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 > Must-haves for Van or SUV as tow vehicle?

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d3500ram

Colorado

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Joined: 07/31/2006

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Posted: 11/13/20 08:50pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Tortiemctortiepants wrote:

....
Would an inspection be able to tell me if it had the proper brake controller/wiring harness/transmission cooler?


These items should be easily evident via inspection. A VIN check such as a carfax should also show options that were fart of delivery from the factory.

coolmom42

Middle Tennessee

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Posted: 11/13/20 09:18pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

JAC1982 wrote:

Oh also I forgot to mention, my in laws tow a 25' travel trailer or a boat (obviously not at the same time) with their Toyota Sequoia and it does just fine.


Sequoias are a nice tow vehicle for a small-medium trailer. They are also a very comfortable and safe vehicle otherwise. The gas mileage stinks, but nothing is going to do any better while towing than 10 mpg or so. Typical for not towing is about 15 mpg.


Toyotas are very dependable vehicles so don't be concerned about age or miles if the vehicle has been maintained. Be sure to set aside funds for good tires and any repairs/maintenance to get it road-worthy for a long trip.


As a rule of thumb, for a comfortable towing experience, you want the trailer to be around 80% of the tow rating of the vehicle. That's not a hard and fast rule but it gives you a starting point for looking for a towing combo.



Add in an Equal-i-zer hitch system and it's a nice combo. On a long or steep grade you will need to shift down to 3rd gear and just hang in the right lane, but that is prudent with any tow setup.


What you will have to watch is the cargo capacity. You will have the tongue weight of the trailer as part of the cargo, and that is about 12% of the trailer weight. Add yourself and your animals, and it will be pretty loaded. But that's OK as long as you are not over any of the axle or total weight ratings (which have a generous safety margin.)

I do agree, pick the trailer first and then the tow vehicle, just to be sure.


Single empty-nester in Middle TN, sometimes with a friend or grandchild on board

coolmom42

Middle Tennessee

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Posted: 11/13/20 09:20pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Get the VIN of the vehicle and run it through Carfax for all the details of how the vehicle is equipped. Another helpful place for info is the parts and/or service department of a brand dealer.

For any given brand there are owners forums where you can find all manner of info about towing etc.

Grit dog

Black Diamond, WA

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Posted: 11/13/20 09:56pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

It’s obvious that you’re 1000% new to this. You’ll get some decent advice here, but otherwise, read my previous post and if you don’t know what a trailer hitch looks like, find someone to walk you through this, or you have a steep learning curve ahead of you.


"Yes Sir, Oct 10 1888, Those poor school children froze to death in their tracks. They did not even find them until Spring. Especially hard hit were the ones who had to trek uphill to school both ways, with no shoes." -Bert A.

okhmbldr

oklahoma city

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Posted: 11/14/20 06:40am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

.

* This post was edited 11/15/20 10:04am by okhmbldr *

valhalla360

No paticular place.

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Posted: 11/14/20 06:47am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Tortiemctortiepants wrote:

It is the 5.4 liter V8, would that be adequate?


If you keep to a small (20ft) trailer as you mentioned, it should be fine.

I would go for the vans. Especially the small/medium size SUVs are likely to be overloaded.

Ratings to look at:
- Tow rating: This is mostly about horsepower and braking. Usually, this doesn't limit you.
- GVWR: Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. This is the most the vehicle can weigh fully loaded. There is a separate number for truck and for trailer (CGVWR - Combined GVWR Truck+Trailer max which is typically less than the two added together). When looking at trailers, this is number makes a good starting assumption as you can't load up the trailer and take it to the scales to be sure. Most people are shocked how much weight they load up in the trailer.
- RAWR: Rear Axle Weight Rating. As you load most cargo in the back and the hitch weight goes mostly on the rear axle, this often maxes out before the GVWR.
- Payload: This is how much weight the truck can carry (not pull). It includes passengers, cargo and anything bolted on like running boards...along with the hitch and hitch weight. The trailer has a payload also but typically called CCC (cargo carrying capacity)
- Hitch Rating: IGNORE THE BROCHURE HITCH WEIGHT. This is how much of the trailer weight will rest on the hitch and thus counts against payload. The hitch weight should be around 12-15% of the fully loaded weight (NOT EMPTY BROCHURE WEIGHT). If you get a weight distributing hitch (I would recommend), your hitch rating is typically higher.

