered dolly, before you go spending money on another truck. Good luck.
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Old 07-23-2021, 09:43 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dizcom View Post
That was a boat trailer? Does it have surge brakes? Did they disengage? I had this issue once backing my boat up my driveway. Turned out it was just the surge brake doing what itís designed to do. Thatís not true, itís supposed to disengage when you put it in reverse, but there was something wrong with my electrical connector and it didnít disengage when I put my truck in reverse. I unplugged the connector and it went right up the driveway. Replacing the connector was the permanent fix.

If you donít have a reverse solenoid, there should be a pin to lock the surge brake for backing.
X2, don't ask how I know
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Old 07-23-2021, 11:50 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dizcom View Post
That was a boat trailer? Does it have surge brakes? Did they disengage? I had this issue once backing my boat up my driveway. Turned out it was just the surge brake doing what itís designed to do. Thatís not true, itís supposed to disengage when you put it in reverse, but there was something wrong with my electrical connector and it didnít disengage when I put my truck in reverse. I unplugged the connector and it went right up the driveway. Replacing the connector was the permanent fix.

If you donít have a reverse solenoid, there should be a pin to lock the surge brake for backing.
No brakes at all on the trailer, so that wasn't the issue. I didn't realize the reverse gearing would be weakest! Bah! I'll head down the Google rabbit hole on a powered dolly.
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Old 07-23-2021, 11:57 AM   #11
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Is installing a front hitch out of the question? As simple as installing a ball securely....
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Old 07-23-2021, 11:59 AM   #12
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Looks like you were able to turn the boat around once you got to the house. Why not tow it forward and turn it around once you get to the house?
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Old 07-23-2021, 12:59 PM   #13
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If you do look at something with a low range, i really like lock out hubs. I can put my truck in low range 2wd and i dont get the binding when turning. Its so awesome.
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Old 07-23-2021, 01:14 PM   #14
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Looks like you were able to turn the boat around once you got to the house. Why not tow it forward and turn it around once you get to the house?
I thought about that and originally did pull it straight up, but there just isn't enough room to get it turned around. I can actually fit the boat in my garage, so it unfortunately has to go up in reverse
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