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Old 05-18-2012, 03:04 PM   #1
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need help figuring out a tow vehicle!

hello!
i'm pretty new to all of this & would really appreciate any help you might be willing to offer!

my boyfriend & i are planning on buying a 1970s airstream this fall, anywhere from 24'-31'.. it's kind of up in the air because it depends on what we can find in decent condition when we have the money ready to invest.
my current car definitely can't tow anything, so i'm going to need to buy a different vehicle to tow with... here's where i need a little advice...

we'd really would like to find something that runs off of diesel. (we're throwing around the idea of converting it to run off of veggie oil, but even if we don't do that, we still would like to have a diesel.)
we also don't have an extremely large amount of money to spend on a tow vehicle, so we'd like to get something older, cheaper, & really sturdy. what it looks like on the inside/outside doesn't matter to us at all, as long as it runs on diesel & can pull an airstream! it would be really nice to find something that seats more than 2 people (we have a huge dog & frequently take roadtrips with others.)

we're planning on living in the airstream indefinitely & doing a great deal of traveling with it for at least a year (in all types of terrain). so, the tow vehicle will be used quite a bit.
does anyone have any tips, pointers, thoughts, or anything that could help us out?

thank you SOOO much!!!
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Old 05-18-2012, 05:15 PM   #2
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Chev Suburban 6.5TD or the GMC equivalent would probably work for you.

Good luck with your search

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Old 05-18-2012, 05:57 PM   #3
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I just searched the 300 mile radius used diesel truck market with crew cab with less than 100,000 miles and a rattler engine. The lowest asking price starts at about 14k.

Chevy starts at 24k. No Suburbans with rattler engines here on the list. Texas might have some.
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Old 05-18-2012, 06:22 PM   #4
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I'm not sure of the price range you are looking to be in, but diesel powered anything right now seems to be pulling quite a premium. However, there are lots of nice older diesel trucks out there if you look hard enough. The diesel SUV's are a little more difficult to find. Their owners tend to not want to let them go.
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Old 05-18-2012, 06:59 PM   #5
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Yeah, it is interesting. The dealers have stopped running adds even for the new diesels and have few in stock. Back in 07 when I bought mine they were advertised and somewhat discounted. The used ones seem to go high and quickly now. I think the new diesels are just priced over what the he economy will allow for many people now. I know I could not afford to buy another new one now.
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Old 05-18-2012, 07:16 PM   #6
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Check out the diesel excursions.
The ford full size vans...e350 I think, is available in a diesel.
The diesel trucks are going to be on the higher side because of function/utility/etc. The suv's and vans will be a little less than the pickups
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Old 05-18-2012, 10:11 PM   #7
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Here's a crazy idea: why not wait until you have actually bought the trailer?

The thing is, your choice of what trailer you buy may very well change between now and the time you buy, so why take a chance on buying too much or too little tow vehicle?

Heck, unless you are already driving a truck or some other thirsty vehicle, you could put the fuel savings into your trailer savings account.
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Old 05-19-2012, 06:02 AM   #8
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Quote:
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Here's a crazy idea: why not wait until you have actually bought the trailer?

The thing is, your choice of what trailer you buy may very well change between now and the time you buy, so why take a chance on buying too much or too little tow vehicle?

Heck, unless you are already driving a truck or some other thirsty vehicle, you could put the fuel savings into your trailer savings account.
Good Advice!
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Old 05-19-2012, 08:07 AM   #9
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We waited to buy a tow vehicle until we had purchased our Argosy, and it was a good idea. Sometimes, it is best to put the cart before the horse.

I would strongly encourage you not to initially perform a vegetable-oil fuel conversion (unless you are experienced) and then head out for long-term travels. It can be another way of asking for trouble when you least want it.

Good luck.
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Old 05-19-2012, 08:10 AM   #10
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sunshine127,
Welcome to AirForums! Aage has several good points. It will be easier to find a good used tow vehicle than a good used Airstream, the load being towed will set the tow vehicle requirements, etc.

Let's talk about diesel versus gas. When it comes to fuel milage or low end (engine RPM range) torque (pulling power) the diesel wins hands down. But when it comes to initial cost of the vehicle, cost of repairs or most importantly cost per mile/km traveled...the diesel looses to gas.

I am a former diesel truck mechanic and my adult son and I rebuilt a diesel engine in a John Deere tractor about six years ago, so I'm still pretty close to them. Also, my son and daughter-in-law bought the equipment necessary to convert used cooking oil to bio-diesel and made a few batches. Making bio-diesel was a better idea a few years ago than it is now because you'll be competing with a number of others in getting the used cooking oil. Restaurants used to have to pay to dispose of the stuff. Now, many individuals or companies will pay for used cooking oil.

So back to Aage's point, I'd look for the trailer first, then think about the tow vehicle.

Good luck with your search!

Steve
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Old 05-19-2012, 11:08 AM   #11
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It really depends on what you mean by 'cheaper', as a high-mileage diesel can certainly be cheap, but can empty your bank account when it wears out. Some diesel motors last a long time... but everything that goes along with it is heavier and more expensive. My dad paid $12,000 to replace the transmission and transfer case on his mid-90's Ford. Injectors or fuel-pump issues can get expensive quickly... Yeah, the truck made it to 250,000 miles, but it probably had $20K+ in repairs to get it there...

Unless you have a really good sense of what you are getting in an older vehicle (maybe you know the owner), you might want to factor in repairs and see if getting something newer wouldn't be a safer bet. Your desire to tow a lot, and full-time, makes me think you aren't going to want to spend all your time fixing.
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Old 05-19-2012, 11:22 AM   #12
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Also remember there are square miles of 'parked offsite inventory' across the Lower 48 - sparse lot stock and no/low advertising is completely intentional by dealers or even regions that are willing to strong arm or leverage their sales tactics.. . At the 'right' dealer find something they 'need' to sell and its all Roses
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Old 05-19-2012, 11:29 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by c_lewis77 View Post
Check out the diesel excursions.
The ford full size vans...e350 I think, is available in a diesel.
The diesel trucks are going to be on the higher side because of function/utility/etc. The suv's and vans will be a little less than the pickups
The diesel Excursions are coveted. They are great for more than 2.5 children and towing a trailer to comfortably sleep all of you. If I didn't have an F-250 diesel I would have bought an excursion instead. They don't make the excursion any more.
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Old 05-19-2012, 02:11 PM   #14
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Find the Airstream, then worry about the tow vehicle.

In that light, you mentioned traveling for a year then living in it indefinitely. Where. You should know living in an Airstream through a Kansas winter would be extremely difficult. If you plan is primarily for travel, you don't need a large Airstream, therefore not a diesel tow truck.

Much good advice is available here so ask and you will get help. The better the plan defined, better help you will get.

doug k
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