As far as engines...depends. The 4.5-5.5L range in Naturally Aspirated engines is OK for smaller trailers but particularly in mountains is marginal as you lose 3-4% of your power for every 1000ft of altitude, so you will have to drop down a gear or two and the RPM will be high (if in good shape, not an issue other than noise). Bigger V8/V10 engines will have more than enough HP for your proposed small trailer that even with the losses, it's fine. Alternatively are the newer Turbo engines. They will have smaller displacement (Ford Ecoboost is the big name but others have started to follow). By force feeding air into the engine, they can compensate for the thin air at altitude and much smaller engines can stay up with the old style V8 engines.

A 2007 is not a big concern. I might take it to a mechanic for a compression check and once over to make sure you aren't getting a lemon but otherwise, no big concern. FYI - We bought a 2008 a couple years ago with 170k on it. We did a 5000ft 6% climb 2 days ago and she performed like a champ. Just dropped down a gear and got in line with the semis, even passed a few.


Tammy & Mike
Ford F250 V10
2021 Gray Wolf
Gemini Catamaran 34'
Full Time spliting time between boat and RV


John Burke

North Dakota

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Posted: 11/14/20 07:09am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

There are a lot of rental returns out there.
Ford has not made the E350 since 2914. Chevrolet still makes the 3500 Express short and long wheel base. One thing to be careful when looking at Ford and Chevy vans is rear axle placement. The Ford axle is quite a bit farther forward than the Chevy. Too much van body hanging out behind the rear axle on the Ford. MUCH less stable, one of the reasons Ford quite making them was all the lawsuits from crash's. Too many schools (the vans are rated at 12 or 15 passenger so the driver does not need a CDL to drive them) having rollover accidents with them.
I have had 4 3500 Express's pulling campers and trailers and have had good luck. The 6.0 with a 6 speed transmission is a good combo. When not towing I get 16-17 mpg and when towing (my camper weighs in at about 11,500 Lbs. and is 38ft long) I average 9.5 mpg.
Some of the rental places use these vans and get ride of them at about 20,000 miles. I just got a 2019 long wheel base with 21,500 miles well loaded for $23,600.00. Bought from a Chevy dealer, still has warranty until 36000 miles.
I install my own hitch, brake and light wiring and brake controller. I add a heavy gauge, fused wire from the battery, run to the trailer plug to charge the battery's better.
Many places will mount the hitch and wiring so no big deal. Hard to find a van with trailer option on it.
I like the long wheel base because I take 2-4 grand kids, two big dogs, all the bikes and other stuff with me so we like the space. Unlike a pick-up my stuff is inside of of the weather and locked up. I take out the last two seats for more cargo room.
For what you want to use it for a short wheel base with the two rear seats out will give you LOTS of room.

dedmiston

The West

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Posted: 11/14/20 08:22am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Tortiemctortiepants wrote:

Very close, dedmiston! I’m impressed! Just subtract 1 cat and add 1 dog, 2 birds, and a bunny. [emoticon]


I'd better start taking notes. [emoticon]

For what it's worth, I'm enjoying your research, and I appreciate your tenacity. With some of the advice you've been given, I would have ditched the plans already.

I admire your commitment to your critters. I'd do the same for mine.


2014 RAM 3500 Diesel 4x4 Dually long bed. AISIN trans & 4.10 rear. B&W RVK3600 hitch • 2015 Crossroads Elevation Homestead Toy Hauler ("The Taj Mahauler") • Hooligan #3

Toys:
  • 18 Can Am Maverick x3
  • 05 Yamaha WR450
  • 07 Honda CRF250X
  • 05 Honda CRF230
  • 06 Honda CRF230



Tortiemctortiepants

VA

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Posted: 11/14/20 09:14am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

dedmiston wrote:

Tortiemctortiepants wrote:

Very close, dedmiston! I’m impressed! Just subtract 1 cat and add 1 dog, 2 birds, and a bunny. [emoticon]


I'd better start taking notes. [emoticon]

For what it's worth, I'm enjoying your research, and I appreciate your tenacity. With some of the advice you've been given, I would have ditched the plans already.

I admire your commitment to your critters. I'd do the same for mine.


Haha! Thanks! I am pretty stubborn once I get an idea stuck in my head... which can be a good or a bad thing! [emoticon]

Your critters are lucky to have you [emoticon]

Tortiemctortiepants

VA

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Posted: 11/14/20 09:18am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

So I have been doing some thinking, and I think I’m putting a Class C back on my list of possibilities... I’m honestly more attracted to the class c idea for the simplicity of not moving pets back and forth between a tow vehicle and a trailer, and I feel more comfortable with the idea of driving an ambulance sized vehicle with something little behind in comparison to a potentially large tow vehicle towing something even bigger behind... I’m sure I could learn either system though... so I’m back at my original drawing board of older class c vs tow vehicle/ travel trailer combo... so I must continue my research.. I still welcome any advice and am so thankful for everyone’s words of wisdom so far!!!

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